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Differences Between Nespresso and Keurig Coffee Makers

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Keurig vs. Nespresso

The battle of the pods is the best way to describe the heated competition between Nespresso and Keurig, two of the leading names in single-cup coffee makers

Both are reputable companies with sleek modern coffee-makers using top-notch materials and the latest technology, but how do you decide which one you should buy? 

Let’s have a look at the differences between the two coffee maker types.

The contestants

Keurig is one of the most popular brands in the US and used to dominate the market before Nespresso came along. They have more than 50 different models on the market and offer many flavors for their coffee capsule, giving consumers plenty to choose from.

Nespresso, on the other hand, is based in Switzerland is owned by the food giant Nestle. The interesting fact about Nespresso is that they have partnerships with several other coffee machines companies, including DeLonghi and Breville, who manufacture their own lines of Nespresso coffee makers. So, not all Nespresso machines are actually Nespresso.

Type of coffee

The main difference between Nespresso and Keurig coffee makers is the type of coffee their machines make. 

Great espresso every time

Just as the brand’s name indicates, Nespresso is dedicated to offering its customers a good espresso every time. The standard Nespresso coffee makers only produce espresso, although some more recent models like Nespresso Vertuo or Nespresso Vertuo Plus can also prepare regular drip coffee. At the same time, the Lattissima line, produced by DeLonghi, allows users to prepare cappuccino and latte.

Basically, Nespresso started with espresso machines but had to expand their range to meet the demands of the public who wants ever more choice.

Standard drip coffee

Keurig, on the other hand, began with regular coffee and is still best known for this. The famous K-cup offers you nothing but caffeine-packed black coffee. However, the stiff competition on the market forced Keurig to offer more, so they launched the K-cafe brewer, which can prepare regular coffee, as well as espresso, cappuccino, and latte.

If you want to stay on top of the market, you have to come up with versatile machines for today’s demanding customers who are addicted to the endless variety offered by coffee-shops.

Is Keurig’s shot a real espresso?

The company says its newer models can, indeed, make espresso with their shot feature and some tend to believe it. However, coffee experts point out Keurig machines simply cannot produce the amount of pressure needed to extract a real espresso. At best, that very concentrated shot of coffee is more of a macchiato. An expert barista would not call the Keurig shot espresso, but for home use, if you’re not very picky, it’s a decent espresso substitute.

Brewing Time

The time needed to brew your coffee is an important feature for many customers who want to keep their morning ritual as short as possible. If you’re already running late you don’t want to waste time waiting for the coffee to be ready. 

As far as single-serve coffee machines go, Nespresso and Keurig are both pretty fast, and they take less than 4 minutes to brew.

Nespresso machines offer the advantage of heating up faster than Keurig models so you might gain some 30 seconds, definitely not such a big difference.

Both brands recommend using filtered water, the only type of water you should use for any type of coffee. If you do not have a water-filtering system in your house, try at least to use bottled spring water. When you use tap water you cannot blame any coffee-maker if your coffee tastes funny.

K-Cups vs Nespresso pods

When it comes to buying a new coffee machine, many people are tempted by pod-based models, because they’re easy to use. All you have to do is select a pod, put it into the machine, push the button, and there you go – your coffee is brewing.

The pod system keeps coffee fresh for a longer period of time, as it doesn’t expose the grounds to air and humidity, as might happen with coffee in an opened bag or can. They are guaranteed to maintain freshness for up to 18 months, provided the capsule is not punctured or altered in any way. However, the flavor of some grounds may fade much sooner due to higher amounts of volatile compounds. 

While they might seem similar, there are many differences between the pods made by Nespresso and the Keurig K-cups.

  • K- Cups: A Keurig pod is made of plastic and has an aluminum lid, perfectly sealed to preserve freshness. At the same time, there’s a filter inside the capsule to keep the coffee grounds from making their way into your drink. Keurig has tied up with many brands and thus has numerous flavors and beverages to choose from.
  • Nespresso Pods: The pod is made from recyclable aluminum and has an airtight lid to ensure freshness. Each pod contains about 5-6 grams of coffee grounds inside. There have been complaints that there’s too little coffee in a pod to make a good espresso with it.

The interior of the pods is lined with food-grade lacquer to keep the coffee from going stale over time.

Environmental impact

From an environmental point of view, it is much easier to recycle Nespresso pods as they’re entirely made of aluminum, whereas a Keurig capsule should be taken apart so you can dispose of the plastic cup and the aluminum lid as appropriate. One capsule might not seem important, but there are millions of pods used every day, which does make a difference.

How about flavors?

Technology aside, what matters most to the consumer is the taste and both companies offer their customers a pretty wide choice. 

Nespresso, for instance, packs its pods with coffee blends from all over the world, such as Ethiopian Bukeela, Brazilian Dulsao, Colombian Rosabaya, Indian Indriya.

Still, it is Keurig that wins this round, as the company has literally hundreds of partnerships with other brands Green Mountain, Folgers, Celestial Seasonings, and even Starbucks. That’s right, you can make Starbucks coffee with a Keurig machine.

Tip: Keurig has deals with some tea producing companies and you can also use your coffee machine to make yourself a nice cup of tea. Nespresso doesn’t offer you this option.

Can you K-pods with a Nespresso machine?

Unfortunately, no, just as you cannot use a Nespresso pod in a Keurig coffee maker or a K-cup in a Nespresso machine. Both companies have to protect their business, which is why they make sure their machines are not compatible with other capsules.

The good news is you can use store-bought coffee grounds on both types of machines
For Keurig coffee-makers you will have to buy a reusable cup. The company did fight a long war on this issue and even introduced a bar-code on its capsules to make sure their customers stay loyal, but there was a furious backlash against this initiative and Keurig gave in, launching a reusable cup, allowing people perfect freedom to choose whatever blend they want.

For its part, Nespresso came up with MyCap Cap for its VertuoLine, or you can try to recycle used pods by cleaning them and filling them with whatever coffee you prefer.

Size of the brew

Nespresso is a single-cup coffee maker and you have the choice between the preset quantities: 1.35 oz of espresso or 3.7 oz of lungo, if you prefer your coffee less intense. You can change the settings to use more or less water, but one cup is all you get no matter what. For a single person this works great, but for couples or large families not so much.

If you need to prepare larger quantities of coffee in your household, Keurig machines are the better choice as they have big water reservoirs. For instance, the K575 model has an 80 oz water reservoir, so you can easily make ten cups of coffee without bothering to refill the water tank.

Accordingly, you will have to use the appropriate pod for the desired coffee quantity: K-Cup, K-Mug, K-Vue, or K-Carafe. The Keurig machines have a code-reading device and won’t allow you to put in a K-Cup and select the carafe mode. The manufacturer says you can make 4-5 cups of coffee using a K-Carafe pod. Also, some of the models come with a Thermal Carafe, which is a double-walled stainless steel pot that keeps beverages hotter than plastic or glass carafes.

Since Keurig machines can brew more coffee at a time, they have become quite popular and can be found in many offices and hotels.

Cleaning and maintenance

The Nespresso coffee makers are easy to clean. All you have to do is run a hot water cycle to remove all traces of coffee from the system. Like any other coffee makers, they require regular descaling, preferably once a month. The company recommends using special descaling pods for the purpose. 

For normal cleaning, you can flush a Keurig machine with hot water, as well, and this should be enough to remove impurities. Keurig recommends descaling your machine at three months intervals using their special descaling liquid.

However, you must know that you can also descale a coffee maker using a half-vinegar, half-water solution, which works just as well as the special products the companies offer. Always rinse the machine with hot water after using the vinegar solution to get rid of the nasty smell.

Quick Recap

If you’re weighing your best option between a Nespresso machine and a Keurig coffee maker, here are the main things you should keep in mind:

  • Nespresso machines only produce espresso, while the Keurig ones make black coffee, very similar to standard drip coffee. The espresso Keurig boasts about is a very concentrated brew, without the smoothness of real espresso or its distinctive crema.
  • Nespresso makes single-cup coffee machines, whereas Keurig offers you the carafe model that allows you to prepare up to five cups of coffee at the same time. Keurig also has dual coffee machines, suitable for either single-cup usage or carafe usage.
  • Keurig machines are more cost-effective as their capsules are cheaper than Nespresso pods.
  • Keurig’s K-Cups come in more flavors (over 200 of them) than Nespresso pods, of which there are just a few dozens to choose from.
  • Nespresso coffee-makers are slightly more expensive, but you can use them to make various espresso-based drinks, while with Keurig you only get regular coffee.

The choice is ultimately yours – if you prefer espresso you should undoubtedly choose Nespresso, but if you’re just interested in regular coffee and lots of it, then Keurig is the machine for you.

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