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Coffee Capsules 101: Understanding The Capsule Material

Coffee Capsule Material

Coffee capsules can be made from a number of different materials that directly impact the coffee’s taste and also our environment. The materials widely used are Aluminium, Compostable (plant or cornstarch-based) and PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate) Plastic. Traditionally, Nestlé has been making their Nespresso® capsules out of aluminium, whilst alternative capsule manufacturers and coffee roasters have slowly adopted this format and others have been using the compostable or plastic capsules.

The question on everyone’s mind is - how does the material of the capsule affect our coffee drinking experience at home? 


Aluminium capsules from alternative capsule manufacturers that we have come across are completely airtight, 100% plastic-free and fully recyclable. With a quick rinse, you can even put them in with your household recycling just like a drink can, after you have removed the spent coffee inside. This format of capsule is popular because they feel ‘more premium’ while at the same time allowing the roasters to pack more coffee in. Coffees enjoyed from an aluminium capsule are more bodied and have more pronounced flavours.


Compostable capsules are made from various renewable raw products, that should degrade within six months with commercial composting and can be added to your local food waste collection. Compostable capsules are usually packaged in nitrogen-flushed air-tight pouches to maintain the freshness of the coffee. It is recommended to keep your compostable coffee capsules stored at room temperature in an airtight container after opening the pouch. From our experience, the paper seal produces clean tasting coffee, with low to medium body.


The majority of coffee capsules today are made from PBT, short for Polybutylene Terephthalate, food grade plastic with aluminium foil lids. Similar to aluminium capsules, most PBT capsules are airtight and sealed in an oxygen-free environment, allowing the coffee inside to stay fresher, longer. To recycle, rinse out the coffee grounds and separate the aluminium foil lids from the PBT capsule and place them in the respective household bins. Coffees brewed from a plastic capsule are complex in flavour with a varying mouthfeel depending on the coffee’s roast level.


Besides the quality and freshness of the coffee, another point to consider is the impact the material has on the environment. A main point of contention you may have with coffee capsule is the amount of visible waste it produces. In truth, capsule coffee takes up less energy, water and fertiliser than filter or drip coffees. So if you're worried about the eco-friendliness of capsule coffee, opt for materials that are fully recyclable or compostable.

All capsules available on the Morning Marketplace are 100% safe to use in your machine and 100% recyclable. At Morning, we take sustainability very seriously. This is why we only carry Aluminium and Compostable capsules in our Morning Marketplace. Use the “Capsule Type” filter to find out which capsules are Aluminium or Compostable.

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