Best One Cup Coffee Maker 2017. Is Keurig Still the King?
Is the best one cup coffee maker really made by Keurig? This perennial favorite has been on the market, since it’s revolutionary introduction in 1998. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know what a Keurig machine and K-cups are by now.
Loved and hated
Some people (myself included) simply love the unrivaled convenience of popping a single pod into the machine and getting a quick cup of freshly brewed coffee.
Others scoff at the idea and feel that K-cup coffee is not real coffee. Others point at the extra waste caused by empty k-cups and claim that the system is not ‘green’. I actually heard that one of the original designers of the Keurig shared this sentiment TK.
How does a K-Cup pod coffee maker work?
Keurig and other similar one cup coffee makers use a high pressure, high-temperature system to quickly heat and brew the single serving coffee.
Once you put your K-cup (or other pod) into place and clamp down the top of the machine, a hidden set of small needles punches holes in both the top and bottom of the cup.
A set of hoses channels water from your machine’s reservoir into a set of heating chambers. The water is then super heated to coffee brewing temperatures in a matter of seconds.
The final step is simply passing this heated water through the now punctured coffee pod. What comes out is your favorite cup of Joe, in a simple filtration process common to coffee filters, french presses, and other methods of coffee extraction.
Other types of pods
If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel room with a single serve coffee machine, you’ve probably seen these other style of pods. They are big in Europe as well, dubbed ‘Espresso pods”. TK
Vue and Keurig 2.0 controversy
When Green Mountain Coffee, the creators and owners of Keurig lost their patent in 2012, the K-Cup market was opened up for competition to start producing their own coffee for these machines. Patents expire over time, and even though Green Mountain made an appeal in court, they were not able to maintain exclusivity.
You see, the original Keurig Cup was such a brilliantly designed business plan. Not only did the company do great in sales of the machines, but they kept a monopoly on all of the pods. People had no other choice but to buy from Green Mountain, so once someone switched over to using a Keurig, they bought nearly 100% of their coffee supply from this one company.
I think the competition is a great thing. It is what makes Keurig possibly the best one cup coffee maker to this day.
I love trying different brands in my Keurig machine. Have you tried the Dunkin Donuts inspired variety? I would argue that it’s just as good as the stuff as you get in-store! I also love Peets and Gevalia, two real powerhouse names in the coffee industry, which now have solid offerings in K-Cups.
I’ll be honest, a lot of the time I’ll just get my local grocery store generic variety. I save a lot of money, and it’s really good enough for my Monday-Friday routine.
The Vue was (in my opinion) a failed attempt to recapture the monopoly.
So when Green Mountain lost their patent in 2012, they decided that they would create a new design and thus a new patent, hence the ‘vue’ or Keurig 2.0 cup. Despite the marketing hype, this new cup was not really any better (in fact, I think the original is superior), but all those who bought the new machine would once again be forced to buy Green Mountain Coffee.
Even the best one cup coffee maker needs maintenance
I know that a lot of you out there probably aren’t doing this (I’ll admit that I did not for the longest time), but you absolutely need to regularly clean and descale your machine to keep it running smoothly.
Keurig brewers include an indicator “Descale” light that will very rarely light up. I’ve only ever seen this happen once, so I don’t feel that it is very accurate. There are have been many occasions when my pod machine did need descaling, where I never received a lighted warning.
You can buy an official descaler product to run through your machine, but I’ve found that simple white vinegar, mixed about 50/50 with water works best. Just pour the vinegar mixture into your water reservoir and ‘dry run’ the machine a couple of times without a pod in the receptacle.
Just be warned… it can sometimes take a lot (like 10) of those runs to fully get the vinegar taste out.
After you’re done, the difference will be nothing short of miraculous. You’ll be bragging to your friends that you’re old B60 is the best one cup coffee maker you’ve ever used. If you have not descaled since you bought your machine, then you don’t know what you’re missing. Chances are that you have lost a lot of efficiency, and this technique will get it roaring back.
If you have not descaled since you bought your machine, then you don’t know what you’re missing. Chances are that you have lost a lot of efficiency, and this technique will get it roaring back.
Like I said, I haven’t had much success just trusting the descale light to tell me when to do this. Usually, nowadays I can tell when my brewing stream isn’t as strong as it used to be, and it’s time to run the vinegar through my machine. Usually, this is about every 6 months or so, but your timing will vary based on how hard, or calcified your tap water is.
Competition has emerged, and there are now some solid contenders for the best one cup coffee maker.
I was shocked to find that Nespresso, not Keurig, has been the leader in the single-cup coffee maker market since 2013. Obviously we’ve all heard the name Nespresso, and they are no newbies to the world of coffee. They did however, capitalize on Keurig’s single pod idea, take it and run with it.
The Nespresso’s own line of single cup coffee machines, the Vertuoline, is marketed as a more premium, high-end version of the Keurig. The price tag certainly reflects this.
I personally have not used the Nespresso, but its fans are rabidly loyal, and swear that it is head and shoulders above it’s close, lower priced cousin.
Remember though, not only is the Nespresso machine more expensive, but the Vertuoline pods which it uses are more expensive as well. And unlike the original Keurig, these are still under patent, which means there is no competition out there and they can set the price as high as they want.
Ultimately it’s a matter of convenience
I’ll be honest, even the best one cup coffee maker is no match for a freshly ground, hand made espresso with a high-end commercial machine. But if you’re anything like me, you don’t have time for that most mornings of the week, when you just need to fill up a to-go cup (I LOVE the ‘Contigo’ thermos) and get out into the world. For those purposes, it comes down to instant coffee powder or a K-cup, and out of those, I will pick the taste of the pod any day of the week.