A few years ago, we bought a pod machine and started offering Hula Daddy pods. The experiment lasted about two months. We realized that the ground coffee in the pods went stale very quickly. We don’t offer Hula Daddy pods for that reason.
The use by date on coffee pods on supermarket shelves is 6 to 12 months. Long before the use by date the coffee has gone stale. It doesn’t taste bad; it just doesn’t taste. Any subtle nuances or flavors that existed when the coffee was roasted are gone. This is the reason that you can buy older pods at huge discounts.
Besides the freshness issue, capsules are about 5 times as expensive as whole bean coffee, they are an ecological nightmare, and the brewers don’t extract the flavors in the coffee well.
However, pods are not going away. The number one espresso coffee in the world is Nespresso. Over 14 billion Nespresso pods are sold each year. In addition, tens of millions of pods are sold by other companies.
Given the choice at 6 am to push a button or set up a brewed coffee, for everyone but the most dedicated coffee fanatic, the choice is pushing the button. So how can you get the most flavor from your pod coffee?
Use Local Roasters
Large volume pod makers ship by rail, truck, and boat to your local market. It can take 2 to 3 months to get a pod from their roastery to the retail store. Every day spent shipping is one less day of freshness. Find the closest roaster to your home or office and buy from them.
Buy the Latest Roast Date
High quality roasters put the roast date on their coffee. Don’t pay any attention to the use by date. Use by dates are suggested dates created by the manufacturer they may or may not relate to the roast date. Try to find pods that were packaged within the prior two weeks. Don’t buy more than you can use in a week.
Buy Aluminum Capsules
All packaging over time allows oxygen to leak in. Plastic capsules are more porous than aluminum capsules. So, if you want fresh flavor buy aluminum capsules.
However, aluminum capsules are less environmentally friendly because they require more energy to manufacture, and they don’t degrade unless sent to a recycler. So, if environmental friendliness is a serious concern forget capsules and grind your own beans.
Of course, another option is to buy a refillable pod, grind some coffee and brew it in the pod brewer. But that defeats the push the button advantage. If you are going to grind fresh beans and pack a refillable pod, you might as well put the grounds in an automatic pour over brewer and get the advantage of better flavor.
Set Your Brewer to the Highest Temperature
The ideal temperature for brewing coffee is 200° F ±5°. Some machines have preset temperatures, so you must take what you get. However, others allow you to increase or decrease the temperature. You should set the temperature as close 200 degrees as possible. You should also check the water temperature periodically because the thermocouples in the machines wear out and start brewing at lower temperatures.
Use Less Water
Some machines allow you to set the water volume going through the pod. If you can turn down the water volume. Using less water will give you a cup with more body instead of a weak washed-out taste.
Drink Great Coffee
When you are working remote or on the weekend when you have the time grind, brew, and drink some great coffee. The aroma of freshly roasted, freshly ground coffee is one of nature’s best pleasures. Tasting the flavors in a great cup of coffee is sublime.