Capsule Coffee Vs. Coffee Beans (5 Key Facts)

Last Updated on September 13, 2021 by John Moretti

In this article, I’ll highlight some of the things that make capsule coffee different from coffee beans.

Here is a summary of how capsule coffee and coffee beans differ and the winner of each category:

  • Capsule coffee machines are automated, while coffee bean machines depend on the type of drink you want.
  • Freshly ground coffee beans are always better in terms of freshness compared to capsule coffee.
  • Freshly ground coffee beans narrowly beat capsule coffee in terms of taste because they have a fantastic aroma and flavor all the time.
  • Capsule coffee machines are expensive, while coffee beans are cheaper by the bag.
  • The effort required when using capsule coffee is less compared to when using coffee beans.

1. Machines Used

  • Winner: Capsule coffee (mainly due to the automation)

The machines used by capsule coffee are automated and capable of pulling the espresso or the coffee out of the capsules with just a push of a button on your part. However, different brands of capsule coffee use different machines, and the two most used ones are Nespresso and Keurig. These two machines have their unique style of making automated coffee out of the capsules.

For example, the OriginalLine machines from Nespresso use the traditional way of extracting espresso by using the pressure from hot water. However, the difference between these machines and a traditional espresso machine is that everything is automated with little to no input from the human operating it.

On the other hand, coffee beans use different types of machines depending on the type of drink you want. Coffee brewing machines usually allow hot water to pass through coffee grounds to brew a coffee drink instantly. Traditional espresso machines that use pressure and rely on human skills are the most popular ways to make espresso and espresso-based drinks.

There are plenty of ways for you to extract the essence out of traditional coffee beans, regardless of whether you use full-sized machines or simple extraction tools. For instance, you can brew your coffee using the French press, AeroPress, Chemex, drip brew, and siphon.

2. Freshness

  • Winner: Coffee beans

One of the major selling points of capsule coffee is the freshness of the coffee grounds inside the capsules. That’s because these capsules are hermeneutically sealed to make sure that there is a vacuum inside the capsules.

This is essential because air can quickly compromise the freshness of the coffee grounds if they are exposed to it for a long period. However, nothing beats the freshness of freshly ground coffee beans. This is why coffee beans are usually sold whole so that the beans are as fresh as possible.

This is also the reason why I don’t like buying ground coffee. The coffee already comes ground, which means that it is more likely to have already lost its freshness. And because you constantly open and close the packaging of coffee grounds, there is no way you can ensure that you are still getting the best coffee in terms of overall quality and freshness.

In this regard, while capsule coffee does its best to retain the freshness of the grounds through the way the capsules are sealed, freshly ground coffee still takes the cake here. And that is why coffee beans are better in terms of freshness.

3. Taste

  • Winner: Coffee beans

The truth of the matter is that I like the espresso and the coffee that comes out of capsule coffee machines. These pods do their best to give you high-quality coffee grounds that come with all sorts of different flavors and complexities depending on their origin and brand.

But, of course, when you use a capsule coffee machine, the results will always be fast and consistent. This is because mistakes are minimized when operating a capsule coffee machine for that rich espresso.

Then again, nothing can beat an espresso or a cup of coffee fresh from a good machine and freshly ground coffee beans. Even though traditional espresso machines and some coffee-making methods take skill, the effort is more than worth it because it takes human experience, precision, and skill to make the most out of freshly ground coffee.

As such, in terms of overall freshness, flavor, and aroma, the coffee you get from coffee beans that are freshly ground before they are placed into the machines or coffee makers is nothing short of incredible. Capsule coffee machines come as close as possible, but you still get better coffee in almost any aspect when you use fresh coffee beans.

4. Cost

  • Winner: Coffee beans

Capsule coffee machines are not cheap, but they are not overly expensive as well. Depending on the brand and model of your capsule coffee machine, you may end up spending somewhere between $100 to $300 for the machine. Of course, the machines will only work with capsules that are specifically made for them.

A single pod of capsule coffee won’t be too expensive. The pod will most likely cost somewhere between half a dollar and a little more than a dollar. 

When you consider that you would have to buy coffee pods repeatedly, especially if you are a heavy coffee drinker, you may end up spending more money in the long run despite how affordable the cost of entry and the pods may seem to be.

On the other hand, it would be an understatement to say that espresso machines are costly. These machines can cost more than a thousand dollars.

But the thing you need to realize is that the long-term cost of using coffee beans won’t be at the same level as capsule coffee. Coffee beans are cheaper by the bag.

A single shot of espresso from these beans can cost you under half a dollar, but the long-run costs will end up becoming cheaper. If you prefer using the more affordable brewing methods, there is no arguing against how it is more affordable to use coffee beans over capsule coffee.

5. Time and Effort

  • Winner: Capsule coffee

I’ll be honest in saying that using espresso machines and brewing your own coffee using freshly ground coffee beans isn’t for everyone. If you are someone who is always pressed for time and can’t spare a single minute to grind the beans and then manually operate a machine to process the espresso or the coffee, then coffee beans aren’t for you. Even something as simple as a French press would also take time and effort on your part.

On the other hand, capsule coffee machines are fully automated. The methods of using capsule coffee machines may vary from one machine to another, but the gist is that you simply fill the machine with water, put the capsule in the machine, and press the settings you want for the espresso or coffee you want.

In short, the input that capsule coffee machines require from you tend to be minimal at best. And that is what makes these machines so popular among people who are always on the go.


As a coffee connoisseur myself, I would like to lean more towards coffee beans because you can only get the best coffee from freshly ground beans and processed through espresso machines and coffee brewing methods that require skill and precision on your part. Therefore, if you are a coffee purist, then there is nothing that can beat coffee beans. Not yet, at least.

However, capsule coffee comes close enough and has bridged the gap between instant coffee and freshly ground and brewed coffee. Capsule coffee may not be on par with coffee beans in terms of overall freshness and taste, but they more than make up for those weaknesses with the overall simplicity that they come with. Capsule coffee machines are easy to use and are less demanding in terms of input from the person.

All that said, coffee beans are better for coffee purists and have time to spare to grind and prepare a good cup of coffee. On the other hand, capsule coffee is best reserved for people who can’t spare any time and effort to get that good cup of morning Joe.