Can you use k cups in Nespresso (And Vice Versa!)

Keurig machines and other K-cup single-serve machines are very popular in North America. Alongside Keurig, many third parties manufacture K cups that are compatible with almost every pod-based drip coffee maker.

“Drip coffee maker” is a misleading term since Nespresso is not a drip coffee maker, but rather an espresso machine that uses a pressurized brewing system.

So you might have switched to a Nespresso machine and you are wondering whether your old K cup pods will work with the Nespresso machine or not. You can find K cup pods almost everywhere in America, but sometimes it’s difficult to find Nespresso capsules, especially in the suburbs.

So, do k cups work in the Nespresso machine or Nespresso Pods in a Keurig?

The short answer is no you can’t use k cups in Nespresso and also you can not use Nespresso Pod in a Keurig. Since Nespresso machines are designed entirely differently from K cup machines, the design of pods for both these machines is also very different.

The Difference between K cups and Nespresso Pods

K-cup machines brew drip coffee, while Nespresso machines brew espresso-styled coffee, so K-cup pods aren’t the same as Nespresso pods.

Buying a new coffee maker is often a tedious decision for coffee lovers, and you should know your preferences before buying one, whether you prefer a smooth drip coffee or strong and intense shots of espresso.

The working Principle of Nespresso is completely different from K cup machines

You might have seen a traditional Espresso machine in cafes with a large boiler and pump mechanism. Well! Nespresso machines might look compact compared to traditional Espresso machines but they work on the same principle.

Read a detailed guide on Nespresso vs Espresso machines

Nespresso machines use a pump to force water at high pressure through coffee capsules at 15 bars, producing a rich and thick layer of crema. K-cup machines, on the other hand, force water at normal pressure through coffee pods.

That’s the primary reason coffee pods for both these machines are designed differently.

If you accidentally try to put a k cup in a Nespresso machine it might get crushed by the pressurized brewing system of Nespresso and the machine will start leaking.

The working Principle of Nespresso is completely different from K cup machines

The size of K cups is not similar to Nespresso capsules

K cups are usually long and wide, whereas Nespresso capsules are dome-shaped.

Generally, k cups will not fit in Nespresso machines as their pod holders are only designed to hold Nespresso capsules.

Also, the amount of coffee in a k cup is more than Nespresso capsules and that makes sense since Nespresso delivers a 1.25 oz shot of Espresso while the K cup machine delivers a full 6-8 oz serving of coffee.

You can easily distinguish between a Nespresso coffee capsule and a Keurig coffee pod visually.

Nespresso vs Keurig capsules

Read a guide on different Nespresso pod sizes

The grind size in both coffee pods is different

If you somehow succeed in forcing a k cup coffee pod into a Nespresso machine you will end up with a terrible shot of Espresso as grind size matters a lot for a perfect shot of Espresso.

K cups have a medium grind size, which is suitable for drip coffee, whereas Nespresso capsules have fine coffee grounds as required for espresso.

Also read: Can you use your own coffee in Nespresso

Which Pods are compatible with Nespresso?

Nespresso machines are only compatible with special coffee capsules designed for their brewing system.

Traditionally, espresso machines are expensive, but have you wondered why Nespresso machines are relatively cheaper? This is because Nespresso makes recurring commissions from selling coffee capsules.

“Nespresso makes money by selling the machine at a cost but selling the coffee pods at a recurring premium. This is similar to how Razor companies make money”

Another confusing aspect is that Nespresso offers two lines of coffee machines, the original and Vertuo, with a separate capsule line for both. So, you must keep this in mind while buying coffee capsules for your Nespresso.

Nespresso original vs vertuo capsules

Nespresso Original line compatible capsules

Nespresso original line machines work with both the original Nespresso capsules and the 3rd party capsules designed specifically for Nespresso machines.

These coffee capsules have a shape like a coffee cup as shown in the image on the right.

Check out Best Nespresso Compatible Capsules

Nespresso Vertuo line compatible capsules

Nespresso Vertuo machines have a barcode system that scans the capsule’s barcode and brews accordingly.

This barcode technology restricts the usage of any 3rd party capsule and works only with capsules designed by Nespresso.

It’s both good and bad, the good part is Nespresso keeps the quality of coffee in their capsules and knows what works best with their brewing system, and the bad part is sometimes it’s hard to find Nespresso Veruo capsules in local stores.

A Vertuo model typically brews five sizes of coffee: single and double espresso shots, lungo, regular coffee, and alto Xl. Nespresso designs different size capsules for all these cup sizes.

Read a detailed Comparison between Nespresso and Keurig coffee makers

Final Thoughts

Do K cups work in Nespresso? No! Should you try forcing a K cup in a Nespresso? No, Never!

Nespresso has a completely different brewing system and design than K cup machines so you should never put a K cup inside a Nespresso machine otherwise it might damage your machine.

Nespresso has two different lines of machines and the coffee capsules for both these lines are also different. So, make sure to pick the right capsule compatible with your machine while buying.

Also check out:


Do Nespresso Machines Only Take Nespresso Pods?

The Nespresso Vertuo line uses only Nespresso coffee pods; on the other hand, the Nespresso Original line accepts both Nespresso and 3rd party capsules.
There are many 3rd party Manufacturers that Manufacture Coffee Capsules for the Original Nespresso machines, And they’re actually quite affordable.

Can Starbucks Pods Be Used In Nespresso?

Starbucks is a verified partner of Nespresso and manufactures capsules for both Vertuo line and original line Nespresso machines.
Just make sure to pick to right capsule as I told you earlier the original line capsules are not compatible with the Vertuo line and vice versa.


Johny Morrisson is a passionate coffee enthusiast and an avid blogger dedicated to exploring the world of coffee.

Whether it's repairing or troubleshooting coffee equipment, reviewing cutting-edge brewing machines, or delving into the latest coffee trends, Johny's writing captivates readers and invites them on a flavorful journey.

When he's not writing, Johny enjoys traveling, seeking inspiration from different cultures and coffee traditions worldwide.

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