If you enjoy both a full and rich shot of espresso and the touch-of-a-button convenience of your Keurig coffee machine, doesn’t it make sense to use your Keurig to make authentic espresso rather than pay more for a dedicated espresso machine?
Unfortunately, the short answer is “no.” While it is possible to brew a more robust and concentrated shot with a Keurig machine than its typical offering, the result will be far from the quality you would expect from genuine espresso shots pulled using high pressure and the correct equipment.
This article examines why that is and offers alternatives for achieving an intense, flavorful coffee at home using your Keurig coffee maker.
Can You Make Espresso With Keurig Coffee Makers?
It is not really possible to make high-quality espresso with a Keurig.
That may seem surprising, given the reputation of Keurig for quickly and easily brewing a wide variety of coffee and tea drinks. However, traditional espresso coffee is not among them.
Espresso is brewed very differently from other methods and involves forcing hot water under high pressure through tightly packed, finely ground coffee beans. The beverage is characterized by its strong flavor and distinctive crema-topped foam on top.
Technically, making an authentic espresso with a Keurig is impossible because the machines don’t use pressure to brew coffee. Instead, Keurig machines use a pre-measured, sealed portion of coffee, called a K-Cup, to brew a cup of coffee. The Keurig coffee maker punctures the lid of the K-Cup with a needle and injects hot water into the grounds. That process bears similarities with a drip coffee maker but is more convenient.
Another issue is the grind size of the ground coffee in a K-Cup, which is medium instead of fine. That means they can’t produce the same taste or texture as authentic espresso.
Furthermore, the smallest cup size is 4oz using a Keurig machine, while a traditional espresso is approximately 1.5oz to 3oz. Because of this, even the strongest K-Cup is too watery and can’t realistically be compared to an espresso shot. Here is the guide for Keurig Cup Sizes for your reference.
If you are looking for single-serve coffee makers that produce espresso shots with rich flavor and crema, Nespresso is the option to go for.
Can You Make Espresso With Keurig K-Cafe?
Perhaps the closest you can get to making espresso-like drinks with a Keurig is using its K-Cafe cappuccino and latte system which is marketed for its ability to make espresso-style drinks.
That is because it comes with a milk frother that you can use to froth milk for beverages that typically use espresso, including lattes and cappuccinos. Even more compelling is the “shot” button on the machine that offers a more concentrated coffee. Indeed, many people consider this an espresso-style drink.
Nevertheless, even the coffee produced by a K-Cafe isn’t authentic espresso as it isn’t brewed under high pressure. Therefore, the machine can make a similar-tasting drink, but it will not be the same as a real espresso pulled by espresso machines.
What Types Of Coffee Do Keurig Coffee Makers Make?
As we pointed out earlier, one of the most attractive elements of Keurig coffee makers is their ability to make a wide range of hot beverages, including coffee, tea, cocoa, and specialty drinks. They do this using the pre-packaged K-Cups – single-serve pods filled with coffee grounds, tea leaves, or a hot cocoa mix. Each pod is sealed, ensuring the contents remain as fresh and aromatic as possible. Options include:
- Regular coffee: this is the most popular type of K-Cup, and there is a wide-ranging of blends and roasts, including light, medium, and dark. There are also flavored and decaffeinated options.
- Specialty coffee: these pods make drinks, including lattes and cappuccinos. They often include flavored syrups and powdered milk, which can be added to the beverage after brewing.
- Tea: these capsules have loose-leaf or bagged tea with many flavor options, including black, green, and herbal teas.
- Hot cocoa: these K-Cups have a hot cocoa mix with several flavors, including milk chocolate and dark chocolate.
- Some Keurig models have a brew-over-ice function, which offers somewhat more concentrated coffee over ice cubes for iced coffee.
How To Make Espresso In A Keurig
Despite the limitations of Keurig machines in making espresso, producing an espresso-style drink with them is possible. Here are the basic steps for doing so:
- You can either use Keurig espresso pods as they offer a more robust flavor, or use a reusable K-Cup filter filled with your espresso ground coffee and finer grind size for even closer results. You may also want to use a milk frother to make latte and cappuccino-style drinks.
- Fill the reusable filter with espresso grounds, but ensure that the grounds are not as fine as you would using an espresso machine. If they are too fine, they could block the needle. With this option, it’s worth trying a dark roast coffee to replicate espresso’s strong and rich taste.
- Place the filter into the machine, ensuring it is secure before brewing.
- Use the “strong” or “shot” setting. Many Keurig machines have an option for brewing more concentrated drinks.
- Choose the smallest cup size.
- Brew the coffee – using the reusable filter and appropriate grounds, combined with the right settings, should produce an espresso-style drink.
- (Optional) – add milk froth using a frother to the coffee for latte and cappuccino-style drinks.
Espresso K-Cups For Keurig Machines?
As the instructions above indicate, espresso K-Cups use espresso roast coffee intended to be brewed using the “strong” or “shot” setting on the machine for those who want an espresso-style beverage.
Here’s a list of some of the more popular brands of espresso K-Cups for Keurig machines:
- Dunkin’ Donuts – this popular and famous brand offers K-Cups with wide-ranging options across different flavors and sizes. One of them is the Espresso Style Dark Roast coffee.
- Starbucks – the best options are the brand’s Italian Roast and French roast K-Cup pods, which offer a stronger flavor.
- Lavazza – the Italian company has a line of K-Cups, including Espresso Italiano.
- Cafe Bustelo – this company offers K-Cups with a bold and robust flavor that resembles an authentic espresso.
- Illy – one of the brand’s more popular espresso-like options is its Intenso Dark Roast coffee K-Cup, which has a dark roast style using high-quality 100% Arabica beans.
It is worth keeping in mind that while some of the K-Cups are labeled as “espresso,” the result will be a beverage akin to strong coffee rather than a genuine espresso shot. It will be down to your taste preference and opinion on how close to authentic espresso you want your domestic brewing efforts to resemble to determine whether what they offer is acceptable.
So, there we have it – with some effort or using the correct K-Cups, you can make a concentrated coffee shot that resembles espresso using your trusty Keurig machine. However, because of the manner in which espresso is brewed (using high pressure to force water through the tightly packed grounds), there is no way to make a genuinely authentic espresso with this single-serve coffee machine – it’s just not how they are designed.
That’s not to say you can’t make espresso-style drinks you can enjoy with your Keurig, but they won’t have the intensity of a real espresso. Neither will they have the all-important crema that sets espresso apart from other intense coffee shots.
If you want to make coffee shop-quality espresso at home as quickly and easily as a Keurig, your best option could be to invest in a super-automatic espresso machine or a Nespresso machine. Alternatively, if you’re on the lookout for a capsule-based alternative that offers espresso-like drinks, one of the Nespresso range of machines could be the better option.