How to make the BEST coffee with a REUSABLE POD
When it comes to filling your own coffee pods, extraction results can vary depending on which coffee you use, and how you use it. Our products are tried and tested (multiple times a day!) and we KNOW you're going to love your eco-friendly capsules. If you prefer a stronger-tasting cup of joe, but want to use your Nespresso machine and Reusable Coffee Pods, we've compiled our top tips below to help you perfect your brew method.
These are all the 'must know', below you can find a more detailed explanation on each of the steps:
1. Check your MACHINE- is it clean? with the right pressure?
2. Use real FRESH coffee, Arabica vs Robusta - How well do you know your coffee type?
3. Use the right GRIND - it has a huge effect on coffee flavor and texture.
4. Reusable Pod - another way to ENHANCE the TASTE.
5. Play with your TAMPER - find the right SQUEEZ for your coffee preference.
6. Troubleshooting and extra tips - what to do if the pod won't fit into the machine due to coffee amount.
7. Run a pre extraction to get that EXTRA CREMA.
8. CLEANing and COMPOSTing for the next use - the right way.
START WITH THE MACHINE ITSELF
Water pressure / pump malfunction, mold build up, frequent full drip tray? It's well and truly time for a spring clean. Make sure your coffee capsule machine has been recently cleaned, descaled and is in optimum working condition. “Descaling” is the act of stripping calcium and lime deposits from your machine’s surfaces, assisting the pump to create a pressure build-up that produces a lovely crema to top your brew. If you want to ensure your coffee machine is producing the best flavor and optimal brew pressure, it should be cleaned once a week and descaled once every three months. Maintaining and regularly cleaning your coffee machine not only extends its life by keeping the internal mechanics in good condition, it also ensures the quality of the coffee you brew.
Tip: Don't - Use vinegar! Vinegar doesn't remove coffee oils the way a professionally formulated coffee machine cleaner does. Do - Use a cleaning solution that will remove oils, stains and break down grime.
INVEST IN SOME REAL, FRESH COFFEE
Pre-filled coffee capsules can often contain added flavor enhancers (think dehydrated powders or concentrates) to give the impression of a "stronger" coffee. There is still some public misconception around flavor intensity and caffeine content - a stronger flavored pod coffee does not necessarily equate to a higher caffeine content!
Nespresso states that they use 95% Arabicas and 5% Robusta's in their Grand Crus capsules. Some Italian blends often contain some Robusta beans – heresy for those brought up to think only arabica is fit for drinking! But a touch of Robusta in a blend gives it that characteristic body. To replicate this flavor intensity, you might want to try a similar blend. We recommend a strong dark roast, or Italian-style roast to achieve a stronger tasting brew, as stronger coffee tends to have a thicker and darker crema.
It's also important to note that during extraction, different compounds extract at varying rates: Sharper, acidic, fruity flavors tend to come out first, followed by the deep, heavier ones, and lastly the woody, bitter notes. A well extracted cuppa has a balance of these!
And remember - fresh is best. Head to your local roaster or coffee shop to chat about their available blends.
USE THE RIGHT GRIND
It's not only the roast that impacts your final brew, you'll find that the correct grind also contributes to the strength of your coffee and quality of crema. In general, a fine grind works best for reusable pods - this means that the water has to work a little harder to get through that ground coffee, creating strong, fuller bodied espresso and a beautiful extraction. Whereas a coarser grind tends to produce gentler flavors and a lighter color cream. For the majority of our reusable pods, we recommend asking your local coffee shop or roaster to grind the beans to medium-fine for optimal results.
If you grind at home, using a burr grinder will help you achieve a better brew (blade grinders can create too much dust). Ensure your capsule is tamped firmly and filled to the top.
Tip: A grind that is too fine can be a common cause of slow extraction. We suggest experimenting with pressure - pack the coffee more loosely with minimal tamp, or simply fill and apply the lid. At the other end of the scale, if your grind size is too coarse you may experience watery coffee, we suggest applying more pressure when tamping.
when the result is not great, 9 out of 10 times it is due to the type of coffee used.
It's important to understand that by making the move to refillable pods, you're also shifting to using 100% pure, freshly ground coffee beans. Pre-filled coffee capsules can contain added flavor enhancers (think dehydrated powders or concentrates) to give the illusion of a "stronger" coffee. While you might see a lot of marketing around the premium taste that can be experienced from single-use pods, essentially these are pre-packaged capsules of ground coffee that have undergone many processes during the various stages of manufacturing before they eventually make it to your kitchen. Many mainstream retailers of these products are pretty reluctant to share their roast dates, with some advertising that their pods have a shelf life of up to 12 months!
If organic robust flavors, optimum freshness, caramel-y aromas and overall deliciousness are more your thing, then investing in beautiful unprocessed Arabica blends for your reusable pods is going to make your heart sing!
And anyone who is even remotely health conscious will certainly appreciate their new additive-free, no-added-nasties morning espresso! When it comes to comparing plastic pods with freshly brewed espresso from a reusable capsule, there really is no competition.
How much pressure you apply during tamping is a critical part of the process to make a good coffee. Even the taste of coffee itself can change depending on the amount of pressure you use!
Our advice is to play with it until you find the right balance for you.
Usually, the best result is obtained when the capsule is not filled with pressed coffee to the top as this usually means the water will flow through with difficulty and the result will not be optimal.
The best set up is to have your coffee after tamping slightly below the top of the capsule, this way when you put the lid back on you will barely have to put any pressure to close it. See picture below. You can add more coffee if you like your coffee intensely, but go back to putting in the recommended amount if you see water flowing through with difficulty.
TROUBLESHOOTING and EXTRA TIPS
The Pod doesn't fit within the machine?
Sometimes, usually when too much coffee ground has been put into the capsule, the machine will not close after having put the capsule inside. A simple trick to avoid this problem is to push the capsule on the side opposite the lid
(backside) so that it fits.
RUN A PRE-EXTRACTION - GET that CREMA
In our experience, cream is more present when fine ground coffee is being used. It will also very much depend on your coffee, some coffee produce naturally a lot of cream, some do not.
After inserting a capsule into the brewing chamber, press the short shot button and let the machine run until a drop or two of coffee begins to drip out. Quickly press the shot button again to stop the flow. Wait a few seconds and restart the extraction by pressing the button again (allowing the shot to run to completion.) This method helps to create a more flavorsome, overall creamier extraction.
CONSIDER YOUR MILK TO COFFEE RATIO
Did you know baristas increase a shot size based on the amount of milk? (we recommend almond milk home made)
You may want to consider the extraction size you are using, or brew a double shot. If you only use a single shot in a large cup, once you fill it with milk, you're going to lose the lovely characteristics of the coffee (flavors and aromas!) as the milk overshadows it.
To achieve a lovely, intense coffee with pods, one foolproof method is to brew double ristretto style: Use two capsules and brew 2 x short shots (approx 25mL per shot). A ristretto will also extract less acidity, so you'll end up with a lovely sweet, rich cup of coffee too. A high intensity coffee roast supports this kind of extraction perfectly.
Note: Brewing a long coffee? To get the absolute best extraction from reusable pods, we strongly recommend using the standard espresso shot (using the short shot button) on your coffee machine. This provides the perfect amount of water to extract the best elements of the coffee (oils, aroma and flavor - yum)!
When brewing a long style coffee, you'll probably notice "blonding". Blonding is the color transition of a pour from dark brown to a light, uniform pale blond. This normally occurs in the last third of the pull and is a signal to end the pour. The overly-blond portion of the brew is thin, nearly flavorless, and if allowed to continue will dilute the body and taste characteristics of a shot.
Brewing a long shot can adversely affect your extraction. For a better tasting long or mug coffee, try the following:
Lungo - use 2 pods each on a 40mL extraction setting
Long black - use the short shot button and top with boiling water (by running your coffee machine without a pod in it)
The other bonus of brewing this way? You will actually extract less acidity from the coffee, resulting in a less bitter tasting cuppa.
CLEANING AND COMPOSTING
After having used the capsule, be careful to wait a few minutes before grabbing it as it will be hot. Once its temperature has decreased, grab it and empty the coffee inside to your composter or straight to a plant or garden (coffee grounds make great fertilizer). Then, clean it with water.
You can also put it in the dishwasher.
Before drying the capsule, make sure there is no more ground coffee stuck anywhere.