Pods Wrapup

The temperature from my espresso machine isn’t especially consistent. I’ve seen temperatures in the cup range from 160° to 130°, and from 190° to 170° if I run it without the portafilter. So far, it doesn’t seem to have a big impact on the quality of pod-based espresso, but I’d have to use a bunch of identical pods to to test that.

The QA on the pods is a little slack. A few pods had an edge sealed into the wrapper. With the exception of the one pod I opened on the “stuck” side (tearing into the pod), the effects were inconsequential, since I only lost a bit of paper.

I had an odd experience of bad pulls with the Segafredo Deca Crèm and Compagnia dell’Arabica, Dacaffeinato Leggero Light. One pod variety was watery and flavorless the first time, but fine the second. The second I was able to “fix” by immediately stopping the pull and “flipping” the pod. I can’t imagine how it could be a pod defect, but I also can’t figure out what user error could be responsible.

I’ve had a cold all week, though I’ve not been especially congested. I don’t think this skewed things too much, as I always have a weak sense of smell and tend to miss subtle and not-so-subtle olfactory and gustatory effects.

I initially thought of using a numeric scale to rate various qualities of the espressos, but I didn’t feel like I had sufficient sense of the scale to avoid revising it with each cup. Now that I’ve made it though everything, I feel like I should be able to do it justice. I’ve assigned each pod a series of values, bease on a 1-5 scale, and included benchmarks for drip, French press, Moka pot, and the best espresso I’ve made.

I’m a little dissatisfied with the ranking because not all characteristics are equal. I care more about strength than body and more about body than bitterness. I briefly considered using a 1-3 scale for bitterness, and a 1-4 scale for body, but I decided that was too complicated and would probably be confusing.

Here are my ratings for what I’ve tried, grouped by regular /decaf, and sorted by descending preference.

Body (mouthfeel/viscosity)

1 water/thin
2 light
3 moderate
4 medium
5 heavy

Strength

1 water
2 weak
3 moderate
4 strong
5 intense

Bitterness

1 intense
2 moderate
3 slight
4 hint
5 water (none)

Benchmarks

my best home espresso: 5 5 5
moka pot: 4 4 4
french press: 3 3 4
strong (good) drip: 1 4 3
standard drip: 1 3 3

Decaf

Compagnia dell’Arabica, Dacaffeinato Leggero Light: 3 4 5. 2 2 5.
Caffé Izzo, Decaffeinato: 3 4 5. The second was not worthwhile.
Caffé del Boge, Blu Decaf: 3 3 5. 2 2 5.
Lucaffé, Dacaffeinato: 2 4 3. 2 4 3.
Starbucks, Dark Decaf: 3 4 2. The second was not worthwhile.
Miscela D’oro, Decaf: 3 3 3. The second was not worthwhile.
Covim, Suave Decaffeinato: 2 4 3. 1 3 3 (characterful).
LavAzza, Dek: 2 4 3. The second was not worthwhile.
Segafredo Deca Crèm: 2 4 2. The second was not worthwhile.
Espressione, Decaf: 2 4 2. The second was not worthwhile.
Caffé Borbone, Decaffeinato: 2 3 ?. The second was not worthwhile. (characterful)
Danesi Caffé, Easy Espresso Decaf: 2 3 3. The second was not worthwhile.
Amigos Caffé, Decaffeinato: 2 2 3. The second was not worthwhile.
PodMerchant, Decaf: 2 2 3. The second was not worthwhile.

Regular

Lucaffé, Blucaffé: 3 4 4. 2 3 3.
Lucaffé, Pulcinella: 3 4 4. 2 3 3.
Lucaffé, Mamma Lucia Blend: 3 2 4. 2 3 3.
Lucaffé, Classic: 3 4 4. 2 3 3.
Lucaffé, Columbia: 3 4 5. 2 3 4.
Lucaffé, Messico: 3 5 5. 2 4 5.
Compagnia dell’Arabica, Purissimi Caffé: ? ? ?. 2 4 3.
Compagnia dell’Arabica, Columbia Medellin Supremo, Vellutato: 3 5 5. 2 4 4.
Compagnia dell’Arabica, Brasil Santos, Delicato: 3 4 5. ? ? ?
Compagnia dell’Arabica, Kenya “AA” Washed, Intenso: 3 4 5. 2 4 4.

Covim, Orocrema: 4 3 4. The second was not worthwhile.
Espressione, 100% arabica: 3 3 4. 3 2 5
Espressione, espresso: 3 2 5. 3 1 4.
Podmerchant, Stout: 3 3 3. The second was not worthwhile.
Pellini Top, Arabica 100%: 2 4 5.  2 2 5.
Lavazza, espresso gran crema: 2 4 2. The second was not worthwhile.
Covim, Gold Arabica: 2 4 ?. The second was not worthwhile.
Amigos Caffé, Extra Bar: 1 4 ?. The second was not worthwhile.
Caffé Izzo, arabica 100%: 3 3 2. The second was not worthwhile. (Boring and balanced to a fault)
Illy: 2 3 5. The second was not worthwhile.
Caffé Rialto: 2 3 3. 1 2 4.
Miscela D’Oro, Espresso: 2 3 2. The second was not worthwhile.
Podmerchant, Arabica: 2 3 1. The second was not worthwhile.
Segafredo Zanetti, Espresso Casa, Gusto Cremoso: 2 2 5. The second was not worthwhile.
Caffé Borbone, Miscela Oro: 2 2 4. The second was not worthwhile.
Caffé Borbone, Miscela Blu: 2 2 4. The second was not worthwhile.
Vivi Caffé, Espresso Casa:  2 2 4. The second was not worthwhile.
Podmerchant, Blend: 2 2 1. The second was not worthwhile.
Amigos Caffé: 1 2 ?. The second was not worthwhile.

There’s a clear set of winners for regular. The pods from Lucaffé and Compagnia dell’Arabica were all better than the rest, and each had a second 1/2 oz that was good enough that it might warrant a “normal” 1 oz ristretto pull. Covim Orocrema gets an honorable mention.

As for decaf, why is is that only decaf had any pods with noteworthy depth of character? Puzzling. There isn’t a clear place to draw the line between ones to purchase by the box, and those to forget.

From here on out, as I finish off the last half of the pods, I’ll probably check to see if the results second pod is consistent with the first, but I’m not planning to blog about it. I’m also likely to experiment with ways to improve the results from my machine, adding cream, etc.

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