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5 Best Espresso K-Cups 2021 – Tasted, Ranked & Reviewed

shot of espresso from a K-cupIf you’re a big espresso fan, you know there’s nothing better than a perfectly pulled shot. Bold, rich flavor and a strong, creamy head — delicious! But if you don’t want to invest in an Italian espresso machine or head to your local coffee shop, you’ll want tasty, high-quality espresso K-cups. So which brands will produce the best espresso?

We have gone ahead and tasted, reviewed, and compared dozens of espresso K-cups. We then compiled our favorites in a top-five list. We hope that this will help you find the right fit for you and your Keurig machine.


Comparison Table (updated in 2021)

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Illy Extra Dark-roast Illy Extra Dark-roast
  • Never-bitter dark roast flavor
  • Complex and delicious with plenty of crema
  • Compatible with all Keurig K-cup brewers
  • Second place
    Glorybrew The Knight Glorybrew The Knight
  • Compatible with Keurig 1.0 and 2.0 machines
  • Full-bodied, dark, and flavorful
  • Compostable and Rainforest Alliance-certified
  • Third place
    San Francisco Bay Espresso Roast OneCup San Francisco Bay Espresso Roast OneCup
  • Can brew as regular coffee
  • Compatible w/ Several Brewers
  • Family-run company
  • Starbucks Verismo Starbucks Verismo
  • Not compatible with non-Verismo machines
  • Dark roast has burnt flavor
  • 10% of pods don’t work
  • Lavazza Perfetto Lavazza Perfetto
  • Bold Italian dark flavor
  • Keurig-quality
  • Caramel notes
  • The 5 Best Espresso K-Cups

    1. Illy Extra Dark Roast Espresso K-Cups – Best Overall

    Illy Forte Extra Dark Roast K-Cups

    Our all-around favorite espresso K-Cups are the Forte Extra Dark Roast from Illy. No one does espresso like the Italians, and these pods don’t disappoint, producing strong, smooth espresso that’s never bitter. You’ll find notes of dark chocolate and caramel, along with plenty of enticing aromas. And don’t forget the impressive crema!

    These K-Cups are compatible with Keurig 1.0 and 2.0 brewers, and though they’re a little pricey, you can save a bit by buying in bulk.

    To conclude, we think these are some of the best espresso K-cups in 2021.

    Pros
    • Never-bitter dark roast flavor
    • Complex and delicious with plenty of crema
    • Compatible with all Keurig K-cup brewers
    • Famous Italian coffee company
    • Available at a bulk discount
    Cons
    • Somewhat pricey

    2. Glorybrew ‘The Knight’ Espresso K-Cups

    Glory Brew The Knight Dark Roast

    In second place, we have the Dark Roast from Glorybrew. These K-cups produce complex, tasty shots of espresso with plenty of body and smooth, lightly earthy flavor. Made with 100% Arabica beans grown in Central and South America, these pods are also surprisingly affordable.

    Even better? These coffee pods are fully compostable, certified by the Rainforest Alliance, and made of renewable materials. The downsides? These coffee pods aren’t specifically designed for espresso and don’t produce quite as much crema as we’d prefer. This also isn’t a variety pack, so you’ll have to content yourself with just one flavor.

    Pros
    • Compatible with Keurig 1.0 and 2.0 machines
    • Full-bodied, dark, and flavorful
    • Compostable and Rainforest Alliance-certified
    • Affordable
    Cons
    • Not a variety pack
    • Not specifically for espresso
    • Less crema

    3. San Francisco Bay Espresso Roast OneCup K-Cups

    SF Bay espresso K-Cups

    The San Francisco Bay Espresso Roast can be brewed as a regular cup of coffee, or it can be ground finer for making espressos or other specialty coffees. These convenient cups are compatible with several brewers, including Keurig K-Cup 1.0 and 2.0, Cuisinart, Bunn, and many others.

    San Francisco Bay is a family-run company that takes pride in providing quality coffee products. This particular product may be a little too much, though. It’s decaf for those who can’t handle caffeine, but you can taste the decaf, and it has a stronger punch than most other decaf brews.

    Even though this espresso packs a punch, it gets watered down when made in larger coffee cups. There’s a strange film that forms on the top of the coffee that sticks to the sides of the mug when you tip it.

    Pros
    • Can brew as regular coffee, or be ground fine for making espressos or other specialty coffees
    • For Keurig K-Cup 1.0 and 2.0, Cuisinart, Bunn, and several other brewers
    • Family-run company
    Cons
    • Can taste the decaf
    • Too much kick for decaf
    • Coffee is watered down in larger cup sizes
    • Film on top of coffee

    4. Starbucks Verismo Espresso K-Cup Roast

    Starbucks espresso roast K-Cups

    The Starbucks Verismo Espresso Roast includes six boxes of 12 Starbucks dark roast flavors and can be brewed as a high-quality coffee, or an authentic espresso. Most of the flavors are good, but the plain dark roast flavor has a burnt taste, kind of like burnt chocolate.

    These K-cups are compatible with the Starbucks Verismo coffee system, but not with any other machines. We also found that approximately ten percent of the pods didn’t produce a cup of coffee at all.

    Pros
    • Six boxes of 12 Starbucks dark roasts each
    • Can brew high-quality coffee and authentic espresso
    • For Starbucks Verismo System
    Cons
    • Not compatible with non-Verismo machines
    • Dark roast has burnt flavor
    • 10% of pods don’t work

    5. Lavazza Perfetto Espresso K-Cups

    Lavazza Perfetto K-Cups

    The Lavazza Perfetto Single-Serve Coffee K-Cups are advertised as delivering a Keurig-quality, bold Italian dark flavor with a lingering caramel taste. That isn’t what we got, however. When we tried these K-cups, we found that they don’t have the same flavor as Lavazza Perfetto’s bagged coffee does. The coffee you get from these has no body, and has a watered-down, bitter taste.

    Pros
    • Bold Italian dark flavor with caramel taste
    • Keurig-quality
    Cons
    • Doesn’t taste like company’s bagged coffee
    • No body

    Conclusion:

    There are several kinds of espresso K-cups. We have given you information on our five favorites out of all the K-cups we reviewed. Now all you have to do is decide what kind of espresso K-cup you want, and how much you want to spend.

    To recap, we think that Illy Forte Extra Dark Roast, are the best espresso K-cups. The runner-up, the Glorybrew The Knight Dark Roast, is also a great option. Our third recommendation is the flavorful San Francisco Bay Espresso Roast (OneCup).

    Here are also some other K-cup flavors we’ve reviewed:

    Kate MacDonnell

    Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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