Ice Leggero Vs Ice Forte: Which Nespresso Pod Is Better?

You have a Nespresso machine and summer is coming — of course, you want to try out some Nespresso iced coffee pods. Or perhaps you're one of those people who drink iced coffee year-round. We respect that, too. Either way, you might be wondering about the difference between the Ice Leggero and Ice Forte pods. How do they vary from one another and which is better? Don't worry, because we've done the research for you to bring all the details you need to one place.

Want to know which one has a darker roast? Or which one is longer or stronger than the other? We've got all these details for you and more. Iced coffee is serious business, but learning the difference between these two popular capsules will help you figure out which one is right for you. Whether you like black iced coffee or iced lattes, deep roasty notes or light fruity notes, we have the answers you're searching for. Ultimately, however, it's all down to preference. So, it's not that the Ice Leggero is better than the Ice Forte — or vice versa — it's just different strokes for different folks.

Ice Leggero is roasted more lightly than Ice Forte

The coffee in Nespresso Ice Forte pods is darkly roasted. Nespresso rates its roasts on a scale of one to five and Ice Forte gets a full five. On the other hand, Ice Leggero pods are given a three out of five on the roast level scale. While this might seem like it would be a medium roast, the coffee is described as being lightly roasted, so you might find it on the lighter end of medium.

If you don't know what that means, you need to learn about the different types of coffee roasts. Lightly roasted coffee retains more of the flavor of the coffee bean itself. These notes tend to be floral and fruity. Coffee with a light roast is more acidic than darker roasts, which brings a sourness, which some coffee experts highly prize. Dark roasts get more of their flavor from the roast itself than the beans' natural characteristics. This gives you deep, toasty, and robust flavors. Tasting notes are more likely to be chocolatey or nutty. Medium roasts taste somewhere in between the two extremes.

Now, there's no right or wrong when it comes to roast level. It's all about what you like. Some people prefer the deep, toasty notes of a dark roast, and others prefer the floral brightness of a light roast. So, keep this in mind when you pick between these two Nespresso pods.

Ice Leggero is shorter than Ice Forte

How do you like your iced coffees? Tall and black, short and espresso-like, or with plenty of milk? Your answer to this might help you decide which pod is right to you out of these two contenders. The Ice Leggero is double espresso size. You get just 2.7 ounces of coffee from this pod. So, it's great for people who want an iced espresso or to make their own iced lattes. The Ice Forte pod produces a taller 7.7-ounce drink. So, if you generally like an iced Americano or long black, then this is the pod for you.

While it's less common to drink espresso over ice than it is to drink taller coffees, sometimes all you want is a few sips. Then, there's the fact that the ice in your drink will inevitably melt over time, but your coffee will still stay relatively strong if it starts out espresso-strength. Again, neither option is better or worse, just different. But if you know which size you prefer, your decision between Ice Forte and Ice Leggero might be getting easier.

Ice Leggero is designed to be topped up with cold milk or water

We've already covered the fact that Ice Leggero capsules are double espresso sized. But the reason for this is that they're designed to be topped up with cold milk or cold water. Of course, they're also great when enjoyed short, but you can easily make a classic iced coffee by topping the contents of the pod up. By doing this, your drink will last longer, so if you're not ready for it to be over fast, this is the perfect option.

But how much milk or water should you add? The ratio suggested by Nespresso is one Ice Leggero pod to 6 ounces of ice and 6 ounces of cold milk or cold water. Use milk and you'll make yourself an iced latte, use water and what you'll have is an iced Americano. If you like your drinks sweet, you can easily add sugar while the espresso shot is still hot, straight from the machine. Otherwise, use a liquid sweetener that will more easily dissolve into the drink, such as maple syrup or agave nectar.

We appreciate the versatility of the Ice Leggero pod. On the other hand, the Ice Forte already comes diluted, like an Americano. So, you don't have the option to drink it short or make iced lattes. You could add a dash of milk or cream, but it won't be the same as a latte.

You can drink Ice Leggero and Ice Forte hot as well as cold

Ice Leggero, Ice Forte — the clue's in the name that these are meant to be iced drinks. However, you can drink them hot, as well. Maybe you only drink so many iced coffees in a season and you don't want to buy a pod that you can't drink hot. Or perhaps you're currently out of all your other coffee pods and you're wondering if you can drink one of these pods hot. Thankfully, they're versatile.

Nespresso has a Coffee Ambassador who tastes every pod hot when it first arrives at HQ, regardless of whether it's meant to be enjoyed hot or cold. So, if it doesn't pass this initial taste test, it won't reach grocery store shelves. Some folks even think that the Ice Leggero tastes better hot than cold. Though, of course, this is all down to preference.

You can drink the Ice Leggero straight up as an espresso, mixed with steamed milk as a latte or flat white, or topped up with water as an Americano. The Ice Forte is already a long drink, but you can add some creamer if you like it white. One difference to bear in mind when drinking them hot versus cold is that they may be stronger. Nespresso Ice pods are designed to taste great when diluted a little by ice. When drinking them hot, you won't get this dilution, so the flavors will be more robust.

Both Ice Forte and Ice Leggero pods are available for Original and Vertuo lines

You can buy Ice Forte pods and Ice Leggero pods for both the Original and Vertuo lines of Nespresso machines. So, whatever type of Nespresso machine you can, getting your hands on these pods is an option. This is good news for all Nespresso users.

Not sure what we mean? Then we'll give you a quick briefing on the difference between Nespresso Original and Nespresso Vertuo machines. Original line machines are primarily designed to make espresso, though they can produce some coffees that are on the shorter side but longer than espressos. They tend to be simple and many are on the cheaper end of the price spectrum. Vertuo line Nespresso machines can make a wider range of drink sizes, up to a carafe size. It's important to note that drink size varies depending on the pod used. So, an Ice Leggero will always be double espresso sized. You can't make it into a carafe of coffee just because you're using a Vertuo machine. If you want to make a full carafe of coffee, you'll need to buy a carafe size pod.

Whichever of these two machine types you have, you can buy Ice Leggero and Ice Forte capsules for it. However, you can't use the pods interchangeably. They're different shapes and sizes, so a Vertuo pod won't work in an Original line machine, and vice-versa.

The way you prepare these coffee pods matters

If you want the best iced coffee, the way you prepare your pod can make a huge difference. When you have the time, the best thing to do is to brew your pod in advance and let it cool before adding it to a glass filled with ice. If you want milk then you can add it gradually, gauging how milky it is by looking at the color of the drink and adjusting it according to your preferences.

However, we get that not everyone has the time to do this. You might be preparing a coffee to take to work and are pressed for time — or maybe you just need your caffeine fix right now. Either way, the alternative is to shock your coffee into cooling quickly. To do this, brew it into an empty glass (or other vessel of your choice) then add a large quantity of ice. Ideally, significantly more ice than coffee. Then, stir the ice and coffee around to quickly chill it. The more ice you have, the less it will melt when added to hot coffee. This minimizes dilution, so you don't end up with a watery drink. It also saves time. In fact, some experts suggest cooling your coffee quickly in this way to avoid it tasting stale. After all, that's how baristas do it in coffee shops.

Both Ice Leggero and Ice Forte capsules should be stored in airtight containers

Are you wondering whether Ice Leggero or Ice Forte pods are easier to store? The answer is that the process is much the same for both of them. Ideally, once they're open, you should store them in airtight packaging to help them stay fresher for longer. You could use a coffee canister, but even something as simple as a resealable bag or a basic Tupperware container will do the trick.

Of course, if you want to get fancy, you absolutely can. You can buy all kinds of storage containers for Nespresso pods. These include drawers, racks, and jars. Some of them are segmented or have several drawers or compartments to help you organize your pods, so you know where to find the ones you're looking for. Good news if you have a large collection of pod varieties.

Ice Leggero has fruity and biscuity notes, Ice Forte has woody and peppery notes

If you're not sure which of the two you might like better, looking at the tasting notes can help. Generally, Ice Leggero has quite different flavors from Ice Forte, but there is one area where they converge. It's useful if you know which kinds of notes you like in a coffee. Simply reading the list of tasting notes isn't always that helpful. A chocolatey coffee doesn't literally taste like chocolate, for instance. Still, it can give you a place to work from.

The tasting notes for Ice Leggero are listed as fruity, biscuity, and cereal. So, you can expect a reasonable amount of brightness and acidity from the fruity notes, with the cereal and biscuit notes mellowing it out. Ice Forte tasting notes are listed as roasted, woody, peppery, and cereal. So, there's some crossover with the cereal notes, but the others are different. This coffee will have fairly intense, toasty flavors. You'll notice that it's deep and rich, rather than bright.

If you don't think your coffee is tasting its best, maybe it's time to clean your Nespresso machine. Yes, it's a chore that nobody wants, but pods brewed in a dirty machine can start to taste bad. So, when you're not getting these notes through, it's a sensible first step before you blame the coffee itself.

Both pods can be recycled, but it might not be easy

Whether you choose the Leggero or Forte version, you can recycle your coffee pods. Many people tout the environmental impact of coffee pods, but these ones are made from aluminum, making recycling a possibility. But a surprising fact about Nespresso pods is that they're trickier to recycle than they look. Their aluminum finish might make you think you can just toss them in with your other recyclable waste, but it's not that simple.

Because they're really made from a mix of aluminum and plastic, you can't recycle them conventionally, even if you empty out the used coffee. However, there are three ways that you can recycle Nespresso capsules. One is to take them to a Nespresso collection point (which you can find the locations of on the Nespresso website). Another is to head to a Nespresso Boutique, waste collection center, or partner store. Finally, you can fill up a Nespresso recycling bag and hand it over to your postal delivery person when they deliver a Nespresso order placed online. This is a bit of a pain, which puts many people off recycling them. The good news is you don't have to empty the used coffee grounds, so that's one thing less to worry about.

Ice Leggero uses Ethiopian Arabica, Ice Forte uses Arabica from various locations

The origins of the coffee in an Ice Leggero pod is different from that in an Ice Forte pod. Both use Arabica coffee, but in the case of Leggero pods, this coffee comes solely from Ethiopian beans. The coffee in Forte pods, on the other hand, comes from both Indonesia and South America.

But what does this mean for the flavor of the coffee? Does it make a difference? The short answer is "yes." But let's delve into the differences between flavor profiles in various coffee growing regions to understand what distinctions we might observe. Coffee beans grown in Africa tend to have fruity and floral notes with a lot of brightness to them. This fits in with what we already know about the bright, acidic, and fruity flavor profile of Ice Leggero.

Now, onto the beans in Ice Forte. Those grown in the Americas are usually crisp and balanced, with a smooth sweetness and a bright acidity. And coffee grown in Indonesia tends towards being full-bodied and earthy with a mild acidity. Therefore, we can see how Ice Forte capsules might have a blend of the characteristics from these two regions. It's a nicely balanced coffee, which is one of the characteristics of South American coffee, but has the Indonesian full-bodied finish and light acidity, rather than the brightness of coffee from the Americas.

Ice Leggero is stronger than Ice Forte

If you're looking for a strong, robust coffee, you should opt for the Ice Leggero rather than the Ice Forte. It's objectively the stronger coffee. As we highlighted early in the article, the Leggero is the shorter of the two. So, it tracks that the ratio of coffee grounds to water makes for a stronger coffee. By comparison, the Ice Forte tastes watered down. But that's because it used the same amount of ground coffee but around 5 ounces more water. So, it only makes sense that the resulting drink is weaker.

It's debatable whether Nespresso machines make true espresso, but a Leggero pod is meant to be an espresso-style coffee. The Ice Forte pod, on the other hand, is meant to be the strength of an American or a filter coffee. That's why you can dilute the Ice Leggero with as much as 6 ounces of milk or water and still have it taste great. If you did the same to the Ice Forte, it would barely taste like coffee. We're not saying that stronger coffee is objectively better, but knowing which of the two capsules is stronger might tip you one way or the other when deciding which to buy.