Are coffee pod machines any good?
Come on. You can guess where we're going to go on this one, right? As a roastery, that firmly believes fresh coffee is the best coffee, we are biased. But, even we will admit that coffee pod machines have some good points. There are also things that you can do to make them better.
Why Coffee Pod Machines are Good
There are times when you just want something simple and convenient. You just want to press a button and get a coffee without putting in too much time or effort. The compromise you make is that... well... the coffee just isn't that great.
These machines are relatively inexpensive, they don't take up a huge amount of counter space, they are simple to use, and they offer a large selection of coffee flavours (as well as hot chocolate! Let's not forget that major plus).
Limitations of Coffee Pod Machines
With everything 'taken care of' for you, you lose some control. You are limited to the pre-ground coffee that they package into the pods which is certainly not fresh roasted - it could have been on a shelf for months. The flavour, when compared to freshly roasted and well prepared coffee, is just not comparable.
We understand that sometimes, on a morning, you just need to grab your caffeine fix and go. But, if all you're after is a caffeine fix, there are pills that will spare you to chore of having to swallow sub-par coffee.
Locked in to a system
Like printer cartridges, once you have the machine you're locked into one system. If they stop making the pods or change their design you need to buy a whole new machine.
Now, they are relatively cheap, but wouldn't it be better to reduce the waste we produce? Which leads on to the plastic pod problem.
They are single-use, plastic pods that just get thrown away (or are very difficult to recycle). This is quite a high price for convenience.
How to make them better
It is possible to get around a few of the coffee pod problems. There are Refillable pods available from third-party producers. These are typically stainless steel and allow you to choose your own coffee (freshly roasted, of course) and reduce the plastic waste. It will also mean that you can keep your machine if the manufacturer stop producing the pods it needs. They will need cleaning, but it is still pretty convenient.
Another great option would be swapping your pod-based coffee for a Moka pot (if you like it strong) or even an AeroPress. Both of these methods would solve most of the pod problems without breaking the bank.
Fresher is Better
Pre-packed coffee may have been roasted months ago. It could possibly have been sitting on a shelf or in a warehouse all of that time, losing freshness. We look for freshness in all of our other food products: fresh bread is better than stale, fresh fruit, veg, milk. Why should coffee be any different? It isn't.
As coffee ages it loses those interesting and complex flavours that make it exciting. Everything becomes a bitter, wooden taste. The only way to excite it again is to hide that taste with syrups, flavourings, sugar. If you're interested in getting into great tasting coffee and away from pods, check out this article on How To Make Great Coffee At Home
WARNING: Once you realise how great coffee can be, especially when it is freshly roasted, you may never look back.