How to refill only Thermacell pads

Coffee: Coffee pods and capsules can become a cost trap

Will you come by for a capsule of coffee? The coffee rituals have changed. Instead of handling loose coffee powder and filter bags, you put a capsule or pad in the chic coffee or espresso machine. However, the enjoyment of a lightning-fast, freshly brewed portion of coffee is clouded by some disadvantages: The individual portions are expensive and capsules in particular are tailor-made, so they only fit into the machines of the respective manufacturer. So the coffee fan makes himself dependent on a certain system for years. There are tips on how to refill used capsules on the Internet. You can also save money if the selection of the coffee system is well thought out. We tell you which disadvantages and cost traps there are.

Encapsulated without competition

"Do you have a 'Nespresso' or a 'Tassimo'?" A friend was given several packs of coffee capsules - unfortunately the wrong ones. A lengthy search begins for a buyer with a compatible coffee system for the useless capsules. While the users of pods are no longer tied to the expensive branded products - there are now cheaper universal pods - capsule coffee drinkers have so far not had any cheaper alternatives. But that could change soon. The French supermarket chain Casino wants to compete with the food giant Nestlé and produce capsules that are compatible with its "Nespresso" system, but are 20 percent cheaper.

Three times more expensive than hand-brewed coffee

Compared to a self-brewed cup of coffee, consumers pay two to three times more with pads and capsules, Dr. Martin Hofmeister from the Bavarian Consumer Center, of all things. With pads from brand manufacturers, a cup costs an average of 22 cents, with capsules even from 25 cents upwards. Assuming a pound of instant coffee, the cup costs only seven to ten cents, depending on the type. Hofmeister's conclusion: "Although machines with coffee pads are more convenient to use, they cause significantly higher consumption costs when consuming more coffee." Anyone who drinks two cups a day pays around 100 euros more per year.

Cost trap: cheap machine, expensive coffee portions

If you want to buy a coffee machine with pads or capsules, you should carefully compare the prices, include your daily coffee consumption in the calculation and inquire whether the machine can also be operated with pads from other manufacturers. Attention, cost trap: There are inexpensive machines, but they produce high follow-up costs if you rely on the manufacturer's expensive portion packs. A savings tip from the consumer advocate: "If you are short of cash and still don't want to go without pods, you can fall back on the offers of discounters. They sell round pods that fit into the machines of different suppliers. In addition, there are now also coffee machines with different Pads work. "

Product test: pads against capsules

In December 2009, Stiftung Warentest tested eleven portion coffee machines and compared systems with pads and capsules. The key message of the testers: "Coffee machines for portion pads are available from 50 euros. Models for coffee from the capsule easily cost three times as much." Since the capsules vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, the consumer has a much smaller choice. The system-independent devices that work with all commercially available pads proved to be the most versatile in the test. A cup of coffee with branded coffee is already available for 13 to 14 cents.

Tip: Try before you buy

In addition to the question of price, it is also a question of taste, because many a coffee fan swears by the special aroma of their favorite brand. Tip: Before you decide on a certain coffee system, try whether you like the coffee blends of the associated brand at all, or whether there are equally tasty cheap alternatives. The most pleasant comparison option is when tasting coffee with friends and acquaintances.

Also think about health and the environment

Two other aspects should not be ignored: health and the environment. Hofmeister advises reading the list of ingredients in the portion packs because some products contain unnecessary and harmful additives such as hydrogenated vegetable fat, sugar, glucose syrup, acidity regulators, stabilizers or artificial flavorings. "These have no place in coffee," says Hofmeister. In addition: "Capsules made of aluminum or plastic produce a lot of waste. It is more environmentally friendly to use pads made of paper fleece."

How to refill capsules and pads yourself

Resourceful bargain hunters are already exchanging tips on DIY or refilling the portion containers on the Internet. On eBay, empty, cleaned coffee capsules are auctioned for self-filling, corresponding instructions with pictures and videos are circulating in various forums. Real expert knowledge of the best techniques and materials has already developed among self-fillers. Coffee pod users tinker with self-made tea bags, scissors and iron pads. Those who don't want to do handicrafts will find more professional solutions: companies have long since discovered the annoyance of expensive portion packs as a business model. For example, there are so-called eco-pads with a fine plastic filter that can be used over and over again. However, they do not fit into every type of machine. Another manufacturer has developed a small device that is reminiscent of a waffle iron and ironing together self-fillable pads made of cellulose.