You may be asking what an ESE pod is. It sounds like another coffee system like Nespresso or Tassimo but it’s something completely different. Nor are they coffee bags that go in a mug and are covered with hot water although they look similar.
ESE stands for Easy Serve Espresso and they are used only in espresso machines. Aimed at cutting out the time and mess and noise involved in grinding your own beans, an ESE pod slots into the portafilter of an espresso machine and you brew your espresso as usual. When you are finished the used pod lifts easily out and goes straight into the bin.
A standard ESE pod is 44mm and usually contains 7 grams of coffee. Although originally designed by Illy, ESE pods are not limited to one company, meaning that there is much more choice of coffee and more competitive prices. Most modern espresso machines are compatible with ESE pods although you may need to buy a shallower basket for your portafilter for some machines, especially those designed to only deliver a double shot.
While fresh ground coffee is always going to be the first choice, ESE pods have a number of advantages.
- If you are staggering out of bed and just want a quick shot of espresso they are simple enough to use for the most half asleep person.
- If you have the urge for a coffee but know the noise of grinding, tamping and emptying the portafilter is going to annoy your housemates, ESE pods remove these problems.
- They are also handy if you want to experiment with different flavours of coffee but don’t want to risk paying out for a bag of beans you might not like.
- ESE pods are usually made of paper so they are much more environmentally friendly than other coffee pods.
- Our Top Recommendations
- The Best ESE Pods
- Honourable Mentions
- Buying Guide
Our Top Recommendations
The Best ESE Pods
These are our top choices based on customer reviews and our own personal preference. However the choice is fantastic so it has been very hard for us to limit it to just these five brands. Scroll down for even more!
1) Illy Classico Medium Espresso Coffee Paper Pods, 18 Servings.
Let’s start with Illy, the original inventors of the coffee pod. Made from 100% Arabica beans, this is a classic Italian coffee. Nicely balanced, medium roast with an aftertaste of cocoa. They are also available in Dark Roast and Decaffeinated. They handily have the logo printed on one side so you can be sure to get them the right way up.
- Illy ESE Espresso Coffee Paper Pods (Pack of 1, Total 18 Servings)
- Quintessential balance of strength and gentleness, with distinct aromas of chocolate, toast, caramel and a light floral note.
- Suitable for ESE Pods machines: Francis Francis, Dualit 3 IN 1, Dualit Express-Auto 4 in 1, Delonghi, Gaggia, Kitchenaid 5KES2102, Krups XP5210 and XP5620, Morphy Richards Accents Pebble, Saeco, SMEG...
2) Black Donkey Coffee Roasters – 50 ESE Coffee Paper Pods 44mm (VARIETY PACK)
A perennial favourite for good reason, Black Donkey ESE pods are full flavoured and good value for money. These ESE pods are made from mainly Robusta beans sourced from Columbia, Brazil, Kenya, Ethiopia and India and roasted in small batches to maintain a strong flavour. The variety pack has 25 Intenso pods and 25 Supremo pods. You can buy a pack of just one flavour and Black Donkey also offer Decaff pods and Devil’s Roast pods, if you like your coffee stronger. Intenso is a smooth medium roast made from 80% Robusta and 20% Arabica beans. Supremo is made from 60% Robusta beans and 40% Arabica beans and while not as intense it has an earthier, spicy taste with an aftertaste of toast and chocolate.
- VALUE ✪ 50 ESE Espresso paper coffee pods (50 servings). 44 mm / 7 grams of roasted and ground espresso per serving. IMPORTANT: these are ESE coffee paper pods, NOT coffee bags
- VARIETY ✪ Selection of 2 premium coffee blends (25 Intenso, 25 Supremo)
- EMOTION ✪ INTENSO : Full-bodied and strong, this intense Robusta coffee blend, rich in quality, brings you a round taste, a warm and enveloping aroma. SUPREMO : This blend is spicy and intense, with...
3) PUREGUSTO ESE Coffee Pods Mixed Selection Pack x 100
This box of PUREGUSTO pods give a nice variety of coffee to suit all tastes. They are all made from 100% Arabica coffee beans roasted using the superior convection air method resulting in a more consistent and less bitter flavour. In this pack you get 25 of each flavour. The Continental ESE Coffee pods are from India with the mellow, smoky flavour you would expect. The Signature ESE Coffee pods is a complex blend of 5 different single origins that has won awards. The Arabica pods make a medium roast typical Italian coffee. The Blue Mountain pods have a smooth, medium roasted flavour typical of this Jamaican coffee. A good choice if you would like to try a range of different coffees.
- 100 Freshly Roasted & Ground Coffee Pods - Mixed Variety ESE Coffee Pods
- 4 Best Selling Convection Roasted Quality Coffee's All In One Pack - Includes 2018 Award Winner!
- Packed Within 1 Hour Of Hand Roasting - Industry Leading Freshness Preservation
4) Note d’Espresso Arabica Coffee Paper Pods
A popular Italian brand, these ESE pods are made from 100% Arabica coffee beans, freshly roasted and sealed. Medium roasted, well rounded with a pleasant toast aftertaste. They also have Guatemalan ESE pods which I personally prefer but may be too full bodied for some tastes.
- 100% natural coffee, roasted in Italy
- Compatible with 44 mm paper pods
- Made in Italy
5) Caffè Borbone Cialda Blue Blend Coffee 150 Pods
Another Italian company, based in Naples, Caffè Borbone’s most popular pod is the Blue but they offer a wide range to suit most tastes. Blue is medium roast, full bodied and well balanced. Black is a creamy mix of Arabica and Robusta.
Gold Blend is a full-bodied traditional Neapolitan espresso. Red is stronger and more complex. Green is decaffeinated.
- Excellent level of roasting and the right dosage between Arabica and Robusta
- Great blend captures all of your senses in a moment of complete excellence
- Full-flavoured, rich and well rounded
If you are looking for a few more ideas, take a look at the ESE capsules below. They are all excellent choices that we are sure you will not be disappointed with.
6) Illy ESE Decaffeinated ESE Pods (2 Packs of 18)
7) We – Real Italian Espresso ESE Pods (150 pods)
- E.S.E Coffee Pods 44mm - Sweet with a delicate body, classic Italian Espresso.
- Wood - Fire Roasted Coffee - Made in Italy
- Pack of 150 Pods x 7g Each - Packaged In one Dose Pod In Protective Atmosphere
8) Pellini Arabica ESE Coffee Pods
- 100% ARABICA COFFEE: Pellini Top espresso pods contain an exclusive espresso coffee recipe with a refined aroma, sweet and delicate flavor
- Standard ESE Pods: We’ve made our coffee ESE pods compatible for complete convenience. Suitable for all espresso machines that use the E.S.E. 44mm, 6 packages of 18 single dose paper pods (7 gr...
- PREMIUM ESPRESSO COFFEE: Pellini coffee beans are carefully selected at source, before being slow roasted and naturally air cooled to enhance the unique espresso bean taste and aroma
9) Caffè H24 – Italian Espresso Ese Coffee pods
- Coffee in standard ESE pods. Weight: 7,5gr. 44mm diameter
- Mixture Instinctive - Strong
- Packaging: Protective atmosphere in triple layer aluminum film
10) Caffè Borbone Cialda Red Blend ESE Coffee Pods
- Strong flavour is a ideal coffee to give himself a jolt of vitality
- Great blend captures all of your senses in a moment of complete excellence
- Full-flavoured, rich and well rounded
Not all ESE capsules are the same, so to help we have put together a buyers guide to make your life a little easier and ensure you get exactly what you are looking for.
A standard ESE pod has a 44mm diameter and contains 7grams of ground espresso coffee. An ESE pod can only be used in an espresso machine and it makes one shot of espresso coffee. If your espresso machine only delivers two shots you can buy a shallow one shot basket that will make it compatible with ESE pods. Most modern espresso machines can use ESE pods. However they will not work with Tassimo, Nepresso or Senseo coffee machines.
How strong you like your coffee is a very personal thing and one person’s weak brew is another’s strong. The general recommendation for an espresso shot is between 6 and 9 grams of coffee. At 7 grams, ESE tend to deliver a medium/weak espresso. The more freshly ground the coffee the stronger the taste. Although most ESE pods are freshly ground and then quickly sealed into their packaging there is still a certain loss of flavour. Most companies offer a range of coffees and you may find you prefer the more intense varieties, even if traditionally you are not a strong coffee drinker.
Are ESE Capsules Easy to Use
ESE capsules are very to use, actually they are much easier to use than ground coffee or coffee beans. Watch the video below to see how easy they can make your life.
Why Use ESE Pods?
The quick answer is for convenience and consistency. It’s similar to the difference between brewing tea in a teapot or using a teabag. There’s no mess as the ground coffee is all contained within the paper package. Clean-up is just depositing the used pod in the bin without any of the noisy banging out of the portafilter. As the pods are pre-packaged you will always get the same taste. It is the closest you can get to a fresh ground espresso than any other method.
Are all ESE pods the same size?
Yes. An ESE pod has a 44mm diameter and contains 7 grams of ground espresso coffee. They are standardised so they can be used in lots of different makes of espresso machines. They can not be used in coffee pod machines such as Tassimo and Nespresso.
Where Can I Buy ESE Pods?
Although they are becoming a more common site in shops the best place is online. Their popularity is growing but they are still best known in Italy and most companies are Italian.
What does ESE stand for in coffee pods?
ESE stands for Easy Serving Espresso and means exactly that what it says: Espresso served quickly. Illy created the E.S.E. standard in Italy back in the 1970s. In February 1998, the non-profit “Consortium for the Development and the Protection of the E.S.E. Standard” was founded by seven coffee roasters and machine manufacturers as a guardian of the E.S.E. brand and standard. The E.S.E. specification was intended to be an open design to encourage wide adoption in order to give customers the “freedom of choice and guarantee of quality”. It is open to all coffee roasters and machine manufacturers, making it the self-acclaimed “only open system available to the sector for espresso coffee prepared with paper pods”.
How Do I Know If My Machine Can Use an ESE Pod?
Many espresso machines will be marked as ESE compatible. If you are not sure check with the manufacturer. Some companies make machines specifically to use ESE pods. Most espresso machines with a single shot basket will be able to use ESE pods. However machines that use hard pods with a foil lid, such as Tassimo and Nespresso, will not use ESE pods.
Why Is My ESE Pod Not Working?
Double check you have the right kind of machine. Also check you are using a single shot basket. If they are correct then the most common problem is how the pod has been packaged. Before use, give the pod a quick shake to loosen the contents, then squish it flat between your hands before putting it in the portafilter basket. Make sure it is placed exactly in the middle, evenly touching the sides all around. Don’t try to tamp an ESE pod as it may split.
ESE pods are a good option to have when you want a quick espresso. As they become more popular there is a growing number of high quality coffee roasters providing them so it is becoming quicker and easier to get a tasty shot of coffee.