We are undoubtedly a nation of coffee addicts & all about convenience. The easier to make at home, the better. (Especially during COVID). Cue, capsule & pod machines. The term capsule can often be confused with pod, but we are here to deep dive into the differences and clear the air so we can all make better choices when it comes to our morning coffee.

WHAT ARE CAPSULES?
Coffee capsules are small containers filled with ground coffee, around 5-7 grams per capsule. Usually made from aluminium or plastic.
When capsule machines first came on the market, it seemed like all our caffeine prayers were answered. Not only are the machines easy to use, they are compact and attractive to consumers. The demand for capsules grew and with it came variety. A world of capsules emerged, and you could (basically) purchase any flavour your heart desired. We saw business after business popping up with capsules to fit competitors’ machines.

Although businesses started to catch onto the waste that these capsules are proving to produce, none of the solutions have been a complete fix. We have seen compostable capsules being released that still exhibit plastic or aluminium lids which can be problematic as it is near impossible for sorting facilities to recycle such small elements.
Capsule machines usually pierce the top of the lid on the capsule and this allows water to flow through the puncture points and through the coffee grounds. Because paper is not as strong as aluminium or plastic, it’s harder to accurately puncture and therefore, water doesn’t flow as easily. This is generally why the lids remain aluminium or plastic on compostable pods.
Compostable does not always mean you can throw it in your home compost either. A lot of times it means taking it to a commercial composting facility, and unfortunately not a lot of consumers are aware of this. Reusable capsules were created but ultimately these can end up eliminating the convenience we are all searching for as they tend to be tedious to refill.

THE DAMAGE
It is estimated around 4 million coffee capsules go into landfill every day here in Australia.
Facilities have come forward to confirm there is no infrastructure nor technology to be able to handle them. The screens to filter materials are too large and items such as coffee pods are able to pass straight through. Therefore, they end up in landfill.

SO, WHAT CAN WE DO?
The first step in reclaiming our morning rituals in an environmentally friendly way is to stop buying plastic capsules! There is no question that these are problematic for the environment.

ESE PODS
ESE pods actually date way back to the 1970’s, when they were first created in Italy. They are arguably the best alternative – coffee grounds are packed into a filter paper, similar to a tea bag. ESE Machines use an Aluminium heat exchanger with excellent thermal stability for coffee extraction. ESE dosage in almost all cases is 7 grams of coffee per pod, which makes for a perfect shot of espresso. One of the fundamental steps in making an espresso is compressing the ground coffee. A notable difference between capsules and pods, is that ESE pods are pre-compressed making a very similar extraction to a traditional espresso.

Another bonus is that no grounds of coffee are wasted as the ESE pods are prepacked.
We really like no mess and given the paper filter sits directly in the machine and not the ground coffee, it makes cleaning a breeze.

THE VERDICT
We can’t think of any reasons NOT to love ESE pods, especially ours (wink, wink).
The real beauty of ESE pods is that they truly are compostable, even at home. Simply throw the used pod in your compost or worm farm and watch it degrade!