About 6 weeks ago, we purchased a brand new Keurig model K79 coffee system. It was our first Keurig unit, although we had been debating for months about whether we should get one or not. Since our purchase, we have managed to use the machine at least 12-15 times a day, starting at around 6 in the morning and using it again late in the evening.
So after making 400+ cups of coffee, hot tea, iced tea, both chocolate and plain hot water, I’d like to give you our impressions of the machine, specifically targeting the following topics:
- design and ease of use
- performance and convenience
- “green” footprint
Design and ease of use: Can you press a button? Then you can likely master the Keurig…it’s that simple to use. Just lift the handle, drop on your K-Cup, put the handle back down and hit the “Brew” button. Within a few minutes, you got your coffee. The LED display is extremely easy to read, so setting things like the clock, brewing temp and cup size are all pretty easy.
Size-wise, the machine is not exactly a space-saving design. We did have to clear a serious amount of precious countertop space for it. It’s also pretty tall, so if you are thinking of getting one of those K-Cup storage shelves that your Keurig sits on top of, try the Keurig first without the storage to make sure you have enough clearance between the top of the machine and any cabinets above it.
But I do have to admit that the little bit of glowing blue light it has when it’s on is pretty cool.
Durability: I am far from easy on the things I own, and I treated the Keurig no differently. And so far, it’s managed to take the serious usage we’ve given it so far. The only real concern I have about the machine is the handle used to open and close the K-Cup holder. It hasn’t shown any signs of loosening, but I would prefer that it be a bit more durable. If it broke, the coffee make would be useless.
We have also noticed water accumulating in the base of the detachable water reservoir. At first, we thought it may have been spill-over from when we fill the tank, but it seems to be a condensation issue. Will it hurt anything? Doubtful, and the manual even states that this is expected, normal behavior. But it still is a concern, albeit a minor one. We just make sure we wipe it out occasionally.
Performance and convenience: Once you power it up, it needs a few minutes to get hot enough inside to be able to heat the water quickly for you. But once there, the lag time in making cup after cup is practically nil.
The Keurig allows you to make your coffee to the strength you want. Like it strong? Just choose the small cup size. Like your coffee mellow? Choose the larger size. And I think for most people, this set-up works fine.
But if you want a big cup of strong coffee, you can make it, but you’ll need to use multiple K-Cups on the “small cup” setting. And this can be a hassle if you are using the refillable K-Cup replacements. If you have to re-fill them 4 times to get your big travel mug filled, is a Keurig really that “convenient”?
So while the Keurig performs extremely well, its convenience really depends more on how strong you like your coffee and how much you want at any one time.
Features: As their current “flagship” machine, this particular Keurig is loaded with features, including:
- 5 cup sizes ( 3.25 oz., 5.25 oz., 7.25 oz., 9.25 oz. and 11.25 oz.)
- a 60-ounce water reservoir (which for some strange reason is smaller than the K75 machine just below it)
- brewing temperature selection
- automatic shut-off after a user-selected amount of time from the last brew (1-9 hours)
- programmable auto-on and auto-off times
- a rinse cycle (perfect for purging that little bit of coffee flavor out of the machine before you make your iced tea)
- a hot water button (great for when you need really hot water for instant soups)
It’s these last two features which ultimately distinguish it from the other models, but not by much. If you really can live without the rinse cycle (which can easily be duplicated by just running the machine with no K-Cup installed) and the hot water button, you can save yourself a few bucks and get K75. And if you can live with just 3 cup sizes, save even more by going with the K65.
Rating? A+ (the coffee maker itself); C- (compared to other Keurig models).
How “green” is it?
By “green” I mean how environmentally friendly the Keurig is. Although it has nice features such as a timer to turn the machine off when not used after a certain amount of time, I have to give the Keurig a pretty low grade.
But not for the machine itself, but rather the K-Cups. Although highly convenient, once used the K-Cups are nothing but little plastic foil-covered cups. And if you are a serious coffee or hot beverage drinker, you could easily be throwing out dozens of these little shot-glass sized cups out every week.
Personally, I would suggest forgoing the K-Cups themselves and using your own ground coffee or loose tea and getting some of those reusable K-Cup replacement cups that you can fill on your own. Otherwise, if you are even a little environmentally conscious, you’re going to feel increasingly guilty throwing all those little plastic cups away.
Taste: As long as you understand how the selected cup size can effect the taste of your coffee or tea (as I mentioned above), I think the Keurig does a more than satisfactory job of brewing your hot beverages. If you are used to drip coffee (as in traditional home coffee makers) or love “pour overs” you will not be disappointed.
But if you (like me) are addicted to using your French Press to make your coffee or you use some other method to extend the brewing time prior to drinking your coffee, I have to say the Keurig may be a disappointment for you. There are multiple settings on the Keurig, but there’s only one brew time: FAST!!! In other words, don’t expect the Keurig to duplicate the taste, body and aroma you’ll get from a cup of French Press that’s been allowed to brew for 2-3 minutes.
Rating: A+ (compared to traditional coffee makers); D (compared to more intense brewing methods)
Overall rating: The Keurig performs perfectly, seems durable so far, and is extremely easy to use, which should equate to a strong “A” rating.
But it’s low “green” score, lack of significant features over lesser-priced Keurig models, and its single brew time all combine to bring the overall value of this machine down.
In summary, I definitely love my Keurig and its “quick cup of coffee” convenience.
I won’t be getting rid of mine anytime soon…but I’m still keeping my French Press!