Coffee pods are convenient, sure, but typically you have to choose between two brewing systems: You either go with Keurig or Nespresso, since the brewers are not compatible. The $119 Instant Pod is built to change that. This flexible coffee maker, created by the inventors of the, accepts both popular brands of coffee capsules.
Instant Pod can make coffee drinks in multiple sizes, from big travel mugs down to tiny 2-ounce espresso shots. The Instant Pod also works fast, slinging individual cups of joe in little over a minute. Despite its strengths, this machine isn't for everyone. If you're a coffee snob like me, there's nothing the Instant Pod can do to elevate the coffee pod beyond its typically bland results.
Compared to other coffee pod machines, the Instant Pod mostly works well enough, but I had two messy experiences with two different units. My first review sample made a mess of one coffee pod; the second one leaked water all over my kitchen table. I'm talking with Instant Pot to find out more, but so far I'm not sold on the quality control behind this machine.
Pick a pod
If you've used either a Keurig or an espresso coffee maker, operating the Instant Pod will feel familiar. Around the back of the machine is a large, removable water tank (68 ounces, or 2 liters). You'll find a handle on top of the brewer. You flip the handle upwards to open the machine's lid, and to access its coffee pod receptacles.
The Instant Pod has two pod receptacles, one for K-Cups and another for Nespresso capsules. To brew a cup just drop the pod you'd like into its corresponding socket, then close the lid. Next select the serving size. Controls sit on top of the lid. The machine can brew in a total of six drink sizes: three for K-Cups (8, 10 and 12 ounces); and three for Nespresso capsules (2, 4 and 8 ounces).
There's a drip tray at the foot of the brewer. It also serves as a cup platform for coffee mugs. There's a small cup support above it that flips down and acts as a cup rest for espresso-size containers.
Brewing cups with the Instant Pod is fast. Small 2-ounce shots of Nespresso espresso take 30 seconds. Larger 10-ounce K-Cup coffee cups require slightly more time, about 1 minute, 18 seconds. The coffee maker also warms up quickly from a cold start, ready to brew in seconds.
Some technical difficulties
I ran into a few problems using the Instant Pod, one of them serious. On one occasion, a Caribou brand K-Cup malfunctioned. Coffee grounds escaped the pod, clogging the machine and landing inside my coffee mug. I haven't been able to duplicate the issue, even after running scores of K-Cups and Nespresso capsules through it.
That said, apparently a few other people have run into similar problems. Comments on the(where it's currently sold exclusively; it's only available in the US) indicate that some owners are getting grounds in their cups too. I asked Instant Brands about this. Company representatives said that since I only encountered it once, the issue I experienced is likely due to the individual coffee pod I used.
To confirm whether I had a defective unit, Instant Brands sent a second machine my way. This brand-new replacement brewer was worse. I couldn't get past the initial cleaning (brewing) cycle. The minute I filled this Instant Pod's water tank, the appliance began to leak everywhere.
I tried to add water to the tank two more times, cleaning up in between, but suffered the same fate. I've reached out to Instant Brands for an explanation and am waiting for a response. Regardless, these experiences are troubling, especially considering that this is Instant Brands' first attempt at a coffee maker.
Should you buy it?
Whether you should buy the $119 Instant Pod depends on a few factors. First are the technical problems I encountered. Hopefully they're isolated snags, but if they indicate a broader manufacturing issue then you may want to pass up the Instant Pod entirely.
That aside, If you love K-Cup coffee, but sometimes get a hankering for espresso-style drinks, then getting the Instant Pod is a no-brainer. Likewise, the Instant Pot makes a lot of sense if you live in a household with both Nespresso and Keurig fans. The Instant Pod definitely costs less than buying aplus a Keurig brewer.
To enjoy the best coffee you can drink though, pods are not the answer. For that you must grind freshly roasted beans right before brewing. And no matter the style of joe you prefer, make sure youris up to the task.