So, you want to make a latte style drink with your Keurig machine?
While not obvious, there are tricks to making espresso coffee with a Keurig coffee machine. Using a good quality k-cup with mostly Arabica coffee and extracting only a small amount of coffee will make the best espresso ‘shot’ possible.
Some machines also have built in milk frothers which is also handy when trying to make a latte!
In this article, were going to help answer the question “What are the best k-cup pods for making lattes and other milk based espresso drinks like flat whites and cappuccinos
Related: Check out our favorite K Cup subscription programs here
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Can you make a latte or cappuccino with a Keurig coffee machine?
While you can’t make a true latte or cappuccino with your Keurig machine, you can make a beverage that comes very close to it.
Espresso is a strong and full-flavored form of concentrated coffee which is generally served in shots.
It requires a specific brewing method where a small amount of hot water at typically 93degrees celsius is forced under around 13 bar of pressure through a tightly packed disc of finly ground coffee beans.
A normal Keurig machine cannot generate the pressure needed to make a real latte or cappuccino, but you can overcome that by using a strong coffee concentrate as your K-cup.
There are certain Keurig machines that are better than others for this purpose, so keep reading below to find out about them.
What Keurig machines are best for making Lattes?
The best Keurig machine for making lattes is the relatively new K-Café Smart, which is a machine with some built-in intelligence that allows it to sense what kind of K-cup you’re using and react to it.
This machine also has a setting for brewing lattes, and that makes the whole process quite easy, even if you’ve never done it before. You can also make cappuccinos and macchiatos with this machine, because it has been designed for maximum versatility and usability.
The next best machine for brewing lattes is the predecessor of the K-Café Smart, which is the K-Café machine itself. This Keurig has a built-in milk steamer, and that’s an essential ingredient in lattes and cappuccinos.
What K-Cups Are Best For Making Latte Style Drinks?
The newest Keurig machines that are capable of making lattes and cappuccinos can use almost any K-cup for the purpose, because all the functionality has been built into the machines themselves to make that happen.
While there’s no right or wrong when choosing what coffee to use, here’s our thoughts on what you should be looking for in a K-Cup to make lattes.
- Arabica vs. Robusta: This is a topic in itself but to keep things simple cafe espresso coffee is usually 100% Arabica coffee. This is more flavorful, more aromatic, more expensive, and has more caffeine. Robusta coffee is more often used in coffee blends and instant coffee. It’s cheaper, more punchy and has more caffeine.
- Amount of Coffee: The amount of ground coffee in each K-Cup varies. We ideally want to find a K-Cup with the most coffee as this will yield a better brew ration (see below). The average K-cup contains between 9-12 grams of coffee, and a true espresso is typically made with 14-18 grams of coffee, so we want to find pods with the most coffee to get the best espressso possible.
- Brew Ratio: The brew ratio is the ratio of water to coffee grounds used, by weight. Traditional espresso uses a brew ratio of between 1:2 and 1:2.5. This means for 14grams of coffee you’ll need to extract 28grams of coffee, and hence yeild an ounce of espresso. Keurig machines are designed to make 8-10oz of coffee, so we need to restrict this to get a more true espresso.
- Sustainability: It’s 2022 and we believe every decision made as a consumer now must be done with and environmental conscience. Some capsules are designed to be recycled, others composted in your backyard, but still the vast majority end up in landfil each year.
Note: Keurig is now producing a special K-cup which should be used with the Shot feature on the newer machines. At present, these K-cups are only offered by Green Mountain and by Caribou Coffee, each company selling two different flavors of its Shot K-cups. So if you have one of Keurig’s older machines, you can still make lattes, but it will be easier and closer to a true latte if you use the newer machines and the Espresso Shot K-cups that have been developed for those machines.
The 7 Best Keurig K-Cups for making lattes (Our Favorites In 2022)
Based on the criteria above, here are the seven best K-Cups for making lattes we’ve found, each of which is a best-in-class choice that we recommend you try for yourself.
Disclaimer: There are literally hundreds of different K-Cup varieties on the market nowadays. We haven’t tried them all, and we probably never will, so this list is entirely subjective based on the capsules we’ve tried and the type of coffee we like.
1. Best overall – Starbucks Mocha Caffe Latte.
This latte made it to the top of our ‘Best of’ list on the strength of its superior flavor, its great price, and the enduring appeal of its rich, chocolaty taste. You can purchase 10 pods for about $15, so you won’t have to break the bank to keep a good supply on hand. Starbucks also has the reputation of producing sustainable coffees that are ethically sourced, so this latte is just an all-around winner in our book.
Best Keurig K-Cups For Making Lattes: Starbucks Mocha Caffe Latte
- Has an enduring appeal of rich, chocolaty taste
- 10 pods for about $15
- The brand has the reputation of producing sustainable coffees that are ethically sourced
2. Best value for the money – Original Donut Shop Vanilla Latte.
What makes this latte really stand out is its great taste for the money. You can buy a 20-count of pods for less than $20 and get the best value for your cash. You get the coffee, sweetener, and milk all in the K-cup, so all the ingredients are in one place. The brand offers a number of other flavors as well, so you can certainly experiment to find your favorite.
Best Keurig K-Cups For Making Lattes: Original Donut Shop Vanilla Latte
- Get the coffee, sweetener, and milk all in the K-cup
- 20-count of pods for less than $20
- The brand offers a number of other flavors
3. Best flavor – Solimo.
This latte has superior creaminess, and that’s what earned it a spot in our Top 7 Best Lattes of 2022. You can purchase a 96-count supply for about $25 on Amazon, and possibly cheaper elsewhere. This is a Latte Macchiato with a very flavorful taste that you won’t forget anytime soon. One possible downside is that it seems to be out-of-stock fairly often, perhaps due to its niche appeal.
4. Best for the environment – Café Bustelo con Leche.
We chose this as our most sustainable latte, because it doesn’t really come in a pod, and instead is offered in packets.These packets are much easier to recycle or to simply discard than many pods are, so it’s a big win for the environment. In addition, it delivers a terrific flavor that hints of English Toffee, and never fails to satisfy. A 5-packet box can be purchased for less than $10, so it’s also pretty easy on your budget. The downside is that it’s not a true latte, of course, but when you’re sipping this great-tasting brew, you’ll forget all about that.
5. Best aroma – Café Escapes Chai Latte.
The reason we chose this latte as our best aroma entry is that it has a kind of complex spiciness that’s hard to put your finger on, but that smells fantastic as you’re about to indulge. And the flavor certainly does not disappoint after that big aroma buildup. You can get 96 pods for $64 on Amazon, and every one of them will be well worth the money. If the pricing turns you off, you might be able to find it cheaper at other online outlets.
Best Keurig K-Cups For Making Lattes: Café Escapes Chai Latte
- Has a kind of complex spiciness
- 96 pods for $64
- Flavor certainly does not disappoint after that big aroma buildup
6. Best intensity – San Francisco Bay Coffee Fog Chaser.
This is a strong, bold latte that will wake you up quickly in the morning, and it will also deliver a great-tasting flavor that will start your day off on the right foot. If there’s a downside to this latte, it’s that it isn’t quite as good as an Espresso would be, because you have to use the coffee to make a do-it-yourself latte. What makes this brand different is that it doesn’t hold back on subtlety – it goes for the in-your-face approach that gets your attention immediately. You can buy your own for about $20 on Amazon.
Best Keurig K-Cups For Making Lattes: San Francisco Bay Coffee Fog Chaser
- A strong, bold latte that will wake you up quickly in the morning
- Buy at $20
- You have to use the coffee to make a do-it-yourself latte
7. Best served piping hot – Victor Allen’s French Vanilla K-cups.
This latte seems to get better the hotter you serve it. Apparently, that really brings out the French Vanilla flavor, and wakes up your taste buds. You can buy a 42-count of pods for less than $17, and that makes this a real bargain. The sweet and salty caramel flavor perks right up when served hot, and your guests will really appreciate that. One downside of this K-cup latte is that it can be a little hard to find at times, so when you do find some – make sure to stock up!
Best Keurig K-Cups For Making Lattes: Victor Allen’s French Vanilla K-cups
- Gets better the hotter you serve it
- 42-count of pods for less than $17
- Brings out the French Vanilla flavor
How to make lattes with a Keurig (step-by-step)
Here are the step-by-step instructions for making a latte with your Keurig machine:
1. Extract Your Espresso Shot
There are 3 methods of producing an espresso shot, or at least something close to it, with your keurig machine. You can read about these methods in detail in this article here. To sumarise;
- The Keurig Rivo uses 15bar of pressure and ACTUALLY makes espresso coffee.
- The Keurig K-Cafe and K-Latte have an ‘Espresso Shot’ button but the machines don’t apply pressure, they just extract less water to make a strong ‘espresso-like’ coffee.
- The rest of the Keurig range doesn’t cater for espresso at all but can make something close by following our work-around below
If you’re using a regular Keurig machine, follow these 4 steps below:
- You’ll need to choose the smallest size brew (usually 6 ounces) and select the Strong button if your machine has one.
- Have two cups on standby, and collect only the first 2oz (about 60ml) in the first cup before swapping to the second one. This is our ‘k-esspresso’ shot.
- We normally discard the remaining 4oz or you can save it for later as a weaker cup of coffee.
- Finally, you can add frothed milk to your espresso before drinking. Some Keurig machines have a built-in milk frother, and you should use this if your machine has one to make an epic latte, flat white or cappuccino!
2. Steam Your Milk
Next, we need to create some hot foamed milk. You’ve got a few options here;
- Use your Keurig Machine: If you have a Keurig SMART, K-Cafe, K-Latte or any variations of these machine they have a built in milk frother.
Easy as! Follow the instructions that came with your machine to make perfect milk foam in less than 2 minutes.
- Use a separate milk frother: We’re not going to say too much here; basically this is the same device that is built in to your Keurig machine, however you can buy it seperatly to sit on your kitchen counter and plug into the wall.
There are plenty of brands making these, but we found the Nespresso brand Aeroccino Frother to be the best quality, easy to use, and not too expensive. You can check it out on amazon here.
- Use the French press method: Use a French press for its real purpose (no, not making coffee) but for frothing milk.
Step 1 – Heat the milk. Using a microwave or pot on the stove, heat the milk but be super careful not to burn it. I recommend using a milk thermometer (we use this one from Amazon) and stop as soon as you reach 65 degrees Celsius. This is the ideal temperature to start foaming your milk at.
If you’re using a microwave oven, then take it slow and only put it on for 30 seconds at a time. It’s easy to overshoot and burn the milk. Also make sure to give it a good stir between nukings.
Step 2 – French Press: Fill about 1/3rd with milk to leave plenty of room for expansion. Then, with one hand on top of the lid to stop milk flying everywhere, work the plunger up and down as hard as you can for about 60 seconds.
The milk should double in size and have formed a homogenous microfoam. I actually think this makes a lot better foam than the Nespresso’s built in frother –but it is a lot more work!
3. Assemble Your Drink
Finally pour the hot milk on top of your espresso shot. To make a flat white, latte, or cappuccino all we need to do is vary the milk to coffee ratio, and the amount of milk foam used.
|1/3 Espresso, 1/3 Steamed Milk, 1/3 Milk Foam||1/3 Espresso, 2/3 Steamed Milk, 1cm Foam||1/3 Espresso, 2/3 Steamed Milk, 1cm foam|
|Served In a Mug||Served In Tulip Cup||Served In A Glass|
|Typically around 150ml||Typically around 150ml||Typically round 230ml|
If you want to get really fancy you can even dabble in some late art! Want to perfect a tulip, rosetta or heat? This guide talks about how to create some basic latte art with Nespresso, but the same technique can be used here.
Finally, Step 4 – Enjoy your latte!