Illy is an Italian coffee company that specializes in the manufacturing of espresso.

Its success has been nothing short of fascinating, as not only is Illy coming close to a century of service, but it has been able to do so while catering to one of the most difficult-to-please audiences: espresso lovers.

Unfortunately, many of Illy’s widely beloved products aren’t compatible with Nespresso; however, these five excellent tasting pods are an exception.

The best tasting Illy Nespresso compatible pods are the Illy Classico. These pods provide a balanced flavor profile that all espresso lovers can appreciate. The coffee they make features delicate notes of caramel and orange blossom, contributing to a lingering sweetness.

However, Illy Classico is far from the only excellent tasting pod compatible with Nespresso. The company has come out with a full range of Nespresso-friendly products that cater to all preferences and needs.

Therefore, keep reading to learn more about some of the best-tasting Illy pods you’ll want to try for yourself.

Best overall: Illy Classico

If you’re trying Illy for the first time and want to get a better grasp on their products’ quality and taste, I highly recommend choosing Illy Classico (available on Amazon.com). 

Likewise, if you’re a novice espresso drinker and are indulging in the experience for the first time, these pods are an excellent way for you to get a feel of what a gold standard cup of espresso should taste and smell like.

Then, you can always build up your unique wants and preferences from there.

Illy Classico provides a mild, balanced taste that almost any coffee drinker will be able to enjoy. Its flavor is heavily influenced by notes of caramel, jasmine, and orange blossom, which sweeten its overall flavor profile.

Illy Classico pods (and most varieties I’ll be discussing below) are made of Arabica coffee beans (these pods, in particular, are made of a mix of nine different types of Arabica coffee beans).

These beans are among the most popular varieties in the world, and for good reason. They’re less acidic, richer, and sweeter-tasting than many of their counterparts.

The caramelly undertones are actually a sign of a premium-quality Arabica, so by purchasing these Illy pods, you’re guaranteed to get only the best of the best.

Illy Classico is a medium-roast coffee variety whose intensity level is, in my opinion, the gold standard. These pods are neither too intense nor too mild, which further contributes to the mild, balanced taste mentioned earlier.

Illy Classico
  • Illy Classico provides a mild, balanced taste that almost any coffee drinker will be able to enjoy.

Its price per pod is on the average-to-high end of the scale; however, when it comes to coffee, you get what you pay for.

My guess is that considering you’re searching for Illy pods in the first place; you’re more of an espresso enthusiast than a casual coffee drinker.

Therefore, it’s safe to assume that you would appreciate these pods’ complex, qualitative flavor even if it comes at a higher price point.

As soon as you crack open the silver-and-red packaging, you’ll smell an overwhelming delicious aroma coming out of it; that’s just a fraction of what you’ll be able to enjoy once your espresso is done.

If you’re looking for a high-quality, safe pod variety that’s guaranteed to impress its drinker regardless of personal preferences, Illy Classico is the way to go. I guarantee the rich, smokey, caramelly taste and aroma will leave you wanting more.

Pros
  • Made from a high-quality blend of arabica beans
  • Balanced flavor and aroma
  • Pleasant taste
  • Excellent for novice espresso drinkers
  • Caters to a wide range of preferences
Cons
  • Expensive
  • A standard box contains only ten pods

Best dark roast: Illy Intenso

If you prefer a darker roast espresso, Illy still has got you covered. Illy Intenso (available on Amazon.com) is a bold coffee made from Arabica beans that will impress even the pickiest espresso lovers.

However, don’t mistake this product’s intensity for unpleasant bitterness; Illy Intenso still leaves a pleasant lingering flavor and aroma that’s characterized by notes of dried fruit and cocoa.

Unlike the Classico variety, Illy Intenso is a true dark roast, which is what many experienced espresso drinkers prefer.

The price, however, remains unchanged between the two types, so if you’re unsure on which to get, you can simply base your decision on your roast preferences.

It’s important to note that while these pods’ flavor is still rich, it won’t be as complex as Illy Classico’s.

Even though you’ll still get a few underlying notes of cocoa and dried fruit, the high intensity level doesn’t allow for them to shine through as much.

Meanwhile, when drinking a Classico, the caramel, orange, and jasmine undertones are too distinct to miss.

Illy Intenso
  • Illy Intenso still provides a light fruity hint that beautifully counterbalances the bitterness of the coffee.

However, seasoned coffee drinkers choose their pods for the coffee quality itself rather than the complementing flavors, which is why you’ll find that many espresso purists prefer Intenso or Classico.

Moreover, Illy Intenso still provides a light fruity hint that beautifully counterbalances the bitterness of the coffee.

Therefore, if you’re looking for that extra kick out of your morning coffee, I’d say that choosing Illy Intenso is your best bet.

These pods come packaged in a silver box decorated with purple features, a color that perfectly represents the richness and darkness of the coffee itself.

However, just like Illy Classico, your standard package will only come with ten aluminum capsules, so if you’re a regular espresso drinker, it might be worth trying to buy in bulk.

Buying in bulk can also help lower the (fairly high) cost per pod; therefore, I highly recommend looking into this option.

In this section’s title, I linked a four-box supply of Illy Intenso; however, if you already know you enjoy the taste and quality of these pods, you can go for an even bigger order.

Pros
  • A true dark roast
  • Perfect intensity for seasoned espresso drinkers
  • Delightful dried fruit and cocoa undertones
  • Strong, pleasant aroma
  • Made from a high-quality blend of Arabica beans
Cons
  • The undertones don’t come out as much as they do on Illy Classico pods
  • Expensive
  • A standard box only contains ten pods

Best extra dark roast: Illy Forte

If Illy Intenso still isn’t strong enough for you, you can move up to Illy Forte. I want to be clear; this variety isn’t for novice espresso drinkers or those looking for the sweet, caramelly undertones of a Classico.

The extra-dark roast of the Arabica beans used to make Illy Forte gives these pods the highest intensity level of the bunch.

As always, the price remains unchanged; however, the notes and nuances that complement this espresso are a bit darker than the ones I previously described.

When drinking an Illy Forte, you won’t find any fruity, caramelly, or citrusy undertones.

However, these pods do provide a rich, creamy, chocolatey flavor (with a slight hint of smokey, toasted bread) and aroma that’s guaranteed to leave you wanting more.

The thick, pleasantly bitter, and slightly salty aftertaste is unlike anything you’ve ever tried before.

This no-nonsense coffee is perfect for seasoned espresso drinkers looking for that perfectly bitter taste and potent aroma.

Illy Forte is also an excellent choice for those who need that added level of intensity to get their energy up in the morning.

Illy Forte
  • These pods do provide a rich, creamy, chocolatey flavor (with a slight hint of smokey, toasted bread) and aroma that’s guaranteed to leave you wanting more.

However, I should note that the coffee’s body itself might be a bit too watery for some, which is something to keep in mind if contemplating paying the hefty price per pod (that still remains unchanged from the previous two varieties).

If you’re a fan of an extra intense mix of Arabica beans and a dark chocolate aftertaste, this is the espresso for you.

Moreover, if you’ve already tried and enjoyed the Classico variety but are looking for something stronger, these pods will undoubtedly check all of your boxes.

Even though Illy Forte comprises extra dark roast coffee, those who enjoy milder, more balanced flavors will still be able to enjoy it, as the bitterness and the potent coffee aroma are neither unpleasant nor overwhelming.

Pros
  • Perfect for seasoned espresso drinkers
  • Highly intense flavor and aroma without compromising enjoyability
  • Made from a high-quality blend of Arabica beans
  • Rich, chocolatey aftertaste
  • Complex flavor
  • Strong aroma
Cons
  • Can be a bit watery
  • Expensive
  • A standard box only contains ten pods

Best decaf: Illy Decaffeinato

There’s nothing quite as heartbreaking as being a coffee lover when your body doesn’t respond well to caffeine. Luckily, Illy has got you covered.

In its Nespresso-compatible range, the company made sure to include a Decaffeinato alternative, which provides almost the exact same taste, texture, and aroma as the Classico, but with less than 0.1% caffeine.

As with all products mentioned so far, Illy Decaffeinato is one of the highest-quality options on the market.

The company uses the carbon dioxide decaffeination process to make sure its products are produced as safely and naturally as possible.

This process also allows Illy to create a product that’s 99% caffeine-free while also preserving the beloved espresso flavor and texture.

Therefore, if you’re trying to cut back on your caffeine intake but are tired of the watery, odd-tasting options on the market, I highly recommend giving Illy Decaffeinato a try.

You’ll be surprised just how flavorful and full-bodied this espresso is.

Illy Decaffeinato
  • Illy's distinctive blend is composed of 9 of the finest Arabica coffee sources worldwide with a smooth, rich, and full - bodied taste

Similarly, if you enjoy sipping on a cup of espresso in the evenings, these pods are ideal for you. You’ll still be able to scratch that coffee itch without compromising your sleep.

As always, the aluminum pods come packaged in a silver box with a center opening; however, the Decaffeinato variety comes speckled with hints of light blue.

Moreover, as with all other products mentioned in this article, a standard box comes with ten individual pads, which is why buying in bulk is often preferable.

As far as the flavor profile goes, I wasn’t kidding when I said these pods are almost an exact replica of Classico.

They carry those same caramelly, fruity undertones that have made the OG an all-time favorite. The flavors are rich and complex, while the aroma is as pungent as ever.

Therefore, if you’ve already tried and loved Illy Classico, the Decaffeinato will definitely be a hit as well.

Pros
  • Less than 0.1% caffeine
  • Manufactured through the carbon dioxide decaffeination process (safe and natural)
  • Perfect for those looking to cut back on their caffeine intake or those who enjoy a cup of espresso in the evening
  • High-quality
  • Pleasant taste
  • Balanced flavor and aroma
Cons
  • Expensive
  • A standard box only contains ten pods
  • Might be a bit more challenging to find in stores than the other Illy products mentioned in this article

Best for lungo: Illy Lungo

If your regular espresso isn’t doing it for you anymore, it might be time to experiment with lungos.

A lungo is an espresso variation that you can make using your Nespresso machine. The word itself translates to “long,” as the beverage consists of a regular shot mixed with twice more water than a traditional espresso.

The result will be a larger, more voluminous coffee, in short, a lungo.

Illy Lungo
  • The medium roast Arabica beans provide the same caramelly, fruity undertones that add to the coffee’s complexity and overall enjoyability.

Illy has come out with a unique blend that works perfectly for a longer cup of coffee. The final taste, texture, and aroma are eerily similar to the Classico.

The medium roast Arabica beans provide the same caramelly, fruity undertones that add to the coffee’s complexity and overall enjoyability. Unfortunately, similar to the Illy Intenso, the body can sometimes feel a bit too watery.

You’ll be able to quickly spot the Illy Lungo due to its unique silver and red box packaging, which, as always, contains ten aluminum pods.

The price point also remains unchanged, so the option you ultimately decide to go for depends only on your personal preference.

Pros
  • Made of a high-quality blend of Arabica beans
  • Pleasant yet complex taste
  • Balanced flavor and aroma
  • Specifically designed for lungos
Cons
  • Expensive
  • A standard box only contains ten pods
  • Can be a bit watery

Final thoughts

Illy is one of the leading brands in the highly-competitive espresso industry.

Even though most of its high-quality coffee products aren’t compatible with a Nespresso machine, these few exceptions are worth a try.

This Nespresso-friendly range has something for all needs and preferences, so be sure to carefully read through the previous sections to determine which option would be most worth your investment.

Nespresso recipes to try

Picture of Jeffrey, Author at Your Dream Coffee
Author

On my coffee blog you will find everything you need in order to start brewing coffee at home. Ranging from the basics; to the newest coffee recipes everybody talks about! You can learn more about me here.

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