Keurig vs Nespresso. They are the two biggest names in the pod coffee machine world. Both are popular, reputable, and celebrated brands. Both have a huge following of supporters. In fact, some have likened the battle between Nespresso and Keurig to the eternal Apple vs PC feud.
Which is better? This question usually sparks off fierce debates. Some swear by Nespresso. Others claim Keurig is unmatched. For a person genuinely looking to make an informed purchasing decision, these fanatical declarations don’t help much.
If you’re looking to purchase a pod coffee machine, don’t worry. We’ve got your back. We shall take a comprehensive look at Nespresso vs Keurig. We will break down each brand for you. And we will pit them head-to-head. In the end you’ll have everything you need to make a decision. Let’s kick this off with an overview of each company.
Nespresso is a subsidiary of the renowned Nestlé Group based in Switzerland. The Nespresso brand hit the pod coffee market in 2000. Nestlé has partnered with a number of reputable coffee machine brands like Breville, Philips and De’Longhi for many of its models. Hence, you will find that Nespresso coffee machines have many strong technologies coming from these brands.
In terms of market penetration, Nespresso machines are hugely popular in Europe and Asia. Their presence on the American market is not very pronounced. It has only about a tenth of the US market of both machines and coffee pods . Keurig owned 61% of the market – thanks in part to partnerships with Starbucks, Folgers, Twinnings, among others.
The machines under the Nespresso brand typically fall under two product lines: the OriginalLine and VertuoLine. The models under OriginalLine are pure espresso machines. They only brew espresso. The VertuoLine machines brew both espresso and coffee. We’ll look at these in detail shortly. For now, let’s turn our attention to Nespresso’s arch rival.
Keurig is a part of Dr. Keurig Pepper – the third-largest beverage company in North America. The company started out as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters back in 1981. It was acquired by Dr. Keurig Pepper in 2006.
The Keurig brand dominates the US market. This is partly because it has been in the coffee business for decades. Another reason if the large pods variety offered by Keurig as a result of partnerships with Starbucks and other big name beverage establishments. As such, its famous K-Cups has over 60 brands.
When it comes to coffee machines, Keurig offers unmatched choice. Keurig machines are available in over 50 distinct models. This basically means that whatever your specific needs, chances are high that you can find a Keurig machine which perfectly fulfils them.
Now that we have background on both Nespresso and Keurig, let’s get down to business. How do their coffee machines stack up against each other? What should you base on to choose one over the other? Let’s begin with the obvious i.e. the kind of beverages which the respective machines brew.
Type of Coffee Made – Espresso, coffee, cappuccino and latte?
The most significant difference between Nespresso and Keurig comes down to one thing:
espresso vs coffee.
Keurig machines cannot brew espresso. They specialize in brewing coffee. Nespresso machines specialize in espresso. However, some Nespresso models can brew both espresso and coffee.
For a period of time, Keurig also produces a model which can make espresso – Keurig Rivo. Keurig made a foray into the espresso market with Keurig Rivo in 2012. The Rivo was developed in partnership with Lavazza – an Italian coffee company. It was an espresso, cappuccino and latte brewer and was intended to take the game to Nespresso. However, the market reception wasn’t good and the Rivo was discontinued in December 2016.
Nespresso entered the coffee market in 2014 with the release of its first VertuoLine machine. This machine was specifically designed for the US and Canadian markets. It offered larger servings compared to the traditional small cup sizes for espressos. It can also brew coffee. To date, a VertuoLine machine can brew for you a cup of Joe.
Nespresso’s older models (the OriginalLine machines) cannot brew a cup of Joe. Even then, they can still brew for you an Americano – which is pretty similar. Essentially, even the cheapest Nespresso can brew for you both an espresso and at least an Americano.
This doesn’t mean that Nespresso beats Keurig hands down when it comes to brew. Keurig is still the king of coffee. The sheer number of flavors it has beat Nespresso by some distance. There are over – by some estimates – 200+ flavors of beverages available for Keurig machines. This is thanks to the company creating partnerships with over 60 companies to make pods for its machines. Therefore, if you can forego espresso, Keurig is definitely the option for you.
Other Beverage Options Apart from Coffee
What if you want beverages besides coffee or espresso? Actually both Keurig and Nespresso machines can be used to brew tea, hot chocolate and even fruit-based drinks. However, there is one significant difference between the two. Keurig actively supports the brewing of these beverages and even offers a variety of pods for them such as the green tea, hot cocoa and even tea K cups .
Nespresso does not officially support brewing of these other beverages – even though numerous off-brand solutions exist. The thing to remember is that using Nespresso machines to brew non-espresso/coffee/cappuccino beverages may void some warranties.
Check out our recommendation for the best Nespresso machine
Nespresso and Keurig machines differ in a number of ways including overall quality, brewing technology, pricing and usability. However, there are also some similarities. Let’s do a head-to-head on each of the aspects – beginning with brewing technology.
At some level, the way both Nespresso and Keurig machines brew beverages is similar.
Let’s take coffee as an example. The brewing approach used by both machines is this: heat the water to a specific temperature and then add the beverage. But how this is implemented differs.
Keurig machines employ pressure-based systems for brewing. Older Nespresso models employ the same system, but newer ones use a centrifuge-based system for brewing. Drink aficionados claim that the centrifuge-based system produces smoother, better-tasting drinks.
In most cases, both Nespresso and Keurig machines can brew a cup in under 4 minutes. The temperature varies depending on the type of beverage and model of the machine. As a matter of fact, there are often significant performance differences between different models of the same brand. As such, before deciding to purchase a specific Nespresso or Keurig machine, it is wise to first read some user reviews for the particular machine.
In terms of overall quality, Nespresso machines are better than Keurig coffee machines. They are stronger, more robust and more long-lasting than their Keurig counterparts.
Perhaps this is the reason for a standard 2-year warranty for Nespresso machines compared to the 1-year warranty on Keurig mechines.
The difference in the quality of the machines is also obvious from the built. Keurig brewers are usually made from light plastic while the Nespresso machines are built from thick plastic with metal-plated interiors. In fact, there are many user reviews of Nespressos raving about their longevity, whereas Keurig owners often complain about their machines breaking down.
Where Keurig machines beat Nespresso is in terms of pricing and extra features. Keurig machines tend to be cheaper than Nespresso.
You might think: “given the quality differences, this is expected.” You’d be right. However, Keurig machines – especially the high-end ones – usually have more advanced features than their Nespresso counterparts. For example, the Keurig K155 OfficePro Premier Brewer has a color touch LCD displays, water filters, programmable clock/auto on and temperature controls.
Check out our recommendation for the best Keurig coffee maker
Keurig machines tend to be large and bulky. Nespresso machines are typically small, compact and sleek. For instance, Nespresso machines usually have water reservoirs of 24 to 40 ounces. Meanwhile, some Keurig machines have reservoirs of 80+ ounces.
This basically means that Keurig machines will probably brew you more cups of your beverage before needing a refill. However, this capacity comes at a cost of extra counter space.
Whichever option is preferable to you will depend on the space available on your kitchen counter.
In terms of asthetic, Nespresso has some models with really stylish, metallic design. Two examples are the Nespresso KitchenAid and Nespresso Creatista. In fact, we find most of Nespresso models score pretty well in the asthetic aspect than the Keurig models.
The ingredients you need to make your beverage are contained in pods or capsules. Pods are for Keurig and capsules are for Nespresso. These containers differ in shape, material build and the sheer variety of options available to you.
Keurig’s pods are also called K-Cups. A K-Cup is basically coffee (or tea, chocolate or other beverage) sealed in a plastic cartridge (also known as cup). The cartridge has a top which is made up of a plastic ring covered with an aluminum foil. The inside is lined with a filter for keeping the coffee contained during brewing. When brewing, two needles puncture the lid and bottom of the cup (without puncturing the filter) and the hot water seeps into the coffee.
Nespresso’s capsules are made of beverage sealed in partially-punched aluminum containers. During brewing, the capsules are pierced by the machine’s brewing system. The holed patterns punched in the capsules allow different pressure and flow gradients which cause the beverage to fuse with the hot water.
The difference between Nepresso capsules and Keurig K-Cups is the available flavor varieties.
Nespresso strictly controls the production of its capsules. Only four categories of capsules with about two dozen total flavors are available. This control guarantees high quality on each drink. It limits your options though.
On the other hand, Keurig has over 200 flavors of K-Cups. This is because Keurig has placed limitation only on who can produce the K-Cup pods.
In 2015, faced with dropping revenue arising from competition from unlicensed K-Cup pod manufacturer, Keurig introduced further restrictions on its machines. The company introduced the Keurig 2.0 brewing system. Each licensed K-Cup producer was given a barcode to print on the aluminum foil. This barcode is scanned by the Keurig coffee machines to determine the brewing parameters before brewing. If the K-cup didn’t have the barcode, the machine simply won’t brew.
This of caused an uproar from people who realized that their new Keurig machines would no longer brew their favorite beverages. This uproar did not last long because unlicensed K-cup manufacturers figured out how to trick the Keurig 2.0 machines. As such, these restrictions are no longer a problem. Even then, the market still has some Keurig 1.0 models which don’t have the K-Cup brewing restrictions.
Neither Keurig nor Nespresso machines are particularly difficult to clean. The cleaning process for both types of machines is actually similar. Irrespective of the brand or model, the cleaning process will include the following steps:
That being said, Nespresso machines are comparatively easier to clean than Keurig machines. There are two simple reasons for this. First of all, Nespresso machines come with an inbuilt de-scaling mode. This greatly simplifies cleaning the interior. Secondly, Keurig’s design ( specifically the entry and exit needles ) make the machines to clog easily. This makes the machines to require cleaning more often than Nespresso machines.
For those passionate about the environment, Nespresso is the more eco-friendly option. This is because the company takes active steps to recycle its capsules. It has created the Nespresso Ecolaboration Program with the goal of recycling the capsules it sells.
Under this program, Nespresso has set up a recycling facility in Canada with the aim of recycling 75% of all capsules sold. The company actively encourages customers to return their used capsules.
The recycling program has also been extended to the US. The company has set up collection centers in Nespresso boutiques and retail partner locations throughout the country. All capsules collected are transported to Canada for recycling. The company has also setup a mail-back program in 48 states for clients to return the capsules through UPS.
Unlike its counterpart, Keurig currently doesn’t have an active recycling program for its K-Cups. An article in the Atlantic highlighted the problem when it said “best estimates say the Keurig pods buried in 2014 would actually circle the Earth…more than 12 [times].” Nevertheless, Keurig has announced plans to release a fully recyclable version of its K-Cups. Unfortunately, the K-Cups are still under design and are most likely to be unveiled in 2020.
In summary, Nespresso machines are high quality, robust, durable, easy-to-clean and environmentally friendly. They also produce high-quality beverages (espresso, coffee, cappuccino, and latte – among others). Their only downside is that they are more expensive and have fewer beverage flavors compared to Keurig.
Keurig machines are numerous (you have 50+ models to choose from) and has over 200 beverage flavors, and are considerably cheaper. The high-end models also provide extra features and support the brewing of non-coffee beverages (e.g. tea, hot chocolate and fruit-based drinks). Their only downside is that they’re less durable, harder to clean, less environmentally friendly ( in terms of their pod packaging), and less compact.
Keurig vs Nespresso – So who wins? And which company should you choose? Well, that will depend on your needs, preferences, and values. Whichever brand you opt for, be sure to check out our favourite model for Keurig and Nespresso. Happy Caffeinating!
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