Curious about whether a Keurig or a classic drip brewer will be best for your home? Don't worry; I'm here to help.
I've used both coffee makers for years, and although they seem similar, there are some key differences.
In this guide, I'll compare the quality of coffee, speed, brew size, and other factors, and by the end, you should know exactly which coffee maker you need in your home.
Let's just right in!
Keurig Vs Drip Coffee Machines: Which Is Better?
Let's start with a quick breakdown of some of the key components of each machine.
$60-200 upfront cost and high running costs (for K cups)
$20-$150 with low running costs
Single-use coffee pods
Single-cup of coffee
Up to a whole coffee pot
Under 30 seconds per cup
5-10 minutes for a whole pot
2 options; classic and strong
Only regular coffee
Limited control - the Keurig does all the work
More control over coffee, brew time, volume, etc.
Ease of use
Very easy to use
Slightly more complicated
Limited depending on the Keurig coffee maker
Usually, lots of different features, including programmable settings, hot plate, etc.
A Keurig machine will cost at least $60, but you have to pay for the K cups.
The price of K cups will vary depending on the type of coffee used and brand, but on average, they cost $0.40-$0.80 per Keurig K cup pod. That can translate to over $400 a year just on K cups!
Drip coffee makers are a lot cheaper than Keurig machines, and you can pick up an automatic coffee maker for $20.
The running costs for automatic coffee makers are also much lower because buying coffee grounds costs a fraction of the price of pre-packaged coffee pods.
Winner - Drip coffee makers
The low upfront and running costs make drip coffee cheaper than Keurig machines, and the price comparison isn’t close. I love my Keurig, but you do have to be prepared to spend more.
2. Coffee Taste
Drip machines brew full-bodied coffee. The extraction from the traditional method used in drip brewing means drip machines capture more coffee flavor.
It's well-rounded and simple but with a distinctive flavor. You can also use different coffee grounds to give you different-tasting coffees.
Most Keurig coffee maker K-cups make lighter coffee. This lighter Keurig taste is because the K cups contain fewer coffee grounds and have a quicker extraction time.
However, K cups make all kinds of hot coffee. There are a wide variety of roast levels, beans, and even specialty brews to choose from, and you can get different flavors to match your tastes.
Winner - Drip coffee makers
Keurig K-cups can brew more in terms of the type of coffee, but drip machines produce more full-bodied coffee on average than K cups.
It's simple but flavorsome, and you can use different grounds to make it the best-tasting coffee for you.
3. Ease Of Use / Convenience
Keurig machines could not be easier to use. They're designed for convenience and are very user-friendly.
The K cups contain the coffee and filter, so all you need to do is put it in the machine and start the brew cycle. Once it's finished, you can throw the K cup away.
Automatic drip machines aren’t complicated but do require more manual effort to fuel your coffee habit.
You have to purchase coffee grounds (or grind your beans) and then load them into the paper filter in the filter basket. Then start the cycle and leave the drip machine to brew.
Once the brew cycle has finished, you need to empty the grounds, remove the paper filter, and clean the basket.
Winner - Keurig brewer
Keurigs couldn't be simpler, and they are the most user-friendly brewers I have ever made coffee with.
Standard drip coffee makers aren't complicated, but brewing coffee with them does take more work.
4. Coffee Quantity
Keurigs are single-serve brewers (except for the Keurig Duo that brews a pot). That means that they make a single cup of coffee at a time.
Drip coffee machines can brew a whole pot at a time (around 12-14 cups). You can choose how much coffee it makes by changing the amount of water and coffee grounds.
They also have a hot plate to keep the thermal carafe warm so you can drink it throughout the day.
Winner - Drip coffee makers
Automatic drip coffee makers can brew larger batches, whereas Keurig single-serve coffee makers can only make a single cup of coffee.
Drip machines are the best coffee maker for those who want to brew for several people at once.
5. Ease Of Cleaning
Keurig machines are very low maintenance and easy to clean. The K-cup single coffee pods don’t create much mess, and the brewing method has no paper filters or grounds to clean up.
You'll only need to wipe down a Keurig once a week and perform a deeper clean once every few weeks. The K-cup holder and water reservoir lift right out and are dishwasher-safe, so it's simple.
Keurigs need descaling every 3-4 months to remove limescale and mineral deposits caused by hard water.
This process involves flushing the Keurig with a descaling solution, and most Keurigs have a descaling function to make it easier.
Drip coffee makers have more components and are more time-consuming to clean.
The filter basket and coffee filter need cleaning every time after making coffee, and the brewing process can cause more mess (coffee grounds on the counter, etc.).
You’ll have to clean your drip coffee maker after each use and wipe down the surfaces around the machine.
You’ll also need to descale it every 3-4 months to remove any mineral deposits built up in the machine.
Winner - Keurig brewers
Keurigs are designed to be low maintenance. There’s very little mess when making coffee, and it only takes a few minutes to keep them clean.
I love how easy it is to clean my Keurig, and I recommend them to anyone who wants coffee without all the work.
The exact settings on a drip coffee machine will vary, but most include the following:
A Keurig coffee machine usually has very few settings. You can choose between 2 brew styles (classic and strong) and 3-5 different Keurig cup sizes.
The Keurig Duo and a few other models have auto-turn-on and Keurig auto-brew functions, but most don’t have different additional settings.
Winner - Drip coffee maker
Drip coffee makers have built-in settings to help you brew how you want, and some drip machines have an impressive array of features.
Keurig models don’t have many options, and while they will give you a fresh cup of coffee quickly, they aren’t as convenient.
7. Brew Time
Keurigs brew a single cup of coffee in about 30 seconds.
They have a separate hot water reservoir that maintains a constant water temperature, so they already have hot water available when you press the brew button.
Drip coffee makers take 5-10 minutes to make a standard drip coffee pot of joe.
Some drip machine models let you pause the brew cycle mid-way to pour a cup, but you have to wait longer than you would for a K-cup coffee.
Winner - Keurig brewer
You can't beat Keurigs for speed; they are much faster than any other specific brewing methods. A Keurig K-cup machine is best for coffee drinkers who want a fast brew.
What Exactly Is A Keurig? (Is It The Coffee Maker For You?)
Single-serve coffee makers are the second most popular way to make coffee at home in the US (after drip coffee), and Keurig is the original single-serve coffee maker.
Keurigs make it easy to produce coffee shop-quality coffee at home instantly. They produce one cup of coffee at a time using specific Keurig coffee pods called K cups.
K cups are plastic cups that contain coffee grounds from freshly roasted beans (usually decent coffee) that are vacuum sealed to keep the aroma and flavor.
They also have a small filter used in the brewing process.
Originally there was only one K cup coffee pod brand, Keurig Green Mountain K cups, but now there are hundreds, including top brands like Starbucks K-cups and Dunkin Donuts.
This lets you choose from a wide range of hot (and iced) drinks.
Keurigs brew coffee by pouring hot water through the coffee grounds. However, the process is faster than the drip coffee process.
- A K-cup is inserted into the K-cup holder in the Keurig.
- The Keurig machine uses needles to pierce small holes in the top and bottom of the K cup.
- A size and brew style is selected, and the brew button starts the cycle.
- The Keurig machine heats water from the reservoir and moves it through the brew head, into the K-cup, and out into your mug. The hot water interacts with the coffee grounds and creates a cup of coffee.
- The K-cup is then removed and thrown away (unless you're using reusable K-cups).
Keurig Coffee Machine Advantages
Who Should Buy A Keurig?
I recommend a Keurig to anyone who wants consistently high-quality coffee without any effort. They can produce a wide range of hot beverages and create almost instant coffee.
The user-friendly design and low maintenance operation make a Keurig machine perfect for coffee makers of all levels.
What Exactly Is A Drip Coffee Maker? (Should You Buy One?)
Drip coffee makers are the classic coffee maker.
Drip coffee is still the most popular home-brewed coffee in the US, though single-serving coffee makers (like Keurigs) have started to challenge their dominance.
Drip coffee makers do require a bit of manual input, but they’re still simple.
- The filter basket is filled with coffee grounds and loaded into the machine.
- A brewing cycle starts. Hot water is slowly sprayed over the coffee grounds. The water drips down and absorbs the coffee flavor.
- The coffee gathers in a carafe or coffee pot underneath.
- Once the brewing cycle has ended, the coffee grounds are removed, and the coffee filters are washed out.
Drip coffee makers create a pot of full-bodied coffee at home that's great for families or groups. You get control over the coffee and can choose any coffee grounds to make your favorite brew.
Drip Coffee Machine Advantages
Who Should Buy A Drip Coffee Maker?
I recommend drip coffee makers to coffee drinkers who like a lot of coffee or those brewing for multiple people.
They are also excellent coffee makers for those brewing on a budget, as an electric drip coffee machine can brew a whole coffee pot more cheaply than a single K cup coffee.
Drip coffee makers are better for coffee aficionados because they give you greater control.
You can experiment with different whole-bean coffee and brew with a brand, coffee bean, grind size, and roast level that you enjoy.
Why Do Coffee Enthusiasts Think Drip Coffee Is Still The Best?
Coffee enthusiasts prefer a drip coffee machine because it gives more control. You can choose:
Convenience vs control
Keurig coffee makers make coffee much quicker, simpler, and more convenient. They do that by minimizing the human input and taking control away from the brew.
Drip coffee makers give you more control, so authentic coffee lovers tend to prefer them.
Related Keurig Vs Drip Coffee Questions
Is Keurig coffee as strong as regular coffee?
Generally, regular coffee is stronger than Keurig coffee, but it does vary depending on the K cups and ground coffee used. The caffeine content in K cups is 75-100mg, whereas an average cup of drip coffee contains 140-165mg of caffeine.
What are the disadvantages of a drip coffee maker?
A drip coffee maker gives you less variety because you can only use it for regular coffee. It's not good for specialty coffees, and the brewing process takes longer.
What are the disadvantages of a Keurig?
Keurig coffee makers can only make a single serving of coffee each time. You also have limited control over the brewing process, and you’re limited by what Keurig coffee pods you have. Keurigs are also expensive to buy and use, and the K cups have a negative environmental impact.
What is drip coffee called at Starbucks?
Starbucks drip coffee is called 'brewed coffee.'
Can I use Keurig without pods?
No, all models apart from the Keurig Duo require K-cup pods to brew coffee. However, you can purchase reusable K cups that can be filled with ground coffee and slotted into the machine.
Is drip coffee better than espresso?
It all comes down to individual tastes. Espresso has to be made using an espresso machine and is 6-8 times more concentrated than drip coffee. This strong coffee has a bold, smooth, and balanced flavor with just a hint of bitterness. Drip-brewed coffee tastes more well-rounded with a simpler flavor profile that's better for everyday drinking.
Which Machine Wins This Brewing Battle?
When it comes to Keurig vs drip machines, there's no clear winner. They both make different types of coffee and are suited to different coffee drinkers.
Keurigs make coffee simple. A Keurig brew has a lighter flavor but is effortless to make and ready instantly.
A drip coffee maker brews more full-bodied coffee in larger quantities, but it takes longer.
Both coffee machines have advantages and disadvantages, but hopefully, this guide has helped you understand how they measure up, and you now know which is best for your home.