You watch the barista at the coffee shop effortlessly pull those espresso shots. Ahhh, you love those strong flavors and incredible aromas.
And you want to create your own espresso drinks at home. The coffee maker you have is a Keurig. Surely you can make an espresso with a Keurig, right?
To answer that, let’s look at what an espresso is and what Keurig coffee makers are capable of doing. And I’ll walk you through the best way to get the strongest tasting coffee from your Keurig.
Before we get into the brewing process, let’s take a minute to talk about what an espresso shot is and what makes it different from regular coffee.
You’ve seen your barista make coffee magic with a huge espresso machine. Why are espresso machines so big? Is all that metal necessary?
Yes, size is important. Inside a large espresso machine is a powerful boiler system that heats water until it builds up at least 9 bars of pressure (or 116 to 145 psi).
That’s an intense amount of water pressure, which is hard to achieve with smaller machines. Getting up to that high pressure in a short amount of time does require a bulky machine.
When that is applied to the water, the espresso machine forces it through the coffee grounds at a fast speed. That creates your strong espresso with the luxurious crema on the top.
The reason for this isn’t just a love of speed or strength. Those factors extract a coffee that’s intense and that has that unique flavor and aroma that thrill espresso lovers.
For instance, the intense pressure applied to fresh ground coffee releases the coffee oils, which contribute to creating crema. Crema also helps enhance the aroma, which in turn contributes to what we perceive as flavor.
Another factor that contributes to that espresso flavor is the way the coffee is ground.
For an espresso machine to work properly, you have to use fine ground coffee. In fact, the coffee should be ground so fine it resembles flour.
The water passes evenly through those fine coffee grounds and extracts good flavor. Also, an espresso machine can extract that finely ground coffee in a brief 25-30 second extraction time.
Now that we understand the role of temperature, pressure, and grind size in making memorable espressos, we’re left with the question at hand. Can you make espresso with Keurig brewers?
Do Keurigs Make Espresso?
The quick answer is no.
If you’re a Keurig fan, that might disappoint you. First, let me explain why it’s hard to make espresso with Keurig brewers, and then we’ll talk about how you can get around those limitations.
A Keurig brewing system is essentially a type of drip coffee maker.
Drip coffee makers can’t make espresso shots. They don’t have the capacity to produce the pressure or the water temperature that we mentioned are essential to make espresso. So let’s break down those two points.
To start with, a single-serve brewer can’t make real espresso shots because it doesn’t create enough pressure. Without that, the coffee doesn’t get extracted well and doesn’t produce those intense flavors.
Also, few Keurig brewers can reach an adequate temperature to extract espresso-style coffee. The water needs to be just under the boiling point, and it’s a struggle for small machines to bring it to that brewing temperature and maintain it.
We also talked about how true espresso is made with finely ground coffee. With a Keurig machine, though, you’ll quickly find that fine ground coffee clogs up the machine.
Only espresso machines combine these requirements to produce the drink both you and I love – espresso.
Is There A Keurig Machine That Makes Espresso?
But maybe you’ve heard the rumors that there is a Keurig machine that makes espresso. The rumors are true…and not true.
In the history of the company, only one model was (almost) capable of making espresso. That Keurig espresso maker was called the Keurig Rivo.
The Rivo was promoted as an espresso maker that could produce 15 bars using the Keurig brewing system. But it didn’t live up to the expectations. You’ve probably noticed that I’m talking about it in the past tense. The Rivo, after disappointing espresso lovers, was discontinued.
In fact, even if you find a used Keurig Rivo, I can’t recommend buying one. Apart from the pressure problem, you’ll also face the problem of where to buy espresso K Cups or pods for a discontinued machine.
So no, a Keurig espresso brew doesn’t really exist. Even so, you can get close to the real deal. Here’s how.
How To Make Espresso in A Keurig
If you want to make an espresso-like drink in a Keurig coffee maker, how do you go about it?
There are three basic steps you can take to make a coffee that’s as close as possible to an espresso.
- Consider your cup option
- Choose your coffee beans carefully
- Choose your cup strength
Let’s break down each part of this three-step approach to the coffee brewing process.
Go For The Smallest Cup Option
No matter what Keurig machine you use, you can change the cup option.
Go for the smallest one. Using less liquid will create a more concentrated drink, which will make the coffee seem a lot more like an espresso.
While your coffee bean choices are more limited when using K cups, there are a lot of dark roast coffee options. Choose a Keurig coffee dark roast or one that’s labeled espresso roast.
What’s the difference between a dark roast and an espresso roast?
Espressos were traditionally made with a darker roast coffee, which is where the “espresso roast” term came from. But since you can make fantastic espressos with lighter coffee roasts, the name isn’t that accurate.
When choosing a Keurig K Cup for your coffee machine, the term dark roast and espresso roast let you know they roasted the coffee beans quite dark to give a more intense experience. You can use them interchangeably.
In fact, you can experiment with different coffee beans at different roast points to see which one works best with your machine.
An espresso K Cup creates a more espresso-like drink, so you might want to start with cups labeled that way.
Keep It Strong
Your Keurig may have a “strong” option. If yours has that feature, now is the time to use it. Press that button, so you get a strong, concentrated cup of coffee next.
What if you don’t see the “strong” button anywhere?
What the brew button says will depend on your brewer. If you have a Keurig K Cafe, it might say “shot.” On other K-Cup brewers, it will be the 4/6 oz option.
Can your Keurig make espresso?
As we’ve seen, Keurig brewers don’t produce a real cup of espresso. But if you already own one and want to make the most of your K-Cups, don’t despair.
You can make a Keurig espresso if you choose your beans wisely, use a small cup option, and brew it to get a strong cup of coffee.
With these tips, you will get the strongest cup of coffee possible and satisfy your espresso cravings at home.