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Thread: Concern about health of refilled coffee capsules

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    Question Concern about health of refilled coffee capsules

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    Hi guys, i just joined the forum and i am quite excited about it. :-)

    I want to start this thread to have your opinion. I see more and more people trying to make their own Nespresso-compatible capsules (just see on Youtube how many videos showing this "how-to"). However, while the Nespresso capsules are made of aluminium coated with food-grade Shellac which should prevent any contamination (i believe a company like Nestle must have done its research before launching this product!!!), most cheap Nespresso alternatives do not take into account this sort of implication. I have seen on the market plastic capsules that can be used up to 10 times... Hot water going through plastic at high pressure for more than ten times i can only imagine what sort of pollutants would come out of there!

    Some extreme cases like this guy (search for "fill your nespresso capsule" on youtube)... I believe this guy is out of his mind!
    1) Why would you go through the hassle of refilling a Nespresso pod with Lavazza coffee (i would just buy a machine that goes with ground coffee not capsules)
    2) This is against the whole concept of pods, which is quick, easy and no mess
    3) Aluminium foil release compound toxic for humans

    In summary, i believe that the practice of refilling capsules is quite dangerous for human health and people should be instructed about it. I am curious to see what you think!

  2. #2
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum Ciz,

    I both agree and disagree. Some specifics:

    1. I would never refill a pod with Lavazza coffee--I'd just buy Lavazza pods. Except I wouldn't do that either--I like fresh coffee.

    2. Agree completely.

    3. Aluminium cookware might also be problematic, and it's still on sale.

    While you may be right about health issues, trying to interest people who aren't concerned is a thankless task (for me at least). You are welcome to it.

    To me it is quite simple: If I'm going to the amount of trouble that re-filling pods would be, I'd want to be assured of a good result, and I doubt that the trouble is worth it at all.

    As far as I can see the only advantages to pod machines are the no fuss, the no mess, and the cheap buy-in price--the on-going costs for pods are considerable. So re-filling pods is fussy and messy and entirely defeats everything except the cheap buy-in.

    Maybe it will turn people on to good coffee, one can always hope.

    Greg
    Ciz79 likes this.

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    Thanks for your post Greg, i personally dont like capsules either but if anything i would stick to the original manufacturer. I am using ese pods at the moment and i am quite happy with them. I am Italian and the coffee i get it resembles a lot a real Italian espresso. However, even with ESe a lot depends on the coffee you use and most importantly the machine. Lots of roaster attempt to produce pods, but i have only found a few that actually make a good one.

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    Senior Member Rocky's Avatar
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    Hi Ciz - welcome.
    Most CS Members regard 'Pod coffee' as a very inferior form of the art, although having some positives when espresso machine coffee isn't available, and also in terms of speed and clean-up.
    I have always been astounded that anyone would buy a Pod machine and then mess about with refilling the pods. I'd have to be drinking 20 cups of coffee a day to justify that.
    Personally I'd rather have an Aeropress, Plunger, dripolator, or coffee bag than a pod.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ciz79 View Post
    1) Why would you go through the hassle of refilling a Nespresso pod with Lavazza coffee (i would just buy a machine that goes with ground coffee not capsules)
    2) This is against the whole concept of pods, which is quick, easy and no mess
    3) Aluminium foil release compound toxic for humans

    In summary, i believe that the practice of refilling capsules is quite dangerous for human health and people should be instructed about it. I am curious to see what you think!
    Hmm ?
    1) Refilling capsules achieves 2 objectives.. a) reduced cost,.. B) fresh ground coffee if you grind your own.
    2) you can prepare 6-10 pods in advance of a "session" and then use the convenience of "pod brewing" to save time when visitors are in house.
    2) Aluminium foil a health hazard ????... you will have to site evidence of that ( think of all the cooking foil being sold ! )

    FYI... I drink espresso from a normal brew machine.
    I do own a Nespresso machine , but have never been able to satisfactorily refill any of the pods,... or the plastic alternatives !

    Nespresso is a poor substitute for genuine fresh brewed espresso,...BUT it is a big improvement on instant, and maybe it will make more people aware of "real" coffee, and help reduce the ridiculously energy hungry processes of instant coffee production.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky View Post
    I have always been astounded that anyone would buy a Pod machine and then mess about with refilling the pods. I'd have to be drinking 20 cups of coffee a day to justify that.
    Well, 20 cups/day would certainly be worth it !
    do the maths
    Nespresso is 65 -70 Cents/shot
    Ground (8gm per pod) is < 20Cents/shot
    so savings are 45-50 cents per shot
    So you would be saving $18 -$20 per day !!

    That 20 shots/ day is not so crazy. In my house , it is not unusual to pull 8 -10 shots just for breakfast, and there are only 4 of us.
    I dont think i could afford to do that using Nespresso pods. !

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky View Post
    Hi Ciz - welcome.
    Most CS Members regard 'Pod coffee' as a very inferior form of the art, although having some positives when espresso machine coffee isn't available, and also in terms of speed and clean-up.
    I have always been astounded that anyone would buy a Pod machine and then mess about with refilling the pods. I'd have to be drinking 20 cups of coffee a day to justify that.
    Personally I'd rather have an Aeropress, Plunger, dripolator, or coffee bag than a pod.
    Thanks for your answer Rocky. Yes, i do agree with you and i do not think that pods are a form of art at all. However, i dare you to try an espresso from my state of the art italian machine and premium italian coffee.
    It might not be as good as the coffe you might make from your machine, but at least it does not disappoijnt me as many of the coffee shops in Sydney! :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by blend52 View Post
    Hmm ?
    1) Refilling capsules achieves 2 objectives.. a) reduced cost,.. B) fresh ground coffee if you grind your own.
    2) you can prepare 6-10 pods in advance of a "session" and then use the convenience of "pod brewing" to save time when visitors are in house.
    2) Aluminium foil a health hazard ????... you will have to site evidence of that ( think of all the cooking foil being sold ! )

    FYI... I drink espresso from a normal brew machine.
    I do own a Nespresso machine , but have never been able to satisfactorily refill any of the pods,... or the plastic alternatives !

    Nespresso is a poor substitute for genuine fresh brewed espresso,...BUT it is a big improvement on instant, and maybe it will make more people aware of "real" coffee, and help reduce the ridiculously energy hungry processes of instant coffee production.



    Well, 20 cups/day would certainly be worth it !
    do the maths
    Nespresso is 65 -70 Cents/shot
    Ground (8gm per pod) is < 20Cents/shot
    so savings are 45-50 cents per shot
    So you would be saving $18 -$20 per day !!

    That 20 shots/ day is not so crazy. In my house , it is not unusual to pull 8 -10 shots just for breakfast, and there are only 4 of us.
    I dont think i could afford to do that using Nespresso pods. !
    Hi Blend52,

    i do not agree with most of the things you said unfortunately. :-)

    1) I think those objectives you mentioned can be achieved by buying a brew machine (there are plenty on the market for the price of a Nespresso machine) not by buying a Nespresso machine an refilling the pods (i assume you will need to buy a grinder as well to do fresh grounds, so what was the point of going capsules??)
    2) as you would probably know being a coffee passionate after grinding coffee goes off quite quickly. You can do a simple experiment (i have done it myself). Grind a certain amount of coffee and brew it regularly and in the same manner every 30 minutes. You will notice a dramatic difference within a couple of hours. Doing 6-10 pods in advance will result in a waste of time as well as probably a bad tasting coffee.
    3) I have plenty of evidence for my statement. For a start you can refer to the wikipedia page:

    Some toxicity can be traced to deposition in bone and the central nervous system, which is particularly increased in patients with reduced renal function. Because aluminium competes with calcium for absorption, increased amounts of dietary aluminium may contribute to the reduced skeletal mineralization (osteopenia) observed in preterm infants and infants with growth retardation. In very high doses, aluminium can cause neurotoxicity, and is associated with altered function of the blood–brain barrier.[70] A small percentage of people are allergic to aluminium and experience contact dermatitis, digestive disorders,vomiting or other symptoms upon contact or ingestion of products containing aluminium, such as deodorants or antacids. In those without allergies, aluminium is not as toxic as heavy metals, but there is evidence of some toxicity if it is consumed in excessive amounts.[71] Although the use of aluminium cookware has not been shown to lead to aluminium toxicity in general, excessive consumption of antacids containing aluminium compounds and excessive use of aluminium-containing antiperspirants provide more significant exposure levels. Studies have shown that consumption of acidic foods or liquids with aluminium significantly increases aluminium absorption,[72] and maltol has been shown to increase the accumulation of aluminium in nervous and osseus tissue.[73] Furthermore, aluminium increases estrogen-related gene expression in human breast cancer cells cultured in the laboratory.[74] The estrogen-like effects of these salts have led to their classification as a metalloestrogen.
    I have highlighted an important section as coffee is an acidic beverage. To me, putting together all those components (acidic beverage, aluminium, hot water, high pressure, ...) it's a damn good chemical reaction! And i think plastic could just be as bad. If you require scientific evidence i can supply you with that too.

    Also, think about it, Nespresso would not cover their capsule with food grade Shellac if the aluminium had no health hazards (known or hypothesized).

    Just a final note, i also have scientific evidence that Nespresso capsules have a ridiculous amount of Furan (of which health hazards are well known). So if anything i would use ESE pods (as i do) or if you are a bit more keen and got more money to spend in equipment, obviously ground (as you already do).
    Last edited by Ciz79; 25th October 2012 at 02:03 PM. Reason: mistake

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    Ciz79,
    i think you are missing a few basic realities here..
    1) people who are using refillable pods ( or refilling originals) have already bought the Nespresso equipment.
    Undoubtedly they did not buy with the intention of using refills , but the Nespresso sales pitch fails to explain exactly how expensive the pods are ( relative to instant or home ground)..so the unfortunate owners are looking for ways to reduce costs...not buy yet another espresso system
    Hence why they resort to cheap pre ground coffee or some even use a spice grinder and beans,..depending on their coffee knowlege and/or available equipment.

    2) of course "We" know the realities of fresh grind for coffee, but still there are more home coffee drinkers using pre ground coffee than grinding their own beans.
    They appear satisfied with the drink they make and simply using PG coffee in pods suits them also.
    I note that you also seem content to drink coffee made from pre ground beans , so i fail to see how you can criticize that choice.

    Incidentally, there are strong arguments ( supported by multiple blind tasting ) that ground coffee sealed into an inert (100% nitrogen) atmosphere, will retain its "fresh ground taste" for many months.. ( Illy and Nestle' both have patents on the processes involved )

    3) Aluminium.. Yes there is science related to Aluminium and Aluminium Salts, but even from your quote,..there is no conclusive evidence correlating Aluminium foil or cooking pans, drink cans, bottle tops, food containers from take away shops etc etc etc, ..to toxic effects.
    Your highlighted section is refering to aluminium salts and compounds
    Nespresso capsules are not coated with "shellac" , ..they use a complex water based, Epoxy coating ( effectively a "plastic" once it is cured at temperature !)
    And much like drink cans,..with a very similar internal coating, the coating is applied to protect the container material from the contents, NOT to protect the contents from the container material ! As you pointed out, coffee and coffee oils are corrosive and would attack bare aluminium dramatically reducing the shelf life of the product.
    Are you confident that your coffee brewing equipment has NO aluminium in the brew path..most do !

    The bottom line is , i believe you are being irrational in your concerns over contamination from Al or plastic coffee pods.
    I suspect there is more toxic risk in the water or coffee itself, than in the pod material !

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    Hi Blend52,

    i think i noted some sparks in your response, so to be clear let me first of all apologyze if i gave you the impression that i was attacking you. I was just trying to say my opinion and i treasure everybody's answers, otherwise i would be just wasting my time on a forum.

    Neither i was criticizing the choice of many people to use pods, just that of refilling them (while i understand the economic reasons of it). As you said, i am a pod user myself and at the same time a coffee passionate as i own and run a coffee shop in Italy few months a year. I think the ESE pods are those that best resemble traditional brewing and the result is not that bad either. Plus, the paper pod makes me feel safer.

    You are probably right that i am being over cautious with my concerns, and that aluminium or plastic are not the big enemy here, but i also know that in recent history there have been many cases of things that weren't considered dangerous til more studies said so. While that doubt exists, the pods i use are made of paper and the brew path of my equipment is almost entirely brass (although there is some hosing and plastic involved, i agree). :-)

    Thanks for your posts!

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    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blend52 View Post

    Well, 20 cups/day would certainly be worth it !
    do the maths
    Nespresso is 65 -70 Cents/shot
    Ground (8gm per pod) is < 20Cents/shot
    so savings are 45-50 cents per shot
    So you would be saving $18 -$20 per day !!

    That 20 shots/ day is not so crazy. In my house , it is not unusual to pull 8 -10 shots just for breakfast, and there are only 4 of us.
    I dont think i could afford to do that using Nespresso pods. !
    In the same way that Blend52 = Blend 43 + 9, you might find that 20 shots @ 45-50 cents savings per shot actually yields a potential saving of $9 to $10 per day, and not the $18 to $20 quoted. As you say... do the maths

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    Ooops ! sorry prof' you are on the ball there ......
    Must be the Alzheimers kicking in...or i need more coffee !

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ciz79 View Post
    i also know that in recent history there have been many cases of things that weren't considered dangerous til more studies said so. While that doubt exists, the pods i use are made of paper and the brew path of my equipment is almost entirely brass (although there is some hosing and plastic involved, i agree). :-)

    Thanks for your posts!
    No apologies necessary Ciz79, all opinions are valid.
    I assume you are also aware of the possibilities of contaminants in paper from the chemicals used in its production !!!

    You comments raised a point regarding the "fresh life" of ground coffee. A subject that has had me confused for some time.
    Whilst i hav'nt actually done the "aging test" of tasting fresh ground and comparing again after several hours, i know there is a huge difference between ground beans and bought pre-ground coffee.
    It is interesting that you (as an experienced coffee drinker) find that some ESE pods are very acceptable , so are there specific suppliers that you believe are significantly better ?, and is there any obvious reason for that ?..packaging etc ?
    Do they actually state the roast and grind dates ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by blend52 View Post
    No apologies necessary Ciz79, all opinions are valid.
    I assume you are also aware of the possibilities of contaminants in paper from the chemicals used in its production !!!

    You comments raised a point regarding the "fresh life" of ground coffee. A subject that has had me confused for some time.
    Whilst i hav'nt actually done the "aging test" of tasting fresh ground and comparing again after several hours, i know there is a huge difference between ground beans and bought pre-ground coffee.
    It is interesting that you (as an experienced coffee drinker) find that some ESE pods are very acceptable , so are there specific suppliers that you believe are significantly better ?, and is there any obvious reason for that ?..packaging etc ?
    Do they actually state the roast and grind dates ?
    Hi Blend52,

    i have been pretty busy this week with a girlfriend complaining of too much time that i spend online. Now she is working... :-)

    To answer your question, yes i am aware of potential contaminants in paper from chemicals used in its production but if we go upstream that way i think we probably should eat just raw, freshly caught wildlife. Unfortunately, we can just limit the damages with what we eat.

    I know that talking about pods put me probably into a critical position from the beginning (being this a blog for true coffee lover) but believe it or not i am an experienced coffee drinker and my family owns a cafe in Italy where we go through more that 12 kg of coffee per day and we still use a traditional lever coffee machine. I am also very passionate.

    RE ESE pods I can tell you that with the right research and adjustment you can get a very good espresso! I have bought an expensive italian machine just for pods that allows me to do some changes on it. As i said before, it is mostly brass internally (no aluminium) and has a proper boiler. Not far from a "real" coffee machine.

    I have done the following adjustments on it:
    - Regulated the temperature of infusion to suit the coffee i use (i don't feel to pubblicize any brands here, but mine is imported from Italy)
    - I have bought different filter baskets with different numbers of holes (to increase or decrease the resistance of water coming through) and after few experiments i have found the combination that gives me the best extraction time for Italian espresso ~1ml/sec

    BY doing so, i can now enjoy all the benefits of ESE pods. Having the flexibility to use different blends every time. Get always "almost fresh" coffee, which is worse than freshly ground beans, but better than beans grounded 1 hr ago. I think what i have succeded to obtain is a consistent and reasonable result (I am never disappointed) and a lot less waste (i have never been able to grind exactly what i need!). Obviously i became a sort of profane of coffee, but hey at least i am not using the Aldi machine. :-)

    I think the reason for the quality of the coffee i can get from my ESE pods are:
    - 80% depends on the proper coffee machine (check the specification if you like here http://www.spinel.it/brochure/lux_brochure.pdf) - i have the one group UNO LUX.
    - Coffee is ground at the factory using a professional industrial grinder that is heaps better of what i could only imagine havin in my kitchen
    - Coffee is sealed in a protective N-rich atmosphere immediately after grinding, meaning that the "aging" is somehow stopped (or at least slows down dramatically)
    - Quantity is always consistent

    The main downside is that no minor adjustments allowed depending on humidity, temperature, etc. (but who can do it right having just one shot in the morning???)

    In saying so, i still have my favourite coffee shop where i keep going and when i go back to Italy i forget about pods altogether! :-)



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