Everything you need to know about coffee pods

19 Mar 2021


How do they work? What coffee machine do you need? Just keep reading, we’ve got it all…

For those who are short on time, impatient for their dosage of caffeine, or simply in need of a bit of coffee convenience, coffee pods are a blessing. We appreciate the ease that coffee pods bring so much that we created our own range of eco-friendly pods!

We’ve taken a look at everything there is to know about coffee pods. This blog will give experts and novices alike a deeper insight into the world of capsules and coffee machines. So, make a cuppa, grab a snack (we suggest chocolate – we promise chocolate and coffee really do go together) and get ready to quench your thirst for coffee knowledge.

What are coffee pods?

What do you think of when you picture coffee? Dark, ground powder, stored in some form of bag or container is probably the first image that springs to mind. That’s why you wouldn’t be naîve in asking yourself ‘what are coffee pods and how are they different to normal coffee?’.

Coffee pods aren’t all that different from the regular coffee you brew with a French press. Coffee pods – also called capsules – are a bit like teabags. This is because you get a pre-measured serving of coffee in a filter paper or a small individual pod.

However, whilst you simply pour hot water on a tea bags, you need a coffee machine to for your coffee capsules. They use pressure and hot water to create a delicious cup of coffee.

Do any coffee pods fit all machines?

coffee machine and coffee pods

This is where it gets slightly more confusing. Coffee capsules used to only be compatible with a machine of the same brand, but this is changing. For example, ESE pods can be served in any espresso machine that is ESE compatible as the pods come in the same size.

When coffee machines and coffee capsules first started gaining popularity, you’d usually be limited in the coffee pods you could buy. However, these days many companies make coffee pods that are compatible with a wide range of machines.

What coffee machines do Hotel Chocolat coffee pods fit?

We designed our coffee pods to work with our specially-engineered Podster, but they’ll also work just as well in Nespresso® (excludes Vertuo), Delonghi, Breville and many other coffee machines.

Make sure that your favourite coffee comes in pods that are compatible with the coffee machine you want to buy. Otherwise, you’ll be heartbroken when you can’t buy a certain brand or capsule size!

Are coffee pods real coffee?

The short answer is – yes, coffee pods are real coffee. However, the taste is a little different to handcrafted espresso. Some believe that the taste of a coffee pod lacks the depth and overall complex flavour of traditional ground coffee.

There are two main reasons for this. The first is that coffee pods contain coffee that is not as fresh as handcrafted espresso. Handmade espresso coffee involves grinding the coffee immediately before use, which helps to preserve flavour. In fact, the actual grinding process of coffee helps to release nuanced aromas from the coffee which can be lost if the ground coffee is left for too long.

As coffee pods are pre-ground in a factory they are not quite as fresh. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean the coffee is stale! Most pods are sealed in individual airtight packages before being flushed with nitrogen to get rid of any oxygen. This stops the coffee from degrading immediately. As you only use one pod at a time, it also means your coffee doesn’t start losing flavour immediately after you open the packet! Check out our blog on how to keep coffee fresh to make the most out of your beans.

One of the main benefits of coffee pods is that they’re so easy and mess-free to use. Because the pods are already pre-dosed and pre-tamped you don’t have to worry about how much to use to make the perfect cup. No washing up and no coffee grounds spilling over your freshly-cleaned kitchen top! Just freshly-brewed coffee at the touch of a button

Although some may bash the flavour coffee pods in comparison to freshly ground coffee, the individual servings means it’s generally fresher than using a large pack of pre-ground coffee. When it comes to how you drink your coffee, the chances are that the overall flavour of coffee pods might even be better than to your typical cuppa.

How to use coffee pods

white mug of coffee on a table

With coffee pods, you don’t need to spend time measuring out the perfect serving of coffee. Pods contain a standard amount of 6.8g – 7.5g of coffee with every pod, made to a size of 44mm.

How to use the pods depends on your machine. It’s always a good idea to consult the instruction manual before you make your coffee to avoid any accidents.

First, place your mug under the valve where the coffee comes out. Next, make sure you fill the water tank with water until it reaches the point of max fill. You should use cool clean water, and you may choose to use filtered or distilled water to reduce any further mineral buildup. This will help your machine last longer and work better.

Next, remove the pod from its packaging and place the pod into your coffee machine. It should fit snugly into the pod holder. Once secured, click it closed. Adjust the settings on the machine to suit your tastes, and you’re ready to brew. After you start the machine, hot coffee will begin to pour into your mug, releasing a delicious aroma!

How to recycle coffee pods

How to recycle coffee pods depends on the type of packaging the coffee comes in. The filter-paper coffee capsules are often fully recyclable. You can either compost them as you would a normal teabag, or bury them in the garden as a natural and free fertiliser.

If your coffee capsules are aluminium they can go into household recycling as long as you remove the plastic lid. However, used pods are full of water-sodden coffee which means they often can’t be recycled and get thrown out with the rest of the rubbish. Some coffee companies try to work around this by asking coffee drinkers to collect their pods, and then send a courier to collect them. Better than nothing, but not exactly a completely green solution! Treading lightly on the planet is part of our DNA at Hotel Chocolat, so we came up with an easier, greener way.

Say hello to our Podcycler. It presses used coffee capsules, removing all the coffee and enabling effortless household recycling. Use them with all brands of aluminium pods – including ours – and you’ll never send another one to landfill!

Can you get reusable coffee pods?

Unfortunately, out of 39,000 coffee capsules produced every minute, 29,000 of them end up in landfill. This is because either some coffee capsules contain plastic in their packaging, making them hard to recycle, or because people don’t bother to recycle.

However, there are plenty of reusable coffee capsules available: click here to see just some of the reusable coffee capsules that are available on the market.

Alternatively, using paper coffee pods results in pretty much zero waste, as the material holding the coffee is pretty much the same as a teabag. If you’re conscious of your waste levels, then using coffee pods or 100% recyclable coffee capsules are a good way to stay waste-free.

Are coffee pods the best way to drink coffee?

hands holding a latte

Not necessarily. Coffee pods have a reputation for being quick and easy, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy your coffee without them. Coffee has a deep and rich history that dates way back before the invention of coffee machines. If you’d like to know more about how coffee made its way onto our table – or into our mug – then read our complete guide to International Coffee Day.

If you like to make your own coffee with a cafetiere, moka pot or Aeropress, for example, then why not try our five unique coffee blends? You can buy them in pods for your machine or as coffee beans so you can include them in your personal coffee ritual.

If you don’t have a coffee machine and struggle to find the time to make delicious coffee at home, then we have another answer! Our Latte Sachets come in a range of flavours so you can enjoy the comforting coffee taste without the hassle. Choose from classic, caramel, chocolate and hazelnut; all-natural flavours, guaranteed.

We designed our Sachets to pair with The Velvetiser, giving you smooth and barista-grade coffee in a matter of minutes. The Velvetiser is also incredibly easy to use: you don’t need to fiddle around with settings, simply press a button and wait as the machine velvetises your blend to the perfect temperature.

Perfection shouldn’t waste time. Save yours by brewing your coffee in a way that suits you.