The Capsule


Rather than review a capsule machine I thought I would look at the overall concept of the coffee capsule.

Nestle invented the capsule technology back in the 70’s and along with it a host of patents protecting the technology.  The capsules are sold under the banner of Nespresso and its big business with billions of capsules being sold and it continues to grow; being one of the fastest growing segments of the coffee market.

Nespresso sells or licences of number of machines and carry brand names such as Krups, Miele, Siemens, DeLonghi and Magimax and they all essentially work the same way pushing high pressure  heated water through the capsule that it has pierced.

The capsule contains around 5 – 6 grams of coffee and is made of aluminium lined with a food grade coating.  The ground coffee is hermetically sealed in the capsule to keep it fresh.  The capsule makes either a 40ml ‘espresso’ or a 110ml lungo.  You may have noticed a recent introduction of the Nespresso VertuoLine to mainly appeal to the US market who look for a larger serving.

As mentioned earlier Nestle held many patents protecting the technology and these started to run out in 2012,  this coincides with the marketing push to protect its business model, we have seen the Nespresso Clubs and Stores or ‘Boutiques’ introduced and celebrity advertising in the form of George Clooney.

With these patents coming to an end it has opened the market to competitors producing capsules and compatible machines.  With this we are starting to see the introduction of ‘speciality’ coffee producers offering capsules – Names such as Neighbourhood Coffee in Liverpool, Colonna Coffee in Bristol and Roastworks in Devon.

For me, I do like the convenience the capsule offers and I will be looking to trial some of the alternative suppliers I have mentioned above.  However; a lot of the appeal for me with coffee is in the making and the control of the variables that go into the process so it will never replace my other methods.

Look out for my trials of some new capsules soon……