Nespresso Vs Keurig: Which One Is Better For You?

Nespresso and Keurig are the two biggest single-serve coffee maker companies on the market.

But I get asked a lot which one I prefer.

So, let’s dive into this Nespresso vs Keurig debate and declare a winner.

Spoiler alert: I prefer Nespresso to Keurig.

But I’ll give a fair shake to both in this article. I’ll do a quick overview of each one, then stack them against each other and see who comes out on top.

Let’s get to it!

Comparison Chart

NespressoKeurig
Smaller range, more featuresHuge range, fewer features
In house pods onlyMany third-party pods
Centrifusion and Barcode TechnologySimpler breathing method
More expensive, but more featuresCheaper than Nespresso
Easy to clean and useEasy to clean and use

Nespresso Overview

Nespresso claims that they “invented single-serve coffee.” And, honestly, they are right. 

Nespresso launched its first single serve coffee maker in 1986. A full 12 years before Keurig.

There are two main lines that Nespresso makes: the Vertuo and the Original. The main difference between the two?

The Vertuo does everything from espresso to full cups. The Original focuses on espresso.

All Nespresso brewers have Centrifusion and Barcode technology. 

The Centrifusion evenly distributes the water throughout the pod so you get a clean and balanced coffee.

Each Nespresso capsule has a barcode that the machine reads. The machine adjusts how much water, pressure, and temperature to push through the coffee capsule (pod). 

You don’t have to worry about changing settings each time to brew different drinks.

Pros

  • The Original line focuses on espresso, so you’ll get great espresso every time
  • Barcode technology on the Nespresso pods means each capsule is dialed in without having to change settings
  • The Original line has machines with integrated milk frothing and steaming. That gives you the option of milk drinks without needing extra accessories
  • Many pod sizes mean you can dial in your coffee by choosing the right pods

Cons

  • Nespresso machines only make coffee, they can’t brew things like hot chocolate, cider, or tea
  • The capsule selection is somewhat limited, there aren’t any third-party pods to choose from
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Keurig Overview

Keurig launched its first machines in 1998. Those, however, aren’t the machines you’re used to seeing. They first targeted offices, and it wasn’t until 2004 that they released single-cup coffee makers for home use.

They use a similar system to Nespresso in that they have single-use coffee pods that go inside their machines. Then, at the push of a button, the machine pops the pod and brews your coffee.

Keurig also offers a reusable K Cup pod that you can fill with your favorite ground coffee, pull the shot, wash it and use it again! It’s a great alternative to a regular coffee pod that usually goes to waste.

Keurig has a ton of different machines in their lineup. Anything from single-serve machines to drip coffee machines, they have one. They even have one machine that froths milk.

But Keurig doesn’t just make machines for home use. They also make commercial machines. 

Chances are you’ve seen one of Keurig’s commercial machines in an office, at an auto mechanic, or at convenience stores.

One downside is that the Keurig coffee maker doesn’t really do espresso.

Keurig machines don’t produce enough pressure to make true espresso. You won’t get a good crema (the layer of lighter coffee on top of espresso), and the smallest cup a Keurig machine produces is about 6 oz. A regular espresso shot pulled on an espresso machine is generally 2 oz and has a much bolder flavor.

One upside of the Keurig line, though, is that they have so many machines you’re very likely to find a machine that exactly fits your needs.

A final good point about Keurig: they have many, many types of coffee capsules out there. A lot of third parties make pods compatible with Keurig machines, so you have a ton of choices for any drink.

Pros

  • Lots of types of pods means you have a ton of choices in your drinks
  • A reusable Keurig K Cup which you can fill with ground coffee
  • A wide variety of machines means you’re very likely to find one that fits your needs perfectly
  • Having a machine that brews single-cup and carafes means you don’t have to settle for one cup at a time
  • Pods are sold all over, so you’ll never have to wait for a shipment

Cons

  • Keurig coffee machines don’t make the best coffee
  • Keurig machines don’t make espresso, the smallest amount of coffee you can brew is 6 oz
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Nespresso vs Keurig: The Difference

Now that you have an overview of Nespresso and Keurig, let’s put them head-to-head and see how they stack up.

I picked out the biggest aspects of single-serving brewers to highlight in this matchup. And at the end of each section, I’ll give you a winner.

Range of coffee machines

different nespresso coffee makers

Nespresso has two distinct lines of machines: Nespresso Original and Vertuo line. The big difference between these two lines is that Nespresso VertuoLine can make brewed coffee and espresso. The OriginalLine only does espresso.

Within those two lines, Nespresso has a handful of machines that range in price and features.

Most of the Original line machines, however, have integrated milk systems. That’s a huge bonus if you’re looking for a machine that can do lattes.

Keurig has a huge range of machines. That means you’re more than likely to find a machine that fits your needs.

The thing is, though, that Keurig doesn’t have as big of a range in terms of features.

What you’re really deciding between in the Keruig lineup is single-cup only, carafe only, or both.

The downside is that Keurig machines don’t do espresso.

Winner: I think I have to give an edge to Nespresso here. Although they don’t do carafe brewers, they do everything else. Keurig only makes brewed coffee. Nespresso makes brewed coffee, espresso, and milk.

Pods

Nespresso never released their patent for pods. That means that all pods compatible with Nespresso machines are made by Nespresso.

The selection is somewhat limited. That said, however, Nespresso does a great job in cycling coffees and having limited, single-origin runs of pods. That’s a huge bonus if you like the convenience of single-cup brewers but also want quality coffee.

Keurig, on the other hand, released their patent. That means that there is a huge selection of pods available that work with Keurig machines.

Another bonus on the Keurig side: they do more than just coffee pods. You can get anything from apple cider to hot chocolate. There is a pod out there for pretty much any hot drink you can think of.

Winner: It has to be Keurig. The range of drinks, coffees, and pod selection outpaces Nespresso easily.

Brewing

Keurig brewing is relatively simple. Water runs through the pod and into your cup. There isn’t much more to it than that.

Newer machines have some adjustable settings, so you can dial in your coffee a little more. But in my experience, anything bigger than the smallest setting usually makes the coffee taste watery and diluted.

Nespresso uses Centrifusion technology. That means the water goes through the capsule like it’s circling a drain. It evens out the brew.

Each Nespresso pod has a barcode on it that the machine reads and adjusts the settings accordingly. That’s one of the benefits of making all the pods in-house.

Winner: Has to be Nespresso. In my experience, Nespresso makes phenomenal espresso for such a quick and convenient brew.

Cost

The cheapest machine in the Nespresso lineup comes in pretty expensive. That said, you do get a more dedicated coffee machine.

What I’ve found with Nespresso is that you get what you pay for. Pony up for the high-end Original line and you’ll find yourself with a machine that rivals any coffee brewer on the market, single-serve or not.

Keurig is definitely cheaper. But the same is true of Keurig as Nespresso: you get what you pay for.

Keurig machines are quick and convenient, but you will sacrifice some coffee quality in exchange for a cheaper price tag.

Winner: Keurig by a hair. Keurig is the right choice for someone on a budget, but if you have the funds, I would recommend a Nespresso.

Cleaning & Ease of use

keuring cleanse kit

Here’s the deal with both Nespresso and Keurig: all the machines have removable water tanks. All the machines also have easy cleaning cycles: simply run one or two cycles without a capsule in the holder.

Ease of use is virtually the same. You pop in a capsule close the lid, and push a button.

Winner: It really is a tie here. One thing I will say, though, is that both Keurig and Nespresso machines require some maintenance to keep them running smoothly for a long time.

Verdict

Okay, time for my final thoughts on these two companies.

Go with a Nespresso machine if:

  • You want great espresso out of your single-serve machine
  • You want an integrated milk frothing system
  • The quality of your coffee is a chief concern

Go with a Keurig if:

  • You want to do more than just coffee, like hot chocolate, ciders, or teas
  • You are looking for a single-serve machine on a budget
  • You want to pick up pods at the grocery store instead of ordering them online

On the Nespresso side, I would highly recommend the Nespresso VertuoPlus. It is a really solid single-serve brewer that does espresso right through to brewed coffee.

On the Keruig side, you can’t go wrong with the Keurig K-Classic. It’s a reliable and consistent machine that does anything from coffee to hot chocolate.

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Craig Carey
Craig spent a year as a barista in Denver's specialty coffee world. He spends his days rock climbing, cycling, drinking espresso, and hanging around the Rocky Mountains. He still lives in Colorado.