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Coles vs Woolworths: Which supermarket brand coffee capsules taste best?

Our expert taste test shows that spending less doesn't have to mean missing out on great-tasting coffee.

three different packs of coles and woolworths coffee capsules
Last updated: 15 September 2022
The results of our latest coffee pod taste test may just cause a storm in a teacup: the top-performing product is none other than a supermarket own-brand coffee capsule that's the cheapest of the bunch. 

Our coffee experts blind tasted 13 different capsule coffees, rating them on crema, aroma, mouthfeel, aftertaste and flavour to see which delivered the tastiest coffee. 

Coles' Daley St aluminium capsules were rated as the best-tasting of all the products our experts tested, beating even big-name brands like Campos, Nespresso, Starbucks and Lavazza – and costing far less than any of them. 

We understand this news may be upsetting for coffee connoisseurs: what is the world coming to if the best-tasting coffee comes from a supermarket, not a bespoke micro-roastery? 

But it's also great news for coffee lovers on a budget. It means you can pick up a great brew while you're shopping for your toilet paper. 

The winner: Daley St medium/dark roast

daley st coffee capsules

Top of the pods: Coles' Daley St capsules topped our test.

  • Taste test score: 75%
  • Price per pod: $0.40

Daley St well and truly roasted the competition, ranking a full five percentage points ahead of its closest competitors. Its slick packaging might look like it's from a boutique roastery, but the Coles-owned brand is only available through Coles supermarkets. 

At 40 cents per pod, it's also the cheapest product we tested, along with a Woolworths pod and another Coles product. That's a huge saving when compared with the Nespresso and Campos pods we tested, which cost 79 and 71 cents a pop. 

Here's what our expert taste testers said about Daley St: "smooth", "great flavour and aromatics", "well-rounded", "a little bitter". 

woolworths coffee pods

Our expert taste testers scored Woolworths' coffee pods just 60% for taste.

Other supermarket products

While Coles' Daley St product showed that supermarket brands can compete with the big players, unfortunately other supermarket coffee capsules didn't fare so well in our test. 

Woolworths' balanced medium roast capsules scored an ordinary 60%, while Coles' Urban Coffee Culture capsules left a bitter taste in our experts' mouths, receiving a score of just 45%. (Not quite as bad as the lowest scorer, Vittoria, which our experts rated at just 40% for taste.)

Where did your favourite coffee pod rank in our taste test? Find out the results of our coffee pod test

Cost-effective alternatives to coffee capsules

While capsule machines are generally quite affordable, the capsules themselves are actually pretty expensive, with premium brands costing close to $100 per kilogram. (Not to mention the waste they create as single-use capsules.)

They're still far cheaper than buying a barista-made coffee from a café every day, but if you're on a budget but still trying to get a quality caffeine fix, you might find your capsule habit adds up. 

Whole coffee beans and ground coffee are much more affordable options: you can pick up a bag for as little as $12 a kilogram in supermarkets. Buying a manual or semi-automatic coffee machine will cost you more upfront, but your ongoing costs will be less and if you buy a good machine you'll probably get a much tastier coffee. 

However, if you want to stick with the convenience of capsule coffee, the results of our latest taste test show that you can spend less but still get a good brew. 

Do capsule machines make great-tasting coffee?

While Daley St may be the best-tasting coffee in our test of capsules, it still may not give you the best coffee of your life.

It's an unfortunate fact that pod machines generally can't deliver the same flavour as manual machines. With a pod machine, you don't have any control over the dose, temperature, tamp or extraction time – which are all the factors that go into making a great-tasting coffee. 

With pod machines, what you gain in convenience, you often lose in flavour

But you also don't need to mess about with grinding the coffee, dosing the right amount, tamping it correctly or extracting it for the right amount of time: you literally just pop it in and press the button. 

With pod machines, what you gain in convenience, you often lose in flavour. 

However, one thing pod machines can do that manual machines sometimes can't is deliver consistent coffee every time. Since the variables of dose, tamp and extraction are the same each time, there's less opportunity for something to go wrong – so you can expect to get the same coffee every time you use a pod machine. 

And since taste is so subjective, if you love the taste and convenience of your capsule coffee then that's the most important thing. Keep doing what works for you!

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.