Can You Make Espresso in a Keurig? The 7 Best Espresso K-Cups

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Ever wondered if your Keurig can whip up an espresso, not just drip coffee? You’re not alone. Let’s dive into if that’s possible. Can I make espresso in my Keurig?

Keurig machines are inspired by espresso machines, offering a variety of espresso k-cups and even a strong coffee setting. It’s easy to see why they’re a favorite among coffee lovers!

Let’s finally answer a burning question: Can a Keurig make Espresso? I’ll break down how Keurigs stack up against traditional espresso machines, explore alternative methods for crafting espresso-like beverages, and reveal which k-cups can best replicate the rich flavor of true espresso.

Looking for top espresso k-cups? Here are my 3 favorites.

What’s the Difference Between Espresso and Coffee?

Espresso and coffee beans are actually the same thing! But, when it comes to making espresso, some beans, blends, and roast styles just work better. They bring out that rich, bold flavor espresso lovers crave. Dive in to discover which ones are best!

What does “espresso beans” on coffee labels actually mean? Let’s find out.

Discover the unique traits that set these beans apart from your regular coffee beans.

  • The roast level — In most cases, it just refers to darker, more intense roasts. Espresso is generally made from dark-roasted or medium-roasted beans, whereas regular coffee uses a wide range of roasting levels.
  • The type of coffee beans — Many espresso blends use Robusta beans along with the more common Arabica. Many high-quality drip coffees avoid Robusta beans because of their additional bitterness, but they produce a richer, thicker crema — that layer of foam on top of the espresso — than you get with pure Arabica.
  • The grind size — If you are buying pre-ground coffee, there actually is a pretty crucial distinction because most regular coffee is sold as a medium grind, whereas espresso grounds are sold as a fine grind (also called an espresso grind). If you buy whole beans and grind your own coffee, this is something you should keep in mind when selecting a grind size. 

What’s the difference between a coffee maker and an espresso machine?

Now, let’s dive into the key difference between making espresso and coffee. This crucial point will be super important later on in this article.

It takes high pressure to make real espresso.

Many coffee machines, like percolators and drip brewers, work at the same pressure you find in your living room. In a drip brewer, water gently falls over the coffee grounds, letting gravity draw the flavorful liquid into your mug.

Espresso machines work differently by pushing water through coffee grounds under high pressure, unlike other methods that let gravity do the work. They use at least 9 bars of pressure, with the top espresso machines hitting between 15-19 bars. To put it in perspective, that’s way more than the 2 bars of pressure in your car tires!

Can You Make Espresso in a Keurig?

Absolutely! If you’ve ever wondered about Keurig machines, they’re a cool blend of drip coffee and espresso technology. They use pressure, like espresso makers, to brew coffee fast. But, they don’t go as extreme with the pressure, staying way below the intense 9+ bars that true espresso machines hit.

Why talk about Keurigs and espresso? Let’s find out.

I’m excited to share with you an amazing k-cup espresso alternative that’s easy to make at home. No need to splurge on an espresso machine! These k-cups are the closest thing to a real espresso shot you can find for your Keurig, especially when brewed on the strong setting. Perfect for coffee lovers looking for convenience without compromising on taste.

The Best Espresso K-Cups

When making espresso with a Keurig, keep two important tips in mind. (And remember, Keurigs don’t make true espresso, but we can get close!)

  1. Brew the coffee on the strong setting.
  2. Pick a dark roast or a k-cup that is made to mimic espresso.

Here are the best options I’ve found so far.

Best overall: Café Bustelo Espresso Style Dark Roast

Cafe Bustelo stands out as a top choice among Cuban-style coffee brands. While not from Cuba, their coffee captures the essence of Cuban coffee culture and traditions.

For a perfect cafe Cubano or cortadito, begin with a Cuban-style roast. However, these pods also work wonders in lattes. It’s all about starting with the right base for your coffee adventure!

Best Italian espresso: Illy Coffee Forte

Illy stands tall in the Italian coffee scene, especially when it comes to espresso. Their unique coffee mix comes from nine different countries, available in three roast options: medium, dark, and very dark. For those who adore Italian espresso, the Forte, Illy’s darkest roast, is the perfect starting point.

Most eco-friendly: Timothy’s World Coffee Rainforest Espresso

Timothy’s Rainforest Espresso offers a smooth, rich, and sweet taste, perfect for espresso lovers. Plus, it’s convenient with recyclable coffee pods, reducing environmental harm. It’s also Rainforest Alliance certified, ensuring eco-friendly practices. Enjoy your espresso guilt-free!

San Francisco Bay OneCup Espresso

San Francisco Bay combines beans from South and Central America to create a coffee that’s bold, sweet, and full of life. Plus, their 97% biodegradable pods are perfect for Keurig users who love coffee but care about the planet.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Dark Magic

Green Mountain Coffee stands out in the k-cup world, and it’s easy to see why – their coffee is delicious. Their Dark Magic blend offers a deep, dark roast perfect for creating rich, espresso-style drinks.

Brooklyn Beans Express-O

These espresso pods have won me over, despite their odd name! They’re crafted in small batches with a dark roast that’s bold and ideal for lattes and cappuccinos. Plus, their pods are 100% recyclable.

Barista Prima Espresso

These espresso k-cups might not be the cheapest, but they’re among the top picks for a reason. Despite their higher price, their quality is tempting enough to consider them as a favorite. The dark roast stands out with its bold flavor, complemented by smooth, woody, and rich bittersweet chocolate hints. 

Does Keurig Make Espresso Machines?

Keurig isn’t just for regular coffee anymore; they now offer machines that make drinks similar to espresso!

The Keurig Rivo (discontinued)

Keurig’s Rivo was their exciting first step into the espresso world. Imagine enjoying pod convenience with the power of 15 bars of pressure, perfect for brewing rich espresso instead of regular drip coffee. A brilliant idea, right?

The Rivo, a unique coffee machine by Keurig, sadly only had a four-year run before it was discontinued. Keurig didn’t share much about why they stopped making the Rivo, but it seems the special pods it used were a big reason. Unlike the typical k-cups found in most Keurig machines, Rivo’s pods were different, offering much less variety. Coffee lovers cherish having lots of options, and unfortunately, the Rivo couldn’t meet those expectations.

The Keurig K-Cafe

In 2018, Keurig made another move into the espresso world with the K-Cafe. This time, they fixed a big mistake from their earlier model, the Rivo. Unlike the Rivo, which needed special pods, the K-Cafe works with the regular k-cups. This change means if you get a K-Cafe, you can enjoy a wide variety of Keurig drinks, not just a few options like before.

The K-Cafe can’t make real espresso. It uses the same pressure as a regular Keurig machine.

The standout feature of this coffee machine is its ‘shot’ button, which lets you make a strong, flavorful brew similar to an espresso. It’s perfect for those who love cappuccinos and lattes but don’t want to buy an espresso machine. A hit with coffee fans who crave that extra richness in their cup!

Sipping espresso straight? You’ll instantly spot the difference between this intense brew and a genuine espresso shot.

Are There Other Pod-Based Espresso Machines?

Looking for a capsule espresso machine? They’re out there, but not among Keurig’s offerings.


Nespresso is a favorite among coffee capsule machines, right up there with Keurig. But it stands out because it uses high pressure, up to 19 bars, to make authentic espresso, not just regular drip coffee.

Nespresso, similar to Keurig, offers a vast selection of capsules, guaranteeing a never-ending journey of coffee exploration. Before purchasing, don’t forget to explore the top Nespresso pods for both OriginalLine and VertuoLine machines. Remember, they’re not compatible with each other.

Illy and Lavazza

I’ll keep it brief because these don’t offer the wide range of drinks Keurig fans love. In Italy, it’s all about Illy vs. Lavazza – two giants in the coffee world you might already be familiar with. They lead the charge with their impressive coffee choices.

Did you know? Both brands have expanded into the world of capsule coffee machines. While they’re not big hits in the US yet, they could be the perfect alternative if Keurig and Nespresso haven’t hit the mark for your espresso cravings.

Other Ways to Make Espresso Without an Espresso Machine

For real espresso at home, check out these affordable espresso machines.

There are other simple methods to brew strong coffee, similar to what the K-Cafe machine offers.

Espresso from a Ninja coffee maker

Some of the top Ninja coffee makers feature a special setting that brews strong coffee similar to espresso, perfect for making lattes, cappuccinos, and more.

Espresso from an AeroPress

The AeroPress is known for making a rich coffee concentrate, but it typically brews something closer to regular coffee than espresso. However, everything shifts when you try the espresso AeroPress recipe that flips the script with an inverted method. This technique boosts the intensity of your brew, offering a fantastic option for those craving an espresso-like experience.

Espresso from a Moka pot

Discover the unique qualities of AeroPress and Moka pot brewing. While they differ in many ways, both rely on added pressure to craft your coffee. Although they can’t produce true espresso, the Moka pot’s 1.5 bars of pressure get you closer to that rich espresso taste compared to other alternatives.

Espresso from a French press

Finally, let’s talk about the French press. Though it’s not the best at mimicking espresso, you can still adjust the grind size, the amount of coffee, and the brewing method to make a richer cup. It might not be my top recommendation for espresso lovers, but it’s worth mentioning for those who want to explore all options. 

The Last Few Drops

Can you make espresso in a Keurig? Not really.

With top-notch espresso k-cups, you’re nearly sipping cafe-quality at home! And if you crave more, I’ve explored pod coffee makers that brew espresso and shared tips to whip up espresso-like coffee without an espresso machine. Perfect for those diving into the coffee world!

can you make espresso in a keurig

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