Over the past few years, single serve coffee pod machines have skyrocketed in popularity. What started out as a niche way for offices and hotels to make coffee has become the primary brew method for millions of Americans. Whether you’re a purist or an avid fan of pods, any coffee enthusiast should be informed on the history and types of coffee capsules.
These coffee machines exploded in popularity in recent years, but have actually been around for a long time. Depending on how strong you want your coffee, you have 2 major options for coffee pod machines; Nespresso and Keurig. Each have their own separate history, and have unique strengths and weaknesses.
The original Nespresso machine was designed in 1978, but wouldn’t make it to market for 10 more years. It was tested out in Japan in 1986, and would soon be released to the bigger European market. However, the Nespresso brand wouldn’t make its debut until 2000, where Nestle partnered with major brands like Krups to sell their machines and capsules. Within a few years, the machines would be a success and change the coffee market forever.
Keurig is an American company, and their K-cups are much more recent than the Nespresso pod. Keurig first patented their coffee machine in the early 90s, and began selling to offices in 1998. The machines were a hit, and would quickly become a common fixture in the kitchen. Today, these machines make up a huge portion of the coffee market, with Keurig being bought in 2018 for over $14 billion.
How Coffee Capsules Work
Depending on the brand you’re using, there’s a few different processes for brewing coffee with a capsule. The general idea is that the pod is hermetically sealed, and then holes are punctured in both the top and bottom of the pod once it’s placed in a machine. Hot water is then run through the pod to give you a quick, single serve portion of coffee.
What they’re made of
K-cups are made of plastic, while Nespresso pods are made of aluminum. The tops of both are a thin aluminum foil, for easy puncturing. Because of this material difference, Nespresso pods are generally more expensive than the K-cup, but preserve the coffee for much longer. The aluminum also has less impact on the flavor of the coffee.
Pods have a coffee filter inside the capsule to ensure that no grinds get into your coffee, but the filter can vary. K-cups have a cloth filter, which makes them harder to recycle. Nespresso pods, on the other hand, use a complex scheme of aluminum grates and mesh to give you a fully recyclable coffee capsule. The difference between the two filters also impacts the flavor, with the K-cup filter imparting the cloth flavor into your cup.
The type of coffee in pods
K-cups have a lot more variety than Nespresso, ranging from tea to hot chocolate to different coffees. The grinds are loosely stored inside the pod, making them bigger. The resulting brew is more like drip coffee than espresso, and has drawn the ire of many coffee purists. Nespresso, on the other hand, delivers on quality.
Like the name suggests, Nespresso pods give you shots of espresso, rather than drip coffee. The grinds are packed down inside of the pod, making them smaller. You really only get coffee out of Nespresso pods, without any other options. While it won’t replace the rich, decadent flavor of a hand-pulled shot of espresso, Nespresso is about as close as you can get to a coffee shop without leaving your home.
Coffee Capsule Machines
As we’ve discussed, there are two major types of coffee capsules. The machines, on the other hand, come in a variety of brands, with varying price points. Most of these machines are manufactured in only a few factories, with different brands being fixed to them. These machines are then given different features and settings, and are offered at a range of price points.
Nespresso machines are pretty uniform, with most of them having a couple of options for your espresso shot, depending on whether your want long pull or short pull espresso. K-cup machines come with a variety of settings, from basic sizes to timers to different water temperatures. These machines have a wider range of price points, and can be more customizable than your standard coffee machine.
Are Coffee Capsules Safe?
Some people have health concerns around the materials used in coffee pods. These products go through rigorous testing by the FDA and other agencies, so there isn’t much to worry about. However, it can put your mind at rest knowing what harm potentially comes with these materials, even if you’re at low risk.
The big thing to watch out for with any plastic container is BPAs. These oil-based synthetics can actually cause a host of health problems when ingested. K-cups are BPA free, so it’s no more of a risk than drinking from a plastic water bottle.
Drinking from metal containers always carries a very small risk of ingesting the metal. It’s not much to worry about, but there is technically a higher chance with Nespresso pods since you heat them up. However, the filtering process and design of the capsule doesn’t make it easy to ingest any aluminum.
What Are The Best Coffee Pods for Nespresso?
Nespresso is a premium brand, and is the go-to for coffee aficionados when it comes to capsule coffee. There are a host of different pods that work with the machines, each with different flavor options and price points.
You can’t really go wrong with the original. Nespresso offers that dark espresso flavor at a premium cost, but really is the best option for Nespresso pods.
Gourmesso is another higher quality offering. Coming in at around 60 cents per pod, Gourmesso nespresso pods have a simpler flavor palette, making them great for newer coffee drinkers.
For more budget conscious nespresso users, Cafe Hardy offers a wide range of flavors. These pods will work with the original Nespresso machine, and you can order them in bulk.
Rosso Cafe is another wallet-friendly option. Offering a darker profile that Cafe Hardy, this brand will bring the coffee shop experience into your kitchen.
Bestspresso is by far the cheapest option of these nespresso pods. They come in bulk packs, but clock in at under 30 cents per pod, making them the best option for quality and quantity.
Cap’Mundo focuses on lighter, more flavorful roasts, and is a great choice for drinkers looking for a French style rather than an Italian style of espresso. They come in at around the same price as the original Nespresso pods.
Should I Use Coffee Capsules?
Critics say that coffee pods don’t match the real thing, while advocates say it’s as close as you get to the coffee house. It comes down to taste, but for the time and money, coffee pods can be a great way to start your daily routines. You get a consistently great cup of coffee every time, and all you have to do is put in the pod and hit “start.” By getting the right brand of coffee capsule, you’ll be able to enjoy your perfect cup of joe or shot of espresso without any effort every morning.