Coffee pods and coffee capsules are single-serve coffee formats. They’re easy to use, simple to clean – and they brew coffee quickly.
However, many people are unaware of how much coffee each capsule contains. As a result, some users might try to use them more than once in an attempt to extract more than one beverage from the capsule.
In recent years, some third-party manufacturers have attempted to design reusable coffee capsules – with varying levels of success. But when it comes to pre-packaged coffee pods and capsules, there’s no getting past it: you simply can’t use them more than once.
Let’s take a look at why this is, as well as what happens when you try to reuse an espresso capsule over and over again. Read on to find out!
Ryan Lefler is the Operations Manager at Metropolis Coffee. He explains that we exclusively source our espresso capsule shells from Smile Beverage Werks P.B.C. From the start, they’re designed to be used once, and once only.
However, they are commercially compostable, which means they can be properly disposed of at commercial composting facilities around the US.
Ryan adds that before this partnership, whenever we discussed aluminum capsules, we concluded that the manufacture and disposal of them didn’t align with our sustainability values.
However, once we discovered Smile Beverage Werks’ plant-based sustainable capsules, we knew we were onto something – and set out to perfect the manufacturing process.
To start, we roast each coffee to perfection, before grinding it to the right size using a commercial roller mill. Your standard coffee grinder won’t do here – the particle sizes have to be extremely fine and consistent for any espresso capsule.
Once the coffee is ground, we then use our state-of-the-art Italian filling machine, dosing up to six grams of each coffee into each capsule, measuring up to one-tenth of a gram. The capsules are then sealed.
However, Ryan adds: “During this time, the whole system is being flushed with nitrogen to keep the coffee fresh.
“Oxygen is your enemy, so it is important to keep the oxygen levels to a minimum and maximize the nitrogen concentration inside of the capsule.”
The final, completed capsule is then tested for both flavor and quality. Ryan notes that the quality of the seal and oxygen levels are also both tested rigorously – to ensure the espresso capsules stay fresh and brew correctly.
“At times, we’ll even measure crema down to the millimeter, demonstrating how much attention to detail is paid to the process of creating the perfect coffee capsule,” he adds.
Ryan reiterates that there’s simply not enough coffee in each capsule for it to be brewed twice.
“During the initial run-through, you are going to pull out most of the coffee and its flavor,” he explains. “That means that if you run it through again, the coffee will be pretty watery.”
While we talk about “extraction” a lot in the coffee sector, the real metric at play here is solubility. When you place an espresso capsule into a brewer and press the button, hot water and pressure extract numerous soluble compounds from ground coffee, including caffeine, acids, lipids, and sugars.
However, it’s important to note two things: firstly, only approximately 30% of the solids in ground coffee are soluble. Secondly, there is a “sweet spot” for extraction – if your coffee is underextracted, it will taste watery and sour, while overextracted coffee will be too bitter and lose the subtleties in each cup. As such, the optimum extraction rate for coffee sits somewhere between 18% and 22%.
Several different factors affect how coffee extracts, from grind size and water temperature to roast profile. Furthermore, extraction also varies heavily across different brewing methods. This is why baristas need to dial in different coffees – a process of trial and error that helps to figure out which combination of these various factors yields the best results.
But all this aside – once the flavor and aroma compounds are extracted from ground coffee, you reach a point of diminishing returns. You can reach that extraction sweet spot once for every dose – and only once.
When we look at Nespresso original line compatible espresso capsules specifically, it’s important to remember that the brewing process ruptures the capsule. This means that if you reuse it, the machine won’t be able to generate enough pressure to extract coffee properly in the first place.
Bottom line: trying to reuse single-serve coffee pods and capsules is a waste of time. It’s much more valuable to buy commercially compostable coffee capsules and dispose of them properly instead.
Grinding coffee to the perfect size, dosing for espresso capsules, and filling and sealing the shells is difficult. It requires a lot of expertise – as well as dedicated top-of-the-line equipment.
That’s why many companies, including specialty coffee roasters, hotels, and other hospitality businesses, choose to partner with a partner like Metropolis to produce custom wholesale coffee capsules.
If a company wants to turn an existing coffee into espresso capsules, our co-packing solution is the perfect option. We can take it and handle all the tricky stuff – the grinding, packing, filling, flushing, and sealing – resulting in a finished box of espresso capsules with your brand on.
Alternatively, with our private-label coffee capsules, we work closely with your team to design a blend that suits your specifications. You tell us what you’re looking for in the cup – and we’ll work with you to create the perfect blend for your coffee capsules.
Interested in learning more? Check out our wholesale co-packing and private-label espresso capsule solutions today.
Metropolis Coffee Espresso Capsules are made under license from Smile Beverage Werks, P.B.C.
Metropolis Coffee is not affiliated with, endorsed, or sponsored by Nespresso. Nespresso is a registered trademark of Société des Produits Nestlé.