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Keurigs are an immensely popular way to enjoy easy, barista-quality coffee in the comfort of your own home. It is easy to see why these ‘pod’ style coffee makers are cropping up in more and more kitchens.
Keurig’s range is huge, and though the principle is generally the same, there are a lot of different features and design quirks depending on which model you opt for.
In this guide, we’re looking at how to use a Keurig coffee machine from the very basics to more advanced functions, and getting the most out of your coffee maker.
We also explore different coffee pod options and even how to maintain and look after your Keurig to make sure it lasts as long as possible.
How to Use a Keurig : The Absolute Basics!
It helps to have a basic understanding of how a Keurig works when learning how to use one. The process of how the coffee is brewed is pretty simple to get your head around.
- Water is stored in a reservoir somewhere on the Keurig, the size and shape as well as where it is located will depend on which model of Keurig you own.
- Once the settings have been selected and the brew started, water is released into the heating ‘chamber’, where pressurized hoses will warm the water to the correct temperature.
- Once hot enough, the water is released into the top of the brewer, where the K-Cups (Keurig’s brand of pods) are located.
- When the K-Cup has been enclosed in place, pins will create holes in the cup to release the water into the cup and start to brew.There is also a small hole created in the bottom which is where coffee releases into your mug or other drinking vessels.
Setting Up Your Keurig: How to turn on a Keurig
The first step for using your Keurig is the setup. If you are looking for information on how to use your Keurig, the chances are you’re setting it up for the first time, so for the purposes of our guide; we’re going to look at how to do so effectively.
Making an error in the setup can make errors more likely and mean more wasted brews while you try to work out your coffee machine and its features.
Step One – Unboxing
Keurigs are not quite as simple as taking them out of the box, plugging them in and being ready to go. There is a little to be done in the first instance to ensure your coffee machine is set up properly.
When you take the Keurig out of the box, it may be ready assembled, or you may have to refer to your manual to set it up.
For instance, you may have to activate and install the filter or clip the water reservoir in place (more on these in future steps).
Key to the unboxing phase is making sure all packaging has been removed. Keurigs often ship with a little cardboard disc inside the slot where the pod will eventually go; this should be removed, along with any other packaging around your machine.
When unboxing, grab your Keurig manual which can show you a lot about the specific model you have purchased. It will also show you how your coffee machine clips together ready for use.
Step Two – Clean Anything Which Touches Water
The water reservoir is the main thing to worry about here. If you have the option, you should clean the water reservoir before use with hot, soapy water, and a non-abrasive sponge to ensure it doesn’t get scratched.
The reason this option isn’t available to everyone is that some smaller Keurigs such as the K10 mini brewer do not have a removable reservoir.
Washing is a simple, precautionary step just to ensure nothing has gotten into your coffee machine and it is as clean as possible when holding water. It’s similar to cleaning a new glass or mug before you use it to drink out of.
When cleaning before use, don’t forget to wipe around the base, where the water feeds from the reservoir ready for use, to ensure there is no risk of contamination there.
Step Three – Prep Your Filter
The water filter is a key component of a lot of Keurigs, but is something that varies from model to model. Some Keurigs don’t have a filter, some ship with a filter and some have the capacity for a filter, but don’t come with one as standard.
If your Keurig is compatible with a water filter it is recommended that you use one as it keeps the water as pure and tasty as possible, but also because it can extend the lifespan of your Keurig.
Obviously, if your Keurig is not able to be equipped with a filter, you can ignore this, but I still recommend filtering externally before putting water into the reservoir.
Fitting water filters means ‘priming’ them before use. They normally come in the form of charcoal filters, and to get the most out of these they should be rinsed under cold water before being left to soak for a few minutes.
After this, rub the filter to make sure any loose bits of charcoal fall off and don’t end up in your brew.
Once this has been done, you can simply put your filter into its holder and it is ready for use. At this stage you can make sure everything has been clipped into position, that the filter is properly installed and you can also fill the water reservoir.
As you are setting it up for the first time, it is recommended that you fill to the ‘max fill’ line which will be indicated on your water reservoir.
Step Four – Power Up!
Once all of the above has been done, it is time to power up the machine and start the pre-heating. Your manual will tell you how quick this phase takes but it is normally between 30 seconds and three minutes.
Upon powering up you will also be confronted with many settings and options which it is probably wise to ignore for the next step and explore in more detail once you’re up and running.
Step Five – Test Brew
Once everything has been connected and prepared and your machine has had time to preheat then it is time for the test brew.
This will mean not using a Keurig K-Cup or any form of coffee as it will simply be a waste. Instead, put a large mug in the designated space on the drip tray, under where the brew is dispensed.
After this, lower the handle and tell your Keurig to brew. This will run a ‘brew’ without the coffee pod installed, giving you the chance to check all is operating correctly with no spills and leakages, and also flush through the mechanism before using it for an actual cup of coffee.
Your First Real Brew: How to work a Keurig
At this point, you’re ready to make your first coffee using your machine. Now, there is some variation in terms of what your machine is capable of doing, the sizes it can brew and even the way you control it.
You may have a touch screen with lots of controls; you may have a limited button control. Exactly which features are on offer is something you will have likely researched before purchasing.
All Keurig models have the capacity to make a standard cup of coffee, though, so I recommend doing this first.
The steps to follow for making a standard cup of coffee are as follows:
1. Choose your coffee pod. Your Keurig may have come complete with a selection pack of coffees to get you started.
Check that you are using a K-Cup rather than a K-Carafe pod; these are larger sizes for bigger, batch brews (more on this later).
2. Insert the coffee pod into the dedicated slot. This will normally involve lifting a handle, at which point you will see where the pod slots in. This is a simple process.
The handle should then be lowered, which is key to piercing the pod ready for the brew to take place.
3. Select your serving size. Most Keurigs can accommodate multiple serving sizes and will have either a button or a touchscreen control to allow you to choose between 4 Oz, 6 Oz, 8 Oz or 10 Oz serving sizes, or at least two or three of those sizes.
Choose which is suitable for you and put a mug on the drip tray which can fit the amount of liquid you will be brewing!
4. Select additional features. Some coffee machines within the range have some extra features to allow you more control over the brew.
You may be able to select the strength of your coffee, you may be able to alter the temperature (some can even make iced coffees) Refer to your manual to work out which options are available and then select what is suitable for your brew.
5. Start your brew. A ‘brew’ control will either be a button or a part of the touchscreen controls. In some models, the brew will start as soon as the lever is put down to clip the pod in place.
6. Let your Keurig do its thing! When all this is done it is just a case of waiting for the coffee to be brewed and ready.
It is worth saying that if this is the first time you have used your Keurig, you should probably observe the first brew just to check everything is functioning normally and that the settings are correct.
Batch Brewing Options
As we’ve already alluded to, there are a huge amount of options depending on which of the Keurig products you buy. Their range is even split into different generations (1.0 and 2.0) which offer different features.
Many of the larger Keurig coffee makers give the option to brew in larger batches.
The process to do so is not hugely different to making a single cup of coffee.
Size options may include K-Mugs (still single serve, but larger sizes such as 12 and 16 Oz, great for travel cups), and K-Carafes (batch brews designed for more than one person).
Each of the different types of pod, K-Cup, K-Mug and K-Carafe, has a setting on the Keurig for the size which you are brewing at.
If your Keurig is compatible with the K-Carafe, it will let you brew at larger sizes up to 30 Oz.
This brew size can be selected from the menu, and the specific K-Carafe pods can be put into the exact same slot, ready for brewing.
Using your Keurig isn’t just a case of getting great coffee out of it, it is a matter of looking after the machine to ensure it keeps functioning at a high level and that its lifespan is as long as possible.
If you’re a real coffee lover, your Keurig will probably see a lot of action, and a couple of steps can be taken to ensure it lasts.
- Replace filters periodically. Using filters is strongly recommended, but they only last for so long. Most need replacing after around every two to three months. If left much longer than this, they can become totally useless.
- Clean and descale your Keurig. This isn’t the most fun job in the world, but it is necessary. Keurig have descaling kits and solutions which can easily be run through a machine to help stop limescale building up and affecting the taste of your coffee as well as the function of your machine.
Of course, regular cleaning after use and removing the pods once your coffee has been made are also necessary to keep your coffee machine in top condition.
Replacement filters and descaling are only periodically required, and many Keurig models will even give you reminders when it is time to do so.
Though there are differences between all of the Keurig models, the general principles behind the brewing process remain the same.
Once you get used to your specific Keurig, it may well become your favorite appliance, but knowing how to use it and get the most out of it, and mastering your controls, should be your first step.
Following the steps described in this article should help you become a confident Keurig user rather than a total beginner.
However, if there is more specific information required, refer to your Keurig’s manual which will feature any details