We all need a caffeine boost sometimes, and nothing works better for an instant shot of energy than an espresso. Unfortunately, espresso is challenging to make on your own. Machines can be expensive, and there are several tools you need to master and a bunch of pressure and grinding settings to understand to get a decent shot.
That’s where K-cups can help. They’re simple to brew using a pod system, and you can enjoy a jolt of caffeine in a matter of minutes, if not faster. Plus, you get a consistent brew every time without the necessity of mastering complicated machines.
And the increasing popularity of pod brewers has to lead to more variety in K-cups. We’ve rounded up the top 11 espresso K-cups that combine great taste with a convenient brewing experience. To pair your favorite K-Cup with a top Keurig brewer check out Cozy’s review of the top Keurig models in 2020.
Best Espresso K-Cups at a Glance
- 1 11 Best Espresso K-Cups
- 1.1 San Francisco Bay Espresso
- 1.2 Barrie House Espresso Pods
- 1.3 Lavazza Espresso Classico
- 1.4 Café Bustelo Espresso K-Cup
- 1.5 Brooklyn Beans Express-O
- 1.6 Barista Prima Espresso K-Cups
- 1.7 Timothy’s World Coffee Rainforest Espresso
- 1.8 Starbucks Blonde Espresso Pods
- 1.9 Gevalia Vanilla Latte Espresso K-Cup
- 1.10 Caribou Coffee Caramel Espresso
- 1.11 Green Mountain Coffee Espresso
- 2 Can You Craft True Espresso with a Keurig?
- 3 Brewing Espresso with a Keurig
- 4 Final Thoughts
11 Best Espresso K-Cups
San Francisco Bay uses beans from Central America to lend these pods an intense flavor with notes of chocolate, vanilla bean, and orange. The medium-dark roast is perfect for espresso since it allows for more concentrated caffeine content.
These pods are versatile, too, as they are compatible not only with Keurig machines but also with other popular pod coffee machines, like Cuisinart.
Green shoppers will appreciate that these capsules are commercially compostable with plant-based packaging.
Barrie House is a family-owned company founded in New York City in 1934. These pods are compatible with several K-cup brewing systems.
The blend is a dark roast that ranks a 10/10 on Barrie House’s intensity meter, so you know you’re getting a robust espresso. This multi-region blend combines caramel, fudge, and salt notes with a creamy finish for a well-balanced beverage.
If you have food sensitivities, these pods are vegan, gluten-free, and lactose-free. Eco-conscious consumers will be pleased with Barrie House’s fair trade practices, recyclable case, and biodegradable filter.
These pods come in a bulk value pack that works perfectly for those of us who like to indulge in espresso every day, or even multiple times a day.
Lavazza’s Espresso K-cups are only compatible with the Keurig Rivo machine. Even though that’s a bit limiting, this beloved Italian coffee company has been in business for over a century and knows its way around espresso.
As a medium roast, these pods allow the individual flavor notes to shine. Those flavors include hints of tropical fruit that contribute to a zesty finish. You’ll end up with a classic full-bodied espresso with a strong flavor that never disappoints.
Café Bustelo’s K-cups deliver the full flavor of a traditional cafecito or Cuban espresso. They bring a traditional dark roast with a full body and bold taste. Since they have no additives, the flavor is all-natural, 100% coffee beans.
These pods retain their intense flavor even after the addition of milk, cream, and sugar. You can make your drink just the way you like it without sacrificing that distinct coffee taste.
Café Bustelo is an international favorite with over eight decades of experience, so you know they’re coffee is top-notch. Their pods are compatible with all Keurig K-cup systems.
Made from 100% Arabica beans, these Brooklyn Beans pods have the perfect dark roast for a classic espresso flavor. These pods make a robust espresso that’s smoky and full-bodied.
Brooklyn Beans roasts in small batches then grinds and packages at peak freshness. They never use industrial roasting that can weaken the natural taste of the beans. This company strives to be eco-friendly with recyclable capsules.
These pods work well for coffee aficionados who don’t have the time to brew a proper espresso but still want to enjoy the powerful flavor.
These European-style espresso K-cups will transport you to the cobblestone streets of Italy with their woody and dark chocolate flavor notes. Another dark roast, this one packs an intense and authentic flavor in a small pod. These K-cups work with all Keurig pod-brewing machines.
Barista Prime’s K-cups offer a smart choice for drinkers looking for a reasonably concentrated espresso with the brewing convenience of a pod.
Timothy’s World Coffee works only with growers certified by the Rainforest Alliance, which ensures the protection of farmers, wildlife, and the environment. Apart from being a conscious company, its espresso K-cups have an extra dark roast for drinkers looking for a genuine espresso experience.
The flavor is well balanced and full-bodied with a punch of potency lightened by a delightful touch of sweetness.
This blonde espresso roast made from 100% Arabica beans offers a milder flavor with a smooth finish. Because of its less intense taste, it pairs perfectly with milk or other additions. Starbucks packs its beans immediately after roasting and grinding for improved freshness.
These pods are only compatible with the Starbucks Verismo brewing system, so you can’t use them with Keurig machines or other pod brewers. Nevertheless, these capsules provide an excellent option if you want a less intense flavor than traditional espresso.
Gevalia’s Vanilla Latte Espresso K-cups are a unique product that delivers a convenient pod version of a latte. The coffee base is 100% Arabica beans, making for a mix of strong coffee flavor with sugary vanilla notes.
All you have to do to make one of these luxuriously creamy lattes is add the vanilla froth powder to your cup first and then complete brewing with a pod machine.
These pods work with all Keurig models. They’re perfect for those who want a more decadent espresso experience. Gevalia also makes a cappuccino version if that’s more your speed.
Caribou Coffee offers these K-cups that function flawlessly as a base for lattes and cappuccinos. These capsules contain a silky caramel flavor that blends well with espresso, tempering the bitter taste with a touch of sweetness.
This medium roast is compatible with most K-cup brewers, making it especially convenient. And you can feel confident that you’re purchasing from a company that cares since Caribou Coffee is Rainforest Alliance Certified.
These Green Mountain Coffee Roasters pods complement specialty drinks by retaining a deep coffee flavor without becoming bitter. The dark roast also allows the refined and balanced flavor to come through. As you’re brewing, you’ll start to detect a comforting woody aroma that enriches the entire experience.
With no artificial sweeteners or sugar, you get nothing but deliciously flavored espresso that you can enjoy straight or pair with other taste enhancers.
Can You Craft True Espresso with a Keurig?
Technically, no, you cannot make authentic espresso with a Keurig machine. There are precise requirements for brewing espresso. You need fresh, finely ground beans, water at a very high temperature, and at least nine bars of pressure to craft a genuine espresso. However, if you are wanting to brew a frothy espresso at the push of a button we recommend you take a look at Nespresso. The different Nespresso models offer an easy, one touch approach similar to Keurig, but cater to espresso lovers. When comparing Nespresso vs Keurig the differences are simple. Keurig’s primary focus is coffee, whereas Nespresso focuses on brewing espresso quickly.
If you are looking for a true espresso machine there are plenty of great inexpensive espresso brewers to choose from. However, making a real espresso that adheres to all of the guidelines above, can be difficult. If simple is what you are after we recommend Nespresso.
Espresso K-cups, like the ones on this list, have robust flavors and aromas that mimic those of espresso, but they are not espresso in a traditional sense. That said, they’re still an excellent option for enjoying coffee that’s incredibly close to the taste of espresso with much more convenience.
Brewing Espresso with a Keurig
To make espresso with your Keurig, keep these helpful tips in mind.
- Use high-quality filtered water in your reservoir
- Choose the smallest cup setting since a classic espresso shot is only one ounce – with espresso, you’re aiming for a higher concentration of caffeine instead of more volume
- Finish off your espresso however you like it whether straight or with frothed milk
- Drink it while it’s still hot
Even though espresso K-cups don’t create a purist’s version of espresso, they come extraordinarily close to recreating the real thing. With a convenient pod system, the flavor can be just as deep, and the aroma just as decadent as an espresso from a complicated machine with confusing settings.
There’s sure to be a K-cup on this list that satisfies your preferences. From audacious flavor to mellow blended beverages like lattes, these pods will please your taste buds with an instant jolt of energy.
You never have to give up your densely caffeinated espresso again with one of these useful espresso K-cups.