Story by Manos Angelakis
Single serve coffee brewers are starting to dominate the residential US market with their ease of use and “fresh” portion pack coffee sealed in plastic or fabric-mesh cups.
There are many single serve machines out there; but while Nespresso dominates the European market, Keurig Green Mountain seems to have become the dominant brand in the US and Canada with their K-pod, single use, coffee containers.
Other machines are now being introduced to the market that use K-pods or are K-pod compatible – made with a narrow upper plastic ring and a fabric-mesh container -- and Remington’s icoffee Opus was sent to us for testing.
So we decided to make a head-to-head comparison of the original Keurig Platinum machine, the new Keurig 2.0 K 500, and the icoffee Opus. We have all three machines in the office and -- together with the Keurig Rivo espresso maker -- they are all used daily.
We believe that the original Keurig Platinum that we have been using for more than two years is a very versatile machine.
Advantage: It will accept any K-cup single brew coffee pod plus private branded items using the K-pod or K-pod compatible units; plus it can accommodate a reusable filter that can be loaded with your own preferred coffee or coffee blend. The last item is sold as an accessory at additional cost. You can also make tea, hot chocolate and other beverages that come in a K-pod or it will give you a cup of hot water to make your own beverage. It comes with a very detailed instruction book.
Disadvantage: The resulting brew is not as hot as it could be, and cools off quickly.
The Keurig 2.0 k-500 that we also own is a newer machine with many bells and whistles that are not particularly vital or are just cosmetic, and with one major advantage and one major disadvantage. It comes with a very detailed instruction book.
Advantage: It accepts larger pods that will give you a carafe (4 cups) of coffee in a single brew. A plastic carafe comes with the unit. Compared to the Platinum, the brew is a little warmer.
Disadvantage: It will only work with Keurig approved pods that have on the top of the pod’s cover a metallic ink imprint, sensed by the machine. If you try to use an older Keurig pod without the imprint or a pod from a non-licensed vendor it will not operate. That also means that you can’t use Keurig’s reusable coffee filter. You can make tea, cocoa and other beverages as long as they are in a pod with the imprint. A metallic thermal carafe is available at additional cost. As a result of the “improvements” added to the original model, the unit’s cost is considerably higher than the other brewers in the market and the unit is a bit larger taking more counter space.
Remington iCoffee Opus. A machine similar in look and size to the Keurig units; Opus will accept any K-pod plus it comes with a reusable iCup (coffee filter) as part of the package and at no additional cost.
Advantage: It has a water reservoir larger than either the Platinum or the Keurig 2.0 k-500 and will accept non-coded K-pods. Instead of regulating the size of the pour by moving an indicator on the functions screen using 2 buttons (left to right and right to left movement), a revolving button will set the amount of water from 4 oz. to 12 oz. in ½ oz. increments. The resulting brew is considerably hotter than Keurig’s.
Disadvantage: The instruction booklet is very skimpy with little usable information.
Depending on the K-pod used, because of the extremely large number of coffee roasters that have contracted with Keurig or are selling K-pod compatible products, sometimes the beverage is thin, sometimes unpleasantly flavored and with minimal aroma. For example, the pods from a well known Seattle coffee company have a burnt coffee smell and an ashy and burnt bitter taste with an acidic finish; but so does the coffee they sell in their franchised stores that have inundated cities in the US and around the world. The pods from a Connecticut based mass marketer, marked as an extra bold, medium roast coffee, create a pleasant aroma but the body of the beverage is on the thin side with a slightly watery finish. We use 100% Colombian marked pods from Gevalia, Melitta, Lavazza, Folgers, Chock-full-of-Nuts and Newman’s Own, and found them all to be flavorful and satisfying.
Pricing of the machines varies, with Keurig units starting at US$ 73.00 for the simple models and going up to US$199 for the most elaborate ones. There are numerous models available depending on the retailer, and many stores will discount the units by 10 to 20%. Retailers also sell the above mentioned Remington icoffee Opus, Mr. Coffee® Single-Cup Brewing System, Hamilton Beach - FlexBrew Single-Serve Coffeemaker and a few others with prices starting around US$ 40.00
Despite iCoffee's claims, the flavor and aroma of the coffee has nothing to do with the functionality of the K-pod brewers, and everything to do with the contents of the pods.
© January 2015 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.