With the cost of living going up, more and more Brits are opting to make their coffee at home, rather than visiting coffee shops.
However, choosing a coffee machine for your kitchen isn’t an easy decision to make. Many people are choosing pod coffee machines over ground coffee machines, but some worry they may make the wrong choice.
The guide below will help you decide what type of coffee machine is best for you.
What is a pod coffee machine?
A pod coffee machine is a great time saving machine that allows you to have quality coffee in the comfort of your own home.
They are built for ease of use, enabling you to do other things whilst your coffee is being poured at the perfect temperature.
To find out more, visit our buyers guide to pod coffee machines.
How do pod coffee machines work?
Coffee pod machines work by placing the pod into the machine and pressing a button to heat the water which is stored in a water reservoir, typically at the back of the machine.
The water is then pumped through the pod containing ground coffee from the machine and into your cup, creating a freshly brewed coffee for you to enjoy.
The best machines will take around 30 seconds to brew an espresso coffee from a pod.
Can you use ground coffee in a pod machine?
Yes, you can use ground coffee in a pod machine as long as it is placed into a reusable pod.
You can buy metal reusable pods which are metal and can be used an endless amount of times, or you could purchase cheaper reusable plastic pods.
What is a ground coffee machine?
A ground coffee machine is any type of coffee machine which uses loose ground coffee rather than coffee which is compressed into pods.
This type of machine includes espresso machines, filter coffee machines and bean-to-cup coffee machines.
How do ground coffee machines work?
Ground coffee machines work in a similar way to pod machines, by pushing pressured hot water through the coffee grounds to create a hot, freshly brewed coffee.
Filter coffee machines work slightly differently, with the water being showered onto the coffee grounds, allowing the coffee to dissolve in the water and then being dispensed into your cup.
Is fresh ground coffee better than pod coffee?
Whether you prefer ground coffee over pod coffee is purely down to personal preferences.
Many coffee pod brands team up with major coffee brands such as Starbucks and Costa, implying that you can make your own barista-standard coffee at home.
Generally, coffee enthusiasts will prefer the taste and experience of ground coffee machines as you can usually adapt the brewing time to what suits you best, creating different flavours and aromas.
Pod coffee vs ground coffee specifications
Whether you choose to buy a ground coffee machine or a pod machine all depends on the specifications you’re looking for. We’ve outlined the top elements to look for when choosing between machines.
Ease of Use
Pod coffee machines are one of the easiest machines to use on the market. All you need to do is ensure you have enough water in the reservoir, insert your pod and press a button. The coffee will then flow into your cup.
If you choose an espresso machine however, it may take you some time to get to grips with the correct technique. This includes:
- Getting the right amount of coffee grounds in your cup
- Brewing for the right amount of time
- Setting your temperature to the correct level
Filter coffee machines, however, tend to be slightly easier than espresso machines.
Simply ensure there is enough water, you have your filter paper and the correct amount of coffee grounds. Some machines may have brewing options to choose from, whereas others may just have an on/off button.
In general, pod coffee machines are one of the most affordable machines on the market. Depending on what make and model you choose, you can get a decent pod machine for around £50.
Ground coffee machines tend to lean more on the expensive side due to the brands which make them and the materials needed to make them.
Generally, coffee beans are less expensive than coffee pods, so if you want to have cheaper material costs, it may be worth buying the beans to grind yourself.
You can still use ground coffee in your pod machine as long as you have reusable pods. However, if you want to grind the beans yourself, you will have to purchase a coffee grinder.
The average cost for a quality bag of espresso grounds may cost around £20/kg, which equates to 2000p per 1000 grams. This means it is 2p per gram of ground coffee.
The standard 25ml shot of coffee is 8 grams. To find the cup cost we need to multiply the cost per gram with the grams required for a shot of coffee.
- So 2p x 8g= 16p/shot.
This means the average cup cost for an espresso machine is 16p.
For pod machines, we simply need to look at the overall cost of a packet of pods and the quantity in the pack.
Say we buy a pack of 10 pods for £3, this would mean the cost per cup is 10p, making them cheaper overall than a packet of ground coffee.
Ease of Cleaning
All coffee machines will require some form of cleaning, but the amount of cleaning and maintenance needed will depend on the machine.
Pod coffee machines are easier to clean after each use, as all you need to do is remove the coffee pods, and wipe away any excess/spilt coffee.
Ground coffee machines however, require the disposal of the coffee and potentially removing and soaking parts in hot water.
Pod coffee machines are much smaller in size than ground coffee machines, with the smallest of machines being around 23cm high.
Ground coffee machines will likely take up a large portion of your counter space.
Unless you choose to buy your own ground coffee and reusable pods, you will usually have to stick to the branded pods from manufacturers such as Nespresso, or coffee brands such as Costa.
If you have a ground coffee machine, you have a wide choice of different types of ground beans, the size of the coffee grounds and the origin of your coffee.
It’s worth noting that there are independent brands out there which create high quality coffee pods, but they will be more expensive than regular branded pods.
Coffee pods and ground coffee have slightly different longevity, which may be a determining factor when considering what type of machine to choose.
Coffee pods have an expiration date, and unlike ground coffee, the coffee inside the pod does not get exposed to the air as they are vacuum sealed within the actual pod.
Ideally, you would use the pods before their expiration date, but they can be used 3-6 months after this date.
Ground espresso is continuously exposed to the air each time the bag is opened which speeds up the oxidation process of the grounds.
Once opened, you should ideally use the coffee grounds within 3 months. Coffee beans will last around 6. Freezing your coffee grounds and beans can make them last considerably longer.
It’s fair to say as a whole, we are becoming more and more concerned about our impact on the planet, and the environmental impact of a coffee machine is something that is continuously being considered.
Pod machines have one big downside in that the pods themselves can’t usually be recycled in regular household recycling bins. However, some brands do offer recycling schemes with special recycling drop off centres.
Ground coffee can go straight into the compost and provide extra nutrients for your plants. However, the bags in which coffee beans and grounds are in are usually lined with plastic, making them just as hard to be recycled as coffee pods.
Top pod coffee machine brands vs top ground coffee machine brands
There is a range of different coffee machines out there to choose from, with a variety of different brands producing great quality products.
Top pod coffee machine brands
The Lavazza A Modo Mio Jolie Pod Coffee Machine is a compact yet powerful machine. It has a maximum capacity of 4 pods, and automatically ejects the pods once used, meaning you don’t need to struggle removing the pod.
It is also fast, silent and has an automatic shut off 9 minutes after use.
The DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Infinissima Pod Capsule Coffee Machine is also a great choice.
This machine is relatively simple in design but comes in three colour choices of white, red or grey. It does however, require the NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto pods.
Top ground coffee machine brands
The Swan Retro One Touch Espresso Machine is a great choice for anyone who wants to dip their toes into creating espresso manually.
It comes in a variety of different colours, and features a useful pressure gauge to let you know if your machine is ready to use. It is also one of the cheaper ground coffee machines on the market.
Breville’s One-Touch CoffeeHouse Coffee Machine is a bean-to-cup coffee machine, which is also compatible with coffee pods too.
It comes with an automatic milk frother, as well a one-touch control panel for ease of use. This machine is more expensive than the Swan, but still comes in on the lower side of the market.
FAQs about pod and ground coffee machines
How long does it take coffee pods to break down?
Because they can’t be recycled, it’s estimated that over 250 million pods end up in landfill every year, and can take over 500 years to break down.
Many pod machine users are switching to reusable pods and filling them with their own choice of ground coffee in order to reduce their household waste.
How long will a pod coffee machine last you?
In general, a pod coffee machine will last anywhere between 3-10 years depending on the make and model you choose.
How long will a ground coffee machine last you?
The average lifespan of a ground coffee machine is 5-10 years, but this can be extended as long as you are properly cleaning and maintaining your machine in order to keep it in the best possible condition.