This Instructable explores my experiments with CBTL coffee maker capsules by Caffitaly. I have a CBTL Americano machine that I bought off eBay for $76 (see photo).
The Americano is capable of producing coffee, tea, espresso and hot chocolate. It is compact and easy to use. I bought it for my office because of the wide range of beverages it is capable of making. CBTL manufactures a number of different machines that all use the same capsule system. I found the Americano to be the most versatile for my needs.
CBTL machines use capsules not unlike a Keurig. Unlike the latter, however, the CBTL machines have a two stage pump. Low pressure for coffee and tea and high pressure for espresso.
The CBTL capsules are almost identical to the "pods" used by the Starbucks Verismo machines. Some of my experiments involved Verismo pods.
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Step 1: Starbuck's Milk Pod
The Starbuck's milk pod for their Versimo machine is one of the more interesting pods that you can use with a CBTL machine. The pod contains milk powder that has been specially ground to a fineness that allows it to be expressed by the hot water produced by the machine. I bought a box of these pods and discovered that they worked fine in my Americano machine. In the office they cannot be beat for adding frothy milk to a hot beverage.
The red arrow points to the bottom of the pod, which has fine holes in it unlike the other pods and capsules.
Be cautioned that you use these pods in a CBTL machine at your own risk. I would not use two of these pods in a row as they might clog the machine mechanism.
Step 2: CBTL Caffitaly Capsules
Here is what CBTL Caffitaly tea and coffee capsules look like. Notice how similar they are to the Versimo milk pods.
Each capsule is a plastic cup that has a foil cover and a foil covered hole in the bottom.
The capsule's color is unique to the beverage ingredients that it holds as well as the foil cover.
When you put the capsule in the machine, it pierces the foil cover on both the top and bottom of the capsule. After use (at least in the Americano machine) the capsule is ejected into a discard bin.
Step 3: CBTL Espresso Capsule & Verismo Espresso Pod
The CBTL espresso capsule does not have a foil covered hole in the bottom like the tea and coffee capsules. Instead, it has small holes that the espresso is forced out of: espressed!
The Verismo has a different configuration at the bottom of the pod than any of the CBTL capsules even though it has the same size and shape.
If you put a Verismo pod into a CBTL machine, you will get an inordinate amount of grounds in your cup; therefore, you cannot use a Verismo pod in a CBTL, but you can use a CBTL capsule in a Verismo. I do not have a Verismo machine, but this is what I have been told. In the next step we will see why this is so.
Step 4: CBTL Capsule Autopsy
Here is the inside of a spent CBTL tea/coffee capsule. There are two filters inside, a lower and upper. After using a capsule, simply peel off the foil cover and dump out the contents. Clean the two filters and replace the bottom one. Fill the capsule with coffee or tea and then replace the top filter. Cover the top with foil tape (see next step) and you are ready to enjoy a hot beverage from the capsule again.
I put a "pyramid" tea bag of Lipton's Black Pearl tea in the capsule, seal it up and enjoy a perfect cup.
The espresso capsule is identical to the coffee/tea capsules with the exception that the bottom filter has finer holes. The Verismo pod has no filters at all and this is why you cannot use a Verismo pod in a CBTL machine. I bought a box of Verismo espresso pods and to use them I just transfer the coffee to a CBTL espresso capsule.
Step 5: Foil Tape
I use Nashua Foil Tape, available at Home Depot, etc., to seal my recycled pods. The adhesive on the tape is stable up to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Again a disclaimer. If you use this tape you do so at your own risk as it is not approved for use with food.
Step 6: Recycled Espresso Capsule
Here is the "Before & After" of a recycled espresso capsule. On the left is the capsule filled with espresso coffee from a Verismo pod and then covered with foil tape and trimmed. Don't forget the filters!
On the right is the capsule after espresso was made, the hole is punctured by the machine.
You can use any espresso coffee you like to refill the capsules, I am just using up the coffee out of the Verismo pods that I bought.
If you are fussy (or cautious) about using the foil tape, you may be able to get away with just using a piece of kitchen foil wrapped around the edge. It appears to be difficult to get a capsule stuck in the machine, proceed with caution.