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Beans vs. Pods vs. Capsules vs. Discs - Which is Best?

Back in the day, if you wanted espresso - you ground up your coffee beans or bought preground coffee; and that was that! These days you have a tons of different options when it comes to this sort of thing, including E.S.E. Pods, Capsules, and even Discs. So which is best?

Call me old fashioned, but I love coffee beans (or espresso beans if you'd rather call them that - though it's all just coffee beans). I like pouring the beans into my grinder, grinding them to the consistency that I like, and smelling that smell that erupts as soon as you grind them.

But that's me.

Some people see it as a hassle and a mess. I suppose it is a little messy, and it does take a minute or two to do, plus you need to clean out the grinder from time to time. Ok, I can understand the hassle; especially if you're a busy person.

These days you have lots of options, including:

  • Whole Coffee Beans
  • Pre-ground Coffee Beans
  • E.S.E. Pods
  • Capsules
  • T-Discs

Each of these is a machine specific option. What I mean is, if you have a machine that uses capsules, chances are you can't use pods. Likewise, if you have a traditional machine that uses grounds, you can't use t-discs.

The Benefits of Using Pods, Capsules, or Discs

So why use them? Several reasons. The main reason is that they're just so darn easy. Pop in a capsule, hit the button, throw out the capsule when finished. No fuss, no muss, no hassles! It can be tricky to grind coffee beans to the correct consistency, don't grind them enough and your espresso can be weak; grind them too much and your espresso can taste syrupy.

The Drawbacks of Using Pods, Capsules, or Discs

There are some drawbacks too. For one thing, you don't have as many options. You have to use the flavors and types of beans that your machine uses. Some pod companies give you lots of options by partnering with coffee companies like Starbucks. Some only offer their own brand of coffee. Don't like the taste? Then you're out of luck.

Plus there's price. Pods, Capsules, and t-Discs tend to be more expensive then beans. Why is that? Because there is more packaging involved. Capsules are made of plastic, plastic costs money, etc. Plus you're paying a premium for that ease of use.

Also, if your pod price goes from $20 a pack to $25 a pack, there's nothing you can do. You can't switch from pods to capsules without buying a whole new machine.

Finally, the types of machines that use Pods, Capsules, and T-Discs; machines like the Tassimo Brew Bot, Nespresso, Keurig, and even Lavazza tend to be a little cheaper than a traditional machine. They generally run in the $100-$200 range.

These machines aren't generally considered "espresso machines" even though they have espresso flavored pods. Generally they make coffee, espresso, tea, and even soup. But for ease of use and price, you really can't complain.

What's the Bottom Line?

If you're an espresso connoisseur, then you'll stick with whole beans and there's nothing I or anyone else will ever be able to say that will change your mind. If you aren't so set in your espresso ways, then a capsule, pod, or disc might be something worth looking into. In the end it's really just a matter of personal preference. Whatever makes you happy is what you should buy!

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