Almost everyone enjoys a cup of coffee to energize the day so they can face the challenges ahead. In America, the love for coffee has led to an entire sub-culture spawning around the drink and its preparation methods. Some treat coffee as an almost sacred substance, while others view it as the push they need to face the day ahead.
Regardless of one's view of coffee, the drink remains one of the more common options for morning drinks. Most coffee drinkers prefer to brew their coffee at home or, more likely, stop at a coffee shop during their morning commute to pick something up. For homebrewers, there is an option that saves time and effort.
Many Americans have a Keurig or similar pod coffee machine that allows them to brew their morning coffee rapidly. While pod coffee machines are increasingly common in modern homes, there are those who vehemently oppose "convenient coffee."
The concept of pod coffee has become a divisive issue between coffee purists and the average coffee drinker. There are several arguments purists make about why pod coffee is inferior to what they brew in traditional coffee pots. Nevertheless, there might actually be some validity to the opposition to pod coffee due to how the manufacture of the pods might affect the grind. The question is: what is the best alternative to pod coffee?
What is Pod Coffee?
Pod coffee is a colloquialism for single-serve coffee containers that were designed as a method of brewing a single cup of coffee. The capsules are small plastic or aluminum packages containing ground coffee beans. The content of the pods is only enough to brew a single cup, despite some people attempting to re-use the same capsule for multiple cups.
The biggest advantage of pod coffee is that it reduces the time it takes to brew the drink, making it easier to get and proceed with your day. Additionally, many pods contain additional ingredients, such as flavorings and creamers, to ensure the coffee is instantly brewed to taste. They are also sold in bulk boxes, allowing pod coffee drinkers to acquire multiple capsules of their preferred blends.
The oldest brand of pod coffee capsules was the Nespresso line, which was manufactured by Nestlé Nespresso S.A. in 1976 and heralded as the progenitor of capsule coffee. Nespresso's capsules are distinct for their bright colors that denote flavor, and they were the most notable pod coffee brand of its time.
Despite their brief tenure as the only pod coffee producer and the fact the patent for Nespresso capsules only expired in 2012, Nestlé soon had a major rival. In 1992, Keurig Inc. emerged as the largest rival to Nestlé in pod coffee production. Keurig Dr. Pepper Inc. owns Keurig Inc. and has always manufactured beverage pods.
While Keurig devices can be used to brew different kinds of drinks, they are most renowned for their coffee pods. Additionally, Keurig's brand was distinct because their capsules were given the moniker "K-Cups" (likely short for Keurig cups). Unlike Nestlé's Nespresso pots, the coffee in K-Cups was not a blend created by Keurig Inc. but was instead a blend created by their parent company. Before they were known as Keurig Dr. Pepper Inc., they were Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and their brand of coffee was used in the first K-Cups.
In the 30 years since K-Cups were invented, Keurig Inc. has partnered with other coffee producers to create K-Cup equivalents of popular coffee brands. Nowadays, you can find K-Cups that produce coffee made by McDonald's, Dunkin', Krispy Kreme, Folgers, and Starbucks (plus a few lesser-known brands). It is also possible to find classic K-Cups with flavors like coconut, glazed doughnut, and French vanilla.
Pod coffee has enabled companies like Keurig Inc. to expand the definition of coffee and create a new breed of coffee drinkers. Additionally, using Keurig devices (or other pod coffee machines) reduces the time it takes to brew your drink and adds a new layer of convenience. Unfortunately, convenient coffee is not always the best choice since the most readily available flavors are packed with artificial sweeteners and creamers.
Furthermore, K-Cups have added significant strain to the global waste issue by generating millions of tons of plastic refuse annually. Individuals who want a healthier experience or want to minimize their contribution to the growing plastic issue might want an alternative means of coffee brewing. The problem is that you might not know how to brew healthier, more environmentally friendly coffee.
Brew Your Own Black Coffee
Pod coffee capsules are highly effective for people trying to minimize their coffee waste since it allows us to brew a single cup of coffee. The problem is that the coffee these pods produce is less malleable than the coffee we brew ourselves. While it is true that we can customize our coffee once it is brewed, we have less say about the particular grind used in the capsules as we do with homebrewed coffee.
When we make our own coffee, we can choose the blend and brew it in specific environments, whereas a pod coffee maker is set to a standard temperature and speed. While most pod coffee makers are designed to brew the capsules at the optimal temperature for the quickest, most optimal timeframe, there is something to be said for brewing black coffee the old-fashioned way.
Brewing black coffee is an age-old practice that coffee drinkers have engaged in since it was brought to the Western world. While coffee consumption is not unique to America, certain Americans have a longstanding tradition of drinking black coffee without sugar or creamer. The same tradition persists in Europe, certain parts of Asia, and the Middle East. That said, the preparation of black coffee ensures a healthier experience since pure, black coffee lacks empty nutrients and calories and instead carries a high caffeine concentration.
Caffeine is the main reason we drink coffee since the stimulant ensures we are energized and capable of dealing with the day ahead. However, caffeine has benefits beyond its ability to energize our minds that have turned it into a valuable addition to weight loss regimens. Caffeine has been linked to mild metabolic enhancement, making it easier for certain people to lose weight.
While this does not mean you can use coffee as a shortcut to get skinny, it can help you accelerate the process somewhat. The biggest problem with caffeine as a supplement is that there are limits to how much you can consume in a day. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that all adults limit their daily caffeine intake to 400 milligrams. Otherwise, you risk experiencing health issues related to overconsumption.
A cup of black coffee contains an average of 80 to 100 milligrams of caffeine, meaning the highest concentrations would allow you to drink 4 cups of coffee daily.
Meanwhile, an average K-Cup contains between 75 to 150 milligrams of caffeine, meaning 2 cups of pod coffee accounts for ¾ of your daily intake. While the higher caffeine concentration per cup can enhance the speed at which the metabolic effects occur, it will lead to a higher caffeine consumption per day.
Brewing your own coffee also allows you to choose grinds with your preferred caffeine concentration. Furthermore, brewing black coffee means you can control the temperature and ensure you do not overboil. Overboiling your coffee induces bitterness because the tannins within the coffee grind leach out and pollute the flavor. Most coffee enthusiasts agree that the best temperature range to brew coffee is between 195° and 205° Fahrenheit. This temperature range is unlikely to leach the tannins and will preserve the coffee's flavor.
A standard Keurig device brews the coffee at 192° Fahrenheit per Keurig Inc.'s policies and belief that 192° Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature. While Keurig devices do not exceed the temperature range suggested by most coffee drinkers, it is slightly under. This can mildly affect the flavor, which might be off-putting to some. Nevertheless, the 3° Fahrenheit difference might be negligible to casual coffee drinkers or those not overly concerned with the potential differences.
Keurig users have complained that the coffee is not hot enough upon completion, though this is likely an antiquated complaint from previous, underpowered models. Regardless, one of the main advantages of brewing your coffee yourself is that the temperature will reach whatever you want before you drink it.
Brewing your own coffee is an extremely effective alternative to pod coffee machines, and it gives the drinker more control over their beverage. That said, many people elect to drink pod coffee because it is faster than brewing coffee from scratch. Keurig and its rival devices can heat the water needed for coffee within a couple of minutes, whereas boiling water in a coffee pot can take 10 minutes or more. Even when the water is boiling, you must allow it a minute to cool to reach the above temperature range. Fortunately, there are alternatives for people who do not want to wait that long.
Make Iced Coffee
Drinking hot coffee can be a warming experience, especially since the drink is supposed to be brewed hot. It has become an excellent companion for those living in colder climates or areas with cold winters. Unfortunately, drinking a hot cup of coffee can be unpleasant if you live in a part of the country with brutally hot summers.
Some states average at around 100° Fahrenheit during the summer months, making drinking a piping hot cup of coffee an almost Herculean concept. Fortunately, modern society saw fit to revolutionize coffee by creating iced coffee. Almost everyone has had at least 1 iced coffee, especially since multiple fast-food restaurants and shops use iced coffee as their headliners.
While your mind might initially drift to the blended drinks served at Starbucks, iced coffee is not so fanciful that it requires blending or added ingredients. Most iced coffees are traditionally brewed and served in a glass with ice. This simple preparation means anyone could theoretically make their own iced coffee without much trouble.
Classic iced coffee still requires you to brew normal coffee and let it cool, but some alternatives offer the same benefits as normal coffee, with the convenience of a K-Cup. Iced coffee powders can be used to rapidly brew a healthy cup of coffee with the same caffeine benefits as a traditional cup.
Iced coffee is more sustainable for people living in warmer climates but also has more portability than hot coffee. Furthermore, the rapid brewing process for powders provides the expedience that drew people to pod coffee machines. The difference is that making your own iced coffee gives you the same control over your drink, whereas pod coffee machines do not have an iced coffee setting.
Keep it All Natural!
Pod coffee can be convenient and offers a rapid alternative to brewing your own coffee. Unfortunately, pod coffee capsules are sold as-is, and the higher-quality flavors have extra ingredients you might otherwise avoid. Considering the top-selling K-Cups are flavored to mimic fast-food coffees and sweets, aiming for more natural coffee-drinking experiences is generally best. This is not to say pod coffee will hurt you, but you might want something slightly more malleable than they offer.
We at Bella All Natural have always maintained that the best things in life come from nature, including coffee. While the grinds in pod coffee are technically natural, the additional ingredients might push the envelope too far. That is why we have created our own coffee powders that will allow you to enjoy a healthy cup of coffee on your terms. Our Skinny Hot Coffee and Skinny Iced Coffee ensure coffee drinkers can enjoy a natural and easily brewed cup of coffee at either temperature. We encourage you to visit our website so you can pick the coffee that calls to you. Regardless of your decision, remember always to keep it All Natural!
Have you ever tried either our Skinny Hot Coffee or Skinny Iced Coffee? If so, what did you think? We hope you loved it as much as we do, so be sure to let us know all your thoughts in the comments section down below!