Pod Espresso Machines

A pod espresso machine is designed to be used with a pod, which is comprised of roasted, ground coffee that is self-contained, usually with perforated filter paper and pre-pressed into a puck shape that fits into a pod portafilter for brewing an espresso.

Pros and Cons of the Pod Espresso System

Pods are often individually packaged to help preserve each pod’s freshness. The advantages of the pod system include faster and more convenient preparation of espresso as well as less of a mess, less waste. Due to the consistency of the pod preparation and brewing, a consistent taste is provided.

Disadvantages of the pod system include a higher cost per espresso serving, and there are also concerns about the quality as compared to freshly ground and tamped coffee. Another problem is the waste associated with the extensive packaging (e.g., mylar film pouches used to individually wrap each pod).

The Development of Filter Pod Technology

Filter pod technology was first developed in 1959 by K. Cyrus Melikian who worked in Pennsylvania for Automatic Brewers and Coffee Devices. Later an Italian company and other companies were granted licenses for pod technology and soon began to create standards for pod-related products.

Easy Serving Espresso Pod Standardization

In 1998 the Illy Company developed the Easy Serving Espresso (E.S.E.) design and standards, an open design to encourage adaptation and compatibility, and with the goal of making home espresso preparation more convenient.

Today many espresso machines (espresso coffee makers), including espresso machine brands other than Illy, accommodate the use of either a 45 mm, 7 gram pod or hand tamped coffee grounds.

Espresso and Coffee Brewing Tips

For more espresso tips see our detailed coffee flavor profiles of Gourmet Coffees and instructions on preparing Espresso Drink Recipes. For step-by-step instructions see Pulling A Perfect Espresso Shot as well as Barista Guide to Perfect Lattes and Cappuccinos.

For tips on brewing the perfect cup of coffee see our section on Coffee Brewing, and detailed definitions of coffee terminology can be found in the Coffee and Espresso Glossary.  Also check out the World’s Best History of Coffee.


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