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5 Best Espresso K-Cups 2022 – 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. Your taste buds will thank you!


Comparison Table (updated in 2022)

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 delicious 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

    Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Espresso K-Cups

    Now that we’ve shared our favorite espresso K-Cups above, let’s take a look at the criteria we used when testing each product. Each cup on our list was tested for flavor but we also paid close attention to the quality of the cups themselves and the price tag each one carries. By using these guidelines when choosing an espresso K-Cup for your home, you can enjoy a great-tasting espresso any time you want.

    Quality

    Two aspects must work together to provide a quality espresso K-Cup, the beans, and the cup. Great beans are a must when it comes to any coffee beverage. For users of single-cup makers, a sturdy cup that won’t make a mess allows cleanup to be a breeze. Let’s take a look at both the beans and the cups below so you can see the criteria we used to determine which ones were up to par.

    The Beans

    To make a great espresso you need finely ground coffee beans. The Espresso K-Cups listed above have taken the beans required for a good, smooth espresso and brought them to the convenience of a one-cup coffee maker. Keep in mind, for a great cup of espresso, in any maker, it is best to use medium-dark to dark roasted beans. This type of bean, finely ground, will provide great body, consistency, and flavor in your cup.

    The Cup

    The last thing you want when buying espresso K-Cups is a low-quality design. A good cup should be well constructed and undamaged. The foil covering should fit tight, be undamaged, and be sturdy. The outer packing of the K-Cups should also be undamaged and trustworthy enough to offer peace of mind when purchasing a package.

    Unfortunately, as you can see, some of the pods we reviewed had issues. Certain pods didn’t work while others had issues with the packaging in general. Keep this in mind when choosing the right cups for your maker. Although most K-Cup packages come with multiple cups inside, having cups that don’t work is both time-consuming and a waste of money.

    k cups
    Image Credit: Diermaier, Pixabay

    Flavors

    Lots of times, when people purchase K-Cups, variety packs are their aim. When it comes to espresso K-Cups, however, that’s not the case. Each product reviewed is intended to put a great espresso in your cup. While many pods we reviewed provided a great flavor, others did not. Some espressos came out tasting burnt, being too strong, and even leaving strange films on top of the espresso in the cup. If you’re particular about your espresso, this could be seen as a major issue.

    Price

    Price plays an important role in everything we purchase. Espresso K-Cups are no different. Unfortunately, many of the cups we reviewed above can be considered a bit pricey for people living on a fixed income or a strict budget. Luckily, there are many on the list that should be more affordable to bring into your home. Simply choose the espresso K-Cups best suited for your budget and enjoy a great cup of espresso when you have a craving.

    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:

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    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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