What is a Keurig Coffee Maker?

Nothing is quite as essential to an all-day coffee drinker’s collection than a Keurig coffee maker, what has effectively become the saving grace for drinkers who just need a quick, simple fix of caffeine that happens to boast an impressive array of K-cup brands and flavors.

Keurig Coffee Maker

The Keurig, invented by Massachusetts entrepreneur John Sylvan in the mid-’90s, is a cultural phenomenon and the most popular single-serving brewer in the United States. The device uses small needles to puncture pods of coffee sealed with plastic and nitrogen, with coffee then brewed with a quick stream of hot water.

Since the introduction of the original coffee maker, Keurig has introduced several upgraded models. These range from single-cup devices that are inexpensive–less than $100–and an OfficePRO version that features four cup sizes, the ability to brew iced coffee, a 90-ounce water reservoir, and customizable brew temperature. There are even commercial-grade systems with direct water lines.

In a relatively short time, the Keurig has become a standard feature of a kitchen–in-home or in-office.

How to Use a Keurig Coffee Maker

The Keurig is an intuitive machine to use, making for a beautifully seamless coffee-brewing experience. In fact, the device prides itself as a “one-touch” system that takes comparably less time and effort than any other coffee maker out there.

How to work a Keurig: After following the 10-minute setup directions included with the device, make sure to keep the water reservoir full and also cleaned regularly. Water quality does impact taste, after all. From there, it’s a matter of selecting a pod to brew and knowing which cup size will produce the coffee strength that matches your palate. Lift the lid, insert a K-cup, place the lid back down, wait for the interface to light up with blue, and then brew. Throw away the K-cup immediately to keep the needle clean.

When choosing K-cups, make sure to set a standard of 100% Arabica coffee. Most packaging should indicate this. A majority of name-brand coffee suppliers today offer a K-cup option, ranging from Starbucks to Margaritaville.

How to Clean and Descale a Keurig Coffee Maker

As miraculous and convenient as Keurigs are, they don’t, unfortunately, clean themselves.

Here’s how to descale Keurig, as well as descale Keurig 2.0:

  • Unplug the device. Gather soap, water, a dry cloth, and white vinegar.
  • Wash removable parts. This is straightforward: use soap, water, and a sponge to clean the water basin, lid, and K-Cup holder. Also clean the tray, if your device has one. Let dry before reattaching.
  • Dust the surface of the machine with the cloth.You’re already cleaning it, so you’d might as well go full steam ahead and dust off any dirt or lingering coffee debris.
  • Prepare a solution. Fill the water basin halfway with vinegar, and the rest of the container with water. (Temperature doesn’t matter.)
  • Actively clean by brewing. Set your brewer to the highest brew size and run the Keurig as many times as it takes until the solution of water and vinegar–which removes buildups that cause clogs–is emptied from the water reservoir.
  • Rinse. Run through this process with just water instead. This is to eliminate leftover vinegar.
  • Reassemble and resume normal use. Repeat this process once every six months, or as needed depending on your frequency of use and water type.

To prevent mold from accumulating in the water reservoir, use a solution of water–filled to the top–and ¼ cup of baking soda. Then soak the water reservoir for about 30 minutes. Use a small brush to scrub. In general, try to fill your reservoir with water from a clean cup, don’t leave the reservoir filled with water for long stretches of time if not in use, and use filtered or bottled water when possible. (Note: Some Keurig models do come with filters for the reservoir.) This will ensure a cleaner-tasting coffee, to boot.

Reusable Keurig Coffee

While a Keurig is at its most convenient with single-use cups that are pre-packaged, there is an option for a reusable K-cup filter. Keurig makes a basket that is exclusively compatible with their brand of coffee makers. It features a holder that snaps into the brewer, a filter basket that slides into the holder with two lines to fill coffee to, and a lid that closes on the basket like a sort of substitute for the usual plastic seal. It’s compatible with all devices and, of course, can brew any ground coffee. It’s also dishwasher safe, if it’s placed on the top rack.

How Do I Make Strong Coffee with a Keurig Coffee Maker?

The simplest way to brew a stronger–that is, more concentrated–cup of coffee with a Keurig is to use the reusable K-cup filter, mentioned above, and simply add as much coffee as your uncaffeinated brain desires. Try a finer grind size to maximize extraction.

Aside from that, there are a few other options. One is to simply double up on K-cups: use the lowest cup size of a particular coffee pod and brew two of those. Or, if your particular Keurig allows you to change the temperature, brew closer to the 205-degree mark; the extra heat will have at least a small impact on the caffeine extraction process. Another trick is to simply pull away your cup a few seconds early, to reduce the amount of diluted coffee that’s entering the cup–if the strong taste is ultimately what you’re going for.

If a bold, strong flavor is what you’re after, seek out dark roast coffee and make sure the coffee machine is consistently clean to guarantee the best taste. Keurig machines tend to be better suited for dark roasts anyway, as light roasts require more time in contact with water to maximize the nascent flavors of the coffee. Though, more and more craft roasters are offering coffee pods, featuring coffees with all sorts of complex tasting notes that run the spectrum from light to dark.

Ultimately, the fun of owning a Keurig is the opportunity to try the many, many varieties and brands of coffees out there. Eventually, you’ll find your go-to pods that offer just the right caffeine punch, strong taste, and aroma when paired with your one-touch cup size of choice–whether that’s a concentrated six-ounce brew to get through the workday or an easy-drinking 12-ounce for a lazy Sunday morning.