As we learn more about the home coffee market and in particular the single serve coffee machines that have become pretty much common place across the country, we observed an interesting difference between us and our European friends across the pond. While in the US Keurig is the dominant player, with a strong brand and at least stable market share while over in Europe it is almost unheard of. You go into a normal European department store, lets say Marks and Spencer in London, and ask to buy a Keurig brewer in their kitchen or electrical sections. There will be a confused look on the salesperson face as they try and work out what you are looking for.
Now you ask the same salesperson where there Tassimo machines are and they will be more than happy to show you; well, when we say more than happy this is within the British customer service context of course. When compared to local US customer service the British could learn a thing or two … but perhaps that is for another day, when we don’t have any coffee stories.
Now in the US it’s not quite the same for the Tassimo brand as they do have some market share. For example in the US you can buy Tassimo T-discs and Tassimo brewers – while in the UK you can buy K-Cups online at amazon.co.uk, but you can’t buy the brewers. Not sure how well their K-Cup sales must go over there if they don’t sell the brewers. Someone must be importing the machines for the K-Cups to sell.
The dominance of Tassimo in Europe isn’t quite to the level of Keurig in the US, but they still command a sizable share of the market. You just need to visit any supermarket or go online and compare it to other brands available. So this made us wonder why quite different types of machines are so popular in two different markets. And perhaps this comes down to how coffee is largely taken in their respective parts of the world. In Europe coffee drinking is strongly influenced from the Italian market and the common cappuccino or espresso – depending on your time of day. While we notice in the US many people prefer their americano drink – which is no surprise given the origin of the name (although it was started in Italy, many believe during World War II).
Americans seem to prefer taking their espresso and in affect diluting it with hot water. Where as in southern Europe they prefer straight espresso and in the western European, including the UK, they tend to add heated milk. In our last visit over there we noticed in Italian and Spanish cafes people would come in and and stand at the counter, pay for their espresso and stand there and drink it. While over in say London, it is the flat white or cappuccino drinks that seem to be the most popular – consumed on the go or at a bit more leisurely pace while taking a comfy seat in a place like Costa or Starbucks.
Occasionally we get asked by friends whether they should go for Keurig, as they know we run this site, or a Tassimo (as these do tend to be a bit cheaper). Our normal advice is based very much on how they like their coffee. If they prefer the americano, even if they do add milk, then the Keurig is the best machine to go for. While if a cafe latte or cappuccino is more their drink then the Tassimo produces a very nice drink – in particular as the machines use milk T-discs which produces the correct density and temperature of milk.
The only other comment we do make about this comparison is, and this is just from our personal experience, we have found our Tassimo T-40 a much more reliable machine when compared to our Keruig B60. We have had both brewers for approximately the same length of time and they get used about the same number of times through a year. Over that time the T-40 has had to be descaled once and never broken down. While the B60 gets descaled at least three times a year and broken down on a number of occasions.
Well, that’s our 2 cents worth on the debate between Keurig and Tassimo brewers. We like them both and it looks like both are here to stay for many years to come.