Brewing coffee nowadays is about as easy it gets, with machines able to brew and pull espresso shots just by inserting a pod and pushing a button. But how do these pod espresso machines compare to more traditional espresso machines, in which the user grinds and tamps the coffee beans?
Pod espresso machines, as the name suggests, use disposable plastic capsules that are full of coffee grounds to brew.
Using these machines are usually pretty simple, and require the user to simply pop in one of the pods, place a cup underneath the spout, and hit brew.
Aside from that basic feature, the other functions of these machines can depend a lot on the manufacturer. Some will come with a milk frothing chamber, and others will require the use of a separate milk frother; Nespresso models will usually come bundled with a milk frother. Some machines, such as the newer Verismo from Starbucks, have the ability to brew coffee, as well as espresso. Having both a coffee maker and espresso machine in one is great for saving counter space.
One of the downsides for pod machines is that the coffee grounds being used are not as fresh as they could be, especially when compared to freshly ground beans that a traditional espresso machine would use.
The pods themselves, while it depends on the type required for the specific machine, also end up costing much more per cup of coffee than a one pound bag of beans would. For pod machines, the user will sacrifice freshness and some quality in exchange for convenience.
Traditional espresso machines don’t go without their faults, though. Oftentimes being difficult to learn how to use properly, espresso machines face the problem of a steeper learning curve. With the user having to measure the weight of beans used, dial in the proper grind level after tons of trial and error, the whole process can be a bit overwhelming.
While overwhelming, pulling espresso shots with a traditional machine is also very rewarding, especially once the user has climbed the learning curve.
Advantages of a normal espresso machine primarily lies in the quality of the shots produced, seeing how freshly ground coffee is used, as opposed to vacuum sealed pods of grounds. It is also much more rewarding to use an espresso machine properly than it is to use a pod machine, as there is a lot of skill required to pull perfect shots.
Espresso machines are more difficult and less convenient to use than pod machines are, but the quality is much better.
While the previous example highlights the pros and cons of a semi-automatic espresso machine, in which the user still measures, grinds, and tamps the grounds, some espresso machines require none of that, and are known as super-automatic espresso machines.
Much like pod machines, super-automatic espresso machines are able to pull espresso shots with the push of a button, and are quite simple to use.
If trying to choose between the two, budget is also another factor. While it depends on the manufacturer, pod machines are generally less expensive than an espresso machine, especially those of the super-automatic variety. Either way, it is completely personal choice as to which style of espresso machine, pod or otherwise, provides the best results and is more convenient.