BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.
If you received a pod coffee maker as a gift over the holidays, your mornings are better than ever. You can quickly brew one steaming-hot cup of coffee at the press of a button, and be fully caffeinated and wide-awake in minutes. You don’t even have a carafe to clean because you brew directly into your mug.
However, you might wonder if it makes a difference which coffee pod you use. The short answer is yes!
How a pod coffee maker works
Brewing coffee only involves two ingredients: water and coffee. In short, for a pod coffee maker, very hot — but not boiling — water is pumped through a pod that contains a single serving of coffee grounds. As the water passes through those grounds, it extracts flavor and coloring, filling your cup with coffee.
Key factors that affect coffee pod quality
There are two key factors that affect the quality of a coffee pod:
- Size of the coffee grind: The size of the coffee grounds plays an important role in the flavor. The larger the grind of your coffee is, the more quickly hot water can flow through the grounds. If they are too large, you get sour coffee. Conversely, if the grounds are too fine, your coffee will taste bitter. The key is finding a pod that contains coffee beans that have been ground to your preference.
- Freshness: The instant you grind coffee beans, they lose flavor. There is no way to prevent this. The best you can do is check the expiration date and use pods that have airtight packaging.
Not all coffee pods are the same
Besides grind size and packaging, coffee pods can vary in a couple of other important ways. The amount of coffee in each pod can range from 7-12 grams. More grounds means stronger coffee. Also, not all coffee pods are the same size. Make sure the pods you buy are compatible with your machine.
Best coffee pods
Nespresso Capsules OriginalLine
This espresso coffee pod pack contains five rich and flavorful blends that give you a 1.35-ounce serving of espresso. The aluminum capsules are recyclable and ensure your coffee grounds stay as fresh as possible.
Whole Foods Market Organic Breakfast Blend Coffee Capsules
If you are looking for a light roast organic breakfast blend, this offering from Whole Foods will satisfy. It is made with 100% Arabica beans and is sourced from small-scale farmers.
Sold by Amazon
HAVANA ROASTERS Espresso Supreme
This Cuban-influenced coffee delivers a rich, robust flavor with no acidic taste. It is dark roasted and compatible with K-cup machines.
Sold by Home Depot
SF Bay Coffee OneCUP Breakfast Blend
For the individual looking for an eco-friendly coffee pod, this offering is manufactured using plant-based materials. It is certified fully commercially compostable. The flavor is a satisfying blend of Central American beans that produces a medium roast coffee.
Sold by Amazon
Green Mountain Dark Magic Coffee
The extrabold flavor of this dark roast coffee is perfect for a morning or afternoon pick-me-up. The coffee is made from 100% Arabica beans and it is kosher.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.