Posted by Jay Brewer at September 22, 2014 7:44 AM
When Keurig first announced earlier this year that it was working on a new brewer which could brew both K-Cups & full carafes of coffee, we were left scratching our head as we thought the whole point of a single serve coffee machine was to… well… serve single servings of coffee. Why would anyone want a single serve coffee machine to make an entire pot (or carafe as Keurig prefers to call it) of coffee? Single serve machines were built specifically to get rid of the old customs of brewing full pots only to have them go stale or burnt (if left on a hot plate) before anyone could finish drinking the entire pot. More often then not, we’d end up dumping more coffee down the sink drain than what would end up in our mugs throughout the course of a day.
When compared to K-Cups or Vue-Packs, the new K-Carafe Packs are considerably larger (think of an oversized Travel Mug Vue-Pack) and appear to contain much more coffee. When you first realize how oversized these things are, it comes as a bit of a surprise and makes sense why you only get 8 in a retail box. That wasn’t the only surprise that the new Keurig 2.0 brewer would hold in store for us. The very controversial decision to implement DRM and make the brewer only brew licensed/coded K-Cups caused much stir and vitriol from consumers & competitors alike. Companies which were already making several unlicensed K-Cups were angry that Keurig was effectively locking them out from being able to brew their products on the new machine. Anti-competitive lawsuits emerged and all sorts of issues arose around the matter.
The last, albeit welcome, surprise was several weeks before the new Keurig 2.0 was set to launch: news emerged that we’d be getting 3 new brewers instead of 1. Aimed at various price markets, you could opt for the barebones K300 Series brewer which had a 60oz water tank and a black & white touchscreen for $105 (at The Coffee Pro), the middle-range K400 Series brewer which had a 70oz water tank, a color touchscreen & a few extra features for $120 or the top of the line K500 Series K550 brewer which had an 80oz water tank, a larger color touchscreen and all the bells & whistles to the point where you could even change the color of the light under the water tank.
So, which version of the Keurig 2.0 should you get? That all depends on how fancy you want your brewer to be or how many extra features you require. Don’t care for a super-large water tank or multi-colored water tank lights? Go with the cheaper models. Want the Cadillac of the line-up with every possible feature & the largest water tank? Go with the most expensive model. There are a few key differences which haven’t been mentioned by Keurig which we’ve discovered during testing which seem a bit odd.
NOTE: Keurig sent our staff 2 different review units for the purpose of this Mega Review. Most of the pictures will be of the K400 model since the screens & features are mostly the same as the K300, but we also cover topics concerning the K550 model as well as there are certain features exclusive to that model.
Brewing a hot water cycle (A.K.A. How to create a button that does nothing)
Anyone who has a Keurig 1.0 brewer knows that you can brew a hot water cycle simply by opening & closing the lid then selecting which brew size you want. You had your pick of any brew size the machine could support. When the Keurig Vue brewers were released a few years ago, the only way you could do this is if you used the empty plastic shell from a used Vue-Pack due to the design of the piercing needles. Again, you could brew any size the machine supported.
With the new Keurig 2.0 brewers, we can again simply open and close the lid, however… unlike the 1.0 brewers, we’re limited to only 4oz and 6oz of hot water. Why doesn’t Keurig allow us to use anything larger than 6oz? Once you close the lid on the K300 or K400, you select between 4oz or 6oz and hit the brew button once. Ready to take a trip into BizarroWorld? The top of the line K500 Series brewers have a dedicated hot water button on the touch screen. Well, that’s until you actually press it and get a prompt telling you to open & close the lid just like on the lower-end machines. So… how is this a dedicated button? They might as well have made it display a screen that says Oops! You’re doing it wrong!
Stranger still, once you open and close the lid, you need to HOLD DOWN the brew button in order to get the hot water. Seriously? Why didn’t they do like on the lower-end machines and allow us to pick between the 4oz or 6oz setting and simply press the button once without having to hold it down? At first we thought it might allow us to brew more than 6oz, but nope… it’ll stop dispensing hot water after it hits 6oz. Why would the most expensive brewer in the lineup be less simple to use for hot water than the cheaper brewers? Note to Keurig… why didn’t you just make the dedicated button forward to the 4oz-6oz selection screen and then only require the user to press the brew button once like on the cheaper brewers?
Brewing licensed K-Cups/Vue-Packs
If you thought the hot water follies above were nothing short of marvellous, then hold onto your socks… this one’s a beauty! Remember a few months ago when Keurig started redesigning all their K-Cups to include the same Keurig Brewed black seal/logo as their Vue-Packs? Remember how there was a massive marketing campaign online and on television where Keurig kept telling us that if it didn’t have the Keurig Brewed seal/logo, it wasn’t the best quality and wasn’t guaranteed to work with your Keurig Brewer? Those K-Cups still exist. As a matter of fact, a vast majority of major retailers, big box stores and grocery stores across USA & Canada are still selling these very K-Cups on their shelves since they’re trying to clear-out their existing stock. Since the expiry dates on these older K-Cups are as far stretching as December 2014/February 2015, most stores haven’t updated their stock with newer supplies yet. Chances are if you’re like us, these older K-Cups are the same ones you have at home right now.
So you’re thinking, what’s the big deal? It has the Keurig Brewed seal/logo on it, it’s a LICENSED Keurig K-Cup which I bought in-store or ordered online DIRECT FROM KEURIG. It should work in the new Keurig 2.0 brewers, right? Keurig wouldn’t lock-out their OWN LICENSED K-CUPS from working in the newer machines, would they? Despite being OFFICIALLY LICENSED, these older K-Cups still will NOT work in the Keurig 2.0 brewers.
A closer look at how the laser/reader decodes K-Cups & Vue-Packs explains why older products don’t work. The laser/reader is located in the 9 o’clock position inside the lid. As a result, it can only scan for items located in the same position on K-Cup & Vue-Pack lids. The newer K-Cups have a white ring with a different Keurig Brewed logo printed along the edge of the lid. The newer Vue-Packs & K-Carafe Packs have a green dot in this area instead. The laser/reader scans for the text on a white background or for a green dot and then brings up the appropriate menus on the touch screen.
If none of these are present, you get an Oops! This pack wasn’t designed for this brewer error message. Before some of you craftier folk start breaking out the colored construction paper and highlighters, you might as well save your time. The laser/reader only works if you match the exact color shades & text patterns on the newer K-Cups & Vue-Packs. If you don’t match them perfectly, you still get the error message. Yes, we know there’s work-arounds, but we won’t go into the details as we’re sure most of you know how to use ye olde interwebs to figure things out on your own.
So I can’t brew my old Vue-Packs either? Nope. Apparently Keurig have just started releasing newer versions of Vue-Packs which now have the prerequisite green dot on them. They also now have a number where the old brown/blue dots were located above the output spout. You insert the newer Vue-Packs in the Keurig 2.0 brewer and then pick the appropriate number from the touchscreen menu in order to bring up relevant options. From what we can see, the number system works as follows (keep in mind we’re taking guesses here for #3 but are fairly certain about the other options):
1 is obviously for K-Carafe Packs
2 is for brewing Travel Mug Vue-Packs since the Strong button can be enabled and only travel mug sizes are available
3 is for brewing yet to be released Brew Over Ice Travel Mug Vue-Packs? The Strong button is disabled on this setting & you can only brew travel mug sizes
4 is for regular coffee Vue-Packs as the Strong button is enabled and you have all brew sizes up to 10oz
5 is for latte-style Vue-Packs since you get prompted for Step 1 frothing of the milk packs
6 is for regular size Brew Over Ice Vue-Packs as you have all brew sizes available
Oddly enough, the older Vue-Packs will also generate the same Oops! error message. Now, we can understand why Keurig would do this for unlicensed K-Cups, but guess what? There’s no such thing as unlicensed Vue-Packs! Competitors never even bothered creating their own unlicensed Vue-Packs and as far as we’re aware, no such products ever hit the market. As a result, the only Vue-Packs that ever existed were KEURIG’S OWN VUE-PACKS!
The only reasoning we can see behind this is that Keurig must figure that should their 2.0 brewers gain enough popularity, competitors might be tempted to finally start making unlicensed Vue-Packs, so as a result, they figured they’d lock-out those types of yet-to-be-created products as well while they were at it. Regardless, all the people who decided to replace their Vue brewers with a newer 2.0 brewer are in for a rude awakening when their existing stock of Vue-Packs no longer work either. Keurig will now have a whole generation of existing Vue-Pack owners equally frustrated with this decision. Again, there are work-arounds out there which we’ll let you discover on your own.
All is not completely lost when it comes to unlicensed products. Mother Parkers recently announced that they cracked the DRM on the 2.0 brewers and that their existing brands of Real Cup products would be revised and redesigned in order to work with the new brewers. As a result, all your favorites from Marley Coffee, Martinson Coffee, Higgins & Burke, etc. will still work in the new 2.0 brewers just as soon as they can hit retail shelves over the coming weeks/months. Unofficially, our sources also claim that other competitors have cracked the DRM as well, so chances are in a few months you’ll see unlicensed brands as you do now able to be brewed using Keurig 2.0.
There are things we really like about the new brewers but there are equally quite a few things we don’t. Despite the negatives, we still think the positives merit giving these brewers a chance if you’re in the market for a new machine. If you already own an older Keurig 1.0 Series brewer or one of Keurig’s Vue brewers, then you may not be as enticed to make the switch given the fact that all the new 2.0 products will still work on your older brewers. The main factor for making the switch will be just how desperately you need to brew an entire carafe instead of just a single cup. We’ll touch on the new K-Carafe Packs, the Starter Carafe which comes with each brewer and many more features in our follow-up to this review.
This concludes Part 1 of our 3-part Keurig 2.0 Reviews. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we’ll be discussing the new menu system, brewing K-Cups, Vue-Packs & K-Carafe Packs and some of the new features which are exclusive only to the Keurig 2.0 series of brewers.
We continue today with Part 2 of our 3-part Keurig 2.0 Mega Review (you can read Part I here) by checking out the new menu system, discussing how to brew various packs in the new brewers and we also cover new features which you’ll only find on the new 2.0 brewers. One thing we’d like to tackle before we get started (and something we forgot to mention in Part 1) is how you can determine whether or not K-Cups & Vue Packs are 2.0 compatible before you even open the box.
We’re all familiar with the old Keurig Brewed logo and while most people will think this automatically means they’re getting 2.0 K-Cups or Vue Packs… this is NOT the case. Instead, you now need to look for even NEWER logos on the packaging. The new K-Cup compatibility logo is a colored rectangle with a circled checkmark on top which contains the words “For use in all Keurig K-Cup brewers”. While we’re not entirely 100% certain if boxes featuring this new logo might still contain older 1.0 K-Cups (since the use of the word all can be considered somewhat vague), we can however confirm that all the new boxes with this logo in our latest online orders & in-store purchases DID contain the newer 2.0 K-Cups which feature the Keurig Brewed grey/white ring around the lid.
As for Vue Packs, it’s considerably easier to tell as the similarly checkmarked yellow square on the top-right of the box clearly states “Compatible with Keurig Vue and Keurig 2.0 Brewers”. As you can see, there’s no doubting compatibility since it mentions the 2.0 brewer right in the text. Note to Keurig: Maybe modify the K-Cup logo to also read something like “Compatible with all Keurig K-Cup brewers including Keurig 2.0 Brewers”. At least this way you won’t be confusing the hell out of your customers or making them doubt if the boxes contain the newer 2.0 K-Cups.
We also noticed that the new K-Cup compatibility logo appears to be more prominently displayed on 12-packs vs. 24-packs. Some of the 24-packs of K-Cups we ordered had a super-tiny version of the logo which was almost hidden from view while the 12-packs we got at local stores had a much larger version of the logo displayed next to the K-Cup count on the box. So, look for these newer logos (sigh, yes… yet ANOTHER thing we have to look out for) and hopefully it should ensure you are getting 2.0 compatible K-Cups & Vue Packs inside. We’ve heard stories of people ordering direct from Keurig and still getting 1.0 K-Cups & 1.0 Vue Packs (older boxes without the new logos) in their orders, but our latest orders (late August/early September 2014) direct from Keurig.com and Keurig.ca only contained newer boxes which had 2.0 K-Cups & Vue Packs inside. This should hopefully mean that Keurig USA & Keurig Canada are no longer shipping the older 1.0 products.
So that settles that… now lets get on with the main review, shall we?
Using the Keurig 2.0 menus & brewing K-Cups
Anyone who owns a Vue will instantly be familiar with the 2.0 menu layout as well as the overall look & feel of it. Things are very similar except for the rather odd Trivial Pursuit logo when the machine is first warming up (hmm… some sort of inside joke from the R&D team perhaps?). You’ll notice the Strong button is indeed back and it functions much the same as it did on the Vue brewers. There’s also other menus which allow you to configure things like favorite brew settings for up to 3 K-Carafe packs/Vue Packs, plus you can also setup the brewer so that it’ll auto-brew a K-Carafe Pack at a preset time (we’re getting flashbacks of the old Mr. Coffee drip brewer we had in college). Lastly, you can even setup preset wallpapers on the home screen and on the K550/K560 models, you can even change the color of the water tank light between white, blue, red & green and enable something called a nightlight feature.
As far as the Strong button goes, we did notice similar results to the Vue as enabling it did produce somewhat stronger coffees when using Vue Packs, but we didn’t notice that much of a difference when we used it on a few K-Cup coffees. There was one category of K-Cups which seemed to greatly benefit from this feature however… iced teas. We tested the Strong button on an iced tea lemonade K-Cup and could instantly tell we were getting a stronger lemon taste and a more robust tea taste in the background. Could this finally be the solution to iced tea drinks that don’t get watered-down when we add the obligatory ice to them? We also tested hot cocoas & chai lattes by using the Other button. The K450 seemed to switch modes and produced much more water, in a lot less time than we got when brewing coffee. It also seemed that the water pump was pumping a greater amount of air at the end of the brew cycle in order to flush-out the K-Cup. We’d usually see remnants of caked-on powder inside K-Cups in the past when using the older 1.0 brewers, but every last bit was extracted this time around with the 2.0… impressive. We also noticed that the brew sizes for K-Cups has changed. The default remains at 8oz but the new max size is now 10oz. We have no idea why Keurig have decided to remove the 12oz size but we have no doubt this will annoy & frustrate many users who are accustomed to larger servings.
Tip: When using K-Cups, push them down onto the bottom piercing needle BEFORE you close the lid. This seemed to produce better overall results compared to just throwing a K-Cup in the brewer and closing the lid. This is likely due to the bottom piercing needle going further inside the bottom of the K-Cup and allowing better extraction of the drink.
Brewing Vue Packs
As we noted in Part 1 of our Mega Review, newer 2.0 Vue Packs now have brew setting numbers listed on them. Coffees will have mostly #4 listed which allows you to pick different brew sizes most common to average coffee mugs. Latte-based Vue Packs will have #5 listed which enables the 2-step brew/froth functions which were common on the Vue (sadly, we also get the same type of lacklustre froth results). As we noted in Part 1, setting #2 is for brewing travel mug sized Vue Packs as you can enable the Strong button, #3 is for what we can only guess are upcoming brew-over-ice travel mug Vue Packs? (we’re taking a guess here since the Strong button is disabled) & #6 is likely for the regular sized brew-over-ice Vue Packs or something else (again, we’re taking guesses here).
You need to press Vue Packs down into place when inserting them in the machine as a new spring-loaded mechanism has to expand in order to make way for the bottom of a Vue Pack. This is an ingenious solution which one of the designers thought up after observing his kids playing with Legos. You insert a Vue Pack or K-Carafe Pack, and the front output spout causes the spring-loaded mechanism to expand. Since the mechanism is attached to the K-Cup piercing needle, it causes the needle to retract out of the way so that it doesn’t pierce the bottom of the Vue Pack or K-Carafe Pack. When you remove the used packs, the mechanism & the K-Cup piercing needle pop right back into place. That’s some near-Apple level designing mojo right there.
Overall, we seemed to get slightly better results from Vue Packs compared to K-Cups. Don’t get us wrong, we still got good results from K-Cups when compared to 1.0 brewers, but the Vue Packs seemed to give slightly better tasting coffees & teas (likely due to slightly larger amounts being used in the filters). We still managed to get decent results from various K-Cups when using the Strong button.
Brewing K-Carafe Packs
And so we come to the main selling point of the 2.0 brewers… the infamous K-Carafe Packs. So, just what is a K-Carafe Pack? In our opinion, it’s nothing more than an oversized Travel Mug Vue Pack with more coffee in it. We were expecting the coffee to be rather weak/watery (especially since the Strong button is disabled when brewing K-Carafe Packs), but were surprised to see this wasn’t the case. This is likely due to a new water diffuser/plastic spike attached to the centre of the foil lid. The spike is long enough to reach near the bottom of the K-Carafe Pack and there are perforations on each side & at the end of the spike to ensure hot water gets distributed evenly throughout the coffee grinds during brewing. Given that K-Carafe Packs are the largest sized packs we’ve seen for a Keurig system yet (the new ginormous Bolt Packs notwithstanding), this spike diffuser system is yet another ingenious feature which we weren’t expecting.
We were also impressed with the performance of the starter carafe itself (a higher-end stainless steel thermal version is available separately for about $24.99 CAD). Given the fact that this starter model is NOT supposed to be thermal, we were surprised to see coffee remain fairly hot for 30 minutes after brewing and were floored that the coffee was still relatively warm at best up to 90 minutes after brewing (we were certain it’d be ice-cold by that point). This is pretty good performance for someone who wants 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning before heading off to work (trust us, some mornings it takes us that many cups just to wake up).
When you insert a K-Carafe Pack, you can pick how many cups you want to make (1-2 cups, 3-4 cups or 5-6 cups). We opted for the default 3-4 cup setting and found that this almost filled the carafe to the top in about 3-4 minutes (the machine did seem to pause shortly at one point to allow the boiler to warm back up). This setting produced about three 8oz cups and we’re guessing the 5-6 cup setting would have produced closer to four 8oz cups since there wasn’t that much more room left in the carafe (we’re guessing Keurig must figure most people use 6oz mugs in order to obtain the servings numbers they’re stating). The starter carafe itself is nicely constructed and has a chrome-stye handle along with dark tinted see-through plastic near the top lip. The lid is designed to be left on the carafe during brewing with holes for the coffee to drip through. It also contains a rubber gasket which helps retain much of the heat. The plastic also appears to be double-walled which provides somewhat thermal-like results without actually being truly thermal.
While this feature may not interest most single serve coffee users, the ones that have been longing for this should appreciate the touches that Keurig have put into it. We also think the thermal version of the carafe would likely produce much better results (our guesstimates would be 1-2 hours hot, 2-3 hours warm). The fact that Keurig actually thought to properly infuse water into the K-Carafe Packs by using a new water spike/diffuser goes to show that some serious thought went into these new packs and that they weren’t just something the company threw together at the last minute. Our final verdict? The new K-Carafe feature will be a hit amongst people who often have company over or for those who host lots of parties & family get-togethers. For the average person who doesn’t often do this, it’s a feature which (while nice to have) is one we can live without and is likely something we won’t be using all that often (this still didn’t stop us from buying a box of K-Carafe Packs online a few days ago just so we’d have some on standby).
New features exclusive to 2.0 brewers
You can now set reminders which will pop up alerts on the touch screen. The first one is a water filter replacement reminder. You can enable this on the settings screen and it will display an alert when it’s time to change the water filter. We have no idea if this will reset should there be a power outage (we hope not). This works in conjunction with the new 2.0 water filter which has a reminder dial built-in.
The next new feature is a descaling reminder. The machine will now keep track of how long you’ve been using it and will display an alert when it determines it’s time to descale the brewer. You can opt to ignore it, but we’d recommend sticking to the schedule unless the alert happens to pop up less than a month after you’ve previously descaled everything (although if you use particularly hard water, the warning may pop up more often than those who used filtered or bottled water).
The final new feature is a high altitude mode for using the brewer in geographical locations which are higher above sea level than most average cities across North America. Since we don’t live in a high altitude area, we didn’t really test this feature extensively to see what the differences would be. We can only guess that it affects the way the water pump processes water and it may increase the brew temperature by a few degrees. If you actually use this feature, please feel free to let us know the results in the comments section below this review.
We think these are 3 rather handy reminders/features and they should help curb improper maintenance for those who tend to forget to change the filters or descale the machine regularly (we’ll admit we’ve forgotten a few times in the past, but then again… we’ve got close to 8 machines on our countertop… most people have 2 or 3). Odd tasting drinks & clogged machines due to scale build-up should now hopefully be a thing of the past and people who live in high altitude areas should hopefully see better performance out of their brewers.
This concludes Part 2 of our 3-part Mega Review. Stay tuned for Part 3 where we’ll discuss our likes, dislikes, nitpicks & final thoughts/conclusion on the Keurig 2.0 Brewer Series. We’ll also show you something we’re sure most 2.0 users haven’t even discovered yet and to be honest, it’s a fairly weird feature to have on a single serve coffee brewer. Sorry, no teasers… you’ll have to check out Part 3 to find out what we’re talking about.
We reach the end of a long journey today with Part 3 of our 3-part Keurig 2.0 Mega Review where we discuss our main likes, dislikes & nitpicks about the new 2.0 brewers, our discovery of a hidden port under the machine (do we have your attention now?) & our final conclusion about the new 2.0 brewer series.
What did we like?
– Overall design/look of the new brewers. They seem to have a nicer, more modern look which appears to be a fusion of various design cues from the old Keurig 1.0 Series B70 brewers & the Keurig (1.5 Series?) Vue V700 brewers.
– The designing ingenuity which went into creating the retractable K-Cup piercing needle mechanism. As we noted in Part 2 of our Mega Review, this level of design is something we’d be expecting to see come out of Apple’s Cupertino offices… not Keurig Green Mountain. The fact that Legos inspired it further shows that amazing things can come from the most simple of ideas.
– The water pump and the way the brewer brews coffee & other drinks appears to be ported-over from the Vue brewers. The pump sounds and acts the same as a Vue Brewer and when you select the Strong button, it causes the pump to enter a pseudo-pulse mode much like how the button worked on Vue brewers. The Other button seems to cause more air to pump out when flushing K-Cups at the end of a brew cycle. This gives us slightly better results when compared to the older 1.0 brewers.
– The machine was designed to work with (newer 2.0) Vue Packs. As a result, it’s nice to see that although they’ve been redesigned with DRM, Vue Packs aren’t going away anytime soon. We tend to prefer Vue Packs to K-Cups as we always thought we got better results in most instances. Could this also mean that Vue Packs will now FINALLY be sold in retail stores & grocery stores across Canada? Time will tell, but we’re not holding our breath (Canadians can still order coffee-only Vue Packs directly from Keurig.com in the meantime).
– K-Carafe Packs actually work as intended. We got pretty decent results when using the default 3-4 Cup setting. The coffee didn’t seem too weak/watered-down at all and tasted pretty good. The starter carafe kept the coffee reasonably hot for about 30 minutes after brewing and kept things mildly warm for about 90 minutes after brewing. The stainless steel thermal carafe which is sold separately would probably give much better results, but considering the starter carafe is NOT thermal, 90 minutes for warm coffee is a lot better than having ice-cold coffee after 90 minutes. The only downside is that we only foresee large families or people who are entertaining using K-Carafe packs.
– Easy-access flip-top water tank. You can simply flip the top open (same as the newer 1.0 water tanks or Vue brewer water tanks) in order to fill the tank… no need to remove the entire tank from the machine when you want to fill it. We’re glad this feature remained intact on the 2.0 brewers.
– Customizability on the K500 Series brewers. While it may seem ridiculously excessive to be able to change colors on the water tank light or enable a night light feature, we still thought they were neat little added touches. We’ll admit that the stick-on decal kits which allow you to change the color/look of the backsplash plate and lid area seem to be rather silly, but again… better to have the option than to have none at all.
– New digital power button on the touchscreen. FINALLY!!!! You plug in the brewer and the power button is right there on the bottom-right of the screen. No more awkward fumbling around the back of the brewer (B70 owners know what we’re talking about) for a spring-loaded toggle switch which only worked 90% of the time since you likely hadn’t pressed it hard enough (The Vue was slightly better with a conventional push button but you still had to reach to the back top corner of the brewer). Having an easy to access power button on the front of the machine is a much appreciated feature. We only pray that this corner of the touchscreen doesn’t suddenly become unresponsive someday in the future or we’re screwed (there’s no other way to power-on the machine).
What did we dislike?
– WSOD (White screen of death) the very first time we plugged the machine in. We almost had a heart attack as we thought we had somehow fried the machine or that we had received a dud unit which was defective. All we could see was an unresponsive white touchscreen with no text/display on it. We unplugged everything, waited a few seconds and plugged everything back in. Thankfully it gave us a power button on the screen and we were able to start using the brewer. This was likely just a fluke, but it was a much unwelcome one which had us needlessly worrying for a few minutes (imagine buying a new smart phone and having this happen the 1st time you power it on!)
UPDATE (as we’re writing this review): It happened again. We went to use a hot water cycle and the moment we lifted the lid, the WSOD occurred again. We had to unplug the power cord, wait a few seconds, then plug it back in. We noticed this caused all our settings to reset back to default and we had to reconfigure our clock, wallpaper, etc. Unfortunately, we were too annoyed to remember snapping a photo, but trust us… you’ll know you have a WSOD when you see it. We just hope we can continue using the power cord unplug/replug trick to continue resetting the screen and that this fix doesn’t stop working someday.
– DRM… enough said.
– Reports of NEW 2.0 K-Cups not working in 2.0 brewers! Yes, you read that correctly. This is potentially a MAJOR problem for Keurig Green Mountain. If users go through the extra expense of re-buying new 2.0 K-Cups only to see that some of them STILL might not work? We can only guess that perhaps the alignment of the grey Keurig Brewed ring wasn’t printed properly on the K-Cup, the printed text on the ring was smeared/distorted somehow or that there was dirt that got on the lens of the laser/DRM scanner inside the lid of the brewer. ECS Coffee DID note that it only occurred on a few random K-Cups while the rest seemed fine. We have not had this happen to us yet during our testing & could not reproduce the error.
– No 12oz brew setting (at least we couldn’t find any). It just skips from 10oz to 14oz when using K-Cups & Vue Packs. You can work around this by brewing an 8oz cup, opening & closing the lid, then immediately brewing a 4oz cup on top of that but it’s annoying. Keurig! Why U No Make 12oz Setting?!? At first we thought that future K-Cups/Vue Packs would enable a 12oz setting, but we’re starting to doubt this since if the setting isn’t hardcoded into the brewer’s mainboard, there likely isn’t anything there to enable.
– You can’t choose the brew temperature anymore. The brewer seems to default to an average brew temperature of 175 degrees for K-Cups and 180 degrees for Vue Packs & K-Carafe Packs. This is BEYOND annoying. Not everybody likes their coffee to be scalding hot to the point where their tongue gets 3rd-degree burns (Tim Hortons drive-through coffee, anyone?) but not everybody wants their coffee lukewarm either. With the Keurig 1.0 B70 and Keurig Vue brewers, you could manually set the brew temp to max out around 192 to 197 degrees (if we recall correctly). We hope Keurig figures out a way to fix this oversight. It seems ironic that Brew Hotter was one of the slogans/features in the Vue brewer’s marketing campaign/promotional material and now they’re limiting the brew temperatures on these new 2.0. brewers which are meant to replace the Vue series.
– The dedicated water button on the K500 Series brewers might as well be dedicated to the memory of a button that actually does something instead. We haven’t seen anything as futile as this since the Start button in Windows 8.
– You have to HOLD DOWN the brew button for hot water brewing on the most expensive brewer while this isn’t required on the cheaper brewers just doesn’t make sense.
– You can’t re-use old Keurig 1.0 water filter holders in the new Keurig 2.0 brewers. They changed the design of the output hole on the bottom of the water tank, so now the older filter holders/handles won’t snap on the bottom of the new tanks properly. You need to re-invest in the new 2.0 water filter kit if you buy anything other than the K460 or K560 models. The actual filters themselves remain unchanged, so you can still use any remaining 1.0 filters which you still have in storage.
– Latte-based Vue Packs STILL don’t produce a decent amount of froth. A five year old kid blowing bubbles in a glass of milk through a straw could produce more froth than this.
– There’s no My K-Cup accessory for the 2.0 and we have no idea if Keurig ever plan to create one. You also can’t re-use the old 1.0 My K-Cup accessory since the piercing needle assembly is configured differently than on a 1.0 brewer. So not only does Keurig not desire you to use competitors’ unlicensed products & their OWN older 1.0 K-Cups… they apparently don’t want you to use whatever brand of ground coffee you prefer either. Well, you CAN still use Solofill adapters providing you use one of the DRM hacks/work-arounds.
– The brew chamber handles are chromed plastic instead of chromed metal (gives you the impression that build quality is slightly cheaper, although it isn’t). The B70 1.0 brewers had metal handles, why not at least give the top-of-the-line K550/K560 metal handles too?
– The drip tray doesn’t snap in as securely onto the 2.0 brewer as the older drip tray did on a B70 (we’re constantly having to reposition the tray if something accidentally bumps into it or when we’re removing mugs off the tray and happen to slide the mug off instead of lifting the mug). Thankfully the starter carafe locks in more securely, otherwise we’ve have spilled coffee everywhere.
– For the people with an OCD for cleanliness, you will be highly annoyed over the fact that the new plastic handle is a fingerprint magnet (after brewing our first K-Cup, our fingerprints were the first thing we immediately noticed on the brewer). The same applies to the chrome plastic handle on the starter carafe although to a lesser extent.
There’s a Mystery Phone Jack in your Keurig 2.0
This one really had us befuddled (yes, we used an old-timey word in a review again). When we were unpacking our brewer, we noticed a small access door under the machine. We popped it open wondering if there was perhaps a cleaning needle/brush inside only to discover… a modem/data port.
What could Keurig possibly need to use this for? Did they use this during manufacturing to upload the menu interface onto the machine’s mainboard & don’t intend for the general public to ever use this port? Will they use this for future firmware upgrades to the brewer and make a special USB to RJ-11 cable available for purchase on their site at a later date so that users can update their own machines at home? Will this somehow link into the upcoming Keurig Cold machines to allow control via the 2.0’s touchscreen?
As you can see, there are things to like and things to dislike about the new 2.0 brewers. It just remains to be seen how many people will end up finding more likes than dislikes and how many new users will adopt these new Keurig 2.0 brewers regardless. Keurig insists the main selling point of the 2.0 brewers is the fact that you can now brew an entire carafe at once instead of just brewing a single cup.
A greater percentage of people who got into using single serve coffee machines are those who wanted to get rid of brewing entire pots of coffee at once. Why brew an entire pot if each person wants a different flavor of coffee? Why brew an entire pot if the coffee is going to go stale/cold before you finish drinking it? Hence the point of a single serve coffee machine… you could brew 1 cup at a time, when you needed it and there wasn’t any extra waste as you weren’t dumping entire pots of coffee down the sink. Everyone got to pick whatever type of drink they wanted and weren’t limited to drinking the same coffee as everyone else.
There must have been SOME groups of people who kept bugging Keurig for carafe brewing, otherwise they would have never bothered with it in the first place. As for us, it’s a feature which will likely come in handy on the very rare occasions when we’re entertaining groups of people, but we don’t foresee ourselves using K-Carafe Packs too often. So the entire purchasing factor of this machine boils down to this: Do you need to use carafes often? If the answer is yes, by all means invest in one of these brewers. If the answer is no, you might want to consider getting a 1.0 brewer (or keeping the one you presently have right now) instead.
If you’re like us and own BOTH a Keurig 1.0 brewer and a Keurig Vue brewer, there’s even less of a reason to upgrade unless you really need a carafe feature. While older 1.0 K-Cups & Vue Packs WON’T work in newer 2.0 brewers without the use of hacks, the newer K-Cups & Vue Packs WILL still work in older Keurig 1.0 & Keurig Vue brewers. Why? Because (gasp!) the older machines ironically don’t use DRM!.
Other than the whole DRM debacle & the fact that you can’t change certain features anymore, these are GOOD brewers. We are actually quite fond of the K550/K560 and can see it becoming our main Keurig K-Cup & Vue Pack brewer once we’ve worked our way through our existing stash of older 1.0 K-Cups & Vue Packs.
The K300 would also make an excellent machine for those who just want a basic 2.0 brewer which can brew all of the newer packs and the K400 is a great machine for those who don’t want any of the fancier features while still maintaining more features than the K300.
And lastly here are two youtube videos on how to “hack” your keurig machine. Enjoy!