How Pod Espresso Machines Work – Bringing Convenience to Espresso Brewing

For many, coffee is an integral part of daily life: a morning boost to start the day, an afternoon pick-me-up, a tasty treat as an evening reward; bitter and sweet, energizing and soothing. And the beverage of choice is not just any coffee, but espresso. Unfortunately, a habit of indulging in espresso is expensive both in time and money. People tend to want to pick up an espresso at the same times, creating rush hour jams of long lines and harried baristas. A personal espresso machine can lessen the time expended and overall money spent in pursuit of this favored beverage, but a standard machine can be complicated to use and finicky to clean. Fortunately, pod espresso machines on the market simplify the process and make espressos more accessible.

Understanding the difference between regular coffee and espresso can be helpful in recognizing why espresso machines are so specialized compared to a standard drip coffee maker. Ordinary coffee can be coarsely ground of beans of many flavors and is placed loosely into the filter. Hot water trickles through the filter in a brewing process that can be quite lengthy depending on the size of the percolator. Espresso, on the other hand, is made only of unflavored beans that must be quite finely ground. The grounds are firmly packed into the filter, and a small amount of hot water shot through it at high pressure to create a ‘shot.’ The end result is a dark, rather thick liquid topped with crema, the resulting froth.

The creation of high quality espresso is a long process requiring special equipment. The grounds must be freshly ground, preferably with a conical burr grinder, then dosed or precisely measured into the filter. It then needs to be evenly tamped with a peak pressure of 30 pounds. The water used should be filtered and at a stable temperature, optimally between 197 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit, and shot through the grounds at pressures from 9 up to 15 atmospheres (which equates to about 132-220 psi). Then the equipment must be cleaned. The most basic of standard espresso makers has 4 moving parts, but this does not include a heater.

A pod espresso machine, on the other hand, is simple to operate. The beans, already ground and measured (usually about 7 grams), are packed into a paper pouch. The reservoir, when filled with water, heats it to the proper temperature. Then, within 30 seconds of the insertion of the pod into the filter, the espresso should be fully brewed. The taste may not satisfy all connoisseurs as the beans are not freshly ground, but the sheer convenience makes pod machines an advantage to many espresso drinkers. Pod espresso machines are also easy to clean, lacking the complications of a traditional espresso maker.

A consortium called the E.S.E. (Easy Serving Espresso) is working to make espresso pods and the machines that use them interchangeable regardless of differing manufacturers via standardization. This is largely accomplished, and a pod, sometimes called an E.S.E. itself, will work with almost all non-capsule machines. This makes them even easier to use as the consumer need not fear purchasing the wrong pod for the espresso maker already owned.

A variety of pod espresso machines on the market are available to fit any need. Some include the option to use fresh grounds when the time is available, or the pods when speed is more beneficial. Many also have milk frothers, convenient for completely making one of the many popular espresso drinks such as lattes. A knowledge of how pod espresso machines work should help choose the appropriate model for home and office alike. The convenience and ease of use of these machines make espressos more readily accessible to anyone without barista training and those who want to save time and money by making their own hot drinks.