Coffee beans vs coffee capsules

by Alex Chapman


It's hard to beat the intense aroma of fragrant, freshly brewed coffee wafting through the kitchen on a leisurely Sunday morning. Coffee connoisseurs tend to swear by traditional, freshly brewed coffee and often turn their noses up at coffee pods.

On the other hand, busy Aussies with little time on their hands love the convenience of a coffee pod, and that they can still enjoy the benefit of a deliciously flavour coffee.

So, what's best? To find out, we've taken a deep dive into the coffee beans vs coffee capsules debate.

Different types of coffee machines

While coffee capsules use a coffee pod machine, coffee beans can be brewed in a variety of ways. There are a few different ways that coffee pods and coffee beans can be prepared.

Coffee plunger

A coffee plunger is an affordable and easy way to make a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Plungers are relatively cheap, some cost as little as $30, while more deluxe models can cost up to $100. Plungers - which are often known as a french press - are simple machines that brew ground coffee and water together and extract the coffee before consuming.

Drip coffee maker

Drip coffee is a convenient method for making coffee with coffee beans or ground coffee. If full coffee beans are used, they should be ground down prior to using the machine. Drip coffee is an automatic coffee maker that has a carafe of water and a basket of coffee. The machine creates bubbles of hot water that are delivered to the coffee beans. Once percolated the coffee slowly drips into a pot and is ready to consume.

Aeropress coffee maker

An Aeropress is a highly convenient coffee maker that is often used when travelling or on camping trips. It's a small device that uses ground coffee - this can also be in the form of full coffee beans that are ground down prior to use. The Aeropress has a paper filter at the bottom and requires the ground coffee and hot water to be put inside the canister. The brewed coffee then slowly drips out of the filter into a cup or mug, ready to drink.

Espresso machine

Espresso machines are state-of-the-art coffee makers and are generally used in coffee shops, cafes and restaurants. There are many, many different variations of espresso machines, and some can costs upwards of thousands of dollars. These types of machines can be used to create high-quality coffee, including more complicated types, like cappuccinos, lattes and macchiatos.

Coffee pod machine

Lastly, the coffee pod is an advanced machine, that's simple to use. The user only needs to put water and a pod into the machine, and the coffee maker will do the rest. Pods are pre-measured coffee that's kept in air-tight capsules to retain its flavour and goodness. Despite how simple it is, coffee pod machines actually work in a very similar way to an espresso machine.

Can coffee pod machines make coffee as well as other methods?

While coffee aficionados may scoff at coffee pod machines in comparison to a traditional espresso machine, the truth is that coffee pod machines can actually make great coffee.

There are a few reasons why coffee pod machines are comparable - if not better - than some other means of brewing coffee, but one of the main ones is the coffee that's used. The coffee that's in a pod can be extremely high-quality coffee. This obviously depends on the brand of pod you pick, however, if you pick a blend from a reputable brand, it can be cafe quality. For example, the pods at Glass House Mountain are actually the same coffee that's available to buy as beans or blend. This means you have a huge array of choices, ranging from a rich full bodied taste like our Colombian coffee beans to a lightly roasted, fresh taste, like our Buena Vista blend.

It's also important to note that although the coffee in pods is already ground, it's kept in an opaque, air-tight capsule. These capsules are also sealed immediately after roasting. This ensures that the rich flavour has longevity and the coffee doesn't deteriorate. You can check out our guide on how to preserve the flavour of coffee here. [insert link]

Coffee pods machines are advanced devices in the sense that they are able to generate the high pressure that's required to achieve a rich flavour. The advanced technology behind coffee pod makers also spins the ground coffee beans and water at a suitable rate to thoroughly infuse the two together.

The result is an easily prepared and delicious tasting coffee, that requires minimal cleaning up!

Tips for using a coffee pod machine

Use high-quality coffee pods

When it comes to a delectable cup of coffee, picking the right coffee is of the utmost importance. Whether you're after a full bodied cocoa taste or a lightly roasted coffee with fruity notes, the beans determine the flavour that you will be enjoying.

Many people assume that generic coffee capsules are used in coffee machines, this is not the case. There's a wide range of different coffee beans that come in pods that can be used to create an exquisite cup of joe.

A long black doesn't use more coffee than an espresso

A common mistake that coffee pod machine users make is choosing a long black setting in an attempt to get more coffee out of their pod. However, despite the setting chosen, the full pod will be used. Long coffees will simply use more water.

You don't need to buy coffee pods the same brand as your coffee pod machine

Nespresso is undoubtedly the most popular coffee pod machine on the market. What a lot of people don't know is that you don't have to specifically use Nespresso pods in a Nespresso coffee machine. As long as the pod is the right size for your particular coffee machine, you can use any brand.

At Glass House Mountain Coffee, our Wild Horse coffee pods are designed to be Nespresso compatible. That means you can enjoy a huge range of different beans and flavours from all over the world, while still using your trusty Nespresso coffee machine.

Use filtered water

Whether you're making coffee with any of the above listed coffee machines, or if you're using a coffee capsule machine, it's a good idea to use filtered water. Tap water often has chlorine, limescale build-up and small particles of dust, rust and sediment. Filtered water will have these nasties removed, helping you achieve the best tasting coffee possible.

Advantages of coffee pod machines

  • They're very easy to use
  • They have minimal clean up
  • They provide a consistent taste
  • The coffee is kept fresh in air tight, opaque capsules
  • A range of different flavours can easily be enjoyed


Disadvantages of coffee pod machines

  • They usually aren't eco-friendly, although you can compost them
  • It's hard to adjust the strength of coffee because the sizes are set
  • More complex coffees - like macchiatos and cappuccinos - may be more are harder to achieve
  • Some coffee pods don't fit some coffee machines
  • The cost per amount of coffee in a pod tends to be higher than buying fresh coffee beans or ground coffee


In conclusion

Coffee pods tend to get a much harsher review than they deserve. When the correct quality of coffee capsule is used, the brew can be a rich, delectable cup of coffee - of similar quality to one produced by a barista. If you're busy and aren't particularly skilled in making coffees, then a coffee pod can be a great choice for high quality, fresh coffee.

However, if you prefer coffees that are more technical to make - like a creamy latte - then the quality may be more superior when it's created by a skilled barista, using an espresso machine. Also, it's important to note that while coffee capsules are sealed with freshly ground coffee, it's hard to beat the taste of freshly ground coffee beans that are ground instantly before the preparation of the coffee.

Essentially, the method of preparation really depends on personal preference, as well as the individual's coffee-making skills, and the amount of time on hand.

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