Posted on 18 June 2016
So you've bought a Nespresso compatible machine and want to start making some barista style coffee at home? We've put together a few tips to help get you on your way.
1. Be realistic
The first step to making a great coffee using a Nespresso compatible machine is to be realistic – we’re not saying this to turn you off, but more to set your expectations. There are a few variables that you will need to take into consideration when making a pod coffee. Most importantly, you need to be using good coffee pods – if you settle for the cheapest ones out there or use the ones that come with your machine which have most likely been in the box for around 6 months, the coffee is probably not going to taste that great. Remember, your local cafe barista's don’t grind up their coffee and keep it in a box for months, they grind it fresh every day! Likewise, if you settle for the cheapest machine, the extraction out of the coffee capsule is not going to be as good as a high quality machine. The end result is going to depend a lot on the type of coffee you are using and the quality of the coffee capsule machine. The bottom line is, you get what you pay for as all of these factors determine the quality and taste of your coffee.
2. Practice makes perfect
Let’s be honest, if you think you’re going to whip up the perfect latte first time with your brand new Nespresso machine, you’re probably in for a surprise. Will it be better than an instant coffee? Most definitely. Will it be as good as you get from your favourite cafe? Not the first time. Even if you have some knowledge about how to make a great coffee using another type of coffee machine, pod machines can take some time to get used to. If you’re not happy with how your latte’s or espresso’s are turning out, take some time to remember how you made your last one and try something different next time. Maybe you need less milk, maybe you need to run the shot a little longer – just make sure that if you’re unhappy with how it is tasting, change it up. Don’t get discouraged, just be a little patient as pod machines can produce an amazing coffee, it just takes a little time to get it down pat.
3. One pod, one use
This one is pretty self-explanatory but we thought we’d include it just in case – each coffee pod will make one coffee, don’t try to reuse them, you’ll definitely regret it. If you run more water through it, you won’t end up with more coffee, you’ll end up with something that resembles what is left over in the pod tray underneath. You wouldn’t drink that would you? Take our advice on this one, one pod, one coffee. Keep an eye on the coffee when it is extracting too – once it starts to run clear, you want to stop the machine. Your coffee won’t get any better if you keep running it.
4. It’s all in the glass
We highly recommend investing in a nice set of espresso or latte glasses for making coffee. I mean, I don’t remember the last time I ordered an espresso and got it in a mug. Using the correct glasses for the type of coffee you want to make doesn’t just make you look the part but it also makes it a lot easier to get the amounts right. If you use an espresso glass when making an espresso, the chances of you running the shot too long are a lot less as the size of the glass is not going to let you run the shot too far. If you usually order a large double shot latte and try to recreate that at home using one pod and a large glass, you’re also going to have some trouble. It’s important to remember that Barista’s will use around 10 grams of coffee per shot whereas a coffee pods uses around 5 grams of coffee. So if you want to make a large coffee, you should really be using two pods so the coffee is not overly weak.
5. Drink it the way you like it!
At the end of the day, only one thing matters and that is if you like the taste. If you enjoy making and drinking your coffee a certain way, that is all that counts. There are no rules when it comes to taste, especially with coffee. Coffee is one of those things where everyone loves to drink it differently, and that is where the beauty of coffee really lies. We are happy to offer as much advice as we can but if you want to do the opposite of what we think, then go for it! Just because we like coffee a certain way doesn’t mean that should apply for all – drink it the way you like it and enjoy it!
Browse the Pod Co. Coffee range of premium Nespresso* compatible coffee pods here
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Brewing the perfect cup of coffee is a true art, but it also requires a bit of science as well. Nobody makes the perfect brew simply by instinct alone, because it's just not possible to do that with coffee. There's a balance you need to find, and you can only find it if you use precision in your approach.
1. Perfect coffee requires perfect temperature control
Without a doubt, one of the most important factors that comes into play when attempting to make the perfect cup of Nespresso is the temperature you brew it at. First things first, however, you need to be aware of the massive difference between brewing temperature and serving temperature.
In case it's not perfectly obvious, you always want to brew coffee at a much higher temperature than the serving temperature. In fact you should actually allow it to cool the right amount before you serve it, because that not only reduces the risk of injury, but also gives the flavours time to reach the maximum level.
The next thing is to understand why temperature is so important. There's a magic number when it comes to coffee brewing temperature and we'll tell you what it is in just a moment. This magic number is the exact point at which the water temperature is hot enough to release the aromatic oils from the coffee beans but not so hot that it breaks down these oils nor so hot that it releases the chlorogenic acids that will result in a more bitter tasting coffee.
That magic number is 96 degrees Celsius. But of course, getting the perfect cup of coffee is not just a matter of heating up water to 96 degrees and pouring it onto the beans. For one thing, if you do it that way, the water will actually begin cooling down before it hits the beans, so you won't be getting it at exactly the right temperature, and as we already said, that precision counts.
What you need to do is force it onto finely ground and compacted roasted coffee beans at exactly 96 degrees. That's how an espresso machine is supposed to work. You just need to be certain that it's heating the water to the right point.
2. For the best results, you need the best Nespresso coffee pods
Brace yourself for this one, because it turns out the best Nespresso coffee pods aren't made by Nespresso at all. To get truly superior results, you'll need the best pods for Nespresso, and those are actually made by us, POD Co.
Why are POD Co. coffee pods better than Nespresso coffee pods, and how can we claim they're the best pods for Nespresso? It's all in the secret formulation we use to create a superior blend, and that begins with the way we source our coffee.
When big coffee manufacturers like Nescafé set out to buy coffee, their main priority is getting the results that will please the company shareholders and boost the company's stock profile (Nescafé is a subsidiary of Nestlé, which is a huge worldwide corporation that owns hundreds of brands). What it means is they want to get coffee at the lowest price they can and sell it at the highest price they can and still remain the most dominant force in the market.
Inevitably this approach has to hurt somebody somewhere, and the first place it hurts is with the growers. They usually live in places where making a living is tough, so there's a lot of economic pressure on growers to accept a selling deal, even when it results in barely enough to survive on.
POD Co. is different. We're not a huge corporation and we don't trade our shares on the stock market. That means making our profits look good is not our main priority. Our priority is sourcing the best coffee we can find, and then roasting, grinding, and blending that coffee to perfection.
That's why you'll find POD Co. coffee pods are the best Nespresso coffee pods, and ironically real Nespresso coffee pods are not the best Nespresso coffee pods.
3. If you care about great coffee, don't use unfiltered tap water
The better the quality of the water you use is (that is to say, the more pure it is), the better the resulting coffee is going to be. Bottled water will add to the cost of your coffee making quite a bit, so if that's a worry for you, it's also possible to filter water or purchase bulk containers of purified water.
Unfiltered tap water contains all kinds of chemicals, metal particles, fluoride (not the good calcium fluoride kind, but the bad sodium fluoride kind), bacteria, and other stuff that's going to affect the taste and quality of your coffee. For that reason, plus the good of your health, you should never use it.
4. Make it and serve it at the right strength
You know those tiny glasses that cafés use for serving espresso coffee in? Those tiny sizes are not because the proprietor is trying to be ungenerous, they are because they're exactly the right size for getting the perfect flavour profile in an espresso.
Commercially made espresso uses about 10g of coffee in each cup, but Nespresso pods only have 5g of coffee per pod. If you want to get a very similar taste to the commercially made espresso, you may need to use two pods. Some experimentation will help you find your comfort zone.
The more important thing than deciding whether to use one or two pods per cup is to avoid using a cup (or glass) that's too large. We'd recommend using a proper espresso glass.
They're made from glass because glass doesn't absorb anything, so you're not going to get any stale aromatic oils corrupting your freshly brewed coffee, and also because it's much easier to see when glass is spotlessly clean compared to ceramics.
You certainly can use ceramic cups, or even other materials, if you wish (but never plastic or waxed paper), but glass can be expected to deliver the best result.
Pod Co. is a coffee company that sells alternatives to Nespresso® coffee pods. The coffee pods are compatible with Nespresso® machines and you can make the perfect coffee with these pods. You can find these Nespresso® pods at our online store for high quality coffee.
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