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April 12, 2013

Review: The Keurig Coffee Maker

I'd recommend it, maybe strongly. Depends on you.

I've had for a month now. I got mine at Costco -- $150 for a package deal, including an in-tank water filter, 60 K-Cups, and My K-Cups filter. I believe this is called the Platinum Plus package. Internal model number is the B70 series (though the actual number may vary-- I've seen B75's, B78's that all seemed to be the same basic thing).

A minor consumer purchase like this can't really have any big effect on your life. However, within the tiny little sliver of possible life-outcomes that a coffee maker could conceivably influence, it's changed it for the better.

It's a costly purchase, of course. Not only is it $150 for the machine, but the K-Cups themselves -- pre-filled plastic coffee cups that you load into the machine to make a single cup of coffee -- are a lot more expensive than plain old coffee grounds, because you're paying manufacturing costs. You can just use the My K-Cups filter for your own coffee, and that's as cheap regular coffee.

But then you don't have the complete convenience of just popping in a K-Cup and hitting the button. (Sometimes I pre-fill the My K-Cups with coffee and stick it in the machine the night before, so I can just hit the button in the morning.)

A big factor in whether or not this makes sense is that this is a Single Cup maker. Single Cup brewing makes sense if you're having a couple of cups, or if a couple of people are drinking coffee but one is drinking decaf. It makes less sense for a couple who drinks a lot of coffee, or someone who drinks a pot all by himself. However, honestly, you can just make one cup after another easily enough. But you will lose some of the convenience factor there.

Pluses: It makes coffee in a minute. The trick here is that machine keeps a travel-mug's worth of coffee in a heated reservoir, so that when you push the button, it only has to heat it a little bit more to get it to 190 degrees. That accounts for the speed.

When I heard about this I never understood: Five minutes to one minute, who cares? What does it matter that I don't have to wait four more minutes? But in practice, I sort of love it. Hit the button, go take a pee, come back, coffee's done.

It's also pretty good coffee. However, I have to say I didn't really know how to make coffee before -- I really did not know the right amount of coffee to add per unit of water. I also didn't use filtered water, which it turns out makes a difference.

If you already make a good cup of coffee, you'll probably get no benefit on this point.

Drawbacks: The K-cups are pricey per unit. Anyone buying this with an eye to economy should plan on using the load-it-yourself MyK-cups filter a lot, and just use the pre-filled K-cups when you're feeling particularly lazy. (The machine seems to encourage laziness and I wind up using the K-Cups more than I'd planned.)

I've heard complaints that the K-Cups do not have enough coffee to produce a really strong, Starbucks-level potent cup of coffee. I don't have those complaints myself as I don't like that level of super-strong jet-fuel. But if that's your preference, you might want to get a sample from a machine before you buy.

Another complaint is that the water isn't quite as hot as the piping-hot water that you get from professional coffee-machines. The machine makes hotter water than the old Mr. Coffee knock-off POS I used to use, but not as scalding hot as, say, coffee from Dunkin Donuts. If this is A Thing to you, don't get it. To me, the coffee is just hot enough that it needs a little cream and then it's hot, but not so hot I have to wait to drink it. The right temperature, then. But if you like the ritual of having to blow on too-hot coffee until it's ready to drink -- this isn't that hot. They advertise it as 191 degrees, but that's the internal temperature in the heating tank; in the cup I think people say it's about 170.

One more thing: They really sell you on the idea it makes "iced coffee." Well... it does. But then, so does any coffee maker. You put ice in a tall glass, you put in coffee... boom, iced coffee. This machine certainly does that -- how could it not do that? -- but don't me misled (like I was) that maybe it does a "cold" brew of coffee to melt less ice or something. It brews it hot, you brew it into a glass with ice.

One last complaint: People complained in the past about the machines breaking down quickly. If you google Keurig and breaking down, you'll see a lot of such complaints. I don't know what to say about this except I think they had some problems in 2010 and have corrected them, by and large. Anyway, I can't really say as I've only had my machine for a month. So far, no problems, but then, it's just a month.

I kind of love this coffee machine. It's kinda stupid -- do I need it? No. I lived my life okay without it.

But, having bought it, I'm glad I did. It's just so convenient to have exactly one cup of coffee whenever you want it, in just sixty seconds. And it does make a good cup of coffee -- though I think this advantage is mostly for Idiots like myself who didn't really know how to make coffee. It takes all of that challenging "measuring" and "math" stuff out of the equation.

It's kind of a Coffee Replicator, like on Star Trek. It's got all sorts of Star Trek lighting, too. I think that's part of why I like it.

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posted by Ace at 09:20 PM

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