Love them or hate them, there’s no denying the popularity of the pod machine. Serving up coffee in less than a minute, they’re as easy to use as adding a capsule and pushing a button. Keurig and Nespresso are the two most prominent names in the game, but they each make a very different cup of coffee.
Nespresso vs Keurig: which one is right for you? Read our guide to find out.
The Swiss manufacturer pioneered the coffee pods concept back in 1986 and changed the way people drank coffee at home. In Europe and Asia, the Nespresso machine took off, thanks in part to their Nestle-funded ad campaigns.
The so-called ‘George Clooney effect’ has meant more and more households are adding a coffee pod machine to their morning routine.TechRadar
Nespresso has always marketed its machines as something of a luxury item. The machines are aimed at those who want a barista-style drink at home at the touch of a button. The American love affair with drip coffee meant the original Nespresso didn’t quite crack the US market, but competitors like Keurig popularized the pod machine concept. The introduction of the VertuoLine, which makes both coffee and espresso, helped Nespresso win over a whole new coffee lovers audience.
Single-serve coffee is undeniably wasteful, not to mention more expensive than using your coffee grounds, but the aluminum Nespresso capsules are at least recyclable.
Here’s our list of the best Nespresso machines.
Keurig introduced their K-Cup machines in 1992 to replace the drip machines found in many American offices. By 2004, the brand had expanded to domestic use, and now around 16% of US households use one of their machines (1).
Unlike Nespresso, which aimed to bring the coffee shop into the home, Keurig was marketed as more of an upgrade on the traditional coffee maker. Customers could now get their cup of joe in less than a minute. Keurig was sold as more of an all-around beverage machine for the whole family, with options for other hot drinks and carafes of coffee.
Regardless of how you take your coffee, the Keurig machine’s biggest downside is the environmental impact. Keurig K-Cups are neither recyclable nor biodegradable, and billions of the things make their way into landfills each year.
Keurig vs Nespresso: Comparing the Features
When choosing a new coffee machine for your home or office, the most important thing is to find the right fit for your needs. Let’s see how these two single-serve coffee makers compare in the areas that matter most.
The two machines fare differently here depending on which aspects you want to look at. Keurig was traditionally a much more versatile machine. The available K-Cup pod stand at around 400 coffee flavors and those for tea and hot chocolate. Originating as an office coffee machine, Keurig also has the option for bigger brews, with some machines capable of filling a 30oz carafe.
Nespresso machines first focused on getting espresso-style coffee into the hands of home users everywhere. But the Nespresso Vertuo expansion now means that the brand now offers both espresso and coffee. With the expiration of their pod patent, you can now use third-party capsules for all kinds of drinks in the original machine, including hot chocolate.
When it comes to Nespresso vs Keurig for milk-based drinks, both brands have options. Nespresso has a standalone milk frother, the Aeroccino, or integrated machines like the Lattissima Pro. The Keurig K-Cafe and the K-Latte both have integrated milk frothers. These machines also make shots for lattes and cappuccinos.
Winner: Tie. With the introduction of the VertuoLine, Nespresso now has all drink bases covered, but there’s still no option to tweak your brewing settings as with Keurig.
Both Nespresso and Keurig have machines at a variety of price points. But overall, you’ll find the Keurig coffee makers are cheaper. With Nespresso you’re paying more for a sturdier machine, often including stainless-steel parts, so you might end up paying less in the long run.
Like the machines, capsules’ cost varies, but the average K-Cup is less expensive than a Nespresso pod. However, both brands have machines that will only accept their own branded capsules: the VertuoLine and the Keurig 2.0. If you opt for either of these, be aware that you won’t be able to use third-party coffee or reusable pods for your ground coffee beans.
Winner: Keurig. The American manufacturer comes out on top (or should that be bottom), for both machine and pod cost.
Nespresso and Keurig are always going head-to-head as the most well-known pod machines on the market. But it’s important to remember that these two brewers make different kinds of coffee. Nespresso makes an espresso-style brew, while Keurig is closer to drip coffee.
The critical complaint from coffee drinkers is that Keurig brews tend to be weak and tasteless. This is probably due to several factors, including the age of the ground coffee, the speed of extraction, and the hot water temperature.
It’s likely that your Keurig brews with water too cool to properly extract flavor from coffee.Sabrina Imbler, New York Times
Although some Keurig machines allow you to adjust the brew temperature, they don’t reach the 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit recommended by the National Coffee Association (2).
Nespresso pods don’t quite make a genuine espresso, but they get you a pretty delicious coffee. While the machines do have enough pressure (19 bars compared to the 9 bars of a regular espresso machine), they fall short on both the amount of coffee and the required extraction time (3).
Winner: Nespresso. Keurig might make coffee that’s closer to the well-loved American drip machine, but Nespresso coffee is clearly superior.
For us, Nespresso wins this battle hands down, though it is a little more expensive. But depending on what you are looking for in a cup of coffee, a Keurig machine could be a much better option for you.
Use a Nespresso machine if:
- You want something a little more eco friendly
- You want espresso-style coffee at home
- You want a more durable machine
Use a Keurig if:
- You want the option of 100s of flavors
- Your heart belongs to drip coffee
- You want something cheaper to buy and to run
How long Keurigs last will be determined by the model and how you use it. The manufacturer gives a warranty of one year, but regular cleaning and maintenance is a must if you want your machine to have a long life. And if you’re using a small single-serve machine to make coffee for a whole office, it might be time to upgrade.
The best Keurig coffee maker will obviously depend on your personal needs and budget. Our pick for best all-rounder is the Keurig K-Elite. It has a large water reservoir, the option of five different drink sizes, and a Strong Brew setting.
- Brush, M. (2015, February 03). Insider buys signal Keurig is on to something big. Retrieved from https://www.marketwatch.com/story/join-keurig-executives-and-buy-the-coffee-machine-makers-stock-2015-02-03
- Calderone, J. (2016, March 08). The science behind why pod coffee tastes so bad. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/why-instant-coffee-machines-taste-gross-2016-3
- Oden, G. (n.d.). Is Nespresso Real Espresso? Retrieved February 06, 2021, from https://www.javapresse.com/blogs/espresso/is-nespresso-real-espresso
- Nespresso club FAQ. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2021, from https://www.nespresso.com/us/en/service-faq
- Coffee caffeine content. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2021, from https://support.keurig.com/article?id=kA036000000CJGY
Husband, father and former journalist, I’ve combined my love of writing with my love of coffee to create this site. I love high end products, but write all my content with budget conscious coffee enthusiasts in mind. I prefer light roasts, and my normal brew is some sort of pour over, although my guilty pleasure is the occasional flat white.