Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gadgets and Coffee: The Keurig 2.0 system.

I have owned a Keurig coffee maker now for a few years, it wasn't my first choice for single cup brewers, but it's where I ended up. When I decided I wanted a single cup brewer (I am currently the only coffee drinker in the house) I looked at the available options and decided on the Tassimo system.
This seemed, to me, to be the best system out there. It supported coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, but it also made latte's, cappuccino's, basically any hot drink. The T-discs had a bar code on them which told the brewer what they were and how to brew them. You didn't need to do anything except close the lid and press brew. There were separate discs with milk and the tea and coffee (liquid milk not powdered.) The Tassimo made a very good cup of coffee. After about a year though there was some kind of problem with the discs and the brewers. I never had a problem but they had recalled the discs and made a new disc seat for the brewers. This created two problems, first, it made the discs near impossible to get for at least 6 months. and second, when you could find discs the new disc seat was a pain in the backside. Eventually, since I had never had a problem anyway, I put the original seat back in. It was during this time, when the discs were impossible to find that I decided I needed another system. The fact that at this point Starbucks bailed on Tassimo and moved to Keurig was just another reason. Say what you will, but I like Starbucks coffee, these days I prefer Peete's coffee but if you look at my storage, its about 50/50 Peete's and Starbucks. (along with Newman's Own, 8 O'clock, etc...) Anyway, I started looking at Keurig, while it didn't have most of the features that the Tassimo had, it had one big advantage. You could get coffee for it. I picked up the K75 Platinum brewer and retired my Tassimo.

This brewer wasn't sexy, it didnt make latte's or cappuccinos. Didn't really do anything except push hot water through the k-cup. But it was simple, and you could find coffee almost anywhere. I used this coffee maker for over a year before Keurig decided to mix things up a bit with the new VUE system. My understanding is that this was more to gain control of the cup market than for any real improvement. Though they did make a couple improvements in the brewer. It brewed a hotter cup of coffee, and added the ability to make more and different brews than was possible with the K-Cup. I never did get a VUE, though I was interested. It offered 2 part brewing for cappuccinos etc. Before I could bring myself to spend the money on one, they suddenly went on clearance everywhere that sold them. This did make them cheaper but was certainly a sign that the system wasn't selling and was going to be discontinued. I skipped it and stuck with the K75. The next move Keurig made was a smart one, they knew that the k-cup was too entrenched to easily be supplanted by a new design, even from Keurig. So in the new system (2.0) the decided to keep the k-cup, add the VUE, and then do something no other single cup brewer could do. Make 5 cups of coffee at one time. This I thought was a great idea, Other improvements included hotter brewing, and a blast from the past, coded cups to automatically brew the perfect cup.

This is where my problem with the 2.0 begins. I did jump on this brewer. There were just too many features that I wanted to pass this up. Plus, I could use all the existing k-cups I had. Well, yeah, but no I couldn't. Remember the coding on the cup I was writing about earlier? Well this was NOT optional. If you tried to brew a k-cup that didn't have the proper logo, rim, code, etc. then it would not brew. The brewer would actually report that the cup was not made for the brewer. I suppose, this is acceptable, but really should have been made clear which it was not. Now, if the code actually made the perfect cup then I could forgive this, but it doesn't. At best it distinguishes between the carafe cups and the k-style cups. but for anything else, it only verifies it as an official Keurig cup. For example, if you put a hot chocolate cup in, it can't even decide that you're not brewing coffee, you have to select other from the menu to make it.

Another issue that I have is that a selling point on the box was 12 sizes of brewing (4 oz and up) and while this is probably true, you don't get to make the choice on the size. When you put a k-cup into the brewer you can't make a cup larger than 10 ounces, even the original brewer made 12 ounce cups. You have to purchase VUE cups to make larger cups. Now I know you can just open and close the lid and brew again to make a larger cup, but why not let me choose the cup I want to make? They have plans on adding numbers to the cups, to allow larger brews from these special cups though I am sure they will charge more for them. I still think that if I want to make a weak 16 ounce cup from a single k-cup I should be able to do that without double brewing 8 ounces.

The carafe brewing works well, up to 5 cups from one very large VUE cup called a carafe cup. The carafe keeps the coffee warm for quite some time and cleans up easily. The carafe is really the killer feature of the 2.0 system. being able to make yourself one cup, and guests a whole pot with the same brewer saves space and makes sense. The carafe cups are slightly more expensive per box, but you make more coffee from it.

All in all I am satisfied with the 2.0 system. Now that I have gotten over having to give away all my original k-cups and buy new ones and come to grips with having to double brew all the new k-cups. It makes a good cup of coffee, adds the latte and cappuccino brewing and making a carafe full on the weekends is so much easier than using 4 or 5 k-cups.

If you already have a Keurig, I can't really recommend you move to the 2.0. Not yet anyway, Maybe when they expand the offerings in various cups. If you are in the market for a single cup brewer though you can do a lot worse than the Keurig 2.0.

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