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From single cups to large carafes, these Keurig machines made the best brews
Keurig coffee makers are synonymous with convenience. “We’re all looking for convenience today given our busy schedules," lifestyle bloggers and creators Alex & Mike tell PEOPLE Tested. "For those returning to the office after working from home, being able to pop in a coffee pod quickly in the morning is a priority. We want good coffee that doesn’t take long to make.”
For those java lovers who prefer a pot of classic drip coffee, many Keurig machines now feature its signature single serving mechanism plus a full water reservoir and carafe to make full pots of fresh coffee. There are even Keurig machines with milk frother accessories for cappuccino and latte lovers.
If you’re in the market for a new addition to your kitchen, PEOPLE extensively tested 20 of the most popular Keurig models for ease of use, brew time, and coffee flavor and ended up with eight winning machines. We’ve also considered your space and picked winners for both the smallest kitchen corners and large, shared office spaces.
Keep reading for the best Keurig coffee makers that PEOPLE tested.
Best Overall: Keurig K-Duo Plus Coffee Maker
This machine provides options for both single cup pod functionality and a full carafe for drip coffee.
Its instructions are easy to follow and assembly was a breeze.
We appreciated its smart features, such as automatic shutoff and timed brewing.
Coffee connoisseurs may prefer a ground coffee machine in general, as single serve pods are known to have a more bitter taste.
This model is on the pricey side, which may only feel worth it if you plan on using both functions.
This Keurig K-Duo Plus coffee maker was the best-performing model in our tests. The operating instructions are simple and easy to follow, and we had a fresh cup of coffee 15 minutes after taking it out of the box. Plus, the machine is easy to navigate thanks to the backlit buttons and simple icons and numbers.
For coffee drinkers who want to go beyond the single-serve pods, this model comes with a fine mesh metal filter for brewing full carafes of coffee. Smart features include an automatic shutoff as well as timed brewing. We were able to brew a single 8 oz. cup in just 45 seconds, and for full carafes, the water reservoir is able to hold up to 12 cups of water. The carafe also stayed warm for a full two hours after brewing.
When brewing single servings (with the option of a “strong” brew on this model for a bolder cup), we found the 6 oz. side to be too bitter, and the 10 oz. produced a better taste. For those who are picky about their coffee, we recommend using the carafe over the single serve, as the drip coffee retains some of the natural oils from coffee grounds, giving it a proper mouthfeel.
The ease of use is truly where this Keurig shines — it’s just so convenient to make a delicious cup of coffee. This model feels like an upscale item from how solidly the pieces nest together. We also loved the flexibility to make either single-serve pod coffees or a full pot.
We will say that this model is a little larger than some of our other favorites, like the small space-friendly K-Slim or K-Express, so you're going to need a bit of real estate available on your countertop to fit this 15 x 16-inch machine. But if you've got the space, we think this one's the way to go.
Price at time of publish: $185 (orig. $229.99)
Capacity: 12 cups | Dimensions: 7.68 x 15.88 x 14.9 in. | Brew options: Brew a 6, 8, 10, or 12 cup carafe and a 6, 8, 10, or 12 oz. cup | Reservoir size: 60 oz. | Coffee type: Drip or single serve
Best Value: Keurig K-Express Single Serve Coffee Maker
This model's comparatively low price point makes this an appealing option for solo coffee drinkers.
Each cup size was incredibly quick to brew, which makes early morning caffeine boosts a breeze.
The machine was extremely easy to set up and use.
There are no customizable features that many of the pricier Keurigs come with.
We found it didn't produce the best flavor compared to others on our list.
Being the least expensive out of our favorite Keurig's, the K-Express was a no-frills, easy-to-use machine that boasted one of the shortest brew times before bestowing us with a steaming cup of coffee. We liked how intuitive this machine was — just fill up the water reservoir and press one main button on the top to brew your morning java. The best part: Each cup size only took two minutes from start to finish to brew, which was pretty fast in comparison to bigger models like the K155 and the K-Duo, which took a little more time.
After taking this one out of the box, it was easy to get up and running. Everything snaps into place and can be taken apart to clean, making our lives much easier than dealing with a super-advanced machine. However, this simplicity means that there aren't too many functions available to you when brewing up a cup, so you're going to have to be a pretty big fan of single-serve coffee. (If you really want a latte, you can invest in a little milk frother on the side). That isn't to say that coffee is the only thing you can make with this machine, though — there's a hot water function, so you can also make cups of tea if that's your preferred beverage.
Comparative in size to the svelte K-Slim, the K-Express can fit into small spaces and clear up room on your countertop, making this model apartment-friendly as well as budget-conscious. While this small-scale machine doesn't produce the robust flavor that some others can, we think this machine has the best value for someone who isn't too picky and wants a no-fuss cup without paying a hefty price tag.
Price at time of publish: $79.99
Capacity: 5.25 cups | Dimensions: 12.8 x 5.1 x 12.6 in. | Brew options: Brew an 8, 10, or 12 oz. cup | Reservoir size: 42 oz. | Coffee type: Single serve
Best Budget: Keurig K-Duo Essentials Single Serve & Carafe Coffee Maker
This model makes one of the best tasting brews of all of the machines that we tested.
The K-Duo Essentials also dispenses plain hot water for tea or soup.
It comes with a travel-mug friendly (up to 7 inches tall).
There aren't too many extra features, compared to several of Keurig's other options.
Its single-serve coffees are lacking in flavor.
Distilled water is recommended for this machine.
This K-Duo Essentials model produced some of the best coffee we tasted when made in large amounts. It makes up to 12 cups using the carafe function, and the reservoir slides easily in and out. However, it's important to note that distilled water is recommended if possible, but tap water is acceptable. For a single serve, an 8 oz. cup took 2 minutes and 53 seconds to brew, including heating time. After the machine was warmed up, it took just over a minute to brew a 10 oz. or 12 oz. cup, while a full pot of coffee took just over 9 minutes to brew.
Single-serve coffees came out slightly thin, though the carafe drip coffee had a very rich mouthfeel. When using the carafe and following the instructions (1 tablespoon of coffee grounds per cup of coffee you want to make), the coffee comes out to be some of the best coffee of all of the Keurig machines.
This coffee maker was very self-explanatory after reading the directions one time through: The control panel is very easy to read and shows ounces, cups, and single-serve brew options. You can dispense hot water from the single-serve side by skipping the insertion of a pod.
For a dual brew system, we found that this model lacks a bit in features. It is one of the more basic designs for making single-serve and full pots of coffee, but there was little difficulty in getting a decent single cup of coffee. Overall, we think that this coffee maker is a great value for both a carafe and an occassional single-serve machine.
Price at time of publish: $79 ($99)
Capacity: 12 cups (carafe) | Dimensions: 13.44 x 12.27 x 12.74 in. | Brew sizes: 8, 10, or 12 oz. cups; 8-, 10-, or 12-cup carafe | Reservoir size: 60 oz. shared between single-serve and carafe brewing | Carafe: Glass | Coffee type: Ground coffee and K-Cup pods
Best for Tight Spaces: Keurig K-Slim Single Serve Coffee Maker
This design is slim and stylish while saving space on your countertop.
It's easy to remove and replace the 46 oz. water reservoir.
We found the brew to be too weak for our tastes.
There wasn't an option to control temperature or strength of coffee.
This coffee maker is very easy to use. Just close the lid and the coffee begins to pull. It’s also very easy to remove and replace the water in the 46 oz. water reservoir in this model, which takes under 2 minutes to brew an 8 oz. or 10 oz. cup of coffee.
This model features a light-up button that denotes whether more water is needed and a button for descaling the machine. Your options are pretty simple, too: an 8 oz., 10 oz., or 12 oz. cup of coffee, without the option to control the temperature or strength.
We did like that this straightforward model featured helpful buttons that light up in the order that you’re supposed to push them. The design is very streamlined but perhaps overly simple for the $120 price point. We would recommend this machine for those who want a Keurig that makes a few coffee cup sizes and for anyone who wants a super easy-to-use Keurig, and isn't snobby about their coffee.
Plus, it will fit almost anywhere. At less than 5 inches wide, this model is “slender and space-saving and won’t take up any of your precious counter space,” says Fermano. The water reservoir is located in the back of the brewer “keeping everything in line and looking sleek and sophisticated.”
Price at time of publish: $129.99
Capacity: 4 cups | Dimensions: 4.7 x 15.2 x 12.1 inches | Cup sizes: 8, 10, 12 oz. | Reservoir size: 46 oz. | Coffee type: Single serve
Best for Speciality Coffees: Keurig K-Café Single-Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker
The included milk frother has settings for cappuccinos, lattes, and even iced lattes.
The machine was easy to set up and very convenient to use.
Its backlit controls were easy for us to see in low-lit settings.
This model does not include a hot water feature for tea.
The frother makes stiff, warm milk, which may not be ideal for those who like more foamy lattes.
If you love a good froth on top of your coffee, this machine may be your winner. Preparing a latte is as easy as pouring cold milk into the included frother (up to either the cappuccino or latte line), cover, and set it in the frothing compartment. Cappuccino milk takes 1 minute and 35 seconds, the latte takes just over 2 minutes, and the iced latte setting produces a cool froth in under 2 minutes.
We found that the milk was not foamy throughout, but more warm milk with an abundance of stiff (think: soft peaked meringue) sitting atop warm milk. It’s very scoopable foam, if not a uniform consistency throughout.
The machine is easy to set up with backlit buttons and icons with simple symbols and numbers. The reservoir and frother are dishwasher-safe, which is a nice touch. For coffee, it took us just 37 seconds for a 6 oz. cup, 57 seconds for 10 oz., and just over a minute for 12 oz.
If you're the type of person who drinks flavored coffee with flavored creamer, this could be a convenient caffeine vehicle for you. It also does not include a hot water feature, so tea drinkers: take note.
We also give this coffee maker bonus points for the pretty effective, no-fuss frother.
Price at time of publish: $188.79
Capacity: 7.5 cups | Dimensions: 14.17 x 17.32 x 14.41 inches | | Brew sizes: 6 oz., 8 oz., 10 oz., 12 oz. | Reservoir size: 60 oz. | Includes: Milk frother cup | Coffee type: Single serve, cappuccino, latte
Best Versatility: Keurig K-Duo Coffee Maker
This is yet another option with the “strong” button for a bolder cup of coffee.
To our surprise, the K-Duo was very quiet while brewing.
The carafe coffee was even better than the K-cup brew.
If you’re making frequent, larger cups, you’ll need to replace the reservoir water often.
It takes slightly longer to brew a single cup than some of the other models.
The single-serve coffees were too weak for our tastes.
We loved the ease of use and design on this model. Instructions are easy to understand and the dials and controls are easy to read, though not lit up like other models. A single cup of coffee takes about 2 and a half minutes of brew time.
Overall, this was a very easy-to-use Keurig with an easy-to-navigate control panel. The “strong” button is a nice addition to make a bolder cup. While the single-serve coffee was generally a bit weak, we really liked the drip coffee from the carafe and would recommend this Keurig to family members who want a multifunctional Keurig for its ability to do both carafe and K-cup pours.
Keurig's Senior Director of Marketing Lindsay Fermano adds that the K-Duo Family of brewers are a great choice for entertaining. The shared 60 oz. water reservoir for both single-serve and carafe brewing means fewer water refills, and they also come with a Pause & Pour feature to enjoy fresh coffee right away.
Price at time of publish: $147.10 (orig. $189.99)
Capacity: 12 cups | Dimensions: 12.76 x 10.94 x 12.92 inches | Brew sizes: 6, 8, 10, or 12-cup carafe; 6, 8, 10, or 12 oz. cup | Reservoir size: 60 oz. | Coffee type: Drip and single serve
Best Reservoir Capacity: Keurig K-Supreme Plus
It's easy to see the controls in low light or for people with vision difficulties.
This model includes a “strong” setting that makes a bolder cup.
It only takes a minute to brew a cup of coffee after it's set up.
It’s a bit pricey for a Keurig that only really has one function.
The machine requires a "cleansing brew" before using.
Outside of our pick for office (which has a 90 oz. capacity), this one is tops for home use with a 78 oz. reservoir capacity. Instructions are just as easy as the dials and controls (which are lit up and easy to see in low-light).
The manufacturer recommends running a cleansing brew before using, especially if after a significant period of time. They recommend cleaning with Keurig Rinse Pods, using the Keurig water filters every two months, and descaling the product every three months with the provided solution.
Once the machine is set up and ready to go, it only takes a minute to brew a single cup of coffee. Using the “strong” setting on this machine (which features three different strength levels) helped make the coffee significantly bolder and stronger in our tests. You can also dispense hot water for tea using the normal settings, though this is not described outright in the manual.
A very quiet coffee maker, we found this model to be easy to use with a smart design but not the best score in the value department — at $200, it’s a moderate Keurig price point without a ton of bells and whistles.
Price at time of publish: $189.99 (orig. $199.99)
Capacity: 9 cups | Dimensions: 10.63 x 16.02 x 14.33 inches | Brew sizes: 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 oz. | Reservoir size: 78 oz. | Coffee type: Single serve
Best for Office: Keurig K155 OfficePro Premier Brewing System
This dual purpose model can also brew iced coffee or plain hot water for tea.
Its bright LCD touchscreen is easy to see and use.
Customizable options like pre-programmable times and brew temperatures make morning coffees a breeze.
Bottled or filtered water is recommended over tap water.
This is a pretty high price point for a Keurig machine, especially without a ton of smart features.
It takes 3-4 minutes for the interior tank to warm up before brewing begins.
The instructions are crystal clear on this K155 OfficePRO Keurig coffee maker, and the LCD touchscreen is completely intuitive, bright, and easy to navigate — even before you’re caffeinated.
You can pre-program times and brew temperatures for your coffee, but those are really the only smart features. The maximum capacity is 11.5 cups, and the reservoir is a little touchy to get back into the coffee machine. The manufacturer suggests using bottled or filtered water, which may be an inconvenience in some shared offices.
This machine brews fairly quietly, too. In the 8 and 10 oz. cup sizes, we found the coffee to have a smooth mouthfeel, if a somewhat bitter taste — a commonly mentioned downside to K-cups mentioned by coffee connoisseurs. The only design drawback we found is having an interior tank that has to warm up for 3-4 minutes before brewing can begin.
Every piece of this machine can be removed to clean with soapy, warm water. We found the OfficePRO incredibly easy to use without the need to reference instructions much except for when cleaning the machine. The control panel is all touchscreen, which is very clear and easy to navigate.
Tea and even soup can also be made with this machine by dispensing hot water only. You can control the temperature of the brew, but you cannot control the strength of the brew with the OfficePRO. The temperature can be controlled up to 198 degrees.
The only safety concern we noted is that when removing the water from the interior tank, it's important to let the machine sit for 20 minutes to make sure the water can be removed without burning yourself. Otherwise, we think that the OfficePRO is a great model for shared spaces with an intuitive design.
Price at time of publish: $291.99
Capacity: 11.25 cups | Dimensions: 10.38 x 14 x 13.8 in. | Brew sizes: 4, 6, 8, or 10 oz. | Reservoir size: 90 oz. | Coffee type: Single serve
Things to Consider Before Buying a Keurig Machine
Generally speaking, Keurig brewers with more capabilities are going to cost more than the ones that brew K-cups only. Carafes for full pots of drip coffee and milk frothers will drive the price up, as will backlit LCD screens. If you’re a K-cup lover and convenience is your top priority, consider the Keurig K-Duo Essentials machine or the Keurig K- Slim Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Maker. Look at our other winners if you want the versatility of drip or speciality coffees on your countertop.
Many coffee drinkers appreciate the flavor, balance, and mouthfeel of a classic drip coffee over coffee from a single-serve pod. If you’re one such coffee drinker and you’re in the market for a Keurig machine for your home or office, opt for a model with a carafe feature as well as single serve. “Definitely look into the models that brew both single serve and full carafes — especially as we go into the holiday season,” Alex & Mike tell PEOPLE Tested. “You don’t want to be standing in front of the machine making coffee after coffee. Having the carafe option is key.”
Keurig machines come in a wide array of sizes and styles. Think about your kitchen and your aesthetic as a whole to find one that fits in. “Slim and neutral is the way to go if you plan on leaving your machine out on the counter,” say Alex & Mike. “Find a design that seamlessly fits into your kitchen aesthetic. Make it an extension of your style.”
Coffee drinkers who are looking for strength and flavor should look for our brewers that have MultiStream Technology, which saturates the grounds more evenly to extract full flavor and aroma, says Keurig senior director of marketing Lindsay Fermano. “They should also look for our brewers that boast Ultimate Customization – strength control, temperature control, and a variety of cup sizes — every possible way to customize their perfect cup,” she adds, pointing to the K-Supreme/Plus family of brewers and the K-Café SMART model.
If you like a bolder single-serve coffee, look for the models that enhance your brew at the touch of a “strong” button. Our testers all preferred this feature.
“If you’re looking for the latest and greatest SMART WiFi-enabled household items, we have a portfolio of brewers for you to choose from that allow you to get connected,” says Fermano. “BrewID recognizes your K-Cup pod and recommends optimum settings and a curated menu of recipes for your favorite brews.” You also have access to SMART delivery to avoid running out of pods. "The SMART machines are the K-Supreme Plus SMART, the K-Supreme SMART, and the K-Cafe SMART," she says.
How We Tested
In an effort to see which Keurig machines reigned supreme, our lab collected 20 of the brand's best-known coffee makers to put them to the test.
Our testers evaluated how easy or difficult it was to navigate each machine’s directions and set them up. Once assembled, each tester each brewed 6, 8, 10, and 12 ounce cups of coffee and noted the time it took to brew, the temperature of the coffee, whether the actual volume matched the ounces selected, and evaluated the taste.
Full carafes were brewed as well, with time, temperature, and taste evaluated, as well. With carafe models, the temperature was taken at different time intervals after brewing to test whether the machine kept the coffee hot. They used milk frothers to test, as well, to make sure they were trying out several scenarios of what your morning brew routine could look like.
Finally, testers cleaned each model according to manufacturer directions. Finally, testers gave each machine a score of 1 to 5 on the following attributes and those scores were used to determine our winners: ease of use, design, performance, and value. As with all PEOPLE Tested stories, the value score was only given after all other testing was completed and testers then learned the price of each model.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best-selling Keurig machines?
Lindsay Fermano, senior director of marketing for Keurig tells PEOPLE Tested that the best-selling machines for the brand are the K-Mini and K-Mini Plus, K-Express, K- Slim, K-Elite, and the K-Supreme.
What are the differences between Keurig models?
There are currently dozens of Keurig models available and the main differences have to do with functionality. Modern Keurig machines can use K-cups, K-cup pods (which use a paper filter), full carafe brews, milk frothers, and more. Some have LCD touch screens while others have the more classic, backlit buttons. Keep an eye on the water reservoir size if you want to minimize how often you’re refilling.
What is the best Keurig for a single person?
This depends on your space and preferences. If you’re tight on space but enjoy K-cup brews, the K- Slim is a great choice. If you prefer a full pot of drip coffee, look for the models that come with carafes to make full pots.
How do you clean a Keurig?
Each machine comes with manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and most recommend using Keurig brand products, like a descaler, to keep your machine in good working order and extend its lifespan.
Why Trust PEOPLE
For this article, PEOPLE commerce writer Rennie Dyball spoke to lifestyle bloggers and influencers Alex & Mike (who know their way around a good cup of coffee) and Lindsay Fermano, senior director of marketing for Keurig, about the virtues of Keurig coffee makers. Dyball analyzed the insights given by our team of testers who got first-hand experience with these machines in our lab in order to decipher which products reigned supreme out of all 20. After comparing the notes left by each tester about each machine, she compared and contrasted their takeaways to unearth these 8 models that deserve a spot on your kitchen counter.
What is PEOPLE Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.
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Read the original article on People.