The Coffee Pot vs. The Keurig
Credit: Diana Poisson

Should You Replace your Coffee Pot with a Keurig?

There is a Keurig single cup brewing system in the customer waiting area at my work.  Because my office is also in the waiting room, I have turned into an unofficial Keurig Representative as I am asked at least ten times a day my opinion of the Keurig and how it compares to a traditional drip coffee maker.

Impressiveness Factor

Before we got the Keurig, we served complimentary Folgers coffee in a thermal carafe. For the most part, customers would grab the carafe, pour the coffee into their cup and not make any comments about the carafe or the coffee flavor.

Then about two years ago, our corporate office decided that replacing the carafe with a Keurig would improve the customer experience.  I’m not sure if it has improved their experience, but it sure has impressed them. 

Even though the Keurig’s first office brewer was first launched in 1998 and their first home brewer was introduced in 2004[1], there still are a lot of people today that have never used a Keurig before.  For many of my customers, their first time experience with a Keurig is in my waiting room. Typical comments when seeing the Keurig for the first time are:

  • Wow, you have one of those? 
  • I didn't expect to see a Keurig in a repair shop!
  • Look at all of the flavors!  I need to try one!

If impressing your guests is important to you, then get a Keurig.

Winner: Keurig

Keurig B70 Platinum Brewing System
Amazon Price: $329.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 5, 2015)

Machine Costs

At work, customers often ask me how much the machine costs.  To put it simply, Keurig Brewing Systems cost more than the standard coffee maker.   Current pricing from Keurig's website are:

  • MINI Plus: $99.99
  • K45 Elite: $119.99
  • Special Edition: $149.95
  • Platinum: $179.99
  • Platinum Plus: $189.99
  • Office Pro Premier: $249.95

However, you may find a lower price from other retailers or by using coupons.  I purchased our Platinum model for work from Bed Bath & Beyond for $144.00 using their 20% off coupon. 

At home, I have a Black & Decker 12-cup coffee maker.  Black & Decker's website shows eleven 12-cup models and their prices range from $19.99 to $39.99.  I have seen very basic models selling for $9.99 at some retail locations.

Winner: Coffee Pot

Black & Decker BCM1410B 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker with Glass Carafe
Amazon Price: $39.99 $16.90 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 5, 2015)

Coffee Costs

After machine costs are discussed, the next topic is usually the cost of the K-Cups.  Prices will vary between brand and retailer, but they typically cost between 50 and 80 cents each.  This is high compared to making a pot of coffee.  

To compare costs, I went to a local grocery store and priced out coffee and coffee filters:

  • $7.99 for a box of 12 Folgers K-Cups ($0.66 per cup)
  • $7.99 for a 28.8 ounce tub of Folgers coffee ($0.04 per 8 ounce cup)
  • $3.37 for 200 coffee filters (less than $0.02 per filter)

Assuming that tap water is used and using the above prices, making a 12-cup pot of coffee will cost about 50 cents, which is less than a 66 cent cup of Keurig coffee.  

My customers often make the comment that it is better to make one cup of Keurig coffee rather than making a full pot of coffee and throwing most of it away.  My calculations do show that making a full pot is less expensive than making one Keurig single cup.  I agree that it is wasteful to throw any coffee away, but hopefully most drip machine users won't be making a full pot if they are only planning on drinking just one cup.

This article gives suggestions on how to save money on your K-Cups.

Winner: Coffee Pot

A reusable coffee filter is available for some Keurig models so that you can use your own ground coffee.  This will make the price per cup almost equal between the two coffee making systems, but still, you have to pay a much higher price for the initial cost of the Keurig.

Keurig My K-Cup Reusable Coffee Filter (Single)
Amazon Price: $19.95 $11.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 5, 2015)
Save money on coffee costs with a reusable coffee filter!

Ease of Use

No matter which type of machine you use, once you know how to operate it,  it is pretty easy. The steps are basically the same - add water, add coffee and make sure either an empty pot or cup is ready to catch the freshly made coffee and then press the start or brew button.

However, if you do own a Keurig, please be sure to instruct your guests on the proper operation if they want a cup of coffee.  Many of our customers using the Keurig for the first time don't know what to do.  Here are actions that I have witnessed:

  • opening the K-Cup and pouring the grounds into the machine.  
  • making sure the K-Cup label faces a certain direction (not necessary)
  • not putting a new K-Cup in the machine
  • randomly pressing buttons on the Keurig Machine trying to make it start

Granted, there is also a learning curve when making a pot of coffee for the first time. Therefore, I am going to issue a tie on this one.

Winner: Tie

Coffee Flavors

With over 200 coffee, tea and specialty K-Cup flavors, Keurig users have a nice variety  to choose from.   If a Keurig filter was purchased, then Keurig users can also select from all of the different coffees that are made for the typical drip coffee maker.  What is nice is that everyone can have their own flavor and not be limited to what was made in the coffee pot.

Keurig wins on flavor selection.  But how about taste?  That is somewhat harder to determine as tastes vary by each individual.  Some of my customers love the taste and others don't.  I find most of the Keurig K-Cup flavors rather strong for me even when I adjust the cup size to the 12 oz setting.  With the coffee pot, I have more flexibility on adjusting both the water and coffee mixtures to suit my taste.  I personally prefer the coffee that I make at home, whether it is Folgers French Roast or if it is made from the Dark Chocolate Cherry flavored coffee beans that I grind up.  However, I do love the Keurig Hot Cocoa mix.  

Flavor Winner: Keurig

Taste Winner: Tie

Cleaning Factor

We all know that a coffee pot needs to be washed or at least rinsed out.  And if you sneak a cup before the entire pot is finished brewing, you will have drips to wipe up. But don't let anyone tell you that a Keurig never needs to be cleaned.  Miscellaneous coffee grounds do escape from the K-Cups and there are also drips and splatters that need to be taken care of.   As I am in charge of maintaining both my home machine and the office Keurig, neither is maintenance free. However, the time spent on cleaning each system is minimal, so I will issue a tie.

Winner: Tie

Special Uses

There are a couple other factors to take into consideration when deciding which machine is better for you:

Oatmeal Factor - The Keurig is great for making a bowl of instant oatmeal. Set the cup size to six ounces and run hot water through without a K-Cup.

Fishing Factor - The coffee pot is great when you are going on an early morning fishing trip and want to bring along a thermos full of hot coffee.  It would be more of a hassle and not very economical to fill up a thermos one cup at a time.

Winner: Tie

Which System is Better?

It appears that there is a tie between the two systems.  The Keurig won on the Impressiveness and Coffee Flavor categories and the coffee pot won on the Machine Costs and Coffee Costs categories.  They tied on the Ease of Use, Cleaning and Special Uses categories.

Is a Keurig right for you?  My advice is to do the math and calculate if it fits into your budget.  If you purchase one $4.00 cup of a specialty coffee each morning on the way to work, a Keurig will save you money.  However, if you drink several cups of coffee a day, a drip machine will be more cost efficient.