Easy Serving Espresso Pod
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Each pod contains seven grams of coffee compressed into a food safe filter package. A double serving contains 14 grams of coffee. Pods are typically 44-45mm size for E.S.E. certified machines, in the past many USA home single-serve brewers use 55mm pods and could not use E.S.E. pods. Today there are many Espresso machines compatible for use of 45 mm diameter E.S.E Espresso standard Pod even in US and Canada.
Note that ESE pods are smaller and more compact than those used in Senseo single-serve coffee brewers. Senseo coffee pods are also larger in diameter.
The pod is placed within a pod adapter in a normal espresso machine or inside the brewing chamber of a pod brewer. The original patent for filter pod technology was registered by K. Cyrus Melikian of Automatic Brewers And Coffee Devices, Inc.(ABCD) in Pennsylvania, USA, in 1959. Eventually licenses for pod technology were granted to an Italian firm and other developers, who created specific standards for proprietary technologies.
The original use of pod machines in Italy was to relieve designated office personnel from the tedium of continuous espresso brewing for office staff. In later years pod brewers were developed for the home market, and for restaurants and other food service businesses where espresso was not a specialty. The use of a pod brewer eliminated most of the training required to operate conventional espresso machines.
The E.S.E. design was created by illy in 1989 as a marketing effort to sell convenience in home espresso preparation. The Easy Serving Espresso system is a brand protected by the Italian ESE Consortium for Development, and is standardized within the industry to assist manufacturers with a quality standard and widen accessibility to the market. Many espresso machines support both pods and ground coffee, including brands other than illy. The E.S.E. specification was intended to be an open design to encourage wide adoption.
Pod brewers allow many food and beverage servers to provide a standardized quality of espresso with repeatable results every time. Most coffee aficionados consider the taste to be markedly inferior to traditional espresso made with freshly ground beans, however, the quality of a cup of espresso is highly subjective, and freshly made espresso is dependent upon the skill of the barista and the maintenance and calibration of the equipment and other factors. Thus, a consumer can often get an inferior cup of espresso from an expensive traditional machine and fresh coffee, if the preparer does not make the espresso properly.
Pod users and manufacturers cite inconsistent results from traditional methods as reasons why consumers will sometimes cease to patronize traditional espresso servers, and maintain that the consistent quality of premium espresso pods is comparable to the average cup of hand-crafted espresso, and often creates more consumer loyalty. Current pod technology produces a high volume of crema, the foam created at the top of the cup, and a taste that many consumers find comparable with what is available in current espresso bars. This assessment may be in part due to the lesser frequency of proper barista training by many coffee vendors.
The Telegraph noted in an article that Starbucks had temporarily closed some of its outlets to retrain baristas, citing problems with barista preparation of espresso drinks and poor practices such as re-foaming milk or calibrating pressure for non-optimal brewing time. Pod manufacturers note that these problems are generally reduced by the use of automatic machines and pod technology.
Advantages of pods include convenience and speed of preparation and easy cleaning, consistency of taste, and less waste of coffee grounds. Disadvantages include higher cost per serving and limited selection of suppliers, as well as some paper waste when the pods are discarded, and mylar film waste from the pouches in which the pods are packed. However, pod manufacturers use only 0.2 grams of paper fiber in a typical 45 mm pod, and this fiber is easily degradable, so the main waste is the pouch packaging film.
Currently, as of late 2013, Canadian Chantler Packaging manufacturers an ESE pod film for Muldoon's Own Coffee Ltd. which is 66% biodegradeable. EPI is the developer, licensor, and distributor of Totally Degradable Plastic Additives (TDPA®)