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Ever since I discovered espresso K Cups for my Keurig, it's basically the only variety of coffee pods I use!

I'm always searching for the best of the best, so over the last few years, I've been compiling a list of my favorites.

I'll share everything you need to know about making the best espresso-style coffee with your Keurig below!

OUR TOP PICK

Lavazza Espresso Italiano

Taste

5.0

Size Options

5.0

Value For Money

4.5


Our Score

4.8

CHEAPEST OPTION

Maud's Dark Roast

Taste

4.0

Size Options

4.0

Value For Money

5.0


Our Score

4.3

Most Popular

Starbucks Verismo Espresso

Taste

5.0

Size Options

4.0

Value For Money

3.5


Our Score

4.2

1. Lavazza Espresso Italiano - Best Tasting Espresso K-Cup

In order to win my number one spot on this list, you know the Lavazza Espresso Italiano K Cups must be a fantastic-tasting coffee.

I love being able to enjoy a true quality Italian morning coffee beverage from home, preferably in my PJs. The best-tasting espresso by a K cup that I have tried…. And I have tried many!

It came as no surprise to me that an Italian brand would produce the best espresso K cup option, truly tasting like authentic espresso.

Italy is world-renowned for its coffee craftsmanship. I generally have high expectations when it comes to Italian coffee brands such as Lavazza, and their Espresso Italiano K cup espresso did not disappoint.

As with most espresso K cups on this list, Lavazza relies strictly on Arabica beans, which give a medium-dark roast.

What I like a lot about this option is that the boldness of the bean does not lean heavily into bitterness. Acidity is present but not overpowering.

There is a touch of sweetness on the palate, along with some fruity, almost spring-like top notes on the aroma.

Roast Level

Medium

Tasting Notes

Sweet Fruit and Floral

Price Per Count

$0.56

Region Of Origin

Central and South America

Bean Type

100% Arabica

Caffeine Per Cup

40-75mg

Pros

  • A true Italian-style espresso coffee. I am transported back to the bus stop cafe in Milan.
  • Perfect balance of bitter, acid, and sweet on the palate.
  • Medium roast provides a brighter taste to its darker roasted compatriots

Cons

  • Less crema due to 100% arabica beans
  • On the pricey side at $0.63-$0.83 per serving

2. San Francisco Bay Espresso Roast - Best K-Cup For Lattes

One of my biggest concerns with using K cups for my morning espresso fix is the impact on the environment.

I really appreciate how San Francisco Bay has stepped up to address this challenge by prioritizing the future of our planet while still offering a great product.

I love that their pods are eco-friendly and compostable, and their beans are sourced from small, sustainable farms in Central America that are certified Kosher coffee beans.

Having one eye on the future of our planet is a huge bonus in my eyes.[1]

San Francisco Bay Coffee also prefers 100% Arabica for their blend. Theirs gets a medium dark roast, so they roast a little bit longer than our friends at Lavazza.

For my nose, this slight difference in roast level translates to more smoke and a bit of spice (a little bit of cinnamon, a little bit of pepper) on the aroma.

Taste-wise, I definitely get chocolate, followed by char and more pepper. I love the complexity here. A punchy, full-bodied espresso.

Great on its own but also really enjoyable with frothed milk for a latte or cappuccino if you're still craving a little extra something after your meal.

I like a dark espresso roast beverage, and this SF Bay coffee K cup for Keurig machines delighted my taste buds. A seriously delicious coffee that is kind to the planet.

Roast Level

Medium Dark

Tasting Notes

Dark chocolate, smoky brown spice

Price Per Count

$1.12

Region Of Origin

Central America

Bean Type

100% Arabica, certified Kosher coffee beans

Caffeine Per Cup

60 -80mg

Pros

  • Dark, rich, and smooth espresso
  • Great complexity that makes you want to taste it over and over again to pick up all of the notes.
  • Their eco-friendly initiative is a big bonus in my books.

Cons

  • One of the most costly options at $1.12 per serving
  • Less crema due to the absence of Robusta beans in the blend

3. Maud's Dark Roast - Cheapest Espresso K-Cups

I appreciate that Maud's puts their efforts for planetary well-being front and center.

Their single-serving espresso K cup pods are recyclable pods, and they source their high-quality Arabica beans from sustainable, ethical sources.

Maud's also opts for a dark roast, which they apply at their California facility. I find they do an excellent job of maintaining balance and complexity with their espresso blend.

The term "easy drinking" comes to mind. I get a bright, acidic pop on the palate to start, followed by the enjoyable bitterness of dark chocolate with a touch of charred, burnt taste that lingers.

I recommend a splash of hot water to lengthen this espresso K cup coffee to better enjoy the rich flavor of very high-quality coffee. It makes it more of an Americano versus an espresso.

Maud’s offers a large variety of coffee pods, including a range of flavored coffee and K cup-brewed coffee that compares to filtered coffee, which I appreciate as I do like to mix it up.

All in all, Maud’s makes a good cup of coffee with a natural taste that comes from selecting high-quality coffee beans with a well-balanced roast.

Roast Level

Dark

Tasting Notes

Rich, Burnt undertones

Price Per Count

$0.44

Region Of Origin

South and Central America

Bean Type

100% Arabica (single origin available)

Caffeine Per Cup

60 mg

Pros

  • Recyclable coffee pods and sustainably sourced beans
  • Single-origin and flavored espresso options are available
  • Very affordably priced at $0.39 per serving

Cons

  • The lingering char notes can come off as burnt, which does not appeal to everyone

4. Starbucks Verismo - Most Popular Espresso K-Cups

Next up, we have a true dark roast espresso. The Starbucks Verismo Espresso K-Cup pods contain a blend of dark roasted beans (100% Arabica) from South and Central America, Asia, and the Pacific.

As with all things Starbucks, the beans are high-quality.

The roast is quite dark, which I enjoy because it gives the coffee an intense mouthful of strong flavor.

I get burnt, sugary, rich caramel on the aroma. The taste is heavy on dark chocolate, the really dark 70%+ kind that hardcore chocolate lovers and vegans go for.

With that definitely comes bitterness, and that burnt note on the nose carries through on the palate. This coffee will wake up your tastebuds.

Be warned: the Starbucks espresso roast K cups only work in the Verismo brand brewers. They will not work in the average Keurig brewers.

Roast Level

Dark

Tasting Notes

Caramel, dark chocolate

Price Per Count

-

Region Of Origin

Latin America and Asia/Pacific

Bean Type

100% Arabica

Caffeine Per Cup

60 mg

Pros

  • High-quality beans, Starbucks style
  • Very bold and robust espresso.

Cons

  • The burnt flavor notes are an acquired taste, not for the faint palate.
  • Does not work in Keurig K cup brewers

5. Café Bustelo Espresso Style Dark Roast Pods

Taste

4.5

Size Options

4.0

Value For Money

4.0


Overall Rating

4.2

My first experience with Cuban coffee was not, in fact, in Cuba. As I'm sure many of you Cuban coffee lovers did, mine was from a coffee cart in Miami.

I wish I could say I loved it from the very first sip, but at the time, my coffee taste buds were not what they are today.

With time, I became a big fan of the Cuban style with its big, super dark and rich flavor.

Cafe Bustelo espresso-style dark roast pods hit the mark for high-quality espresso with a strong, rich flavor that tastes just like that South Beach coffee cart.

These pods work with any Keurig coffee maker and are a great affordable option for making espresso with a K-cup machine.

One of the few options that utilize a blend of Robusta and Arabica beans in a K cup pod, you will enjoy that picture-perfect light, frothy crema on top of your jet-black espresso.

While it may not appeal to every coffee lover, this is the best espresso from a Keurig K cup if you like a Latin-style espresso.[2]

Another bonus of this high-quality espresso is the high caffeine content of around 120 mg.

Roast Level

Dark

Tasting Notes

Intense, bold, chocolate, Cuban coffee

Price Per Count

$0.39 - $0.58

Region Of Origin

South America

Bean Type

Blend of Robusta and Arabica

Caffeine Per Cup

120 mg

Pros

  • Great price at $0.37 per coffee
  • Best option for the rich, strong flavor of Cuban-style espresso
  • More kick per buck: high caffeine content per cup
  • More crema thanks to the addition of Robusta beans

Cons

  • Very strong, intense flavor is an acquired taste. Most people don’t like this style of coffee the first time they try it.

6. Green Mountain Vanilla Espresso Shots K-Cup

Taste

4.5

Size Options

4.0

Value For Money

4.0


Overall Rating

4.2

Finally, a flavored espresso option in a Keurig K cup! And in my favorite flavor, vanilla.

As far as flavored coffee pods go, I am a fan of this vanilla espresso from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

The addition of vanilla is just enough to be noticeable without being overpowering, and there is no artificial aftertaste.

I love that the flavoring provides sweetness to this espresso, making it a sugar-free (and gluten-free) delight with a splash of frothed milk.

Green Mountain's espresso K cups of freshly ground coffee are on the higher end of the price per cup scale, but many of the lower-priced flavored espresso options I tried lacked the natural taste this espresso maintains.

They do have a half-caff for a lower caffeine content option (not in the vanilla flavor). Definitely worth trying if you enjoy flavored espresso.

Roast Level

Dark

Tasting Notes

Sweet, vanilla

Price Per Count

$0.76

Region Of Origin

South and Central America

Bean Type

100% Arabica

Caffeine Per Cup

100 mg

Pros

  • Sweet tasting but totally sugar-free
  • Also, conveniently gluten-free and vegan
  • The best-flavored espresso option sampled

Cons

  • Mild coffee flavor tastes does taste a bit weak, especially if you like a big, bold espresso
  • Espresso purists may tell you that vanilla flavor does not belong in espresso

7. Timothy's World Coffee Rainforest Espresso K-Cup

Fun fact: I began my coffee journey at a Timothy's when I ordered a medium latte with 3 sugars so I could chat with the cute barista.

Needless to say, things didn't work out with the barista, and my coffee tastes have come along well from their milky sweet origins. Still, I have maintained a sweet spot for Timothy's coffee.

Personal anecdotes and teenage heartbreak aside, Timothy's delivers with its World Coffee Rainforest Espresso K Cup.

Another proponent of recyclable, eco-friendly pods, the Toronto-based roaster is also on trend with its choice of 100% Arabica beans that are sustainably sourced from independent farms in South and Central America.

I like the risk they took with a super dark, heavily roasted espresso while managing to maintain a balance of acidity and bitterness. Both are present but mild enough not to overpower.

I get summer fruits on the aroma and browned butter on the palate. Caffeine content is mild.

With such a strong dark flavor from a Keurig machine, these recyclable pods make a smooth espresso that holds up against any coffee shop.

This is one of the better espresso K cups, at a reasonable price, that is environmentally conscious.

Roast Level

Very Dark

Tasting Notes

Sweet fruit, toasted caramel

Price Per Count

$0.83

Region Of Origin

South and Central America

Bean Type

100% Arabica

Caffeine Per Cup

75 mg

Pros

  • Sustainably sourced coffee beans in recyclable pods
  • Nicely roasted, high-quality coffee
  • Mid-range pricing at $0.52 per serving

Cons

  • Not widely available, so you may need to order online if you don’t have a local Timothy’s

8. Double Donut Espresso Roast

I enjoy this coffee mostly as a regular espresso without any frothed milk. Hot and short, a nice quick sip of lively espresso.

I'm calling this my 2 pm pick-me-up espresso, which I can (and often do) brew at home at the press of a button, thanks to these Keurig K cups.

These K cups are also recyclable as well as dairy-free, sugar-free, and kosher.

The reason why I included Double Donut’s Espresso Roast K cup on this list is because their medium roast espresso blend of 100% Arabica beans just makes a solid espresso!

It is very easy to drink. The aroma is fresh and buttery (melted, not burned), the acidity is light, and on the taste, the buttery aroma turns into caramel notes with a hint of a smoky finish that does not linger long.

A nice alternative to some of the super bold, dark espresso K cups on this list.

Roast Level

Medium

Tasting Notes

Light acidity, smoky caramel

Price Per Count

$0.34 - $0.73

Region Of Origin

South and Central America

Bean Type

100% Arabica

Caffeine Per Cup

65mg

Pros

  • Easy drinking and fresh tasting
  • No burnt flavors

Cons

  • A little too mild or weak for strong espresso lovers
  • Lacks some of the complexities I enjoy in an espresso

9. Brooklyn Beans Dark Roast

I had the pleasure of visiting the Brooklyn, New York, flagship of the aptly named Brooklyn Bean Roastery. Their enthusiasm for coffee is palpable the moment you step into the building.

This team is creating some exciting and complex premium coffee, which is really exciting.

The beans are sourced from South and Central America, and they are sticking with the predominant trend of 100% Arabica beans for their blend.

Their new dark roast espresso K cups make it easy for anyone to enjoy their coffee and espresso from their home using their Keurig coffee machine, especially if a visit to Brooklyn is not in the cards anytime soon.

For their espresso K cup, Brooklyn Bean Roastery opted for a very dark roast. The result is a bold espresso that makes for quite an interesting, unique cup of coffee.

There is plenty of smoke in the aroma, along with spice. I almost get notes of barbeque sauce!

The taste is very complex. Lots of spice and smoke, still, but in a more mellow way than I expected off the nose.

What is surprising is how little bitterness there is on the finish, despite such a dark roast. Again, I recommend trying this with a little hot water to open up some of the complexities of this coffee.

Roast Level

Dark

Tasting Notes

Smoky brown spice, bold

Price Per Count

$0.60

Region Of Origin

South and Central America

Bean Type

100% Arabica

Caffeine Per Cup

75-100 mg

Pros

  • Bold, strong flavor with smoky notes
  • Something unique and clearly made with love
  • Very affordably priced at $0.39 per serving

Cons

  • Not as widely available as many other commercial brands

10. Lavazza Perfetto Espresso K-Cups

Taste

3.5

Size Options

4.5

Value For Money

4.0


Overall Rating

4.0

Lavazza makes a second appearance on the top 10 of my list for very solid reasons. It is no secret that I am a fan of Italian coffee.

If you are a coffee lover like me, odds are you also seek out Italian brands for reliable, high-quality espresso. Lavazza does not disappoint with this dark, velvety espresso blend of finely ground coffee in a Keurig K cup.

I chose Lavazza's Perfetto Espresso to round out this list because it offers a very different option from the one we started off with. The same 100% Arabica beans are, this time, roasted to a rich, dark level.

While not quite as complex (dare I say quirky) as some of the other dark options listed, Lavazza delivers a solid, traditional dark roast espresso here.

The aroma notes are buttery with plenty of smoke. This is followed by warm caramel and more smoke, which lingers pleasantly in the mouth.

A very enjoyable coffee, either on its own as an espresso or topped with frothed milk for a cappuccino.

This K cup makes a great mocha as well, as the smoky caramel blends well with the bitterness from the chocolate and the sweetness from the milk.

Roast Level

Dark

Tasting Notes

Smoke, Caramel

Price Per Count

$0.45 - $0.82

Region Of Origin

South and Central America

Bean Type

100% Arabica

Caffeine Per Cup

60 - 80 mg

Pros

  • Very drinkable dark roast option from an Italian go-to brand
  • Smoky and sweet with caramel, great for mochas
  • Widely available

Cons

  • Less complex than some other dark roast options
  • Higher than average price point at $0.60 per cup

How To Choose The Best Espresso K-Cups For You

Here are the key factors that I’ve noticed are not to be overlooked. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll never be disappointed with your K cup choice.

Flavor Profile

Flavor profile is a distinctly personal preference and ultimately is one of the main deciding factors for which K cup you will reach for. Many of the flavor profiles prevalent in coffee are an acquired taste.

Most people avoid things like acidity, bitterness, or burnt tastes in their food and drink.

However, these are very important, common flavors in coffee, especially espresso.

It's important to remember (and it is pretty noticeable if you read this list) that, generally, the darker the roast, the more likely you will find those bitter, dark chocolate, smoky or burnt notes.

I particularly enjoy it when these include some spice, like black pepper. These flavor profiles are actually quite similar to what you might discuss about your favorite big, bold red wine.

If you prefer your espresso to be more crisp and bright with fruit, floral notes, and more sweetness than bitterness, you will enjoy the medium roast options, such as our number 1 by Lavazza.

Type Of Bean

The trend these days is definitely heavy on the Arabica, with little to mostly no use of Robusta beans. The old school of thought was that espresso beans should be a blend of both Arabica and Robusta.

And it was in this blend that the coffee maker could play around and make their mark.

For mass production, which requires consistency, and to ensure a strong flavor, most espresso K cup manufacturers opt for a 100% Arabica blend.

The results are bold espressos that taste the same regardless of when and where they are enjoyed.

Preparing Espresso Shots In A Keurig Top View

Roast Level

All espresso bean blends are roasted to medium or medium dark at a minimum. Most are dark-roasted. This adds the deep color, the crema, and the rich, smoky flavor that espresso is known for.

For many Americans, espresso is not the type of coffee we start drinking at a young age.

Generally, our taste buds develop and acquire an appreciation for that dark roasted bitterness later. Mine certainly did.

That is not to downplay the enjoyability of a medium or lighter roast coffee bean. I often prefer a medium to light roast, especially if I need extra caffeine.

If we are talking true espresso in a K cup, it should be roasted long and on the darker side.

If you prefer a lighter roasted coffee, look for brewed or filtered coffee versions of K cups (not espresso).

Caffeine Content

Given the variation in production and storage of Keurig K cups, which impact freshness and quality, it is difficult for the producers to quote an exact caffeine content.

So most companies quote a range. As a general guideline, darker roasted beans have less caffeine content than medium to light roasts. Expect about 60 - 100 mg per espresso.

Shot Of Espresso On Wooden Table

Price Per Count

Price per count varies greatly, as does availability. Some excellent options are on this list on the lower side of the cost-per-cup spectrum.

Expect to pay anywhere between 40 cents to $1.50 per count, depending on brand and quantity per pack.

Access to Product

Many of these brands are available to order online, either directly from the coffee roaster or through Amazon.

Some (like Starbucks) you can pick up at your favorite local coffee shop.

Compatibility In Your Machine

Be sure to check this before you buy anything! This is a big one.

There are so many different machines out there, and not all machines will take all types of pods. So read the packaging and know which model you have.

If you have a Keurig brand machine, that makes it a bit easier, as most K cups will work in a Keurig. And remember that Starbucks and Nespresso machines have their own specific pods.

Environmental Impact

Another big factor. Many companies have invested in making their pods more sustainable, which is a huge bonus in my books.

Look for compostable or at least recyclable pods. And ideally, those who use sustainable practices for sourcing beans and producing their coffee k cups.

Being green is more than just a marketing effort, and some of the companies on this list have really stepped up to the plate.

Making Espresso In Keurig

5 Tips For Getting The Best Espresso Out Of Your Keurig

  1. Clean and descale your machine regularly. Make sure you stay on top of hard water build-up, which will change the taste of your coffee and eventually destroy your machine
  2. Use filtered water. This minimizes build-up and also removes most chemicals and heavy metals from your water, which keeps the flavor of your coffee pure.[3]
  3. Empty the used K cup right after use. Leaving the used K cup in the machine for a long time allows stale coffee to collect and gunk up your machine. Plus, that stale coffee smell is really off-putting the next time you go to make yourself a fresh coffee
  4. Only use pods that work with the machine you have. Getting a pod stuck because you tried to force it to fit into the machine it is not meant for is just not a good idea.
  5. Try different K cups! Don't get stuck in a rut. Sure, always keep your favorite go-to coffee K cups on hand. But be sure to pick up something new now and then. You might discover a new favorite to add to your list of best espresso K cups.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What is the difference between K-Cups and espresso pods?

The difference between K cups and Keurig espresso pods is the type of coffee they make. Espresso pods or espresso-specific K cups will make a short, intense shot of coffee known as an espresso shot. Other K cups are meant to make an 8-ounce cup of coffee and are more watery, like a cup of brewed or filtered coffee.

Can you make lattes and cappuccinos with K-cups?

Yes, you can make lattes and cappuccinos with K cups. If you add frothed milk or steamed milk to an espresso brewed from a K cup with a Keurig machine (or similar), you have a delicious specialty coffee to enjoy at home.

Which of these K-cups is best for making lattes?

The best K cups for making lattes are any K cups specifically for making espressos. The 10 listed here would all work. I personally think a K cup with darker, richer flavors is best suited for making lattes.

Are espresso K-cups actually made with espresso roast coffee?

Yes, espresso K cups are actually made with espresso roast coffee. Or rather, they should be! If they are being sold as espresso, they should have dark-roasted Arabica or Robusta coffee beans.

Do K-cups have calories, sugar, and fat content?

K cups do not have calories, sugar, or fat content. They are simply brewed espresso coffee. If you are adding frothed milk, steamed milk, sugar, or sweetener, then you would be adding calories, sugar, or fat. The coffee on its own should not have any (or negligible small amounts).

So, Which Should You Buy?

What a wonderful world we live in! You can enjoy so many delicious options for making espresso easily in the comfort of your home without a complicated machine.

I regularly add espresso K cups to my Christmas and birthday lists. I'll take a K cup whenever I can, especially if it's one I haven't tried yet.

Variety is the spice of life, and a nice cup of espresso gives us the energy to explore.

Stay hydrated, my friends.

Our #1 Espresso K-Cup - Lavazza

Taste

5.0

Size Options

5.0

Value For Money

4.5


Overall Rating

4.8