Can You Use K-Cups In Nespresso? (And The Other Way Around)

If you own a Keurig or Nespresso, you've probably wondered, can you use Nespresso pods in a Keurig or not?

I thought the same thing, but after some trial, error, and research, I quickly found that the coffee pods aren't interchangeable.

In this guide, I’ll explain what happens when you put a Nespresso pod in a Keurig or a K cup in a Nespresso and why it won’t work.

K-Cups don’t work in Nespresso machines because both Keurig and Nespresso have proprietary designs. However, that’s just the short answer.

There are a lot of different coffee machines out there, but two of the most popular are Nespresso and Keurig machines.

They both offer a more convenient and cheaper way to make a coffee shop-quality cup of coffee at home, replacing your old drip coffee maker.[1]

Nespresso and Keurig models work similarly, combining ground coffee beans within coffee pods with hot water to make a delicious brew.

The difference is that Nespresso coffee machines use Nespresso pods, and Keurig coffee makers use K cups.

K cups and Nespresso pods are (in theory) the same. They are single-use coffee pods filled with ground coffee that slot into your machine.

However, they are both designed specifically for their machine.

A K cup cannot be used in a Nespresso machine, and a Nespresso pod cannot be used in a Keurig coffee maker.

Given the similarities in the machines and the coffee pods, it may seem strange that you can’t use Nespresso pods in a Keurig or K cups for brewing coffee in your Nespresso.

1. The Machines Brew Differently

You can’t use K cups and Nespresso pods interchangeably because they brew coffee completely differently.

Keurig machines use a brew head with needles that puncture holes in the top and bottom of the K-cup coffee pod.

Hot water then flows from the Keurig machine, drips through the Robusta or Arabica beans, and into your cup, creating a single serving of drip coffee.

Nespresso machines work with a smaller, flatter Nespresso pod. The Nespresso machine injects hot water into the top of the flat Nespresso pod and then spins it at 7000 RPM.

This infuses the ground coffee beans in the coffee capsules with hot water. The delicious coffee then travels out through holes in the side of the Nespresso pod.

The different brewing methods used by the Keurig and Nespresso machines mean the Nespresso pods and K cups are incompatible.

Even if you managed to swap the Keurig and Nespresso pods and get them into the other coffee maker, it would cause a lot of mess and not create any coffee.

2. The Coffee Pod Shape Is Different

Another reason you can’t use a Nespresso pod in a Keurig coffee machine is the shape of the pod itself.

A standard K cup is cylindrical and looks like a small plastic cup. There is a recessed bottom in traditional K cups, so it can sit within the K cup holder.

The size and shape mean that the Keurig machine needles can easily puncture the top and bottom of the K cup during the brewing process.

There are two types of Nespresso pods:

  •  Nespresso Original pods
    These are small pods filled with ground coffee. They are much smaller and flimsier than K cups, but the weaker casing allows the Nespresso's small needle to inject water through the aluminum foil layer.
  • Nespresso Vertuo pods
    These are dome-shaped, allowing the ground coffee in the Nespresso pods to capture more flavor. It also increases aeration, giving you a layer of crema on your coffee.[2]

You can't use K cups in a Nespresso because the pod just will not fit, and you can't put Nespresso pods in a Keurig machine because the pods are the wrong shape and far too small.

coffee beans and nespresso pods

3. The Coffee Capsules Are Not The Same Size

Nespresso pods and K cups don't just have different shapes; they are sized differently.

This impacts which coffee machines they are compatible with and changes the type of coffee they produce.

Nespresso pods are smaller than K cups and contain less coffee. Nespresso pods typically only contain 5-6 grams of coffee and are used to make coffees between 1.5oz and 14oz.

K cups are larger than Nespresso pods and contain more coffee grounds, typically 8-11 grams.

K cups are designed to make coffee between 4oz and 30oz, which requires a higher volume of coffee grounds.

If you did use Nespresso pods in a Keurig brewer, it would create weak and watery coffee.

Likewise, if you squeezed Keurig K cups into a Nespresso machine, it would create bitter, unpleasant-tasting coffee.


Can I Make Espresso With A Keurig? (Nespresso-Style)

Neither Keurig machines nor Nespresso machines can make real espresso. However, you can use an espresso K cup to make an espresso-style drink.

Nespresso machines have proved you can make an excellent espresso substitute at home without an expensive machine.

They don't quite brew an authentic espresso because they use different coffee grounds, and the water isn't forced through at quite the same pressure.[3]

However, most coffee lovers agree that Nespresso coffee has the same bold taste as a coffee shop espresso. This is because of the rich, intense flavor and the authentic layer of crema they create.

Unfortunately, Keurig machines don't make crema like Nespresso machines. However, specific espresso K cups will give the same great flavor.

Espresso K cups use a rich dark roast coffee that adds more intensity than regular K cups. This mimics the flavor of a Nespresso-style espresso, giving bold and slightly bitter notes.

These espresso K cups won't give you true espresso but will give you a very similar-tasting coffee.

You can also use reusable K-cup pods in your Keurig. By filling the reusable K cup with espresso grounds and placing the pods in your Keurig coffee maker, you can create an espresso-style drink with the same bold flavors.

Just be sure to buy espresso roast coffee grounds.


Do K-Cups Work In Other Machines?

No, K cups are not the same as regular coffee pods and can’t be used in other coffee machines.

Keurig K cups are specifically designed to be used in Keurig machines. The shape and style mean they will only fit in a Keurig machine.

Plus, they’re designed to only work with the Keurig drip brewing style that many other coffee machines don’t use.

Not all K cups are even compatible with every Keurig machine.

The Keurig 2.0 range (discontinued in 2019) uses a specific type of K cup that needs to be scanned and won’t accept older K cup designs.

Always ensure your K cups are compatible with your specific Keurig machine, and don't try to use them in other coffee makers.

Starbucks K Cups Beside A Keurig Coffee Machine

What Happens If You Put A K-Cup In A Nespresso?

A K cup won’t fit in a Nespresso machine because it's the wrong shape and size.

If you did manage to squeeze a K cup into a Nespresso coffee maker and it did start brewing, it could cause injury and a lot of mess.

The Nespresso machine would inject a small needle into the top of the K cup like it would with a Nespresso capsule. The hot water would pour in with nowhere to go, increasing the pressure.

The Nespresso machine would then spin the K cup like it would with Nespresso pods. This would leave you with a K cup filled with hot water, spinning at 7000 RPM.

In all likelihood, the K cup would explode, sending coffee and coffee grounds spraying out over your kitchen. It would potentially cause damage.


What Coffee Pods Are Compatible With Nespresso?

There are two Nespresso machines to choose from; the Nespresso Original and the Nespresso Vertuo.

The Nespresso Original offers a classic brewed coffee just like an authentic espresso. The Nespresso Vertuo machines offer a full range of different coffee styles.

Here's which coffee pods you can use in each:

Nespresso Original Compatible Pods

Nespresso Original uses a small coffee pod with a foil lid. The brewing process is simple because they are only designed to make one cup of great coffee - an espresso-style drink.

The Nespresso Original uses a thin needle to create a cup of coffee.

This will pierce Nespresso capsules or other coffee pods with an aluminum foil lid, but won't pierce different kinds of pods made with harder plastic.

That's why you can only use certain coffee pods in your Nespresso machine.

Nespresso instant coffee pods are the best choice for making the perfect cup of coffee in a Nespresso Original.

However, over 100 compatible coffee pods from different brands can be used with a Nespresso Original.

The most popular compatible Nespresso Original pods include:

  • Starbucks (their Verismo pods fit in a Nespresso Original too)
  • Peet’s Coffee
  • L’or
  • Lavazza
  • Pact Coffee
  • Illy
  • Grano Milano

You can find all kinds of high-quality Nespresso Original compatible pods in stores or online (I find Amazon the most convenient way to source them).

Remember, you cannot use Nespresso Vertuo coffee pods in a Nespresso Original.

Nespresso Vertuo Compatible Pods

Nespresso Vertuo coffee pods are dome-shaped, not round like the Nespresso Original pods.

They often contain different gourmet coffees and can create a fresh cup of coffee in 5 different sizes (unlike the Nespresso Original).

Another key difference is that Nespresso Vertuo pods use barcode technology embedded into the pods.

This is designed to give a different coffee experience as the Nespresso Vertuo adjusts the parameters depending on which single-serve beverages it's brewing.

This improved brewing adds more flavor and can make a big difference to your brew.

The difference in the brewing process means you can only use specific Vertuo Nespresso capsules in your Vertuo coffee maker.

No other brands are making Vertuo-compatible pods currently.

Some reusable Vertuo coffee pod options will work in the machine.

These contain a reusable filter and are quickly becoming a popular method for getting a caffeine fix because they are cheaper and more eco-friendly.

Nespresso produces a wide variety of Vertuo capsules, including some cheaper options for those on a budget.

Unfortunately, you can’t use a regular Nespresso Original coffee pod (or compatible pods) because they don’t have a barcode.

I've noticed that many brands say that their pods are 'compatible with a Nespresso,' but this only refers to the Nespresso Original.

Always check the full specifications of your favorite coffee pods to ensure they are compatible.

Variety Of Nespresso Coffee Pods

Related Using K-Cups In Nespresso Questions

Can Nespresso Pods be used in a Keurig?

No, you can’t use Nespresso pods in a Keurig. You can only use Keurig K cups or reusable K cups in Keurig coffee machines.

Can you make an espresso with a Nespresso coffee pod?

No, you can't use Nespresso pods to make actual espresso because it requires espresso grounds and a specific coffee brewing technique. However, you can use their espresso pods to make great-tasting coffee that espresso lovers will enjoy almost as much as authentic espresso.

Can you use your own coffee grounds in a Nespresso machine?

Yes, but you need to buy your own reusable coffee pod and fill it with your own ground coffee beans. There are refillable capsules available for both Nespresso Vertuo and Nespresso Original single-serve coffee makers.

Do Starbucks K-cups work in Nespresso?

No, Starbucks K cup Keurig pods won’t work in a Nespresso coffee maker because they are the wrong shape and size. However, there are Starbucks Nespresso pods available.

Can you use K-Cups without a Keurig?

No, you can’t use Keurig pods in anything other than Keurig brewers. However, you can open the K cup and remove the instant coffee and paper filter from the inside. These can then be placed in a different pod and used in the brewing process.


Conclusion

So, can you use Nespresso pods in a Keurig coffee maker? No, you can't because, unfortunately, not all coffee pods are compatible with all coffee makers.

A Keurig brewer is better for everyday coffees, with a massive variety of coffee styles and brands to choose from (like Starbucks, Keurig Green Mountain, and hundreds of others).

Nespresso, particularly the Nespresso Vertuo machine, offers more refined coffee drinking. They’re closer to espresso machines, and coffee lovers will appreciate the bold flavor more.

References:

  1. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/single-serve-coffee-revolution-brews-industry-change/
  2. https://newgroundmag.com/2022/04/science-behind-perfect-crema
  3. https://towardsdatascience.com/espresso-parameters-pre-infusion-pressure-and-water-temperature-f543a3c4044e

Kayla Stavridis

Head of Marketing

Kayla Stavridis
Kayla Stavridis is a coffee enthusiast and Head of Marketing for Barista HQ. She blends her professional insights and experience with a deep passion for all things coffee. Kayla offers a unique, hands-on perspective on coffee culture and trends. You can find her sipping a cold brew with just a touch of milk on the beach in the afternoon and a Corona with lime in the evening.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... Cold Brew

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