Several years at a trade show, I spoke with many roasters about single serve pods. While the convenience was undeniable, they had concerns about the quality. I recall one remarked, “… if I started to offer K-cups, my reputation for quality coffee would be seriously impacted.”. Indeed, when dealing with boxcar loads of coffee, expensive packaging machines that produce thousands of pods per hour, and then have them stored on club warehouse shelves for months on end… it is understandable. That was then, this is now. Enter the artisan pod!

On-Site Packaging Compromises mandate by sheer scale can largely be avoided. For one, savings on 2-way shipping cost. Secondly, beans are packaged on site at the peak of flavor. Studies have shown that flavor is reduced to 25% in the first week, to 12% in the second and to 10% by week 3. Thus, time is the enemy.

By packaging coffee while it is still out-gassing a pressure is created in the pod. This differential pressure accomplishes two things, both of which enhance the flavor:

1) An equilibrium is reached in the cup to inhibit further out-gassing, essentially stopping the clock. and

2) It discourages the entrance of Oxygen, thereby extending freshness.

Payload Another factor that dictates quality is the grind. Generic pods tend to have loads on the order of 6g. To bolster the strength, a finer grind is used and possibly some instant coffee. Of course, increasing the number of pods per pound translates to more profit. The downside of underweighting the pods are more space is availed for Oxygen to reside in the pod (the “enemy”), faster flavor degradation, and possible bitterness in the brew.

In the case of the artisan pod, the roaster dictates the grind and the payload amount. With certain pods, up to 15g of coffee can be accommodated … which perhaps constitutes the roaster’s “best foot forward” for that particular roast and bean. Excessive loading, however, may cause the grounds to expand under use to the point of bursting the lid. So some experimentation may be required but clearly, the artisan is in control.

In cases where there is excessive headroom for Oxygen, one can resort to adding Nitrogen. A nitro flush will displace Oxygen and delaying the oxidation process.

Pour-over For some, this is the standard by which all other coffees are measured. In a blind test, the coffee made from an artisan pod was judged as good as or better than a pour-over using the same bean, grind, etc. How can that be? Recently I asked a well-respected coffee house how fresh the beans were. “All of our beans are no more than a week old”.

So on the first day, they are very fresh. On day 2 less so. On day 7, the attributes that measure freshness and quality are down to 25%. In other words, 3/4 of the coffee flavors are gone. If we assume on average the beans used in the pour-over are 3.5 days old, the flavor and freshness attributes are down to 62.5%. This is compared to artisan pod which retains virtually all of its attributes ie, 100% freshness.

Thus, it is not hard to see how an artisan pod could produce a result that not only rivals a pour-over but exceeds by all meaningful metrics (short of the showmanship of the barista) of the resulting brew.

To summarize, extending the care and attention seen in specialty coffee roasting to the on-site packaging of single-serve pods, a brew is achieved that can be best described as a big WOW… and that is not like your dad’s Oldsmobile!

Artisan Pod


Generic Pod

coffee (grams)


15g (1:17)






head room

10-20% est


20-40% est

time after roast

12 hrs

3.5 days (avg)

several weeks (est)



62.5 %


shelf life

3-6 mos


1 year




not likely

pressure difference

abt 13psi


zero psi

ggg 10-18