When shopping for a coffee machine that makes single-serving brews, you really have just two options: Keurig vs Nespresso. The former can be found in homes, workplaces, and waiting rooms across the country.
The other is reserved for more exquisite locales with more refined tastebuds — at least as far as the marketing and price point are concerned. But which of these two coffee pod machines is actually best? The debate is about a lot more than just price or brand. Let’s compare and contrast the two below.
Keurig vs Nespresso: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Country of Origin||United States||Switzerland|
|Parent Company||Keurig Dr Pepper Inc. (KDP)||The Nestlé Group|
|Price Per Machine||$60 to $250||$125 to $850|
|Price Per Pod||$0.40 to $1.25||$0.60 to $1.50|
|Brands Offered||Starbucks, McCafe, Dunkin’, Folgers, Caribou, Peet’s, Newman’s Own, Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread, and more||Nespresso, Starbucks, Peet’s, Lavazza, Illy, and more|
|Brew Type(s)||Coffee, cold brew, tea, lemonade, hot cocoa||Espresso, coffee|
|Annual Revenue||$12.68 billion (KDP, 2021)||$95.7 billion (Nestlé, 2021)|
Keurig vs Nespresso: What’s the Difference?
With these basic specifications laid out above, let’s take a magnifying glass to some of the particulars here. From their obvious differences in machine types to their more nuanced distinctions in the type and taste of coffee, the Keurig vs Nespresso debate is about a lot more than just price and brand.
There are several other key differences duking it out in this showdown, as well. Let’s take a closer look at some of them below.
Firstly, we have an inherent difference in machine type. The Keurig works using specially made K-Cups, which contain a special filter and grounds inside. The machine pushes water and air through the grounds, speeding up the traditional brewing speed to just seconds.
The coffee is then dispensed into the cup below. The Nespresso, on the other hand, uses a different type of machine. It pumps hot water through the pod until it bursts, creating a crema-topped brew. The Nespresso Vertuo line also spins the pod in addition to this process. All in all, Nespresso’s is notably more complicated.
Price Per Machine
Secondly, the all-important consideration of price per Keurig vs Nespresso machine. A large motivator in the purchase of an at-home single-serving coffee machine is the savings to be found over visiting the coffee shop every day.
With this in mind, Keurigs range anywhere from $60 to $250 on average. Nespresso machines, by comparison, cost anywhere from $125 to $850, on average. That’s significantly more, and it really speaks to the complexity of each machine. Typically, a Keurig machine is going to be a lot simpler in function than a Nespresso machine.
Price Per Pod
- Brews multiple k-cup pod sizes: (6, 8, 10 ounces) – the most popular k-cup pod brew sizes. Use the 6-ounce brew size to achieve the strongest brew.
- Large 48-ounce water reservoir: Allows you to brew 6 plus cups before having to refill, saving you time and simplifying your morning routine. The water reservoir is removable, making it easy to refill whenever you need to.
- Descaling: An important part of cleaning your Keurig brewer. This process helps to remove calcium deposits, or scale, that can build up inside a coffee maker over time.
- Simple button controls: Just insert a pod, select your desired cup brew size, and brew a great-tasting cup in under a minute.
Going hand in hand with this previous section is the price per pod for a Keurig vs Nespresso. We know that a cup of coffee from the local coffee shop or chain will cost you anywhere from a buck or two to as much as four dollars or more.
We also know that a bag of coffee grounds — which could make up to 60 cups — will cost around $10 to $20. So, Keurig pods cost around $0.40 to $1.25 per pod (or cup), whereas Nespresso pods cost anywhere from $0.60 to $1.50 per pod (or cup). That makes Nespresso marginally more expensive, though neither is necessarily cheap.
Fourthly, we should consider what kind of brands have partnered with Keurig vs Nespresso. This is an important consideration, as many are motivated by their favorite coffee brand names partnering with one machine over the other.
To be clear, Keurig’s line of collaborators and partners is much longer than Nespresso’s. Keurig offers pods from Starbucks, McCafe, Dunkin’, Folgers, Caribou, Peet’s, Newman’s Own, Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread, and countless more. Nespresso, comparatively, offers far fewer big brands beyond its own. It’s mostly Nespresso, Starbucks, Peet’s, Lavazza, Illy, and a few others.
Type of Coffee
Before we go any further, let’s make one thing clear about Keurig vs Nespresso: they make two very distinct types of coffee. The Keurig is essentially making drip coffee, like drinking a single cup from a larger coffee pot.
The Nespresso, on the other hand, is making espresso. This is a much finer grind, a much thicker consistency, and a much more bitter taste than a cup of coffee. (Not to mention, just an ounce or two compared to an eight, ten, or twelve-ounce cup of coffee.)
Even Nespresso machines that can make cups of coffee are really just making Americanos, which is espresso with hot water.
Taste of Coffee
This leads us to our final consideration: what’s the taste like with a Keurig vs Nespresso? And is the taste truly superior to your standard drip coffee maker or proper espresso machine?
Keurig is known for making pretty weak-tasting, watery cups of coffee. The taste is muted compared to a full-fledged drip coffee or pour-over machine. Nespresso machines, by comparison, are often praised for their taste.
However, with some costing as much as $850, some enthusiasts would argue that you may as well purchase an espresso machine for a similar price and superior taste.
5 Must-Know Facts About Coffee Pods
- There are four primary types of coffee pods today. There’s the coffee pod proper, which is what Keurig uses. These are pre-packaged grounds with a filter. There are coffee capsules, which is what Nespresso uses. These are pre-packaged grounds in an aluminum or plastic package with no filter. There are also coffee bags, which work like tea bags, and coffee discs, which are intended for use in coffee percolators.
- Both Keurig and Nespresso have caught a lot of negative attention for their use of non-recyclable materials for their coffee pods. Whether it’s Keurig’s reliance on plastic or Nespresso’s reliance on metal, neither one is particularly very biodegradable. However, to their credit, Nespresso offers users the ability to ship back their empty pods for recycling — free of charge.
- While Keurig and Nespresso are both credited with popularizing the coffee pod craze of the 21st century, the first brand to debut a coffee pod was actually Folgers. Way back in 1953, Folgers debuted one of the first single-use instant coffee pods. It would take more than 20 years for Nespresso to rival Folgers in this sphere.
- In 2016, Hamburg, Germany became the first city to outright ban coffee pods for being environmentally unfriendly. The ban only extended to government buildings, parks, and other state-run environmental areas, but it still marked an important step in combatting the environmental impact of single-use, non-biodegradable coffee pods.
- A number of Keurig coffee pod brands have begun to utilize a mix of the coffee pod and the coffee disc, combining the traditional plastic top of a K-Cup with a more environmentally friendly paper filter on the bottom instead of more plastic. These are certainly a step in the right direction, but there’s still lots of work to be done in this regard.
The History of Keurig
As with any great product, the initial idea for Keurig originated with a problem in need of a solution. Tech worker John Sylvan was frustrated by his office’s coffee pot. It seemed every time he went to get a cup of coffee, the pot was lukewarm, the texture was off, and the taste was bitter as could be.
His idea? To create a revolutionary new machine that used single-use pods to brew one single cup of coffee every time. Along with former college roommate Peter Dragone, the two formed Keurig, Inc. in 1992.
The name is derived from the Dutch word for excellence. However, the machines were far from excellent in these early years of tinkering and prototypes. After years of failing to get it right, Dragone and Sylvan had to look to outside sources for additional funding.
They found it in the form of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, a specialty coffee company willing to invest heavily in the potential of Keurig. But, by the product’s official launch in 1998, both Dragone and Sylvan had been forced out of their own company. Now, the investors were in charge of launching the first Keurig: the B2000.
Intended for use in offices, just as Sylvan had imagined back in the day, the B2000 relied on Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ clout in New England to propel it to success. Slowly but surely, other regional brands hopped on board.
By 2002, they had sold 10,000 units. By 2004, they were ready to enter the home. Unsurprisingly, Keurig and its K-Cup coffee pods sold like mad. By 2010, sales topped $1 billion. By 2011, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts added their names to the K-Cup lineup. In 2018, they merged with Dr. Pepper Snapple Group to become the third-biggest drink company in the U.S.
How Nespresso Competes
When John Sylvan was thinking up the idea for Keurig in America, the Nespresso system was going strong over in Europe. The idea for Nespresso was born when Nestlé employee Eric Favre made an observation way back in 1975: a coffee bar near his office had far more customers than any other coffee bar in the area.
- BARISTA GRADE: Offers an impeccable single-serve Coffee or Espresso cup with unrivaled quality to create the perfect cup of coffee every time. The Inissia machine brews brew 2 different cup sizes; Espresso (1. 35 oz.) and Lungo (5 oz.), with just the touch of a button.
- FOR ALL COFFEE DRINKERS: Embody the expertise of Nespresso with a user-friendly, classic Espresso machine.
- COMPLIMENTARY GIFT: Each machine includes a complimentary starter set of Nespresso capsules (capsule assortment may vary from picture)
- INCLUDES: One Nespresso espresso maker with an efficient design and compact technology that is easy to place and move around in any kitchen.
Despite using the same espresso machine as any other competitor, this particular coffee bar was pumping a lot more water and air into the coffee grounds than its rivals were. The result of this action? A more flavorful cup with more crema — or foam — on top.
This novel concept got Favre thinking. What if you could contain this unique process inside the machine itself? He created a prototype of the coffee machine that would eventually be known as the Nespresso, which Nestlé patented in 1976.
It would take an entire decade for Nestlé to perfect the machine and get it down to a marketable science, but the idea was there at the forefront the entire time: a more flavorful, more crema-heavy brew, right out of the machine. The first line of Nespresso machines rolled out across Japan, France, Italy, and Switzerland throughout 1986.
It would take another decade for Nespresso to truly catch on worldwide. Continued innovation coupled with reduced prices and more widespread availability — thanks both to the internet and to the rising number of Nespresso boutique stores — helped foster Nespresso into a new echelon of success.
Interestingly enough, this was around the time Keurig first entered the home, as well. Nespresso and Keurig are not exactly direct competitors, however. Nespresso carries a level of class and elegance, whereas Keurig is decidedly less elevated in its branding and marketing.
Keurig vs Nespresso: Pros and Cons
|Pros of Keurig||Cons of Keurig|
|Easy to use||Machines can be pricy|
|Makes many different kinds of drinks in addition to hot coffee||Pods are not very environmentally friendly|
|More affordable machine than a Nespresso||The taste leaves much to be desired|
|Cheaper pods than Nespresso||Does not make espresso|
|Pros of Nespresso||Cons of Nespresso|
|Delivers a better-tasting cup than Keurig||More expensive machines|
|The innovative design adds crema to each cup||Pricier pods|
|More sleek and stylish than a Keurig||Less affordable than a drip coffee maker|
|Saves you money compared to buying an espresso from a coffee shop||Taste pales in comparison to a proper espresso machine|
Keurig vs Nespresso: Which One Is Better?
And so, when it comes down to it, which coffee pod machine is superior? Keurig vs Nespresso? Taking into consideration all that we’ve discussed thus far, it’s hard to name anyone but Nespresso as the winner here.
Keurig machines might be cheaper and their pods might be more affordable, too, but this lower price is directly reflected in the taste of the brew. A Nespresso machine is sleeker, more elegant, and makes a better-tasting brew. Sure, it’s a lot more expensive and hardly saves you money compared to a bag of coffee beans, but it’s all about taste and convenience in this debate.
Keurig and Nespresso in the News
When you think of quality coffee makers for your home, Keurig and Nespresso are the top names that come to mind. These innovators in the home coffee industry have revolutionized the way we make coffee at home and continue to make headlines.
As recently as February 2023, Keurig discontinued their 2014 model, the Keurig 2.0 due to criticism from users. On a positive note, Keurig has released it’s newest model, the K-Supreme Plus Smart, which features BrewID technology and a mobile app that allows users to start brewing from their smartphone.
Nespresso has launched a new line of compostable coffee capsules, made from plant-based materials that can be broken down within 12 weeks. In April 2023, Nespresso partnered with Starbucks to debut a new line of coffee capsules including famous blends like the Pike Place Roast, Blonde Espresso Roast, and the Veranda Blend.
Both Keurig and Nespresso continue to release new models that allows users to start a pot of coffee or fresh espresso from their smartphones. In addition to new app upgrades, both companies have installed a program that memorizes each individual user and allows newer models to be programmed to remember what type of coffee the user likes for future use.
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