Capsule extraction. Is it identical to espresso?

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Many consumers have opted for capsules for their home made coffee, convenience and speed are very much worth it.

It is a practical method for everyday life made up of frenetic rhythms and times. In fact, it allows you to extract an excellent, creamy and aromatic coffee that is reminiscent of the beloved espresso and in just 15/20 seconds.

But remember that espresso is a different thing.

What you get with capsules and espresso appears similar given the presence of the cream, hazelnut color, the amount of drink dispensed, the dark body and the aroma intensity are similar.

Which are the strengths that have made capsules a success?

As already mentioned, it is increasingly chosen as the main extraction method in our homes because it is practical, convenient and fast, suitable for the tight modern life times.

In addition, the capsule is already portioned, it must not be weighed, filled and it does not require the use of devices other than the machine. You just need to take the capsule, insert it into the machine and press a button.

Finally it opened a new world in coffee consumption habits.

It introduced the desire to experiment, to try new flavors, different brands and different blends ... many started to make questions about the differences between the various brands and aromas, about the varieties between Arabica and Robusta and to broaden the knowledge in general about our beloved coffee.

In addition, the ease of switching from one flavor to another just by changing the inserted capsule has become like a game: trying to understand one's tastes and investigate what is best for each of us, which coffee blends make us say "wow".

So how does this incredible system differ from espresso?

First of all, there is a difference in the grams of ground coffee used for one serving. For an espresso cup, 7 to 8 grams of ground coffee are required while inside a capsule there are 4.5 to 6.5 grams.

In particular I am talking about the compatible ones with the Nespresso system.

However, the quantity of drink dispensed in millimeters remains the same: therefore for the same quantity of water if you use less coffee, you can easily understand that your coffee will be less bodied and intense.

The ingeniousness of this system lies in the fact that despite this lower body, it is possible to recreate a compact and thick cream, like that of espresso, if not even more!

And here the importance of pressure pumps comes into play. In fact, if an espresso machine has a pressure of about 9 bar, in a capsule machine the pressure of about 19 bar. Thanks to this strong pressure, a high and resistant cream is structured. In addition, the pressure also influences the taste, which is more intense and rich.

Another difference is the extraction times. While in espresso the water filters through the ground coffee for about 25 seconds, capsules brewing time is shorter, going from 15 to 20 seconds for the normal coffee dose.

This isolated characteristic would confer less aroma, bitterness and caffeine in the cup. However, it is compensated and balanced in part by the high pressure which increases its aromatic intensity and bitterness.

The last substantial difference lies in the heat of the machine. While an espresso machine is always on, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at a stable temperature of 115-120° C, the capsules machine reaches a temperature of 88-92 ° C, but not constantly, as it is switched on only when the extraction is requested.

Thanks to the stable temperature of the espresso machine and all its components, the water supplied is at a temperature of 90-92 ° C, which cannot happen in the domestic machine, as even if the water in the boiler reaches the ideal temperature, it cools down passing through the various channels.

For this reason we always recommend to make at least two vacuum extractions, i.e. without capsule, before preparing your coffee, to allow time for the machine and all the channels to warm up.

The invention of the domestic capsule machine is undoubtedly a brilliant invention, which immediately convinced us for the professional result it brings to our homes. However, it is not correct to compare it to espresso, for all the characteristics we have seen.

However, it is an incredible system which in an absolutely reduced space manages to recreate an intense and aromatic drink, with the cream that we lacked so much in previous domestic extraction methods.

Martina Mazzoleni

by Caffè Ernani

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