Sunday, January 13, 2013

Keurig: First Impressions!

Keurig: First Impressions

Two days ago I finally caved (After several months of looking though reviews on consumer websites/etc), and brought home a Keurig. I am in LOVE! 

Let There Be Coffee!
This is the Keurig Special Edition: B60

    -A little background on my Keurig love-affair: The heating element on my DeLonghi coffee maker went out this past week, after close to five years of working well. It was a terrific coffee maker, but it had seen better days. I bought it about 5 years ago when Target had a sell on them and I just needed a cheap coffee maker. I'd say if you're looking for a simple 12 cup machine, the DeLonghi is a good option; mine worked without any issues for about five years before the heating element stopped working properly. So, since that lovely little machine had seen better days, I figured it was time to invest in another coffee maker. I knew I wanted a single-serve type brewer, like a Keurig.

        Initially, I read more favorable reviews on the Senseo and Tassimo brands, and was going to go with one of those models. However, those are becoming harder to find, and the coffee pods that go in them are also becoming more difficult to get your hands on. So, after reading a number of reviews (and getting to play with my sweet sister's Keurig at Christmas time) I decided  to go with the Keurig brand. I've been lusting after the single-serve brewers since 2005, when the family I used to nanny for had one. (I decided it was quite possibly the most ingenious invention, EVER! Practicality plays a big role in my decision as well. It's just more practical for me to have a single-serve type coffee maker, since I live alone and typically drink one cup of decaf coffee in the morning, and one cup of tea at night. For me, it's more practical to have a single-serve appliance, vs brewing an entire pot of coffee and being wasteful when I pour out what I'm unable to finish. (With my DeLonghi, I tried to brew smaller batches, but never turned out right.)  I also think in the long run that it is more affordable to go with the Keurig style for singles and small families, because you can buy your own reusable pod-insert and put in whatever coffee, hot chocolate, or tea you'd like. If you were ONLY using the K-cup pods, it would get expensive, but since there is an option for the reusable pods, it's much more economical! (After reading a number of reviews, I went with the reusable insert that takes paper filters, because it is the only one that is not supposed to leave coffee grounds behind like a maniac. Some of the My K-Cup (reusable pods) didn't have the best reviews, so instead, I went with the Perfect Pod EZ-cup, that takes the paper filters. The paper filters are what helps to prevent the grounds from leaking out around the seal of the reusable pod.)   
EZ-Cup Reusable Pod & Filters

K-cup Carousel. 
I decided on this one because it would take up the least amount of space in my tinsy kitchen!
(You can also put two K-cups on the very top part, so you have even more storage! I used the two I had up there this morning;  guess it's time to refill them.)

       The next step in my coffee decision making was WHERE to purchase my Keurig from. I had originally looked at Wal-Mart and Target. Both stores had the model I wanted for around the same price. I also looked at Amazon. Upon reading more reviews, I discovered that Amazon was not an authorized vendor of Keurig, which can void the warranty. (Not good!). Wal-Mart and Target had very short warranties on appliances. (For Target, you had the option to PAY $17 for 2 years worth of insurance on it.! Even with my Target Red Card (It's a Target debit card that gives you a discount of 5% off your purchases.) I would have only received a minuscule discount, so not the best discount or deal out there). Reading further, I discovered that Bed Bath & Beyond was the way to go! They have a great return/exchange policy (four years!) and stand by the products they stock. They are also an authorized Keurig vendor, so it just made sense to have the Keurig warranty (one year), and the BB&B one as well (for no additional charge!). Now, here's the terrific part about shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond: not only did they have the model of Keurig I wanted (I decided on the Special Edition B60), they also let you use coupons! And what's great about that? They let me break up my transactions and use coupons for each item! Yowza! So, they let me use a 20% off coupon for my Keurig, 20% off coupon for the stand to hold my K-cups, 20% off coupon for the filter & EZ-cup, and 20% off coupon for the coffee/tea pods I picked! That cashier was so awesome! By allowing me to use all of those coupons, she really saved me a lot!  (She even let me use some that had expired!) So, if you're in the market for any kind of appliance: be it vacuum, kitchen, or otherwise, I'd highly recommend you go to Bed, Bath, & Beyond with coupons in hand! You really can't beat their guarantees or prices when you're allowed to use coupons. I saved over $30 alone on my Keuruig! 

Another View of the Keurig and the K-cup Carousel

       Performance: So far, so good! It is a very simple, easy product to set up and use. It will require simple, routine maintenance and cleaning just as any machine would. It's a cinch to clean and maintain, and there are lots of excellent tutorials and guides online and on YouTube, that I watched before bringing mine home, so I had an idea of what I could expect maintenance-wise. (If you're considering an appliance purchase in your near future, I'd really recommend taking some time to research reviews, maintenance, etc so you know what you're getting into and can make an informed decision, like I did.).  Since the Keurig's run better on filtered water, I decided to get the filter insert that is made to go inside of the Keurig. It was very simple to install, and you only change it once every three months. (It came with a two-pack of filters, so one kit will last me six months, before I need to purchase filter-refills. I think that's pretty reasonable, vs buying a large water filter and dealing with that on a daily basis.)  The ONLY issue I've had with my Keurig so far would be that on the model of Keurig I brought home, you are supposed to be able to choose three brewing sizes: small cup, small mug, & travel mug. Despite trying several fixes so far, my Keurig is only brewing the small cup size, no matter what I select. So, I plan to call Keurig's customer service on Monday to see if they have any suggestions (It could just be that I grabbed a model with a glitch and I just need to exchange it. Hopefully it's a simple fix I can try at home first though.)  For right now though, I'm about to get the cup size I want by using just one K-cup, and brewing it twice. 
Water Filter! 
(Don't forget to use a coupon!)
Water Filer Instructions (It's very easy to use!)

         Taste: I'm very impressed with the quality of the K-cups that I've tried so far! They definitely turn out better than when I've attempted to brew full pots of coffee in my old coffee maker. (I would always wind up with coffee grounds everywhere, even in my mug! I would also never get the ratio of coffee to water right, so it would either be too strong with grounds everywhere, or weak and watery) Not the case with the Keurig! I've brewed both coffees and teas, and find them to be strong and flavorful, and best yet: no grounds in my mugs!

These are my favorite K-cups so far. 
-Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Herbal Tea (I've had four already! Hand's down my favorite K-cup tea! I've brewed the regular tea bags of this for years now; it's one of my absolute favorites, so I was thrilled to see it in K-cup form!)
-Van Houtte Raspberry Chocolate Truffle (This is the only non-decaf I purchased, but so far it hasn't made me jittery or affected my heart rate. I think it's fine as long as I limit myself to one.  It tastes AMAZING!)
-Timothy's Columbian Decaf: This is a really tasty decaf! My sister gave this one to me at Christmas, and I was excited to see it was included with 11 other K-cups when I purchased my Keurig. It is a nice, bold coffee!
-Donut Shop Decaf- Very, very good decaf! I'd compare it to Dunkin Donut's Decaf Coffee, which is one of my favorite coffees in general! 

              Based on my first impression with the Keurig, I'd recommend it so far!
A bit of a disclaimer however: It is still pretty early to be reviewing my Keurig, since I've only had it for a few days. I may pop in back in a few months down the road and give another performance review to let you guys know if it's still functioning well or if I run into any problems. (I've read that some individuals seem to have problems with their machines around 8-12 months after purchase, so I'll certainly be doing my best to maintain my machine well and make sure I do my part to avoid any issues.) If I do have issues later on though, it's nice to know that BB&B has such a great policy on returns/exchanges, which is why I didn't hesitate to try it out! (I also saved the receipt, and box...just in case! If you guys decide to buy an appliance, I'd really recommend you do the same, just to err on the side of caution!)  

*Kimmy if you're reading this, I'm saving the caffinated K-cups that came with the Keurig for you to drink when you visit! ;) 

-Since posting this morning, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to see just what was going on with the brewing sizes. Apparently nothing is wrong with my Keurig; it just brews very small amounts. Not a big deal! I find that if I hit the "travel mug" size and then the "small cup" option, it gives me the perfect amount for most of my coffee mugs. (If I have a smaller mug, I just hit the "small mug" and "small cup" buttons; using the same K-cup to brew twice.)

So the size break down goes as follows:
-Small Cup: 3/4 cup
-Small Mug: 1 cup
-Travel Mug: 1 1/4th cup