There numerous ways of brewing coffee and some new continue appearing constantly. For example, professionals use pour-over coffee makers quite often. Each new method is easier and more modern than the previous one. For example, you don’t need much effort to serve a fresh cold brew coffee.
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Lately, there were some pretty innovative ways of brewing coffee that allow you to get your perfect cup of coffee just in a matter of several seconds. One of such options is Keurig brewing machines that have recently become very popular among coffee lovers. Using those machines, you can save lots of time and effort and get a great cup of coffee.
Of course, you can use instant coffee to and it is great for people who cannot consume much caffeine as instant coffee has less caffeine than the traditional one. However, it will not have such a rich flavor as traditional options.
Most of these coffee brewing machines use special coffee pods that are known as K-cup in order to provide you with your regular cup of coffee. Nowadays, there is an incredible variety of K-cups that can be used with your Keurig machine or any other brewer that uses them. These K-cups are produced by different famous brands that offer different blends, beans, and even types of drinks. You just need to choose those that you like most of all.
Do not know which option to choose? Want to learn what are the best K-cups or how to choose those that you would like? Well, this article is for you. Just keep reading and you will be able to find answers to all your questions.
What Are K-cups
Before dealing with such questions as what are the best K-cups and how to choose them, let’s try to understand what are K-cups.
In simple words, a K-cup is a special cup-filter that is made of plastic and paper. It contains a certain amount of coffee and is used with Keurig coffee makers to brew coffee. They are usually sold in packs of different sizes. You can find small ones that contain about 4-6 cups.
There are also huge packages that may contain as many K-cups as 96 pieces. Using one K-cup, you can brew one mug of coffee and after it, you just threw it away as they are disposable. Any large or famous coffee-roasting company offers at least several K-cup options.
Benefits of Using K-cups
K-cups became really popular recently because of numerous reasons. The truth is that there numerous benefits of using K-cups for brewing coffee. Want to know them? Below, we have gathered the most amazing benefits of K-cups that will easily convince you to get one of those Keurig machines and start using K-cups. Just keep in mind that Keurig coffee machine brews coffee fast so you do not need to waste lots of time to get your coffee.
If you like to enjoy the rich aroma and amazing taste of your coffee, it is for sure that a pot of old and cold coffee will not work for you. At the same time, using single-brew machines with K-cups, you have an opportunity to enjoy a freshly brewed coffee any time you need. Of course, you can use any other brewing method to brew your coffee each time you want it.
For example, a dual coffee maker with the espresso function will be great for any real espresso fan. However, it may take some time as you need to grind some beans and wait while it is brewed. Using Kering machines, you just need to place a K-cup inside, press several buttons and in less than a minute your coffee will be ready. Just imagine, always perfectly warm coffee with great aroma and taste.
Less Coffee Waste
If you use a drip machine, it is likely you brew large batches of coffee each time you decide to brew some coffee. It means that there is some surplus that is usually simply tossed in the drain. At the same time, while using single-brew machines, you do not need to worry about coffee excess that you just threw away constantly. It is for sure a huge waste of your favorite drink while K-cups provide you with the exact amount of coffee you need without wasting beans.
Wide Range of Options
The great thing about K-cups is that there is an incredible variety of options that have various flavors, types of beans and roast, and so on. Just feel free to try all the available options in search of your favorite one. And you do not need to worry about excess as one K-cup can provide you with only one mug of coffee. It means, there is no need to be worried about wasting a huge amount of coffee. Also, there are K-cups that contain not only coffee but different types of tea as well.
Easy to Clean
You do not spend much time trying to wash ground coffee away. Even after a brew, coffee grounds remain inside a K-cup so you just need to take it off your machine and place a new one. Also, most single-brew machines are easy to clean and maintain so it is a great option for people who do not want to spend much time cleaning their coffee machine.
How Do K-cups Work
K-cups are based on the technology that was created and patented by Keurig. In fact, K-cups are like a real piece of magic in the world of brewing coffee. However, to be able to understand it properly you need to understand what there is inside a K-cup.
First of all, each cup has an airtight seak that helps to protect coffee inside a cup from oxygen, humidity, and even light. It helps to make sure that your coffee is absolutely fresh and delicious.
Any K-cup has a little paper filter. Its main aim is to ensure that there are no coffee grounds in your mug like it may happen when you brew coffee with some regular coffee maker. However, if you use reusable accessory filters there is a chance that you may spot a couple of grounds floating in your mug. At the same time, when it comes to pre-sealed K-cups there is no such issue for sure.
Inside the paper filter that is built in a K-cup, there is ground coffee. Usually, manufacturers give preference to the coarse ground in order to make sure it does not slip in your coffee. At the same time, the coarse allows brewing some full-bodied coffee with rich aroma and flavor. You can choose cups depending on the strength of coffee you prefer.
Those K-cups used for light or medium drinks tend to contain about 10 grams of coffee. If you prefer strong coffee, give preference to those K-cups that contain 12 grams of coffee. If you add dark roast to these 2 extra grams, you will be able to get really strong and bold drink with very rich flavor.
During the brewing process, hot water is poured into a K-cup through a special needle that punctures the lid of a cup when you start brewing. It is better to give preference to some distilled water as it can significantly improve the taste of your coffee. Also, it allows protecting your coffee maker for scale building.
As soon as you start brewing, your coffee maker starts heating water and when it reaches the required temperature, it is delivered right inside a K-cup. The water is poured in a cup through the needle that punctures a bottom lid of a cup. Due to the high pressure, water comes through grounds and brewed coffee goes through the paper filter on the top of a cup, and then right into your mug through another needle.
Pros and Cons of K-cups Pods
The greatest thing about brewing coffee using K-cups is that you can brew a mug of fresh coffee, any time you need it. It will always be absolutely fresh and hot so you can enjoy its amazing taste and the world’s best mug warmer will help you keep it hot longer. While being the main benefit of Keurig machines and K-cups, it is not the only one.
Below, we have listed some of the most amazing pros of K-cups and single-brew machines that you should know. Nevertheless, this brewing method is not absolutely perfect so you may be interested to know about its cons which are also here.
As it was said before, the main advantage of K-cups is, of course, their convenience. The point is that using it you can brew a fresh cup of coffee in a few seconds. Moreover, you can be absolutely sure that your coffee is not only fresh but tasty as well. Also, it is easy to maintain machines that use K-cups that also very convenient. You do not spend much time cleaning or refilling them.
If you have ever tried to look for K-cups, you already know that there is an incredible variety of options. There are K-cups that contain coffee of different strength, taste, profile, and so on. It is up to you which one to choose. Also, all those K-cups can be used for big or medium mugs as well as small cups. In other words, it gives you so much flexibility!
Keep Losses to Minimum
Have you ever brewed yourself a huge mug of coffee in the hope to enjoy it longer but then just realized that you forget about it completely and now you don’t feel like drinking it? The point is that using K-cups, you will never face the problem again. Using just one capsule in time, you will be able to make sure that you have exactly the amount of coffee you need.
Reduce the Amount of Equipment
Different methods required different types and amounts of equipment including various pots, kettles, tubes, filters, measure spoons, coffee containers, and so on. All these things should be stored somewhere and may take lots of space. However, if you use Keurig, it is just a machine itself that is on your counter always ready for work and a box of K-cups somewhere in your cupboard. It is really great for small apartments especially if you give preference to one of those really small models.
K-cups aren’t way too expensive especially considering a variety of options. If you used to buy coffee at one of your local cafes, you may already realize how much money you spend on your coffee. Buying a coffee maker and some K-cups, you can enjoy high-quality coffee at a lower price. It is a great way to save some money and reduce your expenses significantly especially if you drink several cups of coffee daily.
Not at All Environmentally Friendly
It is really hard to consider this brewing method absolutely environmentally friendly especially considering the fact it uses plastic disposable capsules. In fact, a pretty huge amount of plastic is used for the production of those K-cups which is a great issue. If you pay attention to environmental problems, it is an aspect you should consider when using K-cups.
Of course, in comparison with getting your coffee at a coffee shop, K-cups are cheaper. However, if you try to compare it to other brewing methods it can be more expensive. The point is that a brewing machine itself is not so cheap. Moreover, one kilo of beans is much cheaper than the same amount of coffee in K-cups. We think it is an important point you should know about especially if you consume lots of coffee every day.
More Limited Choice
Of course, K-cups offer a variety of amazing options that can satisfy any coffee lover. However, it does not mean that those options are not limited. There are some drinks that cannot be brewed with K-cups. For example, be ready that you will not be able to enjoy a good cup of espresso. In other words, do not expect to get some classic strong portion of coffee.
How to Choose the Best K-cups
If you only thinking about getting your Keurig or just recently started to use it, you need to learn how to choose K-cups properly. There is an incredible variety of K-cups in the modern market and when choosing the one, you need to consider some aspects. Below, we have listed some of the most important things you need to keep in mind when choosing K-cups.
If you are an experienced coffee lover, you for sure know how the roast of your beans can influence the taste of the coffee. The roasts differ in the amount of heat that is used and the length of roasting. Depending on it, coffee may have different acidity, bitterness, caffeine amount, color, body, and overall flavor.
Most K-cups on the modern market are offered by big popular brands. You can look for K-cups that are produced by the same manufacturer as your regular coffee beans. However, you need to know that numerous small brands do not sell K-cups. Nevertheless, it does not mean that you cannot enjoy your favorite coffee while using K-cups.
In the modern market, there are various reusable K-cups that can be refilled with any ground coffee you like. Of course, it can be a little bit less convenient than regular K-cups but still, it is a great option
Cup or Capsule
There is an incredible variety of Keurig brewing machines and all of them have various features and specifications. For example, some of them use K-cups while others – capsules. The main difference is that the first ones are made of plastic while the second- from thin paper. Also, K-cups a little bit larger than capsules. Moreover, capsules tend to have a bigger extraction surface than K-cups that may result in a stronger and richer brew.
Of course, price is an important aspect and different K-cups have different prices. It depends on a brand, size of the package, type of beans, amount of coffee in a cup, and so on. The prices may vary between brands as well as within the products offered by one brand. You should be able to find your perfect combination of price, taste, and quality of K-cups you are going to buy. In any case, it is better to read some reviews and feedbacks before making a decision.
How to Make K-cups Coffee
Step 1 – Use your foundation
K-cups are really great and absolutely cool. It is a perfect option for any coffee lover. The only point is that all K-cups even produced by different manufacturers are compatible only with Keurig coffee makers. Due to a huge variety of options, you can easily find the one that suits your needs or you can always give preference to one of those reusable K-cups that can be filled with your favorite coffee.
Step 2 – Brew dark roast
When it comes to K-cups, it is better to give preference to dark or at least medium roast. If you use the light one, it is most likely your coffee will turn in brownish water with no taste and aroma. We highly doubt it is the type of coffee you may enjoy.
Step 3 – Clean your machine
Never leave your machine dirty even if it is just a small cleaning. The reason is that if you do not clean your coffee maker after each used K-cup, there may develop bacteria inside your machine. It will make your coffee untasty and what is even more important dangerous for your health. Also, make sure to clean it well every month using some descaling solution or white vinegar.
Step 4 – Try shaking it
Every time you put a new K-cup in your coffee maker, just shake it slightly. It is the best way to relocate coffee grounds properly and relocate any flavors (if there are any) as they may gather at the bottom of the cup. Just a little quick shake will help you prepare your K-cup for the brewing process.
Step 5 – Two capsules instead of one
If you want a brew with a very strong flavor and aroma, it is better to use two K-cups for one mug of coffee. Also, do not forget to change the setting of your coffee maker and use the least amount of water your maker can offer you.
Step 6 – Add salt
It may sound pretty strange but just a little salt can do real magic to your coffee. K-cup brew may be a little bit bitter but salt helps to reduce it and make your drink softer. Just keep in mind that you need only a small pinch as you may spoil your coffee is add too much salt.
Step 7 – Start the water cycle
Most Keuring coffee machines tend to have problems with the temperature of water used for coffee brewing. If you want to avoid the problem, make sure to start the water heat cycle so when you start brewing, the water’s temperature will be exactly as you need it. It will not only let you enjoy a hot cup of coffee but also make your brew stronger and richer in flavor.
At the very end of the brewing process, it is better to remove the mug not waiting for the last drops to fall in it. The reason is that at the very end the intensity of coffee lowers, it becomes watery and weak. Also, make sure to clean the tank properly befor each refill to make sure your coffee is less watery.
Step 8 – Use filtered water
Tap water will hardly significantly change the taste of your coffee but it tends to contain a whole bunch of different minerals that may clog your coffee maker. Also, the scaling that builds up inside your coffee maker will for sure spoil the flavor of your coffee. You can use pre-boiled or just bottled water to reduce the impact.
As soon as the brewing process is complete, remove a used K-cup from your coffee maker. Just be careful as the cup will be really hot, you can wait until it cools down a bit. If you leave the cup, there will be a lot of dirt and unpleasant smell may appear.
Step 9 – Read the manual
Most people prefer not to waste their time on all those instructions and manuals. We may agree with them when it comes to something simple or rather common. However, a coffee maker is a complex machine with lots of important things you need to know when brewing coffee. Also, there may be some useful tips on the brewing process, choosing better K-cups, and so on.
Throughout the Internet, there are numerous stories about K-cups that may explode. According to the information, it happens because they were poorly packaged. The point is that you cannot be 100% sure that you will not buy the one as according to reports they can be sold anywhere.
Of course, it is usually rare issues but if you always use the same brand of K-cups and they tend to explode often, it is time to start looking for something else. Also, you need to know that numerous customers mention some bad customer services as it is almost impossible to replace bad or damaged cups. It means that it is better to try to avoid the problem instead of hoping that someone will compensate you for your losses.
K-Cups vs Coffee Pods
It may be rather surprising but there is a huge difference between coffee pods and K-cups. Most people think that the only difference is the name and K-cup name is used specifically for cups produced by Keurig. However, the difference is bigger than it seams.
K-cups are produced from plastic. These cups can be filled with ground coffee, chocolate powder, or tea leaves that are sealed with an airtight lid. Each cup is also equipped with a plastic ring that holds a foil on the top. Also, each cup has a built-in filter.
One other thing is that any coffee capsule that is called K-cup can be compatible only with Keurig machines. You need to know that there are some significant advantages and disadvantages of Keurig K-cups.
- An amazing variety of flavors, roasts, blends, and varietals;
- Fast way to get a high-quality mug of coffee;
- Ready-to-Use capsule.
- Less flavorful than coffee pods;
- More expensive than pods or regular coffee;
- Not environmentally friendly (plastic cups, foil lid, rings, etc.).
In contrast to K-cups, coffee pods are made of really soft, pliable material instead of some hard plastic. The top part of a pod is flat while its bottom part looks like a semi-sphere. Sometimes those pods are wrapped in a foil and special resealable bag that allows storing them easily. Coffee pods are used with special coffee machines that have built-in filters for brewing coffee.
As well as K-cups, coffee pods have their own advantages and disadvantages.
- Bigger brewing surface guarantees better coffee extraction;
- Better release of flavor and aroma;
- Most components of each pod are biodegradable;
- Hard to find;
- Usually can be bought only online;
- Smaller variety of flavor/blend/roast/brand options.
Cost of K-Cups vs Traditional Coffee
K-cups are one of the first and most popular options for those who look for a way to brew one good cup of coffee as soon as possible. In fact, as soon as Keurig released them for the first time, lots of people wanted to try this new way of brewing coffee. As a result, it gained lots of fans all over the world.
The reason is pretty simple – it offers excellent quality for a great price
- Machine cost is about $ 100 or more in comparison to a regular coffee machine that may cost from $ 20 to $ 50.
- Coffee cost is about $ 40 or more per pound in comparison to $ 5-20 per pound of regular beans.
According to the results of one of the research, using K-cups, you are going to spend 2.5 times more than when buying some regular coffee. While one cup may cost about 66¢, you can pay 28¢ for the same amount of regular coffee. Using K-cups and drinking 3 cups of coffee daily, you should be ready that your expenses may increase in $400 per year in comparison with a regular coffee.
As you can see, traditional coffee is better when it comes to price issues. Moreover, there are other problems and concerns related to K-cups such as a big amount of plastic used for their production.
While being practical and easy to use, K-cups are still not the cheapest way to brew some coffee. Moreover, it is not actually environmentally friendly.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
More expensive K-cups are usually offered by famous brands however it is not the only thing that influences the price. Usually, coffee grounds of higher quality are used for more expensive K-cups. Also, those options that contain some additions such as different flavors and creamers may be slightly more expensive.
One other thing is that some companies may use cheap, low-quality materials while producing their K-cups. It may impact your health greatly so be very careful when choosing your K-cups.
Do’s and Don’ts With K-Cups
- Use one K-cup for each brew.
- Choose the options you really like.
- Follow instructions when installing a K-cup.
- Use K-cups for Keurig coffee makers.
- Make sure your K-cups can be used with your coffee maker.
- Never leave a used K-cup inside a machine.
- Do not use one K-cup for several brews.
- Do not damage unused K-cups.
- Keep your K-cups in a cool, dry, and dark place.
FAQ About K-Cups
Can you use K-cups twice?
As we have mentioned before, K-cups were designed in the way you can use them in order to get just one cup of coffee. It means that usually, one K-cup contains about 10-12 grams of ground coffee. According to the standards, you need about 10 grams of coffee for every 6-8 ounces of water.
It means that you may try to brew several cups of coffee using one K-cup however the second and all the next cups will be weak and watery. The more times you try to use the same K-cup for a brew, the more watery becomes your coffee. The reason is that all the oils, aromas, and flavors were extracted during the first brew, and nothing left for the next try.
Can K-cups be recycled?
There are companies that work on the development of recyclable K-cups made of organic materials so you can easily dispose of them without worrying about anything. However, the truth is that modern K-cups are made of plastic and aluminum foil which made it hard to recycle them. In other words, K-cups can hardly be considered environmentally friendly.
Can K-cups expire?
When it comes to K-cups, there is no expiration date but there is a date that is known as a “best brew” date. Usually, you can find it just looking at the side of a K-cup. In fact, K-cups last much longer than regular coffee but it doesn’t mean that they cannot become weak or stale. So, it is better not to buy huge amounts of K-cups that will be stored in your cupboard for months. You can use a premium coffee pod holder to store your K-cups as well.
Of course, there is nothing dangerous about brewing a K-cup a little after its expiration date but do not wait for some incredible taste and strong aroma.
Do you need to have a Keurig to use K-cups?
Considering the fact that K-cups were designed specifically for Keurig coffee makers, the answer is obvious. Yes, you for sure need any Keurig coffee maker so you can use K-cups. However, you may try some other methods to brew coffee from a K-cup just make sure to be very careful.
One of the methods is a teabag method that is actually the simplest one. It is perfect if you want to make some hassle-free drinks. In order to brew coffee using this method, first of all, you need to open your K-cup and drain coffee from it. As soon as there are no coffee grounds in a coffee filter, turn it into a teabag. Just make sure that your “bag” is not closed way to tightly on its top.
In such a way you will be able to ensure that coffee grounds move freely around the bag while you pour some hot water. Use some string to tie the top of your bag and place it inside your mug. Pour some hot water and leave the bag with coffee grounds for at least 5 minutes. You may leave it for longer if you prefer really strong coffee.
One other method is known as the pour-over method. For it, you need to open a K-cup and place its content into one of your mugs or a kettle. By the way, a pour-over kettle is a sophisticated option. After it, pour some hot water into the mug and let it sit for several minutes. As soon as it is time, use a paper filter from your K-cup and pour the drink from one mug to another through this filter. After it, you can add some sugar or sugar-free and healthy coffee syrup and creamer or milk according to your preferences.
How much coffee is in a K-cup?
In fact, it significantly depends on your preferences. According to the common standards, you need to use 6 ounces of water so you can brew a well-balanced mug of coffee with one K-cup. Each K-cup contains at least 19 grams of ground coffee that is equal to 2 teaspoons.
It also depends on your taste preferences. Do you use one K-cup for brewing? Then you need about 6 ounces of water. If you prefer stronger or lighter brew, you can regulate the amount of water that will be used for a coffee brew.
How natural are K-cups?
There is an incredible variety of K-cups that differs in the roast intensity, types of blends, some additions such as extra flavors. You will actually be really surprised when you learn how many different types of K-cups you can find in the modern market. There are options with such flavors as Irish cream, French vanilla, white mocha, Swirl cinnamon, and many others.
However, considering such a variety, you may have an essential question. Are they natural? If yes, how natural they are? Are there any natural ingredients or are they mixed some artificial additions?
The truth is that each K-cup contains absolutely the same coffee ground that you can buy in your local store. Speaking of flavored options, in this case, manufacturers use propylene glycol spray that is followed with different aromatic liquids and oils so coffee can absorb them. Propylene glycol is used to make sure the grounds absorbed and retain the flavor. The main point is that method is used with any flavored coffee whether it is K-cups or just some regular coffee.
The truth is that propylene glycol is known as a dangerous and harmful substance. Specialists claim that it may cause allergies, skin irritations, cardiovascular problems, breathing problems, neurological symptoms, and potential organ toxicity. Nevertheless, according to the FDA, in small amounts, it is safe for people and all manufacturers that use it are severely monitored by qualified specialists.
How long do K-cups last?
The method that is used for the production of K-cups is absolutely unique as it is main aim to keep coffee grounds inside a cup safe. In other words, manufacturers make sure that any bacteria or even the smallest amount of coffee cannot enter a cup and damage coffee. Each K-cup is equipped with a special air plug on the top of a foil to avoid any possible damages.
When it comes to high-quality K-cups, for their production, manufacturers use lightweight, heat-resistant, and moisture-resistant materials. Speaking of standard K-cups, inside them, the air is replaced with some nitrogen.
Despite all these aspects, K-cups cannot hold the taste of your coffee for too long and it becomes bad, weak, and even bitter rather fast. To prevent it, manufacturers recommend do not use K-cups after the date of expiration. As soon as this date comes, it does not mean that your coffee will be absolutely deteriorated but it will likely have a pretty bad flavor.
According to the data, if you want to store your K-cups as long as possible without making them taste bad, you should stick to 3-8 months max. Just keep in mind that the way you store your K-cups has a great impact on how long you may store them.
So, here is our complete review of K-cups for Keurig coffee makers and we hope you were able to learn everything you need to know about this brewing method. Now, it is time to choose your perfect K-cups so just follow your preferences and our tips.
Of course, there are so many options that you may easily get lost when looking for the best one. Nevertheless, you should not be afraid as the best way to find the ones you will like the most is to try different options. Look through some reviews and feedbacks, experiment, and follow your preferences and you will be able to find your perfect K-cups.
Photo from: ehrlif / depositphotos.com.