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April 12, 2021  |  Kitchen

Nespresso vs. Keurig: Which one wins the coffee pod showdown?

By Jacob Palmer

For most of us, coffee is an essential part of our morning routine. And the single-serving coffee maker has been a godsend for those who live in households with only one or two coffee drinkers, as you no longer have to make a full pot of coffee every morning when you only want a cup. 

Keurig and Nespresso have emerged as the leading names among single-serving coffee-makers. No question — these simply taste better than their more generic counterparts. But they each have their pros and cons — and they each have their advocates. But which one is actually worth your investment?

We tested both machines over the span of months to determine which product is the best. For Nespresso, we went with the Nespresso Vertuo machine by Breville (which is on sale right now for $149). For the Keurig, we tested the K-Select model (on sale for $99).

Here’s what we found: Nespresso simply makes a better-tasting cup of coffee.

Of course, the evaluation doesn’t end there. There are several aspects you need to take into account before making a choice. And aside from price (Keurigs are generally cheaper), the Nespresso ended up as the favored model for most of our criteria.

Single-serve coffee machines can be wasteful — the plastic pods are usually thrown out after use. As opposed to Keurig’s K-Cups, which you just send to the landfill, we loved how the Nespresso machine collected the used pods and encouraged its users to send them back to the company to be recycled.

We also loved that Nespresso provided a sampler of coffee flavors with the purchase of a coffee maker in order to help you figure out which you like best before committing to an expensive pack of capsules.

Is it worth it: If you’re a coffee snob, and you feel excited by the prospect of being your own barista, it’s absolutely worth it.

But there are drawbacks: Not only is a Nespresso more expensive upfront, it’s also pricier to operate. You can find packs of K-Cups available for roughly $0.50/unit. Depending on how many you buy at a time, Nespresso capsules can be over $1/each.

Also, during testing, we came to appreciate how you can use the Keurig as an easy way to brew exactly the amount of hot water you need for a cup of tea. There’s no way of doing that with a Nespresso. It’s not a huge problem, but when you’re spending at the top of the price range, you generally want all of the bells and whistles.

So, the question that should make your decision: How important is having delicious coffee? For me, it was a no-brainer. The Nespresso has improved my mornings, especially because Keurig machines lose their ability to make a strong cup of coffee the more they’re used. You get what you pay for, and I don’t regret making the extra investment. (And it makes for a great gift — both to  and receive.)

The options available to you

— The Nespresso Vertuo is an impressive machine. We recommend going with an assortment of flavors before committing to just one — and it probably makes sense to buy a collection for yourself, because although the manufacturer provides you with a sampler, it’s hard to make a decision off of just one taste.

— If you’d prefer to save some money and still get a single-serve coffeemaker, go with the Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker. The Original Donut Shop pods were a favorite during testing.

— And if avoiding all of the wastefulness of a single-serving coffee maker is a top priority, try this model from Hamilton Beach. It allows you to use ground coffee beans and gives you the control of whether you want normal or bold flavoring.