I'm an espresso obsessive – Nespresso’s World Explorations are some of their best coffee pods…

Looking for something new for your Nespresso machine? These premium pods are (mostly) worth a punt

Nespresso World Explorations coffee capsules
(Image credit: Nespresso)

If you’ve read any of my T3 guides to coffee makers you might have guessed that I love espresso more than any other type of coffee. To me, there’s simply no comparison between a well extracted espresso and even the best filtered coffee. My espresso love affair extends beyond professional barista stuff, too; I'll take anything with a good crema on it.

Espresso provides a potent kick that assaults the palate, in a very good way. I love its slightly liquorice flavour, its bitterness and intense aroma, and I equally adore the flavour, texture and sight of a good dollop of delicious crema. In fact I would like to paint my walls in ‘crema’ but Farrow & Ball don’t do that particular hue. I also love drinking coffee from a really small cup – in much the same way that I really hate drinking coffee from a large mug.

In fact, I’m so obsessively in love with espresso, especially first thing in the morning, that I’ve been known to turn down offers of a coffee when visiting other people’s homes just in case it’s filtered or, worse, instant. I even take a portable hand-operated espresso maker with me whenever I leave the home, even for one night.

So, long story: big espresso lover; not so keen on pissy coffee. So when, the other week, Nespresso sent me some boxes of espresso from its latest World Explorations capsule series it was a moment of both excitement and trepidation. Designed to emulate the types of espresso coffee the city natives drink, World Explorations aims to expand Nespresso lovers’ horizons, and the latest blends from the collection represent Paris, Istanbul, Rio De Janeiro and Miami. And I’m about to give them a taste test.

If you want to try for yourself, the World Exploration pods are available online, but due to Nespresso's slightly eccentric website design, you'll need to scroll down a bit.

Nespresso World Explorations coffee capsules

(Image credit: Nespresso)

But first a little bit about Nespresso…

As if you didn’t already know, Nespresso is far and away the most popular choice of coffee capsule in every territory on the planet. It’s literally everywhere – in your aunt’s kitchen, sitting on the bedside table of your luxury Thai retreat and possibly even in the breakfast room of your budget hotel. Let’s face it, having access to Nespresso capsule-based coffee is a much more suitable outcome than being last at the hotel’s breakfast room where they’ve been serving insipidly weak filtered coffee in a large thermos pot that’s been standing on the service table since 7am. 

Nespresso currently produces a range of 40 different flavours and strengths to suit every palette. And it doesn’t stop there because there’s a shedload of third-party options to choose from, too. In fact, most third-party blends are easier to come by because Nespresso doesn’t sell to supermarkets. Instead, you need to order online or spend an inordinately long time in a queue at one of its boutiques where you can be sure the person at the head of the line is asking the assistant which blend is best for them and whether they think the Citiz machine is better than the Pixie.

Now, I have no problem with most capsule coffee, as long as it’s strong, though I draw the line at Dolce Gusto or Tassimo pods. In the court of capsule espresso, Nespresso is not my favourite brand, however. That's partly because the capsules themselves are small when compared to, say, Lavazza. For instance, where Lavazza fills its pods with 7g of fine ground coffee, Nespresso capsules contain just 5g. That’s quite a difference in volume that, with some weaker blends of Nespresso, requires extracting two pods for one cup, just to get a decent hit.

But wait. The good news, I’m pleased to report, is that most of the blends in the World Explorations espresso series are on the stronger, richer side of flavour and punch. So far I haven’t needed to use two pods for one cup. 

I should also add that, in the past, the strength of Nespresso pods were classified on an ‘intensity scale’ of 1 to 12 but, perhaps in a humorous nod to Spinal Tap, the high number has since been increased to 13. It's one more intense.

Nespresso World Explorations: taste tests

I received all four espresso blends so without further ado let’s fire up the excellent Grind One  from our best Nespresso machine guide, and give these pods a whirl. To give a more rounded view, I asked my partner, who is a less obsessive espresso fan than me, to give her verdict as well…

Nespresso World Explorations Istanbul blend

(Image credit: Nespresso)

Istanbul Espresso

Nespresso intensity score: 8/13

Price: 40p per capsule

What Nespresso says: "A complex espresso full of wild aromatics and a balance of both bitter roasted and fruity notes, with a touch of acidity and an almond finish that hints at sweetness."

What I say: Horrid, like biting into a soapy geranium. Far too floral, herbal and aromatic for my taste.

What my partner says: "Urgh, that’s disgusting."

Nespresso World Explorations Rio blend

(Image credit: Nespresso)

Rio de Janeiro Espresso

Nespresso intensity score: 9/13

Price: 40p per capsule

What Nespresso says: "An Arabica-only espresso with a complex split roast delivers a surprisingly full body and strong roasted notes graced with exotic herbal aromas."

What I say: A nicely bitter, rich flavour with excellent character but I can’t really detect any ‘exotic herbal aromas’. A great morning pick-me-up, nonetheless. My personal favourite of these four blends.

What my partner says: Very bitter but much better than the Istanbul blend.

Nespresso World Explorations Paris blend

(Image credit: Nespresso)

Paris Espresso

Nespresso intensity score: 6/13

Price: 40p per capsule

What Nespresso says: "The most balanced of our World Explorations Espressos, delicate bitter and citrus notes enliven its mild cereal and biscuit character"

What I say: I can’t detect any biscuit in the profile though there may be a hint of Kelloggs Crunchy Nut somewhere in the background. That aside, this one’s pleasingly mild and very easy to get along with. I agree with the ‘balanced’ description – this is a great mid-afternoon choice.

What my partner says: "It tastes mild and smooth. My favourite WEX blend by far."

Nespresso World Explorations Miami blend

(Image credit: Nespresso)

Miami Espresso

Nespresso intensity score: 9/13

Price: 43p per capsule

What Nespresso says: "Intensely roasted, this vibrant and bold espresso is thick with a dark crema crowning potent aromatics."

What I say: I like this one with a splash of warm milk. It’s rich and nutty with excellent character and a pleasing level of bitterness. However, without the milk I can detect a vaguely unpleasant hint of almonds – like biting into a Christmas cake covered in marzipan. 

What my partner says: Very bitter and mostly unpleasant but again much more palatable than the Istanbul.

And there you have it. If you’re looking for a decent new blend for your Nespresso machine and don’t fancy wading through 40 different flavours and intensities, give the World Explorations Paris and Rio blends a whirl. They’re both great espressos with fine character and a palatable intensity that won’t blow the top of your head clean off.

Derek Adams

Derek (aka Delbert, Delvis, Delphinium, Delboy etc) specialises in home and outdoor wares, from coffee machines, white appliances and vacs to drones, garden gear and BBQs. He has been writing for more years than anyone can remember, starting at the legendary Time Out magazine – the original, London version – on a typewriter! He now writes for T3 between playing drums with his bandmates in Red Box (redboxmusic).