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There’s a good chance you know what a Keurig machine is – they’re all over offices, they’re in waiting rooms, and your friends and family may have them. You may be curious about them, or perhaps you already know you’d love one. Or maybe your household is one of the many to already boast a Keurig, and you’re ready to replace your older machine.
Even if you’re not big on coffee, Keurig machines can make a good addition to any kitchen. They easily brew tea, hot cocoa, and a host of other beverages. They’re great if you’re the type of person who only needs one or two cups of a beverage, rather than throwing out most of the pot of coffee you get from more traditional coffee makers. And certain Keurigs can handle making large amounts of coffee, as well. Keurig has many different models on the market, and choosing the one best suited for your needs can be a challenging task.
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First, let’s walk through the Keurig machine basics. Keurig captured the public interest as a one-cup-at-a-time coffee maker. The coffee comes in individual serving packs filled with fresh-ground coffee, or other beverage mixes like cocoa powder. These are the K-Cups. They’re a great way to sample different types of coffee and unique flavors. The cup itself is made up of a plastic layer, a filter layer, and a foil layer to keep the coffee fresh.
The machines themselves keep water in a reservoir, which comes in different sizes depending on the model. When someone wants a single cup of coffee, they add the K-Cup, press the button, and get no-fuss coffee.
According to Keurig, their machines should last for years. As with many products, how well you take care of your machine impacts its lifespan.
Keep an eye on whether the machine you’re looking at accepts third-party K-Cups. Some don’t.
A Keurig machine needs maintenance in the form of cleaning. Luckily, this is an easy process.
When the Keurig needs cleaning, a descale indicator light pops up in the message center on many models. That means that calcium and other mineral buildup is high enough to require cleaning. When the indicator activates, you need to run diluted vinegar through the system.
You can also buy products like Dezcal to descale the brewer. However, refer to your owner’s manual for specific and proper use.
The machine also has pins that poke through the K-Cup to access the coffee grounds or other ingredients. These may need cleaning to get rid of any coffee ground or drink mix buildup. They’re sharp, so clean them with a toothpick, releasing any residue.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Keurig 2.0 Brewing System
The Keurig 2.0 Brewing System is a workhorse. It has an 80-ounce water reservoir that allows you to brew 10 or more cups of coffee in one go. It also offers customizable brew sizes. Using K-Cups, you can specify 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 ounces. With a carafe, the 2.0 Brewing System offers choices of 22, 26, or 30 ounces. It has five temperature settings, and dispenses hot water independently of brewing, a great option for making instant oatmeal or soup. This model does require you to use Keurig brand K-Cups. Customer reviews frequently mention the large, easy to use screen and overall happiness with the sheer flexibility and range of functions with this Keurig offering.
What makes Keurigs so popular is each machine’s wide array of features. With classic coffee makers you brew coffee. And that’s it. But Keurig offers functions that take your beverage experience to the next level.
These machines accept the reusable coffee cup, the My K-Cup. This is a cup filter that allows you to add your own coffee, or other ingredients, as opposed to buying pre-packaged coffee grounds. It’s a great option for those who want to use their own coffee grounds or tea blends, and those who are concerned about staying green.
You must be careful about which cups you use with which machines. Some K-Cups are not compatible with the Keurig 2.0 system, for instance.
These are settings that you adjust on the machine, like language and clock time. You can also set the brew temperature and auto on/off features.
This feature is what it sounds like: certain models are designed to make little noise while they brew. Larger machine like the Office Pro varieties tend to not come with this technology, since they use a heavier pump for larger-scale uses. However, the majority of the machines are pretty quiet.
The water reservoir is a key feature to consider when choosing your Keurig. If you brew drinks throughout the day, you may want a model with a larger reservoir.
Some Keurig machines come with a water filter feature. This is a good feature to have if you have hard or otherwise poor water quality. The filters are usually replaceable charcoal filter cartridges.
These features turn off the machine when not in use. For instance, the machine may shut down after being idle for two hours or more.
Some Keurigs boast an onboard filtration system.
While the controls on some models consist of only LEDs and buttons, others boast full digital display screens. These allow full control via touchscreen, like managing hot versus cold water dispense.
The machine may also have a digital clock or even a nightlight setting that illuminates the kitchen at night.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Keurig K55 Programmable K-Cup Pod Coffee Maker
The Keurig K55 is the basic machine to go for if you’re the type of person who only needs a few cups at a time. The 48-ounce water reservoir allows you to brew about six cups of coffee before refills. The auto-off feature turns off the coffee maker after being idle for longer than two hours, which can help save energy. It accepts pods made by non-Keurig manufacturers, allowing you to shop around for the best prices on other grounds and reusable pods. Reviewers appreciate the simplicity of the controls, as well as the large reservoir. Fill the reservoir once, and you can brew five or six completely different beverages before filling it again. It’s a great option for a household or office team with diverse drinking tastes.
The Keurig machines come in many types, of course. Rather than listing every specific model, below are several of the main Keurig categories.
These are basic models that take up little space at home and brew the single-serve coffee that the brand is known for. They work with the K-Cup pods. If you’re looking for the machine that just provides your cup of coffee fast, this is that machine.
Keurigs were first used in offices, until they hit homes in 2004.
The Keurig Plus machines are more advanced home models that can brew a full four-cup carafe. These also have touchscreen controls with more customizable options, like strength control.
These work with K-Cup pods and K-Mug pods, as well as the K-Carafe pods.
Keurigs are generally very quiet, especially the smaller, home-use models. Larger office models may be more noisy, as they employ stronger pumps.
Meant for use in offices, the commercial models are much larger machines. They may be for employees or they might be available for customers in a waiting area.
They typically have very large water reservoirs and are built all around for high-yield use. Some even come with complete Keurig brand kiosks.
These are available through authorized distributors and don’t list prices online.
At one point there was a Keurig Kold model that could make cold drinks like soda. It was pulled after less than a year.
This price range contains the home use Keurig Classic Series machines. The machine at the bottom of the price range does not have a water reservoir, whereas the one at the top of the price range does. Programmable features start appearing at the top of the price range.
Between all the brands that hopped on the trend, estimates state that companies make over 500 different K-Cup beverage varieties combined.
This price range includes the current Keurig Plus Series.
The size of the water reservoir goes up as the price gets higher, going from 40 ounces to 80 ounces.
This price range also includes touch display model.
Q. Keurig has gotten a bad rap for its environmental impact. Will I kill all the polar bears if I use one of these?
A. Keurig went out of its way to address these environmental concerns. The company states that it’s working on making their cups recyclable by 2020. Until then, the reusable My K-Cups are a good environmental option. You can also buy recyclable K-Cups from other brands that are compatible with Keurig machines.
Q. I like coffee, but I’m not huge on it. Is a Keurig machine even worth the investment for someone like me?
A. Keurigs aren’t just for coffee. They can also make tea, cider, and hot cocoa. The wide array of flavored coffee is also a good option for people who just don’t like plain black coffee. The K-Cups come in hundreds of flavors. People have found other uses for the Keurig machine as well. Some even use it just to brew hot water for pasta and oatmeal. Plus, machines with cold settings can make tasty cold coffee recipes with creamer, sugar, and ice.
Q. Are Keurig machines hard to clean?
A. Not at all. The main problem is scaling from hard water. To fix it, you can either run diluted vinegar or a cleaning agent like Dezcal through the Keurig system. Many models even have a descaling light that tells you when to descale the machine.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.