What’s the Difference Between the Two Choices?
Some people believe that the invention of the coffee capsule actually revolutionized coffee drinking—I don’t really know if that’s true, but we’re going to look at how very different coffee from ground beans and capsules actually are.
Now, if the invention of the coffee capsule revolutionized anything it absolutely changed the way that people thought about a cup of espresso. Eric Favre, was set on inventing something in his engineering career that would sell.
He actually began his career in the packaging department of the Swiss headquarters of Nestlé. He was in constant contact with the research and development side, but also with sales, marketing and production and so his search for the perfect cup of Italian espresso began. His ambition was for anyone to be able to prepare and savor the delectable drink in the comfort of their home. Favre and his Italian wife scoured Italy and when they finally discovered Café Sant’Eustachio, where local Italians lined up to sample a cup of the
His ambition was for anyone to be able to prepare and savor the delectable drink in the comfort of their home. Favre and his Italian wife scoured Italy and when they finally discovered Café Sant’Eustachio, where local Italians lined up to sample a cup of the barista, Mr. Eugenio’s best tasting coffee they knew they had found it.
Mr. Favre took it upon himself to create the exact formula that Mr. Eugenio had given him, and with his Engineering background he soon came up with a capsule that initially resembled a bowler hat and later evolved into its present form, which gave birth to the Nespresso revolution (and created a new market). Nevertheless, it still produces some delicious tasting coffee.
Coffee beans are of course the more natural way that we drink coffee, and often lack in the quickness and efficiency that the capsule can provide. Coffee beans have to first be planted, and then picked and the beans have to be processed before they even reach the supermarket. There’s a lot of work that goes into the coffee bean. It doesn’t make it any less special, but it definitely appeals to people that want to take their time and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee that will most likely vary in flavor from day to day.
Coffee beans have to first be planted, and then picked and the beans have to be processed before they even reach the supermarket. There’s a lot of work that goes into the coffee bean. It doesn’t make it any less special, but it definitely appeals to people that want to take their time and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee that will most likely vary in flavor from day to day.
What’s the Cost Difference?
When the guy that invented the K-Cup, John Sylvan came out and admitted the following we should all take note, although the capsules (i.e. Nespresso pods) and K-Cup pods are a bit different. They’re closely related in cost and quality:
“I don’t have one. They’re kind of expensive to use,” Sylvan said of the K-Cup system he created. “Plus, it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.”
Okay, so here’s how to justify the cost of capsule machines if you’re a fan of them—using them is easy. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to push a button to have a delicious, instant brew of coffee. I have to agree with Sylvan that if cost is a factor then capsules are not the method to use unless you’re an avid Starbucks drinker spending about $5 on a cup of coffee daily; you’re really not going to save that much money with the capsule method.
When the inventor of something feels “bad sometimes” about the thing he invented it should be raising some major red flags though—does Sylvan feel like he took advantage of people’s love affair with coffee?
I guess there’s also the whole environmental impact that factors in with coffee pods being potentially “un-recyclable”. We shouldn’t stray away from the original topic of price point though because after all we know that the coffee bean is the clear winner in this category.
I’ve spent probably a total of $300 on equipment to make my coffee taste better, but I start out with just a bag of whole coffee beans from roasteries like Metropolis and that costs about $15 a bag, and a bag can make about 30 cups of coffee.
Also, you really don’t need all of the equipment that I use to brew the coffee. A kettle and a decent French press set up or a nice coffee machine would still probably run you in the market of $60, while something like a K-Cup Coffee Maker costs about $100 and a Nespresso Machine is about $150. People acknowledge that the capsule machines are expensive, but are they also discussing the cost of the pricey K-Cup pods and capsules?
The Atlantic ran an amazing story that estimated the tiny amount of coffee used in each K-Cup winds up costing the equivalent of $40 per pound. I can buy a 1 pound bag of Redline Espresso blend from Metropolis Coffee Company for $15.10.
That’s a very big difference in price point, and I’m purchasing coffee beans from a more high-end, pricey coffee company.
Forty dollars for one pound of coffee is easily three times the price of a pound of ground or whole bean coffee at Starbucks. If you’re trying to save money then don’t justify spending it on an instant coffee pod machine, but if you’re trying to save a few extra minutes in the morning—then I say jump on the opportunity to use coffee capsules.
Which One Would Win in a Blind Taste Test?
I really can’t tell you because the study has never been conducted, but I’m going to go after my own research and taste preference and say that coffee beans take the lead in the flavor department. Again, you’re probably going to think that I’m some sort of coffee bean snob, but first let me explain why I think that coffee beans are better in taste overall before you put forth judgment.
Nespresso Coffee pods were created originally for espresso—because espresso is not the easiest person for the average coffee drinker to make. I’ll agree that an espresso drink, or really any drink that takes some real know-how tastes much better when it’s coming out of a coffee capsule.
It took me a long time to perfect just the average cup of coffee, and for people that don’t have the time or interest in researching how to make a great cup of coffee then the coffee capsules are going to win the taste test.
Now, with that being said—the Nespresso coffee capsules would beat the coffee bean in specialty drink coffees, but the coffee beans ability to create aromatic and tasteful cups of coffee make it a go-to for anyone that knows how to brew their own coffee.
Keurig vs Nespresso Pods
Keurig coffee capsules, on the other hand, are decidedly less quality than Nespresso. Hands down, Nespresso pods (and the machines) give a better coffee than do Keurig machines. However, Nespresso is an espresso machine (or sort of one) with actual pressure pumps inside while the Keurig machines are drip coffee machines. So directly comparing them is perhaps not fair as they both do different things — one making coffee while the other (Nespresso) making espressos.
I like to take the time to choose specialty blends and grind the coffee beans in my electric grinder and then make the coffee either using the drip method or my French press—but those take a lot of time. I’m used to factoring in the time it takes me to make a cup of coffee and so I still can’t say anything has a better taste than a cup of coffee with freshly ground beans.
If I’m feeling extremely daring then I’ll add brown sugar and whipped cream, but really that’s as special as my specialty coffee palette is going to get.
I can completely understand the desire and the taste preference for a coffee capsule though because you’re constantly getting the same formulated cup of coffee with little to no change in flavor each time. It’s appealing to people that want something fast and delicious every time. I’ve had my fair share of coffee making failures by either not measuring out the coffee bean to water ratio or letting the grounds sit too long in the French press. There are a lot of things you have to factor in when you make your own cup of coffee that don’t come with the simplicity of the coffee capsule machine.
Characteristics and Variety
Nespresso offers a huge variety of coffee’s.
By using coffee capsules there’s no real end to the variety in that department—with 16 different flavors that are divided into 4 types of coffee: Espresso, Pure Origine, Lungo and Decaffeinato capsules. The Espresso capsules are the standard coffee that most people enjoy sipping on.
Generally called a ‘shorter’ coffee that comes in a variety of strengths. The Espresso capsules have seven different choices including Ristretto, Arpeggio, Roma, Livanto, Capriccio, Volluto and Cosi. The Pure Origine capsules are also technically part of the Espressos family, but these are different because they can be traced back to a single place of origin.
There are three varieties in the Pure Origin Capsule choice: Indriya, Rosabay and Dulsao. Lungo capsules are part of the ‘longer’ coffee family, designed to use twice the amount of water that is needed for an espresso.
It’s not quite what an ‘Americano’ might be called because it uses a little bit less water than even that, but it falls somewhere between those two drinks. The Lungo capsules have three choices: Fortissio Lungo, Vivalto Lungo and Linizio Lungo.
For those fans of the decaffeinated varieties, Nespresso made sure to have you covered with the Decaffeinato capsules. There are three of these variety which vary by intensity including Decaffeinato Intenso, Decaffeinato and Decaffeinato Lungo.
Nespresso coffee capsule definitely don’t disappoint in the variety they offer customers, but I wonder if the coffee bean crowd would disagree.
Okay, with coffee beans there are really three main types that you need to concern yourself with: Arabica, Robusta, Liberian. Arabica coffee beans make up a huge percentage, about 70% of the world market for coffee beans.
This is considered a ‘fancy grade’ coffee bean, and you can find it mostly in specialty coffee shops. Arabica beans are grown on steep terrain that can only be reached by humans, so mechanical harvesting is impossible to reach the beans. This hand-picking ensures that there’s an amazing quality of selection with much less under/over ripe beans being selected to be processed.
Robusta beans make up about 27% of the market, it’s a high caffeine content species that’s a much cheaper bean to produce with a lower taste profile, quite often this is what’s used for instant coffee. It’s primarily produced in places like Indonesia, West Africa, Brazil and Vietnam. It’s commonly referred to as Congo coffee.
Liberian coffee, or Coffea liberica Bull is grown in Malaysia, Liberia and the Ivory Coast, and makes up a very small percentage of the world coffee bean market at having only 3%.
If you think that coffee beans have limited themselves with just those three varieties think again because cultivators that have been developed from the two main species (Arabica and Robusta) include: Wild Coffee, Baron Goto Red, Blue Mountain, Borubon, Brazilian Coffea, Caracol/Caracoli, Catimor, Catuai, Caturra, Columbiana, Congencis, DewevreiIt, DybowkiiIt, Excelsa, Guadalupe, Guatemal, Hibrido de Timor, Icatu, Interspecific Hybrids, ‘K7’/’SL6’/’SL26’/’H66’/’KP532’, Kent, Kouillou, Laurina, Maragogipe/Maragogype, Mauritiana, Mundo Novo, Neo-Arnoldiana, Nganda, Paca, Pacamara, Pache Colis, Pache Comum, Preanger, Pretoria, Purpurescens, Racemosa, Ruiru 11, San Ramon, Tico, Timor Hybrid, Typica and Villalobos.
Now, I’m sure you didn’t make it through more than two lines before skipping down to the bottom to see what I had to say about all of these coffee bean cross-breeds and the variety they created in the coffee industry. There were 42 varieties
There were 42 varieties in that list that I provided, and each one was created for a different reason—perhaps for a more localized flavor, to boost production volumes, increase disease resistance or simply to improve the taste quality of what you pour in your cup.
I have to say though that even with 42 varieties of coffee beans… I still have to choose coffee capsules as the definitive winner in this category. Many people know how to brew a standard cup of coffee, but the beans are still just going to produce black coffee at the end of the day—it would take a machine to create a variety of specialty drinks for us, and that’s why the coffee capsule wins in the variety department.
A coffee bean at the end of the day is only as good as the person that’s making the coffee and not everyone knows how to make an espresso, latte, americano or mocha the was a Nespresso machine can. Coffee beans also provide different tasting notes, but you have to be attuned to looking for those and not everyone can taste the difference between a specialty blend coffee and single-origin.
End Result: Which One Makes the Best Cup of Coffee?
No matter what though, it’s great to learn how to make a great cup of coffee and there’s something wonderful about the end result of a great-tasting cup of coffee, whether you choose coffee capsules or coffee beans.