Are Coffee Pods Healthy?

Have you ever wondered what’s the effect of coffee pods on your health and on the planet? Let’s explore these article to know more are coffee pods healthy?

Are coffee pods healthy?
Coffee pods are famous for their convenient use

Coffee pods may be the best choice for those who enjoy coffee but do not have time to brew a pot or make an espresso. They are the perfect solution for on-the-go office workers, travelers, and anyone looking to simplify their morning routine. 

There is little doubt that coffee pods are convenient, but is there a price for this convenience, and if so, what is it? Of course, to answer this, you have to ask the question of whether coffee is healthy in general. 

Once you reach a conclusion, you need to check the differences between regular coffee-making methods and coffee pods and how these differences affect your health and the planet’s health. You might also be interested in our coffee pods vs. ground coffee guide.

What Are Coffee Pods?

When people refer to coffee pods, they usually discuss single-serve coffee containers designed to produce a single portion of coffee. These containers are known for their convenience, simplifying the process of making a cup of joe by there being no need to measure portions of coffee. 

The materials used in producing these pods vary, with plastic, paper, and metal pods all available. They work via a machine that pushes water through ground beans that are compressed within the pod to create your cup of coffee. They have been described as ‘like a cigarette’ because of the single-serving nature of pods and the addictiveness of the caffeine that is produced from the coffee within them.

Of course, many would argue that this is an unfair title as coffee does have some health benefits and doesn’t fit into the same bracket as harmful cigarettes.

What Is Inside The Coffee Pods?

Most of these coffee pods contain ground coffee because of their efficiency in producing the best possible tasting cup of joe. Nespresso, for example, sources the highest-quality beans and ensures that they are pulped, fermented, washed, and dried before blending, roasting, and grinding these premium coffees directly into capsules ready for brewing

When it comes to your health and coffee pods, there have been some worries over the harmful chemical furan existing within coffee made from the pods. This chemical is known to cause issues with the liver.

One study, led by Javier Santos, a professor at the Department of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Barcelona, stated that “Preparing a coffee in a drip coffee maker is not the same as making one in an espresso machine or from capsules because these give rise to differing levels of furan.”

However, researchers have also stated that the amount of furan in each coffee pod falls within the safety net of people’s health. The potential health risk only happens if consumed excessively. Regardless of how it is prepared, coffee is considered safe by all food safety authorities.

The Downside Of Coffee Pods

Coffee pods are a convenient way to make your coffee. However, the convenience of pre-ground beans has disadvantages compared to when you are grinding them yourself on the spot.

Pods are more convenient but lack the same flavor and authenticity as a hand-crafted espresso. Although many people think that coffee pods can replicate the flavor of traditionally brewed coffee, some, especially coffee connoisseurs, believe that no coffee pod could beat the real thing. 

Since these coffee pods have a longer shelf life, there are a number of ways this could affect the taste. For one, you are not getting the same freshness that you get from beans that you or your local barista has just grounded. 

Secondly, there is no way to customize the strength of the coffee you get from a pod. With an espresso machine, you can add more ground coffee, whereas you have to use another capsule when making coffee with the likes of Nespresso or Dulce Gusto machines. 

Another disadvantage is most coffee machines for single-serve pod systems are specially designed to work with a specific kind and brand of coffee. This is challenging on two fronts; first, it forces the owners to buy only from one company. Second, if they want another type or flavor of coffee, then they will have no choice but to make that purchase.

What Are The Coffee Pods Made Of?

Four white coffee pods with the contents of one pod exposed.
Soft copy pods are used to make drip coffee

Coffee pods come in two types: soft and hard. Soft styles are used to make drip coffee with a non-pressurized machine, excluding the Keurigs. The hard kinds are used to make espresso in pump machines. 

Depending on the brand, pods can be made from aluminum, plastic, or both. The plastic used in some brands of pods has been found to contain bisphenol F (BPF) and bisphenol S (BPS) — two chemicals known to be endocrine disruptors linked to hormone imbalances, weight gain and fertility issues.

Nespresso pods do not contain bisphenols, as they are largely known for their use of aluminum pods. The benefits of using aluminum include its ability to be recycled. A section on Nespresso’s website discusses this: “Aluminium’s functional and environmental benefits surpass all others.

That’s why it remains our material of choice for protecting our high-quality coffees.”

Despite there being some advantages of using capsules and the improvements around their sustainability in recent years, there has also been some criticism. One problem is the number of capsules and pods that end up not being recycled. 

And although most of the larger producers of pods now have recycling programs in place, these programs are not accessible to people in every community. There is also the issue of non-conscientious consumers who buy the capsules but do not recycle the waste. 

How Many Calories Are In Coffee Pods?

Nespresso is one of the most popular coffee pods and has become a household name. So, it’s good to know exactly how many calories coffee drinkers get from each cup of Nespresso. 

For every Nespresso espresso shot, you’ll get 0.6 kcal and 1 kcal for every Nespresso lungo pour. But adding milk to your coffee will increase the total amount of calories you’ll get, as 100ml of whole-fat milk is equivalent to 65kcal or 37kcal for skimmed milk. Throwing in sugar to your coffee will add a few more calories bumping it up to over a hundred. 

However, the Dolce Gusto brand contains higher calories since most of their pods contain multiple ingredients to create different kinds of coffee. Their americano pod includes two calories, but their cappuccino has 80. 

Alternative To Coffee Pods

A mug of cold brewed coffee with a spoon beside it. Both are placed on a wooden table with coffee beans scattered.
Brewed coffee as a healthier alternative

If you’re not thinking of convenience, the alternative is brewed coffee. However, brewed coffee requires time, effort, and patience to wait on your pot to brew. Plus, most people don’t have enough time in their day. 

Coffee pods are an innovative and easy-to-use alternative to brewed coffee. They may produce a taste of a different quality, but when you are running out the door on the way to work, they are a good option. 

But coffee enthusiasts who are also concerned about the environment will want to ensure they always recycle their used pods. The higher-profile brands have recycling programs, but producers of cheaper products may not be as considerate when designing their capsules.

Environmental Coffee Pods

As previously stated, coffee companies have engaged with green policies, and most are conscious of ensuring that there are options for consumers who want to recycle. The issue is that not all communities can embrace these options, and not all consumers are conscientious. 

Thankfully, there are other options in these cases. Stainless steel or BPA-free plastic coffee pods are a great way to go green because they reduce the amount of waste in landfills. With reusable pods, you can spend less money and be environmentally friendly.

With eco-friendly machines available as well, there’s no excuse not to drink your favorite flavor without harming the environment too much. 

Compostable pods made from paper, compostable inks, and other biodegradable materials are another excellent option for coffee enthusiasts who want to reduce their environmental impact. Paper is not only easier on the environment, but it also eliminates guilt because you can toss them right into your compost bin or pile them when they’re done with no clean-up required. 


  • Cian Murray

    Cian Murray is an experienced writer and editor, who graduated from Cardiff University’s esteemed School of Journalism, Media and Culture. His work has been featured in both local and national media, and he has also produced content for multinational brands and agencies. Find Cian on