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ESE Pods

An Easy Serving Espresso coffee pod, or E.S.E. pod, is a small, tightly packed coffee disk with a paper filter covering.

On the continent or European mainland, they are also known as Kaffee-pads, espresso-pads or ESE pads in Germany, cafe en dosette ESE or dosettes expresso in France, cialde in Italy and ESE servings in Holland.

Each coffee pod contains approximately seven grams of coffee compressed into a food safe filter package. A double serving contains 14 grams of coffee. Espresso pods are typically 44mm size for E.S.E. certified machines, whereas many USA home single-serve brewers use 55mm pods and thus cannot use E.S.E. coffee pods.

The coffee pod is placed within a pod adaptor in a normal espresso machine or inside the brewing chamber of a coffee pod brewer. The original patent for filter pod technology was registered by K. Cyrus Melikian of Automatic Brewers And Coffee Devices, Inc.(ABCD) in Pennsylvania, USA, in 1959. Eventually licenses for pod technology were granted to an Italian firm and other developers, who created specific standards for proprietary technologies.

The original use of pod machines in Italy was to relieve designated office personnel from the tedium of continuous espresso brewing for office staff. In later years coffee pod brewers were developed for the home market, and for restaurants and other food service businesses where espresso was not a speciality. The use of a pod brewer eliminated most of the training required to operate conventional espresso machines.

The E.S.E. design was created by illy in 1998 as a marketing effort to sell convenience in home espresso preparation. The Easy Serving Espresso system is a brand protected by the Italian Consortium for Development, and is standardized within the industry to assist manufacturers with a quality standard and widen accessibility to the market. Many espresso machines support both espresso coffee pods and ground coffee, including brands other than illy. The E.S.E. specification was intended to be an open design to encourage wide adaptation.

Coffee pod brewers allow many food and beverage servers to provide a standardized quality of espresso with repeatable results every time. Some coffee aficionados consider the taste to be markedly inferior to traditional espresso made with freshly ground beans, however, the quality of a cup of espresso is highly subjective, and freshly made espresso is dependent upon the skill of the barista and the maintenance and calibration of the equipment and other factors. Thus, a consumer can often get an inferior cup of espresso from an expensive traditional machine and fresh coffee, if the preparer does not make the espresso properly.

Pod users and manufacturers cite inconsistent results from traditional methods as reasons why consumers will sometimes cease to patronize traditional espresso servers, and maintain that the consistent quality of premium espresso pods is comparable to the average cup of hand-crafted espresso, and often creates more consumer loyalty. Current coffee pod technology produces a high volume of crema, the foam created at the top of the cup, and a taste that many consumers find comparable with what is available in current espresso bars. This assessment may be in part due to the lesser frequency of proper barista training by many coffee vendors.

An article in the Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2008, by Janet Adamy, noted that the country's largest coffee chain had temporarily closed some of its outlets to retrain baristas, citing problems with barista preparation of espresso drinks and poor practices such as re-foaming milk or calibrating pressure for non-optimal brewing time. Pod manufacturers note that these problems are generally reduced by the use of automatic machines and pod technology.

Advantages of espresso pods include convenience and speed of preparation and easy cleaning, consistency of taste, and less waste of coffee grounds. Disadvantages include higher cost per serving and limited selection of suppliers, as well as some paper waste when the pods are discarded, and mylar film waste from the pouches in which the pods are packed. However, pod manufacturers use only 2 grams of paper fiber in a typical 44 mm coffee pod, and this fiber is easily degradable, so the main waste is the pouch packaging film.

The main advantage of using an ESE pod instead of ground coffee lies in the perfection of the espresso that is provided with these pods. These pods are packed in laminated bags to preserve the freshness of coffee, thus it eliminates the need of having a separate roaster and grinder for roasting and grinding coffee beans. Also with the ESE pods cleaning is a big plus. You just need to remove the used packet from the pod holder and rinse the holder. Thus it increases the durability of your coffee machine. That’s not all; these used pods can be used as a fertiliser in your garden.

So, in a nutshell...

Coffee Pods are one of several single serve coffee options currently available.  Simply put, coffee pods are a single serving of espresso coffee encased in between layers of filter paper.  To ensure freshness, many manufacturers individually wrap and seal their coffee pods.  In fact, all brands currently offered on this site share this feature.  Coffee pods should not be confused with K-cups or T-discs, which are also varieties of single serve coffee, but use different technologies in the brewing process.  At UKCoffeePods, we currently specialize exclusively in the sale of coffee pods.

And they work by...

Coffee pods are perfect for brewing a single cup of your favourite coffee quickly and easily. Since each cup is brewed when you want it, the coffee is never cold or burnt. You also have the opportunity to choose a different flavour or brand of coffee for each cup you brew.  Although brewing instructions will vary based on the type of coffee pod machine used, the process is usually as simple as 1, 2, 3:

1. Open the machine and insert your choice of coffee pod,

2. Place your mug under the spout and press the brew button,

3. Less than 60 seconds later, pick up your mug and enjoy your fresh coffee. 


It’s that simple! Since coffee pods are tightly sealed, there’s never any mess to clean up. Just open the machine and toss the

used coffee pod in the trash. 


And the best results will be achieved by...

While brewing with coffee pods is a very simple task, here are a few tips that will guarantee great results with each and every cup:

1. Wet the coffee pod before brewing. By slightly moistening the coffee pod, you create a better seal in the coffee machine.

2. Use fresh, filtered water. The better your water tastes, the better your coffee will taste.

3. Clean your brewer regularly. Over time, mineral deposits can build up within your pod coffee machine and give your coffee a bitter taste. To remedy this, run a few brewing cycles with only white vinegar in your coffee machine. Consult your coffee machine’s instruction manual for complete descaling instructions.

4. Don’t reuse coffee pods. Each coffee pod is designed to make one cup of coffee. If you try to recycle your used coffee pods to make a second cup, the results will be less than stellar.

5. For stronger coffee, brew with two pods instead of one. Most pod-filter coffee machines can accommodate two pods in the single pod brewing chamber. This will increase the intensity of your coffee’s flavour as you’re combining one serving of water with two servings of coffee beans.

Arabica vs Robusta

It’s the age old question by the caffeine addict – which is the better bean? The classier, subtler, harder to grow arabica, or the hardy, beefy, robust robusta bean?

Arabica (coffea arabica), named by the Arabs, is the more expensive of the two. These trees grow in semitropical climates near the equator, both in the western and eastern hemispheres, at high altitudes. Because ripe arabica cherries (unroasted beans) fall to the ground and spoil, they must be carefully monitored and picked at intervals, which increases production costs.

Robusta trees (coffea canephora), which are grown exclusively in the eastern hemisphere, also thrive in equatorial climates, but at lower altitudes. Their cherries require less care since they remain on the tree after they ripen. Robusta beans have twice the caffeine of arabica (which is why the Italians began using it for espresso), but less flavour. Some supermarkets carry arabica, but most of their brands are robusta. 

To describe the taste of arabica is difficult without using trite words like smooth and mellow. It has a round taste that is both rich and delicate, with good acidity. This does not refer to an actual degree of acidity, but to the sharp and pleasing taste that is neither sour nor sweet.

In fairness, although most robusta coffee is of a lower grade and inferior to arabica, there is a premium crop that is the top of the line for robusta beans. Premium robusta is primarily used in speciality espresso blends, and is never found in instant coffee. It is used because these beans add body to the taste and produce a nice crema on the shot of espresso. This additional body distinguishes the blend in a cappuccino or latte and premium robusta should only be used for espresso and not other brewing methods. In general, an espresso shot benefits from the inclusion of robusta with the arabica content, the degree of which is a matter for debate - that's both the optimum robusta/arabica ratio aswell as how much of an improvement this leads to. These factors are of high importance when selecting a brand of ESE pod (Easy Serving Espresso 44mm coffee pod). Here, the spectrum of arabica:robusta content varies considerably from 100% Arabica to High Robusta (90%) pods.  

An arabica bean is flatter and more elongated; in addition, and the furrow on its flat surface is elongated. It is relatively deep green in color before roasting, sometimes with a bluish tinge.
The robusta bean is more convex and roundish. The bean’s furrow is straight, and it is pale green with grey or brownish tinges.

The arabica, with twice as many chromosomes (44) as the robusta, has great complexity to it, which makes it a great home choice, but the robusta is really the bean that has made low-cost coffee drinking possible. If you can take its slightly more bitter taste (and many prefer it), it’s a great inexpensive option.

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