Grocery Guides

Coffee Pods: Advantages, Disadvantages, Common Questions



Last Updated: Oct 5, 2022

Coffee pods have become an everyday staple in homes and offices across the US. A coffee pod is a single-serving container with enough coffee for one cup. If we want to get technical, it’s a filter combined with 7 to 12 grams of coffee that comes in soft or hard pods. We here at Instacart just call it not having to clean the pot every morning.

Keep in mind these pods only work in certain machines.

What types of coffee pods are there?

  • Soft coffee pods are round and flat, and the coffee is inside a biodegradable paper pouch. Used in non-pressurized coffee makers, they are popular because they give off a great aroma and drip extraction. However, there isn’t a large variety of soft pods.
  • Hard pods are known as easy serving espresso pods or E.S.E’s, and they are used in pressure brew espresso machines. These pods are harder and firmer and fit perfectly in the machine. They are more convenient since you don’t have to ground the espresso beans yourself. They only work in pump machines with a 44mm basket.
  • Coffee capsules are small plastic containers that are covered with foil. While they are called coffee capsules, many brands often market gourmet hot chocolate as well.

Where did coffee pods originate from?

Nespresso created the coffee pod market after Eric Favre, a Nestlé engineer, visited an Italian espresso bar and saw how the baristas increased the pressure to change how the coffee was extracted.  In 1986, Nespresso patented their first machine with pods. 

In 1990, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters founded Keurig. Nowadays, the coffee pod market is booming since consumers love the convenience of these coffee machines.

What is the nutritional value of a coffee pod?

Since coffee pods are typically just ground coffee and a filter, they’re essentially calorie-free.

For an 8-ounce cup of coffee, these are the nutrition facts:

  • Calories 2.4
  • Total Fat 0.1g
  • Sodium 4.7mg
  • Potassium 116mg
  • Carbohydrates 0g
  • Net carbs 0g
  • Sugar 0g
  • Fiber 0g
  • Protein 0.3g
Many types of coffee on the wooden table.

What are the pros and cons of coffee pods?

There are advantages and disadvantages to both coffee pods and K-cups. These coffee pod facts will help you decide which is right for you.

Advantages of coffee pods

  • Coffee pods eliminate the mess of measuring coffee and water. Each pod comes pre-measured. Some even come flavored.
  • They extract coffee better and have a stronger aroma since the container isn’t sealed.
  • You can recycle coffee or compost most pods.

Disadvantages of coffee pods

  • There isn’t a wide array of pod brewing equipment or a selection of flavors.
  • Most coffee systems only have one brew setting, meaning you can’t alter it to your tastes.
  • While it’s more convenient, it still doesn’t taste as authentic as a hand-prepared espresso.

Advantages of coffee capsules

  • There are over 120 different coffee, hot chocolate, and tea options that can be used in several coffee systems.
  • Coffee capsules are easy to use. Many people are familiar with it and have machines at home and in their office.
  • The coffee is always fresh when you want it, instead of reheating a cold pot hours later.

Disadvantages of coffee capsules

  • Coffee capsules are often more expensive because of their convenience.
  • These coffee capsules are often made out of non-recyclable materials.
  • Some of the flavors taste much weaker than others, so you’ll have to experiment until you find the right flavor for you.

How to select coffee pods at the grocery store

  • Know which type of coffee machine you’ll be using since not all pods are compatible.
  • Research which types of beans are used. Arabica coffee beans give a rich, aromatic flavor, while Robusta beans have an earthy taste and a stronger concentration of caffeine.
  • Inspect the packaging for oxidation or damage, particularly if the pods have been sealed properly.

How to store coffee pods

Once you’ve inevitably gathered hundreds of coffee pods, you’ll need a place to store them. Using a coffee pod storage drawer works great because you can stack your coffee machine on top and the entire system is in one easy-to-organize spot. You can also store your coffee pods in a wicker basket, thrifted vase, or other decorative storage containers next to the coffee machine. The possibilities are endless.

Do coffee pods expire?

Use coffee pods by their “best by” date. These are often hard to find or read. Coffee pods are generally good for up to a year after you buy them. However, coffee pods often last three to six months after that date, and hot chocolate pods last six to twelve months past that date.  It does taste the freshest within six weeks of opening.  

Where can I find coffee pods near me?

Coffee pods are a convenient way to make single-serving cups of coffee, hot chocolate, and tea, so it’s no wonder they’ve become so popular. While you can find coffee capsules in many stores, it’s harder to find a good selection of soft and hard coffee pods.

To save time and money, order coffee pods via Instacart and choose same-day delivery or pick up check out.



Instacart is the leading grocery technology company in North America, partnering with more than 1,400 national, regional, and local retail banners to deliver from more than 80,000 stores across more than 14,000 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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