Food & Drink

The Coffee Capsule: A Brief History and Interesting Facts


The Coffee Capsule: A Brief History and Interesting Facts

 

For those who need a quick cup of caffeine to get their day started or for fans of coffee who enjoy being able to have a cup at home at their leisure, the coffee capsule is an indispensable invention. However, compared to how many use them, not many know about their history or how exactly they function. 

The Invention of the Coffee Capsule

The world has Swiss inventor Eric Favre and his Italian wife Anna-Maria to thank for the modern coffee capsule. Anna-Maria was used to the coffee of Italy, and was quite disappointed by its Swiss counterpart, which she deemed as “bland.” She teased her husband about it and challenged him to make the “ultimate espresso.” He took that challenge seriously, and it’s thanks to that the coffee capsule was born.

In order to figure out how to make the “ultimate espresso,” the couple traveled throughout Italy, sampling espresso, and eventually made their way to Caffè Sant’Eustachio, which was said by many to serve the best espresso. The two took to learning what they could about what separated barista Eugenio’s brew, the brew Italians were lining up to try, from the rest and discovered the secret was in the brew’s preparation. Unlike other baristas who pumped the piston of the coffee machine once, Eugenio pumped it three to four times, therefore aerating it. Adding oxygen to the brew enhanced the coffee’s smell and taste.

Favre decided to apply this concept to his project, and that led him to designing a capsule with air trapped inside that water would be forced through, thus creating a frothy espresso. In the years following its invention there would be struggles with business and conflicts with companies, and due to its eventual success Favre did try expanding his work to tea and other such products. Though there are all sorts of coffee capsules in the world now, as well as many other drinks that can be brewed from a capsule, most if not all of them are inspired or based off of Favre’s innovation.

How Coffee Capsules Work

Coffee capsules tend to be cylindrical with an aluminum shell, and inside are ground coffee and a filter that prevents coffee grounds from falling into a cup. To use one with a coffee capsule machine, one typically pours water into the machine’s tank, places the capsule in a holder, places a cup in the area the coffee is expected to exit, and then presses a button. This should cause the machine to heat the water, and after it’s been heated to the necessary temperature it is pushed through a narrow needle and through the coffee capsule. When a coffee capsule is placed in its holder and the lid of the machine is shut, a hole is punctured in the capsule allowing the water to flow through. Water then drips through the filter and into the cup as coffee.

Depending on the brand, coffee capsules can be different sizes, and because of that there exist multi-capsule machines. However, for those unwilling to splurge on those and who would still like to enjoy different flavored coffee capsules, making coffee from coffee capsules without the machine is an option. Though it takes longer than simply popping a capsule into a machine, pressing a button, waiting a few moments, then having coffee, this method is still relatively quick and easy. All one must do is cut off the top and bottom of the capsule, place the capsule on top of a cup narrower than the capsule is wide, and pour hot water over it.

Coffee Capsules vs. Other Types of Coffee

Coffee capsules are but one among coffee pods, instant coffee, and coffee beans. While coffee capsules and coffee pods share similarities, for instance the filters they are packaged with, and are terms often interchanged, they are not the same. Coffee pods are round, relatively flat and small packages of coffee that are placed between two filters. Instant coffee, unlike coffee capsules and pods, is not packaged ground coffee, but coffee that has been brewed and then dried or frozen so that its final product is a powdered coffee extract. Coffee beans are often packaged in bags and is used by those with the time and skill to grind, tamp, and brew coffee beans.

Out of the four, instant coffee is the cheapest and coffee beans are the most expensive. Instant coffee is notorious for lacking in taste, but it remains a favorite thanks to its convenience. Coffee beans are beloved for their high-quality taste that are the reason why fans of coffee fell in love in the first place. 

Coffee capsules and coffee pods are a nice middle ground between the two that don’t sacrifice much quality for price. The seal of coffee capsules prevents them from being overexposed to oxygen, light, moisture, and other harmful elements, allowing them to preserve their freshness and flavor. Like coffee beans, coffee capsules come in a variety of flavors. In fact, coffee capsules can have an even wider variety of flavors than coffee beans as flavors can be added to them as they are being processed. Like instant coffee, coffee capsules and pods are convenient and easy to use, making them perfect for those who are busy or who just want a quick, hassle-free cup of coffee.

With coffee capsules all one needs is a coffee capsule machine, which is not an expensive investment considering how much use can be gotten out of it. Many brands offer them, and some even offer multi-capsule versions that allow for coffee capsules of different sizes. Some also allow for the adjusting of temperatures, which can make capsule coffee taste even better. All of them essentially function the same, meaning that there is no learning curve when switching from brand to brand and that they’re not hard to figure out.

Buying Coffee Capsules

Coffee capsules are widely available for purchase as brands have realized how valuable they are to customers. They can be found in the brick-and-motor-stores of coffee retailers and even online. Coffee capsules are generally sold in packs and can be purchased in single flavors or a mix for the adventurous willing to try new tastes.


Samantha hails from Virginia and is a proud wife to a retired Deputy Sheriff and mother to two amazing little boys named Jack & William. A veteran product reviewer; Samantha has been reviewing products for 8 years and offers high quality product reviews with original photography.

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