For me, working at home requires coffee. That's a given, but I don't like the hassle of making it, keeping it hot, putting up with stale coffee in the bottom of the pot and of course cleaning up everything after it's made. That's why I've been eying Keurig Single Cup coffee makers for some time now.
This is a mildly expensive proposition. The least expensive model is around $90.00 and I don't usually like to buy at the bottom of the line. The K-Cups that these things use are also obviously more expensive than buying coffee by the bag. On the other hand, there is an argument to be made with regards to waste: we often throw away the last few cups of coffee when we perk it ourselves. There is also the matter of running out of the house with no time to make coffee - that means a stop for a cup that will cost at least three or four times what the K-Cup costs.
Then there's the always confusing analysis of electricity cost. It's probably better to heat up just what is needed for a cup than to perc a whole pot and then end up throwing it away. On the other hand, Keurig recommends leaving these plugged in all the time - yet another electricity vampire.
How about pollution? These K-Cups are plastic. There's definitely a disposal issue (arguably far less than the other plastic containers we go through every week) and it's possible that there is a health issue also. Keurig insists that there is none, but who really knows? But then again the ground coffee we buy comes in some sort of plasticy-feeling bag... and those cups we buy when we run out of the house aren't always paper. So who knows?
Finally, will it make a good cup of coffee? I have run into Keurig's at enough customer sites to feel that I knew the answer, but then again those are commercial units - the model I'd be buying might be different. In scouring the web, I often found people complaining about weak coffee from the very model I was considering (Keurig B60). I discounted these complaints because I assumed (incorrectly, as it turned out) that these people wanted something like Starbucks serves - very strong coffee. I don't like that; I prefer Honey Dew or Dunkin Donuts.
So, after hemming and hawing, we ordered a B-60 and a bunch of our favorite coffee, Green Mountain Rain Forest Nut. The unit arrived a few days later and we set it up with great excitement and brewed our first cup of coffee.
It was awful.
The coffee was very weak at the 7.5 ounce size and bitter at the smaller cup setting. We were shocked. I was especially astonished as I've had this so many times at so many places. My wife was also surprised as she has had good coffee from these machines at friends houses. Even more confusing was that her sister had recently bought the $90 model and complained that the coffee was too strong! How could that be? What the heck was wrong?
I called the vendor and complained. They suggested that it was the brand we chose and offered to send us three boxes of other brands free to try. We were dubious, but said to go ahead and send the coffee (they recommended the Breakfast Blend and the 10% Kona). We also tried some some Extra Bold K-Cups that had come with the machine; we were not happy with any of those either. The only thing I did like was the tea; that was perfect for me.
We had a 30 day return window so, while we were upset and disappointed, we knew we could always send this back if nothing worked out. While waiting for the free coffee to arrive, I did a little more research on line and found people
recommending a "pre-wet" method. I like to call it "brewitus interruptus": the idea is that you start the process and let the water just start dripping into the cup. You then raise the handle just enough to stop the cycle. Wait 30 seconds (adjust to taste) and close the handle again. This makes a stronger cup and, for us, it's just right . Now the Rain Forest Nut tastes just like it does when we perc it ourselves - actually better, I think.
In fact, it's so darn good and so convenient that there is a real danger of drinking more coffee than we ordinarily would. I definitely have to exert self-control to stop at two or three cups.
Keurig really should make a model that would implement this feature with a dial that the user could set. I can't imagine that would be at all difficult; obviously it would add some cost, but that would likely be offset by fewer returns: if we hadn't discovered this trick, I think it's almost certain that we would have returned the unit.
But with this method, you'll have to pry the Keurig from my cold, dead hands. We love it!
Tony Lawrence 2009-07-08 Rating: