John Sylvan, co-inventor of the Keurig Experienced Caffeine Poisoning from the Machine

John Sylvan and Peter Dragone, former college roommates began inventing a machine that they hoped would live up to its name—excellent. “Keurig” is excellence in Dutch and that was exactly what the two men were striving for when they began creating their revolutionary coffee machine in 1992.

Sylvan was so interested in being the very best that he ended up getting a nasty case of caffeine poisoning from the machine’s prototype in 1995. He began to complain of a throbbing headache and tunnel vision and was driven to the emergency room where they discovered the culprit was too much caffiene. When asked how much caffeine Sylvan had consumed he answered around 30 or 40 cups—all in the name of Science!

Originally the Keurig was meant for office use only but in 2004 it became a household staple. Sylvan of course felt guilty for creating a machine that was so harmful to the environment and now spends his time dedicated to being green and environmentally friendly through his company ZonBak. ZonBak is an attempt to bring solar energy to the forefront with recyclable solar panels that aren’t harmful to the planet.

What Makes the Keurig Machine Unique?

The Keurig is unique in that it easily produces a strong and flavorful cup of coffee in a matter of seconds, all at the push of a button. It also has an incredible variety of coffee flavors to choose from and just because you’re limited to the specific K-Cup product doesn’t mean you’re limited to a certain amount of choices. The Keurig even offers some strange flavors for the extremely daring.

Flavors like Mudslide Coffee and Blueberry Green Mountain Coffee are meant to appeal to a younger crowd, and perhaps not to the 30-something housewife that wants a standard cup of joe but we wonder if that uniqueness has influenced the decision for younger people since they tend to try to stay green and reduce their carbon footprint.

What are Some Cons of Switching to a Keurig?

The biggest con for this machine is that it’s neither environmentally-friendly or cost-effective—one pound of coffee is estimated to cost $50, which seems to be an enormous amount of money for such a small amount of coffee. People have justified the cost in the amount of time they save brewing just one single cup, but I don’t feel that it’s in people’s best interest to spend this amount of money on something that isn’t even recyclable. If they were going to spend more money on reinventing the packaging to make it environmentally-friendly than it may be well worth it, but for the same price you could probably buy at least eight bags of your favorite Keurig coffee.

Another con is that they’re not exactly sound products—quite often they have issues with their filters that begin the first year you own it. Now, there are a number of ways to solve this issue the simplest way is by using filtered water inside your machine or cleaning it out regularly with white vinegar, dish soap and hot water. All you do is run the mixture through the machine a few times and it should be working fine again. Thankfully, the replacements for filters are fairly cheap and can be done yourself.

How Are the Brewing Techniques of Other Machines Different?

The Keurig is one of the simplest machines to brew coffee with. You simply put water in the container and fill it to max level, than choose your cup size and it’s ready to go. You can instantly enjoy a cup of coffee, which is why many people enjoy the machine. It’s a much easier process than say something like the French press machine that takes a little more effort with a delicious result at the end.

The French press machine requires you to boil water to use on the coffee beans that you grind up—you insert the coffee grounds into the French press and then add the hot water to the machine. You’ll need to wait 4 to 5 minutes, depending on how strong you like the flavor and then push the lever down and pour the coffee into your favorite mug to enjoy.

Is the Flavor of the Coffee from a Keurig Different?

The flavor from the Keurig machine is different, in that it doesn’t quite have the fresh taste of any of the other brewing methods—since most of the K-Cups are required to have a lasting shelf life they don’t taste as delicious as freshly ground beans.

There are few ways to make the coffee that you buy for your Keurig better tasting. You can either buy directly from the source—choose your favorite coffee brand and purchase it online to have it shipped to your house, this will almost always guarantee a fresher alternative to what you might find in a store. You can also buy an add-on called the Keurig My K-Cup Reusable Filter for $14.99. This handy little bonus gives you the ability to insert your own coffee grounds so that you can enjoy fresh beans from your favorite coffee roastery.

Is a Keurig in My Budget?

The Keurig is one of the most expensive machines on the market, and it’s really hard to justify the cost of this machine other than if you want to save a few extra minutes in your morning routine. The cheapest Keurig machine still costs over $50 and the K-Cup coffee choices aren’t saving you any extra money so what are you really paying for? Convenience.

If you want to buy the cheapest machine, Keurig K15 Classic Series there are plenty of other brands with much better quality machines that offer a bigger variety as far as choices go—I wouldn’t choose the budget version just because of the brand, but some people really claim that no machine makes a better cup of coffee than the Keurig. It’s completely up to you if you believe that’s true or not.

Is the Keurig Truly a Coffee Machine for Everyone?

The Keurig is the easiest machine to use, all the user needs to focus on is pushing a single button to have an instant cup of coffee. There isn’t anything too complex or challenging with using the machine and it is for that reason that this machine is for everyone.

If you can ignore the fact that the K-Cups and the machine are relatively pricey as compared to other alternatives than this might be a great choice. For the average person it won’t be easy to budget in an additional cost for a coffee machine. Many of the cheaper machines don’t offer the features found on the more expensive machines so if you really want to get the bang for your buck either consider switching to a more expensive choice or another brand all together.

Top 3 Keurig Machines

Best Budget Choice

Keurig K15 Classic Series

Check Price on Amazon

Price: Ranges in price from $62.10 to $99.99

Lowest Price: $62.10 on Amazon

Features: Affordable price and compact-size

Cons: None of the features of the more expensive models

Colors: Black, Chili Red, Jade, Platinum and True Blue

 The Keurig K15 Classic is the perfect coffee machine for anyone that wants a basic single-cup server. It doesn’t have a lot of features, but it’s the simplicity of the machine that makes up for the lack of special additions that people enjoy about the machine. You turn it on and add a K-Cup and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly the coffee is brewed for your enjoyment. You do get an option to brew your coffee either strong and weak by choosing how much water you’d like to add—between 6 and 10 ounces. It’s also relatively easy to clean the machine, which is the biggest complaint of most coffee drinkers.

Add that with the low price tag, at least as far as Keurig models go, and you have a real winner on your hands. If you want something reliable, budget-friendly and simple—than this should be your go-to machine.

Best Overall Choice

Keurig K250 Plus Series

Check Price on Amazon

Price: Ranges in price from $99.99 to $129.99

Lowest Price: $99.99 on Amazon

Features: Strength-control setting and able to dispense both hot and cold water

Cons: Loud machine and leaves residue on the tray

Colors: Black, Imperial Red, Peacock Blue, Sandy Pearl, Turquoise and White

The Keurig K250 is a nice upgrade from the K215 since we were introduced to a lot of different features. Those included the hot and cold function so that you could enjoy an iced coffee and also a setting to determine how weak or strong you like your coffee. It makes a cup of coffee in under a minute, but the loud noises that come from the machine may not be for everyone. If  you hear loud humming sounds the machine isn’t malfunctioning—it’s just very noisy.

One of the problems with the machine is that the tray under the K-Pods used to funnel fluids to the dispense point doesn’t fully drain—leaving residue on the tray that will dry up and flake into the next brewed beverage. If you’re brewing regular coffee it should not affect this, but it’s a warning that hot cocoas and flavored coffees seem to be the culprits. Just run some cleaner through the machine after you make a flavored drink and this should solve the issue and keep your machine running smoothly. Also, this model has some nice color choices from its previous predecessors!

Best Premium Choice

Keurig K575 Plus Series

Check Price on Amazon

Price: Ranges in price from $137.60 to $179.99

Lowest Price: $137.60 on Amazon

Features: Large 80 ounce reservoir to brew 10+ cups of coffee and programmable timer to brew coffee at certain times of the day

Cons: Large machine requires a lot of counter space

Colors: Platinum

The Keurig K575 comes from a brand that is already trusted—add in some nice bonus features and you have an excellent machine on your hands! The 80 ounce reservoir is a nice add-on since you won’t have to continuously worrying about adding water all the time—if you only drink one cup of coffee a day this reservoir can last up to 10 days of use. The large black and white display is also wonderful since you can easily see the choices and it gives clear information about the different brewing processes. This was a much needed feature for the machine since some of the other touch screens felt a bit complicated and hard to read.

One of the biggest problems with the machine is the grate that the cups sit upon—it can easily be removed to add in a larger cup but when you try to replace the grate it doesn’t snap in easily and requires some firm pushing. This also makes you feel like you’re going to snap the grate. The solution I suppose would be to never remove this, but if you want to enjoy a larger cup of coffee you’ll have to. I also wish there were more color choices and the machine didn’t feel so incredibly bulky—but that’s hard to do with the addition of the 80 ounce water reservoir. Overall it’s a wonderful machine that’s both durable and functional.

Brewing Guide: Tips and Tricks for the Keurig

  1. If you’ve never used the machine before a great place to start is by reading the directions—but if you have used it then we’ll keep it simple. First, you’ll need to go to the store and purchase your favorite K-Cup varieties. Or you could purchase a K-Cup add-on to enjoy your own coffee beans.
  2. Once you have your beans you’ll need to add the specified amount to your water reservoir. You can either do this by removing the reservoir and bringing it to your sink or if it has a hinged lid and isn’t able to be removed you can take a water container to fill it up. Do not fill it past the max line.
  3. Next, you’ll need to plug the machine in so that it can warm the water up for you to enjoy your drink.
  4. Add a standard coffee cup on top of the grate and underneath the filter—some machines allow you to also remove the grate for larger cups.
  5. This next step depends on the user, but I like to do a “test run” to make sure the water isn’t going to contain any grounds from previous brews. Do not insert a K-Cup yet and just let hot water brew through the machine and into a cup placed on top of the grate.
  6. Discard the water that came out and thoroughly clean your coffee cup.
  7. Place the coffee cup back in place and now you’ll get to do the real fun part: choosing your K-Cup variety! There are plenty of options and blends so pick your favorite. Remember to not remove the foil from the top of the lid because those are essential.
  8. Insert the K-Cup into the center of the unit by lifting the lid upward—close the lid and wait for a button or a display that will show the words, “Ready to Brew”. Choose your desired coffee strength—if your machine has added features. Some machines require you to add a certain amount of water to determine how strong or weak the coffee is.
  9. Now all you have to do is wait a few seconds and you’ll be able to enjoy a delicious tasting coffee in under a minute! Enjoy your warm delicious cup of coffee!

Pro Tip: The complaints for most of the Keurig models are that the machine is loud; which we can’t really fix, but there are some problems that are easy to solve with a little patience and persistence. Another issue with Keurig models is that the filter will continuously “clog” up.

  • The way to fix a “clogged” filter is by taking care of your Keurig from the beginning of its use. No machine will last if you’re always drinking hot cocoa or flavored coffee and the grounds are getting stuck inside. The easiest way to keep your machine in working order is by sticking to regular coffee. If you enjoy the variety that the Keurig has to offer there is another way to make sure you can still have those pleasures.
  • After each brew where you’re either making a hot cocoa blend, iced coffee blend or any flavored coffee do a “test run” to remove anything that was left behind. This will ensure that you’re removing any leftover grounds so that they don’t end up continuously adding up in your machine.
  • Another way to clean the machine is with hot water, a cup of vinegar and a few drops of dish soap. Just run the mixture through the machine a few times until the water reservoir is empty and the filter should be cleaned out.
  • If you really want your machine to last try using filter water from the beginning. Don’t use tap water because it may aid in clogging up your machine—or you could always do half filtered water and half tap water if you don’t want to constantly spend money on filtered water for the machine.

Conclusion

The Keurig brand is a great choice for anyone that loves a delicious cup of coffee quickly! There’s no other coffee maker like it on the market, and to many people the variety that you get to choose from is worth the additional cost that comes with it.

Another great thing about Keurig is they have a very receptive return policy and customer service so if anything happens to your machine within reason they will exchange it. They want their customers to remain loyal so they try their best to adhere to any problems or concerns regarding the machine.

Most people have turned to the Keurig models because they’re so convenient—what other machine can make a cup of coffee in under a minute? Other than the espresso machine, of course! The Keurig can even make you flavored coffees and the newer models give you the option to brew both hot and cold beverages. We understand why it’s one of the most popular brands just because of the sheer amount of products that are available—there are hundreds of choices and variety for coffee lovers is key!

We also love the add-on for most Keurig machines that you can purchase to make your own coffee blends. We enjoy fresh brewed coffee with whole beans and this feature allows us to be creative and enjoy new blends without having to have a regular coffee machine to do so. We can still have our fresh coffee, even though it’s convenient.

Keurig has also began to appeal to people that love bright colors! Their colorful collection is a real selling point for college students and younger people since they enjoy the design and the ability to mix and match their styles.

Really, the only flaw we see is that the machine requires a lot of upkeep, but that comes with any coffee machine that’s worth its weight in gold. You have to remember to clean it, even though one of its redeeming factors is that it’s low maintenance as far as coffee clean-up goes. We still think it’s worth the effort though, especially if you want your machine to run properly.