While Keurig machines and standard drip coffee makers do share some common technology and processes, there are differences in the type of coffee they use, their brew speed, taste, and other factors. It is important for each coffee enthusiast to consider these characteristics when making decisions on coffee makers and brew styles. So in this article, we will be looking at the Keurig VS Drip Coffee Maker and how they compare.
If you are considering a new coffee machine upgrade, you should be aware of the characteristics of each coffee maker, the quality of coffee, the options available, and whether they suit your needs for coffee. Discover our top picks for the best Keurig coffee makers in 2023 and also Drip Coffee makers.
How Does a Keurig Coffee Maker Work?
When it comes to at-home, single-cup brewing methods, Keurig machines, and their compatible K-Cup coffee portions are generally the most well-known and widely used products. Keurig products offer a variety of machines, K-Cup coffee varieties and flavors, and extremely quick brewing methods for use at home, on the go, and in office settings.
Keurig machines use single-use coffee pods called K-Cups. While there are Keurig compatible reusable filters to use any ground coffee with Keurig machines, the single-use coffee pods are the most common products used with these coffee makers. Each K-Cup is filled with an individual portion of coffee, and vacuum sealed to remove oxygen and prevent any coffee exposure that would diminish the quality. K-Cups are also available as other hot beverages, including teas and hot chocolate.
When it comes to the brewing process, Keurig machines use a combination of needles and hot water to turn a K-Cup into a brewed beverage. One needle at the top of the lid is used to puncture the seal of the K-Cup and fill it with hot water. Another needle punctures the bottom of the K-Cup, allowing the hot water to flow through the coffee and out of the bottom hole. This process is very quick, with most Keurig models completing the brewing within a minute.
The key to the quick brewing method of a Keurig machine is the storage of hot water in the tank and the small amount of water needed. Most Keurig models keep a certain amount of pre-warmed water in a storage tank to expedite brewing. Additionally, since Keurig machines are heating a smaller amount of water needed for a single cup, the heating process is much quicker than traditional drip methods.
See also: Nespresso VS Keurig.
How Does a Drip Coffee Maker Work?
Drip coffee machines are what most people associate with simple, at-home brewing. While there are a variety of drip methods, including drip cones and pour-over kettles, the standard automatic drip coffee maker features a plastic or metal body, a water tank, a holder (also called a basket or funnel) for a filter and coffee grounds, and a glass or plastic pot (also called a carafe) that collects the brewed coffee.
While some machines with more advanced options may heat specified water amounts via programmed settings, the standard drip machines require the user to fill the water tank according to how much coffee they wish to make. The basket requires a paper filter insert, usually cone or bowl-shaped, although some machines use a permanent filter that requires cleaning after each use. Once a filter is in place, a measured amount of coffee grounds, usually a medium coarse grind, is added to the basket.
The drip machine heats the water to the point of boiling, then evenly pours this water in to the basket, over the coffee grounds, and through the filter. The brewed coffee then drips out of the basket and into the pot, or carafe. In a lot of ways, this brewing method uses the same basic concepts as a Keurig machine. However, due to the water heating method, the pouring speed of the water, and the rate of the coffee drip, the standard drip method is slower than a Keurig machine.
Some standard drip coffee makers can also accommodate single-cup brew methods, although it is not as streamlined as the Keurig. Many drip machines allow single-serve coffee pods, which are coffee grounds sealed into a round, paper filter. Based on the size of the coffee pod, the water tank is filled accordingly for the single cup.
See also: Drip coffee VS Pour Over.
Machine and Coffee Differences
In terms of brewing, the major difference between Keurig and standard drip machines is the brewing speed. Keurig machines brew a cup of coffee quickly, while standard drip coffee makers are much slower and usually take around 5 minutes for a pot of coffee. It is important to remember that part of the time difference is serving size, with most drip machines geared towards brewing a full pot of coffee as opposed to a single cup.
While the coffee each machine uses can be the same, the form and vessel are different. Standard drip machines use medium-ground coffee beans placed directly into the basket or funnel. There are reusable pods that are compatible with Keurig machines, but many Keurig users stick with the K-Cups of pre-portioned coffee. While some coffee drinkers debate the freshness and quality of the coffee in a K-Cup, the coffee both machines use is essentially the same.
Additional K-Cup factors that stir debate are environmental impact and material use. The single-serve K-Cups are not particularly environmentally friendly, considering that each plastic cup is disposed of after use. Although Keurig promotes and uses plastic cups free of BPA (Bisphenol A), there are studies that suggest heating plastics, such as the plastics used for K-Cups, can have harmful health effects caused by chemicals that leach under high temperatures.
Taste and Quality Differences
There is no specific reason to suggest that there is a major taste difference between a cup of drip coffee and a cup brewed by a Keurig machine. However, standard drip machines make it much easier to choose your own coffee for brewing. This means it is possible for a user to buy and grind a higher quality coffee bean, such as a single origin coffee or a locally roasted blend. Keurig machines, on the other hand, are geared more towards the use of K-Cups that are produced by bigger companies that focus on quantity of production. In theory, this means that a cup of coffee from a standard drip machine could be higher in quality and flavor. The caffeine content for a cup of drip coffee is also slightly higher than a cup brewed by a Keurig machine, although that can also vary depending on coffee type and strength.
Standard drip machines are not without their own quality issues. The temperatures used in some drip machines are higher than recommended for brewing certain types of coffee, which can lead to a burnt and acrid taste. Making larger batches of coffee associated with most drip machines can also dilute the overall flavor of the coffee itself.
Is Keurig or Drip Coffee Cheaper?
Generally, standard drip coffee makers are cheaper to buy and use compared to Keurig machines, but there are price variables associated with each brewing method. While you can get a standard drip machine for a cheaper price than a Keurig, there are certainly automatic drip machines that cost just as much, or more, due to added features and programs.
Buying ground coffee or fresh beans is usually cheaper than K-Cups because you get more individual servings from a container of coffee. While that may be true most of the time, there are many options to buy K-Cups in bulk at a discounted rate. Also, some types of fresh coffee can be expensive as well. If a coffee drinker is primarily buying single origin, locally sourced coffee for their drip machine, those costs could be equal to, or more expensive, than K-Cups. Standard drip coffee makers may be the cheaper option overall, but convenience and other factors may make Keurig machines a more suitable option for a particular person’s lifestyle.
Keurig VS Drip Coffee Maker – Which One?
In reality, neither Keurig machines nor standard drip machines are better than the other. Both styles of brewing have their own positives along with their own downsides. A lot of deciding factors come down to personal lifestyles and preferences. There are certainly individuals that have opinions about the quality of the brewed coffee of one machine, or the environmental impact of K-Cups. However, the choice of which style of coffee is best for a person’s tastes, life, and home is ultimately up to each coffee drinker. The most important factor of the brewing experience is to enjoy a nice cup of coffee!
The Final Sip
When it comes to the Keurig VS Drip Coffee Maker, it is ultimately down to your preference. Our choice would be Keurig for variety and drip coffee for better flavor, but this could depend on the type of coffee and brand too.