The 4 Nespresso Coffee Pods That Made History For The Brand

Stepping into a Nespresso boutique today, with its wide array of coffee capsules, it's hard to believe that the brand's journey began with just four pods. Originally, these pods offered only simple espresso shots. But today, you can choose from myriad pods, each showcasing a unique aroma of blends or single-origin beans from around the world. There are flavored coffees, large cup capsules, and even pods designed specifically for iced coffee, offering a plethora of choices.

The original coffee pods launched with the brand in 1986 offered a slim range of espresso possibilities. The four — Capriccio, Cosi, Bolero (now known as Volluto), and Decaffeinato — are all in the low-medium range of intensity, ranked 4 or 5 on a scale of up to 13, and all have typical light roast tasting notes of grain and fruit. Nespresso describes these pods as "inspired by Italian roasting traditions," all recommended to be served in the traditional 1.35-ounce size portion the company recommends for espresso. They are not fancy single-origin coffees, but each of them makes a very solid, crowd-pleasing cup that works as a shot or in steamed milk. All of these pioneering pods are still available in the original line capsule style if you'd like to taste the history of espresso.

Expanding coffee pod choices to meet the market

When Nespresso launched, they set out to address a common problem in espresso making. The process of weighing, grinding, and pulling the right amount of pressurized water across coffee grounds was not easy. Nespresso's solution was simple yet innovative: Selling preground, premeasured coffee sealed in a capsule. This, coupled with the user-friendly, one-button machine, revolutionized how espresso was made, making it accessible to the average user. The original system with those four capsules was targeted at office workers, but facing lukewarm acceptance, the brand pivoted to the luxury home market.

With the new, posh Nespresso Club positioning, additional coffee varieties in jewel-toned designer capsules were launched to attract customers expecting a grander experience. Each year, limited-release coffees are offered through Nespresso's website and boutiques, competing against hundreds of competing coffee pod manufacturers, each hoping for a piece of the $25 billion annual market. The original four capsules sparked an insatiable desire for coffee experiences at home, driving a consumer revolution in the coffee industry.