Keurig K-Cafe Review
The Keurig K-Cafe is one of the newest members of the Keurig family. It also happens to be the only Keurig machine on the market that is capable of brewing espresso-style beverages. With the K-Cafe, you can enjoy a delicious iced latte on your patio in the warm summer months or a steamy, velvety cappuccino during those bitter cold winter days. The machine is very easy to use and allows anyone to become a home barista. We think it’s great for anyone looking to get into making coffee at home, but doesn’t want the hassle of a full-blown espresso machine.
Overall Score: 4.0/5
The quality of this machine is right in line with the other Keurig models. The build quality is good, but it is unlikely to stand the test of time. The quality of the cup is where these machine excels. Not only can it brew your garden variety K-Cups, but it can also extract a stronger brew that is similar to espresso. This, coupled with the built-in milk frother, unlocks countless beverage possibilities, ranging from pumpkin spice drinks to matcha tea lattes.
The Keurig K-Cafe is on the higher price range for Keurig. In fact, there are several espresso machines on the market that don’t cost as much as this machine. That said, it does allow you to brew espresso-style coffee, iced coffee, strong-brewed coffee, and standard brewed coffee. This machine does a good job justifying its higher price tag.
The style of this machine is very similar to other Keurig models that were recently released. It features soft, matte-black plastics with silver accents and sleek Keurig branding. Overall, the machine has a very sophisticated feel to it. The neutral color scheme will help it to fit into any kind of kitchen decor you display.
The size of the Keurig K-Cafe is definitely one of its shortcomings. It measures in at just over 15 inches wide. While that may not sound like a lot, most coffee makers are only 10-12 inches wide. If you have a large kitchen or ample counter space, it won’t be an issue. But be wary that it is on the larger side. The reason it is so much larger than a standard coffee maker is that it has a sizable water reservoir, a fully-functional Keurig brewer, and a milk frother, all integrated into a single package. We think the larger footprint is worth all the extra functionality this machine brings.
- Simple button interface – Keurig has done a great job of simplifying their user interfaces in recent model shakeups. The K-Cafe reflects their new minimalist approach. We think it looks outstanding and makes using the machine a breeze.
- Cappuccinos and lattes at home – If you’re an espresso lover, this machine is for you. The brewer is capable of making espresso-style coffee, which is the basis for so many of the fun, seasonal drinks we’ve grown to love.
- Travel mug friendly – Another feature that is becoming standard in the Keurig lineup is the ability to fit a travel mug under the brew head. The K-Cafe can fit a travel mug up to 7.2 inches tall, making it perfect for those looking to take a coffee with them for the drive in to work in the morning.
- Humongous 60 oz. water reservoir – The water reservoir that comes with this machine is massive. The 60 ounce capacity will keep you from making frequent trips to the fridge or sink to fill up. The reservoir is also completely removable from the brewer and features a nice carrying handle to make it easier to lug back to the machine when it’s full.
- Built-in milk frother – The built-in milk frother is one of the biggest selling points of this machine. You can froth any type of fresh milk you desire, including skim, soy, and almond milks. Usually milks with higher fat content froth up better, so be sure to experiment until you find the perfect one to suit your tastes.
- Large countertop footprint – This machine is much larger than your standard drip coffee maker. It is so large because it integrates a huge water reservoir, Keurig brewer, and milk frother into a single machine. To us, that’s worth the increase in size.
- Not real espresso – We said it once, but we’ll say it again: this is not real espresso. Real espresso comes from brewing coffee under high pressure. This machine comes close by making coffee that is strong like espresso, but you won’t get any crema on top. If that’s a deal breaker for you, you may want to consider an espresso machine instead.
- Pricey, pricey – As coffee makers go, this machine sports a higher price tag than a standard drip coffee brewer. If you’re tight on funds, you may want to consider a lower-cost Keurig as an alternative.
The machine excels in brewing regular coffee, espresso-style coffee, and iced coffee. It works with standard K-Cup pods, so if you’re switching from another Keurig model to the K-Cafe, you won’t have to replace your coffee pods.
The Keurig K-Cafe is Keurig’s newest foray into the wonderful world of espresso beverages. While the machine can’t produce true espresso, it does produce a brew that is strong like espresso and can act as a bold base for any espresso-style beverages you plan to make from pumpkin lattes to peppermint mochas.
In addition to the fun, season espresso-based drinks, you can also make your standard, run of the mill cappuccino or latte. Simply brew a coffee shot and froth milk for your desired beverage. The integrated milk frother has settings for cappuccinos, lattes, and “cold” (we’ll explain a bit further in the review). We can’t overemphasize how great it is to be able to make whatever drink we please at home. It’s like having a café in your kitchen!
Each time you brew for an espresso-style drink, you’ll use the shot button, which extracts 2 ounces of delicious, bold coffee. To brew a shot like this takes around a minute from start to finish. After the machine is finished brewing, the indicator lights on the control panel will turn off.
While this machine certainly caters to those with an espresso-inclined palate, it is also a very functional regular coffee maker. To make a single serving of regular coffee, you simply insert a K-Cup of your choosing, select the size of the brew from the control panel, and press the Brew button.
The regular coffee brewing mode is accompanied by a Strong button, which makes a stronger cup of coffee than the regular coffee. To enable strong mode, press the Strong button before pressing the Brew button.
Regular coffee can be brewed in a multitude of cup sizes including 6, 8, 10, and 12 ounce cups. This makes the machine perfectly suited for an office setting or a household where everyone likes a different amount of morning pick-me-up.
Iced coffee is one of those things that can be very difficult. If you brew regular strength, add ice, and the ice melts, you’re left with a weak-tasting coffee that quickly heats up in the afternoon sun. That’s not very refreshing at all.
One of the newer features to hit the current Keurig lineup is the addition of an iced coffee setting. This setting enables the machine to brew a stronger beverage to counteract the ice melting. The Keurig K-Cafe has an iced coffee mode for all types of coffee that the machine is capable of brewing.
One watch-out though: be sure to never use a glass cup under the brew head when brewing iced coffee. While iced coffee looks beautiful in a clear glass cup, the glass can undergo thermal shock from the ultra-hot and -cold temperatures, which could result in your glass shattering into a million pieces. For this reason, we like to use a plastic, thermally insulated cup, like a Tervis or Yeti.
Integrated Milk Frother
One of the neatest features of this machine is the integrated milk frother. The ability of this machine to froth milk is what makes it stand apart from the pack of single-serving coffee makers. In fact, most of the time, you have to buy a separate milk frothing machine if you want velvety, foamy milk to top your cappuccino.
This machine is capable of frothing any type of milk you drink. It can easily froth skim, soy, almond, or whole milk. For best results, you may want to experiment with different types of milk.
The frothing pitcher features some of the same aesthetics of the machine itself. It is very minimalist, comprised of a sleek, black handle and silver pitcher. The handle is extra long to prevent you from burning yourself on the pitcher after frothing. Be careful not to touch the metal part of the pitcher until it has fully cooled! The pitcher even has markings etched on it to show the volume of milk you should have for each beverage type. We recommend following their markings; it always results in a delicious coffee.
The frother comes with a lid that helps to make the milk extra frothy. Be sure to use this and follow the machine’s instruction for the best results. If you don’t use the lid, the milk can come out far less frothy than it should be.
The milk frother and frother lid are both safe to put in the top rack of your dishwasher. The whisk, which goes inside of the pitcher during frothing, should be placed in the utensil basket. If you decide to wash any of the components by hand, we recommend only using non-abrasive cleaners so you don’t damage the surfaces of the parts.
The milk frother takes around 3 minutes to heat up before it’s ready to use. There are two types of frothing the machine can do: hot frothing and cold frothing.
Hot frothing takes about 3 minutes from start to finish. When you start the process, you’ll hear a single beep. After the frothing is complete, you will hear two beeps and the light on the CAPP or LATTE button will no longer be illuminated.
Cold frothing is a much shorter process. This is used for making things like iced lattes or cappuccinos, where you don’t want the milk to be hot and melt all the ice in your drink. Cold frothing only froths the milk with the internal whisk; it will not heat up the milk at all.
Keurig recommends following the simple process below to ensure your coffee doesn’t get cold while you wait on the frother:
1. Froth milk
2. Brew coffee
3. Pour milk
The aesthics of this machine are right in line with what we have come to expect from Keurig. It features soft, matte black body with start brushed silver accents. This, coupled with the subtle Keurig branding, gives the image of a very put-together coffee maker.
Keurig continues to reiterate their minimalist mindset with the incredibly simple user interfaces. Gone are the days of complex touch displays and arrays of buttons. The K-Cafe features an intuitive main button panel and an even simpler user interface for firing up the milk frother. We like the return to physical buttons, as the machines lifespans seem to lengthen quite a bit.
One potential downside is the size of the machine. It is rather wide, measuring in at 15.3 inches wide and 11.7 inches deep. This is a bit larger than your standard coffee maker, so take the width into consideration before upgrading to the K-Cafe. If you’re looking for an ultra-slim Keurig to fit in those tight spaces in your kitchen, then look no further than the new Keurig K-Mini Plus.
The machine is only around 12.5 inches tall, so it is the perfect fit under most standard cabinets. One added touch that we love is the 30 inch power cord. With such a long cord, you can put your new K-Cafe practically anywhere in your kitchen and still reach a power outlet.
There are a variety of other great features that Keurig packed into their new K-Cafe brewer. Your new Keurig will be packed with all of the necessary bells and whistles.
Most Keurigs released in the past few years feature a removable drip tray that allows you to fit a travel mug under the brew head. The K-Cafe is no different and opens up the possibility of brewing into travel mugs up to 7.2 inches tall.
The removable drip tray is also great for quick cleanup. Simply remove the drip tray, dump the contents down the drain, and give it a quick rinse before putting it back under the brew nozzle. It keeps the risk of overflowing the drip tray low.
Another great addition to the machine is the removable water reservoir. These days, most single-serving coffee makers have removable water reservoir for easy refilling. The Keurig K-Cafe takes it a step further by including a massive 60 ounce water reservoir. That’s nearly two full liters of coffee that can be brewed before you have to refill. To make sure the water filter is easy to maneuver while you lug it back from the sink, Keurig added a wonderful carrying handle. We cannot describe how amazingly useful it is to have a handle. It prevents accidental spills and sloshing on our way to and from the sink.
The machine’s user interface features several indicator lights that make using the machine very easy. The descale indicator will light up when you are descaling your machine. Descaling should be done every 3-6 months, per the manual’s recommendation. When you’ve finished descaling the machine, the indicator light will turn off.
We suggest you invest in a bottle of descaling solution from Keurig. It’s their machine, so they’ve created their own special formula that descales it just right and leaves no foul after-taste like vinegar descaling solutions.
The “Add Water” indicator on the control panel will illuminate when the machine detects that there is not enough water in the reservoir to brew your next cup of coffee. This great feature prevents you from running your machine on empty, which can damage the internal components. After you’ve added a sufficient amount of water, the light will turn off and the machine will allow you to begin brewing.
The “Auto Off” indicator will be illuminated by default. This means that the machine will automatically turn off after two hours of inactivity, which means energy savings. If you choose to disable this mode, the indicator light will turn off and your machine will stay on until you turn it off.
One final benefit worth mentioning is that this Keurig is compatible with the Keurig 2.0 standard, meaning that accessories like the My K-Cup Universal Reusable Coffee Filter work with your K-Cafe. This opens the door to trying freshly roasted coffee from your local coffee roaster and grinding it right before brewing. That will give you the best flavor in your cup.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Cleaning the Keurig K-Cafe is rather simple and will keep your brewer running smoothly. Before cleaning any part of the machine, make sure you unplug the device from the wall.
To clean the outside of the brewer, wipe it with a damp, soapy cloth that is free from lint. Be sure not to use harsh chemical cleaners, as it may damage the finish of the machine. Never immerse the brewer in water to clean it.
Every now and again, you should clean the water reservoir, especially if you have hard water. To do this, remove and empty the water reservoir. The reservoir and reservoir lid are dishwasher safe (top rack only) or can be hand-washed.
Given the reservoir’s bulky size, we prefer to hand wash it. You’ll want to use a damp, soapy, lint-free cloth with a non-abrasive cleaner on this part too. If you use anything more extreme to clean it, you may scuff the reservoir and it won’t look nearly as nice.
After washing, make sure you give it a good rinse to remove any remaining soap so it doesn’t go in your coffee. Once you’re done washing and rinsing it, you can fill it back up with water and place it back in the machine for your next round of after-dinner coffee. Make sure you don’t dry the water reservoir with a cloth; fine fibers can linger in the reservoir.
The drip tray is removable and can be easily dumped out in the sink. Make sure you don’t let it fill up too much; it can only hold 8 ounces of liquid before overflowing.
To clean the drip tray, empty the contents and wash with soap and water. This part is top-rack dishwasher safe too.
The milk frother should be cleaned immediately after each use. Before cleaning, make sure the frother has cooled so you don’t get burned. If you don’t clean it right away, milk will get dried on and be super difficult to clean later.
Both the frother and the frother lid are top-rack dishwasher safe. The whisk can be washed in your dishwasher’s utensil basket. If you prefer to hand-wash these items, avoid abrasive cleaners to protect the frother’s finish. If hand-washing the whisk, it’s recommended you let it soak in warm, soapy water for 15 minutes before cleaning with a soft brush. This will help remove the dried milk more easily.
For a detailed description of how to clean and maintain other components on the machine, like the pod holder, be sure to consult the manual that comes with the brewer.
The only regular maintenance item on this brewer is to regularly descale it. Descaling a coffee maker helps to keep it efficient and lengthen its life by removing mineral buildup inside the machine.
Descaling on the K-Cafe should be done every 3-6 months, depending on how regularly you use the machine. If you have hard water, you may want to descale on the more frequent end. Be sure to use Keurig’s proprietary descaling solution for best results and to avoid that nasty aftertaste left by vinegar-based solutions.
The Keurig K-Cafe is an excellent way to experience cafe-like coffee from the comfort of your own home. While it doesn’t produce true espresso, the concentrated coffee coupled with an integrated milk frother allow you to produce drinks that rival the big espresso coffee chains.
The machine itself features a beautifully minimalist design, but is a tad bigger than we’re used to for single-serving coffee makers. However, the larger size is justified by the integrated milk frother and massive 60 ounce removable water reservoir.
The K-Cafe is part of the Keurig model line, so it is backward compatible with Keurig 2.0 accessories and K-Cups, so you don’t have to worry about them going to waste.
This machine is perfect for anyone looking to get into espresso-style drinks without the espresso machine price tag. It’s the perfect fit for any office or household with regular coffee drinkers.
Overall, we are very impressed with the design, functionality, and brewing capability of the Keurig K-Cafe.
We’ve found that there are some products and accessories that you can pair with your machine to take your coffee experience to the next level. We’ve outlined a few of these suggestions below.
Try Something New
It’s so easy to get into a routine where you do the same thing, day in and day out. Especially where you’re drinking the same kind of coffee every day on the way to work. We’ve chosen a couple of products we think help you break out of the monotony and make the most of your new Keurig K-Cafe.
This sampler is an excellent way to put your new K-Cafe to the test. It features a multitude of different K-Cup varieties from two different roasters. The coffee is all specially roasted for the espresso brewing functionality of your machine. It’s also a great way to try out a brand you may not have had before, like Caribou, and begin to explore their other K-Cup offerings.
Pairing a reusable coffee filter with your new K-Cafe is not only great for the environment, but also will allow you to buy coffee in any coffee shop in America and brew it in your Keurig brewer. That unlocks a whole lot of potential. We personally love this device because some of our favorite local coffee roasters don’t package their coffee in K-Cups. We highly recommend this reusable coffee filter.
Organize Your Coffee Corner
This K-Cup Carousel holds up to 35 K-Cups and rotates so that you can keep your favorite flavors on all sides. It comes in black and chrome. The device is only 13 inches tall, so it should fit under most cabinets. We think these styles of K-Cup holder are pretty great because they don’t take up much space and are very easy to restock on all sides.
Having a drawer to hold things is great because you can hide them from sight. This K-Cup storage drawer doesn’t have just one drawer, but four! We love this little gadget because it is easily refillable, takes up little counter space, and gets rid of all our messy K-Cup boxes. We also like that the device is broken up into four drawers, which lets us organize our K-Cups by brand and type.
Keep Your Machine Healthy
We’ve highlighted a product that will help lengthen the life of your new Keurig K-Cafe. It focuses on machine hygiene, which needs to be taken into consideration to make sure your brewer continues to perform like it does on the first day out of the box.
Descaling your machine is an incredibly important maintenance task that needs to be done to keep your machine running right. Do-it-yourself descaling solutions usually are made of of vinegar and leave gross aftertastes. Keurig recognized this problem and developed their own descaling solution that is perfect for their machines. It leaves no vinegar aftertaste and will keep you machine running like the first day you bought it. You’ll want to descale every 3-6 months, depending on your water hardness and how often you use the brewer.