Food & Drink

The 19 Most Popular K-Cups, Ranked By a Coffee Expert

This barista would even pay money for one of these at a coffee shop.

keurig k-cups
Ted McGrath/Thrillist

K-Cups are practically inescapable these days. They've invaded every office, every lazy human's kitchen counter, and half of the aisle space at all suburban Bed Bath & Beyond locations. Hell, even staunch environmentalists desperate for caffeine have compromised their morals and used a K-Cup at some point.

And nearly every brand is making a single-serving coffee pod these days. Starbucks? Check. Dunkin' Donuts? You betcha. Even Cinnabon, the maker of mall food court cinnamon rolls, makes K-Cups. But with hundreds of coffee K-Cups out there -- and at least a few dozen in your office pantry -- which one's really worth the (minimal) time?

We asked Josh Taves, a 12-year coffee industry vet (who has spent time working as a barista as well as training them) and the director of business development for Denver’s Novo Coffee -- one of the finest coffee shops in the country -- for help. He did a blind tasting of 19 of the most popular K-Cups like a true (and highly caffeinated) hero. In the end, few proved to be worth drinking, though a couple did impress our judge. Here are the results:

Tully's French Roast Extra Bold
Tully's French Roast Extra Bold | Keurig

19. Tully's French Roast Extra Bold

"It tastes like 90% dark chocolate or baker's chocolate. Most dark chocolate is only 65 -70%, so this is much more bitter. The coffee also tastes old, and a little fishy."

Diedrich French Roast Blend
Diedrich French Roast Blend | Keurig

18. Diedrich French Roast Blend

"Unfortunately, this was not an enjoyable experience. It tastes chemically, tarry, and pungent."

Folgers classic roast keurig cup
Folgers classic roast | Keurig

17. Folgers Classic Roast Coffee

“It tastes like wet cardboard, which is a sign of old, raw product. Not old, roasted product -- it’s pre-roast. Old, green coffee is harvested and sat too long before it was roasted.”

Barista Prima Coffeehouse Italian Roast
Barista Prima Coffeehouse Italian Roast | Keurig

16. Barista Prima Coffeehouse Italian Roast

"It tastes a little like curry or móle. It's very gamey and overwhelmingly roasted in flavor."

Laughing Man Colombia Huila keurig cup
Laughing Man Colombia Huila | Keurig

15. Laughing Man Colombia Huila

"This one has some peanut and cashew flavors to it. While it has a medium body [and doesn't taste too heavy], it does taste old."

Keurig cup Starbucks caramel
Starbucks Caramel | Keurig

14. Starbucks Caramel

"It tastes like sugar-free flavoring."

Keurig Cup Green Mountain Dark Magic
Green Mountain Dark Magic | Keurig

13. Green Mountain Dark Magic

“It’s a little thin -- it’s a little dusty tasting. There’s dark chocolate and shoe leather. And a little bit of raisin sweetness, but also some leguminous vegetable notes mixed with some roastiness. It’s all right. It’s drinkable, but not enjoyable. For a K-Cup, it’s fine.”

Gloria Jean's Butter Toffee keurig cup
Gloria Jean's Butter Toffee coffee | Keurig

12. Gloria Jean's Butter Toffee

"This one tastes like caramel without milk, I don't mind it. The coffee also has some vegetal flavors like that of sugar snap peas."

Keurig cup Caribou blend coffee
Caribou Blend Coffee | Keurig

11. Caribou Coffee Caribou Blend

"This tastes like hotel coffee. It's less offensive than some other ones I tried, but only because it's so weak. It's like brown water."

Keurig Cup Newman's Own Special Blend
Newman's Own Special Blend | Keurig

10. Newman's Own Organics Special Blend Extra Bold

"It tastes like a low-quality coffee, as there's not a lot going on flavor-wise. Even though there is a little bit of cinnamon sweetness in the finish, overall it's weak and old when you drink it."

Green Mountain Coffee Hazelnut Keurig Cup
Green Mountain Coffee Hazelnut | Green Mountain Coffee Hazelnut

9. Green Mountain Coffee Hazelnut

"This doesn't taste like coffee at all. Instead it tastes like a hazelnut milkshake. If you put hazelnut syrup in water and heated it up, this is what you'd get. It's not bad, but it's also not coffee."

keurig k-cup
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

8. Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll

"It tastes like a cinnamon roll! There's still a little bit of coffee flavor, however, unlike the [aforementioned] hazelnut coffee. But still, it's mostly flavoring."

Keurig Cup Starbucks Sumatra
Starbucks Sumatra | Keurig

7. Starbucks Sumatra Coffee

“This tastes like an old dark roast. The darker the roast the more it’ll taste old faster. It’s fine [overall], it’s probably on par with most things you get at the grocery store and make in your home coffeepot.”

The Original Donut Shop Coffee Keurig K Cups
The Original Donut Shop Coffee | Keurig

6. The Original Donut Shop Coffee

"It has a nice body to it and it’s nutty and chocolatey."

Keurig K Cup Folgers Black Silk
Folgers Black Silk | Keurig

5. Folgers Black Silk

“This is alright -- it tastes like a dark roast. It’s a little chocolatey and a little nutty. It’s also weak. There’s a little bit of sweetness to it. If I had to guess, it’s a poorly roasted Colombian coffee. It’s not bad, especially as it cools off. It gets a little sweeter. There’s a little more coffee flavor and a little less roast flavor.”

Starbucks Pike Place Roast k cups
Starbucks Pike Place Roast | Keurig

4. Starbucks Pike Place Roast

"There were very few negatives to this coffee. It started with good flavors and it didn't taste old."

Eight O'Clock The Original k cups
Eight O'Clock The Original | Keurig

3. Eight O'Clock The Original

"I'm getting some sweetness and caramel. Compared to the other K-Cup coffees I've tried, this has a heavier body, which is a good thing."

Green Mountain Coffee Breakfast Blend k cup
Green Mountain Coffee Breakfast Blend | Keurig

2. Green Mountain Coffee Breakfast Blend

"It's very clean in flavor. It lacks bitterness and astringency in the finish, which is nice. I wouldn't be upset drinking a cup of this, but I would be upset paying for it."

Keurig Dunkin' Donuts K Cups
Dunkin' Donuts Original Blend | Keurig

1. Dunkin' Donuts Original Blend

"It's not bad! It has some moderate sweetness and it has some acidity that pops. I can see an importer sending us this coffee [to try to get us to sell it], and us saying, 'It's OK, but no.'"

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Lee Breslouer is a senior writer for Thrillist, and needs some coffee. Follow him to caffeine @LeeBreslouer.