Keurig and Nespresso are the two most popular pod-based coffee brands today. Despite sharing—well, fighting over—a similar corner of the coffee world, the brands differ in price, the design of its machines, and, most importantly, the type of coffee on which each one focuses.
Nespresso kicked off the pod-based craze in 1986 when it released its first two brewing devices, providing users with faster, easier espresso at home. Keurig followed suit about a decade later with machines that brewed drip-style coffee instead of espresso. Now each brand has more than a dozen models to choose from, as well as a vast array of pod options (although, K-Cups far outnumber Nespresso capsules).
We have tested numerous products from both companies and will break down the pros and cons of each brand below so you can make the most informed buying decision possible. Like with many purchases, however, it doesn’t come down to which brand is best, but instead which brand is best for you.
The Main Takeaways
Focuses on drip coffee
Machines and pods tend to be cheaper
Wider variety of pod options
Pods are easier to find in stores
Focuses on espresso
Machines and pods tend to be pricier
Machines often come with a milk frother
Heat-up and brewing is usually faster
Keurig vs. Nespresso Results
In comparing our favorite Nespresso maker, the Gran Lattissima, with our favorite Keurig device, the K-Café, the former wins. This is little surprise because Nespresso puts a greater emphasis on high-end machines than Keurig does. The Gran Lattissima brews a wider selection of drinks and with better quality than the K-Café, and it brews them quicker and more easily. Granted, the Gran Lattissima has a heftier price tag.
Keep reading for our in-depth comparison of the Keurig K-Café versus the Nespresso Gran Lattissima.
Nespresso Gran Lattissima Coffee and Espresso Machine
Price at time of publish: $650
The Gran Lattissima is an excellent fit for people who love espresso and the various milk-based drinks you can make with it, like a latte or cappuccino. We found the item extremely fast and easy to use after testing it ourselves, which is impressive considering that it brews nine different drinks. It’s one of the most expensive Nespresso machines, though, and it’s more expensive than any Keurig device, so it may not be a viable option for all customers depending on budget.
Water Tank: 34 ounces | Milk Frother: Yes | Heat-Up Time: 25 seconds | Dimensions: 7.9 x 14.4 x 10.8 inches | Warranty: One year
Keurig K-Café Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker
Price at time of publish: $180
Those who favor drip-style coffee or are looking for a more affordable device may prefer the Keurig K-Café. It can make milk-based drinks, too, but we didn’t find the quality to be as high as that of the Nespresso Gran Lattissima, let alone a commercial espresso machine. So, the K-Café is well-suited for casual coffee drinkers who want simplicity and may be open to a latte or cappuccino now and then.
Water Tank: 60 ounces | Milk Frother: Yes | Heat-Up Time: Three minutes | Dimensions: 12.5 x 15.3 x 11.7 inches | Warranty: One year
Nespresso tends to brew stronger coffee more consistently than Keurig, whether it’s a standard espresso shot or a specialty drink like a cappuccino. One reason for this is that Nespresso does a better job of adjusting the size of its capsules to the specific drink a user makes, while Keurig’s K-Cups contain the same amount of coffee grounds for a 6- or 12-ounce cup. That said, it’s becoming more common for Keurig machines to have a technology called BrewID, which recommends the ideal settings based on the K-Cup used. In contrast, Nespresso sells capsules specifically for a single shot, a lungo shot, and larger drink sizes that you can make with its VertuoLine machines.
Keep in mind that neither brand is known for producing coffee that’s as good as “the real thing.” Espresso made with freshly ground beans and using a commercial machine usually has a richer body and crema than Nespresso, and the same goes for Keurig coffee, which is thinner and less dynamic than that made via drip machine, pour over, or French press.
Keurig coffee makers are generally more affordable. Several Keurig models retail below $100 and only a few go above $200. On the other hand, the cheapest Nespresso machines start around $150 and the majority are well above that figure, with some surpassing the $500 mark. If you’re looking for the most affordable option out there, try the Keurig K-Express or the Nespresso Essenza Mini, both of which received high marks from us during testing.
K-Cups are also cheaper per serving than Nespresso capsules. So, if you go the Keurig route, it likely means saving money on the machine at the point of sale and saving money on the ongoing cost of coffee pods. Both K-Cups and Nespresso capsules are more expensive per serving than using whole bean coffee, however. As a result, it’s worth purchasing a reusable pod that you can fill with coffee, no matter which brand you go with. Doing so saves money and is more sustainable.
If we selected the winner of this category purely based on the number of pod options available, Keurig would win. K-Cups come in many more varieties and are sold by many more roasters. What tips the scales is that Nespresso machines are often more adept at making a variety of coffee drinks.
There are two kinds of Nespresso machines, Vertuo and Original. Introduced in 2014, Vertuo machines let Nespresso users make larger, drip-style drinks for the first time, along with the brand’s signature espresso. As for the reverse, Keurig doesn’t make a machine that brews espresso. The closest Keurig gets is that many of its machines have a “strong brew” function, which slows the brew time and reduces the amount of water used to create a smaller, stronger shot of coffee–but it’s no espresso.
Keurig has made strides in recent years to include milk frothers with some of its machines, but at the moment, it’s more common to find a Nespresso machine that has a built-in milk frother or to see the brand’s often-touted bundle deal that includes a separate Aeroccino frother with the purchase of a brewing device.
One area that Keurig does have a marginal advantage in is iced coffee. Several of its machines have a setting to produce a stronger brew that won’t be diluted by ice. That said, it’s possible to make iced coffee with a Nespresso maker, as well, even if the machine doesn’t have a specific setting for it.
Ease of Use
Neither brand has a significant edge when it comes to usability. After all, one of the biggest reasons pod coffee is so popular is because it’s so dang easy, reducing the brewing process to a single button.
Nespresso may have a slight advantage here, as it has several models that brew milk-based drinks automatically, while all Keurig devices require users to make milk-based drinks manually (at least for now). For the most part, however, every machine from both brands is as simple as popping in a pod, closing the lid, and pressing the brew button.
Is a Nespresso Machine Worth the Price?
Even after everything discussed above, the decision between Nespresso and Keurig can come down to a simple question: What kind of coffee do you like? If you prefer espresso and the various drinks you can make with it, even if it means the added step of frothing milk, Nespresso is the winner. If you want a straightforward cup of joe similar to what you get from a good old-fashioned drip coffee maker, go with Keurig. (Nespresso’s Vertuo machines could be a good fit for you, too, but the coffee tastes closer to an Americano than drip.)
In the end, we selected Nespresso as our head-to-head winner over Keurig because the brand offers more quality, dependability, versatility, and flavor in every sip. If one of these machines is in your budget, it’s certainly worth the price and will fuel you through many happy, caffeinated mornings for years to come.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Derek Rose is the Coffee and Tea Expert for The Spruce Eats. He has tested several Nespresso and Keurig machines, and he has interviewed experts in the coffee field about the pros and cons of pod-based coffee, its sustainability, and what to look for in a single-serve machine. Derek has been writing for The Spruce Eats since 2019. He graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in Creative Writing and Marist College with a BA in Communications.