How to use a pod coffee machine: 7 steps for an easy coffee

How to use a pod coffee machine: Machine brewing coffee into cup
(Image credit: Alamy)

We live in a world that values speed and convenience, and pod coffee machines allow us to apply those standards to our daily caffeine rituals. Promising a quick and hassle-free brew, these machines have attracted coffee enthusiasts and busy individuals alike. For this reason they're a perfect gift, but naturally, not everybody knows how to use them. 

The minds behind Nespresso and the best Keurig coffee makers were the pioneers in pod coffee and pod coffee machine technology, and their products dominated the market for several decades. Now, the home brewer has access to myriad different coffee pod brewer brands, with some among the best coffee makers out there.

Tools & requirements

- Coffee pod compatible with your brewer

- Filtered water

- Cleaning supplies like anti-bacterial wipes and dish soap

- Descaling solution

Pod coffee machines work by filtering water through a coffee-filled pod via a needle that is housed in their brewing chamber. As a result, a smooth and tasty cup of coffee is produced. But don’t forget that every brewer is different and the steps may vary slightly depending on the brand and model. We recommend following the specific instructions provided in your machine's manual and always using compatible coffee pods to make sure your brewer functions properly. 

In this guide, we'll provide step-by-step instructions on how to use a pod coffee machine, including cleaning and descaling, so that you make a delicious cup of coffee every time. I used the Nespresso Essenza Mini (available at Amazon), a basic but hugely dependable machine that can also be used to make barista-level coffees at home.

Quick steps: How to use a pod coffee machine

  1. Prepare the brewer  
  2. Insert the coffee pod 
  3. Select cup/coffee size 
  4. Brew the coffee 
  5. Enjoy coffee/remove used pod 
  6. Clean your coffee machine 
  7. Descale your brewer 

Step by step guide: How to use a pod coffee machine

1. Prepare the brewer

(Image: © Future / Alexandra Pamias)

Before turning on your pod coffee machine, make sure it’s on a sturdy surface and plugged in. We recommend filling the water tank with filtered water for brewing since it will lead to a better cup of coffee and minimize the build-up of minerals in the machine. Once you place the mug or cup under the pouring spout you are ready for the next step. 

2. Insert the coffee pod

(Image: © Future / Alexandra Pamias)

Choose a coffee pod that is compatible with your machine. Pod coffee machine brands will usually produce pods for their brewers too but many coffee bean companies offer pods that are compatible with the most popular brewers on the market. Once you’ve selected your coffee, open the pod compartment and place the pod into the slot. When you close the lid, you will hear a faint pop which means the needle has punctured the pod.  

3. Select cup/coffee size

(Image: © Future / Alexandra Pamias)

When you close the lid and puncture the pod, your machine will let you know that it is ready to brew. This may involve the flashing of the different cup size buttons or an alert on a touch screen. Every machine is different and while the simplest ones may offer you a choice between a regular or large coffee, or an espresso or lungo, some machines will offer a multitude of brewing options to choose from.  

4. Brew the coffee

(Image: © Future / Alexandra Pamias)

Once you have selected your coffee size and/or type, you are ready to brew your coffee. Just click on the size/type button or press start (depending on the machine) and hot water will start to flow through the needle and the coffee grounds in the pod. You may have to wait for your machine to heat the water, but the brewing process should start shortly after pressing the appropriate button. The freshly brewed coffee then trickles into your awaiting coffee mug or cup. 

5. Enjoy coffee/remove used pod

(Image: © Future / Alexandra Pamias)

Once the brewing is complete, carefully remove your cup from below the pouring spot and add any desired milk, sugar, syrups or other flavorings, or simply enjoy as is. Don’t forget to remove the coffee pod from the machine once cooled and dispose of it in the appropriate receptacle. 

6. Clean your pod coffee machine

(Image: © Future / Alexandra Pamias)

The more you use your pod coffee machine, the dirtier it will get. Not only is it important to clean your brewer to prevent bacteria, but it will also help you consistently brew great cups of coffee. Cleaning your pod coffee machine will involve some daily tasks as well as steps that can be done monthly or every few months. Steps include wiping down the outside of your machine with antibacterial wipes, washing the removable drip tray and water reservoir, removing used pods and maintaining key parts of your machine such as the pod holder and needle. 

We also have more dedicated guides on how to clean a Nespresso machine and how to clean a Keurig.

7. Descale your brewershell

(Image: © Alexandra Pamias)

Descaling your pod coffee machine is a crucial measure to keep your brewer operating at optimal performance. The process involves circulating a descaling solution throughout your machine to remove limescale buildup. Most pod coffee machine brands will sell their own descaling solution for you to use but all will work well to descale your machine. Each brewer will have different instructions for how to enter descaling mode so make sure to closely follow your model’s guide.

You can also learn how to descale a Keurig with vinegar.

How to use a pod coffee machine: FAQs

How to make the best coffee using pods?

The beauty of pod coffee machines is in how simple they are to use. While they make brewing coffee fast and convenient, that also means that there is very little up to our control. What we can do is make sure our machine is operating at the highest capacity by maintaining it properly and choosing high-quality coffee pods. You can experiment with different brands and blends to find your preferred flavor.  

How to use a refillable pod?

Refillable coffee pods are perfect for those who want the convenience and speed of pod coffee machines without the waste that comes with disposing of individual coffee pods. We recommend refilling the pods with fine-medium grind or an espresso grind coffee to ensure a good brew. Make sure to not overfill the pod since there needs to be sufficient space for water circulation during brewing. Remember to give the reusable pod a good clean after every use to avoid mixing flavors. 

Are pod coffee machines worth it?

At the end of the day, the value of pod coffee machines depends on an individual’s priorities. If you value convenience and are looking for a quick and hassle-free brewing experience, pod coffee machines are a worthwhile investment. On the other hand, if you enjoy taking time to explore the nuanced flavors and aromatic complexity that come with freshly ground beans, then pod coffee machines may not be for you. 

Final thoughts

Using a pod coffee machine is so easy and simple, you will only need to use your brewer once to have it down pat. Pod coffee machines are perfect for coffee-drinking individuals who value speed and convenience but don’t want to buy a $7 cup of coffee at their local coffee shop every morning. 

While the act of brewing coffee with pod coffee machines is simple enough, you must not forget to clean and descale it. This will extend the life of the brewer and make sure you are brewing delicious cups of coffee for years to come.  

Alexandra Pamias

Alexandra Pamias is a freelance writer residing in vibrant New York City, specializing in all things kitchen and home appliances. With a passion for cleanliness and order, she turns her compact studio apartment into an organized haven, proving that big city living can be both stylish and practical. Alexandra is your go-to source for tips on keeping your space spick and span while making the most of it! She has reviewed kitchen and home products for Homes & Gardens, Real Homes, Tech Radar and Top Ten Reviews.