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What Is ESE Coffee Pods?

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Easy Serve Espresso (ESE) pods are pre-packaged discs filled with coffee grounds. They remove the need for a grinder and help ensure that every espresso drink is consistent. Keep reading to learn more.

As someone who loves espresso, I want to know all the different ways to make espresso. That led me to wonder whether ESE pods are viable. Hence, I wrote this guide.

Here’s what I’ll cover in this piece:

Let’s get to it.

Key Takeaways

  • ESE pods are pre-packed discs containing pre-ground coffee for easier espresso making.
  • ESE pods cost more than ground coffee, but are more convenient & consistent.
  • Can help reduce espresso channeling.
  • Aren’t the same as K-Cups or Nespresso.

What Are ESE Pods for Espresso?

What Is ESE Coffee Pods? 2

ESE pods, also known as Easy Serving Espresso pods, are pre-packed, small, flat discs containing a measured amount of ground coffee. They’re designed to work with ESE-compatible espresso machines.

ESE pods are a convenient way to make espresso without grinding the beans yourself. They are also more environmentally friendly than capsules, as you can compost them.

ESE pods are available in a variety of flavors. They are also available in decaffeinated and flavored varieties. Companies also offer ESE pods for lungo (long shot), doppio (double shot), and rarely ristretto (concentrated shot).

If you are looking for the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly option, grinding your own beans is the best choice. However, if you are looking for a quick and easy way to make espresso, ESE pods are a good option.

How big are they, though?

Size of ESE pods

Most ESE pods are 44 mm in diameter and have around 7 grams of coffee inside. 

How to Make Espresso With ESE Pods

Here are the steps on how to make espresso with ESE pods:

  1. Prepare your espresso machine: Make sure that your machine is clean & ready to use.
  2. Place an ESE pod in the portafilter: Center the pod & ensure that the metal strip is facing down.
  3. Tamp the pod evenly: This will help to ensure even espresso extraction.
  4. Brew the espresso: The brewing time will vary depending on your machine, but it is typically around 20–30 seconds [1].

It’s like using coffee grounds, but with no grinding and tamping required.

Check out the pros of using ESE pods.

What Are the Benefits of Using ESE Pods?

Pros of using ESE pods include:

  • Convenience: Quick & easy way to make espresso.
  • Environmentally friendly: Compostable; making them a more environmentally friendly option than capsules.
  • Variety: Available in a variety of flavors, find the one that you like best.
    • They are also available in decaffeinated & flavored varieties.
  • Consistency: Pre-measured; you’ll always have consistent-tasting drinks.
  • Freshness: Sealed in individual packages; the coffee inside stays fresh for longer.

They’re more environmentally friendly than using pods such as Nespresso pods and ensure consistency throughout every cup of espresso. Since every packet is already measured.

Though they’re pre-ground, manufacturers place them in individual packages to maintain their freshness. Because usually, ground beans don’t last as long as unground ones.

And now for the cons.

What Are the Drawbacks of Using ESE Pods?

Here are some of the drawbacks of using ESE pods:

  • Cost: More expensive than ground coffee.
    • This is because the pods are pre-packaged & ready to use, which adds to the cost.
  • Quality: The quality can vary, it’s important to choose a reputable brand.
    • Some pods may use lower-quality coffee beans or may be stale.
  • Waste: Creates some waste; cannot recycle.
    • This is a smaller amount of waste than capsules, but it is still something to consider.
  • Less control: You have less control over the brewing process than you would if you grinded & tamped them yourself.
    • This can affect the taste of the espresso.
  • Not compatible with all machines: Not all espresso machines are compatible with ESE pods.
    • Make sure your machine is compatible before you buy pods.

ESE pods may require more research to ensure whatever brand you’re buying from provides high-quality pods. These pods may also cost more than using ground coffee since you’re buying pre-packaged pods.

They’ll still save you money otherwise spent buying and maintaining a grinder.

Do they have a negative impact on the environment? Let’s see.

What Are the Environmental Impacts of ESE Pods?

The environmental impacts of ESE pods are lower than those of coffee capsules. However, they are less environmentally friendly than ground coffee in a portafilter basket.

The environmental impacts of ESE pods can vary depending on the materials used to make them, their disposal method, and the amount of energy used to produce them.

Let’s explore a few categories to see how environmentally friendly ESE pods are.

1. Materials

ESE pods are typically made from filter paper, which is biodegradable. Some ESE pods are also made from plastic, which is not biodegradable.

2. Disposal

You can compost ESE pods if they’re made from biodegradable materials. However, many people do not compost their ESE pods, which means that they end up in landfills. Landfills produce methane, a greenhouse gas that is more potent than carbon dioxide.

3. Energy Use

The energy used to produce ESE pods also has an environmental impact. The production of paper requires a lot of energy, and the production of metal also requires energy. The amount of energy used to produce ESE pods will vary depending on the manufacturing process.

How do Easy Serve Espresso pods compare to traditional espresso?

ESE Pods vs. Traditional Espresso Preparation

ESE pods are pre-packaged, small, flat discs containing a measured amount of ground coffee designed to work with ESE-compatible espresso machines. Traditional espresso preparation involves grinding your own beans, tamping them into the portafilter, and brewing the espresso.

Here is a table comparing the two methods:

ESE podsTraditional espresso preparation
ConvenientMore involved
Less wasteMore waste
Less controlMore control
$1.20 per pod$0.55 per shot [2]

ESE pods are more convenient and often produce less waste, but they cost more and give you less control over the brewing process. Traditional espresso brewing gives you more control, but requires you to buy a separate coffee grinder.

An additional cost and appliance that you’ll need to perform maintenance on.

Let’s compare ESE pods to Nespresso machines.

ESE Pods vs. Nespresso

ESE pods and Nespresso pods are single-serve coffee pods designed for specific coffee machines. However, there are some key differences between the two types of pods.

FeatureESE podsNespresso pods
MaterialFilter paper and metal stripAluminum
CompatibilityCompatible with a variety of espresso machinesOnly compatible with Nespresso machines
Environmental impactMore environmentally friendlyLess environmentally friendly
Avg. Cost$1.20 per podOriginal: $0.90 per podVertuo: $1.20 per pod

Nespresso pods work in Nespresso machines and some combination coffee makers. ESE pods only work in espresso makers.

Which should you choose?

Opt for Nespresso machines if you want espresso quicker and don’t mind sacrificing control over taste for speed and consistency. Go for ESE pods if you want to sometimes make traditional espresso, and sometimes use ESE pods.

How about K-Cups?

ESE Pods vs. Keurig

ESE pods are more environmentally friendly and produce better espresso than K-Cups. K-Cups are more convenient and available in a broader variety of flavors.

Almost all Keurig machines will use less than 1 bar of pressure, which means you don’t get true espresso [3]. All espresso machines compatible with ESE pods will use at least 9 bars of pressure, giving you espresso and crema.

But let’s explore the differences, anyway:

FeatureESE podsK-Cups
MaterialFilter paper and metal stripAluminum
CompatibilityCompatible with a variety of espresso machinesOnly compatible with Keurig machines
Environmental impactMore environmentally friendlyLess environmentally friendly
Avg. Cost$1.20 per pod$0.60 per pod

K-Cups will only work with Keurig machines or combination coffee makers that accept K-Cups. And ESE pods will work with espresso machines.

If you’ve decided that you want to go with ESE pods, you’ll need to figure out what brand makes the best ones.

Brands That Make ESE Pods

Here are a bunch of brands that make ESE pods:

Black DonkeyLavazza
Barista ItalianoKimbo

ILLY and Lavazza are the big dogs in the ESE space. Whatever brand you choose will depend on what kind of pods you want (e.g., decaffeinated or lungo).

Now that you have a brand in mind, learn how to buy the best ones.

How to Choose the Right ESE Pods

Consider these factors when shopping for ESE pods:

  • Espresso machine: Ensure the ESE pods chosen are compatible with your espresso machine.
  • Preferences: Consider your personal preferences for flavor, roast, & acidity when choosing ESE pods.
  • Quality of the beans: The quality of the beans used to make the ESE pods will have a big impact on the taste of the espresso.
    • Look for ESE pods made with fresh, high-quality coffee beans.
  • Price: Can range in price from up to a few dollars per pod.
  • Environmental impact: Some pods use biodegradable materials.

Read reviews and buy from reputable sources when shopping. Otherwise, you’re wasting your money on pods that may not provide great-tasting coffee.

Lastly, let’s deal with pod storage.

How to Store ESE Pods

Here are some tips on how to store ESE pods:

  • Store them in their original packaging: The original packaging will help to protect the pods from light & moisture.
  • Store them in a cool, dark place: A cupboard or pantry is a good place to store ESE pods.
  • Avoid storing them in the refrigerator or freezer: Cold temperatures can damage the pods.
  • Don’t store them near strong-smelling foods or chemicals: The strong smells can permeate the pods & affect the taste of the espresso.
  • Check the expiration date: Pods have a shelf life of about 6 months.
    • After that, the flavor will start to decline.

Store ESE pods properly and enjoy fresh, delicious espresso for months to come.

FAQs for ESE Pods

Read on to find frequently asked questions about ESE pods.

Can All Espresso Machines Use ESE Pods?

Not all espresso machines can use ESE pods. Check whether the machine you want supports ESE. Or buy portafilter adapters that allow you to use ESE.

Are ESE Pods the Same as Nespresso?

ESE pods are not the same as Nespresso. The former works with espresso machines. The latter with Nespresso makers.


ESE pods are circular packets filled with pre-ground espresso beans. They’re great for providing consistent espresso and not worrying about grinding beans. Beans that, if you grind incorrectly, can lead to espresso channeling.

Want recommendations on some espresso machines that support ESE pods? Check out our recommendations.

Photo of author


Tim Lee is, as you might have guessed the founder of He is a former barista and a professional web publisher. He has now combined his knowledge and expertise in both subjects to create
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1 thought on “What Is ESE Coffee Pods?”

  1. «… ensure that the metal strip is facing down.»

    Where can we find ‘metal strip’?
    I see only paper 🙁


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