What are ESE coffee pads?

In this article, we will explain the E.S.E. Coffee Pads, a very popular type of capsules or sachets in the market. 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 doubt when finding this denomination.

The “novice” consumers (said this without derogatory intent) are naturally confused between the hard capsules that use the coffee machines of conventional coffee capsules. The soft pads that some coffee machines like Senseo and the E.S.E. coffee pods have an aspect similar to the soft ones. Still, they are not the same, and they are also more typical of manual espresso machines.

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

What is a single dose of coffee?

To find out what an E.S.E. coffee pad is, it’s essential first to recognise what a single dose of coffee is and 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 coffee pods, 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 it, so it ends up being very simple to adjust the preparation of coffee (using the options allowed by our coffee maker) to our taste.

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

ESE coffee pads

What are ESE coffee pads?

E.S.E. stands for Easy Serving Espresso, and E.S.E. 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. The purpose of the E.S.E. pads is to facilitate the elaboration of espressos to the users of portafilter 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 E.S.E. standard, but single-dose, after all).

In this capsule type, the coffee is stored in a small bag or tablet of two sheets of thermo-weldable filter paper. The hard or E.S.E. 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 prepare a double dose of espresso. They have more coffee inside, but it is less compacted.

The dimensions of the soft E.S.E. coffee pods are also standardised: 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 standardised format and with particular characteristics.

single dose ESE

The image speaks for itself: an E.S.E. 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 E.S.E. single pods have an additional advantage: cheaper than the other single pod coffee formats. 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. 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:

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.

Many types of capsules or hard capsules, such as Nespresso capsules or Dolce Gusto capsules, are the most widespread.

All of them allow the marketing of many white brand compatible capsules, such as Hacendado compatible capsules or many others.

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

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

No. The coffee resulting from using E.S.E. 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 greatly 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.

ESE single-dose pads with chocolate

There are no E.S.E. chocolate pods as such. But we can find quite a few ESE44 varieties of coffee flavoured with various ingredients, including chocolate, of course.

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

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 clarify 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 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 E.S.E. coffee pods.

When categorising all coffee machines for E.S.E. pods, we can follow the following guide:

  • Senseo coffee machines do work with ESE pods, but the soft ones. We especially recommend the Senseo Original as it is the brand’s most recent model or the Senseo Latte Duo as it offers you the option of making fresh milk froth.
  • Within the espresso machines, there are also numerous models that accept ESE pods. The common rule is to find coffee machines that work with ground coffee and have compatibility or a filter holder that supports the use of ESE pods. To find out about many of these coffee machines, we recommend that you look at our comparison of espresso coffee machines.
  • Coffee machines for single-serve and ground coffee are another type of machine that are often compatible with ESE pods.
  • Some portable coffee machines, such as the original Handpresso Auto, only work with ESE pods (not ground coffee or hard pods).
  • And we leave for last the multi-capsule coffee machines, some of which are compatible with this type of format.

I’m sure this video will clarify your ideas a little more:

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!

Latest articles: Best gifts for mother’s day