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The two biggest mistakes I see over 50% of coffee pod users make (and I made too!)

You don't know what you don't know, until you know it! This little bit of information could change the way you make coffee for the rest of your life and make it so much more enjoyable. It did for me!

I first started using Nespresso over 10 years ago, which replaced instant coffee at work. My initial excitement soon turned to disappointment as I realised the coffee was horrible and even worse than the instant coffee I had been drinking! How could this be… It didn’t make sense?! But I persisted with it for about a month, convincing myself that it was actually better because it was real coffee and the problem was me, I just wasn’t used to it.

Each day I forced myself to drink it, while cringing, and shook my head in disbelief at how bad it was. But luckily I am a very inquisitive type of person, so started doing some research and asking colleagues how they were using the machine, in the hope my bad coffee was actually user error and could be improved.

I quickly stumbled across something which shattered my initial assumptions about pod coffee. I had thought that the ‘intensity’ rating of the pods was an indication of how much caffeine each pod contained. My assumption was that the higher the rating the more of a caffeine hit I was getting and because they were all a similar price, simple logic says I was getting more ‘bang for my buck’ by drinking the higher intensity pods (even though I didn’t actually like the taste of them!). This was a big development for me as I went back and started trying the lower intensity pods which at the time, I actually enjoyed much more.

My next discovery related to long (lungo) shots and this one was a game-changer! Again, I assumed I was getting more ‘bang for my buck’ by using the long shot instead of a short shot. I was getting more coffee for the same price, right? Wrong! After speaking with a few barista friends I learnt that cafes only use around a 30ml shot of coffee and the rest is milk or hot water for long blacks etc. I was told this extracts all the best elements of the coffee (oils, aroma and flavour) and extracting more can actually ruin a good coffee.

I wondered if the same principles applied to pods so I started watching the extraction intensely and noticed that it was basically just dirty water running through the pod at the end of a lungo extraction… It was no longer thick and creamy coffee. After observing this I started using short shots only and voilà, my coffee pod experience improved immediately! It was far less watery and far less bitter.

For a latte or flat white, I now use the short shot and add milk to this, in the same way a café would. For a long black, I still run a normal short shot, then eject the pod and run the machine without a pod to fill the cup with hot water. I never would have thought such a small change could make such a big difference, but it did!

In the past some people making the transition from long to short shot have commented that their coffee isn’t as strong this way, but I would suggest these people are confusing bitterness with strength. After years of experimenting I’m am absolutely convinced that the short shot gives the best quality coffee across all brands and on all pod machines.

I highly recommend experimenting and making your pod coffee a few different ways. Also do it more than once. It will taste a bit different to what you are used to at first, but I’m confident you’ll enjoy your coffee even more after a few tries.

However, at the end of the day taste is subjective and if you enjoy your coffee using the long shot I’m not going to try and convince you otherwise… It’s all about what makes you happy!

Please let me know on Facebook or in the comments below if you agree or disagree after a few days of trying this. Very interested to hear what you think : )


Toby Strong

Founder & Happiness Hero


This video shows you just how easy it is to make a latte using PODiSTA pods and your Nespresso machine.



  • Thanks Toby for sharing.
    I’m considering getting a pod machine via your excellent deal so this information will save a lot of heart ache.

    Roy Hurlstone
  • Thanks Toby for sharing.
    I’m considering getting a pod machine via your excellent deal so this information will save a lot of heart ache.

    Roy Hurlstone
  • Thanks Toby for sharing.
    I’m considering getting a pod machine via your excellent deal so this information will save a lot of heart ache.

    Roy Hurlstone
  • Hi Toby, what an illuminating article! I only purchased my Nespresso machine earlier this year and have been using the lungo setting. Your comments about intensity ratings of the pods and strength all resonate with my expectations and home brewed coffee drinking experience. I totally agree with your summation and would like to thank you for clarifying the points you made and will keep them in mind especially for when I receive my first pod order from you. In fact I just made a cup of coffee using the method you recommend and I instantly tasted the difference which was so much nicer! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this very important topic.

    Toula Vass
  • Thanks for the tip Toby! I was doing it wrong like you did. Now I’m enjoying my coffee much more.

    Val Harding

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