What are ESE Coffee Pods?

We are going to explain you in this article what are the ESE Coffee Pods; A type of capsules or sachets very popular in the market and that not many users can differentiate from other formats of packaged coffee.

Surely, if you have an espresso machine, or are about to acquire one, you will have encountered the doubt when finding this denomination. The “novice” consumers (said this without derogatory intent) it is natural that they confuse between the hard capsules that use the coffee machines of conventional capsules, the soft capsules that also some coffee machines like Senseo uses and the ESE coffee pods that have an aspect similar to the soft ones. But they are not precisely equal, and also, they are more common for the manual espresso machines.

What a mess, isn’t it? Well, to clear up this whole mess, we are writing this article.

What is a single dose of coffee?

To find out what is an ESE coffee pod, it’s essential first to recognize what a single dose of coffee is and what are the most popular types of coffee capsules on the market.

It must be made clear that when we refer to “single dose” in a generic way we are talking about formats of pre-packaged coffee in individual doses (single dose), such as the famous Dolce Gusto capsules, Nespresso capsules, the Tassimo T-Discs or the universal capsules.

The advantage of the single dose is that the coffee is vacuum-packed and can retain specific properties such as freshness and aroma (something difficult to achieve for example in the packages of ground coffee that ends up being always exposed to the open air). And also that the dosage of coffee is still the same each time we use, so it ends up being very simple to adjust the preparation of coffee (using the options allowed by our coffee maker) to our taste.

ESE coffee pods are a different format to all the single-dose mentioned above, and have more or less the following appearance:

ESE coffee pods

What are ESE coffee pods?

ESE stands for Easy Serving Espresso, and ESE coffee pods is simply an official standard that regulates the qualities of this type of dose. Easy Serving Espresso means just that: Espresso that is quickly served. It is the purpose of the ESE capsules, to facilitate the elaboration of espressos to the users of arm espresso machines.

But first of all, let’s start with the principle: single doses are divided into hard and soft. The difference between the two types is clear:

  • The hard capsules contain a dose of 7 grams of coffee, which is usually well pressed and has a fine grind. That is to say; they are precisely thought to elaborate espresso coffee. These are known as ESE coffee pods. They usually have a reed (photo below).
  • The soft ones contain a slightly higher dose (between 7 and 9 grams of coffee). Coffee is usually very lightly pressed (or directly, not pressed). For this reason, they are also known as soft single-doses: coffee is generally softer than that obtained with hard or espresso single-doses. They are also known as pads and do not have a tongue.

As you may have deduced from their qualities, the capsules also share qualities with the hard single-dose (in this case not from the ESE standard, but single-dose after all).

In this type of capsule, the coffee is stored in a small bag or tablet made up of two sheets of thermo-weldable filter paper. The hard or ESE single dose, having a lower dose of coffee and being more pressed, occupy a little less. They have a diameter that is usually 44 millimetres. Be careful because there are also larger single-doses, 55 millimetres, which can be used to prepare a double dose of espresso. They have more coffee inside, but it is less compacted.

The dimensions of the soft ESE coffee pods are also standardized: the internal diameter must be between 55 and 61 millimetres and the external diameter between 65 and 71 millimetres.

As you can see, although with individual variations, it is a very standardized format and with particular characteristics. And it is effortless to differentiate a single dose ESE (or hard) of a soft single dose (or pad).

The image speaks for itself: an ESE capsule has those acronyms printed on one side of the pouch, and they also have a characteristic tongue on one of the edges. The soft single-dose pads are entirely round.

The ESE single pods have an additional advantage: they are cheaper than the other single pod coffee formats, and because they are the most widespread, there are more brands and more compatible varieties.

In short, there are three essential individual coffee capsules:

  • The hard capsules. The ones we know from the Dolce Gusto, Nespresso, Tassimo and other machines. They are made of plastic and aluminium.
  • Hard capsule or E.S.E., are little paper bags.
  • Soft capsule or pads. They are also paper bags, like the previous ones.

Where to buy ESE Coffee Pods?

Fortunately, this is a widespread format on the Internet, and E.S.E. coffee pods can be found in virtually all major online stores. Of course, you can also buy E.S.E. pods at Amazon.

As a curiosity, you should know that almost all major brands of coffee capsules on the market of the compatible Nespresso and Dolce Gusto (hard capsules, we mean) also sell their coffee E.S.E. single-dose format. For example, Borbone coffee, Gimoka, Carbonelli, Fortaleza or even others that are not compatible but in their format, as is the case of Lavazza E.S.E. single dose.

Many of them – not all of them – are distinguished because they are sold in soft plastic bags, not in hard cardboard packages. This way, you can buy E.S.E. hard single-dose capsules from the leading producers in the market. In the end, the coffee is the same, it only changes the way it is packaged, so that the big brands do not usually give up this critical market share that are the consumers of E.S.E. type capsules.

Here you have a summary with the leading brands of single-dose E.S.E. 44 mm available in Amazon.

As we say, you can find more information about these brands in our guides Nespresso compatible capsules and Dolce Gusto compatible capsules.

What other types of single-dose capsules are there?

Coffee capsules (which are also hard single-dose) are a different type of single-dose, and coffee machines to use them do not necessarily have to be compatible with the E.S.E. standard. A coffee machine may be designed to use capsules and may not support either E.S.E. single-dose or soft single-dose.

We advise you to check your coffee maker’s instruction book before you risk buying a product that may not be compatible with it.

There are many types of capsules or hard capsule such as Nespresso capsules or Dolce Gusto capsules, which are the most widespread in our country.

Next, we show you, for example, the internal and external structure of a capsule (or hard capsule) of the brand Fortaleza.

fortaleza capsule

Is the E.S.E. single-dose a worse coffee?

No. The coffee resulting from using ESE coffee pods is neither better nor worse than that obtained through other processing systems. It is merely different, with different qualities. Its quality also depends to a great extent on using the E.S.E. single dose in the right coffee maker for it. We cannot use E.S.E. in an unprepared coffee machine, nor vice versa.

Which coffee makers admit E.S.E. single-dose capsules?

Well, this is a complicated question because there are many and varied single-dose E.S.E. machines. Let’s go by parts:

First of all, let’s make it clear that neither the Dolce Gusto coffee machines nor the Nespresso or the Tassimo coffee makers admits single-dose E.S.E. Nor the Lavazza coffee machines. All these brands of coffee machines have an exclusive system of capsules or hard pods. Some of them also admit compatible single doses, such as the Nespresso compatible capsules, the L’Arome de Marcilla (even for Nespresso) or the Lavazza compatible capsules. But nothing to do with ESE coffee pods.

  • Senseo coffee makers do work with ESE coffee pods, but with soft ones. We especially recommend the Senseo Twist for being the newest model of the brand, or the Senseo Latte Capuccino for offering you the option of making fresh milk foam.
  • Within the espresso machines, numerous models allow single-dose E.S.E. The standard norm is to find coffee machines that work with ground coffee, but that also have compatibility, or their filter holder ladle admits the use of ESE coffee pods. To know many of these coffee machines, we advise you to take a look at our comparison of espresso machines.
  • Some models, such as the Solac FreeCoffee or the original Handpresso Auto, which only work with ESE coffee pods, deserve a special mention. (not with ground coffee or hard pods).
  • And we leave for the end the MiniMoka 4 in 1 coffee machine, which is the most complete on the market as it allows you to use both ground coffee and E.S.E. single-dose or also hard single-dose (compatible capsules).

Now that you know what E.S.E. single-dose coffee machines are, it’s time to choose the coffee machine that best suits your needs, considering whether it’s E.S.E. single-dose, E.S.E. single-dose or ground coffee. And enjoy the good coffee!

NOTE: All the information about the coffee machines in Amazon is updated daily.