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How Do Coffee Pods Compare to Fresh Ground Coffee?

Coffee and espresso are available in pods now more than ever. But how do they compare to other prepackaged coffees and fresh ground coffee? Take a look at our comparisons of the pro's and con's of switching to a coffee pod system.

First of all, if you aren't familiar with coffee pods, let's start with the basics. Coffee pods are prepackaged, single serving containers of ground coffee that can be used in automatic coffee makers. The pod is to coffee, what the tea bag is to tea. The pod system adds the convenience of the coffee maker handling the entire brewing process automatically for you. The idea is simple, the ground coffee is sealed inside a disposable plastic pod with a small paper filter inside. The pod is placed into a special pod coffee machine, water is heated to the perfect temperature and forced at high pressure through the grounds, making a flavorful cup of coffee.


  • Simplifies coffee making

  • Yields consistent results

  • Cheaper than going to a coffee shop like Starbuck's

  • Easy clean up

  • Some pod coffee makers can automatically steam milk for coffee drinks

  • Faster than other brewing methods


  • Coffee pods are much more expensive than fresh ground or other prepackaged coffees by the pound

  • Pods do not fit universally into all machines

  • Smaller selection of available coffees than fresh ground

  • Prepackaged coffee cannot attain the same flavor quality of fresh ground coffee

  • Pod coffee makers are single serving devices, they are not convenient if you are serving guests or want a pot of coffee

  • Pods may not be available locally requiring you to order a supply in advance

  • Risk of pods for your coffee maker becoming unavailable

In Summary

If you currently drink prepackaged coffee, as opposed to buying fresh ground or grinding your own, you will likely be satisfied with the flavor. In fact, the pod brewer might improve upon your own technique, yielding an even better cup than you make for yourself. If you find a brand of coffee you like and stick with it, then pods will work for you. But if you can't find just the right blend or like trying many different varieties, then pods may put a crimp in your style. Also, no prepackaged coffee has yet managed to equal the aroma and flavors achieved with fresh roasted, fresh ground coffee. So if you brew fresh ground, then there will be a trade off of flavor for convenience.

The machine adds a level of convenience, requiring mere moments to start a cup brewing. But if you run out of pods, you may not be able to brew for a few days if local retailers don't carry your brand and you have to order more to be delivered. Ordering coffee pods may also add the cost of shipping to your coffee habit. While some machines will accept a variety of pods, some are limited to pods made specifically for that brand of coffee maker.

All in all, pod coffee brewers offer convenience and consistency but at the cost of freshness and variety. Coupled with the higher cost of both the brewing equipment and the coffee itself, unless you place a high value on the convenience, a regular brew system may be a better choice.

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