Nespresso vs. Keurig: Which Single-Serve Coffee Maker Is Right for You?

Updated: Jul. 17, 2024

If you're torn between Nespresso vs. Keurig, this guide will help you brew your perfect cup.

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Even if you don’t consider yourself much of a coffee drinker, you’re likely familiar with Nespresso and Keurig machines. These one-touch wonders brew hot, fresh beverages at the press of a button without the need for measuring or complicated cleanup. With both Nespresso and Keurig being such well-loved companies, how do you choose in the Nespresso vs. Keurig debate? First, consider what you’re looking for in a single-serve coffee machine.

Single-serve coffee makers eliminate the worry of a cold, stale second cup. There’s also no need to empty an entire unused pot down the drain. These machines can also save money by letting you be your own barista from the comfort of your home. You can also set them up in an office with a variety of single-use pods, coffee syrups and creamers to make a custom coffee bar everyone can enjoy. According to former barista and member of the Product Testing Team Sydney Manning, there are a few things to consider when choosing a single-serve machine.

“When looking for appliances, it’s really nice for people to have the option to use a K-Cup or preground coffee since it helps people save money, and they can customize it more to their taste,” she says. “For me, big pluses include special features like the frothers, built-in grinders and iced coffee capabilities. I also think it’s nice when the water tank can hold a lot of water.”

While some folks may prefer the special features Sydney mentioned, others might simply look for a budget machine that brews a nice, simple cup. Before making a choice in the Nespresso vs. Keurig debate, it’s important to first understand a little about each brand and what they offer.

What’s the difference between Nespresso and Keurig?

Nespresso and Keurig machines are the ultimate convenience in coffee brewing. As such, they share many design qualities. Both use pre-packaged pods and brew beverages at the touch of a button, but there are some differences that make each brand unique.

Nespresso machines use a unique extraction system that brews coffee with the perfect balance of flavor and aroma at the touch of a button. Nespresso capsules come in a wide range of flavors and intensities and can make standard cups of coffee, espresso shots and specialty drinks, like lattes and cappuccinos.

What is Nespresso?

Designed with style in mind, Nespresso offers sleek and modern designs that bring a touch of European elegance to a kitchen. Advanced features, including programmable cup sizes and automatic shut-off, make the machine easy to use and maintain. Nespresso also offers accessories and add-ons, such as

Nespresso machines, for the most part, offer sophistication and elegance to provide a high-end coffee experience at home. Keurig machines keep convenience in mind, complete with simple controls that are easy enough for anyone to use without instructions.

What is Keurig?

Keurig’s K-Cups offer ground coffee, tea and other hot beverages. Coffee brewed in a Keurig is usually milder and less intense than coffee brewed by traditional methods, like drip coffee makers and French presses. The pods contain a slightly smaller amount of coffee grounds than most people normally use. This might upset coffee connoisseurs. But if you’re someone who simply wants a hot cup of joe in the morning, Keurig gets the job done.

Keurig manufactures and sells its own K-Cups. However, many well-known coffee brands make pods specifically for Keurig machines. Starbucks, Dunkin’ and Tim Hortons are just a few examples. You can also find Keurig pods for flavored coffees and specialty beverages like lattes, mochas and iced drinks. There are also plenty of non-coffee K-Cup options available, like black and herbal teas, hot cocoa and apple cider.

All About Nespresso

Nestle founded Nespresso in 1986. It began by offering the C-100 (the world’s first portioned coffee system) and four signature portioned coffee blends: Capriccio, Cosi, Bolero (now Volluto) and Decaffeinato.​ The original Nespresso machines resembled miniature espresso machines.

Now, Nespresso machines use small, proprietary aluminum capsules filled with finely ground coffee beans. Once the machine pierces the heavy-duty foil-wrapped lids, hot water is forced through them at high pressure—just like in an espresso machine. This pressurized process results in stronger, richer coffee with intense aroma and discernible flavor notes. Nespresso machines also offer a wide range of coffee blends and flavors. Just ask our Editor who is a big fan of her Nespresso Vertuo Plus!

You can purchase Nespresso machines directly from the company website and from major retailers, including Amazon, Williams Sonoma and Saks Fifth Avenue. While Nespresso capsules may be more expensive than both K-Cups and traditional ground coffee, they have some serious benefits. For one, the quality and convenience they offer could have you making more coffee at home instead of heading out for pricey café drinks. Coffee from a Nespresso machine is routinely spectacular, as it’s brewed to perfection from superlative beans that are expertly roasted.

Additionally, in contrast to plastic K-Cups, aluminum Nespresso pods are recyclable. In fact, Nespresso is publicly committed to sustainability. The brand offers programs ensuring its capsules are recycled and its coffee is sustainably sourced.


  • Outstanding coffee
  • Brews specialty drinks
  • Pods are recyclable
  • Machines designed with style


  • Pricier than Keurig
  • Fewer brands make Nespresso pods

How We Tested Nespresso


Our Product Testing Team tested Nespresso during our search for the best single-serve coffee makers. Here’s how they tested each machine and what they learned.


Testers consider the packaging, box contents, machine weight and dimensions. We then look at the accuracy of each stat, noting any discrepancies. Our Nespresso Vertuo machine arrived in excellent shape. The box contains a robust instruction manual, a variety pack of coffee pods, a drip tray, the machine, a tips card and a bonus $10 off coupon. The coupon is especially nice since Nespresso pods are on the pricier side.

Specs and Features

Nespresso machines are available in a variety of classy shades, including black, red, graphite metal, titan and silver. Overall, we find the machines rather handsome with a well-made, heavy-duty feel. Additional classy features like the ridged, frosted plastic compartments on the sides of the Vertuo look high-end.

For the most part, Nespresso machines don’t have myriad confusing buttons, settings or toggles. Instead, they rely on their automatic pod detection to accurately determine the brew size, strength and temperature. The Vertuo, for instance, only offers two buttons on the machine: a lock toggle and a brew button.

With a 29-inch cord that reaches rather far, plop these puppies down wherever there’s room on the counter. Thanks to four height settings for the cup compartment, it’s easy to fit most mugs and travel containers that are smaller than six inches tall with minimal splatter. The water tank varies in removability depending on the machine. While the Vertuo Plus offers a removable 40-ounce water tank, the original Vertuo’s generous 56-ounce tank comes fixed to the machine.

Drink Options


All Nespresso machines make specialty drinks like lattes and espressos. The drink depends on the pods you choose—and there are a lot of options. The only downside is that, unlike K-Cups, Nespresso pods are proprietary. While a few unbranded pod kits allow you to fill your pods, these are rather labor-intensive and not recycled like regular Nespresso pods, so they’re not as planet-friendly.

Coffee Quality and Operation

Nespresso’s user manuals are thorough, though brewing up any pod only requires a single button. They also brew much faster when compared to other single-serve machines. As a bonus, our Testing Team also found Nespresso machines much quieter than other options. That said, they do make a bit of mechanical noise while brewing.

We found that the espresso pods brew approximately 40 milliliter cups. The dark results are fairly bitter and leave a strong after-taste, with a nice crema on top. Similarly, the double espressos—which brew around 80 milliliters—offer a good crema, strong flavors and just a touch of bitterness.

Coffee pods produce around 230 milliliters in a strong and consistent stream. This is one area we believe the Nespresso is superior—even regular ole’ coffee includes a lot of crema on top. The results are strong and creamy rather than watery, likening them to a cafe-style drink.


The initial cleaning process takes time, though routine maintenance is much simpler. Once engaged, the cleaning procedure runs automatically for 5 minutes and consists of three cycles. None of the components are dishwasher compatible, so they all require hand washing.


At around $200 per machine, Nespresso brewers (and their compatible pods) are a bit pricier than other single-serve options. However, at only around $2 a pop, the pods are actually a bit of a steal when compared to cafe coffee. Instead of snagging a $7 cup at a local coffeehouse, folks can enjoy a barista-style drink in seconds. That makes the value well worth the upfront cost, in our opinion—especially for those who won’t settle for regular drip coffee.

Our Favorite Nespresso Products

Nespresso Vertuo

Nespresso's Vertuo machine ranked as the most splurge-worthy option during our quest for the best single-serve coffee makers.


Nespresso Vertuo Plus

Our Editor was impressed with the Nespresso Vertuo Plus, noting that the flavors were by far some of the best she's had from a single-serve machine.

Nespresso FAQ

How is Nespresso different from coffee?

Nespresso machines, unlike drip machines, use a high-pressure system to give each cup that lovely red-brown crema and inviting rich flavor. This is what sets it apart from other single-serve coffee makers. In the Nespresso vs. Keurig debate, Nespresso is the clear winner when it comes to cafe-quality drinks.

Is Nespresso better than Keurig?

The Nespresso vs. Keurig debate is a big one, with tons of fans on either side. While Keurig offers the same convenience as a Nespresso machine, there are a few key differences worth noting. Nespresso uses a high-pressure system that delivers true espresso drinks rather than just coffee. Keurig machines, on the other hand, are more budget-friendly (both in terms of the machines and pod prices), and there are tons of coffee brands that offer their own K-Cups. That said, the quality is more akin to drip coffee than cafe-style cups.

Why is a Nespresso machine so expensive?

While drip coffee fans may find the price point of the machines and pods rather high, big-time coffee snobs who get their expensive specialty cups nearly every day will love that the machine pays for itself in just a few uses.

All About Keurig

John Sylvan and Peter Dragone founded Keurig in 1990, driven by a desire for a better alternative to stale office coffee pots. The first Keurig machine made it to market in 1998. Keurig machines initially appeared in office buildings and other commercial settings. In 2004, the brand released its first home brewing system, which was an instant hit. Since then, the company has released dozens of new and improved models with features like removable water tanks, customizable settings and brewing timers.

You can purchase Keurig machines from many major retailers, including Amazon, Walmart and straight from the Keurig website. K-Cups are available online and in nearly every supermarket’s coffee aisle. Though not officially licensed by Keurig, there are reusable K-Cups available on the market that allow you to use your favorite brand of coffee while lessening your environmental impact.

Keurig remains one of the most popular options for single-serve coffee machines. As of 2015, over 500 varieties of K-Cups from 75 brands are available. Keurig also offers dozens of accessories, including coffee pod holders and Keurig cleaning pods.


  • Easy to use
  • Machines available in a wide range of prices
  • Hundreds of beverage pod options
  • K-Cups are readily available in stores


  • Brews weaker coffee than many other methods
  • Disposable plastic K-Cups are bad for the environment

How We Tested Keurig

Keurig Coffee Makers on Kitchen TopKATIE BANDURSKI/TASTE OF HOME

Just as they did with Nespresso, our Product Testing Team tested Keurig during our search for the best single-serve coffee makers. Here’s how they tested each machine and what they learned.


Like our Nespresso tests, testers consider the packaging, box contents, machine weight and dimensions. We then look at the accuracy of each stat, noting any discrepancies. The best Keurig machines come in a variety of sizes, including the compact Keurig K-Mini Plus and the robust, larger Keurig K-Elite. The cords measure at around 24 inches long—perfect for those who don’t have tons of outlets near their counters. Setting them up is as simple as plugging them in and turning them on, though we recommend running a water cycle before the first use to clear out any errant shipping debris.

Specs and Features

The available colors depend on the machine model chosen. Whereas most models, like the K-Elite, offer at least three colors (gold, silver, slate), some come in a few additional hues. The K-Mini Plus, for example, offers seven different shades, including cardinal red, cool aqua, evening teal, matte black, misty green, studio gray and simple white.

Keurig machines look rather sleek, though their appearance is less luxe than a Nespresso. Most also offer a much more diverse set of buttons and toggles, especially feature-rich machines like the K-Elite which contains a screen that displays the time. Typical inclusions are different brew sizes, strength settings and brew timers that can be set ahead. Additionally, a few also have an “iced” feature that’s built for brewing coffee over ice.

While the cup compartment isn’t adjustable on most machines, removing the drip tray provides around 7.5 inches of space. That’s typically plenty of room for standard-sized travel mugs. Like the settings, the water tank size depends on the chosen model. While the compact K-Mini Plus holds only a single serving of water, the larger K-Elite comes with a behemoth 75-ounce water tank.

Drink Options

All of Keurig’s machines use K-Cups. While they offer official K-Cups for sale, most coffee companies have their own version that’s compatible with Keurig machines. A few specialty drinks like lattes, hot chocolate and even chicken broth exist, but these are typically powdered mixes in K-Cup form rather than real espresso like the Nespresso brews.

Coffee Quality and Operation

Keurig K Duo Single Serve & Carafe Coffee MakerKATIE BANDURSKI/TASTE OF HOME

For the K-Elite, we tried the regular coffee setting, iced coffee and a tea K-Cup. The medium roast coffee tasted comparable to drip coffee on the medium size setting—a little weak, but overall, a passable cup. Because the machine heats up when it’s plugged in, it brews quickly and operates rather quietly when compared with similar machines.

For the iced coffee, there’s just one size setting. We brewed this without ice first, then added ice to cool it down. This is in opposition to the directions, but we wanted to get a temperature reading. The temperature when it first came out (without ice in the glass) was 166°F, a negligible difference from the regular hot brew setting. That said, the coffee wasn’t too watery, which is a win for us!

One area we weren’t impressed with was during our test of the English Breakfast Tea K-Cup. While it, doesn’t have an after-taste of coffee, it does seem a little watered-down. We suggest skipping tea K-Cups and opting for your favorite bags and a machine with a “hot water” button. Smaller options like the K-Mini typically don’t offer this setting, so double-check any potential purchases if you’re a tea drinker.

Overall, the Keurig machines work fast and have tons of variety and models with a few additional bells and whistles that will easily satisfy most casual coffee drinkers.


Keurig offers a descaling solution (and cleaning K-Cups) that makes maintaining the machines simple. While descaling is a rather lengthy process, the instruction manual provides detailed instructions that walk you through all the steps. Luckily, this is really only applicable every so often—we only recommend cleaning your machine every few months.


The price of a Keurig machine depends on the model, with smarter options costing more than basic picks. While the smallest and most basic machines (like the Keurig K-Mini) retail for around $100, more robust options (like the Keurig K-Café SMART) ring up at a pricier $200. We find the overall value well worth the price, especially for the machines with more interesting features.

Keurig FAQ

How long do Keurigs usually last?

Keurigs last for years, but their lifetime largely depends on how often they’re cleaned and maintained. Luckily, cleaning a Keurig coffee maker is a relatively simple process that takes no longer than a few minutes.

How long do K-Cups last?

K-Cups last up to nine months once purchased. However, each K-Cup should only ever be used once.

Is it OK to leave my Keurig on all the time?

We suggest shutting off your Keurig in between uses to ensure safety. If you forget, many Keurig machines include a useful auto-shutoff feature.

Our Favorite Keurig Products


Keurig K-Elite Single-Serve Coffee Maker

During our search for the best single-cup coffee makers, the Keurig K-Elite was voted the best coffee maker for crowds and earned the overall best spot in our piece on the best Keurig coffee makers.

Keurig K-Mini Plus

This vibrant pick is the best when it comes to color coordination. Available in seven gorgeous shades, the Keurig K-Mini Plus is your best friend when style is central to your kitchen.

The Bottom Line

Though Nespresso vs. Keurig machines both make brewing coffee easy, the best machine depends on your specific wants and needs. Select a machine based on your personal tastes, budget and daily routine.

For stronger coffee with the option to brew espresso-based coffee house drinks, Nespresso machines are the way to go. If you’re not overly picky about the quality of coffee and care more about price and convenience, then a Keurig is best.