Best Coffee Pod Machines

Coffee pod machines have been established in the coffee market for some time. The Senseo models from Philips, which are produced in cooperation with the coffee producer Douwe Egberts, have been around since 2002. Despite the large capsule competition, the pod machines still enjoy great popularity. A cup of fresh coffee belongs to the beginning of the day as the ringing of the alarm clock. What could be better than the smell of a cup of coffee in the morning? On this occasion, the coffee pod machine plays its strengths and prepares the hot drink of your choice uncomplicated and above all fast. A short push of a button is enough and the smell of freshly brewed coffee spoils your nose. Even with coffee pod machines, there are some features and quality features that you should consider when buying.


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The functioning

The coffee pod machine uses so-called “pods” for the production of coffee. This pod consists of a filter paper pillow containing about seven grams of ground coffee (seven grams equals one cup of coffee). The coffee pods are available in numerous flavors; the consumer is not limited to coffee. The offer now ranges from espresso to cappuccino to cocoa and various teas.

The coffee pods are inserted in the device. Thereafter, a precisely measured amount of water at just over 90 ° C is pressed through the inserted pod within about 40 seconds at a pressure of 1.4 bar. A major advantage of this system is the low contact time of the water with the coffee powder in the pod. In this way, the stimulus and bitter substances remain largely in the pod. After only a short warm-up time of the coffee pod machine and after inserting the new pod, the next cup can already be made. It can also be filled two cups at the same time, the machine must be equipped only with a double pod holder.

As far as handling is concerned, the pods offer a similar level of comfort as the very popular coffee capsule systems. The used coffee pods are much more environmentally friendly than the capsules packed in aluminum or plastic. Environmental concerns are basically only in the packaging of the coffee pods because these are also made of aluminum foil so that flavorings remain in the coffee and a better shelf life is achieved.

ESE vs. Senseo – The coffee pod systems in comparison

Numerous pod systems were offered on the international market; Meanwhile, two Pod systems have prevailed, probably the most well-known Senseo system and the ESE system. Senseo is the clear market leader in Germany. By contrast, the ESD system is much more popular in other countries, such as Italy.

The Senseo coffee pod system

The now market-leading Senseo system was developed by the Philips company together with the Dutch coffeemaker Douwe Egberts. Meanwhile, coffee pods with a diameter of about 70 millimeters are offered. These contain a variety of coffee and espresso roasts. The price for normal coffee pods is between 19 and 35 cents apiece.

The name “Senseo” and the brewing system have meanwhile been patented, which is why Senseo coffee pod machines are only offered by the manufacturer Philips. This does not mean that coffee pod machines from other manufacturers, such as WMF or Petra, are not compatible with pods in Senseo format. Classic coffeemakers such as Tchibo, Dallmayr or Jacobs also offer pods in Senseo format.

It should also be mentioned that the system works with a brewing pressure of only one bar, so Senseo machines basically do not produce espresso. However, the brewed pods provide a certain amount of crema and this foam crown reminds of these as on the espresso. On most machines, two pods can be placed in a larger pod holder to make stronger coffee.

The ESE coffee pod system


The second pod system is called ESE, an abbreviation for “Easy Serving Espresso”. It describes a standard for coffee pods with 44 mm diameter. This coffee pod system was developed by the Italian Istituto Nazionale Espresso in cooperation with the manufacturer Illy. Matching pods are offered by many coffee roasters, which are mainly found in online shops. In the ESE system, mainly espresso roasts are offered in different strengths. The prices for this system range between 20 and 45 cents per coffee pod.

The coffee machines in the ESE system are designed for the usual espresso preparation. Therefore, they work with a significantly higher brewing pressure than the Senseo system and thus achieve very high-quality results. Since espresso production requires not only the pump pressure but also the pressure actually present in the brewing chamber, the somewhat more expensive ESE machines also deliver tastier results.

Finally, however, it must be pointed out that the proportion of ESE machines in Germany is extremely low and the coffee machines are also considerably more expensive than the Senseo coffee machines. Beginner models are available here from about 140 euros. At the top, there are hardly any limits because higher-end models can cost as much as 300 euros and more.

Advantages over other types of coffee

  • If you want to “just make a quick cup of coffee,” you’re better off with the coffee pod machine, as making a single cup is quicker than using a coffee machine.
  • Also for the next cup is taken care of; because after a cup has been prepared, the water chamber of the coffee pod machine automatically heats up immediately. Now all you have to do is insert a new pod.
  • The coffee pod machine will automatically produce some foam. This is reminiscent of the “crema” Italian espresso and you feel like you’re drinking higher quality coffee, even if it’s not a real crema.
  • Coffee pod machines can also be used as tea makers or to prepare cocoa drinks. The variety of variations is enormous compared to the other coffee systems.
  • They have a “greener footprint” than capsule machines because they produce less waste and are easier to dispose of. The used coffee pods can easily be recycled on the compost.
  • The price/performance ratio of a coffee pod machine is significantly better than that of a capsule machine or a coffee machine. The machines themselves are already available from 50 euros, the coffee pods from 19 cents apiece (capsules are available only from about 30 cents apiece).

Important features

The features of a good coffee pod machine, there is basically not much to note. Because most pod machines, at least those of Philips Senseo, achieve only a low brewing pressure. As a result, you are more likely to get a conventional filter coffee. Some portafilters can also be operated with special inserts, especially for the ESE system. These devices then produce proper espresso with a brewing pressure of up to 15 bar.

Of course, coffee pod machines can also produce popular coffee/milk specialties. More preferable are machines with a milk frother that use real milk instead of milk pods. Compared to devices with an integrated milk system, the machines with milk frother have an advantage: a separate milk frother is much easier to care for and clean than an integrated milk system.

When buying, pay attention to additional functions such as the ability to influence the coffee strength by the amount of water used. A height-adjustable spout should also be included as standard, especially if the device is used by several people. A removable and sufficiently large water tank facilitates handling, a pre-brewing function significantly improves the taste of the coffee.