To Pod Or Not To Pod

That is the question…

In a world where state of the art machinery is used to brew excellent coffee; in cosmopolitan cities where it is now a rarity to receive a bad cup of coffee at a café; in households that can afford to have top-class espresso machines on the bench tops of their domestic kitchens – I ask this question: why bother with the inferior, i.e. the coffee pod?

During a time far-gone, coffee was once considered as precious and as delicate as wine. It certainly wasn’t readily available. Coffee beans were smuggled over borders and made their way through trade routes inconspicuously, so that people in remote places could also discover the rich flavours and energising effects of coffee. There were no coffee machines. There weren’t even any espresso machines. Espresso in itself had not even been coined as a phrase, or even a noun. Coffee was far more uncommon than we can even imagine today. In order to make a cup of coffee, there was a whole process of steps and stages that had to be taken and worked through. And of course, the world being far wider and broader than people realised – coffee came in various forms as well, according to the method with which it was prepared.

Today coffee drinking, coffee making, coffee makers, coffee machines and coffee beans are a whole different story. Coffee almost rules the world. It certainly isn’t a rarity. Some of the world’s leading manufacturers are responsible for the development of coffee machines that truly are extraordinary pieces of machinery. With all this progress then, why are people seemingly suddenly making a flurry towards the pod option?

Let’s shed some light on the phenomena of the coffee pod for those who are unfamiliar with it. The coffee pod is much like a tea bag for coffee drinkers. So, if you are having trouble imagining, think of your favourite tea bag – perhaps a Lipton’s Earl Grey, a Twinning’s Peppermint, a Tetley’s Black Tea…whatever takes your fancy. As with a tea bag, a coffee pod requires water in order to be activated. Yet unlike a tea bag, it is not directly dangled into a cup of boiling hot water – it is placed into a pod machine. I say pod machine, because much to the dismay of some readers, it is not an espresso machine that has a pod option. Espresso machines that have pod options are not on the list of top-class coffee machines and therefore are not on my list of coffee machines. And if you are going to drink a cup of good coffee I would insist that it has to be made using a top-class coffee machine for it to be worthy of comparison with a cup of pod coffee.

Back to the tea bag comparison. Now a tea bag could just as easily be dangled straight into a tea pot and left to stand for a few minutes to brew. You, as tea drinker, could then pour your cup of tea straight from your tea cup, giving you the sense that you are drinking real tea. Real tea, I explain, is fresh leaf tea. It is often only available from specialty shops, delis and markets. As with real coffee, tea lovers know the difference and will not settle for the instant stuff. So too a coffee pod, using the coffee pod machine to mask its inferiority, makes the drinker believe falsely that they are drinking a real cup of coffee when in fact- how could they be?

Coffee pods can never be freshly ground. Coffee pods are pre-packaged. Coffee pods are somewhat synthetic. A coffee pod is instant coffee with a fancy jacket on.

They say there is no time like the present, and that time is of the essence. Time is so precious that once gone it can never be had again in quite the same way. And time is so precious, that some people choose to save it by skimping on their coffee. Enter the coffee pod. Coffee pods save time. Using a coffee pod instead of fresh ground coffee to make your cup of coffee means that you do not have to do any grinding, any measuring, any filling, any packing; any worrying about the coffee cake. Coffee pods mean no mess to clean up afterwards. Coffee pods mean that coffee making can become a breezy pastime of the ignoramus, who needn’t know a thing about coffee machines. Perfect. Really?

I say this: Give it a try. See what you think. However bear in mind that once you have passed the threshold – once you have tried and loved real coffee made using a top-class coffee machine, there is no turning back. With my experience many venture away to try other things and save a minute or two here and there…but very few stay away.

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