How do Single Serve “Pod” Coffee Makers Work?

Are you a big-time coffee aficionado? Can’t get on with your day without your daily fix of caffeine? The only option that coffee lovers have apart from brewing their own cups at home is doling out a considerable amount every day at a local coffee shop.

To avoid expenditure, more and more people are switching to new and modern ways of preparing their coffee in the Ninja coffee bar.

Single serve or “pod” coffee makers took the markets by rage when they were introduced by Nespresso about 20 years ago.

Owing to their unique and compact design, these machines have now found a permanent place in many kitchens. Read on to know how exactly these brewers work, and how they match up against regular, freshly roasted and ground coffee.

What are coffee pods?

A coffee pod is a round paper or aluminium bound pellet that contains enough ground coffee to prepare a single cup. When used with a pod coffee maker, you can brew a variety of types, roasts and flavours with these pods. Sized at a standard 44mm, and containing about 7 grams of pre-roasted coffee, these pods have revolutionized the way we make coffee at home.

An Easy Serving Espresso or ESE is a special kind of coffee pod that makes a single cup of steaming hot and strong espresso.

What exactly are single serve coffee makers?

Pod brewers are an answer to simplifying the coffee brewing process. The machine does away with the need to measure exact portions of coffee and water and keeping accurate time. For this, it has two major components, the water tank area and the coffee pod area – and by forcing hot water through the attachable and removable pod, it makes a great cup of coffee in surprisingly less time and leaves little to no mess.

How does it work?

This is the basic process of how a single serve coffee maker works. Though the components and machinery in different models and brands may vary, the principle remains the same. Here’s how a small capsule of coffee power and a little water turns into that amazing drink that keeps more of us sane and alive.

  • At the back of machine is the water tank. You load a cup of water into it.
  • A small pump at the bottom of the tank pushes the water into the front of the machine.
  • As it does this, the water is made to pass through a series of heating coils. These heat it to the required temperature as per the setting.
  • The hot water is pumped through a constriction right above the coffee pod to increase the pressure.
  • The small jet of water now goes into the coffee pod, which is attached at the end of this tunnel of sorts to release the flavour. A piece of paper in the pod acts as a sieve to stop the coffee power from falling into the cup.
  • Finally, hot coffee drips down the pod and into your cup.

Some precautions to keep in mind

Though making a cup of coffee using a pod brewer is the simplest thing ever, there are still some basic pointers you should keep in mind to make sure that it tastes great and use your machine carefully.

  • Filling the tank – Make sure to only use cool, clean water to fill the tank. You should ideally use filtered water to prevent the build-up of minerals in the tanks that can ruin you machine in the long run
  • Opening the pod – The coffee pod, especially the paper kind, are quite delicate so you must take care not to accidently rip one open while removing it from the packaging. Ensure that you cute carefully along the perforated seam to avoid damaging the pod
  • Choosing the right setting – Your coffee maker will have a few different settings that it can brew which vary according to the amount of water, temperature and time required. A light cup of coffee will have a lot of water and will take lesser amount of time to brew. On the other hand, a strong cup will have much less water heated to a very high temperature. If you don’t adjust the setting, the coffee maker will automatically make a medium cup, so make sure to enter your preferred kind before to hit start.
  • Picking the correct pod – Not all coffee pods available in the shops are compatible with all models and brands of single serve coffee makers. So, take care to stock up only on pods that work with your machine. You can, however, work around this constraint by using a “pod holster” to secure non-compatible pods into place.

Why should you use a pod coffee maker?

Coffee pods are very handy and convenient because each pod comes with its individual packaging that makes sure that the whole lot doesn’t get exposed to air and light, as with regular coffee beans.

There is also no wastage when you use a pod to make your coffee. Single serve coffee makers are super easy to use and clean and barely take up any space. You don’t have to weigh the coffee each time, tamp it down, keep an eye on the temperature and all that.

So, they are definitely an economical and functional alternative to large, and difficult to handle regular coffee machines.

There are some drawbacks to this great invention, however. Firstly, the range of coffees that you can brew is limited and won’t quite measure up to the authentic feel of freshly roasted and ground beans.

Secondly, some aluminium-wrapped coffee pods generate a lot of non-reclyable waste that is not eco-friendly at all. So, we suggest that you opt for paper or cloth bound pods to reduce pollution.

All in all, the single serve coffee maker is ideal for those coffee lovers who don’t want to splurge on the local Starbucks every single day. If you’re not extremely picky about the taste, this is definitely the machine for you.


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