What are Coffee Pods?
In short, coffee pods (or coffee capsules) are single-serving coffee packages much like tea bags. Usually plastic with a foil lid, coffee pods contain the particular type of coffee (or, in fact, tea and hot chocolate) and are placed singularly into the pod coffee machine. The machine opens and uses the contents of the coffee pod to make the drink.
Are Coffee Pods all the same?
The main problem with coffee pods is that they pretty much all differ. Different brands create them to only fit their pod coffee machines and few are compatible with unrelated brands. That being said, there are plenty of cheaper, generic versions out there for the savvy shopper.
What’s so good about Coffee Pods?
Pod coffee systems have a huge draw to the home coffee loving market for two excellent reasons. Firstly, they’re exceptionally easy to use and are really no-fuss. The pod goes in and the machine does the rest. No spooning coffee out or grinding beans or making a mess.
The second reason is that the flavour range is usually very good and that means you don’t have to buy a bag of filter coffee and risk not liking it but being stuck with that flavour. With coffee pod systems, you can buy large multipacks of mixed flavours and choose a different one for each brew.
Are Coffee Pods expensive?
Like most things, difference brands have different price points, with some of the best coming from the large, mass-market coffee machine ranges like Tassimo and Nespresso. Buying is bulk is always worth it and great deals can be found on Amazon or eBay. Bulk mixed boxes are one of the cheapest ways to try out new flavours and because each is individually sealed, those you don’t like can be kept in the cupboard for a friend with different tastes.
Illy and Lavazza also have coffee pod ranges but tend to be more expensive. Their coffee is aimed at the more specialist coffee drinker and their ranges tend to be on the more classic flavour end than the wide ranges of the mass-market brands. If you’re an espresso obsessive and like the highest quality coffee, illy, Lavazza and even Melitta are good coffee pod options.
Top Coffee Pod Brands
Nescafe coffee pods have one of the widest flavour ranges on the market as well as some of the best and cheapest pod coffee machines, the Dolce Gusto range. They have a broad range of flavours and release even more as limited editions. From Caramel Macchiatos to Moroccan teas, Nescafe coffee pod flavours are pretty much guaranteed to contain many to suit the tastes of everyone.
Nespresso is another coffee pod system from Nescafe but can only be used in Nespresso compatible machines (of which there are many) and cannot be used in Dolce Gusto machines. Both Dolce Gusto and Nespresso pods come in a huge variety of flavours.
Tassimo is a coffee pod system made by Mondelez and compatible machines are made by Bosch. The Tassimo range of coffee pods is as wide as or wider than the Nespresso range, and Tassimo have forged strong connections to other companies such as Cadburys, Carte Noir, Suchard, Costa, Milka and Twinings. Like the Nescafe coffee pod ranges, Tassimo are ideally suited for those with a range of tastes or families and colleagues who like coffee, teas and hot chocolates. Tassimo owns the market on choice really, because those who are devoted to, for instance, Twinings teas, can switch to the instant pod machine system and still enjoy their favourite brand.
Lavazza is a hugely popular Italian coffee brand who specialise in traditional, richly flavoured coffees and espressos. Their coffee pod range isn’t particularly extensive, but it covers all the purist coffees and makes delicious brews. Compatible with Lavazza pod coffee machines, the Modo Mio capsules are slightly more expensive than Nespresso but are arguably a better quality.
Downsides to Coffee Pods
There are plenty of upsides to coffee pods; the flavour range is excellent and you can try a new one each time. You can use one coffee pod machine to make all your hot drinks with teas, hot chocolates, coffees and speciality drinks. They’re affordable and even cheap when bought in bulk and there’s no mess and no faff. But what of the downsides?
The big downside is the environmental factor. In fact, it’s such a big downside that the inventor of the original coffee pod, John Sylvan, says he regrets inventing them. Made out of non-biodegradable plastics, coffee pods are piling up around the globe in landfills and rubbish dumps.
Very few companies have succeeded in make environmentally friendly coffee pods and considering it’s now estimated that one in three American households use them, the pod problem is a huge one. The ever-growing popularity of these fuss-free easy coffee brews is causing huge amounts of material waste.
Nespresso pods are made from aluminium and are recyclable but often you have to dig around a bit to find out exactly what coffee pods are made of. The most notorious are the K-cups use in the American Keurig machines, a company who’ve promised to make theirs recyclable by 2020.
So should you go for a pod coffee machine? The waste created by coffee pods is enormous and it’s definitely better to go for a brand with recyclable pods. More and more companies are researching ways to make their pods recyclable and so far in the UK it looks like Nespresso lead the way.
Tassimo have set up a recycling program where you can send your T-disc (Tassimo) pod waste back to them. This is done through public drop-off points of which there are many around the UK.
Coffee pod machines are an excellent way of having delicious coffee, tea and hot chocolate at home but they are a hazard to the environment. If you want to enjoy these awesome and affordable coffee pod systems in your own home, definitely consider investing in Tassimo, Nespresso or Dolce Gusto – all of which have recycling programs you can use for free.
Read the complete guide to Pod Coffee Machines – Here