The two most dominant options for making pod-based coffee and espresso at the touch of a button from the same machine is the K-Café made by Keurig and the Vertuo Plus, Next, & Deluxe made by Nespresso. Both systems use pre-ground coffee packaged up inside a K-Cup or a Nespresso Capsule that can be used to either brew larger cups of standard coffee or smaller cups of espresso…but these two types of machines work very differently.
To best understand how the K-Café and Vertuo machines differ you must first understand fully that the K-Café is meant to make coffee first and that their shot button is simply an altered version of standard brewed coffee.
The opposite goes for Nespresso. Their machines make something very similar to pump espresso from capsules first and foremost but when you opt to brew a full cup of coffee from the same capsule you are getting an altered version of espresso which they call an Americano, or a lungo long.
The K-Café can make a well bodied 6-oz cup of coffee, but when brewed via slow drip in 2-oz portions the coffee can resemble a shot of espresso especially when foamed milk is added to the drink from it’s attached frother. Similarly the Vertuo is more than capable of making a shot of basic espresso, but when brewed long extra water flows through the capsule creating an overly extracted cup of espresso-style coffee.
The coffee that comes from the Vertuo Plus, Next, or Deluxe is different than an Americano however because an Americano or a Lungo shot is not overly brewed or overly extracted coffee.
They are brewed for normal or recommended lengths of time under pressure and then plain hot water is added to them to bring the final cup up to a normal 6-ounce cup size.
For this reason a true Americano is a better option than a Vertuo coffee however the vast majority of coffee drinkers won’t really be able to tell the difference; only the most refined pallets will be able to tell especially because none of the capsules are made from fresh grind.
With the Keurig K-Café or K-Latté system I think the final product is a little better but not by much.
The shot function on their machines works by slowly brewing a shot or under-brewing the coffee so that it comes out very strong. I find the taste of over-brewed coffee to taste a bit better than over-brewed espresso so Keurig is the option I prefer but then again when mixed into cappuccinos or lattés the majority of people won’t be able to tell the difference.
What truly sets the machines apart in potential quality is Keurig’s ability to brew with fresh coffee grind and Nespresso’s inability to do the same thing.
Because Nespresso units have to brew under pressure to create espresso it is enormously harder to brew Nespresso with your own fresh grind…but with Keurig using a simple drip coffee brewing system all you need to do is buy a reusable My K-Cup to use your own fresh grind in the machine.
When you use freshly ground beans the flavor profile of your coffee or the “shots” made by your K-Café will beat out the Nespresso Vertuo every time.
Let’s let that serve as the introduction to this article. To move forward I’d like to point you to a couple related articles here on the site to help you learn a bit more about coffee. If you would rather learn more about the specs and features of the K-Café and the Vertuo espresso machines then you can keep reading further down this page.
How Does The K-Café & Nespresso Vertuo Make Frothed and/or Steamed Milk?
If you buy the K-Café or the K-Café Special Edition it comes with an attached frother on the right side of the unit that can simultaneously heat your milk and foam it through a vibrating frother head at the bottom of the pitcher.
A heating element will warm your milk while it foams and when done the entire pitcher and frother head/wand can be removed to be rinsed off in the sink or washed in the dishwasher.
The K-Latté using a detached frother that is very similar to Nespresso’s Aeroccino3. It is a cylindrical milk warmer and frother that uses essentially the same frother head and vibration to foam the milk but the machine itself cannot be simply cleaned in the dishwasher, it must be carefully hand washed at the sink.
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