Keurig remains one of the largest coffee machine manufacturers today, and there are many reasons for that.
Keurig’s machines are reliable, sturdy, and can consistently deliver you a great cup of Joe whenever you need it.
But how do they manage to deliver the quality? And, most importantly, how do you choose the perfect one from their vast lineup?
Continue reading this article, and we’ll help you find out the main things that define the best Keurig’s coffee machine!
What Is Keurig?
You must have already heard about Keurig coffee machines. I mean, you can find one in almost every American household.
No wonder, as Keurig is one of the most famous brands on the market. It specializes exclusively on coffee machines. The company strives to deliver high-quality coffee at reasonable prices and, most importantly, allow you to enjoy that coffee in the comfort of your own home.
Keurig offers many machine types and designs in different price categories. What makes the company stand out from the competitors is that it has coffee makers for almost any user. There are models for home and office, big and miniature, advanced and simple. And all of them work with K-cups. This allows for extremely simple operation and minimal effort to get your beverage.
Because most Keurigs support various types of coffee pods and can brew multiple beverages, they can also be considered good all-in-one coffee makers. You see, with a Keurig, you can make black coffee, hot chocolate, teas, cappuccinos, flavored lattes, and more.
How Do Keurig Coffee Makers Work?
All Keurig machines are single-cup models, which means they dispense one coffee serving at a time. Of course, you can control the volume and get smaller or larger quantities. There are even a couple of models that can brew a whole carafe at a time. By the way, if you aren’t sure about how much coffee you need daily, you can check out some of the best 4-cup coffee machines or look through some great 5-cup coffee makers.
Now, Keurig machines use those famous K-cups.
But how do they work exactly?
Let me explain. K-cups are small pods (capsules) that contain ground coffee. When you put the K-cup into your Keurig machine and close the compartment, tiny needles puncture the top of the pod, and the machine runs pressurized water through the grounds.
The majority of Keurig machines have a pre-set brewing temperature of 192 F, which is the optimal temperature for coffee extraction. However, some models allow users to set the desired temperature. This gives coffee lovers a chance to adjust their beverages more. It’s an ideal option for people who want full control over their coffee.
Such operation combines a bit from drip coffee makers and espresso machines. You see, the way water runs through the grounds and extracts the coffee is similar to the way regular dip coffee machines work. However, because there’s pressure involved (similar to the espresso machine method), the result is more flavorful.
The process is also similar to the top-notch automatic pour-over coffee makers, which disperse water evenly all over the grounds.
Now, it is natural that you might start worrying about the freshness of coffee in those K-cup capsules.
But here’s the deal:
The company uses special multiple-layer packaging that keeps air and moisture away from the grounds. This means coffee gets fresh to you as if it was ground right before you start brewing.
Plus, some Keurig models work with reusable coffee pods. This means you can use your own coffee and even grind it right before use for the richest, most flavorful beverages.
What Unites All Keurig Machines?
Even though the variety of top-rated Keurig models is really wide, there are certain things that unite all the machines. These features can be considered Keurig’s signature:
- Super-fast brewing time. Typically, Keurig machines brew coffee in under a minute, which offers a lot of perks. It’s a great solution for those who can’t start their day without a freshly brewed cup of coffee or typically have hasty mornings and take their coffee in a rush.
- Removable drip tray. This feature allows Keurig users to brew coffee straight into their travel mugs.
- Plastic body. To make their machines affordable and easily accessible, Keurig uses mostly plastic components. They are of good quality, but some users may still see a plastic body as a drawback.
- Removable water reservoir. If you’re a rigorous coffee fanatic and drink a lot of coffee per day, you need a coffee machine with a tank that’s easy to refill, and Keurig can give you that. Moreover, certain Keurig coffee machines can be directly connected to your plumbing system, so you don’t have to worry about tank refills at all.
- Keurig K-cups compatibility. These coffee makers work with coffee pods that are designed specifically for Keurig. There are dozens of brands that carry Keurig capsules and offer hundreds of different flavors.
- Automatic shut-off feature. Keurig’s coffee machines are energy-efficient, so you don’t have to worry about your electric bills. Some single-serving machines typically shut off right after they brew your cup, and others can stay in the energy-saving mode for some time before shutting off. You can also find Keurig brewers with a programmable start to save on your bills even more.
- User-friendly interface. All Keurigs are very intuitive in use. Even someone who doesn’t get along with technology would not find it difficult to use a Keurig coffee maker. Most machines include simple button controls that do not require any effort to master. Plus, there are more expensive models available that come with LCD touchscreens. They allow for more adjustments and would be a good solution for those coffee lovers who want something more high-tech, so to say.
- Straightforward maintenance. Cleaning a coffee machine doesn’t seem like an exciting chore, but proper care really helps to prolong your brewer’s lifespan. Keurig’s coffee machines make this chore a little easier by featuring a light indicator that signals when it’s time to descale, so you just need to follow the manual.
While all Keurig coffee makers have an energy-saving auto-off feature, some of them (more expensive models) also have an automatic On setting. This means they turn on and start brewing at the time you set, which is a great bonus, especially if you love waking up to the smell of fresh coffee.
On the Negative Side: Common Issues with Keurigs and How to Fix Them
So, you’ve decided to get your own Keurig, which is great, but I want to warn you in advance:
Just like with any device, some issues are possible.
BUT you shouldn’t worry if your Keurig starts behaving weirdly. Most of the time, those issues can be fixed right away. Here are the most common ones:
- The machine turns on and off automatically. This sometimes happens to programmable Keurigs. You just need to turn the timer off, and your machine will stop acting on its own.
- The coffee maker isn’t brewing coffee properly. It can either be too slow or make spitting noises. In most cases, this signals that there’s too much buildup inside the machine caused by hard water. You just need to descale your coffee maker to fix this issue.
- Your coffee tastes bad. Again, this can mean that it’s time to clean the inside of the machine. Don’t postpone the descaling – and you will always have a good-tasting cup of coffee. Another issue might be with the K-cup pod freshness. Make sure you read the Best Before date on the packaging before buying it.
- The machine is not heating. Keurigs often turn the heating element off when the water is not being properly pumped. And that happens when you install the reservoir incorrectly. So, try to reset the water reservoir and make sure you hear that “click” sound signaling you’ve done it right.
- The “Add Water” error pops up even when there’s water in the reservoir. This signal simply means that there isn’t enough water. Just add a bit more and brew your coffee. Sometimes this error appears when the machine is too dirty and the sensors simply do not detect the water. In this case, you need to take the pieces apart and thoroughly wipe the parts of your machine.
- No strength selection. While many Keurig machines allow you to change the brewing size, not all models offer strength adjustments. This can be an issue for those users who want to test different flavors or have specific preferences when it comes to the brew strength. This feature would also come in handy if you and your housemates have different preferences and everyone wants to adjust their cup of coffee.
Keurig remains the most widely used coffee machine brand in North America. Dominating the market, Keurig brings the convenience of fast brewing into our homes.
But here’s the deal:
Not everything about these coffee machines is perfect. That’s why many experienced coffee experts avoid recommending this brand to new users. And that’s the reason why I want to be transparent with you and share some concerns and potential pitfalls that are linked to using a Keurig at home.
The first issue users often encounter with the Keurig is its limited compatibility with other capsule brands. In 2014, the company launched its next-generation line of coffee makers (Keurig 2.0), which uses a special scanning system that recognizes other pod brands and doesn’t let the machine brew with them (1). To say that consumers were upset (and still are) in an understatement.
Firstly, because we, coffee lovers, do not like to be limited when it comes to choosing what coffee we want to brew. Secondly, it all comes down to the fact that Keurig-branded K-cups are rather expensive.
Approximate estimates show that the coffee used in K-cups would cost $40 per pound (2). And that’s obviously quite expensive. Still, some users are willing to pay more for the convenience of these machines. Additionally, because many of the Keurig models are able to maintain an optimal brewing temperature, the quality of their beverages may also win you over despite the K-cup prices.
However, there’s another potential issue I have to warn you about: the environmental impact. Many coffee enthusiasts are worried about the recycling issues linked to K-cups. The estimates suggest that Keurig sells so many K-cups each year that those little pods could circle the globe more than 10 times when put together. And most of them end up in landfills (3).
Now, let’s be fair: the company did put some effort into altering this situation. In 2016, Keurig started using recyclable coffee capsules made of polypropylene. Just like regular plastic bottles, these K-cups can be shredded and sold to those manufacturers that use recycled plastic to make their products (4).
In a perfect world, those cups should’ve been compostable. After all, not everyone sorts their trash and recycles plastic. And most of those K-cups could still end up in landfills.
Luckily, both of the mentioned drawbacks (the price and the sustainability) can be fixed with one simple solution: a reusable My Cup coffee filter that the company offers to its customers for $14.99. You can use pre-ground coffee of your choice with this filter as many times as you want. This means more options when it comes to choosing your coffee type and less plastic trash in our environment.
Also read: BPA-free coffee machines
How to Choose the Proper Keurig Size for Your KitchenNow, while most Keurig machines are quite compact, they do come in variations of shapes and sizes. And not all of them may be suitable for your kitchen, especially if your counter space is somewhat limited. So, here are the main series of Keurig machines you can come across and the main size differences between them:
- K-Classic, 13 inches high and 9.8 inches wide;
- K-Select, 12.5 inches high and 9.2 inches wide;
- K-Elite, 13.1 inches high and 9.9 inches wide;
- K-Mini, 12.1 inches high, 4.5 inches wide;
- K-Cafe, 12.5 inches high and 15.3 inches wide;
- K-Duo, 12.92 inches high and 10.94 inches wide.
What is the strongest coffee you can get for a Keurig?
Can I use purified water in my Keurig coffee maker?
Yes. Purified or distilled water is a great option for brewing with a Keurig coffee maker as it can help prevent calcium buildup and allows for a cleaner taste of your beverages.
How many watts does a Keurig coffee maker use?
According to the manufacturer, Keurig home coffee makers use 1,500 watts for the first initial heating after being off. Then, if the power is kept on, the machine will operate on 200-400 watts when heating.
Can I connect my Keurig to the water supply?
The company representatives note that Keurig home coffee makers were not designed to work with plumbing kits. However, if you want to forget about water refills for good, you can check this selection of the best coffee makers with a water line.
Are Keurigs SCAA-certified?
No. The Specialty Coffee Association does not usually test capsule coffee makers. However, you can check some of the best SCAA-certified coffee makers here.
So, now you know more about Keurig’s coffee machines and can choose the best model that works for you.
Make sure to outline the budget and essential features you want to see. We recommend choosing brewers with auto shut-off settings, adjustable brew strength, and ground coffee containers.
Of course, Keurig’s coffee machines have both strong and weak sides, such as working with non-disposable K-cups, but you can always find reusable alternatives or stick with the model that works on ground coffee that you can compost afterward. Also, Keurig makes really compact brewers, which are great for small kitchens, so if this sounds like you, this brand might be a great choice for your home.
- Josh Dzieza (2015, February 05). Keurig’s attempt to ‘DRM’ its coffee cups totally backfired. Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/2015/2/5/7986327/keurigs-attempt-to-drm-its-coffee-cups-totally-backfired
- Brad Tuttle (2015, March 05). Here’s How Much You’d Save by Dumping K-Cups for Traditional Brewed Coffee. Retrieved from https://money.com/k-cups-price-cost-comparison-coffee/
- James Hamblin (2015, March 02). A Brewing Problem. What’s the healthiest way to keep everyone caffeinated? Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/03/the-abominable-k-cup-coffee-pod-environment-problem/386501/
- David Gelles (2016, April 15). Keurig’s New K-Cup Coffee Is Recyclable, but Hardly Green. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/business/energy-environment/keurigs-new-k-cup-coffee-is-recyclable-but-hardly-green.html
My name is Yurii Brown. I am a passionate coffee geek and, concurrently, a certified coffee specialist.
I’ve been learning about coffee for a long time, testing various devices and practicing in home coffee brewing. I like to share my experience and insights with fellow coffee lovers so that my readers could enjoy the real taste of quality-brewed beverages.