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Rating:

8/10

WIRED
No hardware needed. Makes high-quality coffee. Better than instant, Keurig pods, or Nescafé. Makes café-quality iced drinks.
TIRED
More expensive than high-quality coffee beans. You miss out on the ritual of brewing. Still a little wasteful. You can taste a difference. 

I hate coffee pods. Keurig and its ilk have never given me anything but a shockingly mediocre cup of coffee. To make matters worse, entombing those beans in single-use plastic is hard on the environment. So when Cometeer showed up in my inbox, I was more than a little skeptical. 

Here was a company that sold convenience in a tiny aluminum cup—brewed coffee, shipped to you frozen and packed in dry ice. I was so ready to go on a screed about the evils of single-use coffee pods and the drab, flavorless coffee they produce. Then I tried it, and tried it again, and again. Now it’s something I drink every day. It has replaced my afternoon iced coffee. If you'd warned me a few weeks ago that I’d be typing that sentence, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Death Before Instant
Photograph: Cometeer

Instant coffee fills me with an oceanic sadness. It tastes like waking up in a cheap hotel, frantically getting your clothes packed so you don’t miss your flight. It tastes like waking up and realizing you slept through your alarm and you’re going to be late to work and maybe lose your job. I’d rather not drink coffee than drink instant coffee. 

On the other hand, fresh-brewed coffee makes my morning every day. I don’t turn my nose up at Folgers or Maxwell House or any other grocery store brand. If that’s what there is, I’ll drink it. I'm just busy, and like all single-serving coffee-pod companies, Cometeer is selling convenience. 

After tasting it, I’ll say there's a world of difference between one of these little coffee pods and anything you’d get out of a Keurig or a freeze-dried powder. Once your Cometeer pods arrive, they go straight in your freezer until you’re ready for a cup.

If you’re drinking it hot, it comes together in the time it will take your kettle to boil. Just pop the pod into a cup and add hot water. If you want it iced, thaw the pod for about five minutes in warm water, or you’ll end up with a little frozen coffee puck floating around in your milk. Like with Nescafé and Keurig, it's a time saver if you're impatient or someone who wants a cup on the go. The difference is that Cometeer coffee actually tastes good.

Side by side with a fresh shot of espresso, Cometeer coffee pods are noticeably different. There’s a bit of a sweet note, like you get out of a grocery store bottle of cold brew that just reminds you this isn’t exactly fresh. But add a splash of hot water to make it into an Americano, and honestly it’s pretty hard to tell the difference—depending on the pod.

Lighter roasts have more off-flavors. They mellow a bit in hot water and all but disappear when you add milk, sugar, or syrups to make any variety of hot or iced espresso drink. The dark- and medium-roast pods offer an experience that has completely replaced my customary afternoon iced coffee. With ice and some milk, these Cometeer pods are almost indistinguishable from a fresh-brewed iced latte or mocha.

Worth It
Photograph: Cometeer

A box of Cometeer coffee pods runs $64 for 32 pods. That’s $2 per cup, which is cheaper than going to your local artisan café. Coffee beans are more economical. If you’re buying fancy beans to grind at home at about $15 for a 12-ounce bag, you’re looking at closer to about a dollar (rounding up) per cup if you’re using an espresso machine and about 25 cents per cup for drip coffee. No matter how you slice it, Cometeer is considerably more expensive than buying, grinding, and brewing your own beans.

It also produces more waste than brewing your own coffee, even though the aluminum cups are recyclable. Whipping up a cup of Cometeer coffee is also a lot less satisfying than pulling a shot of espresso. It feels more like grabbing a soda than brewing coffee—which isn’t all bad, honestly. Sometimes, I’m just not in the mood for the whole ritual of summoning a cup of coffee.

There’s also one more thing to consider: With Cometeer, you don’t need a Keurig, a cheap Mr. Coffee pot, or a thousand-dollar espresso machine to make yourself a hot or iced espresso drink that is every bit as good as you’d get from a local café. You just need hot water or your milk substitute of choice.

If you’re looking for something to replace your morning cup of coffee entirely, and you already have a coffee machine, Cometeer pods are kind of expensive. But if you’re looking to replace your morning or afternoon Starbucks, I don’t think there’s a better alternative. For me, Cometeer’s going to be my everyday driver for afternoon iced coffee drinks for the foreseeable future.