How to make the best tasting coffee with a Keurig

How to Use Your Keurig to Make a Marvelous Cup of Coffee

One of the stepping stones for people wanting to take control of their home coffee quality is using a Keurig. 

Coffee snobs, of course, will sneer at the idea of using a Keurig, but…

To hell with them.

Chances are you bought a Keurig because you want a fast and easy way to get a stimulant in your body every morning. 

The Keurig does that quite well. 

If you want to savor all of the rich aromas, flavors, and body, come with a "properly" brewed cup of coffee...

You're just not going to get it with that convenient little machine.

The Keurig doesn't give you much control over what makes a good cup of coffee a fantastic cup of coffee: water temperature, brew duration, grind size, and proper ratio of grounds to water. 

But, hey…

This is America. 

And we're innovators.

So let's see what we can do to make your Keurig coffee experience go from meh to mediocre to marvelous. 

Let's get started…

6 Steps for a Meh Cup of Keurig Coffee

  1. Fill the Keurig reservoir with water.
  2. Press the power button to start heating up the water.
  3. Insert your favorite coffee pod in the machine.
  4. Press your favorite brew size button (6-12 oz depending on the machine).
  5. Let the Keurig do its thing.
  6. Drink up and enjoy your caffeine hit.

With this approach, you're using the Keurig as it's designed. You will get an OK cup of hot coffee with minimal fuss. This is what 90 percent of Keurig users do.

If you want to see what the other cool 10 percenters do, keep reading...

9 Steps for a Mediocre Cup of Keurig Coffee

  1. Fill the Keurig reservoir with fresh water that you enjoy drinking by itself. If you can't stand the taste of your tap water, don't use it for making coffee. Duh.
  2. Press the power button to start heating up the water.
  3. Run a brew cycle with no coffee pod. This cleans out any residue from your last brew and... preheats your mug. Thank me later for that little tip. 
  4. Dump the brew water. 
  5. Put your nice, warmed mug on the drip tray.
  6. Insert your favorite coffee pod in the Keurig.
  7. Use the "strong" setting (if you have that option).
  8. Press the 6-oz cup size brew button. This is the small button on most machines. 
  9. Let the Keurig do its thing.
  10. Drink up and enjoy your somewhat flavorful caffeine hit.

With this method, you're going to get a semi-decent cup of coffee. It takes a smidge more effort than the Meh Method, but you're going to definitely get a better-tasting coffee. 

I want you to understand why.

With Keurig, you can't control a few significant variables:

  • Coffee Freshness: The coffee in your pod could be months old and have minimal flavor left. If your coffee tastes lifeless and flat, you need to buy a grinder, whole bean coffee, and a reusable K-cup
  • Coffee Grind: The fineness or coarseness of your grind has a significant impact on flavor. As the former president would say, Huuuuge. With pre-ground coffee, you get what you get. If you grind your own, you can experiment with different grind settings. 
  • Coffee-Water Ratio: Most coffee gurus recommend a ratio of 1 part coffee to 15-18 parts water. Coffee pods have between 9-13 grams of coffee inside. At most, that's enough to yield 6 ounces of coffee. This is why you need to use the small brew setting. Choosing the medium or large is just going to give you weak and under-extracted coffee...brown dreg tea. 
  • Water Temperature: You're pretty much screwed here unless you have a high-end model. Water temperature should be about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll be lucky to get 187 degrees. This is really all about chemistry. The higher the temperature, the easier you can extract the right flavors from a solid like coffee beans. If your water isn't getting close to 200 degrees, you need to compensate with a longer brew time.  

Depending on your Keurig, you may have some control over that brew time. Most experts recommend a brewing time of at least 2 minutes and 30 seconds for a single serving of coffee (about 12 ounces). Best of luck getting anything longer than 1 minute and 30 seconds with a Keurig...and that's with using the "strong" brew feature.

Yes, I can hear some of you already bitching that 6-oz is half a cup of coffee. The (im)practical solution is to brew another 1-2 pods into the same cup if you want a full American-sized cup. At that point, efficiency goes out the window, and your Keurig has just become a very expensive single-serve coffee machine.

You can also go with a finer grind of coffee to extend the brew time. But, that's not always easy to do with pre-made coffee pods.

If you want to have some fun, put on your Big Boy or Big Girl pants, and let's see what the Keurig Kommandos do to maximize their coffee experience.

12 Steps for a Marvelous Cup of Keurig Coffee

  1. Fill the Keurig reservoir with fresh filtered water.
  2. Press the power button to start heating up the water.
  3. Run a brew cycle with no coffee pod and let that hot water sit in your mug to preheat while you do the next steps.
  4. Grind your favorite Adventure Dog coffee beans.
  5. Put 10 grams (about 2 tablespoons depending on the coffee and grind) into your reusable/refillable K-cup filter.
  6. Dump the brew water. 
  7. Put your nice preheated mug on the drip tray.
  8. Insert your reusable filter in the Keurig.
  9. Use the "strong" setting (if you have that option).
  10. Press the 6-oz cup size brew button. 
  11. Let the Keurig do its thing.
  12. Drink up, enjoy your caffeine hit while savoring a few of those incredible flavors you were able to extract from the coffee bean.

The key to the Marvelous cup of Keurig coffee will start with using a reusable/refillable filter. Not only does this let you use your favorite coffee and have some control over how much you use... it's a lot cheaper. Plus, you're not adding to the mountains of plastic pod trash in our nation's landfills. 

For now, keep the amount of coffee you use to 10 grams and a medium grind. You want to see how close you can get to 2 minutes for a brewing time. If you're coming in below 1 minute and 30 seconds, try a finer grind next time. If it's taking over 2 minutes, try a coarser grind. 

Your first adjustment is going to be the grind coarseness. Grind gives you the most control with a Keurig, so play with it and use the one that offers what YOU think is the best taste.

Different coffees and roasts (light, medium, dark, etc.) may also require different grind settings. 

Once you think you're pretty dialed in with the grind, then you can keep the same grind setting but start experimenting with a little more or a little less coffee in the reusable filter.

Quite a few people have told us they find darker roasts taste better than lighter roasts in Keurigs. This is probably because the flavor of the roast (not the bean itself) is more prevalent. 

While Keurigs can be fantastic little machines, just remember you are trading flavor for expediency…

And you are the chef of your coffee kitchen. 

Brew to YOUR tastes and no one else's. 

But, if you're up for a little adventure, try a few of those extra steps and see what happens. 

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