Coffee Pods vs K-Cups: The Ultimate Guide

Coffee pods and K-Cups. Are they the same? What are the differences between them? Which one should you buy?

In short words, they are not the same, in fact, there are a lot of differences between them and each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

As a coffee lover and internet addict, I have done my homework. I have dedicated myself to read hundreds of words, to watch several videos, and to ask industry professionals to bring you the ultimate guide about coffee pods vs K-Cups.

In this article, you will know what they are, what are their pros and cons, their main differences, and what they have in common.

What Are Coffee Pods?

Coffee pod

I cannot start this guide about coffee pods vs K-Cups without defining what they are. So, let’s begin with coffee pods.

A coffee pod is a pre-portioned paper bag filled with coffee ready to make using some hot water. A coffee pod has a standard size of 44mm and it would be the equivalent of a teabag.

There are two types of coffee pods, soft coffee pods, and hard coffee pods.

Soft coffee pods are untamped ground coffee, and with them, you can make from 80 to 110ml of coffee. Between the hard coffee pods and soft coffee pods, they are the cheapest version and the easiest to find.

The soft pods are made of biodegradable paper, so they are environmentally friendly, they are light-weight (7 grams) and they are very flexible because of their size and soft texture.

It is important to know that soft coffee pods are designed to run on non-pressurized coffee machines because of their design.

Hard coffee pods usually called Easy Serving Espresso (E.S.E) pods are designed to make espresso using coffee makers that are compatible with this technology. They can produce 40ml of coffee.

As the soft version, they are environmentally friendly because they are created with certified compostable technology. They are also individually packaged to keep them healthy for a long period.

Because of their hard design, they can be used in pressure-brew espresso machines.


  • They are cheap.
  • They produce strong and tasty coffee because they are covered with a paper filter that does not affect the flavor of the grounds and the water can run easily through it.
  • Since they are covered with a biodegradable paper filter, they are environmentally friendly.
  • Easy to use and clean.
  • Coffee pods have a standardized size and weight, so you can use different pod brands in a single pod-compatible coffee maker.


  • Few machines are available to make coffee using this technology.
  • There’s not a big flavor, blend, and roast diversity.
  • Since they are covered with paper, the quality of the grounds tends to spoil fast, so the coffee will not be tasty and strong if the product is not fresh.

How Do Coffee Pod Machines Work?

  1. You load water into the tank at the back.
  2. A pump at the bottom sucks the water in and pumps it through the machine.
  3. The water heats up to the perfect temperature as it flows up past the heating element.
  4. The water is pumped through a narrow needle to increase its pressure.
  5. The hot, high-pressure water pumps through the ground coffee in the pod, releasing the flavor.
  6. Coffee drips through into your cup.

List of Flavors

Here you have some coffee pod flavors that I have found through the internet. You can check these flavors in the most common online stores like Amazon or Walmart, also, you can visit the website of the brand mentioned below.

Apple StrudelBaronet
Breakfast BlendBaronet
Butter PecanBaronet
Chocolate BabkaBaronet
CaramelDonut Shop
French VanillaDonut Shop
Dark roastMelitta
Hazelnut CreamMelitta

Compatible Machines

Here you have several coffee machines that are compatible with soft coffee pods and hard coffee pods.

Soft Coffee Pods

  • Better Chef IM-1028 Personal Coffee Maker
  • Black & Decker CM618 Single
  • Black & Decker GT300 Home Cafe Single Serve Pod Brewer
  • Black and Decker Brew and Go
  • Bloomfield POD2 Dual Pod Coffee Brewer
  • Bunn Marley Coffee Pod Brewer
  • Bunn My Cafe MC
  • Cuisinart Single Serve Pod Coffee Brewer
  • Grindmaster GPOD Precision Brew
  • Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer
  • Hamilton Beach FlexBrew 1-cup Coffee Maker
  • Hamilton Beach Personal Cup
  • Hamilton Beach Stay or Go Personal Cup
  • Inventum HK20
  • Kitchen Selectives CM-688 1-Cup Single Serve Drip Coffee Maker
  • Krups KP1010
  • Krups KP1020
  • Lexxus Gourmet Coffee Cafe
  • Mr. Coffee Home Cafe
  • Mr. Coffee Single Cup Coffee Maker
  • Philips Senseo Pod Brewer
  • Senseo Pod Brewer
  • SunCana Coffee Pod Brewer
  • TRU Eco Single Cup Coffee Brewer
  • TRU Single Serve Pod Coffee Brewer

And more.

Hard (E.S.E) Coffee Pods

  • DeLonghi EC155 15 Bar Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
  • Illy X1 E.S.E TRIO
  • Illy ESE
  • Delonghi ECP3120
  • Delonghi ECP3220
  • Delonghi ECP3420
  • Delonghi ECP3420
  • Delonghi ECP3620
  • Delonghi ECP3630
  • Saeco Poemia HD 8323
  • Saeco Poemia HD HD8325
  • Saeco Poemia HD HD8327
  • Gaggia Baby

And more.

What Are K-Cups?


In short words, a K-Cup is a measured coffee serving packaged in a plastic cup. You can find different variants of these cups for other drinks like tea, hot chocolate, and cappuccino.

To ensure the coffee’s freshness and quality, K-Cups have a plastic package design, so the coffee inside the package will resist light, heat, and moisture. They have special lids that are made of aluminum foid that also protect the product inside.

On the inside, they have sophisticated paper filters composed of abaca fiber (the same material used for tea bags), a food-grade adhesive to adhere the filter to the pod and to keep the coffee fresh they have a special nitrogen flush to ensure there’s little oxygen left in the pod after it is made.

Clue: At a glance, you can see that K-Cups are more sophisticated than coffee pods.

Usually, the average K-Cup has between 9 to 12 grams of ground coffee. Keep in mind that this is a single serving of coffee.

K-Cups do not have an expiration date, however, they have a best-by date. This is a recommended date to consume this product. Usually, this date is between 8 months to a year after the K-Cup is made. (Disclaimer: The best-by date is just a recommendation created to ensure that you get the best coffee freshness and flavor possible).

Keep in mind that you cannot use a K-Cup on any coffee machine. You need a special machine designed to work with this product. Keurig, Cuisinart, and Hamilton Beach are some companies that manufacture coffee machines that are compatible with K-Cups.


  • Huge variety of flavors and blends.
  • Highly convenient to use.
  • There are several inexpensive K-Cup brands.
  • They are compatible with most single-serve coffee machines.
  • Can last a long time before lost freshness because of its design.


  • Because of their plastic package, they are not environmentally friendly.
  • More expensive than regular ground coffee.
  • They are known for not producing strong or flavorful coffee.

How Do K-Cup Machines Work?

  1. Drop the K-Cup pack into any K-Cup brewer and press brew.
  2. Pressurized water flows through the K-Cup pack at the ideal temperature for optimal brewing.
  3. The coffee flows from the bottom of the K-Cup into your cup.

List of flavors

There are more than 200 K-Cup flavors, here you have some of them:

Chocolate Glazed DonutDonut House
Classic Cinnamon RollCinnabon
Maple PecanGreen Mountain
Pumpkin SpiceGreen Mountain
Caramel Vanilla CreamGreen Mountain
Cinnamon Sugar CookieGreen Mountain
Southern PecanGreen Mountain
Wild Mountain BlueberryGreen Mountain
DECAF French VanillaGreen Mountain
HazelnutGreen Mountain

Compatible Machines

Here you have some coffee brewers that are compatible with most K-Cups.

  • Sboly Single Serve
  • Hamilton Beach Single Serve
  • Mueller Ultima Single Serve
  • Chulux Single Serve
  • Dnsly Coffee Maker Single Serve
  • Gourmia 3-in-1 Coffee & Tea Maker
  • Homia Kahve Single Serve
  • SUNVIVI OUTDOOR Single Serve
  • OXX COFFEEBOXX Job Site Single Serve

What Are The Similarities Between Coffee Pods vs K-Cups?

Everyone talks about the differences between coffee pods vs K-Cups, but, what do they have in common?

  • Both are single-serve coffee.
  • Both are easy to brew.
  • Both offer flavor variety.
  • There are coffee makers that brew coffee pods and K-Cups.
  • Both are more expensive than buying regular ground coffee.

What Are The Differences Between Coffee Pods vs K-Cups?

  • Coffee pods are less impactful for the environment than K-Cups because of their design. Coffee pods are designed with a paper filter while K-cups are designed with plastic and aluminum.
  • K-cups offer a lot more flavor variations compared to coffee pods.
  • Coffee pods will give you a stronger taste for every coffee you brew than k-cups. This is because coffee pods use a paper filter instead of a plastic cup.
  • Coffee pods are usually more difficult to find in grocery stores.
  • Coffee pods are not compatible with as many coffee makers as K-Cups.
  • Coffee pods won’t work in K-Cup machines and vice versa unless you have an adapter or a special machine that can brew both.
coffee pods vs k-cups infographic

The Bottom Line: Which One Should You Choose?

Now that you know the differences between coffee pods vs K-Cups, it is time to decide which one you should choose. In this paragraph, I will help you decide which one is better for you, coffee pods or K-Cups?

On one hand, you have the coffee pods. These are easy to brew, they produce a strong coffee, they are cheap and they are environmentally friendly, however, few machines are compatible with this technology and there is not a huge flavor diversity.

On the other hand, you have the K-Cups. This is a sophisticated product designed to make your life easier. There is a HUGE variety of flavors (more than 200), they are compatible with most single-serve coffee machines and they can last a long time before losing their freshness.

The downside of K-Cups is that they are a bit more expensive than coffee pods, they don’t produce strong coffee and they are not very environmentally friendly.

So, to decide, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I like strong coffee?
  • Do I want a different coffee flavor frequently?
  • Do I care about environmental pollution?
  • Do I have the budget for paying a bit more for my coffee every day?

I think that after you answer those questions you will have crystal clear what decision to make.

Leandro Santorsola
Leandro Santorsola

Leandro is the founder of The Coffee Arsenal. His favorite relaxation method is to drink a Cafe Latte in the afternoons.