For quite a while now I’ve been a fan of the concept of “single serve” coffee. I’ve had and used a whole variety of coffee makers. Everything from a Tassimo to my favorite Melita One-to-One to the high end Lavazza systems. Normally, I have two coffee makers as well. One, the single cup brewer for every day use and a larger 12-cup, full pot brewer for parties and holidays. After years of faithful service, both of ours decided to kick the bucket. As avid coffee drinkers, we had to find a replacement.
After doing our homework, we decided on the Keurig B60 Special Edition. We ended up getting one, on sale, with a 20% coupon on top of that. A $129.99 coffee maker only cost us about $75.
The B60 is Keurig’s mid-level brewer with the more advanced features we wanted above and beyond the base model while not being totally insane and over the top. We basically wanted to stay in the realm of single-serve, have an easily removable reservoir, some basic timer/auto on-off features and finally have a large variety of coffee to back it up.
Our primary complaint over the years with the “pod” based brewers is that there are only a select few vendors of the coffee itself. We remedied that by buying a “make your own pod” system of empty pods and a “sealer” to make them. That was getting both tiresome and expensive. The Keurig “K-Cup” system has been around just as long and is not only selling well, but expanding. The reason is that they were adopted and well used in corporate offices. Having been to quite a few photo shoots in various corporate offices, I can definitely vouche for that.
The other major advantage, coffee-wise, is that Keurig is owned by/partnered with Green Mountain coffee, one of my favorite brands. Not only that, but they have deals with other major labels including Deidrich, Timothy’s, Tully’s, Gloria Jean’s, Newman’s Own and Emeril’s as well as major tea companies Celestrial Seasonings and Twining’s. The support of major tea and coffee brands is pretty key. The Tassimo pod’s by comparison had been reduced to their own brand and Senseo, neither of which were very good.
Technology wise, the K-cup system the Keurig uses is very interesting. Instead of a tea-bag like coffee pod, they use tiny, sealed plastic cups. Each cup contains the coffee as well as a filter lining. As the machine makes the coffee, it punctures two holes in the cup, one in the top to pour the water in and a second in the bottom to let the coffee out. The system is sealed from the brewer meaning that there isnt’ anything except the cup to remove at the end. With a “pod” you still had to remove the wet pod, rinse the tray is sat on (since it was covered with coffee) as well as the spout that it ran down into the coffee cup. The K-cups, being self contained, keep all that mess inside the disposable cup which means that you don’t get a horrible coffee taste to your tea if you switch between the two. No rinsing out is necessary either. The cups go in dry and come out the same way.
As pure bonus points, they also provide a “reusable filter” that fits in the brewer as well, just in case you have some special coffee that you’d like to brew. The filter acts just like a regular coffee maker in that you put your own grounds in and brew it normally. It’s a really nice option to have. If they ever stop making K-cups, you can still make coffee, just like normal, using the filter. It’s a nice addition.
So, we’ve established that the system for brewing the coffee is pretty sound and that it has the support of some pretty major coffee labels. Are there any down sides? Just one or two. First, as a minor downside, it’s a bit harder to find K-cups in the grocery store. Nine times out of ten you’re going to have to order them online. That’s not so bad, there are plenty of places to do so as well as the official site as well. It might get a little expensive shipping wise, but I’m assuming if you order a bunch at a time, it would probably all even out. At a little over $0.50 a cup (24 pack for $14), it’s still cheaper than Starbucks but pretty main line as far as single serve goes.
The only other real downside is actually something I didn’t expect. The noise. The brewer is actually rather loud when it’s sucking in fresh water. The brewing process isn’t that loud, but the warming and adding water however, is actually rather noisy. It’s about the same level as a reguar drip-brewer, so it’s certainly acceptable in the kitchen, but our other brewers were damn near silent, so to come full circle to hear the gurgle-gurgle of water and the whir of a pump was kind of unexpected. It’s certainly not a deal breaker however. Like I said, it’s no louder than a regular brewer.
So far we’ve been very pleased with it. We’ve made about a dozen cups of coffee and a few cups of tea and we’ve enjoyed it very much. The “auto on” feature is very nice for the morning, so it’s ready to go as I’m walking out the door to work, and then it shuts itself off an hour later so I don’t worry about it being on all day.
As a whole, if you’re looking for an upgrade to your coffee maker or you’re replacing an old one, it’s definitely worth checking out. We had wasted so much coffee over the years because we would make a whole pot and then only drink a cup or two. This is really a nice way to get the coffee you want without making a full pot and without stopping for a $6 espresso on the way to work.