These days, most of us have heard of the Keurig. Whether your office has one, a friend bought one or you’ve come across one at a local business, the k-cup stand filled with unique flavors can’t seem to help but attract attention. But do you know how it actually works?
The Keurig isn’t only known as a fancy home/commercial brewing system. It also comes with a wide variety of coffee flavors in the form of k-cups.
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So how does the k-cup brew coffee so quickly? After all, it’s definitely not the same as instant coffee. We know you are no stranger to brewing a cup of coffee at home, and using the Keurig is nearly as simple as pressing a button. But let’s get a bit more comfortable with the Keurig and exactly how k cups work.
What is a K-Cup?
If you’ve never seen a k-cup before, they look like this:
The best thing about a Keurig is that it offers it’s users a kind of customized experience. They do this by having a variety of flavors, over 200 to be exact. This way, Keurig users can curate a unique variety of flavored cups according to their needs. In addition to this, Keurig also offers a range of licensed vendors such as Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and Peets. Green Mountain Coffee is also a popular choice as well.
Lots of talk about coffee, but is that all these quick brew machines can do? Not at all.
Keurig designed the k-cups to not only brew coffee, but it also has pods for hot chocolate, tea, and other hot drinks as well. No matter what your palate prefers, there is a convenient flavor for your cup. Just add hot water!
How Do K Cups Work?
K-cup coffee comes in small disposable cups that are sealed with a foil topping. Inside these disposable coffee pods, they have an added filter and ground coffee.
Before the k-cups are sealed, all the oxygen is removed from it, which helps preserve the grounds. The purpose of this seal is to reduce the exposure of moisture and heat which could threaten the quality of your brewed coffee.
Combine them with some hot water and you’ve got a convenient way to make a fast cup of coffee on the go.
As you prepare to brew your coffee, there is a click you can hear when closing the machine. From there it seems as if you are just waiting for the hot water to infiltrate your Keurig cup and pour liquid gold into your coffee cup below.
But what actually happens in this process? We are here to break it down.
First, the brewer punctures a hole through the foil and then sends hot water down through the ground coffee, After that, the beverage is pushed through the paper filter. Another hole is punctured into the bottom of the k-cup which allows the drink to flow into your actual cup or mug. You then have a freshly brewed cup of coffee or tea to start your day.
These cups are ideal for people living alone, needing something fast before work, or simply looking for a single serving as each k-cup brews a single cup of coffee/tea.
K-Cup brewing vs. Drip brewing
With all of this engineering, what is the actual difference between brewing k-cup coffee and just normal everyday drip coffee? Well, the two might have a little more in common than you would expect.
For those less familiar with these coffee terms, drip coffee is what you might see being brewed out of a machine in your friend’s kitchen. There are also fancier options being sold these days with glass coffee pots, nice pour over kettles, coffee drip cones, and paper filters.
For the Keurig process, a needle punctures it, fills it with hot water, and another needle punctures the bottom so it can flow into your cup. The whole process takes less than a minute.
For drip brew coffee, boiled water poured evenly runs its way through the coffee grounds and a filer. The coffee then drips slowly into the empty pot below. It’s the same process, but one takes a bit longer than the other.
When it comes to these brewing systems, there are debates on freshness and other topics such as the overall quality of the coffee beans within the k-cups. However, for your morning, it just depends on your own preference and the amount of time you have to dedicate to your own cup of coffee.
How do K- Cups brew so fast?
The secret to their quick cup of brewed coffee is that the Keurig keeps hot water in a tank at all times. In an automatic drip machine, the water only starts to heat up when you turn the machine on. Plus you save a bunch of time by not needing to measure out your coffee grounds. Just pop in a K-cup and you’re rolling.
What is the difference between coffee pods and K-cups?
A coffee pod or tea pod is made out of grounds that are sealed into filter paper. They are round, with a flat shape, and are usually soft and bendable.
Think of a coffee pod as more of an instant coffee filter, where your coffee grounds are already ready to go. A k-cup is a cartridge that is exclusively designed for the Keurig machine.
Which one is better?
When it comes to variety, k-cups come with a wider range of flavors and blends. The downside is that they are only compatible with a Keurig machine and they are not very eco-friendly.
Another possible downside is their use of plastic, especially when it comes to heat. Keurig promotes a BPA free plastic cup, but some studies have shown that even this type of material can have harmful effects when heated.
Coffee pods, on the other hand, extract coffee better and are healthier for both the environment and its brewers.
Depending on your personal brew taste, flavor preferences, and general time in the morning, you decide which one works best for you.
To take home
From a coffee drive-thru to brewing with your smartphone, the convenience of using k-cups is pretty upfront. There’s a lot of controversies involved, especially when it comes to both consumer health and our environment. Another thing to consider when speaking about k-cups is that they aren’t just a toy for the coffee elite. You can find a Keurig in most hotels and office buildings.
If you like your coffee brewed with simplicity, this might be the way to go. But just like making any coffee-related decisions, you should take a look at how you normally like to experience coffee. One thing about brewing coffee while using k-cups is that it will take a while for you to get bored. There are tons of flavors, such as the ever-popular Green Mountain coffee, and you can make other hot drinks using these cups as well.
If you decide to go down the Keurig road, make sure to take a look at a few different models. Perhaps the Keurig isn’t exactly your thing? In that case, check out the Nespresso, it’s rival in the single-serve cup category. Trying to get fancy and want to add more brew accessories to your kitchen? You might want to look into getting an espresso machine.