Tuesday Reviews-Day: Keurig 2.0 K550

It’s a fun day when new toys come in the mail.

I give points for packaging, and the booklet that came with the brewer is quite spiffy with it's tissue liners, etc.

I give points for packaging, and the booklet that came with the brewer is quite spiffy with it’s tissue liners, etc.

Though I suppose it’s not quite right to call the new Keurig 2.0 system a toy, it’s more like a workhorse! I received the K550 model through an Influenster promotion and have been getting to know my new coffee maker for the past couple of weeks. Now, since this was a promotion, I figured they’d be sending out the basic model (the 350) and, believe me, I wouldn’t be complaining! I’ve wanted a Keurig for some time but I couldn’t quite justify the cost just for me since Todd drinks neither coffee nor tea. So when I picked up my brewer and found it was the large, feature-full K550 I was even more impressed, and impatient to try it out!

My first brew! See the black circle on the lid? That tells you it's the updated K-Cup that'll work in this brewer.

My first brew! See the black circle on the lid? That tells you it’s the updated K-Cup that’ll work in this brewer.

Things I love about my K550:

  • An 80 oz reservoir with a charcoal filter that means I only need to fill it up once a week (on average) for my morning coffees and evening teas. And when it needs a refill the screen asks nicely, “More water, please”
  • The brewing size options and strength control that does the measuring for me at a push of a button, saving me time, and not making me think too hard about using either a regular cup or a travel mug.
  • The choice of tank light colors to match my kitchen—it’s a small but nice detail and the little touches are what set them apart from the more utilitarian machines.
  • And, of course, the ability to brew a carafe as well as a cup! This was another big detractor to buying a Keurig in the past, since I want to be able to offer my guests coffee and cup-by-cut can be tedious in group situations.
The tank light in "action." There's also a nightlight feature that comes in pretty handy if you forget to leave the light over the stove on ;-)

The tank light in “action.” There’s also a nightlight feature that comes in pretty handy if you forget to leave the light over the stove on ;-)

Some things I’m not 100% on board with:

  • It doesn’t work with the refillable pods. This has to do with the machine reading the code on the K-Cup lids for quality control issues. So my Mr. Coffee will only be put on the shelf until the old coffee stash is used up, not put out to pasture just yet.
  • The auto-brew function is only for carafes. A bit of a bummer, but it’s still so quick to brew the single-servings in the morning there’s no immediate inconvenience.
  • The samples that ship with the brewer are all caffeinated, and I don’t really do caffeine for medical reasons. You’d think that at least one sample in the multi-pack could be decaf or even one of the herbal tea blends, right? After all, judging by the website offerings, 16% of their K-Cup varieties are caffeine free in one way or another!

That last one I’d researched so I picked up a couple boxes of decaf K-Cups before the brewer arrived, then a few more when I next went to the store. Since I’d been under the weather I was drinking more tea than anything else, and a surprising perk to using the K-Cups was no tea bag in the mug to deal with. I mean, sure, duh, but it was one of those things that I was so used to dealing with that not having to was pretty cool. It’s also nice for evening cup of Sleepytime that I bring up to bed with me, not having to worry about the tea bag or a mug. My Earl Grey Decaf K-Cups are on their way and I’m really looking forward to them!

Yummy coffee on a messy desk... such is my life!

Yummy coffee on a messy desk… such is my life!

As for coffee, I’ve been switching between the Green Mountain Hazelnut Decaf and the Donut Shop Decaf in the mornings, occasionally swapping in Tazo’s Zen Green tea (not totally caffeine free, but fairly low; low enough where it doesn’t trigger my arrhythmia in any case). I’ve also got a few more cases of K-Cups coming in to try out: the current buy 2 get 2 free offer when you register your brewer at Keurig.com comes in handy for stocking up, especially if your local selection is a little spotty.

One of the big complaints I’ve seen among reviews is the fact that the older K-Cups won’t work with the 2.0 system for the same reason the refillable pods don’t: the lids don’t have the right encoding or whatever and if you try to put one in the machine it’ll give you a rather polite ‘Oops!’ message and not let you brew it. If you already have a stash of K-Cups, you may want to put off upgrading to the 2.0 system until your stock has run low.

With the size and strength brewing options of the 2.0, not to mention the little check box for teas or other specialty items, I really hope Keurig will come out with their own refillable K-Cup that’ll work in the 2.0 brewers. I’d definitely buy one so I can use it with the loose teas I have. Plus, for folks who like to support local beaneries that don’t have the volume to produce K-Cups, it’d be a great way for Keurig to bridge the gap between local coffee producers and their brewers. In the mean time, the K550 does have the option to dispense up to 6oz of hot water at a go, so I could still use my stock of tea bags up. (I suppose it’s also useful for watering down coffee for those who like theirs on the weaker side. Different strokes!)

The hot water feature. The option comes up whenever you close the top after removing the spent K-Cup, or you can press the little water droplet on the side of the screen.

The hot water feature. The option comes up whenever you close the top after removing the spent K-Cup, or you can press the little water droplet on the side of the screen.

The K-Cups do have a major leg-up on the convenience factor, though, and I certainly like that the only clean-up is taking out the used pod. The brewers do require periodic maintenance, but even that doesn’t seem too onerous (use of a descaling solution for build-up and then running a reservoir or two of water to rinse it out), and I think the use of the optional filter in the tank is supposed to keep the mineral build-up to a minimum.

Overall I’m thrilled to finally have a Keurig of my own, and I look forward to trying out the carafe feature over the holidays (when I can brew a pot of “leaded” for my family and still make my own decaf without any extra fuss). It’s made my morning and evening routines that much easier–even a few minutes saved each day adds up!

***In case I didn’t make it painfully clear already, I was sent a Keurig 2.0 K550 brewer for the purpose of testing and review through my participation with Influenster.com. All opinions expressed are my own.***

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