Monday, May 25, 2009

Product Review: Keurig B40 K-Cup Coffee Brewer

Last week, I was asked to help out at my old job, in the mortgage department of my old bank. Of course I would! I was glad to spend time with my old boss. I miss chatting with her everyday. She's an amazing lady; so dedicated to her job, a mortgage lending whiz, and always makes time for every customer. But she doesn't give herself enough credit.

Working for a small bank meant the two of us put on numerous hats each day. One of my best skills was developing custom SQL reports. It was time for a regularly scheduled fed audit once again, and the chiefs needed reports done. I was happy to help them out.

It had been six months since I looked at that financial system, but thank goodness for my old boss: she recently purchased a Keurig single-cup coffee brewer for the office. Caffeine helped fuel my brain ;) Due to some economic and other personnel changes, my old boss was pretty much left all by herself in that division. Nobody to share a big pot of coffee with. She already had a Keurig machine at home, which she and her husband just love. He likes his coffee strong; she likes hers weak. They also have lots of family visiting often, and this was a great solution. The early-risers, the late-sleepers, the tea-drinkers, and the java-addicts could all enjoy a steaming hot, fresh beverage within minutes! No more stale, wasted, cold coffee, or arguing over flavors and brews. Also, no carafes to break! Everybody's happy!

A similar situation arises in our home: hubby loves mixing strong Cuban espresso in with his already dark roast. I, the Canadian girl, lived off Tim Horton's and flavored blends from The Second Cup. It became a chore, deciding what coffee to brew, and to forego it altogether, on days when we were in a hurry to get to work. Not anymore! Just pick your favorite K-cup, from an assortment of over 200+ choices from Keurig's website, or any number of online retailers, place the K-cup in the brewer, place your favorite mug under the spout, and press the corresponding size button on the machine. Voila! Seconds later, a steaming cup of your favorite coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. No fuss, and no mess either!

While visiting the bank, I got to try several different varieties of gourmet coffee and teas, with major brands like Timothy's, Van Houtte, Caribou, and Celestial Seasonings. They were all amazing, but the tea especially was incredible. So full of flavor! I have a Zojirushi hot pot for hot water at home, which I keep at 195 degrees F, so it couldn't have been the temperature of the water that made the difference with the teas. I think it's the amount of pressure being used by the machine. The combination of the temperature and pressure is definitely what brings out the flavor in the coffees and teas. The heat, the aroma, the taste... It's almost like being in a coffee shop (if your coffee shop plays Raffi and have a preschooler, a cat, and a dog running around).

On the down side, the whole system is a bit on the pricey side. There is a basic model, the B30, which runs anywhere from $62.99 to $79.99, and does not have a water reservoir. Personally, I thought that kind of defeated the purpose of having a quick cup of coffee available at anytime. My old boss opted for the B40 model for home and for the office, shown above, which does have a 48-ounce water reservoir. I followed suit, and purchased a B40 for us as well, which was $99.99 at our local Sears store. The next model up, the B60, retailing for an average of $129.99, also has a reservoir, along with a digital display, timer functions, and three cup sizes. We've never used the timer functions on our previous coffee brewers, so that seemed like an unnecessary add-on. 9.25 ounces is also plenty large enough for us for a single serving, so that was another reason we opted for the B40.

As for the K-cup pods themselves, there are a few pluses and minuses. They certainly are convenient and offer a great way to have a variety of flavors on hand, keeping them all fresh until ready to use. The cups also do a fantastic job containing grounds, leaves, and used cocoa, making it a snap to brew a single serving, and toss the used cup. However, therein lies the problem: they do create a lot of waste. I'm hoping to be able to separate the used pod pieces, and recycle the outer plastic shell. The cups themselves also cost anywhere from $0.35 to $0.50 per K-cup. However, Keurig has developed a solution for that: the My Cup K-cup. It's a reusable pod, that you can custom fill with your own favorite blend. The filter itself is also washable and reusable. I plan to purchase one of those, so hubby can have his homemade Cuban blend, and I can continue to buy my favorite organic, bird-friendly, fair-trade beans. For our guests, it's nice to see that Keurig does offer several varieties of ready-made organic, fair-trade K-cup coffee.

Can't wait to be able to brew a cup first thing in the morning, before heading off to my new job :D




UPDATES: See comments #4 , #5 , and #8  for some of our favorite K-cup flavors.

Keurig B40 photo courtesy of Keurig.com




8 comments:

  1. going green is important so I honor this. I used to have a voluntary simplicity support group when I lived in the states...Now I live in Mexico and write about my simple lifestyle, reflections, challenges, learnings and share them, hoping to make a positive difference by my stories and truth. Maybe you will find it inspiring...do check it out and I'd love if you'd follow. I have chosen to follow yours. Good luck with "work"!
    Robin
    http://apps.facebook.com/blognetworks/blog/lifeworks_living/

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  2. I love Keurig K-cups too. I used to have it at my old job. So many great coffee flavors! Oh my! But now I can't live witout my Cafe Bustelo Cuban style espresso coffee! So STRONG!

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  3. Hi Manuela!

    Oh yes, Cuban coffee is strong stuff! When I first moved here, I got a last-minute call to be a day shift cashier for a coffee shop/deli where a friend was working, when the regular cashier didn't show up for work (typical down here). I learned how to make bucci, colada, and cafe con leche quick! LOL! Their favorite brand there was Pilon, in the black package. Hubby likes Bustelo, like you do.

    The nice thing with the Keurig is that they do have those reusable cups, and I have seen espresso available in ready-made K-cups too. Just make sure your coffee is ground fine, and that should do it! Hubby is going to try to make his Bustelo/dark roast blend with a reusable K-cup filter this weekend :)

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  4. UPDATE:

    We've been enjoying our Keurig for over a month now, and still love it and use it several times everyday. I thought I'd update with a few of our favorite flavors:

    Mine (I like medium-strong, flavored coffees):
    - Green Mountain Caramel Vanilla Cream
    - Emeril's Vanilla Bean BAM! (the only vanilla I could find that wasn't flavored artificially)
    - Celestial Seasonings English Breakfast Black Tea (tea; not coffee)

    Hubby (he prefers very strong coffee and espressos):
    - Coffee People Jet Fuel
    - Emeril's Big Easy Bold

    Coffee we both enjoy:
    - Gloria Jean's Mudslide
    - Emeril's Jazzed Up Decaf

    And there are still 200+ more to sample! ;)

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  5. UPDATE:

    I think I've found my new favorite K-cup tea:

    Timothy's Orange Indulgence White Tea

    This one is just amazing. From the moment it starts to brew, the lovely floral scent just immediately fills the whole kitchen. It's possible to run up to three 9.25-ounce shots from a single K-cup of this flavor. What I do in the mornings is run two shots and fill my big 20-ounce SIGG thermal bottle, add a little touch of wildflower honey, and take that to work. Mmm... mmm!!

    When I get home from work, I can run that used K-cup of white tea one more time, and have one more cup :)

    Delicious!!

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  6. I've just gotten a Keurig B70, and I love it! I'm actually drinking my first My K-Cup of my own Cafe Bustelo, and... I'm not sure.

    I'm used to making my own latte each morning with a stovetop espresso maker, and this tastes different somehow. I can't pin down what it is, or even if it's better or not as good!

    You said your husband was going to try to Bustelo. What did he think of it? Does he still drink it, or has he just swapped to the more convenient Jet Fuel & Big Easy Bold? (I have a box of Jet Fuel on its way to me as I type.) I'm curious to get another opinion on the differences of Bustelo via Keurig vs. via espresso maker.

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  7. Oh I'm glad you've treated yourself to a Keurig machine :)

    Well, the Bustelo experiment in our home ended up in a disaster. Not so much with the taste. More so with my not-so-kitchen-savvy husband putting his Bustelo-blend coffee grounds right into the machine. That's right. No K-cup. No reusable pod, even though I bought that specifically for him, and showed him how to use it. Needless to say, we were picking coffee grounds out of that machine for two months.

    My husband also isn't as much of a foodie as I am. Our local Publix grocery store recently started carrying K-cups (finally)! I bought hubby home a box each of Van Houtte Twilight, and Van Houtte Kenya Kilimanjaro.

    Me: "Did you like them?"

    Hubby: "Yes."

    Me: "Should I buy them again?"

    Hubby: "If you want."

    You see my point. LOL! He did say he likes his Big Easy Bold, and Jet Fuel the most.

    With the Bustelo, I would have to guess that your stove-top brewer is heating up much hotter than the Keurig. Since you have the B70, I would suggest using the hottest setting, and pack in the grounds tightly in the reusable My K-Cup filter, to increase the pressure inside. Do share your results with us :)

    Enjoy your new machine!

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  8. I'm so glad to have found another favorite tea, and this one also just happens to be organic and fair trade!

    Be sure to add this one to your shopping list:

    Bigelow Organic Fair Trade Ceylon Tea

    It's available from Amazon.com, and eligible for the Subscribe & Save program.

    It's a good day for hot tea today!

    Faye @ GreenOrganicMama.com

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