Pods are convenient , a lot less messy and don't require as much training. But they don't taste as good. If you have a business that has a lot of staff turnover and customers who don't know or care what a good espresso tastes like, pods could be a prudent business decision.
I'm not sure Starbucks is doing much to educate people what a good espresso tastes like. They are doing more for milk sales than for coffee.
Hmmm. The clue might be in Starbuck's "Toffee Nut Latte." If you bury espresso with milk, whipped cream and sprinkles, your customers probably would not be able to tell much about the quality of the espresso.
If you want a ton of mall rats as customers, espresso pods could be the right choice.
Pods have huge disadvantages in freshness and quite often in flavor not to mention a much higher unit cost per shot for materials. Most espresso cafes do not use them and no serious cafe uses them.
They do have a legitimate niche in the world. Consider a bar or or small restaurant that might serve perhaps a handful of espresso based drinks on any given evening (let's say six to ten drinks) and is likely to have an untrained person (meaning someone who is not a baroista such as a waiter, bartender or busboy). Chances of getting a half decent shot from such a scenario when whole beans, grinding, tamping, cleaning etc are involved is not good. Pods aren't great but in a few instances that are the least of all possible evils.
Seeing this annoying commecial on yet another form of home espresso machine, and guess what this one takes "yet again" pods....
I think pods are something the europeans are desperately trying to get the US buying strictly because it puts the roasting/bean production back in their favor. We in the US have not only adopted euro style beans, but are producing and roasting it locally, so have completely obliderated their market when it comes to us.
The machines will come and go, each being pod dependant, just if you have 1/2 a brain, won't invest in them nor think there is any kind of a long term carear about of distributing them. If there was, the coffee craze would have to fizzle down to the drip/folgers days before hand. And in fact, I would pit any high end home espresso machine against any commercial pod machine "quality espresso pour wise" any day.
It is not "the Europeans" - that sounds like those tall-minded (def. "tall" per Starbucks) dorks in Congress and their "Freedom Fries."
It is multi-national corporations like Proctor & Gamble, Black & Decker, Sara Lee, Nestle, Philips and others.
The fact that they started in Europe is more that those markets proved more receptive to product innovation then the US. Europe absorbed the higher costs during market development and now that they have scale, they can bring a lower cost product to the US.
It is like pharmaceuticals in reverse. Here, we pay the highest prices for pharms and subsize the rest of the world. In pods, the US is the beneficiaries of innovation subsidies paid by the Europeans.
That still doesn't make it a better cup of coffee. It's just the facts of global business.