Are K-Cups Filled With Instant Coffee? Or Magic?

Why does a Keurig machine brew coffee so quickly? Are you really just paying a lot for instant coffee in a tiny cup? Here’s what you want to know.

K-cups are filled with normal coffee grounds and don’t dissolve like instant coffee. Some compounds in coffee grounds are dissolved in water which is what you taste in your cup. A Keurig machine can brew so fast because the grounds are very fine and water is pushed through under pressure.

You can find more about how a Keurig brews so quickly and if you can combine it with instant coffee below.

Are K-Cups Filled With Instant Coffee?

You might think that a Keurig brews coffee so quickly, there has to be instant coffee in those cups.

That’s not the case. K-cups contain normal coffee grounds just like you would put in a drip coffee maker although ground a bit finer. Instant coffee completely dissolves into water and normal coffee grounds do not (completely).

All coffee, instant or not, starts out as a bean that’s harvested and roasted. There are an almost countless amount of different beans that produce different tasting coffee but in the basis, they are very similar.

The beans then get ground up and that’s when you can use it to actually brew coffee. How you then brew those grounds is almost as variable as  the types of beans. There are a ton of different ways to brew coffee with those grounds and they all taste a little different. A Keurig machine is just one way of brewing with those grounds.  

Suggested: What makes Keurig coffee different from normal coffee?

Brewing coffee does dissolve a part of the coffee bean into water but only about 20%-25%. The parts that dissolve are what makes the coffee coffee. After brewing you’ll still be left with about 75% of the coffee grounds that’s impossible to dissolve in water.

Instant coffee is prepared in such a way that allows everything to be dissolved and takes away the parts that are not soluble. The basic process of making instant coffee is just brewing coffee from beans, then freeze drying that coffee. That takes all the water away and you’re left with all water soluble compounds from the coffee bean without the cellulose from the beans.

If you open up a K-cup after brewing, you will notice that there are coffee grounds left in the cup. This is perfectly normal since it’s not instant coffee. It should stay in the K-cup so it’s easy to clean up. You don’t want the cup to be empty after brewing because that would mean the grounds got somewhere else which is likely in your cup or all over your machine, both of which are not recommended.

Want to try different types of coffee and see what your Keurig machine is capable of? check out this Keurig Coffee Lovers variety pack (Amazon) with 20 different coffees to try.

Suggested: Can you put anything other than water in a Keurig?

How Does a Keurig Brew So Fast?

If there’s no instant coffee in there, why does coffee come out so fast of a Keurig. Usually you’ll have coffee in about a minute while a drip coffee maker takes quite a bit longer.

There are two reasons how this is possible with normal coffee grounds:

  • Amount: A Keurig brewer is a single cup brewer while in a drip coffee maker, you’ll usually make more than one cup. If you make less coffee, it takes less time. There is also just a small amount of coffee grounds in the k-cups (9-12 grams). To brew coffee, you need to extract the grounds to a proper level. If you have less grounds, this is done quicker which combines well with the smaller brew sizes.
  • Grind size: The coffee in K-cups is ground a bit finer than you will see in your supermarket bag of filter coffee. A finer grind means the grounds have more surface area which means more water can touch it at the same time and have a faster extraction.
  • Brew method: The second reason is the brew method a Keurig machine uses. The water gets injected into the cup with some pressure. Pressure helps extract coffee grounds quicker although the pressure in a Keurig isn’t very high at all. Where a normal drip coffee maker just uses gravity to percolate the water through the grounds, a Keurig pushes water through which means it comes out into your cup quicker. If your machine has a strong button, what that does is pulse the water instead of creating a constant stream. This allows the water to hang out with the grounds longer and make stronger coffee.
  • Suggested: What do the buttons on a Keurig do?

Brewing coffee is all about extracting all the tasty compounds from the coffee grounds and getting them into the water. The water then turns into a brew we call coffee. There are a lot of different factors that impact how fast the water extracts the grounds. Keurig has balanced those factors in such a way you can have strong coffee very quickly. However, you do make some compromises on taste.

Put Instant Coffee In Reusable K-cups?

Instant coffee powder in a spoon.
Instant coffee powder.

Of course you can’t re-use single use K-cups and fill them with something else, this would just make a mess.

However, there are reusable K-cups that you can fill with anything you want. Instant coffee would be an option. Would you fill them with instant coffee though? That doesn’t make sense. The whole point of instant coffee is that you just have to add water to the powder to make coffee.

K-cups are an invention that provides you with coffee at almost the same speed with better taste because it’s not instant coffee. So using instant coffee in a K-cup defeats the purpose. It’s slower than just putting the powder in a mug and adding water and you won’t get anything that tastes better. Instant coffee tastes the way it does because of how it’s made and the quality of coffee used. Putting it in a Keurig machine won’t make a difference.

If you really want to make instant coffee with a keurig, just put the powder in the mug and take hot water from the machine. That will have exactly the same result.

Maybe you want to use instant coffee to save money over buying K-cups. What if I told you can get better coffee from a Keuring machine and pay less than for K-cups? Keep reading here: How to make Keurig coffee taste better

Recommended Keurig Equipment

  • Simple and Cheap: Just want a Keurig machine that brews coffee and does it without a confusing amount of buttons or taking up a lot of space? The Keurig K-Slim (Amazon) is the one you’re looking for.
  • Feature Rich: If you want more features like brewing more different sizes and over ice, the K-Elite (Amazon) is a better choice.
  • K-cups: Good coffee is always important but tastes are different. Try this variety pack (Amazon) with tons of different K-cups so you can figure out what you like.
  • Reusable K-cups: Prefer to use your own coffee? Filling reusable K-cups (amazon) with your own freshly ground coffee is the way to go and will likely brew even better coffee than pre-made cups.


Welcome to CoffeeImproved! Since falling in love with coffee, I've been on a journey to improve my morning cup day by day. That means I've tried many different brew methods, beans and equipment and experimented with all of them to find what I like. This is where I share what I've learned with you.

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