We love coffee. Love. It’s not an understatement. From the therapeutic smell, the daily morning ritual, the sweet gift of caffeine, to the one-of-a-kind flavor, we wouldn’t change a thing.
And with the invention of single-serve coffee, you can have a variety of flavors that you switch up with every cup. Gone are the days of brewing an entire pot of coffee, and nursing it slowly as it gets stale. Single-serve is life, and it’s a good one.
And here at the JOJO Java family, we’re evangelists of the notion that K-cups don’t have to suck. But what about other single-serve coffee?
Ladies and germs from far and wide, gather round for the showdown of the year. Today we’re going to pit the top single-serve coffee makers against one another in yet another caffeine showdown.
It’s Keurig vs. Nespresso vs. Cuisinart in a java battle to the finish to see how these competitors match up.
Let’s get ready to battle! (Because if we said rumble, we’d owe boxing legend Michael Buffer a royalty check).
So What Are We Judging?
Great question. In addition to taking a look at how delicious each one of these machines can brew a cup of joe, we’re also going to be weighing several other facets as well. For each brand, we’ll hit some different types of machines, the cup sizes they can brew, their coffee pod options, their price, their pros and cons, and some details about the company as a whole. Let’s start brewing.
- Contender 1: Nespresso
There’s no doubt that Nespresso makes a killer tasting cup of coffee. It also has a gourmet flair to it. Boasting options like being able to add crema to the top of its espresso and coffee brews directly from the machine. Nespresso machines are known for their quality and craftsmanship. There was a time when they were wildly popular overseas but practically unknown in the US… but that time is over. Now Nespresso is a major part of the coffee milieu here in the states.
Nespresso got its start as being “Keurig machines for espresso.” Many espresso aficionados would decry the Nespresso machine saying it “wasn’t real espresso.” And maybe Nespresso isn’t technically following the traditional method to make espresso drinks, but no one can argue how quickly and easily the machines brew a delicious, hot beverage. For the amount of effort and time, it’s definitely close enough.
Many people think that Nespresso machines can only make espresso, but that’s not the case. Nespresso has moved into making both coffee and espresso capsules, and the machine is smart enough to detect which one you’ve inserted, and it will brew accordingly.
Nespresso is a high-quality, well-made single-serving brewer that puts out delicious drinks.
It also has various options of cup sizes, able to brew:
- Espresso: 1.35 oz.
- Double espresso: 2.7 oz.
- Gran lungo: 5 oz.
- Coffee: 7.7 oz.
- Alto: 14 oz.
Some Nespresso machines only make the smaller size cups. For example, most of the Original machines make the from the 1.35 oz. espresso size to the 5 oz. gran lungo size. There’s also a machine called the Vertuo that uses larger pods to brew up to a 14 oz. alto size-- that’s almost a pint of coffee!
Also, note that you can get larger cups with an Original machine by using two or more of their capsules and running the machine multiple times.
The two most popular models of the Nespresso are the Original and the Vertuo. Each model has different versions with various bells and whistles-- which lead to several different price points depending on how fancy you want to get.
Nespresso uses aluminum capsules because they say that it is the “most protective material available today.” Aluminum does guarantee a certain amount of freshness, there’s no doubt about that. The Nespresso capsules are strong and lightweight, and seal in the flavor and aroma of the coffee inside, protecting it from light, moisture, and oxygen. It’s important to note that the Original and Vertuo models use different capsules.
Pricing and Details
If you go with the Vertuo, it’s $189.99, and if you go with the Original, it’s $179.95. Each comes with a standard 1-year warranty.
A Nespresso pod only takes about a minute to brew, and the quality of the flavor is excellent. It also has the ability to add crema to your espresso of coffee directly from the machine. Some models even include a built-in milk frother so you can make latte macchiatos and latte cappuccino drinks. Finally, the amount of flavors available is exceptional. From single origins, various blends, a variety of coffee flavors, and even some limited-edition releases, you’ll have many amazing options.
The Nespresso only works with Nespresso capsules. And while it’s not uncommon for that to be the case for a single-serve coffee machine, Nespresso pods are pricey compared to other options on the market. So while you might be getting a higher-quality cup of coffee, it’s also more costly to use a Nespresso machine consistently.
- Contender 2: Cuisinart
Cuisinart is a little less cut and dry than the other single-serving coffee machines. Their approach has been to be a jack-of-all-trades, and they’ve created many varied coffee machines to compete with other companies on the market. So, while this isn’t a jab at Cuisinart, they’re not typically considered innovators. Instead, they often look at what’s popular in the coffee market, and then make machines that are comparable-- and typically more affordable.
For instance, it was a while before they even had a true single-serving coffee maker. For some time, they had machines that would simply make a full pot of coffee and then store it for single-serve usage. There were (and still are) some Cuisinart single-cup brewers that were designed to grind coffee each use and brew (the reviews weren’t stellar, and the machines can be difficult to find).
So our focus will be on the Cuisinart SS-10P1, what the company calls their Premium Single Serve Brewer. The machine is fully programmable and has adjustable brewing temperatures.
- Brews cups from 4 oz. to 12 oz.
Further evidence for the case that Cuisinart doesn’t have a desire to innovate is the lack of their own coffee pods. Cuisinart instead focused on making their machine compatible with any brand of single-brew pods, including the Keurig K-Cups. The machine is equipped with a reusable filter cup that they call the HomeBarista™
Pricing and Details
The SS-10P1 is available for $149.95 and has a three-year limited warranty.
Overall, it’s a reliable, single-serving coffee maker. It’s going to get the job done, and it’s got the lowest price point on the list.
Some users complain that the water reservoir can be difficult to clean due to limited access, and that they had difficulty removing it. Some users also complained that the machines are mid-grade (or lower) in terms of quality and construction.
- Contender 3: Keurig
Keurig machines are some of the most popular coffee machines on the market, period. They were the pioneers who invented the single-serve coffee revolution (more on that here).
Keurig is famous for its customer-first approach to its marketing, favoring in-store demos and tastings to expensive ad campaigns, and this philosophy shines through in the quality, durability, and affordability of its machines.
Keurig is also one of the simplest single-brew coffee machines to use. It has a few, clearly labeled buttons, and its accessibility is one of the main reasons for its prolific use. It brews a great cup of coffee quickly and easily.
It also has various options of cup sizes, able to brew:
- 6 oz.
- 8 oz.
- 10 oz.
- 12 oz.
Keurig K-Cup Coffee Pods
Keurig invented the K-Cup, and since they’ve been on the market so long, you can find many brands of K-Cups, and there’s a fairly good selection of flavors. Keurig tried to make their K-Cups proprietary to gain more market share, but that was a misstep. They’ve since gone back to allowing third-party companies to make K-Cups for their machines. There is a great variety of not only coffee, but also tea, hot chocolate, and other beverages.
Pricing and Details
The Keurig K-Select goes for $129.99 and the Keurig K-Supreme goes for $149.99. They have a standard one-year warranty.
It takes less than a minute to brew a cup of hot coffee, and the machines turn themselves off if they’ve been idle for too long. The original innovators continue to innovate. With each new model, the Keurig improves its user experience and its quality.
On most of the models you can’t control the strength of the coffee, and sometimes the water isn’t as hot as you’d like when the first cup is brewed, Also, Keurig’s coffee pods are typically all roasted by the same large companies distributed under different brand names, so there’s a lot of the same flavors floating around with different labels.
So Who Wins the Showdown?
Each of the contenders is very different, so it’s a tough decision to make. These little single-serving beauties all have their pros and their cons. So let’s look at them all one at a time to determine a victor.
And remember, no matter which you choose, it’s still coffee, so there are no losers. It’s like picking different cuts of steak-- no matter how you slice it, you’re still eating steak.
But the fact is that each of these machines is in a slightly different class.
The Heavyweight: Nespresso
Without question, Nespresso puts out the best quality cup of coffee. But that doesn’t mean it’s coffee that is suited to everyone’s taste. Their ability to make espresso-based drinks and their vast selection of flavors makes them a tough contender to beat. The primary downside to drinking Nespresso is that it can be cost-prohibitive to many coffee drinkers who want to enjoy more than one cup a day (and even then it can be pricey). If you’re looking for delicious, high-quality drinks (and you’re ready to pay for it), Nespresso is for you.
The Lightweight: Cuisinart
Cuisinart isn’t innovative, but they’re a fine single-serve brewer for the price. It’s definitely a little more accessible, but there are complaints from some customers that they feel it’s cheaply built. Overall, there aren’t many downsides to getting the Cuisinart, and they are able to use any K-Cup. If you’re looking for a decent single-serve coffee maker that doesn’t have any wow factor, but does the job, Cuisinart is for you.
The Middleweight: Keurig
Keurig has the versatility, the quality, and the accessibility of cost to punch a little above its weight class. Many of Keurig’s machines are very highly rated by its users, and the company’s commitment to quality and customer service shows. For the price, you’re getting a great single-serving brewer.
Additionally, the price of K-Cups is typically a more affordable option for single-serving java drinkers.
One major challenge the Keurig faces is that the same handful of roasteries are making 90% of the coffee that’s available, with companies just slapping different labels on it. So it can be difficult to find flavors that are bold and unique… but we’ve got that covered here at JOJO Java.
Overall, for versatility, affordability, and accessibility, the winner is the Keurig. It’s tough to beat the convenience and quality for the price point. And luckily, with JOJO Java, your K-Cups don’t have to come from one of the mass roasteries that let their coffee sit in warehouses for months.
We roast in small batches, and have incredible, unique flavors. So when you pair the benefits of the Keurig single-serve brewing machine with a K-Cup as delicious and fresh as ours, the real winner of the caffeine showdown is you.
Grab yourself some JOJO Java today.
Written by: Tim Kearney