Capsules: Just Another Brewing Method

Look around your favourite specialty cafe, and tell me what you see. In particular, focus on the tools and equipment those crazy baristas are using, or have at their disposal.

What’s there? Espresso machine? Of course. V60/Pourover? Probably, if the cafe is (in this writer’s opinion) worth its salt! Aeropress? That’d be nice. Batch brew? It’s increasingly likely.

And when they sell you their coffee — the stuff the roaster has worked tirelessly on, and committed their life’s work to — what brewing methods do they offer? Filter, espresso, plunger, aeropress, stovetop, etc. There are plenty.

So what about capsules?

I guarantee that the last sentence above made the hairs stand up on many specialty coffee lovers’ necks… But let’s have a talk about it, because we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss what ultimately is just another brewing method!

Automation isn’t a bad thing. In fact, as we’ve discussed in an earlier blog post, it looks like it might be the next wave of coffee.

What Nespresso(R) and other pod companies did was implement the automation, but (in this writer’s opinion) failed to incorporate the exacting standards of specialty coffee; standards which see us bending over backwards to celebrate all that every roast has to offer.

So if we could just combine the two, surely it’s a good thing!

A few people are starting to see the opportunity to develop roasts for capsules. Why are they doing it? Well, it’s a massive market, but I’d like to think that more importantly, it’s a fun challenge to roast for what is (I’ll say it again) just another brewing method!

Full disclosure: I’m a co-founder of Flinders Lane Specialty Coffee. I’ve been working for the last 12 months, with some of my favourite roasters around Melbourne (the self-proclaimed coffee capital of the world) to fiddle with what we can do with this roasting method.

And after 12 months, I’ll be honest, we’ve even surprised ourselves.

The biggest challenge for us, having worked in specialty coffee for many years, was the mindset change.

We moved from “oh gross, capsules”, to “hey, this is a really interesting challenge to roast for an entirely unique brewing method!”. And oh boy, did that help us move forward and get some pretty amazing results!

We experimented, we toyed, we drank potentially-life-threatening amounts of coffee. And we got there! It honestly has been a 12 month process with many ups and downs. But it honestly has been so, so satisfying.

What we’ve got out of a capsule is truly exciting. It’s exciting because time-poor consumers who have, until now, settled for mediocre coffee in exchange for the convenience of capsules, can now enjoy some of the world’s best specialty coffee, brewed in what I believe is just another unique brewing method, and get a cup of coffee that celebrates itself!

Yes, the coffee tastes different to espresso. Of course it does. The machine uses a tiny dose for a fairly high yield. But filter coffee uses a small-ish dose for a pretty huge yield! And so do some stovetop brewers, and plungers! I’ll say it one last time — it’s just another brewing method!

The number of exclamation points in that last sentence show how excited I am about what we’ve achieved. I’m really passionate about this:

If nothing else, we’ve made capsule coffee (hugely) better, to a point that people who drink coffee from a pod, will have a much better start to their day than they used to. That alone, is enough to get me out of bed in the morning and keep working on Flinders Lane Specialty Coffee.

And from there, we’re going to keep working to see what we can do next!