By now, you are likely familiar with a Keurig. This handy little gadget popped up in lounges and doctors’ offices to give them (and others like them) a way to offer people an individual cup of coffee. Not only was it more sanitary, but with the endless hot water, there was no need for someone to keep making pot after pot from a standard drip machine.
It was not long after that the Keurig took root in people’s homes. With its quick and easy brewing capabilities, it became a popular choice for making coffee. That does not mean it doesn’t have its share of controversy, however.
If you are curious about this fairly new machine, check out our Keurig overview below. We will touch on everything from how it works, K-cups, and why some people are not a fan of the single brewer.
How Do K-Cups Work?
It is impossible to describe the Keurig without discussing the K-cup. Named after its parent machine, the K-cup is the coffee you use with the single brewer. Unlike a bag of grinds for a typical drip, the Keurig uses a system that gives you an individual portion of ground coffee in a cup with a filter included.
You will find a vast array of K-cups in local supermarkets and convenience stores alike. They are a small cup-shaped plastic container that is vacuum-sealed with an aluminum cover. This not only helps to keep the coffee fresh but also prevents moisture and heat from getting inside.
How A K-Cup is Designed
Inside the cup, you will find ground coffee that is enough for a single serving. At the bottom is where you find the filter. The K-cup is inserted into the Keurig so it can brew. There are also many different kinds of K-cups available. You can find all different types of coffee such as decaf, bold, mild, breakfast blend, and much more.
If you are not a fan of coffee, you can always opt for something else. You can find K-cups that contain tea, hot chocolate, chai, and many other beverages. It’s also important to note that Keurig also released a reusable K-cup insert.
This is a plastic tube-like accessory with a removable lid and a cup filter on the inside. This allows you to use your standard ground coffee, or any beverage grind, if you prefer not to purchase K-cups.
Coffee Pods v K-Cups
Many people confuse K-cups with coffee pods, though they are very different. While the K-cup comes in a plastic container designed specifically for the Keurig, a coffee pod is essentially an instant coffee pouch.
The coffee pod is made of grounds that are sealed in a thick-ish filter. They are flat, round, and bendable. While they are also a single-serving option that you can get in either coffee or tea, they only require you to add hot water to a cup. They also cannot be used in the Keurig.
How Does a Keurig Work?
Back to the Keurig. To better understand this unit (if you are not familiar with it), we will give you a brief overview. Typically bigger than your average drip coffee maker, the Keurig is a countertop brewer. It also has fairly simple and intuitive components. For example, it has a large reservoir of water. Once it’s filled, it will make about double what a pot of coffee can make. Not only that but once you turn the machine on, the water stays hot.
In commercial settings like doctor’s offices, the reservoir can also be attached to the main water line, so there is no need to refill the water tank at all. You also have a top pull handle that lifts the lid for you to insert the K-cup. Finally, you have a small platform for your mug, and a few easy to navigate buttons (that we will go over next).
How the Keurig Works
Your first order of business before making your cup of joe is to ensure the water tank is full, and the machine is on. If you are firing it up first thing in the morning, it can take a few minutes for the water to heat. Once these steps are complete, you can move on to making your brew.
That’s it! In only a few seconds, you can enjoy a delicious cup of coffee. What’s more, leaving the machine on keeps the water hot at all times, so you won’t have to wait for it to heat to enjoy your second cup.
Who Is the Keurig Best For?
This single-serve option is a good coffee maker for several different people and situations. Take a look at when this machine is most valuable:
The Difference Between a Drip Brewer and a Keurig
Both of these machines are essentially drip brewers and essentially work the same way by passing hot water through coffee grounds. That being said, there are several differences to make note of that can sway you one way or another.
As mentioned, the Keurig can hold a lot more water than a standard coffee maker. This allows you to make more cups without refilling. Additionally, the Keurig can keep the water hot consistently. There is also something to be said for water that is wasted.
If some of the coffee in the pot is not used, it essentially goes to waste. With a Keurig, the water is only used for individual cups, so waste is limited. Finally, you can have your Keurig hooked up to your water line, so there is no need to refill the tank. That is more typical of an office, however.
K-Cups v Bags of Coffee
There is where a fair amount of controversy comes into play. On one side of the argument, K-cups allow you to have an individual mug of your preferred coffee. Everyone can choose their beverage, as well, without having to change the pot or use other machines. They are also less messy.
On the other hand, K-cups are not eco-friendly. They are difficult to recycle and they add a lot of pollution to the environment. Additionally, heating the plastic is thought to cause health issues. Although K-cups are BPA-free, the chemicals in the material are still considered unsafe.
Besides those issues, K-cups are generally more expensive than a bag of coffee. The price can have a lot to do with the brand, but for the most part, it’s more costly to keep up your supply of the cups. Not only that, but besides the Keurig insert accessory we mentioned earlier, K-cups are the only coffee you can use.
The Machine Itself
Though we already touched on the significant differences between each machine, there are a few other things to consider. First, the Keurig is built to withstand high pressure and hot temperatures. They are usually more durable and long-lasting than your average drip brewer, as well.
The Keurig is also easier to clean. Not only does it have fewer parts, but most of them come equipped with a “descale” indicator light. This lets you know that there is a build-up of minerals in your machine that is affecting its performance.
This is more prevalent in areas that have hard water. Sending through some vinegar is sufficient to clean it out, however. Finally, as we have already mentioned, the Keurig works much faster and stays ready for your next cup of joe.
RELATED READ: How to Clean & Descale a Keurig (Easy Steps)
Pros and Cons
To make things a bit more accessible, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of Keurig coffee machines.
We hope this article has given you a broad view of how the Keurig works, and why it could be the right brewer for your daily coffee. While it has many good qualities, there are still some downsides that you should consider before making your purchase.