Keurig K Cafe Review

Keurig K Cafe Review

Hey all….if you’ve been wondering about the demise of the Keurig Rivo, wonder no more. A new gourmet style beverage maker has come out recently that can stand toe to toe with it – and get this…no more worries about what what kinds of pods to use either or still being able to locate them at all (I elaborate a little further on this review later) Introducing the K-Cafe! Although it’s only made its debut in this past June, it’s acquiring quite a fan base.

Before I get started, no this is not an espresso machine with bars of pressure – if that’s more your thing there are other models out there. But as you’re about to find out, this new development is no small potatoes. You might find yourself joining the rest of the club that “loves it a latte”!

What’s Included?

Besides the machine, there is the milk frother which is made of stainless steel, a start guide, sampler of pods, and A limited one year warranty.

The tumbler and the glass mug (and the delicious drinks) you may see in pictures up close… sorry, those are not included!

keurig k-cafe review

Colors Available

Two colors: Dark Charcoal and Nickel (silver finish.) which I found out at a later date, is that the latter is the “Special Edition” version (more on that later to come in this post)

The Black version you may have seen included on the sales page, is actually a different model altogether – it’s made to work with WiFi capability.( I’ll be talking about that one in a different post.)

Dimensions

The latest sales page on Amazon gives the K-Cafe dimensions as 17.3″ by 14.2″ by 14.4″ and weight of 13.6 lbs.  Which sounds reasonable but the all-too important metrics of height and length are needed so I went to verify it from the  manufacturer site, which presents a clearer spec list, complete with the image at a side view (and the handle raised)

  • Measurements: 12.5″ ht by 15.3″ w, by 11.7″ d
  • Height with handle raised: 16.7″
  • Weight: 10 lbs.
  • Cord Length: 30″

Features

  • Make tasty lattes and cappuccinos as well as your own regular coffee
  • 6, 8, 10, and 12 oz brew sizes
  • Includes a milk frother that also heats as well as froths
  • Accepts all K-cup pod brands as well as reusables
  • 60 – oz water reservoir
  • High Altitude setting
  • Smart Start for expedient operation
  • Strong brew setting
  • Auto-off

Buttons and Controls

You will see two different places with controls – one on the top front over the kcup chamber and the second is on the base of the milk frother. The milk frother base buttons indicate: “CAPP” (for cappucino), “LATT” (for lattes) and “COLD” (for frothing milk sans warming; such as for those refreshing iced beverages…)

Over the chamber you’ll see the power button and the necessary push-button controls. There is one dual button that you need to push as it’s got “coffee” on one side and “LATTE AND CAPP” on the other side; you will need to push the correct one before proceeding. When you choose “coffee” you;ll see all the brew size buttons blink indicating you need to choose the one you want, and in the middle is the round brew button, which shows the Keurig K logo.

Then there’s a round “Strong” button which pulses your beverage to extract more flavor. Hit it for more kick – right before you hit that Brew button.

k cafe buttonsOn the round dial are the brew sizes – 6, 8, 10, and 12 oz, also, you’ll notice right before 6 is “Shot” which is the selection you make for all of those delicious lattes and macchiatos.

“Shot” produces a concentrated, presized 2 oz amount of coffee that you’ll go on to blend with the frothed and warmed milk. If you’re wanting to make a gourmet drink you’d need to select the “LATTE and CAPP” side in which case “Shot” will blink.

The buttons on the front will illuminate when frothing is in progress …which takes an average time of about 3 minutes. The Auto-off function works by default but you can disable that part too – Holding down the Strong and 10 oz buttons until the Auto-Off light goes out will do the trick.

If you’d like to try some iced lattes, a 16 oz glass is recommended, and plastic (not glass) with ice. If you’d like to make hot cocoa, just for the kids or a much-needed choco-fix, it is best to use the 6 or 8 oz brew size setting –preferably 6 oz to get a richer taste.

And yes, there is a High Altitude setting, which the manual will walk you through if you need it.

Lastly, there are three indicator lights to the left of the Power button: Add Water, Descale, and Auto-Off. They are a little harder to see due to small print.

Keurig K-Cafe Milk Frother

Looking at the stainless steel milk frother (I kind of wish there were stainless steel accents more, such as the handle), it’s got a unique makeup. It also includes (also metal) a whisk and lid. It’s very important to keep these parts in place when in use. You can also wash the lid and whisk separately by hand and immerse the frother in the dishwasher (top rack only) as needed.

With the milk frother are two lines on the inside, they read, respectively, “CAPP” and “LATTE” the drink types you are striving for – these lines serve as guidelines for how far you want to pour the milk for the best results, and to avoid potential of overflow, or worse, scorching.

The “crowning glory” of the K-Cafe

Just a Pro Tip!  Inside the milk frother: “CAPP” line = minimum fill line and “LATTE” = maximum fill line

The frother rests in a base; a round compartment, as it is being warmed and frothed as well as being kept on standby. On the inside you will see what looks like three dark dots (these are actually magnets)  strategically placed, which allow the rotation of the device. In the middle is a small round rod making it easy to seat the frother.

You will be given an indicator “beep” to let you know when the frothing action is complete. Now, here is something to point out: You can froth milk, you can warm milk, you can do both, but you cannot get frothed milk without it also being heated. Interesting huh? And different from the Lattissima Pro and Plus that strictly froths milk (amongst other bells and whistles.) With regard to the frother….if the lights are pulsing, due to attempts to froth while brewing. According to the manual, it’s a two-step process.

The frother does have a slight protusion on one side for easy pouring (can you see it? and in the top picture)

If you’re someone who doesn’t use dairy products, you’ll enjoy this – the K-Cafe frother will happily work on your other milk types, like soy, almond, coconut – even heavy cream if you just want to experiment every now and then. I drink coconut and almond milk exclusively, and I’d love that!

Manufacturer remarks indicate that lower fat content milks tend to froth with better foam, and keep it cold and fresh. Keurig’s booklet recommends skim milk which is not everyone’s cup of tea (mine neither; it’s very bland tasting)

The type of milk is a variable that’s not always easy to predict the outcome of. I can tell you what I know about milk frothing that has a little chemistry behind it. The amount of fats/protein in the milk affects the foam density. Skim milk tends to produce more bubbles, and whole milk creates a thicker/denser froth.  but it is great to know that you won’t have problems if you decide to throw in some whipping cream and see what happens.

Keurig K-Cafe Water Reservoir

The water tank that comes with the K-Cafe has the very nice bonus of a handle at the top, making it easier for you to handle when refilling. It has a max capacity of 60 oz. which is a little larger than some models and should get you a fair amount of drinks before needing to refill.

It has a semi-circular shape and the max-fill line is located on the inside side that faces the unit; above the notch for attachment to the machine. This reservoir does not include a water filter – something I think would have been a nice added bonus. I did find out later on that there is a specially designed water filter accessory for this particular model (see that section for more on that)

The water reservoir is top rack dishwasher safe and it can be rinsed according to the manual. You can also do a tank drain, which doesn’t sound exactly like a purge but can help keep optimum water quality going.

Drip Tray

The drip tray, like all Keurigs, has a plate that goes over the tray that pulls out if you want to use a taller tumbler; revealing the base underneath. The tray will hold up to 8 oz of overflow. With the tray in place, there is about a 6″ clearance between the dispensing spout and the tray/plate.

Suffice it to say you’ll have a pretty easy time accommodating different height cups. Removal of the drip tray will allow for a tumbler up to 7.2″ in height. So yes, if you want to use taller cups, you’re in good hands.

Compatible Accessories For the K-Cafe

I’m thrilled to mention that this is an open-platform brewer slash latte and cappuccino maker…Let me add, however, all pod types and brands with these exceptions below, according to manufacturer notes:

Vue, Rivo, K-Mug, and K-Carafe….DON’T use any of these. It may be moot about the K-Mug, though, anyway as I haven’t seen those lately.

Yes, you can use your own grounds…trouble here is that the Universal My-K-Cup is mentioned all around as the only acceptable model. If I find some more evidence of other brands that are compatible I will update and mention it here.

There is also a Keurig Side Reservoir Water Filter Kit available too which fits this model; strictly optional, if you don’t use bottled or already filtered water.

Pro Tip: If you want to use the Universal My K-Cup with the K- Cafe, which is encouraged if you ever want to use your own grounds, it’s important that you remove the 2.0 adapter from it first as well as the K-Cup holder from the K-Cafe inner chamber so it will fit. I found user comments stating that they had trouble getting the My K-Cup to fit, but weren’t aware of that crucial step 🙂

Maintenance

There is a little cautionary information in the manual – a vinegar and h20 descale is encouraged , very much like comparable models. The “descale” light will appear to let you know. Second thing – the use of distilled water is discouraged. Why that is for certain- when you probe around the manual you’ll see something like “it can alter the taste of the beverage”

However, unlike the 2.0 Keurigs, it has nothing to do with tripping sensors. I’ve heard some people say they use distilled water and don’t notice any bad or strange taste. So use whatever feels right for you.

Is the K-Cafe Special Edition Different?

The Keurig K-Cafe Special Edition is the same model with all of the features and parts listed above. It is described by the rep as having a “premium nickel finish” and metal accents – so it’s kind of got a more high-end look. I personally like the look of it better. The drip tray/plate is metal in the Special Edition, whereas the regular charcoal/black model’s tray as well as the other outside parts, are matte.

Keurig K-Cafe Consumer Reviews and Ratings

Lots of great reviews present, and most with plenty of validity in them despite the K-Cafe not being on the market for very long. A lot of satisfied and delighted consumers are going forth to present their findings – I’m starting to wonder about how well traditional coffee shops are surviving, hehehe….now that people are saving money and turning their kitchens into a one-stop deluxe coffee bar. Comments included praise for the coffee taste, temperature, and process as well as that of the frother’s function.

keurig k cafe reviewEvery now and then there’s trouble in paradise and I do want to call attention to my findings there too. This unit is a little bit wider so you really can’t use one of those K-cup storage drawers easily, some people mentioned. You may have to give up on that idea (the under the brewer storage drawer) due to the brewer width.

Second…a couple of people said the water tank handle seemed delicate….I agreed and felt that was one area that the design could be improved upon; as I like the look of the reservoir overall. The water reservoir lid handle broke on one consumer as it is held on with a “pin”…I think you can just as easily refill it with it seated and lessen the stress on it. Since it has a lid you can remove it if needed to refill the tank.

Although Auto-Off is a feature with Keurigs that is highly appreciated, in the case of the K-Cafe, however, there were a few instances in that consumers claimed that the Auto-Off feature tripped their GFCI or GFI circuit breaker – and when they disabled it this problem went away. A rather odd occurrence as no other model has ever mentioned anything like tripping circuits so no clear answer is present for me. I wonder if  –  between the brewing apparatus plus the energy expenditure with the frother combined means a greater output, and caused this scenario??

OK…one last thing…the performance of the frother. So many opinions that can be conflicting at times….Some people say certain kinds of milk froth well and another says it doesn’t. Everything from coconut to half and half. What I’m thinking it comes down to is not so much the type of milk used but know-how with the tool itself. Seating the frother correctly, making sure the little whisk is centered right, and making sure to use cold and fresh milk seem to play a role in its function.

A particular  comment that stood out to me (as far as a negative goes) “It does not brew and froth simultaneously” However…

One user said that if you set up the coffee FIRST and then the frother, it will pretty much function at the same time.

Pros

  • Attractive overall design
  • Included milk frother also heats as well as froths
  • All kinds of milk (almond, soy, etc.) can be frothed
  • Accommodates taller tumblers easily
  • Accepts all types of K-cup pods (with the exception of the four I mentioned!)
  • High altitude setting
  • Brew sizes 6, 8,10, and 12
  • Strong setting

Cons

  • Does not have temperature control
  • Best results from the frother may involve a little guesswork
  • Water tank handle seems a little delicate
  • Auto-off  not programmable other than 2 hours of inactivity

Price

Wow, I do like the price! At the time of writing it was under $200 which is great. It looked to be a couple of options; one in which you could get an extra pod collection for about $20 more. At this 2022 update I see that it is still in that price range when I checked.

Considering your other potential expenses, one of them would be that of the proprietary Universal My K-Cup reusable pod, if you are interested in using your own grounds. Of course, it also depends on what type of milk you prefer.

I noticed that the silver version (the “Special Edition”) had the highest price..you may save about $30-$50 if you were to opt for the black/charcoal version instead.

The Verdict

My rating: Excellent👍

I’m not sure if six – eight months is long enough to shower praises on a new coffee maker, but….objectively, I’m seeing the K-Cafe as a great choice and definitely worthy of your time if you enjoy coffee and gourmet style lattes and that is important to you. This machine looks like a home run!

Only nitpick as I see it is maybe be careful with the water tank handle and take your time mastering the use of the frother.  I think the design of the water tank could be redesigned to be a little more sturdy. I do see the possibility for a few workarounds (and a heckuva lot of room for drink experimentation…)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.