Keurig has become a very popular name among coffee enthusiasts. There’s simply no denying that Keurig single-serve brewing systems prepare the most delicious coffee. That, by the way, is also incredibly fresh-tasting. The whole experience not only satisfies your taste buds and caffeine cravings. But it is also very efficient and convenient. But how does a Keurig work?
I mean how to use those K-cup coffee pods? They’re the very essence of every Keurig machine. The thing about Keurig brewers is that each model is efficiently engineered and finely tuned. So the tasks of using K-cups and even preparing your coffee aren’t all that difficult.
Nevertheless, let me walk you through it step by step. So you can get a better understanding of how these magical single-serve brewing systems work. And maybe, along the way, you might also realize and come to value just how truly convenient and efficient a Keurig experience really is. So are you ready? Let’s begin then!
First things first, let me tell you all you need to know about Keurig K-cups.
Table of Contents
Keurig K-Cups: What are they? How do they work?
What Are K-Cups?
I don’t need to tell you, or anyone for that matter, just how wonderful it feels to brew coffee using a Keurig machine. Extraordinary may be the right word to describe the experience.
You don’t have to go through the trouble of measuring how much coffee is required for one single cup. And, indeed, it is a nuisance to do this, isn’t it? So what Keurig does, actually has done is created K-cups. So what are these little things and how do they work?
It’s very simple here. A K-cup is a pre-packaged, small container. It’s also known as a coffee pod. Naturally so because it contains delicious, aromatic, freshly-ground coffee. And the best part about K-cups is that they’re available in all kinds of roasts, blends, and flavors.
K-cup pods are particularly designed for preparing the perfect cup of delightful coffee every single time. And that too with minimal effort. No need to struggle with the amount of coffee you’re supposed to use.
As for the materials used for constructing K-cups, durable plastic is involved. Then there’s the filter layer as well. Wrapped in moisture-proof foil layer, the coffee inside remains fresh and aromatic. No two ways about that!
You insert these coffee pods into your Keurig brewer to get your morning dose of steaming hot, fresh cup of coffee. And for that, you only have to wait for a few minutes. Not in a long queue at your nearest coffee shop!
How Do K-Cups Work?
Time to dissect a K-cup you’ve already used. When you do that, you’ll see a paper filter inside. This filter is connected to the top of the K-cup. When the pod goes inside the Keurig brewer, its cup holster drills a hole into that foil layer at the top. Along with a smaller hole at the bottom.
After that, water passes through the hole at the top. Meaning it runs through those delicious, fresh, and aromatic coffee grounds. Then gravity takes control, thus pulling water through both coffee and filter. And finally, you get your perfect cup of freshly brewed Keurig coffee in less than a minute.
If I had to pick the best feature or aspect about K-cups, it would be cleanup. And why do you think that is? Because there’s absolutely no cleanup. After your coffee is brewed, all you need to do is throw the pod.
Unlike in the case of espresso machines where you have to tap on the unit’s bin for releasing coffee grounds. And then rinsing it all out afterwards. Otherwise, the appliance’s porta-filter remains dirty. That’s not it though. You also have to clean the machine’s metal screen using a brush.
Now if you’re a genuine espresso lover, then maybe you wouldn’t mind putting in all this effort. But why bother when you can just as easily use a no-hassle, mess-free K-cup!
For Keurig K-cup cleanup, simply lift the brewer’s handle. Remove the used K-cup and dispose it off in the trash. Minimal cleaning, I already told you. Speaking of which, even maintenance is a very easy and convenient task. For daily cleaning, all you have to do is run the brewing cycle using an empty cup. That’s the beauty of Keurig creations; convenience at its best.
Read more: How Do Keurig’s K-Cups Work
How Does a Keurig Work?
Every Keurig machine works in a similar manner. This includes Keurig 2.0 models and the mini version of Keurig. It’s like you’re using different kinds of coffee brewers rolled into a single machine.
Keurig brewing systems consist of two different coffee-preparing methods. The first is the espresso method while the second half is reminiscent of the drip coffee maker. Let me explain in detail below.
K-cup pods are constructed in 4 basic parts. The first is the plastic outer casing. What this does is keeps external elements like moisture, light, and air from invading the cup. That means your favorite coffee remains delicious, fresh, and aromatic. The second part consists of the permeable paper filter for proper flavor extraction.
After that comes the foil seal for keeping the coffee grounds locked inside. Meaning creating an airtight environment where oxygen and humidity are not allowed to enter. And the final part is the coffee, the perfectly measured amount of coffee for preparing a single cup.
Now comes the fun process, and that is coffee brewing. In the case of Keurig machines, the brewing process begins only when you insert a K-cup pod into the brewing chamber. Once the pod is placed inside the unit, you pull down the handle and close that chamber.
When the lid is shut, there’s a needle inside that punches two holes into the K-cup. One at the top and the other at the bottom. The holes are of the correct, appropriate size. The top one allows pressurized, heated water to pass through the exquisite coffee grounds. At this point, coffee filters through the paper filter installed inside the pod.
Then the second, bottom hole comes into the picture here. Now, this filtered, heated coffee runs through that second hole. And into your wonderful coffee mug.
But how did the water heat up in the first place? The water you add inside the Keurig machine is forced to pass through tiny tubes. And as the water passes through, it is also heated. Water, when is smaller amounts, takes a shorter time to heat than water in a large pot. So, inside the Keurig brewing system, water attains the required or optimal temperature till it reaches the K-cup.
Keurig brewers may be revolutionary in terms of design and functionality, but they still work with a very simple approach. It’s just a machine that brews coffee much like any other normal coffee maker. But, in the case of Keurig, a whole pot is not brewed. Rather you get a scaled-down single serving, which is ideal for one-person use.
Comparatively speaking, Keurig single-serve units are like drip brewers, but only smaller. And with more advanced technology of course. There are many other single-serve brewers out there that aren’t manufactured by Keurig. Even though the options are plenty, no other brand has been able to surpass the quality of coffee and performance offered by Keurig.
Likewise, too many non-Keurig K-cups are also widely available these days. Nevertheless, original Keurig K-cup pods still have the upper hand in terms of flavor.
Brewing a Whole Pot of Coffee with Keurig
Let’s say you don’t want to spend a lot of money on reusable filters or K-cups, then what can you do? Well, you can get a Keurig 2.0 coffee maker to brew coffee. The 2.0 series consists of models that give you the freedom to brew by cup and carafe. The latter here has the capacity to hold 4 cups of freshly brewed coffee, and that is 32 ounces.
So how do you go about using this kind of Keurig machine?
Take off the lid of the unit first. Then add 2.5 tablespoons of your favorite coffee grounds. Just make sure the pre-ground coffee has a coarse grind size. Likewise, if you’re grinding your own coffee beans with a coffee grinder or without one, keep the grind size coarse.
Don’t compress the grinds. And don’t ever add cocoa or tea in the filter. You can obviously use more than 2.5 tablespoons if you prefer stronger coffee. Or less than that for a milder strength.
Moving on, replace the Keurig lid and place that filter into the brewer. Now shut the lid and choose the size of your cup. And finally, press BREW. That’s about it!
How Does a Mini Keurig Work?
Keurig brewers, no matter the type, model, or size, are designed to withstand high temperature, and lots of pressure too. And they can handle all this very well. The proof of which is freshly brewed coffee that tastes delicious every single time.
Every Keurig coffee maker, this includes the mini version, features a water tank to hold a generous quantity of water. So what you need to do is add the K-cup and then press the BREW button. Very minimal effort to make first thing in the morning, right?
Even after this first cup, there’s plenty of water still left in your Keurig for more to come. This means you can brew for more than one person also. That implies not having to re-fill the reservoir every single time you wish to prepare coffee.
In any case, here’s how a mini Keurig works…
You select the cup size to get the water to pass through the unit’s pressurized hoses that every Keurig is equipped with. The water, with the help of the heating changers, reaches the perfect temperature to prepare your favorite coffee. Once that happens, water runs through the top hose to pass through the K-cup.
The hot water then runs through the aromatic, fresh coffee grounds. And this coffee then runs through the bottom hole of the K-cup directly into the cup.
As is evident, the mini version works just like any other Keurig brewing system. There’s no difference except for the compact, smaller footprint of the mini unit.
How to Adjust Cup Size in a Keurig?
If you don’t like the size of your caffeine-infused beverage, then feel free to level up or down. You have the opportunity to do so with a Keurig. The technology here has the ability to identify which K-cup is inserted. This means you get freshly brewed coffee of the perfect size each time.
As for adjusting the cup size, the feature for that is located on the right side of the screen. The arrow keys allow you to scroll up and down till you find your preferred cup size based on the K-cup you’re using. Once you select that, the Keurig brewing system prepares the perfect amount of coffee for you.
How to Adjust Coffee Strength in a Keurig?
Generally speaking, after the K-cup is placed into the chamber, the Keurig starts to brew normal strength coffee. So if you love devouring stronger coffee, look left. There’s the “strong” option located on the left side of the screen. Press that to activate the function for a stronger brew.
Did you know that Keurig coffee makers also feature Keurig Kold? This is the outcome of Keurig’s partnership with Coca Cola. And it allows you to prepare or mix cold carbonated drinks. The typical Soda Stream models do the same but they don’t offer cold drinks. So how do you like the idea of preparing a soda on your own in over 2 dozen different flavors?
Speaking of which, the door to preparing iced tea, flavored water, and energy drinks is also wide open. All you have to do is fill water into the machine and add your favorite K-cup pod. Then activate the process by pressing the button. And 90 seconds later, your delicious cold drink is ready.
Descaling a Keurig Machine
Now you know everything about how Keurig and K-cups work. How about getting to know the most important part if you wish to keep drinking delicious cups of coffee prepared by Keurig? Meaning if you want your fancy Keurig coffee maker to last for a long, long time, then you have to make an effort to do so. And by effort, I mean descaling the brewer from time to time.
But how often should I descale my Keurig? Is that the first question that comes to mind? If yes, then the answer depends on the mineral level present in the water you’re using. This means, for less frequent descaling, use filtered or bottled water.
Now what about descaling? A high content of minerals leads to calcium deposits. And calcium deposits hinder the performance of any coffee maker, not just Keurig.
So when you descale, you eliminate the possibility of calcium deposits interfering with your Keurig brewing system and ultimately your coffee. You can descale once in every 3-6 months. But if the water you’re using for your Keurig contains a higher level of minerals, then you should descale more often.
And the best part is that Keurig machines are very smart units. They alert you when it’s time to descale. The system inside keeps a check on the amount of water passing through. So it lets you know when descaling is necessary. The reminder “time to descale the brewer” appears at such times.
If you ignore the message and don’t descale, then you receive another reminder after 6 weeks. And the reminder then keeps appearing regularly until descaling is carried out. But I don’t see why you might postpone the descaling part as the process is very straightforward and quick.
Keurig highly recommends using their descaling solution for the task. But that doesn’t mean you cannot use another brand.
Even vinegar works as a matter of fact. Dilute it with some water and add this solution or any other descaling solution into the water reservoir of your Keurig. Then run the normal brewing cycle, so all those tubes and pipes get a thorough cleaning.
After this brewing cycle, run maybe two more but with clean, fresh water. You obviously want to get rid of all that vinegar. Coffee with vinegar is a horrible idea, isn’t it?
Keurig single-serve coffee makers are the best for preparing a quick yet delicious cup of coffee. I mean you don’t want to go through the trouble of making a whole pot just for one cup of freshly brewed coffee first thing in the morning. Am I right?
Although Keurig 2.0 models allow you to brew in a carafe as well. You have to use your own coffee grounds for this. Just make sure the grind size is coarse. But the single-cup technology works best for those wanting to save time and still enjoy an exquisite cup of coffee.
About the Keurig 2.0 units, the carafe there holds 4 cups of coffee. And it only takes a few minutes. You also get the wonderful opportunity to prepare tea and hot chocolate. But you’re buying or you’ve bought a Keurig for coffee and coffee alone. So feel free to choose just about any coffee flavor you like.
Keurig K-cups offers a wide range of not only flavors but also roasts and blends. So go coffee crazy with Keurig!