5 Reasons Why Pod Coffee Doesn’t Taste as Good as Drip Coffee

March 10, 2016 | Joanne Kennell

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee!

We all know that single-serve cups of coffee do not taste nearly as good as the freshly brewed stuff.  In my personal experience, it often tastes very bland and even burnt.

However, pod-based coffee appliances, such as Keurig and Tassimo, have become increasingly popular worldwide.  In fact, they are the second most popular brewing method after traditional drip coffee pots — probably because they are convenient.

That aside, the non-reusable pods are horrible for the environment.  They are so bad that a city in Germany has banned their use in all government buildings.  If that is not enough to change your mind about using the pods, how about the fact that many of the coffee brews really don’t taste too yummy?

So, the question becomes: Why does pod coffee not taste as pleasant as drip coffee?

SEE ALSO: Your Morning Cup of Coffee May Soon be Hard to Come By

To answer this question, Julia Calderone from Tech Insider, contacted both Elisha Nuchi, a wholesale manager at a small-batch coffee roaster and brewer, and Keurig, the leader in single-serve coffee pods sales.  Here is what she found:

The grind

One of the biggest reasons pod coffee tastes horrible, according to Nuchi, is that by the time the coffee makes it to consumers, it has already begun to go stale.  The coffee could have been ground days, weeks and even years before you drink it.

Grinding coffee beans immediately exposes them to oxygen, triggering a chemical reaction that reduces their flavor and aroma.  “Once you grind it,” Nuchi said, “it starts deteriorating immediately.”  For this reason, it is recommended that you brew your coffee shortly after grinding the beans.

Pod manufacturers do vacuum-seal the grinds into the pods, however the oxidation damage to the beans may have already been done before they’re packaged.

The packaging

Packaging freshly ground coffee can be a bit of a problem because as the grounds cool, they release carbon dioxide (CO2) anywhere from a few days to several weeks.  However, the most rapid release occurs during the first few days after roasting.

So, how is this a problem?  If you store the beans that are releasing CO2 in a sealed container, it could blow up like a balloon and pop.  Many coffee companies insert one-way air valves to allow CO2 to escape, but this can’t be done is air-tight pods.  

Instead, manufacturers may wait until all the CO2 is fully released, which can be as long as 15 days.

SEE ALSO: This Caffeine Bracelet Will Spare You the Side Effects of Actually Drinking Coffee

The labeling

Unfortunately, you can’t tell where the coffee was sourced from and how recently it was roasted and ground.  There is only a “best by” date on each box, used to ensure freshness, but it’s impossible to judge the quality of the coffee when you don’t know where it came from.

“My guess is the less transparency they have [on the package], the likelier it's lower grade,” Nuchi said.  “Especially in the coffee industry, people are proud of where the coffee comes from and when it was roasted.”  

Tepid water

Looking past the quality and age of the coffee, another important factor in the taste of your coffee is the temperature of the water you brew it with.  According to the National Coffee Association (NCA), optimal brewing temperatures are between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brewing at anything below 195 degrees Fahrenheit leads to “flat, under-extracted coffee,” according to the NCA.  Most single-pod machines brew at 192 degrees Fahrenheit or less.

Brew time

The amount of time that coffee grounds should be in contact with hot water is for about five minutes, according the NCA.  However, most single-serve machines brew their coffee within seconds — leading to a flat and weak tasting cup of coffee.

Source: The science behind why pod coffee tastes so bad. Business Insider.

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