Everyone is familiar with the K-Cup brewing machines of Keurig coffee makers, especially if you’re from the USA. Still, the brand is not for everyone, so we’ll be weighing up the brand against traditional coffee machines in this review of Keurig vs. Coffee Maker.
We hope to have covered the major differences and similarities between a Keurig and your typical coffee maker by the end of the article. Then, we hope you’ll be confident enough to make your own buying decision!
What is Keurig?
Keurig is a sub-company of the Keurig Dr. Pepper manufacturing brand (previously known as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters). They are an American-based beverage and beverage maker company. In 1998, the Keurig coffee maker was officially introduced as a beverage brewing system for home and commercial use.
These single-serve machines are designed to brew hot and cold coffees, teas, cocoa, and fruit-based drinks, depending on the Keurig product you purchase.
The company’s flagship products revolve around K-Cup brewing. That is, the brewing of a unique coffee pod designed by Keurig. K-Cups are a single-serve coffee container that consists of a plastic cup, aluminum lid, and filter. They hold fresh coffee grounds to be brewed by compatible Keurig machines.
With over 400 varieties and over 60 brands of coffee to choose from for your K-Cups, Keurig is a global giant in the world of coffee making. They are one of the most renowned brands of coffee brewing in the world.
What is a Traditional Coffee Maker?
Traditional coffee makers (or drip coffee makers) typically brew coffee grounds directly through a brew chamber where you manually insert your grounds. These machines are usually bulky in design and may or may not come with a milk frothing steam wand.
Generally speaking, a traditional drip coffee maker is not compatible with coffee pods or capsules such as Keurig K-Cups or Nespresso capsules.
A normal drip-coffee machine is designed to brew single serves and large pots or carafes of coffee. They work by pouring hot water through ground coffee to produce delicious tasting hot coffee. They come with a water reservoir, ground coffee chamber, dispenser, and drip tray.
How are they different?
The key difference between Keurig machines and an average drip coffee maker is how they brew coffee. Keurigs use coffee pods that incorporate a compartment for inserting K-Cups. They typically serve only one cup of coffee at a time.
Your Keurig coffee machine will begin the brewing process by pressing the brew button. Then, it will apply about 15 bars of pump pressure to optimally extract the flavors and aromas from your K-Cups.
Except for automatic drip coffee makers, ordinary coffee makers require you to tamp your coffee grounds and insert the portafilter yourself. Those that come with milk frothers also require a bit of manual labor. In addition, you need to monitor the temperature as you steam your milk via the wand and jug method, requiring a bit more skill.
In essence, the Keurig machine and the traditional coffee brewer differ primarily in the amount of effort required to brew yourself a cup of coffee.
How are they similar?
In general, Keurig machines can only brew one coffee at a time. However, they also offer products designed for brewing an entire pot. In that aspect, Keurigs can be quite similar to standard coffee makers. They have equal versatility and accommodation for various cup sizes as traditional brewers.
Other similarities include that both machines ultimately brew pre-ground coffee beans, despite the differences in how they do so. In fact, some Keurig products, such as the Keurig K-Duo coffee maker, actually combine the iconic single-serve brewer design of Keurig machines with the traditional ground coffee brewing methods of regular coffee makers.
The result is a hybrid machine that is essentially split into two parts. The first offers you the K-Cup brewing method, and the other brews your freshly ground coffee.
Furthermore, both Keurig coffee makers and normal coffee makers don’t brew espresso, if that’s your poison.
What’s better about Keurig?
The main advantage of using a Keurig over a regular coffee maker is the convenience of brewing coffee effortlessly.
However, making coffee with a drip machine can be time-consuming as you may have to prepare your ground coffee using a grinder first. Next, you will need to tampen it up for brewing. Then you’ll have to dispose of the used grounds and wipe down your machine and portafilter. With a Keurig coffee maker, you avoid this by simply inserting your K-Cup and pressing the brew button.
In addition to a much faster and effortless way of accessing decent coffee, Keurig coffee makers are often more compact and lightweight than most traditional coffee makers. This makes it easier for you to store your coffee machine in tight spots or travel around with it as needed.
Another benefit of going with Keurig is the variety of options you have regarding both the K-Cup brands and varieties and the countless types of machines on offer.
What’s better about a Traditional Coffee Maker?
One thing the traditional drip coffee maker will always have over Keurig’s K-Cup brewing method is the potential for brewing high-end, supreme tiers of coffee. A standard drip coffee maker that brews any ground coffee gives you access to the full spectrum of coffee beans.
Keurig offers over 60 brands of K-Cup varieties, which is more than enough for most coffee drinkers. However, a regular coffee maker has no limits to its variety.
The traditional drip coffee maker also allows you to craft your own customized coffee explicitly tailored to your unique taste and preferences. For example, you can manually adjust the amount of ground coffee used and customize the water to coffee ratio. In contrast, a Keurig is subject to the same ratios that the K-Cups preset.
Thus, while Keurig coffee makers do have options for brew sizes and coffee strength, they do not offer the same level of customizability as traditional brewers.
Who should get Keurig?
A Keurig coffee maker is most suited to those who wish to access good coffee where easy cleaning and maintenance are minimized. In addition, if you enjoy just coffee drinking and not the process of coffee brewing, then you’ll find much peace and contentment with a Keurig coffee maker.
With a huge range of over 400 K-Cup pods and single-cup brewing at the push of a button, it is effortless to brew with Keurig coffee machines.
In addition to the easy brewing benefits of Keurigs, you’ll also love the lightweight and compact design. This makes them ideal for storage in tight spots on your kitchen counter space.
Products such as the Keurig K-Mini are prime examples. They facilitate portability and storage advantages with their small size without compromising their ability to deliver a fresh cup of coffee.
Furthermore, Keurig coffee makers are highly suitable for larger households with different kinds of coffee drinkers. Products like the Keurig K-Duo can easily accommodate both K-Cup lovers’ needs and ground coffee fans.
Who should get a Traditional Coffee Maker?
The traditional drip coffee maker is ideal for “coffee connoisseurs” or those who enjoy making coffee and crafting it to their precise needs. Drip coffee makers enable their users to adjust the water to coffee ratio more accurately and control things like cup size, strength, and temperature.
As a result, regular coffee makers are more suited for those who like to take their time crafting the perfect coffee. In addition, you get to grind your own beans and control how much coffee grounds are used per brewing cycle. Another reason people would prefer these coffee makers is their range of automatic coffee makers that allow you to enjoy brewed coffee and steamed milk at the push of a button.
Keurig does offer milk frothing coffee machines such as the Keurig K-Cafe. However, it still is not at the same level of automation as an automatic drip coffee maker (1). These can dispense a ready-made latte or cappuccino straight into your cup at a moment’s notice. Furthermore, traditional coffee machines expose you to a whole world of coffee grounds and bean roasters with no limits.
While the fundamental brewing method of the Keurig series and the standard coffee makers remain mostly the same, there are some things to consider. Indeed, both machines use high water pressure to extract the flavors and aromas from pre-ground coffee. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they use the same number of bars.
Keurig typically uses 15 bars of pump pressure to extract coffee for all their models. Whereas the traditional drip coffee maker can vary greatly depending on the brand, you go for. Some drip coffee makers can reach up to 19 bars of pressure pump and beyond (2). Mostly those that incorporate espresso-making features into a hybrid brewer design.
In addition, Keurig coffee tastes mostly the same as any other Keurig coffee of the same K-Cup. In comparison, a traditional machine allows you to customize every inch of your coffee from the temperature, size, and strength to the ratio of water to coffee.
As such, Keurig is undoubtedly easier to brew coffee with. However, traditional coffee makers simply offer other brewing methods that give you more versatility. Ultimately, this leads to greater potential in coffee quality.
Winner: Traditional Coffee Maker
Both the Keurig and the traditional coffee maker offer an endless amount of products and many brands to choose from. In addition, Keurig offers machines of all shapes and sizes, from the compact and simple Keurig K-Mini to the bulky hybrid Keurig K-Cafe.
Meanwhile, the typical coffee maker is usually quite bulky even if you go for the smaller-sized machines. However, they do come in plenty of styles, including manual, semi-automatic, and automatic machines.
Indeed, it’s a tight contest between Keurig vs. drip coffee makers in this regard. Both types of coffee brewers are seemingly endless in their product offerings. Therefore, the key things to focus on are the exclusive features that cannot be replicated by the other.
Most notably, we know that Keurigs offer both K-Cup compatible machines and ground coffee compatible ones. In contrast, traditional coffee makers typically only offer ground coffee brewing with no compatibility with K-Cup pods.
K-Cups are ultimately Keurig-specific coffee pods and are incompatible with traditional coffee makers. In contrast, you could use your ground coffee for some Keurig models, such as the Keurig K-Cafe which is designed with a hybrid construction.
Due to the greater versatility and flexibility of Keurig coffee makers, the brand has the edge over traditional coffee machines. When it comes to better product offerings, they encompass a greater range of brewing methods.
The quality of coffee produced by a coffee machine comes down to a combination of the machine’s brewing methods, the coffee beans, and the user’s skills. Unfortunately, Keurig practically takes power away from the user and maxes out the machine’s one-track style of coffee brewing for convenience and fast access to coffee.
Traditional drip coffee makers give the user full control over the coffee strength, temperature, size, and coffee to water ratio, giving you more potential to craft coffee your way.
In addition, it has a more unlimited potential of varieties and brands to choose from. They even have access to high-end premium coffee brewing at the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) gold standard for a higher quality experience.
Winner: Traditional Coffee Maker
Cleaning & Maintenance
It may be true that traditional coffee makers give you more power to craft higher quality coffee based on the brand and product you go for, but keep in mind this comes at a cost to the user. Maintaining a traditional coffee maker is far more strenuous than a Keurig. You have filters to change, coffee grounds to supply, and portafilters to empty out.
On the other hand, Keurig machines work with the simple insertion of a K-Cup that is either stored into a compartment after brewing or ejected immediately for quick disposal.
Unlike traditional machines, you don’t need to wipe down your Keurig after every use. In addition, they simplified the brewing process with their one-touch system instead of having to choose all the custom specifics of how you wish to brew. As such, Keurig is the clear winner in cleaning and maintenance.
Keurig vs Coffee Maker FAQ
Keurig vs. Nespresso which is a better coffee maker?
Coffee makers tend to be for more big coffee drinkers. If you prefer a single-serve coffee machine. If you are still not settled on either, you may want to check out our article Nespresso vs. Keurig: Which is the best single-serve coffee maker?
What is the difference between a Keurig and a coffee maker?
The main difference between a Keurig and a coffee maker is that Keurig uses K-Cups to brew coffee, while normal coffee makers use pre-ground coffee.
Why you shouldn’t use a Keurig?
A Keurig would not suit those who like to take more control over their brewing experience. This includes “coffee connoisseurs” or experienced baristas who prefer to control the strength, temperature, and ratios of water to coffee more accurately when they brew.
Is a drip coffee maker better than a Keurig?
Drip coffee makers are better than Keurigs when it comes to taking more control over the brewing process and accessing higher quality coffee.
Is it cheaper to brew coffee or use K-Cups?
Both methods of brewing coffee can be either cheap or expensive, depending on the brand of grounds you get. K-Cups are generally pretty affordable, whereas ground coffee can range from very affordable to very expensive depending.
Who is a Keurig best suited for?
Keurig machines are best suited to those who prefer the convenience and timely brewing over crafting their own customized coffee to perfection.
Who is a drip coffee best suited for?
A drip coffee maker is best suited to those who want to accurately measure their coffee to water ratios as you cannot achieve this with K-Cups that are all generally the same size.
Related: Nespresso Delonghi vs Breville: Which is best?
(1) – https://www.isa.org/about-isa/what-is-automation
(2) – https://owlychoice.com/bars-espresso-machines/#:~:text=In%20espresso%20machines%2C%20this%20indicates,soluble%20components%20from%20coffee%20grounds.