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What is the Difference Between a Coffee Pod and a Coffee Capsule?

by Alex Bider 03 Feb 2021
What is the Difference Between a Coffee Pod and a Coffee Capsule?

The differences between coffee pods and capsules exist because there are many ways to brew a coffee. You can choose to use a traditional coffee bag and brew it manually. However, automatic coffee machines are the rage nowadays.

With automatic coffee makers, you have the option of choosing to go with coffee pods or capsules. 

You may use coffee pods or capsules. But are you aware of the fundamental differences between them? Oftentimes, people mention both coffee pods and capsules interchangeably. However, they are not the same.

Coffee pods are different from coffee capsules. Sure, both items are capable of brewing a quality cup of coffee for you. Nevertheless, the distinct differences may matter in the long run.

Over the course of this blog, our experts will break down the unique differences between both coffee pods and coffee capsules. This way, the next time you’re wondering whether to choose coffee pods or coffee capsules, you’ll have all the information you need to make the best decision.

What are Coffee Pods?

Coffee pods are circular pods you insert into a filter to get a brew. Coffee pods have a filter of their own as well. Generally, to create a coffee pod, about 7 grams of roasted coffee undergoes compression. This compression takes place in a two-sided circular paper pod.

The packaging for coffee pods usually come in single doses of coffee. Additionally, you can quickly dispose of the waste pods. This is because coffee pods are manufactured from paper. So, environmental contamination is small.

Definition of Coffee Capsules

We can describe coffee capsules as a vacuum-packed cylindrical container. Here, instead of a cloth filter, the coffee exists within plastic or aluminum packaging. The capsule also has a top made of foil. Coffee capsules benefit from vacuum sealing. This is to prevent contamination by external factors such as fire and oxygen.

Coffee capsules are made for use with a particular brand or device. Thus, not every capsule will work with coffee capsule devices. You will have to use a particular capsule with a specific machine. 

Alternatively, coffee capsules may come in disposable packets with a plastic or aluminum body. These packets contain ground coffee. They have also branded capsules found in newer machine-compatible containers.

The capsule is either part of an open or closed system. Open systems allow the coffee machine to use a larger variety of capsules. Hence, there are many vendors, whose capsules are compatible with this system,

Closed-system capsules contain branded coffee capsules. Further, this means you can only use the same compatible capsule brand in your machine. Ultimately, they require the pressure to brew the product stored inside successfully and efficiently.

Characteristics of Coffee Pods

What is a coffee pod? Coffee pods typically come in paper packaging. This is a major difference between coffee pods and capsules. The coffee grounds come in two sheets of paper after undergoing compression. They are lightweight and easy to store.

You can refer to coffee pods as coffee pads as well. They are circular and share visual similarities to a teabag. They work the same way as a teabag. However, in the coffee pods vs. capsules debate, that's a major distinction.

To brew, coffee pods require a slow-pressure, drip system. It's risky to attempt and brew the coffee inside in a high-pressure system. This is because of the fragile properties of the material the ground coffee comes in. Ultimately, the bag can burst, leading to picking out coffee grounds from your cup.

The pods come in single doses; hence you use them per pod. A standard pod contains about 7g of coffee grounds. Mostly, a pod is enough to brew a single cup of coffee.

Another major distinction of what a coffee pod is exists in the form of usability. It comes readily available to process with virtually any coffee machine. This is provided that the machine has a portafilter.

Due to the use of paper in its production, coffee pods are easy to dispose of. In these current times with a focus on recycling, coffee pods aid in the green revolution. The paper pods break down easily once they are done with.

Peculiarities of Coffee Capsules

Furthermore, let’s talk more about the differences between coffee pods and capsules. Here, we will discuss the unique factors of the coffee capsule. It is a cylindrical single-serve vacuum-packed container.

They are typically either made from aluminum or plastic. The packaging has a lid on top that the machine pierces to brew the coffee. The lid is also essential in preserving the longevity of the coffee capsule.

The choice of material isn’t the only factor that makes coffee pods and capsules different. The seal also helps create multiple brews from one capsule. This enables you to enjoy more coffee for less.

However, it’s important to note that the coffee capsules do not work with all machines. You will have to buy the right branded pods for the appropriate coffee machines. Because the wrong pod will not fit into any random coffee machine.

Its packaging holds about 5g per pod. The capsules work by placing the pod straight into the machine. Hot water flushes the coffee out of the capsule. Next, the steam activates the coffee grounds and brews them.

The aluminum pod has a high recycling chance. Aluminum can undergo almost total recycling and retain its intrinsic properties. This means that virtually none of its properties are lost.

Some of the plastics come in compostable forms. These are materials that can easily break down naturally after disposal. This helps reduce waste in landfills.

Coffee capsules also serve as a premium option. They are elegant in their presentation and serve as a quality package. They are aesthetically pleasing and add a nice touch to your pantry.

Differences between a Coffee Pod and Coffee Capsule

There are several glaring differences between coffee pods and capsules. These differences serve as advantages and disadvantages for both items. In this segment, we will highlight these variations.

Let’s dive into the debate of the coffee pods vs. capsules. This will determine which option to choose for your coffee experience. Check out the table below.

Coffee Pods

Coffee Capsules

It is made from paper

It is made from either plastic or aluminum

It requires extra dry storage for preservation

Doesn’t necessarily require extra dry storage

It has a lower environmental footprint

It has a relatively higher environmental footprint

Pods are placed into coffee machines with filters

Capsules aren’t placed in coffee machines with filters

They are packed into single doses

Packed and vacuum-sealed into tight containers

Can work with virtually any coffee machine

Doesn’t work with all coffee machines

Has a packing volume of about 7g

Has a packing volume of about 5g

Very easy to dispose of

Relatively easy to dispose of

Higher volume per brew

Less volume per brew


This table gives a general overview of the major differences between coffee pods and capsules. We will take you through each point and expatiate on them.

Material Package

Coffee pods come from paper packaging. The paper makes it lighter and easy to store. It can compress and fold under light pressure without compromise. The coffee typically comes between two sheets of paper after undergoing compression

The coffee capsule comes in either aluminum or plastic containers. These containers are rigid and solid. Hence, they offer top-notch resistance against external pressure.  The aluminum capsules come in different colours with shellac lids. On the other hand, plastic capsules are elegantly set in different shapes and forms.

Both materials come with their advantages and disadvantages. They protect the coffee grounds within. This ensures the coffee stays fresh and tasty. They also keep out external factors that may cause the coffee to go stale.

Preservation Techniques

Preservation paves the way for another set of differences between coffee pods and capsules. Coffee pods are made from paper and have a relatively permeable surface. This surface is similar to that of a teabag.

Coffee pods require an extra form of storage to protect the coffee grounds. Hence, this will be essential in shielding the pods from external factors. Typically, a glass jar or container can serve as a perfect storage unit for the pods.

On the other hand, coffee capsules come in aluminum or plastic casings. These capsules undergo pressurization to conserve the coffee grounds within. The aluminum or plastic capsules are extremely tough and do not allow any form of moisture or heat to enter.

Therefore, coffee capsules may not require an extra form of storage. You can display them over your pantry and be sure of their continued quality. As long as you place them in a cool and dry location, they will be fine.

Environmental Factor

We currently live in an environmentally conscious world. Anything that contributes to the reduction of waste is always a big win. So what is a coffee pod’s stance in this?

Coffee pods breakdown easily once you use their content. This thanks to the nature of the paper material that it comes in. The paper pods tend to decompose easily when you discard them appropriately.

Coffee capsules typically come in two forms, aluminum and plastic forms. The aluminum container is known for being easy to recycle. Aluminum can go through an almost total restoration when you recycle it. An aluminum capsule that you use today can reappear back on your shelf in less than 60 days.

As for plastic capsules, their recycling process may not be as simple. Plastic is non-biodegradable. This means that it does not break down naturally on its own. Its recycling process can also be expensive and tedious.

It requires a high form of energy to recycle plastic. Additionally, its internal structure changes significantly once it undergoes the recycling process. This makes the compostable option of coffee capsules more appealing.

Compostable capsules exist because they come from materials that can easily breakdown after disposal. The compostable capsule will naturally decompose over time and leave less of a carbon footprint.

Related Article: Pros and Cons of Using Coffee Pods 


Another prominent difference between coffee pods and capsules is their compatibility. As for the coffee pods, they can fit into virtually any coffee machine. However, this is provided that it has a portafilter in its makeup.

Coffee pods are soft and tender. Therefore, once you place the pods in, the compressor simply sieves the coffee content out. The filter holds back the waste coffee grounds allowing the filtrate to drain into your cup.

On the other hand, coffee capsules do not work for every coffee machine. Most coffee capsules come from quality coffee brands. Hence, the appropriate coffee capsule can only work with the corresponding coffee machine. You will have to purchase a particular coffee machine and use only its designated coffee capsules.


The packaging is paramount to the presentation. The form of encasing a product is essential for its portrayal in its final form. Coffee pods experience packaging in the form of single doses. This makes them easy to utilize as you get exactly what you pay for per cup.

A single pod will typically give you a single brew. Hence, it’s easy to regulate your coffee intake with each brew. You get exactly what you bargain for. Therefore, you can assume that 15 coffee pods will give you 15 coffee brews.

Coffee capsules differ a bit in this regard. They come in a vacuumed container that has a strong seal. Due to the various materials the coffee capsule can come in, the end brew may differ. The amount of coffee you get from an aluminum pod will vary from the amount you get from a plastic one.

The major form of consistency that you can follow with coffee capsules will be to stick to the same material. For example, if you buy aluminum coffee pods, you will always get that particular amount. This is provided you do not switch to plastic where there might be slight variations.

Packing Volume

Are coffee pods and capsules the same in volume? This is not always the case. A coffee pod typically packs about 7g of coffee grounds within its paper package. This often leads to a higher volume in the brew in comparison to capsules.

The coffee pod has a slightly higher quantity of grounds inside it. This leads to a more flavorful embodiment of the coffee brew. The increase in the number of coffee grounds means that there is more coffee to compress.

On the other hand, a coffee capsule usually contains about 5g of coffee grounds. This also yields an excellent cup per brew. The aroma is also strong and tantalizing. You may just have a lesser quantity per brew.


This point is similar to the environmentally conscious one. Regardless of the differences between coffee pods and capsules, you can dispose of them easily. However, the distinction comes in the form of the method of disposal.

Coffee pods will decompose naturally once you use up their content. This makes them less of a clutter at landfills. The paper packaging easily gets dissolved and shredded by natural agents like water and heat.

However, with the coffee capsules, you can also dispose of them with relative ease. But, you have to ensure you deposit the waste capsule in the right recycle bin. This ensures that the capsule goes through the appropriate channels.

Ultimately, with coffee pods, you may not need to be overly careful about its dumping away. This is because it will break down no matter where it finds itself. However, the throwing away of the coffee capsules is essential to its minimization at landfills.


Beauty goes a long way in the presentation of an item. No matter how functional a device or material is, it helps if it’s visually appealing. Coffee pods typically come in the same colour and style. Paper is essential in making them so there’s little room for creativity.

The diverse packaging designs in coffee capsules are striking. Whether it is aluminum or plastic, coffee capsules are subject to many colour schemes. They can come in different patterns and designs. This makes them a beautiful addition to your kitchen top. They can beautify your cabinet and pantry.

Coffee capsules hold a more prestigious and premium outlook. They are a great option for use at workplaces or conferences. They have an attractive outlook and are ideal for the outdoors.


Next, we will determine if coffee pods and capsules are the same in durability. Coffee pods have weaker external surfaces. Their soft paper shell makes them fragile to external factors. This can be by accident in most cases.

The pods require good preservation against any random accidents like spillage. Once the body of the pod undergoes compromise from any outside forces, the integrity may falter. For example, if water touches the paper surface, it’s best to use up that pod instantly.

However, with coffee capsules, the body is made from a hard material. Therefore, if any accidental spillover happens, the capsules will remain intact. If you notice any moisture on the surface of the capsule, do well to wipe it off quickly. As long as the internal shell shows no sign of a breach, you are in the clear.


Both coffee pods and capsules last for a substantial amount of time, even after their expiry dates. However, coffee pods may last less in the grand scheme of things. Coffee pods may start to taste funny once they are past their best before date.

The absorbent surface doesn’t help the pods either. The paper surface may begin to deteriorate naturally after its prolonged lack of use. The quality of the paper will drop and leave the coffee pod susceptible to microscopic agents.

As for coffee capsules, their hard exterior ensures longevity even way past their due dates. As long as you keep the capsules from external factors for a long time, they will last. The aluminum or plastic external surface is not subject to natural decomposition. Therefore, the casing will keep the coffee grounds fresh until you use them.

Advantages of Coffee Pods

You have seen the differences between coffee pods and capsules. Now it is time to note the glaring advantages that coffee pods have over coffee capsules.

  • Coffee pods decompose naturally and significantly reduce waste
  • Coffee pods contain more coffee grounds per gram in their packaging
  • Coffee pods can work with virtually any coffee machine
  • Coffee pods are easier to dispose of
  • Coffee pods serve more per brew

Disadvantages of Coffee Pods

For every pro, there is a con. Now it’s time to note the major drawbacks of coffee pods. These will factor into your decision on which type to purchase.

  • Coffee pods offer minimal durability 
  • Coffee pods often require extra storage for preservation
  • Coffee pods are more fragile

Advantages of Coffee Capsules

You have been able to witness the respective pros and cons of the coffee pods above. It’s time we turn to the other side of the coffee coin. Here are the overwhelming advantages of coffee capsules.

  • Coffee capsules do not require extra storage for preservation
  • Coffee capsules last significantly longer for an extended period
  • Coffee capsules are more aesthetically pleasing to the eyes and attractive
  • Coffee capsules are more durable to external factors

Disadvantages of Coffee Capsules

Let’s round off this segment by also highlighting the drawbacks of coffee capsules. This will finalize the coffee pods vs. capsules debate for you. It will be left to you to determine which form of coffee is best for you.

  • Coffee capsules are relatively harder to dispose of
  • Coffee capsules leave a higher environmental footprint
  • Coffee capsules serve less per brew
  • Coffee capsules do not work for any coffee machine
  • Coffee capsules contain fewer coffee grounds per gram in their packaging

Ultimately, regardless of the difference between coffee pods and capsules, it all boils down to personal choices. Once you know which type of coffee container suits your needs, you can make a decision.

Related Article: How Many Times Can You Use Coffee Pods


Coffee pods and capsules are revolutionary products in the field of coffee brewing. They both provide you with the necessary comfort and energy to go about your day. They both save time and add to your daily productivity.

We hope we have been able to thoroughly dissect the fundamental differences between the two. 

Here at Invigo Coffee, we are a tad bit partial to coffee pods. Maybe that’s because we produce and sell the best coffee pods in Canada. Check through our online collection today!

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