What is a Keurig and how do you operate one? Everybody knows what a Keurig is. You must have at least heard of it unless you lived in a cage for the last 10 years. It’s the coffee maker that probably revolutionized the home coffee brewing in the last decade. It makes a perfect drip coffee, with a minimum of effort and with consistent results. It’s so easy to use…
Because Keurig coffee makers are so popular, (convenience is the keyword here), coffee lovers want more from them. For instance this question pops up ever so often in discussions: Can you make espresso with a Keurig? Is Keurig espresso a thing? Yes and No. Only one machine from Keurig can brew it, the Rivo, the rest can't. But stick a little bit with us, and we'll show you why.
The only skill it really required is to know how to operate a button (just push it). What can we ask for more from a coffee maker? Oh, I know, just one tiny thing: We would like it to brew espresso as well. Does it make espresso? Let’s find out.
Let’s delve a bit into the Keurig subject. A Keurig is a brewing system that uses capsules to make coffee. The famous coffee maker is manufactured by the American company Keurig Green Mountain. John Sylvan, the inventor of the Keurig system, wanted to create an innovative coffee maker that will address the common problems with drip coffee makers. He wanted to create what we know today as a single serve brewer. The advantage of a capsule-based single serve is convenience and greater coffee quality. You only brew one cup at a time, which gives you freshly brewed coffee every time. It’s very easy to make coffee, easy to maintain, and clean. No need to replace the filter or add the grinds. It is pure convenience and a great cup of coffee.
We aren’t going to discuss here the ecological aspect of pods coffee makers. We acknowledge it, people discuss it a lot lately, but it’s not the subject of our page.
Can You Make Espresso Using a Keurig or Not?
Many drip coffee lovers turn “espresso lovers” after trying a latte or a cappuccino. Many people have been asking me if you can make an espresso with a Keurig. And the wrong information on the subject abounds. Stick with me, and I will explain in this paragraph all about it.
The answer is no. Here is the explanation. An espresso is brewed by pushing hot water under pressure through a puck of finely ground coffee beans. This produces a concentrated cup, (“shot”), of coffee with a layer of foam called crema.
Other people's definition of espresso is less stricter, and they call espresso any coffee that is brewed stronger, and more concentrated. I call that a strong coffee, not an espresso. But let's not argue about that. The point is that a regular Keurig coffee maker doesn't make a strong coffee either. It's not built for that. You cannot customize the amount of water that is used, so you cannot make your Keurig coffee stronger.
A fellow barista and I were discussing the subject, and we were hypothesizing, an after market capsule that would hold a bit more grounds. But even that is not possible, because the capsule holder in the Keurig is not large enough to accommodate a larger capsule.
Keurig has a solution for capsule espresso for the convenience incline coffee lover. But let's go through some other espresso alternatives first.
Other Espresso Alternatives
I have seen a lot of tutorials on how to make an espresso with a French press, or with a drip coffee machine. All these tutorials are misleading. You CANNOT make espresso with a French press, or with a drip coffee maker. Sure, you can brew a concentrated coffee this way, but it’s a totally different profile. It’s just not an espresso. We actually have a great article on how to make an espresso without a machine.
Espresso is not only about the concentration, and TDS, (total dissolved solids). It’s also about water temperature, brewing time, and a lot of other geeky aspects, that we explain here. In the same way, your regular Keurig cannot make an espresso, because it was designed to brew great drip coffee. And from this perspective, Keurig is even worse than a French press. If you are interested in brewing espresso alternatives, we have an article on the subject.
Rivo – Your Keurig Espresso Maker
If you love Keurig coffee makers and want an espresso made with their equipment, there is some exciting news for you. They manufacture a great espresso maker the Keurig Rivo.
Rivo is specifically designed to make espresso drinks. It has a 15 bar pressure pump and uses coffee capsules for maximum convenience. The powerful pump can create a great espresso, café quality, with a consistent crema and a great taste. And while a semi-automatic espresso machine requires time, skill and effort to pull a shot – the Keurig Rivo does not. This machine comes with some pretty nifty features that will make your home brewing experience a breeze.
Let’s talk about the features that make it possible. Firstly, there are only 5 buttons you need to operate. Two that help you to choose the size of espresso you’d like and the other three differentiates your preferred milk frothing style. The entire kit comes with 12 espresso pods that have four flavor variations. You can experiment with each of these flavors and see which one would suit you best.
The Keurig Rivo R500 Review
- Keurig Rivo can froth cold milk cooler beverage options
- It steams the milk which results in a sweeter taste of the milk and that nice latte texture.
- You can adjust the drink according to your taste: smaller or larger shots (short -1.4 ounces and lungo-2.8 ounces)
- The capsules are made by Lavazza, a roaster known for their great quality.
- The pods only come in four flavors – Intenso, Classico, Delicato, and Decaf (these could be the best flavors for this machine but it takes away a variety of options for the drinker).
- Rivo is a bigger machine compared to the competition, so it takes up a little more counter space.
- Automatic On/Off Function for saving energy
- Powerful pump - 15 bar pressure
- Great design allows you to pull shots on one side and froth/steam milk on the other side
- Three steaming/frothing modes for latte, cappuccino, and cold froth, (think frappuccino)
- Espresso can be pulled short 1.4 oz and lungo 2.8 oz
Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee Espresso Maker
A big competitor and more established on the capsule espresso coffee maker market is Nespresso. They have an aggressive marketing campaign, and their coffee makers are probably the most known in the world.
VertuoPlus is slightly more compact than Keurig, so it takes up less space on the counter. The Nespresso brewer has a patented feature to produce more crema by spinning the coffee at high speed. I personally am not fond of this feature, since it will mask the bad quality of the beans. Old coffee usually doesn’t produce crema; with this feature, you always have foam, (that is not crema). Nonetheless, Nespresso shots are really good. I highly recommend it to anyone in the market for a capsule-based espresso machine.
- It can brew two sizes, 8oz. and 1.3oz. If you are not an espresso fan, the large cup is café crema.
- It is very compact, the water tank can swivel out, or stay behind the brewer, to accommodate your counter space.
- There is no integrated milk frother. Some models come with an Aeroccino milk frother, some don’t.
Francis Francis for IperEspresso
The Illy IperEspresso is known for its unique high-quality capsules. Illy has been on the market for a long time, and they are one of the best in the industry. Francis Francis features Italian espresso quality, at the convenience of pressing a button. If you are in the market for an espresso machine that delivers uncompromised quality, THIS is your CHOICE.
Francis Francis has an eye-catching design and is a compact machine. The innovations that went into Francis Francis make it the best on the market. The initial machine price is slightly higher than the competitors’. Also, the pannarello steam wand is probably something that could discourage home baristas. I guarantee you, once you get the ropes, you’ll never want to use an Aeroccino or a Secura.
The iperEspresso system uses a two-phase extraction. First, the pod is infused with water at low pressure to ensure proper saturation. Then water is pushed through the pod at high pressure and emulsifies coffee oils in water. The obtained result is a rich coffee, with consistent long-lasting crema.
- Pre-infusion function to enhance extraction
- Great quality coffee in their capsules
- Very rich crema
- Great design easy to use and clean up
- The best machine in its class
- The water tank is smaller than the Keurig Rivo machine.
- More expensive than competitors Nespresso and Keurig
- The steaming/frothing system is a classic pannarello steam wand, which can discourage beginner baristas.
You might be a little disappointed; you probably hoped that your Keurig drip coffee maker would make you an espresso. Sadly, they can’t, and there is no way around that. As you probably know, the newer Keurig 2.0 has an option to brew a stronger coffee, but that is way too weak to qualify as espresso. So really, if you need to make espresso, you need a specially designed machine. I hope the information in this article helped you take a decision on your next purchase. If purchasing is not an option, take a look at our article on espresso alternative brewing, you’ll find some inexpensive options in there.
This article is part of the series "How to Make Espresso at Home", a series of informational articles to help home baristas improve their knowledge and skills.