Taste Testing Coffee Capsules from Around the World: Part Two

We try four more coffee pods from Denmark, the Philippines, Nestle, and Starbucks.

BY TIGGER CHATURABUL
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Photos by Tigger Chaturabul

Editor’s note: Last week, we started covering the booming world of coffee capsules, and taste-tested several brands making them. We finish the series covering a couple of renowned makers and a couple fresh additions.

April Coffee Roasters (Denmark) – Ecuador Washed

These capsules were designed for a much shorter brew—about half the volume of the espresso button—but for consistency’s sake, we used the general settings to taste all the coffees featured here. 

Out of all the brews, these flowed the fastest, with the shortest brew time, creating cups with intentionally lighter bodies. The resulting experience was like drinking a single-origin espresso Americano, with a high but comfortable acidity, and the lungo had a better balance of sweetness and roundness. The floral and citrus-y flavors were light and sweet, and both cups were very clean. Although the lungo was slightly dry, that could probably have been avoided if we’d brewed them as intended. We could drink these every day—and they’re compostable, too! 

(Fun fact: Patrik Rolf, founder of April Coffee Roasters, took on the coffee capsule challenge as a bet with a barista that he could serve him a capsule coffee that tasted better than his espresso.)

April Coffee Roasters’ pods use a much shorter brew time.

Yardstick Coffee (Philippines) – “Butter Walnut Cake” Brazil Natural

For people who enjoy darker South American coffee in the morning, these capsules from Yardstick were buttery and balanced and would go well with milk or sugar. The espresso setting worked better in this case, with a dense crema and nutty flavor. The slight bitterness was not long-lasting and the roast was well-developed, but the cups also contained a slight smoky and plastic-like flavor similar to the capsules from PPP Coffee in part one of this story. 

Yardstick’s pods are suited for an espresso setting on your machine.

Nespresso – “Volluto” Brazil & Colombia blend

Nespresso capsules might not have the best reputation, but they’re nothing if not consistent. The Volluto, although defined as a light roast by Nespresso’s standards, was still considerably darker than the other specialty capsules. There was a good balance of sweetness and acidity with a comfortable aftertaste in both the espresso and lungo, though the body thinned out and the bitterness increased with the lungo button. There wasn’t much flavor intensity, though the sweetness had some dried fruit characteristics, and was overall a classically strong, nutty coffee that met the expectations for a Nespresso capsule. It would probably be great with milk and sugar.

Nespresso’s own pods are definitely a darker brew good with milk and sugar.

Starbucks – Colombia

These are for avid Starbucks fans, and Starbucks fans only. As soon as you press the brew button, the surrounding vicinity immediately starts smelling like a Starbucks store, really bringing home the brand experience. The coffee was overwhelmingly intense, and both cups had ashy and hay-like flavors, with a long-lasting smoky aftertaste. It was a good thing we saved these for last. 

Starbucks coffee capsules bring the brand’s cafés into your home.

As more and more brands enter the capsule market, it’s exciting to see how the worlds of specialty and convenience convene in the future!  

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tigger Chaturabul tried to be a barista for two years until she realized she was better suited behind the business than behind the bar. She now runs her own copywriting and design studio, Curious Typhoon Studio, that serves F&B and other small businesses in Hong Kong. Her free-range creative lifestyle allows her to spend all her time in coffee shops everywhere.

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