Do you remember the way you caressed your Keurig when you delicately pulled it from its packaging and patted it into place on your kitchen counter?
Yeah, you still use it, but you’re just not sure which way to turn when it comes to ordering the best k cup coffee.
Finding the best k cups doesn't always mean the best Keurig coffee. We have one example on our list of a fantastic non-Keurig k cup that we think you will love.
It's time to find the Best Keurig Coffee Pods
However, if you're still trying to figure out if a single-cup brewer is right for you, our list of the best single-serve coffee maker options can help.
So, we’ll help you out. We've loaded the best Keurig Green Mountain coffee varieties and a few of the best Keurig coffee pods you can pick up for less.
How did we get here?
There are a lot of K-cups on the market, both Keurig-certified products and those off-branders that are compatible with your machine (and keep in mind that they're different from Nespresso pods which are becoming increasingly popular).
Great price; really does curb the Cinnabon craving.
None that we could think of! But if sweet, flavored coffee isn't your thing you probably want to look elsewhere.
Cinnamon and coffee have long been some of the best bedfellows, but you know the problem with flavored coffees, right? They're all flavor and no coffee. This one is the exception.
Indeed, of all the various flavored coffees out there, this is the one that still allows the taste of the coffee through. Sure it's a light roast, but it's still medium bodied and it is delicious.
You can pick these up for somewhere between 55 and 65 cents a cup; that's actually a really great price. If flavored coffees are your thing, we strongly suggest picking up a pack of these ASAP.
Great for those that don't want a strong cup, consistent flavor, and sustainably sourced.
Reviewers report a few cases of "exploding" pods. But you're starting to see a pattern here, right? This is not uncommon.
We're not going to pretend this coffee is for everyone; there are a lot of people that want their coffee to bite them. But, for those that do love a lighter roast, the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Breakfast Blend is perhaps the only qualifier.
That's all boiled down to taste; just because you want a lighter roast coffee doesn't mean you don't want to taste it. This k-cup is the one that answers both perfectly - and there are other pluses too.
The price is almost always right. Also, the company is very responsible about its operations. While that's becoming more popular, this Green Mountain has always been that way. And, even though we're serious coffee drinkers, we're not afraid to say we like this blend.
Great flavor and intensity; taste holds up across cup sizes.
None that we could find!
We honestly have no idea how the Barista Prima Coffeehouse managed to make this decaf coffee. It tastes amazing - and strong. It's simply remarkable how rich and bold and just like "real" coffee it is.
And, yet, it is a decaf coffee. For those of you that are interested, the company does use chemical processing to decaffeinate it, but we're almost certain you'll get over that quickly if you're looking for a decaf that doesn't make you feel as though you're missing out.
While it's not the cheapest coffee, it's one of a handful that should ever be considered - and comes out time and again at the top of the list.
Reasonably priced and available on S&S, consistent and easy drinking, and creates a great aroma while brewing.
A few cases of "exploding" pods.
Finding the best medium roast coffee has not been easy; this was, in fact, the most difficult decision to make. And, although similar to our top choice, we're a fan of the depth in this cup as well as the aroma while brewing. Neither are easy to come by in a single serve coffee.
Really, it's the full body of this medium roast K-cup that tipped the scales.
The price isn't bad either. And truly, this performs time after time after time.
We were a little concerned about the reports of exploding pods, but these do hold up well across a variety of original and Keurig 2.0 machines - and sometimes it does help to go through the troubleshooting procedures. Overall, we just can't find anything to dislike about this coffee.
Beans: 100% Arabica
Pack sizes: 72
Price: Around 60 to 65 cents a pod
Really dark with hints of smokiness, a good aroma that smells like coffee should, and very few cases of "exploding pods".
A little too strong for some coffee drinkers.
This is a dark roast coffee with a very bold body. While the origin of the beans is unknown, that might not matter; this is one of those coffees that rigid "I won't drink coffee from a Keurig" people will enjoy.
The flavor is decidedly smoky and roasted and it's very deep and rich. You should expect some bitterness, but that's the nature of the beast. And, the aroma coming from the machine as it brews is usually enough to tempt anyone in the office to make their own.
(Interestingly, the decaf k-cups taste just as deep and rich. You should give them a try when these give you jitters.)
Unfortunately, these Barista Prima Coffeehouse Italian Roast K-cups are a little more expensive than some coffee drinkers would like, but all in this is a solid bet and a great reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Always cost-effective, consistent good taste, and neither too strong nor too weak.
A few cases of "exploding" pods.
If you're looking for a consistent, yet inexpensive K-Cup, Caribou Coffee is likely going to be your go-to. Now, it's a middle of the road coffee, which means it's not going to satisfy those that want a serious jolt, but it satisfies most people, most of the time.
Part of the reason for the consistently smooth taste is likely found in the variety of beans sourced from across Central and South America. Another is probably the care this company takes, as evidenced by the 100% Rainforest Alliance Certification it holds.
We're big fans of the price, which is almost always under 45 cents a cup on Amazon - and that you can add it to your Subscribe & Save orders. All around, this is a solid budget K-cup.
Bold but not bitter, very consistent flavor, and available for Subscribe & Save.
A few cases of "exploding" pods.
This coffee is truly an anomaly. This Peet's Coffee Major Dickason's Blend is truly bold and rich. Really, this is coffee you can enjoy like no other. We're not confused about that at all. But, we're a little stunned that it doesn't carry the same bitterness as other coffees of this calibre.
We're also a little amazed that you can get something so close to a balanced cup from a K-cup. Nevertheless, you can. And we're excited about that, but it could just be our coffee-hungry tastebuds because there are those that find this coffee too strong.
Now, we're a little disappointed that the largest pack size is 32, though that's balanced slightly by the ability to add this to a Subscribe & Save order. And, we'd love it if the price came down a little. But otherwise, this really is a winner that just about everyone should have on hand.
Refund offered if you don't love it, packaging makes for consistently fresh pods, and expect strong, powerful coffee every single time.
Unfortunately, all of those pros come at a price. This coffee is pretty expensive.
Not only are these Death Wish Coffee K-Cups expertly marketed, they're fully recyclable, making them good for the planet too. They're also certified USDA organic from fair trade coffee farms. That makes a big difference for some people.
If you're not someone who cares too much about recyclable K-cups and the like, you'll probably be swayed by the way these taste. Each cup is deliciously rich and full of flavor, though there is a little bitterness. That's likely due to the use of Robusta beans rather than Arabica, but that's also where the jolt comes from.
Now, these are packaged a little differently - and the result appears to be fresher, more consistent coffee. But all of this combined means these are some of the most expensive k-cups you're going to get. (You'll get them anyway.)
Simple, fresh, and bold coffee, good price, and consistent flavor.
A few cases of "exploding" pods.
The medium roast has been an Amazon #1 Top Seller, that means that just about everyone who tries it, loves it. And, even though it’s only a medium blend, it’s remarkably full-bodied with a nutty, almost chocolatey taste in the back. If you’re keen for the Extra Bold, you probably take your coffee very seriously.
We chose this one as our top choice because it's always consistent - and it's neither too strong nor too weak for the majority of coffee drinkers. If you need something really bold, however, this one really isn't the one for you.
We urge you not to get confused when it comes to the Original Donut Shop coffees. This one is the original, and it’s a medium roast (even though it says extra bold). There is also an extra-bold version. It’s confusing, especially since both flavors are totally worth it.
Between 40 and 60 cents a cup.
K-Cups are ideal for those who want quick, no-fuss coffee. Whether you want a simple Americano brew or you're looking for something more complex (flavored, latte, cappuccino, espresso), the pods provide you with a one-touch customized brew.
If you want to make your K-Cup coffee pop, here are a few tricks to try:
Use your grounds. Reusable K-Cups are a gift from the coffee gods! They're only compatible with the original Keurig machines (though this YouTube tutorial will show you how to reuse a K-Cup with a 2.0), but a reusable K-Cup allows you to refill the cups with your coffee grounds. You can use an extra-strength ground to make your coffee delicious as well as quick-brewed. The finer the ground, the stronger the flavor.
Only brew dark and bold roasts. Any light roasts will turn out like brown, barely-flavored water rather than coffee (even worse than diner coffee!). If you want coffee that tastes as it should, you'll need to brew only dark and extra-bold roasts.
Clean the machine. Over time, bacteria can build up in the coffee machine and alter the flavor. To prevent that, run a cup of white vinegar through the coffee maker once every couple of months. Follow that up with a cup or two of freshwater to rinse it out, and you're ready to brew with a beautifully clean machine.
Shake it first. Not the machine, the K-Cup! This is especially important for flavored cups/pods, as the flavors may settle to the bottom. A quick shake (like you would with a sugar packet or a bottle of juice) will help to distribute the flavors and more finely ground powders evenly, leading to a more even brew.
Two for the size of one. For a more flavorful brew, use two coffee pods on the lowest ounce setting. Always use the least amount of water per pod possible. The amount of grounds remain the same—the only difference is how much the coffee is diluted when brewed.
Add salt. It sounds nuts, but a pinch of salt can do wonders to bring the flavors of your coffee alive and combat the natural bitterness of K-Cup coffee. Just a pinch, though! Too much salt can make your coffee taste weird. All you need is a few grains to mellow out the acidity and make the coffee beautifully smooth.
Run a water cycle. Unless you've just finished using the Keurig, the water in the deposit is likely going to be tepid, meaning lower brewing temperatures (a common problem with the Keurig). Before you brew, run a water cycle to heat the water and the machine. Follow it quickly with a brew, and the water will be slightly hotter—ergo, a better brewing temperature.
Use the Freedom Clip. The Freedom Clip is a specialized attachment that circumvents Keurig's DRM reader, allowing you to use all brands of coffee pods and cups, not just Keurig.
Don't run it to the end. The last seconds of the brewing process produces coffee that is weak and watered down. To ensure maximum flavor in your coffee, remove the cup while the coffee is still dripping. It's worth a minute or two of cleaning the reservoir to get that robust and undiluted coffee!
Use filtered water. Tap water may not taste bad, but the minerals and sediment in the water can accumulate in your coffee machine, affecting the flavor. Try using bottled or filtered water instead. You won't need to de-scale the device as frequently, and your coffee will taste better.
Remove K-Cups right away. Don't let the K-Cup sit in the Keurig after brewing, but remove it immediately (as soon as it's cool enough to touch, of course). Leaving K-Cups inside the machine will lead to a build-up of gunk and grime.
Read the manual. Who has all that time to waste reading instructions? Well, if you don't give the manual a quick skim, you may find that you've been brewing the coffee wrong, leading to a weak, tasteless brew. It's worth spending a few minutes going over the instructions to make sure you know all the tricks of using the Keurig effectively.
A few simple tricks, but they can help to improve the quality of the brew produced by your Keurig—both the original machines and the 2.0!
Did you know that there's a difference between K-Cups and coffee pods? Aside from the fact that "K-Cup" is the name of the cups made by the Keurig brand, there is a noticeable difference between pods and cups:
K-Cups - K-Cups (or any cups, for that matter) are made of hard plastic, and the coffee ground, tea leaves, or chocolate powder is sealed in the cartridge. There is a plastic ring and a foil top, and the interior of the cartridge has a filter lining that holds the coffee during the brewing process.
Anything with the name "K-Cup" on it will only be compatible with the Keurig machines. Keurig's original machines could be used with most generic cup brands as well as K-Cups, but the Keurig 2.0 has to be hacked in order to use generic cups.
Coffee Pods -The main difference between pods and cups is that pods are made using a softer, pliable material. They are round at the bottom and flat at the top, and they may be wrapped in foil or a resealable bag. The pods are placed inside the coffee machine, which has their own filter to brew the coffee.
K-Cups were among the first of the "quick brew" options for people who wanted a quality cup of coffee in a hurry. When they were initially released, they became highly popular—the "in" thing for people who wanted to try coffee in a new way. But over time, people have begun to make the shift back to regular coffee.
Why is that? Quality aside, it has a lot to do with the cost of K-Cups.
According to one Time Magazine article, using K-Cups will cost you 250% of what you'd spend on a regular cup of coffee—66¢ per cup, compared to 28¢ per regular cup. If you drank three cups of coffee per day every day for an entire year, you'd spend an average of $400 MORE for K-Cups than you would on regular coffee.
And that's just the cost to you. This figure doesn't take into account the environmental impact the K-Cups have and the amount of waste generated.
While K-Cups are undoubtedly stylish and user-friendly, they're not the most economical or eco-friendly option.
Each K-Cup holds between 10 to 12 grams of coffee (depending on the fineness/coarseness of the ground), or roughly two heaping tablespoons.
For a dark, bold roast, this is enough to make one decent 6-ounce cup of coffee. You can get away with using 8 ounces of fluid for the coffee, but you will dilute the flavor of the brew. Thankfully, the richness of the dark, bold roast will prevent severe dilution.
For a lighter, milder roast, you're at risk of ending up with too-diluted coffee if you brew with more than six fluid ounces. You're better off using K-Cups to brew espressos or cappuccinos where the extra strength of the roast and the reduced water usage produces a more robust, better-flavored brew.
K-Cups come in all varietals: from light to dark roast, mild to bold flavors, and a broad range of additional flavors. There are literally dozens of different types of K-Cup coffee flavors to choose from, with classics like French Vanilla, Irish Cream, Cinnamon Swirl, and White Mocha.
But how natural are these flavors? Are they natural at all, or are they loaded with artificial ingredients?
Here's the truth: K-Cups are packed with the same coffee ground you would buy in your grocery store or supermarket. Flavored coffees are made by spraying propylene glycol on the coffee beans/ground, then adding the flavoring oils or liquids afterward. The propylene glycol helps the beans/ground to hold the flavor, and it acts as a preservative. Every time you drink flavored coffee—whether it's in a K-Cup or a regular coffee machine—you're ingesting propylene glycol and natural and artificial flavorings.
Propylene glycol is a potentially harmful ingredient, with side effects that include skin irritations and allergies, respiratory issues, cardiovascular problems, neurological symptoms, and potential organ toxicity. While the FDA recognizes it as "generally safe," those trying to live a clean life may want to avoid anything that contains the chemical.
Sadly, this includes flavored coffees of all sorts!
Coffee snobs are the sort of people who know the difference between an Arabica and Robusta, have attended their fair share of "cuppings," and shun Starbucks as a place that sells "commercial swill." They prefer to brew their coffee, which they've usually roasted themselves after importing free-trade beans from a country like Guatemala or Indonesia.
The idea of a K-Cup is going to turn off a coffee snob. They like to have total control over the coffee—from the roasting to the grinding to the brewing to the preparing (God forbid you to add milk!). They may consider using their own beans in a reusable K-Cup, but the fact that they can't control the brewing temperature and duration of the Keurig machine means they will look at the K-Cups the way they would a cup of convenience store coffee.
K-Cups were created by Keurig to be used with their specialized Keurig machines. Shortly after the original line of Keurig machines was released, coffee makers began to release their own generic-brand K-Cups. Over time, Keurig began to lose market share to these other coffee makers. They released the Keurig 2.0 machines that were ONLY compatible with K-Cups manufactured by Keurig.
Original Keurig machines will work with generic K-Cups. However, unless you hack the Keurig 2.0 machines, you will not be able to use generic K-Cups. There is a Digital Rights Management system that scans for a code on the K-Cups, which must be valid to brew the coffee.
The good news is that most K-Cups can be used with other coffee machines designed to use K-Cups. The Cuisinart SS700, for example, was built to use the Keurig K-Cups. Some brands like Bunn or Chefman also have coffee makers compatible with the K-Cups.
However, brands like Nescafe (the Nespresso), Phillips (the Senseo), and Bosch (the Tassimo) all have their own lines of pods or cups to use with their machines. You may be able to adapt the K-Cups for use with these brands, but most of them will only use their own discs, pods, or cups.