13 Key Differences Between Nespresso and Keurig (Which Coffee Pods Are Right for You)

Green Pods nespresso vs keurig which is the best

In this article, we’ll explore the main differences between these two most popular coffee-making systems on the market, Nespresso and Keurig. These differences are described in the content below and summarized in a table at the end of the article.

The main difference between Nespresso and Keurig is Nespresso creates espresso coffee (about 30ml in volume), while Keurig makes drip coffee (typically 8oz or 10oz pours). Aside from this, Nespresso machines are typically more expensive, their capsules more expensive but their quality of coffee and overall taste better than the Keurig counterparts.

Preparation preferenceDrip coffeeEspresso Coffee
Price of coffee$.50 to $.85 per pod$0.75 – $1.10 per pod
Price of machine$80 to $199$129 to  $650
Coffee size2 oz. to 12 oz.1.5 oz. except for new models
Pod availabilityGrocery stores, Target, WalmartNespresso.com, Amazon
Coffee selectionOver 200 different pods38 Espresso types
Machine durability10 years or more10 years or more
Coffee flavorNumerous flavors availableLimited number of flavors
AllergensFlavored K-cups have allergensNo allergens
SustainabilityAll K-cups are recyclableRecycle through Nespresso
Maintaining machineRegular cleaning and de-scalingRegular cleaning and de-scaling

Why Listen To Us? Well, because we KNOW coffee! In fact, we make our own coffee, coffee machine cleaners, and reusable capsules which we've sold to over 41 countries. Our team ouf experts include Tristan (an engineer), Claire (a food writer) and Richy (a barista). So, whether you're looking for a recipe or repair guide, we've got you covered 💚

What is Nespresso Coffee?

Nespresso started in 1976, when Eric Favre, a Nestlé employee, invented, patented, and introduced the Nespresso system to the business market in Switzerland. Nespresso debuted its flagship in Japan and rolled it out to consumers in Switzerland, France, Italy, and Japan in 1986. Originally an e-commerce business, Nespresso opened its first physical boutique in Paris in 2000 as a concept store.

Today, Nespresso has a global network of more than 700 boutiques in 67 countries.

How does Nespresso work?

The Nespresso system uses pressurized hot water at 15bar to extract true espresso coffee from compacted coffee grounds in their capsules. Each pod is made of 8081 aluminum and contains around 5 grams of coffee. They are hermetically sealed to keep their freshness.

What is Keurig K-Cup?

Keurig Green Mountain, are the manufacturer of Keurig Capsules (also known as K-Cups) and hold the lion’s share of the single use coffee pod market in the United States. They sold around 13.2 billion capsules in 2018 (Source).

Keurig coffee is a drip coffee system which means no pressure is used in the brewing process like with espresso coffee. Hot water is pumped through the top of the coffee capsule, which is filled with ground coffee and a small paper filter. The coffee is collected underneath.

Most keurig machines brew and 8oz and 10oz cup of coffee, with some machines brewing all the way up to a full carafe.

13 Key Differences Between Nespresso And Keurig Systems

The difference between Nespresso and Keurig comes down to several factors that will cumulatively determine which method you prefer personally. Because these two systems make different types of coffee, the most important question will be – how do you like your coffee?

Green Pods what is the difference between nespresso and keurig

1. Nespresso coffee vs. Keurig Coffee

This is the single most important difference between the two systems, and it pertains to whether you like the standard American style ‘drip’ coffee, or the pressure brewed Espresso variety common in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

– Espresso Coffee

The original Nespresso machines only made Espresso coffee, which is typically a 1-1.5 oz. shot of coffee brewed under 15bar of pressue.

Nespreso originaline machines can produce a 40ml espresso shot and a 110ml lungo shot. Some machines are also capable of making the 25ml ristretto shot.

Nespresso also have their VertuoLine system which uses centrifugal forces to extract the coffee under pressure, by spinning the capsule at 15,000 RPM. These capsules range from being able to produce 40ml of espresso up to 414ml with their Alto pods.

– Drip Coffee.

Keurig machines generally can only make an American-style cup of coffee, in sizes ranging from 6 oz. to 12 oz. All Keurig machines will be able to produce the standard mug sizes of 8oz and 10oz. Some models can also brew a full 32oz carafe such as the Keurig K-Duo.

2. Nespresso capsules vs Keurig capsules

Nespresso capsules are smaller, tapered dome-shaped containers make entirely from aluminium. Each contains around 5 grams of ground coffee or 7 grams in the case of a lungo capsule. They are hemetically sealed to lock in the freshness of the coffee and not to perrish. All nespresso pods are the same physical size.

Keurig’s capsules are called K-Cups. They are larger than Nespresso pods and contain generally between 9 and 12 grams of coffee. They are generally made from plastic and contain a paper filter and basket for the coffee grounds inside each capsule.

3. Impact on the environment and sustainability

Firstly, it’s important to note that neither Nespresso pods or K-cups are able to be recycled if placed in your regular household recycling.

However, Nespresso does have its own recycling program, and you can return the pods to the place of purchase or mail them to Nespresso.

All Keurig K-cups have been recyclable since the end of 2020, so recycling is very easy. All you have to do is peel off the lid, empty out the coffee grounds (or use them as compost), and then recycle the used pods.

4. Coffee size

Keurig offers a wide range of brewing sizes, including everything from 2 oz. to 12 oz. The only difference will be in the amount of water used to brew your cup of coffee. Some machines will only provide options for 8 or 10 oz, while others offer the full range of brewing sizes. The traditional Nespresso pods provided a 1.5 oz. shot of coffee, but the newer models can make 7 or 8 oz. cups of coffee as well. The company has been rumored to be preparing a new extra-large coffee size for sale to the public in the near future.

5. Availability of coffee pods

Keurig K-cups are available at all grocery stores, all Walmarts, and all Target stores, which gives them a very high level of availability. You can also purchase the refillable pods at many of those same outlets, if you’re trying to save money on home coffee-brewing. Purchasing Nespresso pods will require that you visit a specialty store or boutique, since they are not available at a typical grocery store. However, purchasing is still easy at Nespresso.com, Amazon, and a number of boutique shops that specialize in coffee supplies. You may be able to purchase Starbucks Nespresso pods at some grocery store outlets, as well as Target and Walmart.

6. Coffee selection

Keurig offers a tremendous variety of coffee possibilities, with well over 200 different flavors and compatible brands of K-cups. You can even brew non-coffee beverages with your Keurig machine, for instance hot chocolate or tea. Nespresso only offers about 15 different types of coffee pods, although it does have a partnership with Starbucks that allows for brand compatibility and a few more choices. Other brands are prohibited from developing Nespresso-type pods, because Nespresso holds a patent on the machine that disallows that. If you’re a big fan of Espresso coffee, the original Nespresso machines are capable of brewing 38 different types of Espresso shots, so that can provide the variety you might be looking for.

7. Cost of Buying The Machine

Keurig machines are quite affordable, and are commonly sold at Walmart, Target, and many different online stores. These can all be purchased for between $80 and $120, depending on how many frills and advanced features you’re interested in. The newest Nespresso machines, the Vertuoline line, can be bought for around $200, unless you find a sale somewhere. However, if you don’t need a machine that can brew both Espresso and Standard American coffee, you can purchase an original Espresso coffee maker from Nespresso for somewhere around $175. There are also some much more expensive Nespresso models that include a milk frother and other advanced features, and these can sell from anywhere between $400 and $600.

8. The cost of running the machine

To run and maintain your coffee machine you’ll have some costs. These are primarily electricity, descaling and cleaning, and water.

By far, the biggest of these is electricity. We did some analysis on how much power a Nespresso machine uses, and how much power a Keurig machine uses, and found that Nespresso machines are significantly cheaper to run.

This is largely due to most Keurig machines staying on and keeping water warm for 2hrs before the ‘auto-off’ feature puts the machine into standby. Furthermore the Keurig machines brew bigger coffees which means more water is heated up and more power is used.

Compare this with Nespresso, which heats only enough water to make a 40ml espresso shot, and goes into powersaving mode after 9 minutes.

9. The Cost of the coffee pods

Keurig pods are the more economical of the two types, costing somewhere between $.50 and $.85 per pod. By comparison, Nespresso pods can be purchased at a price of $0.75 – $1.10 per pod.

Since you cannot use either of the pod types more than once, this is the single largest expense of owning and using a capsule coffee machine – no matter which system you decide upon.

Both Keurig and Nespresso machines can be used with 3rd party re-fillable pods, and that would lower your overall cost of brewing coffee, which could be significant cost savings if you have multiple coffee drinkers in your household.

We worked out the average household would save $311 per year switching to reusable capsules. You can check out our refillable Keurig pods and refillable Nespresso pods here.

10. Maintaining the machine

It will be necessary to periodically clean the machine whether you have a Nespresso or a Keurig. Your Nespresso machine will require daily and weekly cleaning, and every three months or so, you’ll also have to de-scale it to eliminate the scale that can accumulate from boiling water.

Keurig machines require needle cleaning, as well as de-scaling, and regular changes of the water filter. The de-scaling procedure is important because eventually it will impact the flavor of your coffee, and possibly machine performance as well.

11. Flavor of the coffee

The taste of Espresso coffee should have a slightly caramel taste and a slightly sweet flavor. The perfect flavor for Espresso is a result of managing the right water temperature, extraction time, and grind size. These variables are all handled by the Nespresso machine, so you come out with a perfect cup of Espresso every time. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a kind of pick-me-up in the morning that will prepare you for a long day, a Keurig K-cup of coffee might be what you need. Keurig coffees can be flavored as well, so you get something well beyond the standard cup of great-tasting coffee, but can also contain a hint of chocolate, caramel, mint, raspberry, or dozens of other fascinating flavors. You won’t even have to hunt around for these specialty flavors, because they’re commonly available in many grocery stores and online outlets. Given the fact that Keurig machines are so popular, a great many brands have developed compatible K-cup flavors that can be used in the original Keurig machines. With even a little bit of browsing and sampling, you’ll be sure to find several flavors that appeal to you, and which you’ll want to brew at least periodically.

12. Machine durability

A typical Keurig machine can last up to 10 years, and if properly maintained, it can last even longer than that. Some of the commercial Keurig machines used by businesses are capable of even longer life, so the machines should be considered extremely durable. The same can be said for most Nespresso machines, since the average lifespan of a good Nespresso machine is also around 10 years. As with any mechanical device however, either of these two machines will last a great deal longer when handled with care, and properly maintained, i.e. cleaned, de-scaled, changing filters, etc.

13. Allergens

Nespresso pods do not include any allergens, gluten, sugar or lactose, so if you’re a person who has some kind of dietary restrictions, you won’t have to worry about the ingredients of Nespresso pods.

On the other hand, you’ll have to be somewhat careful about buying Keurig pods, because they can contain a number of ingredients that might be objectionable to some people. Keurig pods sometimes contain caramel coloring, propylene glycol, and a number of other ingredients classified as allergens, especially in the company’s flavored varieties of K-cups.

Which coffee capsule system is right for you?

The question of which of these systems is right for you will depend on how important any one of these differences is to you.

  • If you simply prefer the taste of Espresso coffee, then all other considerations may take a back seat.
  • If cost is your primary concern, then you’ll probably want to go with a Keurig machine.
  • If the availability of pods is your main worry, then Keurig will also probably be your best bet.

At any rate, consider the differences we’ve described here, determine which of them is most important to you, and then it should be much easier to come to a decision on which coffee brewing system is best for your needs.

Summary Table Comparing Nespresso with Keurig

The table below can be useful for summarizing the key differences between these two coffee-making systems.

Preparation preferenceDrip coffeeEspresso Coffee
Price of coffee$.50 to $.85 per pod$0.75 – $1.10 per pod
Price of machine$80 to $199$129 to  $650
Coffee size2 oz. to 12 oz.1.5 oz. except for new models
Pod availabilityGrocery stores, Target, WalmartNespresso.com, Amazon
Coffee selectionOver 200 different pods38 Espresso types
Machine durability10 years or more10 years or more
Coffee flavorNumerous flavors availableLimited number of flavors
AllergensFlavored K-cups have allergensNo allergens
SustainabilityAll K-cups are recyclableRecycle through Nespresso
Maintaining machineRegular cleaning and de-scalingRegular cleaning and de-scaling


We hope this article has helped you in you decision of which capsule coffee system is right for you.

If you chose team Keurig, you might find this guide on the best Keurig machines to buy useful.

Otherwise, for those in the Nespresso camp, this write up talks about the best Nespresso machines this year and the best alternative coffee pods on the market.

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