A comparison of the most popular types of coffee preparation
Beans, Capsules or Pads? The Americans are champions when it comes to drinking coffee. But alongside the classic filter coffee, more and more faster variants are conquering households in America and Europe. Whilst whole beans are automatically ground and then brewed in a fully automatic coffee machine, it is even faster with pads and capsules. But does this coffee really taste as good as the advertising claims? And how expensive is the coffee prepared in this way in the long run? We took a closer look at the different coffee-making options.
Remember: You can always check our shop page for our recommended products that we tested ourselves. We’ve tested espresso makers, espresso machines both fully automatic and portafilters, coffee beans and coffee utensils.
Whole beans versus ground coffee
Real coffee lovers swear by freshly roasted and ground beans and therefore only buy whole beans. More and more micro-roasters across USA, Canada and Europe are offering a wide range of fresh products in numerous blends and different roasting levels. However, if you can’t rely on your own expensive fully automatic coffee machine, you first have to grind the beans by hand. Sounds complicated and not everyone has the time and inclination to do it, but does it really take that long? We show how long and what it takes to grind and, above all, why it’s worth grinding your own coffee.
Coffee beans lose some of their aroma shortly after roasting, as air, moisture and light have their effect. Even in an aroma-tight protective packaging, the coffee is not protected against loss of aroma and a little outgasses. This is precisely why experts recommend consuming coffee beans within six to eight weeks of roasting.
If the coffee is ground, it is exposed to an even greater loss of aroma, as the oxygen has a much larger surface area to attack. This is why fans rely on freshly ground beans from the coffee grinder and take the time to grind their coffee just before brewing. For an optimal result, however, a good coffee grinder is necessary.
Coffee grinders for coffee lovers
A good coffee grinder doesn’t have to be expensive. Rather, the right grinder is crucial, because impact grinders not only cause irregular grinding, but are also extremely loud. In addition, like disc grinders, they run hot quickly, which roasts the beans again and thus changes their taste.
If you want to grind a lot of beans, you should therefore rely on a grinder with a conical grinder. It not only grinds the coffee with fewer rotations, it also preserves the aroma, ensures an even grain and is simply quieter.
Conical grinders are built into both hand mills and electric models. The decision for or against a hand mill mainly depends on the number of people for whom coffee is brewed every day. Anyone who makes coffee for more than two people should think about an electric grinder. For everyone else, grinding by hand is a beautiful ritual that takes as long as the water needs to boil and cool.
Read more: Coffee Grinder Test 2021
Coffee machine for those in a hurry
For a few years now, the market for coffee machines that deliver coffee at the push of a button thanks to prepackaged portions has been booming. After the pads, numerous capsules are now available and promise good coffee enjoyment.
Different blends should ensure the right coffee enjoyment for each brand. But if you buy such a coffee machine, you should note that you are limited to a limited selection of coffee blends. After all, only very specific capsules of the respective brand usually fit into the device. Therefore, it is essential to try it out! This is best done at appropriate events or in peace with friends who already have such a machine.
Coffee experts give different ratings to the taste of the coffee prepared by the machines. While some brands got good marks, others failed the taste and aroma test. If you decide to use certain capsules or pads for a long time when you buy such a coffee machine, you should make sure that you really like the coffee.
Beans, capsules and pads in price comparison
As is well known, one can argue about the taste. But the results are clear when it comes to price. A little math shows what coffee drinkers really have to pay for their quick coffee enjoyment at the push of a button. We did this and found that pads and capsules are more than two to ten times more expensive. While a cup of coffee from the coffee filter or machine costs around 4 to 10 cents, the pads are around 10 to 15 cents and the capsules even at least 25 cents. The most expensive variant is the Nespresso, which costs around 40 cents. Anyone who drinks two cups of coffee a day will quickly pay at least 120 dollars more a year for capsules!
On the Internet, smart coffee drinkers can find many ways in which they can save on capsules and the like. Nevertheless, before buying a device, it is best to calculate how much it really costs to enjoy coffee with this variant. This also quickly shows whether a cheaper model does not turn out to be significantly more expensive in the end because you have to rely on expensive capsules or special pads.
And what about the environmental friendliness?
Another aspect that speaks clearly against the capsules is the large amount of waste they cause. Biodegradable capsules are now available, but most are made of plastic or aluminum and cause garbage with every cup of coffee. The pads made of paper filters cut significantly better here. Like the filters of the filter coffee machine, they can also be added to compost or organic waste. If you want to produce even less waste, you can either use the fully automatic machine or the refillable pads, which are now available and can be used in various machines.
The cheapest and most varied is and remains the self-brewed coffee from powder or freshly ground beans. For many people, making coffee every day is a ritual that they just don’t want to miss out on, just like enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning. If you, on the other hand, go for the trend of quick coffee, you should definitely try out the results from these machines beforehand. However, you will hardly be able to conjure up the smell of the freshly ground beans from the nearest micro-roastery in the small capsules.
Our short conclusion:
- Freshly roasted and ground coffee beans remain at the top in terms of taste and aroma
- Pads and capsules score particularly well in the office, but are significantly more expensive in terms of price.