Keurig and the K-Cup have become mainstays of making coffee at home with a touch of a button. They’ve also been criticized for their environmental impact. After Keurig slimmed down their range we thought it was about time we looked at their most popular single-serve machine and shared our unfiltered thoughts in our Keurig K-Classic Review.
The K-Classic does what you’d expect: it makes coffee at the touch of a button. However, we didn’t particularly like the coffee produced. And we liked the environmental issues even less. That said, if you already know you like a certain K-Cup, and you prioritize simplicity above all else, then you’ll be happy with this machine.
We tested out a Keurig K-Classic to see whether simplicity, quality, and affordability could all co-exist. After 15 years in the coffee industry, we like to think we have a good idea of what enjoyable coffee tastes like. So let’s break down exactly what the K-Classic can deliver:
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At a Glance: Keurig K-Classic Review
The Keurig K-Classic is a very solid single-serve espresso machine at a great price.
It’s debateable how good the coffee from the K Classic can be. None of the pods we tried produced particularly great coffee, but we didn’t try many and maybe you know there’s one you love.
The pods are also expensive, and many are non-recyclable. It is possible to get re-usable k-cups though, we can’t remark on quality as we haven’t tried them though.
The K Classic is ideal for someone who wants to push a button for coffee and knows they already like a particular K-cup, everyone else is better of with a Nespresso machine.
- Can brew in three cup sizes
- Works with unbranded pods
- Easy to clean
- Fast brewing
- Easy to use
- Hot water option
- Many K-cups non-recyclable
- Large footprint
- Can clog easily
- Coffee quality lower than Nespresso
1. Three Brew Sizes
The K-Classic comes with the option to make your coffee in 3 brew sizes – 6oz, 8oz, and 10oz. Coffee lovers will prefer the 6oz option for a stronger flavor. The larger sizes are often very weak.
2. 48oz Removable Water Tank
48oz is large enough that you may find you want to put fresh water in your machine before it runs out. No need to worry about constant refills.
3. Compatible with all K-Cups
The K-Classic coffee maker will take any K-Cup coffee pods. Branded, unbranded, reusable. They all work in the K-Classic. Ultimate flexibility for a pod coffee maker.
4. Automatic Off Function
Never worry about leaving your coffee machine on all day after you’ve rushed off to work. Surprisingly uncommon on coffee machines at this price.
5. Replaceable Water Filter
The K-Classic comes with two water filters, each filter lasts around 60 days (or 120 tank refills). This helps keep your coffee machine running smoothly and your coffee tasting great.
6. Travel Mug Compatible
Getting ready for the commute to work couldn’t be easier. You no longer have to decant from a carafe into your favorite travel mug. With the Keurig K Classic, you can pop your travel mug straight on your coffee machine and brew straight into it. Your travel mug just needs to be 7.1″ tall or less in order to fit.
7. Fast Brewing
Less than 5 minutes from turning on to having that first cup brewed is great when you’re running late. Less than 1 minute for each subsequent cup too.
You put your chosen K-cup into the machine then push the button for either 6oz, 8oz, or 10oz coffee. That is the total complexity of brewing with the K Classic. If you decide to use a re-usable K-cup then you will find it takes some practice to get the grind size and dose right before you’re getting the coffee you want.
There’s no display to help you but there aren’t enough functions to warrant one. An LED light will tell you if the water tank is empty, if it needs descaling, or if it’s still heating up. It also has an LED to let you know the “auto-off” function is on.
The immense choice of K-cups is one of the biggest draws with huge brands like Dunkin’ and Starbucks selling signature coffees in K-cup form. You can also use any coffee beans you like with a reusable K-cup. To do so, you need to purchase a Keurig My K-Cup, a reusable, re-fillable basket that fits in just like a pod.
The My K-Cup is great for 2 reasons. The obvious is the freedom to use your own beans. Although this will involve having a separate grinder or buying ground coffee. But, secondly, is the environmental impact. K-Cup pods are unrecyclable so leave behind a lot of waste. Yes, you can take all the individual components of the pod apart and recycle them separately. But, realistically, who has the time to consistently do that?!
It’s important to note that the K-Classic doesn’t accept K-Carafe or K-Mug pods though. Only the K-Cup ones.
I guess I’d define the K Classic as “functional” looking. At the lower price points, we’re rarely blessed with beautiful design options. Black plastic with LED lights is not anyone’s idea of a beautiful appliance but it doesn’t look bad either. It looks like a decent kitchen appliance, which is what it is.
The Keurig K-Classic is quite a tall machine at 13.3 inches high. But the additional height is partly so it can accommodate a 7.1 inch tall travel mug, so it’s hard to draw this as a big negative. The large 48oz water tank also contributes to the large size. The footprint is about 1 square foot which is big for a single-serve coffee maker. But if you have the counter space, the water tank and travel mug compatibility are both great features to have. Whilst quite bulky, the water reservoir is easy to refill and replace without spilling water everywhere.
Plastic never feels great but nothing on the K classic feels like its going to break quickly. The removable components are sturdy enough and it fits together nicely. There are some mounting complaints of K Classics breaking while still in warranty. Now this is better than breaking just outside of warranty but we don’t want them to break at all before a few years of good use.
Its hard to pin down if this is actually a big problem or if this is just such a popular machine that some people are bound to find issues. We didn’t have a problem, but we didn’t use it extensively for months either. It comes with a 1 year warranty so there is that at least.
So this is the big thing. We didn’t find the coffee from the K Classic very good compared to its direct competition of Nespresso and drip coffee makers. Anything above the 6oz size was weak and bitter for us and most of the 6oz offerings were flavorless.
Maybe we had the wrong pods, maybe you know of some great ones that you love. But we were disappointed with the results we got.
There is also always the option to use a reusable K-cup, which means you can get exactly the flavor you want.
We highly recommend using a reusable My K-Cup if you have your own grinder or have a favorite type of ground coffee. This is for 2 reasons:
- It will save you A LOT of money in the long run
- It massively reduces the plastic waste from all those pods, there is no Planet B after all
If you do go down this route, make sure you follow the instructions carefully on filling your My K-Cup. If you use too much coffee, it will cause the machine to overflow.
It will also take a few attempts to get right so be prepared to waste half a bag of coffee or so practicing to get the perfect result.
But being the generous types that we are, we’ll say the auto-off feature is a nice extra. It isn’t available on all machines at this price point so while it is limited, it is still very nice to have. As is being able to fit a travel mug. It certainly makes the mad dash for the morning commute that little bit easier and, is again, very rare on the more entry-level machines.
The whole process takes around 30 minutes, and you can have a little sit down for most of this time, which is nice. Just remember to make a coffee before you start if you want to enjoy a freshly brewed cup whilst you are waiting!
Depending on how often you use your coffee maker, descaling will need to be done every 3 to 6 months.
The pods mean there are no coffee grounds to deal with. However if you use reusable pods like My K-Cup, there will be. But coffee grounds are actually super useful and there are loads of things you can do with them. Or, you can just bin them.
The removable drip tray can be rinsed out daily with great ease and minimal effort. One thing for matte black plastic is that it doesn’t take much to keep it looking in good condition.
First up – the coffee pods. It’s pretty hard to run a pod machine without pods!
When you are getting started we recommend getting a sample pack of different K-Cups. Or ideally you just bulk buy the one you know you love. But many are pretty disappointing so we highly recommend not buying lots of one type without trying it out first.
You can always cut straight to My K-Cup. This is a reusable, refillable basket that you can put any ground coffee beans into. The My K-Cup then fits into the machine just like any other K-cup, but without the environmental impact.
When you first purchase the K-Classic, you get two water filters included. These will last you a good while (around 60 days each). But, it’s always worth keeping a supply of filters so you don’t run out. Whilst they are optional, the carbon filters remove any nasties from your water. And since one of the main parts of coffee is water, we recommend keeping this to the highest quality you can.
The filters also reduce the frequency with which you need to descale. If you live somewhere with good-quality water and don’t mind descaling a little more frequently then you can save the money and not use the filters at all.
The only other thing you will need is descaling solution or white wine vinegar. By keeping up with the descaling of your machine, you will significantly increase its lifespan. A vinegar solution can leave behind a slight flavor or smell. If you’re committed to using vinegar then run A LOT of water through your machine after cleaning.
Instead, you can use the Keurig Descaling Solution. Purchasing a coffee maker is an investment, so should be looked after like one too.
Nespresso is the biggest name in single-serve espresso with a wide range of machines made by many manufacturers at many price points. The Nespresso Pixie is the closest to the price of the K Classic, though it’s almost always more expensive even when on discount. Is it worth spending the extra money on the Nespresso machine?
We think it is, for 2 important reasons. The first is the coffee quality. We’re not the biggest fans of Nespresso coffee but the quality from the Original Line pods is much better than what we got from the K-cups we tried. Much, much, better. That alone is worth an extra upfront cost to us.
The second part is that it can be cheaper to run. It doesn’t require filters, again you don’t have to use them for the K classic either. But non-branded pods for the original line are around $0.10 cheaper per pod. So at 2 coffees per day you’re saving the upfront extra of the Nespresso Pixie in around 6 months or so. Faster if you drink more coffee.
Nespresso offer recycling services for their own branded pods, but not the non-branded ones. So you can pay a little more and have your pods recycled or pay less and have the same environmental issues as the K-Cup. Or you can buy a reusable Nespresso pod.
There are also a number of Vertuo line Nespresso machines that are very affordable, the issue with the Vertuo line is that the pods are around 3-4x the cost of the original ones. So your day-to-day coffee cost will be much, much higher.
Overall we’d highly recommend choosing the Nespresso Pixie over the K Classic. The only real reason not to is that you have a particular K-cup you love and want to have it at home.
For everyone else, you’re better off paying a little more for a Nespresso Pixie, or getting a drip coffee machine if you don’t want espresso.
The lack of recyclable options and the cost of the K-cups and filters make the Keurig K Classic not worth the initial saving in our opinion. The longer coffees it offers were all undrinkable when we tried them.
Your tastes may be different from ours in terms of the coffee, but if you’re between Keurig and Nespresso, choose Nespresso.
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