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K-Cups Vs Coffee Pods - What's the Difference?

by Invigo Coffee 20 Apr 2021
K-Cups Vs Coffee Pods - What's the Difference?

In the world of single-serve coffee, k-cups vs coffee pods is a popular discourse. You can easily compare it to the Messi vs Ronaldo comparison in the world of soccer. The truth is both coffee pods and k-cups have specific designs to produce coffee in a single-serve. For this reason, many coffee pod lovers simply assume they are the same. 

However, coffee pods and k-cups have respective features and properties which are peculiar to each other. So, while both of them offer similar solutions in the form of single-serve coffee, they are not the same. 

There are some features present in a coffee pod that are absent in a k-cup and vice versa. Some people know about these differences; that's why the argument of k-cups vs coffee pods comes up.

The differences between k-cups and coffee pods go beyond appearance. First, the difference starts from the time both came into the coffee market. Coffee pods went into the coffee market a while before k-cups came into the scene in 1992

There were not too many coffee pod flavours when they first came into the market. But today, you can get hundreds, if not thousand flavours of coffee pods across the globe. Furthermore, the physical appearance of both coffee pods and k-cups is not the same. 

The shape of a coffee pod is not too dissimilar to that of a teabag. On the other hand, k-cups usually come in a plastic cup. 

Away from the shape and appearance, many other features differentiate both coffee pods and k-cups. In this guide, we'll discuss k-cups vs coffee pods in plenty of detail. Also, we'll show you the differences between these two single-serve coffee options. 

What Are Coffee Pods?

You can't possibly compare k-cups vs coffee pods without understanding the definition of both terms. Also, another reason you should adequately define both terms is that some brands inadvertently refer to their k-cups as coffee pods. 

So, it’s easy to conclude they mean the same thing and try to interchange them. But these brands may only be using that as a marketing strategy. 

Coffee pods are a single-serve form of coffee that comes in a flat surface with paper bag material. So, it's basically a paper bag filled with the right amount of ground coffee for a single-serve. This paper bag is always filter paper, so all you need to do is plop it in hot water.

Because coffee pods mostly come in paper, it has a simple design that supports waste management. For instance, after you have finished enjoying your pod, you don't have to worry about how its disposal affects others. In most cases, the paper bag of the coffee pod has a biodegradable property. 

That biodegradable property means it decomposes quickly. In turn, it won't turn out to be harmful waste to the environment in the future. So, if you're an environmentalist, you'll hardly compare coffee pods vs k-cups. You'll prefer coffee pods because of the safety it offers to the environment. 

The biodegradable property isn't the only significant feature that a coffee pod has. There are other features like its simple easy-to-use design. Let's take a look at some of them.

coffee pods filter paper

Features of coffee pods

Like we mentioned earlier, coffee pods have many features that define them. From the physical appearance to the final product and disposal, it's all shades of unique. Here are some features of coffee pods:


If you don't already know, coffee pods already existed before k-cups came into the scene. This history is a solid point for coffee pods in the coffee pods vs k-cups debate. While being the first was a great feat, coffee pods didn't exactly enjoy the rise to prominence you would have expected. 

When coffee pods first became popular, there were many challenges that the creative idea faced. The first challenge was the distribution of these coffee pods. Of course, it's normal for consumers to first doubt a product on its market entry. However, as long as the product is good, consumers will start buying after a while. 

This happened when coffee pods first came into the market. Consumers were ready to buy the coffee pods after a while, but the challenge was distribution. Another challenge was compatibility with coffee makers. 

This means users at the time needed to make the coffee from coffee pods manually. Can you imagine you struggling to buy a product and still making it manually? That's the reason not too many people bought into the coffee pod idea at the start. 

Also, there were many coffee pod designs because there was no standard. So, you may buy a coffee pod that works with your pod brewer today. But tomorrow, another coffee pod won't work with that same coffee maker. So, you can say, when compared vs k-cups, coffee pods didn't have the initial standard across the board.

Simple design

You have probably seen a coffee pod before you read this article. But if you haven't, a coffee pod doesn't look like anything complex. It's simply a filter paper cut in a flat and mostly round shape. 

This simple design of coffee pods gives it an edge vs k-cups. You can simply carry coffee pods around if you wish to travel anywhere. Also, the simple design of coffee pods means they are easy to use. 

Biodegradable property

The materials made to create a coffee pod are mostly paper and ground coffee. These materials can quickly decompose when you dispose of these materials. 

The filter paper doesn't need as much time to decompose. So, for environmental safety, coffee pods fare better vs k-cups.

Size and dimension

When coffee pods first came into the coffee market. There were way too many sizes and different dimensions. That caused a lot of disparity and confusion amongst the consumers of this product. However, this feature changed some years down the line, and coffee pods now have regular sizes. 

Today, a coffee pod has a radius of 30.5mm for the coffee pods with a circle shape. Also, the weight of coffee pods now ranges between eight and twelve grams. These consistent sizes and dimensions mean it’s easier to find a compatible coffee pod machine. Essentially, you won't have to go through the frustration of frequently buying an oversized or undersized coffee pod. 

Related Article: How To Ensure Coffee Pod Freshness

Advantages and Disadvantages of Coffee Pods

If you're considering which is best between coffee pods and k-cups, there are many influential factors. For instance, let's assume you are a person who naturally prefers sophisticated products. 

It means you always want your product, no matter how slight, to have an advanced design. In this case, if you're to choose one between coffee pods vs k-cups, k-cups will be your pick. 

So you see, personal choices always influence which is best between k-cups and coffee pods. However, if you want to drop sentiment, both coffee pods and k-cups have their peculiar advantages and disadvantages. 

For coffee pods, the pros certainly outweigh the cons. Let's take a closer look at the important ones.

Easy to carry

Coffee pods, in most cases, have simple designs across all different brands. Not only is the design simple, but it also comes with a lightweight feature. Also, the dimension of the average coffee pod makes it small enough to pack. These features make coffee pods extremely convenient to carry. 

As a result, if you're going on any form of vacation, you can take your coffee pod along. This means you won’t miss the great taste of your coffee pod anywhere. 

For example, let's assume you buy coffee pods in Canada but have to travel to Italy tomorrow. You do not need to bother about purchasing coffee pods in Italy since you can always take yours along.

Strong flavour 

One reason why coffee pods are popular in Canada is the strong, distinct taste. If you plan on switching from ground coffee to coffee pods or k-cups, the taste is a key talking point. 

Hence, it's valid to compare the taste intensity of coffee pods vs k-cups. In most cases, a coffee pod fares better in terms of taste and aroma.

At this point in this article, you already know that a coffee pod is simply ground coffee in a filter paper. So, when hot water comes in contact with this filter paper, it can go through easily. In turn, this means it can extract all of the authentic flavours. As a result, the taste intensity of a coffee pod is usually on the high side. 

coffee pods circle shape

Environment friendly

Every day, the environment we live in continues to breed more harm due to waste deposits. That's why we all have to do our bit to protect the environment. Due to this, when comparing coffee pods vs k-cups, we should consider the environment. Once you consider the environment, you'll mostly pick a coffee pod every day.

The main materials you'll find in a coffee pod are filter paper and ground coffee. Once you finish brewing coffee from coffee pods, the waste materials that’ll remain are filter paper and coffee remnants. These two materials won't take too long to decompose. So you see, in most cases, coffee pods offer more eco-friendly properties vs k-cups.

Less pricey

Many times than not, coffee pods are far more affordable when compared to k-cup prices. You can easily attribute this to the simple design and materials. Since the manufacturer isn't spending too much on production, you won’t have to break the bank to buy coffee pods. 

The disadvantage: Fewer flavour options

A major disadvantage you'll notice when you compare coffee pods vs k-cups is options. K-cups have different types of flavours and options available to you. But with coffee pods, there's still a limitation in terms of variety of flavour.

What Are K-Cups?

K-cups have the same ground coffee content you'll find in a coffee pod. But this time, you'll not be using filter paper — it'll be cup-like packaging. 

So basically, you can say that a k-cup is ground coffee in a cup-like object. In many cases, the material used for this cup is usually plastic. However, there are some other cases where the cup may be made from aluminum material. There are some exceptional cases where manufacturers mix both aluminum and plastic to make the cups.

With a plastic k-cup, there is a foul at the top along a plastic line. Also, the k-cup usually has filter paper inside, which usually houses the coffee pod itself. So, you see why it's easy to mistake k-cups as coffee pods.

To use k-cups, you mostly need a compatible coffee machine for k-cups. Machine compatibility is one of the similar features coffee pods and k-cups share. However, there is a clear difference between the brewing process of coffee pods and k-cups. 

Coffee pods only need hot water for brewing to happen. However, in the case of k-cups, the brewing process has more technicality. The first thing is for you to put your k-cup in a compatible coffee maker. When you hit start, the machine has needles that create a joke at the top and bottom of the cup. 

The hot water comes in through the hole at the top and leaves through the bottom hole. That's one of the features that translates to coffee from k-cups having a lower flavour palette compared to coffee pods. 

Features of k-cups 

From the name itself, you can tell that k-cups have an association with cups. We have also mentioned earlier that the cup, in most cases, is plastic. However, other features of k-cups to know include:


As we mentioned earlier, k-cups came on board a while after coffee pods were into the market. The first entry of coffee pods came in 1992 through John Sylvan. He didn't just sit and think of k-cups as an idea. It all started as a problem around him, and he wanted to solve the problem. 

He noticed that most workers in offices would usually share a pot of coffee. This pot of coffee never lasted long and would lose taste and flavour relatively easily. So, he wanted to solve this problem by creating a machine that can make a single cup of coffee. He finally got this solution and created the first k-cups.

However, the trademark owners of k-cups today are Keurig Green Mountain. That means only this company has the legal right to have a product named k-cups. You guessed right! That's one of the reasons other brands with k-cups may call their products coffee pods. It’s one of the sources of the coffee pods vs k-cups debate.

Size and dimension

Unlike coffee pods, k-cups came with standard sizes from their inception. You can easily say this is because of the mode of manufacture. The manufacturer had plans of making a coffee-making machine. So, he needed to have standard sizes that worked with the machine. 

In most cases, the k-cups contain between nine and ten grams of ground coffee. So, every other brand that makes k-cups maintains that approximate standard. More so, most k-cups have their respective compatible machines. So, in most cases, your k-cup will work well with the machine you have. 

k-cups variety

Decomposing time

K-cups may have lovely flavours and give you convenience. However, if you're considering the environment, you'll know that k-cups aren't pleasant. The primary manufacturing materials of this product are plastic and, of course, ground coffee. As mentioned earlier, ground coffee as a waste product doesn't take too long to decompose.

However, the plastic cups k-cups come in are an environmental killer. Plastic takes decades to decompose. So if you're thinking of which is best between coffee pods and k-cups for the environment, coffee pods always fare better. That's one advantage coffee pods have over k-cups. 

Most brands claim to use plastics that have biodegradable properties. But even the biodegradable plastics will still take up to three years before they fully decompose. So, while this may be a marketing strategy, biodegradable plastics aren't exactly biodegradable. As a result, you can say plastic k-cups aren't great for the environment. 

Versatile usage

Coffee pods made an entry into the coffee world first, but k-cups came along years after. Since then, several types of coffee pods and k-cups have emerged in the coffee market today. So, you have the liberty to choose whichever kind of coffee pod or k-cup you want. 

For k-cups, it goes beyond just having types of coffee k-cups. There are special flavours that many brands now incorporate into k-cups. You can now have chocolate k-cups, cappuccino k-cups, amongst other things. That's only an indication of what's to come in the future. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of K-Cups

Now that you know the features of coffee pods and k-cups, we need to know the advantages of k-cups. If you have tried both coffee pods and k-cups frequently, you probably have a preferred option. However, if you don't take any often, you may have a little confusion. 

If you want to know how to choose between coffee pods and k-cups, you need to compare the advantages of both options. Like coffee pods, the benefits of k-cups outweigh the disadvantages. Here are some of its advantages;

Diverse brews and brands

Several brands in Canada are in the business of creating k-cups. This development has built a regular competition between each brand. This competition is, however, to the advantage of the k-cups consumers. Because of this competition, each brand tries its best to make its products stand out.

As a result, this development means that there are many flavours and tastes of k-cups available. So, as a consumer, you have many options to pick from. If you want variety, you won't have to bother about how to choose between coffee pods and k-cups. In most cases, it’s best to go with k-cups. 

Readily available

Another advantage that the k-cup industry competition brings is availability. There are so many brands producing them. So much so that you need not bother about finding a k-cup — wherever you are in Canada. 

Easy and clean brew

One feature that both coffee pods and k-cups both have is the convenience of making coffee. All the work you need to do is to buy a compatible coffee pod or k-cup machine. Once you do this, the remaining hard work is the function of the coffee maker. However, the k-cups have one advantage over coffee pods, which is the clean brew. 

A coffee pod's primary material is filter paper, which means the hot water penetrates the paper. For k-cups, on the other hand, there's a plastic container that houses the paper. That means, when you have finished making your coffee, the coffee pod will cause more mess than the k-cup. 

The major disadvantage the k-cups have is the decomposing property. Because of the plastic material around k-cups, they aren't so great for the environment.

black coffee pods

Similarities Between K-Cups Vs Coffee Pods

We have discussed the features of both coffee pods and k-cups. We have also discussed the advantages and disadvantages of k-cups and coffee pods.

Next up, we need to compare and contrast both forms of single-serve coffee. Let's start with a comparison.

Both are single-serve coffee

The reason why you'll buy a coffee pod or k-cup is that you want coffee. The taste of both products may differ based on brand choice. However, the content of both products is coffee. So, based on the content of both coffee pods, you can say they are the same.

The only differences between coffee pods and k-cups contents will come from brand specifications. Also, both k-cups and coffee pods have content enough for just one single cup of coffee. The flavour may differ, but the individual designs are for a single cup. 

Both are easy to brew

Whether you prefer k-cups or coffee pods, you can't deny the fact that they're both easy to brew. As long as you have compatible machines, all you have to worry about is buying the coffee pod or k-cup. So, another similarity you'll notice between coffee pods and k-cups is the easy coffee brewing.

Both offer variety

In the world we live in today, many companies produce coffee pods and k-cups. As a result, there are different brands of both coffee pods and k-cups. So, as a coffee pod or k-cup lover, you have a variety of options. Although, k-cups offer a slightly more extensive flavour palette.

Differences Between Coffee Pods and K-Cups

If you have asked yourself should I buy coffee pods or k-cups, here are some factors to note;

  • Coffee pods are more eco-friendly vs k-cups. So, if you are a lover of the environment, you may want to choose coffee pods. 
  • K-Cups have more flavour options compared to coffee pods. So, if you love to taste variety, you can consider k-cups over coffee pods. 
  • Coffee pods will give you a stronger taste for every coffee you brew than k-cups. So, if you love tasting all of your coffee, you may want to consider coffee pods.

Related Article: How Much Caffeine Is In Coffee Pods?

Choose Coffee Pods Today

Coffee pods vs k-cups are one debate in the coffee world that has no end. Based on your personal preference and taste bud, there's no way you won't have your favourite. If you love a strong coffee taste, you'll most likely prefer coffee pods. But if you like light coffee, you may want to try k-cups out. 

However, that doesn't mean that coffee pods are better than k-cups and vice versa. They both have their respective advantages and disadvantages. But if you want to keep the environment void of unnecessary waste, you should consider coffee pods. The materials used to create coffee pods have eco-friendly properties.

If you want to purchase coffee pods, you should buy the best quality. At Invigo Coffee, we don't just offer you coffee pods that give you coffee. Our coffee pods have top-notch quality and go through a careful selection and manufacturing process. Check our online collection of coffee pods today!

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