Bean To Cup vs Pod Coffee Machine

When it comes to coffee machines that make espresso like beverages there are generally three main options; pod/capsules machines, bean to cup as well as ground. In this article, we’ll be covering the main differences between a bean to cup vs pod coffee machine.

There are plenty of options on the market today when it comes to picking a coffee maker at home and for many people the choice comes down to a bean to cup vs pod coffee machine.

We’ll then delve into some of the best options around for each type of machine.

Bean To Cup MachinesPod Coffee Machines
+ Saves you time+ Consistency in taste
+ Make fresh tasting coffee+Easy to use
+ Use a variety of beans+ Great if you want variety without skill
+ Easy to use+ Wide range of prices
– Can be large– Taste is not as fresh
– Sometimes more expensive than pod machines– Pods can make them costly
– More complicated to use than pod machines– Pods can be environmentally challenging

Bean To Cup vs Pod Coffee Machine: Bean To Cup


Let’s start by looking at the bean to cup machines first.

What Is a Bean To Cup Coffee Machine

Bean to cup machines work by allowing you to choose a type of whole coffee bean to be fed into the coffee maker to be ground and turned into your desired type of beverage at the press of a button. They are equipped with a bean grinder that will process the beans, they’ll then heat the water in the machine and produce your fresh coffee by releasing the hot water through the ground beans.

Most models will allow you to adjust the strength of your coffee as well as the amount you want produced.

Depending on the type of bean to cup machine you opt for, it may also be equipped with a milk frother to make more interesting beverages.

As many bean to cup machines combine a bean grinder, as well as an espressor maker and milk frother they are able to usually produce esperessors, lattes and cappucino.

Advantages of Bean To Cup Coffee Machines

Let’s take a look at some of the main advantages of a bean to cup coffee machine.

Easy To Use

The name of this type of coffee machine gives a pretty good indication of how easy it to use; bean to cup. One of the main advantages of using a bean to cup is how easy it is to turn your favourite coffee beans into a fresh cup of coffee. At just the press of a button or few, you can get a batch of coffee made just as you like in your own kitchen. They tend to be far less complicated to operate than ground coffee machines and filters.

Make Fresh Coffee

Another significant advantage of bean to cup machines for a lot of coffee lovers is the fact they allow you to make truly fresh coffee as the beans are ground when you need them. Rather than coming in a premade pod or being ground already, the beans in your bean to cup machine stay whole and fresh until they are fed into your machine. This helps produce arguably the freshest coffee of any of the main types of coffee makers at home.

The main reason why this is the case is due to the fact that beans start to lose some of their flavour once they are ground and left to sit.

If you value freshness above anything else then a bean to cup may be the way to go.

Produce A Varierty of Types of Coffees

bean to cup vs pod machine: coffee beans

As bean to cup machines rely on whole beans rather than specific pods, for example, you are able to use a variety of different beans for your coffee giving you a wide range of choices.

There are some machines that will also allow you to select the level of coarseness you want in your ground beans.

In some instances depending on the model, some machines will also handle ground beans as well.

Saves You Time

As bean to cup machines combine and automate the process of grinding, brewing, and sometimes frothing into one machine, they can save you time spent on bringing together your coffee. It can also mean you avoid buying different appliances to make your favourite style of coffee.

At the touch of a button, you can set the process in motion whilst you wait or go ahead and make the rest of your breakfast or whatever it is you need to do.

What Are The Disadvantages of Bean To Cup Coffee Machines

Can Be Large

As bean to cup coffee machines typically combine three different appliances into one unit, they tend to be quite large.

This will mean they can take up significant counter space on your kitchen worktop so this is something to keep in mind when making your selection.

Of course on the other hand, having one larger unit may be better than having 2 or 3 individual appliances to do the same job but it is nonetheless something to consider.

They are also usually far larger than pod coffee machines.

Can Sometimes Be Louder Than Pod Coffee Machines

As the bean to cup coffee machines need to actually grind coffee beans to make a batch they can tend to be noisy and noticeably more so than pod machines.

More Complicated Than Pod Coffee Machines

Another potential drawback with bean to cup coffee machines depending on what you are looking for is that they typically tend to be more complicated to use than pod machines. With a pod coffee machine, you simply pop in the pod and get the coffee you need without having to deal with too many variables.

With a bean to cup coffee machine on the other hand there are more choices and variables to deal with. Whilst this of course provides you with more choice and versatility in your drinks, it does also mean they can be more complicated to operate than the pod-style coffee machines. If ease of use is a big factor for you, then this something to certainly consider.

Can Be More Expensive Than Pod Coffee Machines

A potential drawback of bean to cup coffee machines when compared to pod coffee machines is the fact they tend to be more expensive.

As you are dealing with a type of coffee machine that has more sophisticated features, they usually draw higher prices as you would expect. However, this typically only applies to the upfront cost as pod machines although cheaper up front, tend to be more expensive to run due to the cost of the pods.

Bean To Cup vs Pod Coffee Machine: Pod Coffee Machine

Let’s now switch focus to the pod coffee machine and take a look at how they operate as well as their pros and cons particularly in relation to bean to cup coffee machines.

What Are Pod Coffee Machines?

Pod coffee machines are those that use pods or capsules of pre-ground coffee to make single-serve beverages.

Once the pod is inserted into the machine it is then pierced and hot water is then run through the ground coffee to brew your desired drink.

Some pod machines are also equipped with a milk frother or steam wand which can help with making lattes, cappuccinos, or other styles of beverages.

What Are The Advantages of Pod Coffee Machines?

Now we know what pod coffee machines are and how they work, let’s delve into their main advantages.

Easy To Use

Pod coffee machines are probably the easiest of the main coffee makers to use. You simply pop the pod into your coffee maker and with the press of a button or two you’ll be served your desired coffee.

Although bean to cup machines are relatively easy to operate, pod coffee machines are typically even easier as they have fewer options and variables for you to contend with.

If you do not want the hassle of figuring out various options every time you make your espresso then a pod-style coffee machine may be the way to go.

Consistency In Taste

A major advantage of pod coffee machines and one of the reasons why they are so popular is because they produce consistent results.

With just your choice of pod and typically few options (many have a single button), there’s not much that can vary from one cup of coffee to the next. This means once you find your favourite brew you’ll have good confidence that you can carry on replicating the taste time and again.

Saves Time

A major advantage of pod-style coffee machines is the amount of time they save when compared to other types including bean to cup varieties.

With only a pod to choose to get your machine started you save a lot of time, especially if you brew coffee regularly, even when compared to bean to cup as you do not have further choices to make on bean type, coarseness level as well as keeping track of the level of milk and water in your system.

There is also the time saved when it comes to cleaning the machines which can sometimes put some people off with more complicated machines and the amount of work sometimes needed.

With pod machines, you are typically dealing with smaller appliances and in some cases with parts that are dishwasher safe.

Great If You Want Variety Without Skill

Though some purests like to lament the decline of the barista as a result of home-use coffee machines and pod machines in particular, if you are a regular coffee drinker who just wants their favourite hit without much fuss, then pod machines are great.

With single-serve coffee pods becoming increasingly popular it is clear that there are plenty of people out there who simply want a great cup of their favourite coffee without worrying about all the intricate steps that may be required to brew one with a more complex machine.

It means that great quality coffee at home has become a lot more accessible to the general population as a major barrier (skill required) has been removed.

Wide Range of Price Points

Another significant advantage of pod coffee machines is the fact that they have a wide range of choice when it comes to pricing.

There are some highly-rated pod machines from some of the most well-known brands in this sector like Nespresso and Nescafe Dolce Gusto available from around £40. Whilst there are also bean to cup machines available for well under £100, it may be difficult to find one that can compare in terms of quality of output at that kind of price point.

However, with pod coffee machines although the upfront cost can be relatively inexpensive when compared to other types including bean to cups, the on-going costs can be much higher (more on that below).

What Are The Disdavantages of Pod Coffee Machines?

Here are some of the main drawbacks of pod coffee machines.

Lack Of Freshness

Coffee quickly starts to lose it potency and freshness once the beans are ground and exposed to oxygen. The finer the beans are ground, the more air they are exposed to due to their increased surface area. This is of course a general issue with making coffee but clearly affects pod and also machines that take ground coffee.

Thus the longer ground coffee beans remain unused after being ground the more freshness they lose. For this reason one of the downsides of using coffee pods is that the beans would have been ground some time ago by the point you come to use them. Though they will have been preserved in their pod, there level of freshness cannot compare to a bean to cup variety for example as their beans are not ground at the time of use.

Pods Can Be Costly

Although the upfront cost of a pod coffee machine can be relatively low, the ongoing cost to your pocket can build up. This is mainly due to the cost of the pods. These can range between £0.20 to £0.60 meaning if you could easily end up paying £1 per day if you like two cups of coffee every day. And that’s before you factor in the cost of the machine. Though this still works out cheaper than buying your coffee of course from a cafe, it’s still worth noting.

Environmental Cost?

Another major cost of using pod machines is the impact they have on the environment. The pods themselves are quite often non-biodegradable and difficult to recycle. Increasingly though, companies are developing degradable pods as consumers are conscious of this.

However, although single-serve coffee pods can be problematic to recycle, when looked at, on the whole, using pod coffee machines can actually turn out to be the most environmentally conscious way to make your coffee. This is because the main source of energy use when it comes to making your coffee is the amount spent on growing it. Thus it will then come down to how those beans are used and typically pod coffee machines will encourage better consumption as they have a set amount per cup.

The other main use of energy comes down to how the coffee is brewed. With pod style coffee machines, typically only the amount of water needed for a single serving is heated up unlike a bean to cup or ground or filter machine that could heat up the equivalent of 12 cups even though the user may only end up consuming a few.

Conclusion: Bean To Cup vs Pod Coffee Machine

So, bean to cup vs pod machine – which one is best for you? This will depend entirely on what type of coffee you want, how fresh you want it to be, how much you want to spend as well as a host of other factors. One of the key differentiators between the two though is the freshness of the coffee. If you cannot do without beans ground and brewed right when you are ready to consume them then a bean to cup machine is the way to go. If on the other hand, you value convenience and simplicity above anything else, then the pod coffee machine maybe your best bet.