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Best Keurig Coffee Maker 2021

If you’ve landed here, you probably value convenience and various coffee flavors more than anything. Yup, I can read your mind – spooky!

The problem? Even the best Keurig coffee makers look near enough identical to one another and at first glance, but they’re not the same. 

Yes, they all brew K-cups, but each has a different feature set and, importantly, price. So, if you’re interested in learning the differences between each model in seconds, stay tuned and keep reading. 

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to pick the best Keurig coffee maker available within your budget. But, If you can’t wait and just need a quick recommendation, here’s our top pick:

Top Pick
Keurig K-Duo Plus Coffee Maker
$190.95

Unlike most single serve brewers, this one can use either K-Cups or ground coffee. Includes a 12oz thermal carafe too!

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09/26/2021 08:28 am GMT

Keurig & Nespresso Differences

The landscape of pod-based coffee is led by two brewing systems— Keurig and Nespresso

While both systems and their pods look alike, the way each makes coffee is actually pretty different. So it goes without saying that the two systems brew drastically different tasting coffee, too.

Nespresso coffee machines were first inspired by old Italian espresso machines, common in cafes in the 1970s. 

The first few iterations of Nespresso machines were big, with tanks and pumps, similar to that of a real espresso machine. Nespresso was made to replicate espresso coffee—  designed for those who want the taste of espresso without the learning curve.       

On the other hand, Keurig designed its brewing system to replace batch brew, drip-style filter coffee. Mainly with offices in mind, Keurig designed the K-Cup pod as a single-serve coffee that brews quickly and easily. No clean-up and no messing about.   

Out of the two brands, only one has managed to attract the attention of specialty coffee roasters. Heavyweights like Colonna Coffee of the UK, and April Coffee Roasters in Denmark, are among the growing list of specialty companies that make Nespresso compatible capsules. 

Because Nespresso brewers and pods utilize pressure to extract the coffee, they can pull much more flavor from the small amount of grounds enclosed within the pods. 

So if Nespresso tastes so good, why not just end this article right here?! 

The downside of Nespresso systems is that they are much more expensive. With capsules coming in at over $1 each in some cases, Nespresso occupies the premium end of the pod coffee spectrum. 

Related Read: How A Keurig Brewer Works

Why choose a Keurig system over Nespresso?

A Keurig system is a budget-friendly option. 

Not only can the machines themselves be had for less money, but the pods are also way cheaper. Often coming in at under 40 cents per single-serve K-Cup, Keurig is by far the more affordable system. 

8 Best Keurig Coffee Makers 2021

1. Keurig K-Duo Plus 

Top Pick
Keurig K-Duo Plus Coffee Maker
$190.95

Unlike most single serve brewers, this one can use either K-Cups or ground coffee. Includes a 12oz thermal carafe too!

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PROS (+)

  • Features a 12 cup thermal carafe. 
  • Wide range of cup size options. 
  • Uses ground coffee or regular K-Cup pods. 

CONS (-)

  • Expensive even when compared to some SCA-certified home brewers. 
  • It won’t reach hot enough brew temperatures to extract coffee efficiently. 

Things I like

The K-Duo is one of the only Keurig offerings that accepts both K-Cup pod coffee and freshly ground beans. This presents the distinct advantage of using real, good coffee rather than the stuff found in pods. 

You can brew anything from a single 6 oz cup all the way up to a full 12 cup carafe. The K-Duo comes with a stainless steel thermal carafe that will keep coffee hot for up to 2 hours. It also features strength control, as well as a programmable auto-start function.

If you are going to pick up a Keurig, this coffee brewer presents itself as the best option. 

Things that aren’t so great

Though being able to use your own beans drastically increases the chances of making good cups of coffee, we still have the coffee maker’s limitations. 

Unfortunately, the K-Duo isn’t capable of reaching the water temperatures that are necessary for a well-extracted carafe of coffee. I should note that this temperature issue isn’t specific to the K-Duo, but more a Keurig coffee brewer thing. 

This could be because Keurig expects their customers to brew very dark roasts, requiring a cooler brew temperature – which, if that’s you, this will do fine.  Either way, it’s something to be aware of as the key selling point in the carafe.

2. Keurig K-Elite

Best For Iced Coffee
Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker
$139.00

The ultimate Keurig to make hot or iced brews. If you enjoy the vast variety of K-Cups this is the ultimate go to brewer!

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09/26/2021 08:22 am GMT

PROS (+)

  • Has a strong brew and an iced coffee function.
  • Features 5 cup size options.
  • Large 75 oz water reservoir.

CONS (-)

  • Has a large footprint.
  • Mostly plastic design.

Things I like

The K-Elite by Keurig features a couple of things that most other Keurigs don’t. For starters, you can change the brew temperature from anywhere between 187 and 192°F.  

It features five different cup sizes and a big 75 oz water reservoir, ready to brew several cups of K-Cup pod coffee quickly. 

There is also an iced setting to help brew tastier, less diluted iced coffee. You can also use the K-Elite for hot water on demand by pressing the hot water dispense button.

Things that aren’t so great

With a mostly plastic build with durability or longevity in mind. 

The K-Elite is also fairly large. This won’t be an issue for you if you have a big kitchen with loads of counter space, but for people with smaller spaces, it will likely take up too much room for people with smaller spaces.

3. Keurig K-Supreme

Most Modular Set-Up
Keurig K-Supreme Coffee Maker
$149.99
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09/26/2021 08:30 am GMT

PROS (+)

  • Dual-position water reservoir. 
  • Features brew-strength control.
  • Modern looking coffee maker. 

CONS (-)

  • Doesn’t work with the previous version of reusable pods. 
  • No variable temperature control.

Things I like

The dual-position water reservoir makes the K-Supreme perfect for those with many other appliances on the bench. 

You can rotate the tank to either the back or the side of the coffee maker, making it easy to find a spot for the K-Supreme. 

This coffee maker features what Keurig calls ‘MultiStream Technology’. This means that water is dispersed out of 5 needles rather than one, as in previous models. 

In theory, this should provide a more uniform extraction. Offering 4 different cup sizes, as well as strong and over-ice functions, the K-Supreme offers a useful, modular setup.

Things that aren’t so great

Due to Keurig’s new MultiStream Technology, previous versions of the reusable pods aren’t compatible with this coffee machine. The K-Supreme is a fixed temperature coffee maker, meaning that you can’t change the temperature of the water for brewing. 

4. Keurig K-Mini Plus

Most Portable
Keurig K-Mini Plus Coffee Maker, Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer
$91.99
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PROS (+)

  • A very easy-to-use K-Cup coffee maker.
  • Small footprint. 
  • Strong brew setting. 

CONS (-)

  • No automatic cup size options. 
  • Small water reservoir. 

Things I like

Made for small spaces and even suitcase traveling, the Keurig K-Mini Plus is a tiny capsule coffee maker. 

It has storage space for 9 K-Cup coffee pods and cord storage for the power cable at the back. Controls are simple, with only strong brew and power buttons. This lack of control and buttons is probably great for technophobes! 

Things that aren’t so great

Having no cup size options means that you need to top up the water reservoir with the exact amount of water you want to brew. 

This, in turn, means filling the water tank every time you want to brew a cup. Having to measure out and refill the tank so often can feel pretty cumbersome.

5. Keurig K-Cafe

Best for Latte Making
Keurig K-Cafe Single-Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker
$179.99
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PROS (+)

  • Features an automatic milk frother.
  • 5 brew size options including a shot function.
  • Houses a large 60 oz water reservoir. 

CONS (-)

  • It doesn’t use pressure, so can’t make real espresso.
  • More moving parts mean more things that can go wrong. 

Things I like

The K-Cafe is Keurig’s latte and cappuccino maker. 

On the right side of the coffee machine is a built-in milk frother. Simply add your cold milk to the jug, and the K-Cafe will heat and froth it for you. 

It features five cup sizes, including a short, 2 oz shot, designed to brew strong, espresso-like coffee. If you dig cups of coffee with milk, this is the coffee brewer for you.  While the K-Cafe is all about cafe-style drinks, it can brew regular K-Cup coffee, too.

Things that aren’t so great

Because the Keurig K-Cafe doesn’t use pressure, it is incapable of making coffee even close to espresso. 

What it claims to do is make a strong enough K-Cup coffee to use with milk. Whether this drip coffee ‘shot’ is strong enough for your cappuccinos is entirely up to you. 

With more moving parts than some other Keurigs, there is a higher chance of something going wrong with this coffee maker.

   6. Keurig K-Duo – Most Versatile

Most Versatile
Keurig K-Duo Coffee Maker, Single Serve and 12-Cup Carafe Drip Coffee Brewer
$151.01
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09/26/2021 08:22 am GMT

PROS (+)

  • Use ground or K-Cup pod coffee. 
  • Programmable with auto-start timer. 
  • Features 8 different cup sizes.

CONS (-)

  • Looks rather dated.
  • Pricey for what you get.

Things I like

This model of the K-Duo is essentially two different brewers. It’s a standard drip coffee maker on one side and a single-serve K-Cup coffee maker on the other. 

With the K-Duo, you can brew both K-Cup pod coffee as well as your own ground beans, making it a pretty versatile machine. 

While the two brewers share the same water tank, they are independently controlled, allowing you to change the brew parameters, such as size, on each brewer.

Things that aren’t so great

My biggest issue with the K-Duo is the price. For the money, you could buy a Bonavita brewer and still walk away with some change. You’d also be getting far tastier cups of coffee. 

The other main issue with this particular K-Duo is the dated carafe that it comes with. It’s a simple glass pot with a plastic handle, not nearly as sleek as the stainless steel thermal carafes that come with other modern machines in this price range.

7. Keurig K-Slim

Best For Small Spaces
Keurig K-Slim Coffee Maker, Pod Coffee Brewer, 8 to 12oz. Brew Sizes, Black
$79.99
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09/26/2021 08:26 am GMT

PROS (+)

  • Has a minimal footprint.
  • Multiple cup size options.
  • Features add water and descale alerts. 

CONS (-)

  • No programmable features. 
  • Small water tank. 

Things I like

At just under 5 inches wide, the K-Slim takes up very little bench space. It features 3 different size options— between 8 and 12 ounces. 

This coffee maker has a couple of different alerts that let you know when it’s time to descale and refill the water reservoir. The water reservoir is fully removable, making cleaning and refilling easy. 

Things that aren’t so great

The K-Slim is a very basic single-serve coffee maker. It doesn’t have any kind of brew strength options, nor does it have any programmable features. 

Housed at the back of the coffee machine is a fairly small, removable 46-ounce water reservoir. Because this coffee maker isn’t designed to be portable like the K-Mini, a tank this small might become frustrating for some people.

8. Keurig K-Mini

Most Portable
Keurig K-Mini Plus Coffee Maker, Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer
$91.99
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09/26/2021 08:24 am GMT

PROS (+)

  • Small footprint.
  • Extremely easy to use. 
  • Built-in cord storage.

CONS (-)

  • Non-removable water reservoir.
  • No controls whatsoever. 

Things I like

The K-Mini is sort of the little brother to the K-Mini Plus. It’s essentially the same single-serve coffee maker, but with a few differences, giving it a lower price tag. 

At under $100, the K-Mini is the most affordable K-Cup coffee maker in Keurigs current line-up. It’s still got the ridiculously easy controls, the small size, and the built-in cable storage, making this machine ideal for small spaces.

Things that aren’t so great

To bring the cost down, the K-Mini is stripped of a few useful features that are present in the K-Mini Plus. 

There is no storage space for capsules, the water reservoir is fixed rather than removable, and there is no strength control for your brews. 

The Buying Guide To The Best Keurig Coffee Makers

Common Keurig Features

If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel in the United States or enjoyed a pancake-laden buffet breakfast, chances are you’ve tasted coffee from a Keurig. 

You also might have noticed that all Keurig brews taste more or less the same, regardless of the machine that has brewed the coffee in your cup.

That’s because all Keurig machines work in the same way. They all use K-Cups, and they all brew those K-Cups under the same principles. 

So what can we expect as a baseline for all Keurig models?  

Removable drip tray

The job of the drip tray is to collect any drips that may come after you’ve removed your cup from below the coffee outlet. 

A removable drip tray is handy for two reasons. Firstly, it makes cleaning the drip tray easy. Secondly, it increases space under the outlet, allowing you to use a larger cup or travel mug.  

Quick brew time

Being synonymous with a quick cup of caffeine, fast brew times are standard on all Keurig brewers. 

The more extensive Keurig offerings, like the Keurig K-Elite, can make a cup in about a minute. Smaller models, such as the K-Mini, brew a little slower at closer to 2 or 3 minutes.  

Works exclusively with K-Cups

All Keurigs use K-Cup capsules. This means no Nespresso pods and no ground beans, for the most part.

For quite a while, Keurig owned the patent to K-Cups, meaning that no other brands could make capsules for Keurig machines. Since that patent expired, there have been hundreds of brands making single-serve K-Cups— from McDonald’s to Starbucks. 

For a brief while, Keurig attempted to re-dominate the single-serve K-Cup market with its release of Keurig 2.0. A system that allows you to brew only K-Cups with a barcode around the rim of the lid. 

This upset pretty much everyone who wasn’t Keurig— from manufacturers to Keurig users. Obviously, people were mad that they couldn’t use their coffee maker to brew the drinks they wanted to. Fair enough!

Anyway, after many, many, MANY bad reviews, Keurig admitted defeat and discontinued the Keurig 2.0 line. 

If you aren’t a fan of what is found in capsules, there are reusable options available for current models of Keurigs. You can fill these up with your own ground beans, allowing you to be more selective about the coffee you are drinking. You’ll want to play around with grind size and dose for best results. 

Removable water reservoir

While removable water reservoirs aren’t standard on every Keurig branded coffee maker, they are extremely common. It’s usually only the smallest of the line, in this case, the K-Mini, that features a fixed water reservoir.

Being able to remove water reservoirs and bring them over to the sink makes filling them way easier. It also makes cleaning or emptying the tank a breeze. Imagine if you needed to empty a coffee maker WITHOUT a removable reservoir? You’d need to flip the entire machine upside down!

Auto-Off Function

Almost all Keurig machines have an auto-off feature. How long till this feature kicks in varies from machine to machine. It can be anywhere from 90 seconds to 2 hours after the most recent brew.

Premium Features

The most significant difference between the lower-priced Keurigs vs the premium ones is the feature set. Generally, the larger and more expensive the machine is, the more versatile it will be. 

It will have more brew size options, strength controls, as well a bunch of other hardware updates that make it a more convenient machine. 

Strength control

A must for many people— strength control. Strength controls on Keurig brewers usually come in the form of a strong button. It increases the strength of the coffee by slowing the brew time down, allowing the water and the grounds more contact time. 

The K-Elite, K-Supreme, and the K-Duo are just a few of the Keurigs that include brew strength controls.

Brew sizes 

While being able to choose the size of your cup of coffee does seem pretty basic, not all Keurig have it. Both the K-Mini and the K-Mini Plus forgo brew size control. Instead, you need to add the amount of water you want into the water reservoir.

Some of the more basic Keurigs, like the K-Slim, have 3 different brew sizes, while the K-Elite and the K-Cafe both feature 5 size options.

Ground beans or a K-Cup

Keurig is known for its pod-based brewing systems. While most Keurigs only brew capsules, there are a couple of models that brew real, ground beans. The K-Duo and the K-Duo Plus both feature a brew basket, allowing you to use ground beans to brew either a single cup or a full carafe of coffee. 

These dual systems are great for households where one person likes a capsule in the morning, while the other loves drip. One machine with two coffee makers. 

Brew a whole carafe

One of the key features of Keurig coffee makers is their single-serve brewing capabilities. Add some water to the tank and brew a single-serve K-Cup, fast and easy. 

But there are a couple of machines, namely the K-Duo series of coffee makers, that comes with a carafe. These machines give you the option of brewing an entire 12 cup carafe of coffee. 

 Built-in cord storage

Built-in cord storage might not be considered a premium feature, seeing how we only see it in budget models like the K-Mini Plus. 

But it is a cool feature to have for those who have small spaces or just want to keep their counter clear. It essentially allows you to tuck the power cable into the back of the machine, good for traveling and organization. 

Descale alert

Knowing when it’s time to descale your single-serve coffee maker is an essential factor in keeping it functioning smoothly. Left uncleaned, almost all coffee makers will develop blockages and clogs, ultimately preventing the machine from dispensing liquid efficiently. 

Luckily, many of Keurigs current offerings, including the K-Slim, K-Cafe, K-Supreme, and K-Elite, offer a descaling function. This makes descaling your machine no harder than brewing a couple of cups of coffee.

Milk frother 

If you are looking for a Keurig brewer that features a milk frother, you’ll have one option— the premium K-Cafe. 

The idea behind this machine is that you can pull a short ‘shot’ of coffee, strong enough to add foamy milk to. The K-Cafe is Keurigs only machine with milk frothing capabilities. 

Iced coffee function

Brewing iced coffee can work in two ways. You can extract ground coffee using cold water, aka cold brew. Or you can extract coffee with hot water, then cool it down by pouring it over ice. For the latter option, you need to make the coffee stronger so when you add the ice, it doesn’t taste too diluted. 

Both the K-Elite and the K-Supreme feature an over-ice setting. This setting will not only lengthen the extraction time but also decrease the water volume that is used for the brew. 

Dual-position water reservoir

Most Keurig models feature a removable water reservoir. But there are a few, like the  K-Supreme and the K-Duo Plus, that take that a step further, allowing you to choose the position of the water reservoir. 

Being able to choose if the water reservoir sits on the left, right, or at the rear of the machine really allows you to customize the coffee maker to your kitchen. You can house the machine against a wall and still easily access the water reservoir.

Potential Issues

Keurig has a pretty huge following of loyal single-serve coffee lovers, particularly in the United States. But these machines are certainly not for everyone. Keurig users will face some issues with their machines that are quite unique to the Keurig brewing system. 

Lack of sustainability

There are an estimated 16 million households that have a single-serve machine like a Keurig on the benchtop. 

With most households using multiple capsules each day, billions of non-compostable coffee capsules, pods, and K-Cups end up in landfills every year. That is an astounding amount of waste.

The only way of using a Keurig without as much wastage is by opting for a reusable capsule or going for one of the K-Duo series machines. This way, you can use your own ground beans, eliminating single-use K-Cup pods.  

It doesn’t taste like ‘proper coffee’

There is a reason why you’ll never see a world barista champion using a Keurig during competition, or even for home use, for that matter. They just don’t make great coffee. 

The number one thing that a coffee machine needs to achieve to brew tasty coffee is to reach a high enough brew temperature. 

Keurig machines simply aren’t spec’d that way. They physically aren’t capable of maintaining high temperatures and keeping them stable. This means that the coffee will never be sufficiently extracted.

Another issue is that most pods simply don’t contain enough ground coffee to brew a tasty cup. The average amount of coffee grinds in a Keurig pod is 11 grams. 

If you are brewing a 250ml cup of coffee, that is a ratio of 1 part coffee to 22 parts water. In contrast, the lowest ratio that most people will use for a V60 is 1 part coffee to 17 parts water.   

The main goal of a Keurig machine is to brew fast single-serve coffee with little clean-up required. And that goal they very thoroughly achieve. They aren’t designed to brew the best coffee in the world (though Keurig will try to tell you otherwise!).

Little control over the brew

With most other brew methods— pour-overs, espresso, and even batch brew coffee, no matter how automated the process might become, we retain some level of control. A Keurig pod brewer will provide the user with near-zero control. 

Models like the Keurig K-Elite do allow temperature control, while others will give you a strong brew option. But other than that, it’s automation all the way. 

To make a cup of coffee that is truly delicious to you, you need to be able to tweak the brew to your tastes. 

Common issues 

After owning your Keurig for a while, you may eventually run into some issues.

Fret not, my friend, because many of these issues are pretty common and can be fixed quickly and cheaply. We’ll only take a look at a couple of them here. For more fixes, check out our total Keurig troubleshooting guide

Blockages

Nine times out of ten, the issue with a Keurig pod brewer not pumping water is due to a blockage somewhere in the machine. 

If you look up inside the brew head of any Keurig coffee maker, you’ll see between one and five hollow needles depending on the machine. These needles are what fill the capsules with water. Without regular cleaning, they can become completely blocked. 

Regular descaling will most likely eliminate the problem.

Hard reset.

Inside each Keurig pod brewer is a tiny computer. It gives the coffee maker instructions on what to do and when to do it. As with any other computer, like a laptop or an iPhone, Keurig machines sometimes need a reset. 

Maybe certain buttons aren’t working, or perhaps the machine won’t power on. Give the steps in our troubleshooting guide a go-to reset your Keurig.  

Who Should Buy a Keurig Coffee Maker?

While I may not be the biggest fan of Keurig’s coffee machines, there are certainly people out there who love them. 

Their ease of use and convenience is unparalleled, making them a good option for people who are too busy to spend 15 minutes on their morning cup. They require no other brewing equipment— no grinder, no filters. Just a capsule and the machine itself.

Who Should NOT Buy a Keurig Coffee Maker?

If you are at all interested in coffee and the flavors that are possible in the cup, a Keurig is not for you. As a quick caffeine fix, or a cup of something hot to chug with some pancakes, maybe. But a cup to be savored it is absolutely not (in my option!).

The Final Verdict

So what’s the best option in the battle of the single-serve brewers? 

If you’re going to go for a Keurig brand of coffee maker, I’d go for the K-Duo Plus.

Top Pick
Keurig K-Duo Plus Coffee Maker
$190.95

Unlike most single serve brewers, this one can use either K-Cups or ground coffee. Includes a 12oz thermal carafe too!

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09/26/2021 08:28 am GMT

It is one of the only Keurig models that can brew ground coffee. This will give you a much higher chance of a tasty cup of coffee. 

You can use it to brew a batch of drip coffee, or you can use it to brew a single capsule. This makes the K-Duo Plus a more versatile machine than many other Keurig offerings.

Spending $200 on a Keurig sound a little pricey? Check out our budget pick, the K-Mini. It is insanely easy to use, takes up a tiny amount of counter space, and will brew a K-Cup in the same way as the K-Duo.

Most Portable
Keurig K-Mini Plus Coffee Maker, Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer
$91.99
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09/26/2021 08:24 am GMT