There comes a time in every coffee connoisseur’s life when he realizes that he’s spending way too much on coffee. But having tasted the high-quality premium coffee, one cannot afford to downgrade to coffee pouches and instant mix. Coffee pods are often presented as the leading alternative to barista-served coffee, but are they worth it?
Coffee pod machines are worth it if you’re looking to save money while enjoying cafe-quality drinks. While the machines serve coffee that’s nearly identical to barista-served beverages, you break even per cup (in the long run) because of the relatively lower cost of coffee pods.
However, that does not mean coffee pod machines are a no-brainer for everyone. You’ll learn about the benefits and the drawbacks of these machines throughout this article. More importantly, you’ll find out the best way to use the machine while driving down your usage cost by 90%. Finally, I will explain how a coffee pod machine saves $60 per month in the long run.
What are the Pros and Cons of Coffee Pod Machines?
Now that you’ve learned that these machines don’t save you enough money per cup to be worth the purchase, we must explore their advantages so you have the complete picture before you make your buying decision. There are also a few drawbacks you need to keep in mind, which I will address towards the end of this section.
The coffee brewing process is quite delicate, and even baristas can get things wrong. You may have experienced this at your local coffee shop, where the coffee is sometimes just right while at other times something seems to be off.
With most professional-grade coffee machines, the barista must know not only how to operate the machine but also the best grind size for the bean and its respective roast. If you go full DIY with your coffee, you may not want to have a high hit-or-miss factor, especially if you’re in a serving environment. A coffee pod machine ensures that each cup will come out with the same quality and taste provided you use the same pod.
As mentioned above, coffee pod machines shine through in a serving environment. The fact you can pop a pod into the coffee machine without having to worry about the filter basket, group head, and handle (that scoop thing you see baristas using) or replacing coffee beans adds to the value of coffee pod machines in environments like offices, artist studios, and other professional settings.
Whether a coffee pod machine is in an office pantry or a kitchen at an Airbnb, it is accessible to everyone. People do not need to know the various settings and complicated button combinations required to get a coffee drink.
The coffee pod machines are simple, and even though there’s a little bit of a learning curve, it is much shorter than an espresso machine. A small printed card can instantly educate your guests on how to use the device. Think of its ease of use as being similar to a coffee vending machine (albeit with much better quality coffee).
No Stale Coffee
If you use a coffee machine, you might have to brew large batches. And coffee isn’t the best drink to leave idle for a few hours. It might not get stale enough to be a health hazard, but it definitely loses taste, and your consumption experience isn’t as good.
With a coffee pod, you’re serving one cup per pod and therefore can afford to self-serve or serve your guests fresh coffee drinks any time. Please note that there are non-pod coffee machines that allow single-serve as well, so this advantage isn’t exclusive to pod machines only.
Aside from being able to serve fresh coffee any time, you also get to save time while preparing your coffee. Again, this is great for an office where employees can save a lot of productive time by using coffee pods.
You spend one minute making coffee with a coffee pod machine like Nescafe Dolce Gusto, whereas a coffee brewing machine can take up to 5 minutes for a new batch. Saving 4 minutes per employee per day is quite significant for employers, but when it comes to individuals, it might not be as lucrative an advantage.
Coffee Pods and Machines Aren’t Broadly Interchangeable
While certain coffee pod machines allow you to use pods from different brands, many devices restrict the use of pods. Just like you cannot use a Samsung charger with an Apple iPhone, you cannot use Tassimo T-discs with Nescafe Dolce Gusto Pod Machine. This cannot just limit you to purchasing high-priced coffee pods but can confine you to only the variety offered by the compatible pod brands—more on how to fight this drawback towards the end.
Coffee Pods Can Be Expensive
Since prices are relative, we can think of coffee pods as relatively inexpensive only when we compare them to barista-served coffee. In reality, french press and espresso machines are by far the cheapest option on the market in the long run. However, choosing those machines means you must be willing to educate yourself on the delicate operation and be prepared to clean up afterward.
How to Save Money With a Coffee Pod Machine
If you feel like a coffee pod machine might be a good fit for your home or office but are on the fence because of the pod exclusivity or price disadvantage, here’s some excellent news for you: recyclable coffee pods exist.
When you purchase a prominent coffee pod machine like NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto, you can also purchase recyclable pods, like RECAPS Refillable Pods, made specifically to fit the Dolce Gusto machine. These pods can be refilled and reused many times over. In this section, I will briefly go over how you can reuse a recyclable coffee pod.
- Get coffee beans ground from your local coffee shop or simply get pre-ground coffee. Make sure the grind and roast match the refillable pod’s instructions (included in the packaging).
- Make sure your coffee is not extra fine or coarse. You can get medium or fine ground whole bean coffee from Starbucks as well as other cafes.
- Use a teaspoon or small scoop to add no more than 8 grams of ground coffee to the resealable pod. Usually, this is two scoops of coffee. Filling the pod halfway is also an adequate measure.
- If you exceed the 8-gram capacity, your machine will reject the pod. So it is better to err on the side of less than more until you find the balance.
- Pop the reusable pod in the machine just as you would insert a regular Dolce Gusto pod, and you’re ready to enjoy your coffee.
Should I Buy a Coffee Pod Machine?
Now that you have learned about the advantages and the drawbacks of coffee pod machines alongside a method to avoid obligatory use of high-cost pods, it might seem pretty straightforward to buy a coffee pod machine. Going by standard Starbucks pricing in the US, such a machine costs one to two months of your daily cafe purchases, and from then onwards, even with single-use pods, you save a minimum of $2 per day which is $60 every month.
Coffee Pod machines might be expensive, and because we haven’t familiarized ourselves with coffee pod purchases, we’re likely to think of the whole process as quite expensive. But in reality, a coffee pod machine pays back for the investment in under three months and saves you $60 per month from then onwards. If you purchase coffee from a cafe every day, buying yourself a coffee pod machine is definitely worth it.