Keurig vs Nespresso: Which is the right single-serve coffee maker for you?

The debate as long as time, Keurig vs Nespresso. Which should you buy?

Keurig vs Nespresso coffee machines
(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to convenient single-cup coffee makers, it seems we are divided into two camps: Keurig vs Nespresso. 

As the two biggest players in the single-serve coffee market, you may find yourself torn between the two, in your search for the best single-serve coffee maker

Both have become a sort of a cultural phenomenon and have created brand awareness in the same way we refer to Kleenex or Purell. The allure of Keurig and Nespresso machines is that they both offer the convenience of a coffee fix without the involved measuring or clean-up required from traditional drip coffee makers. If you're truly just making for one, it cuts down on brewing more coffee than you need that will inevitably be thrown out, and if for a few people at a time, everyone can choose the coffee they want to drink, thanks to the abundance of capsule options. 

While as much as they are similar, they are both very different, and the machine you ultimately choose is a big commitment. After all, once you buy the machine, you'll continually be committing to their compatible coffee options. 

After having experience with both types of machines, we're here to help you determine which coffee system is best for your needs and budget. 

KeurigNespresso VertuoNespresso Original
Best forOptions and customizationsCafe-style beveragesEasy espresso
Price Point$80-$200$149-$199$169-$249
Coffee typeCoffeeCoffee and EspressoEspresso Only
Pod styleK-CupNespresso Vertuo PodNespresso Original Pod
Average cost per a serving$0.60$1.00$0.80
Warranty1-Year2-Years2-Years

Keurig vs. Nespresso: Design Differences

Keurig

Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker

(Image credit: Keurig)

Keurig's vast lineup of machines features a vast array of options. Its most basic machines will require you to fill each time to your desired fill, while its most advanced designs have metered amounts, customizable settings and even built-in milk frothers. The most common feature you'll find on a Keurig machine, is a large metered water tank, usually between 46 and 70 oz, with the option to choose single cup sizes in varying increments, such as 6 oz., 8oz., 10 oz., and 12 oz.. On more sophisticated versions like the Keurig K-Elite, you can also choose strength, temperature, and the option to brew coffee over ice. 

Keurig's most widespread brewing system is with a single needle that flows through the center of their K-Cup capsules as water flows through the pod to turn into coffee. It's more recent models, like the Keurig K-Supreme Plus, introduce MultiStream Technology, which uses 5 entrance needles instead of one to saturate the grounds more evenly throughout the pod and extract more flavor and aroma, for a richer coffee. 

Nespresso

Nespresso Vertuo Next Deluxe Coffee and Espresso Machine NEW by De'Longhi

(Image credit: Nespresso)

Nespresso is divided into two machine categories: Vertuo and Original that use a different type of coffee pod: Vertuo and Original. Both machines have a one-touch operation, used capsule containers, and metered water tanks, but the main differences are found in the brewing and capsule style. Vertuo machines can brew six espresso and coffee sizes up to 18 oz., while Original can only brew drinks up to 5 oz. The amount of coffee that will dispense is also predetermined by your selected brew. More on that in a moment. 

They are often manufactured with renowned brands like Breville, DeLonghi and Krups.

Original
True to its name, the Original line machines are the OG Nespresso machines and focus on the brand's origins: espresso.  It brews espresso using a pressured-based system that is 19 bars, which is far above industry standard (9) for an espresso machine. Water is forced through three punctures that eventually cause the foil wrapper to burst and for espresso to flow out. Users choose from Espresso or Lungo sizes with just one press. 

Vertuo
It was not until 2014 that Nespresso began offering Vertuo machines, which appear to have surpassed the Original in popularity in the U.S. This is most likely due to the fact that the Vertuo Line can make both espresso and coffee beverages. Its propriety Vertuo System uses Centrifusion technology, where the capsule spins up to 7,000 rotations per minute to thoroughly infuse the capsule.

Keurig vs. Nespresso: The Pods

Keurig k-mini and k-cup holder

(Image credit: Keurig)

Keurig K-Cups

The K-Cup has become the universal design for single-cup coffee. Not only is the K-cup compatible with Keurig machines, brands like Cuisinart, Ninja, and Instant Brands all offer a machine that is compatible with the Keurig-created capsules. It seems that every major coffee brand like Starbucks, Dunkin, and Peet'smakes its own k-cup option.

For those who want to use their own coffee, either for environmental, or preference reasons, Keurig also offers a reusable K-cup that can be filled with ground coffee. 

K-Cups are readily available at almost every grocery store, convenience shop, big-box store, and of course, online.

Nespresso capsules

Original left; Vertuo right

(Image credit: Nespresso)

Nespresso

Both come in over 30 blends. Vertuo pods tend to cost more than Original pods.  They are both distinguished by their design. The larger Vertuo pods are round and dome-like, while the Original capsules have a more geometric shape. They are made of aluminum to retain freshness.  Nespresso pods are available directly through Nespresso and its boutiques, and can often be found on Amazon. However, most grocery stores and big-box stores will not carry them.

Vertuo Pods
Each Vertuo capsule has a barcode on the rim with brewing parameters (think temperature, speed, and amount) that are automatically adjusted by the machine. Vertuo pods are a pre-determined amount that will give the best roast every time. 

Original Pods
The Original Pods are smaller and have preportioned doses for espresso in .85 oz., 1.35 oz., 3.7 oz. and 5 oz. 

Keurig vs. Nespresso: Environmental Impact

Nespresso capsule recycling

(Image credit: Nespresso)

One of the biggest concerns and reasons people choose to avoid single-serve machines is the extra waste they can produce, and their sustainability. Fortunately, both Keurig and Nespresso have been proactive and vocal about their environmental impact. Of course, the only way to solve the problem is to follow along.

Keurig
All of Keurig's K-Cups are recyclable. The caveat is you will need to rip off the foil and dispose of (or compost) the used grounds. It is indeed an extra step, that you, the consumer will need to take, should you choose to recycle. We've also come across brands like Cambio that have made it even easier to peel off the foil... all it needed was a little pull tab. 

If you want to avoid K-Cups completely, but continue to use a Keurig, look into a reusable coffee pod filter that lets you use your favorite coffee grounds.

Nespresso
Nespresso is extremely transparent regarding its ethos of stewardship to the earth as well as working with small farmers who offer fair working conditions and sustainable farming practices. Acknowledging the environmental impact of their business, they try to make recycling the aluminum capsules as easy as possible, with a bag that can be mailed back, for free.  The coffee grounds inside each recycled capsule are composted into nutrient-rich topsoil. If you live in New York City, even better, you can recycle them as normal.  

Beyond the pods, Nespresso machines use the precise amount of coffee, water, and energy needed to brew each cup as a way to minimize the carbon footprint. All of their machines have a swift heat up and auto-turn off when left idle for just a few minutes.

Keurig vs Nespresso: The Verdict

The overall verdict of the best coffee maker between Keurig and Nespresso will depend on your needs because just as much as the two companies are alike, they are different. But, if you do need a definitive answer, we posed the following questions. 

Keurig vs Nespresso: Which offers greater value?

Keurig offer's the greatest value, in terms of price and options. The start-up and recurring costs tend to be less than Nespresso.  The machines are generally less expensive, as are the K-cups. You also have access to a range of coffee brands, which also vary in price. K-cups are so common, theycan be found almost anywhere coffee is sold. 

Keurig vs Nespresso: Which makes better coffee?

We have to hand it to Nespresso on this one.  Nespresso creates the feeling of a special moment every day, while Keurig has built its niche as a convenient coffee option fast. The thick, foamy layer of crema that Nespresso is renowned for creates a coffee drinking experience to remember, while a normal k-cup doesn't seem to deliver that lasting excitement. Each capsule is designed to automatically deliver great coffee with minimal effort on your part, while with K-cups, you'll want to play around with the best cup size for, as a 6 oz. serving will be a lot stronger as a 12 oz. one. 

Keurig vs Nespresso: Which is more sustainable?

Nespresso, here. They make it easier to recycle the aluminum pods, built their machines around minimizing waste and energy and offer the most transparency in to the coffee's origins. We also like that the newer model, the Vertuo Next, is built with recycled plastic. 

Keurig vs Nespresso: Which is easier to care for?

After each use of a Keurig, you'll want to remember to remove the K-cup before the next user...otherwise, it will stay where it was until the next time someone does a brew. The drip trays are also easily removable to catch and clean up any drips from brewing. 

Nespresso has a unique built-in mechanism that deposits the used pod into a container that only needs to be emptied when full, usually after around 10 cycles. The drip tray is also easily removable to catch any drips. 

When it comes time to cleaning a coffee machine, a tell-tale sign that it's time to give some TLC to your machine is when the descale light comes on. Keurig machines offer a distinct descaling indicator light, while most Nespresso machines don't have an indicator but instead flash a combination of LEDs that will have you pulling out the manual to tell you that it's time to descale. 

Keurig recommends descaling at every 3-6 months; many parts are also removable to be able with soap and water. However, we have also found that an exploded k-cup (when testing to see if we could manage another serving) left coffee grounds all over inside the machine, and it was a pain to wipe out. 

With Nespresso,  we've noticed that a little water settles into where the Vertuo capsule sits, that doesn't seem to affect performance, but it does take an extra step for keeping the machine clean and dry. 

For this, we'll give it a tie. 

Editor's Picks

Editor's Picks for coffee machineReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Amazon)

Best Keurig

Specifications
Single-Serve Size: 4, 6, 8, 10, 12-ounce
Water Reservior Size: 78-ounce (removable).
Brew Style: K-Cup Pods
Reasons to buy
+Outfitted with Keurig's latest Multi-Stream technology+Brews iced coffee, too+Adjustable Temperature and Strength settings+Makeup to 9 beverages before needing to fill the 78 oz. water tank
Reasons to avoid
-A little pricey-No instructions on how to install water filter

nespresso vertuo nextReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Nespresso)

Best Nespresso

Specifications
Single-Serve Size: 1.35, 2.7, 5, 7.7, and 14-ounce
Water Reservoir : 40-ounce
Brew Style : Nespresso Vertuo Pods
Reasons to buy
+Delicious coffee+Space saving+Made of partially recycled materials+Only machine that can make an 18 oz. carafe+Available in many colors and editions
Reasons to avoid
-Lock and unlock mechanism takes effort to open-Limited to Nespresso Vertuo Pods
Jaclyn Turner
Jaclyn Turner

Jaclyn is an eCommerce editor at Future Home Interest, and scouts out the best of the best for buying guides to help you fill your home with housewares you will love. She joined the team in January 2021. She has previously worked with sites like Apartment Therapy, The Kitchn, The Spruce, The Spruce Eats, and MyDomaine, but got her start at the trade mag Home Furnishings News, which fueled her excitement for innovation in the home category and seeing the newest launches.  When Jaclyn's not working, she loves long strolls through HomeGoods, unwinding with a chilled glass of Rosé, and entertaining her Cavapoo puppy, Reese. 

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