Single-serve coffee container

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A Nespresso-compatible coffee cup by Lidl
Used Nespresso coffee capsules, showing the puncture holes in the top and bottom for mixing the product with water

A single-serve coffee container is a method for coffee brewing that prepares only enough coffee for a single portion.

Single-serve coffee containers can both reduce the time needed to brew coffee and simplify the brewing process by eliminating the need to measure out portions, flavorings, and additives from large bulk containers. They can also help to keep the unused product fresher by individually packaging portions separately without exposing the entire supply batch to air and light. Paper coffee pods can be functionally identical to plastic and metal coffee capsules, if the paper pods are individually sealed in separate bags. At the same time, the disposable single-use products add to the global waste production.


The Flemish coffee company Rombouts was founded in Antwerp in 1896. In 1958, the company launched its first one cup coffee filter for the Brussels World Exhibition, allowing a cup of coffee to be made using the perfect amount of roasted and ground coffee. In 1964, the company began marketing the concept and enjoyed much success in the horeca and retail sectors. In 1966, Rombouts was appointed a "Certified Royal Warrant Holder of Belgium".[1][2]


Several different systems exist:

  • Coffee pods or pads are pre-packaged ground coffee beans in their own filter.
  • A coffee capsule differs from a coffee pod in that the coffee is packed in a plastic or aluminum package instead of a paper filter, and it is usually designed for use with a single brand or system and is therefore not interchangeable with other systems. A patent on the Nespresso system expired at the end of 2012, and there are now rival capsules available for the Nespresso system.[3]
  • A variation, coffee bags, were developed to provide the convenience of instant coffee but maintain the flavor of brewed coffee. Modeled after tea bags, they consist of a gauze bag containing a mixture of instant coffee and finely ground roast coffee, which is to be steeped in hot water for approximately three minutes.[4]
  • Coffee (filter) disks or ground coffee filter rings are a ring-type variant of coffee bags made of coffee filter paper containing ground roast coffee for use in coffee percolators, which otherwise use permanent filters made out of metal or porcelain. One of the first companies to offer them was General Foods Corp. with their "Max-Pax" filter rings.

Comparison of systems[edit]

The plastic and metal coffee capsules typically are used in a non-removable receptacle on the brewing device. The capsules have an outer ring or rim that stays dry during use, allowing for removal and disposal after use without getting the user's hands wet or sticky. Handling of a used moist coffee pod is not necessary if the brewing device has a removable filter tray. This tray is removed after brewing and inverted to eject the used coffee pod.

Coffee pods, bags, and capsules can be sized for individual or multi-serving portions. In food service businesses, pods and capsules used with automatic brewing can help to provide consistency of product strength and flavor for customers.

Paper coffee pods such as those used in Easy Serving Espresso Pod or Senseo machines have the benefit of being a fully biodegradable product that can decompose naturally, while plastic and metal capsules such as those used in Keurig or Nespresso machines either are not recyclable, or require additional processing to separate the plastic/metal container from the organic waste products.

Many capsule machines specifically warn the user to not disassemble the machine or put their fingers inside the capsule receptacle, as the devices commonly use sharp razor-edge tubes or prongs for piercing the coffee capsule during use.

Different single-cup systems are not interchangeable; some systems force machine owners to buy capsules from a single company (usually the patent owner), locking the machine owner into a single source of coffee. Coffee pods are made by a variety of manufacturers and are interchangeable between brand of pod and model of pod brewer most of the time.

System Owned by Year invented Machine manufacturers Capsule / pod manufacturers Markets Type Notes
Espresso Point MAXI Lavazza 1992[citation needed] The ECL (Espresso e Cappuccino Lavazza) branded as 1x Lavazza Worldwide Capsule The ECL used a bi-dose capsule system and had a double dispensing head that could brew two coffees at the same time.
Espresso Point Lavazza 1983 Uno Per branded as 1x Lavazza Worldwide Capsule The single-dose capsule machine by Uno Per (Gattinara), acquired by Lavazza in 1989
Espressotoria Vittoria Coffee ? ? Own brand Worldwide Capsule Australian coffee brand that produces its own pods for its Espressotoria machines[5] as well as Nespresso-compatible pods.
A Modo Mio Lavazza 2007 Saeco (Philips) branded as Lavazza/Gaggia, Electrolux Lavazza Worldwide Capsule Lavazza vertical
BLUE Lavazza 2003 ? Lavazza Worldwide Capsule BLUE stands for "Best Lavazza Ultimate Espresso” - mostly used in business and vending machines
Bialetti Diva Bialetti 2013 Bialetti Caff dÕItalia Worldwide Capsule
Bodecker Brewer Bodecker Brewed 2005 TBD Bodecker Brewed Canada Capsule
Caffitaly (Caffita) Caffita System SPA 2004 Various inc. Princess of Netherlands, Tchibo, Gaggia until recently[when?] Various, inc. Dualit, Gaggia, Ecaffe, CBTL, Gloria Jeans, MAP, Woolworths Central Europe, Northern Europe, Brazil, Australia Capsule Physically compatible with K-Fee machines/pods
Delta Q Delta Cafés 2007 Flama, branded Delta Cafés, Brasilia S.p.A., Casa Bugatti Delta Cafés, Tetley Canada, Portugal, Spain, Luxembourg, Brazil, Angola Capsule
Dolce Gusto Nestle 2008 Krups, Delonghi, branded Nescafe. Nescafe (Nestle) Worldwide Capsule Nestle vertical. Also brews cold beverages. Limited Edition machine designs also available. Rewards program.Capsule recycling programs exist in some countries.
Easy Serving Espresso Pod (ESE) Italian ESE Consortium for Development 1998 (standard) and previous Various including Delonghi, Dualit, FrancisFrancis, Handpresso, Kitchenaid, Krups and Saeco Various Worldwide Pod Open, generic standard not tied to particular vendors, pods fit most traditional espresso machines. Not all pods are 44 mm (the standard diameter).
Flavia Beverage Systems Mars, Inc. 1984 Flavia (Mars) Flavia (Mars) United States, United Kingdom Capsule The "fresh pack" (the capsule) is the brewing vessel, so that the drink is not tainted by previous user. Controlled by Mars.
Folgers Folgers 1953 None needed The J.M. Smucker Co. United States Bag Folgers coffee singles,[4] instant coffee
iperEspresso Illy 2007 FrancisFrancis (Illy), Gaggia[6] (Saeco), Cuisinart[7] Illy Worldwide Capsule Recyclable[8]
K-Cup (Keurig) Green Mountain Coffee Roasters 1992 Many: Keurig, Breville, Cuisinart, Insignia, etc. Many, including Green Mountain United States, Canada Capsule My K-Cup available as a reusable filter for using any filter coffee prior to the Keurig 2.0 system.
Compostable K-Cup OneCoffee 2017 Many: Keurig, Cuisinart, BUNN etc. Many, including OneCoffee and Club Coffee United States, Canada Capsule A soft-bottomed pod compatible with any Keurig machine, including 2.0.
K-Fee KRÜGER Group 2010 Aldi Expressi, K Systems GMBH Preferenza K-Fee, Paulig Cupsolo, Starbucks Verismo United States, Europe, Australia Capsule Physically compatible with CaffeItaly machines/pods
(Original Line)
Nestle 1976 Eugster/Frismag branded as Krups, Magimix, Siemens; Delonghi make Latissima model Nespresso Worldwide Capsule (Pod in bars[9]) In 1976, Eric Favre, an employee of Nestlé, invented, patented and introduced the Nespresso system[10][11] Nestle-controlled system
Nespresso VertuoLine Nestle 2014 ? Nespresso United States, Canada, France, United Kingdom, Australia, Japan Capsule Nestle-controlled system
Coffee Pods None 2001 (Senseo patent) Bunn, Philips, Melitta, Grindmaster, Cuisinart, CafeXpress, etc. Douwe Egberts, Café Liégeois, Reunion Island, Wolfgang Puck, Melitta, Fratello Coffee Roasters, etc. Worldwide Pod Not owned by a specific corporation. Many more manufacturers of pods and brewers exist. Also biodegradable.
T-Discs (Tassimo) JDE Peet's 2004 Bosch branded as TASSIMO JDE Peet's and Kraft Heinz (in Canada and United States) United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe Capsule

Environmental impact[edit]

Environmental activists have said that single-use coffee pods are harmful, as they are often composed of a mix of plastic, aluminium, and organic material (the used coffee) which makes them difficult to recycle. In early 2016 the German city of Hamburg banned coffee capsules from state-run buildings on environmental grounds.[12][13] There are some capsules that are plant-based and that can be compostable as bio-waste.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rombouts Coffee - Blog - History". Archived from the original on 2022-09-30. Retrieved 2023-03-19.
  2. ^ "All About Royal Families". Archived from the original on 2023-03-19. Retrieved 2023-03-19.
  3. ^ Nespresso compatible pods for coffee, Best Nespresso Machine, retrieved 2019-12-13
  4. ^ a b "Classic Roast Singles – Folgers Coffee". Retrieved 2017-04-14.
  5. ^ FAQ, Vittoria Coffee
  6. ^ "Gaggia for illy plus single serve".
  7. ^ "Buona Tazza Collection Side-by-side comparison". Retrieved 2015-05-06.
  8. ^ "Introducing the iperEspresso Capsule Recycle Program". Retrieved 2014-07-05.
  9. ^ Commercial Coffee Capsule Range (Nespresso Pro Spain)
  10. ^ Societé (in French), CH: Monodor, archived from the original on 2008-05-03
  11. ^ History, Monodor
  12. ^ "Is there a serious problem with coffee capsules?". 2016-02-19. Retrieved 2017-04-14 – via
  13. ^ "Is Tassimo being phased out or going out of business?". 2017-06-21. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  14. ^ "Plant based capsules challenge Nespresso". 2016-02-24. Retrieved 2017-11-26.