February 24, 2017

From Nespresso to Specialty: How to Use Third Wave Coffee Pods


Third wave coffee capsules/pods? They’re coming next month.

Capsules have a bad reputation. We associate them with burnt coffee and an almost unnatural amount of crema. What’s more, something about the idea just seems wrong to us. Coffee should be consumed fresh. It’s a natural product. Why is it coming out of plastic capsules, and why is it being consumed so long after roasting?

But specialty coffee is about the pursuit of good-quality, sustainable coffee, and it’s always embraced technological innovations to do so. (What else would you call the AeroPress, or Acaia scales, or batch brewers that Brewers Cup Champions prefer to V60s?) And so Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, three-time World Barista Championship finalist, set out to create a third wave version.

Specialty coffee capsules

Colonna Coffee’s specialty coffee capsules. Credit: Colonna Coffee

Can Capsules Be Specialty?

For Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, the answer to this question is yes. On his blog, he recalls the first time he tried a capsule from a commodity-grade coffee company, and realised that it was better than the whole bean version. That told him the problem was the coffee, not the technology.

“I think that utilising methods and technology that allow exceptional coffee to be achieved are naturally becoming more and more embraced,” he says. “Craft and manual brewing will always have its place. It has done a great job at helping to add value and change expectation around what coffee is capable of.

“Now that it is more readily understood that coffee can taste exciting and varied, there is naturally the question of utilising methods that overcome the hurdles of making great coffee, offering more of a wine like experience, pop a bottle open and taste, in this case, insert a capsule and explore the world of incredible coffee. “

Are There Any Benefits of Capsule Coffee Over Whole Bean?

So if capsules can result in good coffee, are there any benefits to them over whole beans? Yes.

First of all, there’s the convenience. While we specialty-coffee-lovers will happily grind fresh beans and set up a pour over, not everyone is dedicated enough to do that. And that’s okay. But if we want to support the coffee industry, and support producers (who are often low paid), then we should find ways of making specialty accessible to everybody.

Secondly, there’s the eco-friendly aspect. Yes, I hear you spluttering away over there: indecomposable coffee capsules are terrible for the environment! But Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood’s version is decomposable. “The capsule is made from a corn starch,” he tells me, and is commercially compostable. (Don’t try putting it in your garden compost, though.)

In fact, he tells me, “Espresso coffee brewing is overall more wasteful than capsule brewing, and instant is the best out there if environmental impact is the only goal.” However, he does admit that there are other factors to consider: “Compostable materials may save landfill but they often use more energy.”

How to Use Specialty Capsules

Want to learn more? Watch this video, Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood explains the reasoning behind his specialty capsules, and how to use them.

SEE ALSO: The Company Kickstarting Specialty Instant Coffee: A VIDEO

Feature photo credit: Colonna Coffee

Please note: Perfect Daily Grind does not own the rights to these videos and cannot be held accountable for their content.

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