Making your own coffee – whether at home or at the office – is everyone’s top coffee type preference these days. Coffee makers are so well produced now you can practically be your own barista! Whether you’ve invested in a brewing station at work or one of several available coffee maker styles to use at home, this is a kitchen essential that just about everyone has on their pantry shelf.
Most folks think that freshly brewed coffee is the best, more flavourful kind. But you don’t necessarily need a grinder and coffee pot to make an excellent cup. Good-quality coffee pods are an ideal alternative to making a full pot, particularly if you’re only an occasional coffee drinker. And instant coffee has come a long way since the 1950s! Now you can get a fabulous cup of coffee from a jar – honestly!
All three coffee types – instant, pods, and freshly brewed – have their pluses and minuses. In this article, we outline the advantages and drawbacks of each coffee type so that when the time comes, you make the right choice for you and your family.
What is Ground Coffee?
Most consumers choose to buy fresh coffee beans, either ground at the store or at home each morning. There is no debate: freshly ground coffee beans have an amazing aroma and the taste is wonderful. However, once the beans are ground, they can go stale almost immediately. Grinding just enough beans for each pot is the way to avoid this as much as possible. But that just-ground aroma and flavor are why ground coffee has a terrific reputation it does, as the premier choice of most coffee drinkers.
Pros of Ground Coffee
Freshly ground coffee tastes so good because of a process called oxidation. Grinding releases certain compounds in the coffee beans, meaning that when they hit the air, wonderful smells are freed. This oxidation process means that providing you brew your coffee right away, it will taste full-bodied and delicious. But if you don’t brew the ground coffee right away, oxidation continues regardless, contributing to staleness. If you go the easy, time-saving route of buying pre-ground coffee, this process has begun even before you get the bag home!
That’s why you’re the best bet is to buy whole beans and grind the coffee yourself at home. Doing this ensures you get the most flavor and deliciousness out of every ounce of your freshly ground coffee.
The quality of your ground coffee is also determined, in part, by the amount of moisture in it. The oils contained in coffee beans are water-soluble, meaning they contribute greatly to the taste and fullness of your ground coffee. It’s partly because of these oils that your ground coffee is so delicious and full-bodied. Moisture in the air can dilute coffee beans as well, which is why coffee that’s already ground on store shelves starts to lose that robust flavor and aroma immediately. That’s why it’s best to buy coffee beans and invest in a quality grinder to use at home. To get the most out of every cup, remember this: as soon as you grind, brew the pot!
The Effect of CO2
CO2 is akin to moisture in terms of its effects on ground coffee. Carbon dioxide is what transfers the oils from beans to your brewed coffee. Each time you grind beans, CO2 escapes, because the beans become steadily more porous. This is another reason you should brew your coffee as soon as you grind the beans. The more oils you get, the better. Your coffee will be sweeter, fuller, and more flavourful.
Cons of Ground Coffee
Time and Effort
It takes time and a little skill. Okay, so learning how to grind your own coffee isn’t really that difficult. However, it can take time to prepare freshly ground coffee – time in the morning, away from getting ready before you head off to work. Furthermore, you’ve got to wipe down the pieces of the grinder and coffee maker, whether it’s cold pressed or a pour over the model. And of course, you have to make sure you’ve got the right amount of water versus coffee, and that your grinder is set on the appropriate grind size for the coffee type you’re making. It can all get a bit fussy, especially if you’re running late!
Getting all this done first thing in the morning can be a nuisance – especially if you’re only making one cup. Nonetheless, if you can get all this done because you’ve got the time, the aroma and taste of freshly ground, just-brewed coffee are unbeatable.
Learning the Necessary Skills
It’s reasonably easy to learn how to grind the coffee, but there are a few details to master. Consider that you have to know the size of the grind you need for the coffee type you’re making – are you using a drip filter, a percolator, or another kind of coffee maker?
And what kind of beans are you buying? Do you know how to tamp the coffee grinds? What kind of equipment is best used for certain kinds of coffee? What coffee flavors do you enjoy most? These are all important questions! Mull them over when deciding what kind of coffee to buy, and what type of coffee brewer you should invest in. You need to learn a few things about coffee types, coffee makers, and grinders – consider this your pre-purchase coffee homework!
If you want a quick shortcut to brewing a great cup of coffee, check out our blogs: How to Improve Your Coffee Taste: Secrets from Baristas
What are Coffee Pods?
Coffee pods are essentially a method of preparing single-serve coffee. The coffee pods come with a cup-like container and ground coffee as the pod’s main coffee content. Coffee pods function very much like teabags. They often come in different flavors and roasts while offering a truckload of convenience in preparation.
The process of making ground coffee differs from that of instant coffee. The first step in the manufacturing process is to roast the coffee beans. Then, the manufacturers grind the roasted coffee into ground coffee. After making the ground coffee from roasted beans, coffee pod manufacturers package the ground coffee in single-serve containers.
Pros of Coffee Pods
Easy to Brew
No ifs, ands or buts about it, coffee pods are a busy coffee lover’s dream come true. Brewing coffee pods is simple and easy, and very quick. All they require is a little boiling water, and voila! Fresh, delicious coffee is ready for you. You put the coffee pod into a machine or do it yourself by pouring hot water over it. You have a delicious cup of coffee almost immediately. And the coffee is consistently good, which means it’s the same every time. That’s what you want if you’re making a lot of coffee servings, in a commercial setting, for example.
Leave No Mess
Make sure the container has enough water, put the coffee pod in, press the button, and your coffee is ready quickly. With coffee pods, there is no mess, no spillage, no tamping to do, and no cleaning of the unit. You’ve got a clean kitchen every time.
With coffee pods, the coffee you get the first time is the coffee you get every time! The ingredients in each pod are the same, meaning there is no variation in flavor, richness, or boldness. If you enjoy your first cup of coffee from a coffee pod, you’ll enjoy the one after that, the one after that, and so on.
Cons of Coffee Pods
The coffee you get from a coffee pod may not have the bright, fresh taste of the coffee you get from a barista, or from a freshly made pot of coffee at home. The taste may be a bit less exciting than that of, for example, a freshly brewed espresso that’s handmade by a professional.
They aren’t Eco-Friendly
Everyone today is concerned with reducing waste and recycling. However, because of the manner in which coffee pods are produced, they are not environmentally friendly. Some of them aren’t recyclable, either. The material used to produce coffee pods goes straight into the landfill when you toss the pods, and unfortunately, that means too much plastic goes into the environment as a result. This is the biggest drawback of coffee pods.
Single Brew Style
No matter what kind of coffee pod you buy, it will contain all the ingredients of the coffee type you want – Americano, espresso, cappuccino, and others. That means you can’t add freshly foamed milk, and that may affect the flavor. And packaged milk within the coffee pod just doesn’t pack the same flavor burst as fresh, frothy, foamed milk. If you’re a stickler for robust, rich coffee, coffee pods may not satisfy you.
What is Instant Coffee?
Instant coffee is real, pure coffee that is usually produced with Robusta coffee, not the pricier Arabian coffee beans. In order to make it, manufacturers begin by brewing coffee to a highly concentrated level. Then, they dry it.
Dehydration is done either by freeze-drying it or spray-drying it. But the goal is the same: remove all the water so that only concentration remains. This process, it must be said, can affect the taste and aroma, which is why some consumers just don’t care for instant coffee. However, both those qualities can be altered, depending on what you add to the coffee – how much water you make it with, whether you add cream or milk, and whether you sweeten it with sugar or even honey. Even if you’re not a fan, there is no denying the incredible science and skill that went into instant coffee.
Pros of Instant Coffee
Most obviously, the primary benefit is convenience. You can make instant coffee with nothing other than hot water. You add hot water, and you’ve got coffee in an, well, in an instant! The market for this coffee type is those who are in a rush or those who are out camping in the wilderness. Either way, it’s a coffee type best suited to those who don’t have the time or equipment needed to make more sophisticated types of coffee.
There’s no doubt that instant coffee is your least expensive coffee type option. All the costs inherent in creating instant coffee are incurred at the manufacturing level, not at your home or office. The price of Robusta coffee is lower than Arabica, which means those savings get passed on to you, the consumer.
Contains less caffeine
This is an important feature of instant coffee for some consumers. Maybe cutting down on caffeine is a step you want to take for the sake of your health, and instant coffee can certainly help in that regard. On average, a cup of instant coffee contains roughly half the caffeine of other types of coffee. Instead of as much as 120 milligrams of caffeine, instant coffee contains about 60 to 80.
Cons of Instant Coffee
This is the biggest drawback – instant coffee just can’t compete with the burst of flavor and richness you’ll get in a just-brewed cup of coffee. And because the coffee used to make instant coffee is of a less expensive variety, its quality varies depending on how good the crop was in any given year. It may taste burned, or bitter. Yet because instant coffee is relatively inexpensive, it just might be the right choice if your budget is your main priority.
This is a potentially risky chemical created when coffee beans are roasted. It’s often found in consumer products, including cigarettes and some personal care items. Although instant coffee contains very little of this chemical, if you’re concerned about even slight exposure to carcinogens, avoiding instant coffee may be wise.
Freshly ground coffee gives you the ultimate in flavor and richness, but it takes a bit of effort to learn how to make a perfect cup. Coffee pods are faster, but their impact on the environment, and their potential for staleness, should be taken into account. Instant coffee is the fastest, most economical way to make a cup of coffee, but adding milk and sugar is the only way to make it truly palatable.
Which type of coffee to choose? That depends entirely on you! Follow the decision tree to find out what is your best choice:
Weigh the pros and cons of all the coffee types we’ve mentioned. Then ask yourself the questions above. Once you have all the information gathered and you decide how important coffee is to you, you’ll be able to choose the right coffee type!