The Pros and Cons of Coffee Capsules

The Pros and Cons of Coffee Capsules

Posted by Meera Nair on

Let’s face it, not everyone wants to be a home barista. And most definitely not everyone has the time to grind fresh coffee and brew a pot first thing in the morning.

So when you can simply plug a capsule into your home espresso machine and let it do its thing, it can seem like a blessing. 

But this uber-convenience is not without its own downside. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at coffee capsules, including both the pros and the cons of using them.

What are Coffee Capsules and How are They Different From Coffee Pods?

Coffee capsules are small cylindrical containers that seal ground coffee in them. They are made to be used for single servings in coffee machines. Think coffee dip bags but more convenient and far less steeping of ground coffee in hot water.

The shell-like containers are typically made with aluminium or plastic. The primary difference between capsules and pods is that the latter are made with paper and don’t remain fresh for as long as capsules do. Pods tend to be flatter in shape. Capsules also are vacuum-sealed, making them the sturdier option of the two.

You’re probably wondering how these work. When the capsule is placed in a coffee machine, it gets pierced on both sides. Hot water is then pressurised through the capsule, extracting the flavour compounds from the coffee grinds and finally getting collected in the mug placed below.

how do coffee capsules work

Over time, as the popularity of coffee capsules grew, the waste generated by them increased multifold leading to concerns about how the coffee industry was impacting the environment. 

In response to this, manufacturers and brands began to look for eco-friendly solutions in terms of materials they could use. Further, they began to focus on educating customers about safe disposal measures.

There are now some biodegradable capsule options available.

When and How Are Coffee Capsules Made?

Coffee capsules aren’t actually a recent invention in the coffee world. The first one was patented all the way back in 1976 by Eric Favre, a Swiss engineer. Having worked at Nestle, he played a crucial role in the production of the first-ever commercially available capsule in 1986. 

These capsules weren’t launched in isolation but along with the coffee machines that they could be used in. And that’s how, over the next few decades, the K-Cup and Dolce Gusto machines flooded the market.

The manufacturing of coffee capsules takes place in a roastery. Once the coffee roaster has decided on the materials to be used for coffee, the capsule shells are placed in the machinery. It is called an auger filling machine. It packs a specific quantity of ground coffee into each capsule. 

The edges of the capsules are cleaned to ensure that they are sealed properly. All of this is done at a rapid pace by the machine. 

Pros and Cons of Using Capsules

One of the main advantages of using coffee capsules is that you don’t need to be well-versed in the art of brewing good coffee. Even if you have minimal knowledge about grinding coffee or what quantity of water to use to get the perfect cup, you can rely on the consistency that coffee capsules promise. So each time you brew a cup, you know it’s going to taste the same.

to use capsules or not

Additionally, they are a lot more convenient than other brewing methods as you can brew a cup in a minute if not less - perfect for when you’re in a rush.

Moving onto the cons of using coffee capsules, there are a few that you might want to consider. For starters, capsules are made to fit certain coffee machines. So you get limited flexibility in terms of using different brewing methods and consequently enjoying the kind of coffee that is best made with that brew gear.

Another major concern of using coffee capsules is the environmental effect, as mentioned above. Many of the plastic capsules are not biodegradable, generate more waste than if you were to use bags of coffee, and increase the carbon footprint.

Lastly, with coffee capsules, you are paying more for coffee that has been roasted a while ago. Since capsules are made in bulk, there’s no way of ensuring that you get maximum freshness as compared to when you buy bags of freshly roasted coffee. Added to the cost of it all is the price of the coffee machine, which is definitely more than what a Moka pot or French Press would cost you.

On the whole, there needs to be more innovation in the coffee capsule space to mitigate the negatives and make them an appealing option for consumers. 

If you are looking for coffees that are roasted in small batches and delivered promptly to maintain freshness, check out our single origins and blends. We also offer subscription options so that you don’t have to worry about running out of your favourite brew.

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