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Caffè in cialde o caffè in capsule? cover image

A bit of history

Single-serving or pre-dosed coffee has revolutionized our habits and customs. It has moved espresso out of its conventional places of consumption much like the invention of the tea bag in the 1970s which overturned the market and consumption habits for this beverage.

Although many years have passed since its launch, single-serving coffee proves it’s no fad as it continues to grow and demonstrate its attractiveness over the more classic and traditional moka.

The benefits

The system of single-serve coffee in capsules incorporates the fundamental requirements for market success providing concrete advantages such as efficient service, high quality and reliability.

Besides finding this system easy to use, we also find it offers a uniform quality product previously only provided by expert baristas and operators.
In fact, using set parameters (coffee machine pressure and water temperature, grind, quantity of the coffee and pressing as the capsule is packaged) has resulted in a “product system” that ensures the best possible conditions for extraction, thus guaranteeing the best possible conditions for extraction, thus guaranteeing a final quality that fully meets consumer demands.

Moreover, single-serve coffee boasts a prime advantage of making it so easy to take the wonderful flavor of Italian espresso coffee abroad.

Roasters select “ad hoc” blends that standardize the roasting, grinding and pressing processes to achieve consistently high quality cups of coffee that the consumers recognize and enjoy.

The systems = coffee + machine

The market offers two types of systems: open and closed.

  • Open system.
    With this system various brands and different types of single-serve coffee can be used as several different brand coffee machines use a set standard capsule. This means that we can choose the machine they like and whatever coffee they prefer. Moreover, new producers are increasingly conforming to the standard.
  • Closed system.
    Here both machine and capsule are patent-protected. In this case, a specific machine can only use a specific type of single-serve capsule and, once we have purchased a given brand, he will compelled to consume its dedicated product.

Single-serve coffee is one of the fastest growing commodities and offers a wide range of products. Indeed, consumer reception has been positive for all those products marketed with adequate support in terms of distribution and information and where marketing has been geared to creating customer loyalty.

Since it is a highly segmented market, an important success factor for all operators is to offer consumers an integrated system, that is to supply single-serve coffee together with a dedicated machine.

Did you know that Italians, who already dominate many aspects of the coffee world, are the greatest producers and consumers of capsule and pod coffee?

Caffè in cialde o caffè in capsule? - comparazione prodotto

Pod or Capsule?

Single-serve coffee can be in a pod or capsule and there are many types. But first, let’s try to make it clear the differences between these two systems to better understand how they compare.

Both systems undoubtedly have common strengths:

  1. Easy use and service: simply put the pod or the capsule into the coffee machine and in a few seconds we will have our espresso coffee.
  2. Easy and smart preparation.
  3. It doesn’t leave a residue to be cleaned (coffee residues are trapped inside the pod/capsule).
  4. Standard dosage: pods and capsules contain the ideal quantity for a balanced and tasty espresso coffee. In fact, in addition to a matter of taste, both allow you to avoid the approximate dose of moka.
  5. The machines need cleaning not excessive.

In addition to these common benefits, pods and capsules have deep differences especially related to the materials with which they are made.

The pod

Most of pods consist of a single, pre-packaged dose of approximately 7 grams of ground coffee, pressed and vacuum packed between 2 layers of heat-welded filter-paper (the grammage of the paper can vary from 20 to 27 g/m2, a fact that affects water percolation); the diameter varies from 38 to 44mm and it can be symmetrical or asymmetrical.

The pods can be divided into two categories:

  • “compact pods” used to make espresso coffee
  • “soft pods” or “pads” which instead derive from European filter or drip coffee tradition (in Italy they are called “long coffee”).

The E.S.E. pod

E.S.E. (Easy Serving Espresso) it was perhaps the first system in the world to easily get a great espresso using single portions of coffee, pre-packaged in the right amount and with optimum ground pressure.

It was developed by Illy in the 1970s and is therefore a highly efficient system since it allows you to prepare an espresso quickly and without mistakes.
Each E.S.E. pod corresponds to a single portion of our favorite blend. The tamped blend is enclosed in two sheets of environmentally friendly filter-paper and then individually packaged in a protective atmosphere.

The pods allow you to prepare and serve an easy, fast and perfect espresso just like in the coffee shop while ensuring the freshness of each single dose and leaving the aroma of coffee unaltered.

Moreover, the absence of metal makes the pods truly eco-friendly as biodegradable, as well as user-friendly for the ease with which the consumer can just pop the pod into the machine, press the button and get a good coffee in a simple, clean and effective way.

The capsule

Instead, the capsules are small plastic or aluminum containers where coffee is ready to be prepared.

As much as the pods and capsules allow us to get an espresso coffee of excellent quality, we have further analyzed the issue.

Coffee in Pod vs Capsule?

Why we prefer pods of all time:

1. Percolation more espresso

The percolation consists of the method used to extract coffee from pod or capsule: a flow of water at about 90°C through the package then reaches the cup in the form of espresso coffee.

Thanks to its physical characteristics, the percolation of the pods is much simpler. Water does not have to cross resistant materials such as plastic or aluminum, but only a thin wrap of paper (such as tea bag) which guarantees a more creamy coffee with a more homogeneous taste.
The coffee extraction process from the pod is also closest to the traditional espresso method (of the coffee shop)!

2. Eco-sustainability

The pods are made of completely biodegradable materials and can therefore be disposed or recycled safely meaning we will have great composting material guilt free!

On the other hand, capsules cannot be recycled and are destined for landfills and incinerators.

Did you know that only one capsule pollutes much more than an empty coffee bag thrown on the street?

3. Less harmful to our health

With pods, hot water runs through a 100% natural vegetable paper filter which does not release any residue.

The same can not be said of the capsules, although there are still no scientific findings about it. With the capsules, the hot water jet plows through the aluminum or plastic carrying residues of these substances into the espresso coffee. Among other things, plastic capsules have a high concentration of furan which is harmful to our health.

4. Compatibility

The E.S.E. pods are now standard as they all have the same size and are compatible with many coffee machines on the market. This is not always the case with capsules which are often incompatible with the machine you might have at home or in the office.

5. Less Expensive

The absence of materials such as plastic or metal also allows prices to be lowered. On average, the pods cost less than the capsules while providing the same – if not, superior – result.

The pod of all time
with a responsible packaging

In order to satisfy the “green oriented” needs of the market and consumer, SpecialCoffee redesigned and relaunched the E.S.E. pod making it the most eco-friendly coffee ever!


The quality is signature SpecialCoffee.
The packaging was redesigned.

caffè in cialde o caffè in capsule - packagingThe packaging was redesigned not just for aesthetics but also from an eco-design point of view. Reducing the weight and volume of the bag, as well as the carton, was paramount in cutting down on environmental impact, packaging waste and logistics without compromising the quality and usability of the product.

Now, the cardboard becomes a very useful and practical dispenser!


Warning! The taste of espresso coffee can undergo slight variations depending on the pod-machine combination. Each pod should therefore be combined with the best coffee machine.

In regards to the single-serve coffee machines, a good portion of the market is for export thus further confirming Italian excellence in the espresso sector supported by the pluri-patented technologies, the materials, devices and processes for extracting the aroma, all stemming from Italian manufacturers’ vast experience and love of high quality products.

Nowadays, pod machines for home use are all very comfortable, uncompromising and best calibrated for the features of coffee pods.

caffè in cialde o caffè in capsule - canale casa e horeca eng

At the smaller coffee shops these machines allow one and all to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee.

Do not underestimate the use of pod machines as an ideal solution for smaller businesses such as restaurants, hotels, pastry shops and places serving conservative amounts of coffee but still want to offer an impeccable espresso coffee like what a barista would prepare.

If coffee beans are particularly suitable for coffee shops with high daily consumption, then pod extraction is the most effective solution when the machine is not constantly working.

In the terms of quality

What are the real advantages of a coffee pod at the bar or the restaurant?

1. Steadfast quality

The pod system ensures a flawless espresso coffee with the highest standards of quality regardless of the consumption rate and service management while minimizing product waste.

2. Energy savings

By now, most machines are designed for low energy consumption compared to a traditional espresso machine.

3. Versatility

The machine has moments when it works at full capacity and other time where it rests for a long time (more than an hour).

A customer arrives and orders an espresso: how do you offer him an impeccable coffee?

In low-flow moments, where the machine works in a discontinuous way, the extraction of the espresso in pods ensures an optimal result.

4. Ease of use

The experienced bartender has finished the turn and in the coffee shop there is only his assistant.

A customer orders an espresso: how do you ensure a professional service?

With the pod extraction system, it’s easy to insert the pod and get a perfectly made coffee.

5. Variety of the offer

A usual customer in the morning prefers espresso coffee while in the afternoon a decaffeinated one.

How do you always satisfy him without keeping him waiting?

Thanks to the pod system, you can expand the range by diversifying the blends destined for the two types of dispensing.

6. Easy to transport

The pod system is even more versatile in use and above all ideal for various catering activities and outdoor events as well.

  • Easy installation: taking advantage of the internal tank
  • Ease of handling: low weight and small size
  • Simplified maintenance

The secret is in the pod and in easy-to-use machines which should be good looking and adaptable to all environments thanks to the small size.

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