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Conferences, coffee machine, tradeshow, podcoffee

Pod coffee vs Barista Coffee

Ryan Spaccavento June 15, 2018

Pod Coffee VS Barista Coffee

If you are reading this then the thought has probably crossed your mind. Pod coffee or barista coffee? Which is the better option, which should I go with?

First and foremost the author here owns and runs a coffee business, so when it comes to drinking a cup of joe - I’d like to think that I know a thing or two about what goes into it. That said before I was in the coffee business I did have humble beginnings, I once owned a pod machine, each has their own merits. Both methods are incredibly different to brew with and the end product is even more so. In Australia: Annually we consume circa 8.12 billion cups of coffee each year.

Since the popularisation of pod coffee in the early twenty-teens pod coffee is responsible for a good chunk of the above number (2.03 billion isn’t instant) which leaves a good chunk of room for pods and barista made coffee (and yes, as Australian’s we drink a heck of a lot of instant).

So let’s dive into the nitty-gritty, what’s the difference let’s go with that first.  

Pod Coffee

In 1976 Eric Favre invented the first Nespresso system by serving a single shot of coffee from a hermetically sealed capsule. In recent years in Australia, this type of machine has seen a significant uprise in sales and adoption particularly in the residential sector of the market. This is largely due to the convenience of popping in a pod, and a machine spitting out a coffee that has crema and a flavor profile closer to espresso (than instant). Combine that with a variety of pod flavor options, a small footprint on your bench and a variety of companies producing different roasts and flavors and we have ourselves a major player in the market.

eric favre nespresso founder

Above: Eric Favre pod coffee inventor

Making a coffee with a pod machine. Step one, turn the machine on. Step two, insert the pod into the pod feeder in the machine and select the extraction you want (long or short). Step 3 heat milk in a magnetised jug. Step four pour milk into espresso (or serve black).nespresso pod machine

Hey presto, you’ve got yourself a quick (not instant) but quick coffee. For the money and the level of effort, you’ve got yourself a coffee that has crema on the espresso and was made in little to no time at all. Most folks can comfortably approach a pod machine and have a coffee in moments.

Below is a chart I’ve put together of the pro’s and cons to drinking from a pod machine.



  • Super easy to use
  • Real crema in the espresso
  • Takes up little bench space
  • Lots of variety in flavors
  • Low cost per cup  
  • Tastes a grade above instant coffee
  • Coffee is roasted months ago and then ground
  • Pods are not good for the environment
  • Beans are not specialty grade
  • Overall quality & experience not high


Barista Made Coffee

Without going into a myriad of details about what your barista is doing behind the beloved espresso machine I’ll break down the basics of a barista made coffee.

  • Coffee beans are sourced, roasted and distributed locally to serve fresh (days not months)
  • Individually ground and brewed on demand to your specific order
  • Requires knowledge of the operation of espresso machine
  • Coffee is weighed and timed for a perfect extraction
  • You are served by a barista so there’s an experience attached

Photo 17-4-18, 1 09 11 pm-1

For the most part, a barista made coffee overall is a much higher quality end product, there’s a reason that we flock en mass to our barista in the morning for our cuppa joe and not to a hotel with an automatic/commercial scale pod machine. It simply tastes better.

Below are a list of pro's and con's of barista made coffee.



  • Tastes amazing when made right
  • A variety of beverages can be made
  • High volume can be achieved in a short period of time
  • Aesthetically it’s a lot easier on the eye
  • Environmentally more sound option
  • Creates an atmosphere and experience
  • Can taste horrible with the wrong person operating the machine or with stale product
  • Can cause a queue in peak demand periods
  • Requires a lot more space and power


Each of these solutions has their time and place. As I mentioned earlier in the article, I have owned a pod machine in years gone by. It was simple to operate and gave me my “hit” on demand. For the domestic plug and play market (or even hotel room) yes predictable coffee on demand a sure thing and has its place. There has also been the rise of “specialty coffee pods” in recent years. With ethically sourced, freshly roasted product (yes there are some Melbourne roasters producing this).

For as easy as the unit is to operate my affection does end on that note.

I’m a big fan of quality and experience and for me, the pod machine just doesn’t even get close on both fronts. I’m the guy that buys a pair of RM Williams boots and calculates their worth on cost per wear so you could say that I have a penchant for savings - and quality. Whilst the dollars are a higher input on an espresso-based coffee you can’t skimp on quality around a ritual.

From an experience perspective, I feel that barista coffee creates an amazing platform for experience and connection by sheer virtue of the theatre of it all - let alone a delicious end product. If you’re looking to impress guests I can say with certainty that doing it with pod coffee is certainly not the way to go, in my experience when folks are given the choice of what they’d prefer barista coffee wins hands down.

Case in point, each method have their own time and place to be enjoyed. If cost is removed I’m voting for barista made coffee every day of the week.

If you’re looking to get a barista made coffee at your next event, get in touch below.Get 10% off.

Tagged: Conferences, coffee machine, tradeshow, podcoffee