In a world where everything seems rushed, and it seems as if we’re all running from place to place as fast as we can, it’s natural for us to want to get a great-tasting cup as fast as possible. After all, quick turnaround times work best when you’re the type of person who’s on a fast-paced schedule but knows a cup of coffee can make all the difference in the world.
That’s why the Keurig was born — to help us caffeine addicts accomplish such a critical morning task in record time. Since its introduction in the early 1990s (thanks, John Sylvan and Peter Dragone), Keurig has become the king of quick coffee makers, winning over the hearts of those who need something faster than a traditional coffee maker.
The brand has a line of products that appeal to all sorts of people, from brewers that can make a whole pot of coffee for a family of coffee drinkers to those that produce a single cup of coffee for one. This versatility partnered with each machine’s quick brewing time has made the brand a household name, but the question remains: is a Keurig worth it?
Read on to find out!
How Do Keurig Coffee Makers Work?
Keurig coffee and espresso machines work to brew your cups of coffee (or tea or hot chocolate) with small, coffee ground-filled capsules called K-Cups. The top of each machine has a unique opening for the pod, and once you’ve inserted it and filled the brewer’s water tank, all you’ve got to do is press a button.
Once your Keurig coffee machine has finished brewing your joe — which usually only takes about a minute or so — you can dispose of the K-Cup coffee capsule by simply tossing it into the trash or recycling it. These pods are only designed for single-use, though, so if you want to brew another drink, you’ll need to insert a fresh one and start the process all over again.
Does Keurig Make Good Coffee?
It’s safe to assume that, since you’re on the Roasty website in the first place, you care about drinking the most delicious coffee possible. And in that case, it’s only natural that you’d ask if these instant coffee makers can deliver joe that’s worthy of your beloved morning routine.
The convenience provided by these machines is often enough to talk a casual coffee drinker into owning a Keurig. Unfortunately, a true coffee expert probably won’t be too impressed by the quality of the resulting brew.
Keurig coffee tends to be weak compared to that brewed with an automatic drip coffee maker or French press. This is because the coffee grounds aren’t in contact with water for the optimal amount of time, around five minutes or so. Plus, Keurig machines don’t reach the ideal water temperature for brewing, either. Typically, you want your water to be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit, and these quick little machines only reach 192 degrees.
Hot coffee from a Keurig may also taste a bit lackluster because they use K-Cups instead of freshly ground beans. The pre-ground joe inside each coffee capsule may have been ground weeks or even months before it makes it into your brewer, and by then, the beans will have lost a lot of their delicious flavors.
If you’re the kind of coffee purist who only enjoys the robust flavors of say, a single-origin variety of coffee beans, and insists on avoiding pre-ground joe at all costs, you’re probably not going to enjoy what comes out of a Keurig.
But if all you’re after is a decent-tasting cup of average coffee that can provide your much-needed caffeine kick in a matter of seconds, the straightforward and easy-to-use coffee machine might be just what you need on your kitchen counter. It won’t taste like anything you’ll find at your neighborhood coffee shop, but it’ll do the trick when you need no-mess, quick coffee.
To Buy or Not to Buy…
Like each coffee brewing option on the market, there are pros and cons of veering off the traditional coffee pot route and relying on a Keurig to meet your home-brewed coffee needs instead.
Why You Should Use a Keurig
A Keurig might be a strong option for you if…
- You want something with a sleek, modern design.
- A quick brew time is important to you. Most Keurig coffee machines can produce a single serving of coffee in less than a minute, which is great if you don’t have extra time in your morning routine to wait on a slower coffee brewing method.
- Want a versatile coffee maker. Don’t dismiss every product in the Keurig line as “just another single cup coffee maker.” Yes, the brand has those on its roster, but there are all kinds of Keurig brewers available. Some can make a full pot of coffee in addition to a single cup, and others are equipped with the tools you need to make all your favorite coffee recipes, including milk steaming wands and bean grinders.
Why You Shouldn’t Use a Keurig
A Keurig may not be the brewer of your dreams if…
- You’re a big espresso fan. A Keurig brewer can’t give you an authentic espresso shot; it doesn’t brew with enough pressure for that. You could buy espresso roast K-Cup pods, but even then, the machine wouldn’t give you espresso, just a robust dark roast coffee.
- You’re brewing for a crowd. Unless you purchase one of the Keurig brewers that has a carafe, you’re going to have a hard time making enough coffee for guests at a party or your family around the breakfast table with a one-cup coffee brewer.
- You’re trying to save money. The price of your chosen coffee maker model isn’t the only cost you’ll have to take into consideration when you invest in a Keurig. Remember, they only function with K-Cup pods, and those tend to be more costly than a bag of pre-ground or whole beans.
A Keurig Q&A
Can you use a Keurig without K-Cups?
If you purchase a Keurig dual brewer — one with a coffee pot and a single-serve spout — then yes, you can use the Keurig without K-Cups. Just load your favorite grounds on the carafe side and brew a piping hot pot of coffee that way.
But if you purchase one of the beverage giant’s single-serve coffee machines, the only way to use a Keurig without K-Cups is to brew with a reusable pod. Just add pre-ground coffee into the sustainable plastic pods, insert it into the brewer, and with the touch of a button, you’ve got a cup of coffee — no traditional K-Cup required.
Is a Keurig cost-effective?
Unfortunately, a Keurig costs more than a typical coffee maker does. But the high price doesn’t stop after you’ve purchased the brewer itself; you’ll need to buy coffee, too, and as we mentioned above, the K-Cups you’ll need to make a drink with a Keurig usually cost a few dollars more than a bag of regular coffee beans.
At first, you might not bat an eyelash at shelling out a few extra bucks to get your caffeine kick, but if you’re the kind of person who has joe multiple times a day, the cost of K-Cups will add up quickly.
Sure, when you’re talking cost per cup, Keurig coffee still ends up less than a daily cup of joe from, say, Starbucks, but if you’re trying to pinch as many pennies as possible, these coffee machines may not be the best way to do that.
Is coffee from a Keurig as good as regular coffee?
We touched on this a bit above, but we’ll answer again: no.
When you buy K-Cups for use in one of Keurig’s single-serve coffee makers, you’ll find they’re already loaded with pre-ground beans. Many serious coffee drinkers know that coffee beans begin to lose their flavor shortly after they’ve been roasted and ground, and that means the contents of the plastic coffee pods can become stale if not used in a reasonable time.
Even though the brand has debuted newer, fancier coffee makers with brew strength settings that may help improve the flavor of your K-Cup brew, Keurig coffee can’t match what other coffee brewing methods can produce.
What is the best Keurig coffee machine?
The K-Elite is probably the most popular option among Keurig-buyers, and for good reason.
Keurig K-Elite brewers can brew multiple cup sizes; start your day with a four, six, eight, 10, or 12-ounce cup, depending on how much caffeine you need to get going. Use the strong brew button to give your coffee a bolder flavor, and on a hot day, use the iced coffee setting and let your java drip over ice.
Since we’ve got a full review of the K-Elite for you to read here, we’ll spare you the rest of the details about this machine. Just know it’s pretty much the cream of the Keurig crop.
Are K-Cups environmentally friendly?
You might think that, because these little plastic pods are recyclable, they’re environmentally friendly. But here’s the hard truth: K-Cups aren’t as good for our Mother Earth as you might think they are.
The only part of the K-Cup that’s recycled is the lid, which is usually made of aluminum. The plastic portion — which makes up most of the cup, mind you — usually ends up in a landfill.
If you’re an eco-conscious Keurig user, we recommend checking out coffee companies that make biodegradable K-Cups or consider purchasing a reusable one to avoid single-use plastic.
Keurig Care and Maintenance
The care and maintenance of a Keurig are similar to a typical coffee pot. However, Keurigs are very sensitive to hard water, so a descaling is necessary from time to time. Many customers with hard water have to use purified water for their machines or risk the internal components failing due to build-up.
How to Clean a Keurig
The best way to clean your Keurig brewer is to use the brand’s descaling solution; it’s your best bet, as it’s Keurig approved. But if you don’t want to spend the extra dozen or so dollars on a bottle of Keurig cleaner, you can also use white vinegar to keep your coffee machine in tip-top shape.
Unplug the machine and wash the removable parts in warm and soapy water. Then, run a mixture that’s half water and half vinegar or descaling solution through your Keurig. Repeat the brew cycle, this time with only water, and you’re ready to resume your regular coffee brewing.
Do Keurigs get moldy inside?
If you don’t properly clean your Keurig coffee brewing machine regularly, there is a chance mold could begin growing inside it. The unsightly fungus may be living in your brewer if your Keurig coffee has an unusually musty taste and aroma and makes you sick — think watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing.
Is A Keurig Worth It?
In a world where everything seems rushed, we desire to have things as quickly as possible to accommodate our ever-changing and busy schedules. Prompt turnaround times work best for us in many different instances. Is coffee brewing one of them? Is a Keurig a worthwhile purchase just because it’s quick?
The truth, dear Roasty reader, is that this is a difficult question to answer because it ultimately depends on who you are and how you like your coffee.
If you’re not a coffee snob and sipping the most excellent coffee possible every morning isn’t necessarily your goal, you might be happy to have a Keurig sitting on your counter. These machines’ ease of use, smaller portions, and other convenient additional features can make it a natural extension of any coffee lover’s routine.
However, if your biggest concern is having high-quality coffee beans in your cup every day, a Keurig probably won’t get the job done well enough for you. The pre-ground beans in the little coffee capsules don’t allow for a very potent brew, plus you have little to no control over the coffee brewing process.
Although a Keurig coffee appliance can be a helpful addition to the lives of many, it can be nothing but a source of frustration for others. While we can’t tell you which of these camps you’ll fall into, we can say you should think long and hard about whether or not these kinds of coffee makers can meet your needs before you buy one.
You might decide the quick brewing single-serve coffee maker is perfect for you, but you may also find that one of the many other coffee-making options on the market would be a better fit. But whether you’re Team Keurig or vehemently against them…