Having asked the question “Does a Keurig use instant coffee?” on our active coffee community a member quickly followed up asking “How does a Keurig work?”
To be clear, a Keurig is brewed coffee and not instant coffee, and I promised a detailed answer, one that is far to long to post as a comment in our coffee community, this post details how a Keurig machine works and how the Keurig K-cups work.
Keep reading to find out.
How Does A Keurig Work? – How Does A Keurig Mini Work?
There is a wide range of Keurig brewers and coffee machine that are available for home, office and commercial use ranging from drip coffee to single serve Keurig Brewer of many different models including Keurig K Supreme plus, Keurig Mini and Keurig Mini Plus.
The single serving Keurig coffee machine is popular as coffee lovers can get Starbucks quality coffee at home for a fraction of the price and while you can sit there, in complete comfort and relax while enjoying a movie.
The process starts with you selecting a K Cup Pod and inserting it into your coffee machine.
The machine then pierces the foil lid with the entry needle and punches a hole in the bottom with the exit needle.
A jet of how water flows from the water entry nozzle at 89C (192F) into the Keurig K cup that you have selected and brews your coffee.
The brewed coffee then flows from the exit needle to the coffee spout and into your cup below.
The brewing process is not too dissimilar to a combination of drip coffee and espresso coffee.
These coffee machines are a very convenient and very quick way of brewing coffee and may look complex to maintain, but they are in fact very easy to maintain.
All that is needed for basic maintenance is to clean the needles once every two weeks and run a descaling cycle every two weeks also.
There is a descale light which comes on when it is time to descale. My own best practice is to keep the machine clean and not to let the descale light come on.
Read: How does K-cup work?
How Does Keurig Measure Water?
This is getting down to core workings of how does a Keurig work. This might sound a little complex and complicated, but it is not really.
Inside your Keurig coffee maker is a pre-measured container that holds a minimum and maximum amount of water which is directly correlated to the smallest and largest cup size that can be served.
The machine keeps the maximum amount of water hot at all times.
The amount of water that flows to the pre-measured container and how the machine knows how much to fill is controlled via a micro switch.
When the amount of water is less than a certain amount, the micro switch sends a signal to open the inlet valve and another signal to switch on the water pump which then permits the flow of water to the pre-measured water container. When the container reaches the maximum amount, the microswitch sends the signal to the inlet valve to close and the pump to stop pumping water to the container.
Depending on the size of cup that you have selected, the Keurig coffee maker and the very smart engineers that designed the coffee maker calculated the flow rate of the water, and how long both the valve needs to be open, and the water pump needs to be pumped for the right amount of water depending on your settings and size selected.
How Does A Keurig Heat Water So Fast?
A Keurig single serve coffee machine heats water in the same way that all single serve coffee makers do. They work in the two simple fashions, which are:
- 1. The water passes through narrow water pipes that are strategically placed next to a heating element.
- 2. Water is kept hot at all times, to within a few degrees of brewing temperature.
This second part is managed through a heat sensor and the microprocessor that when the water is below a predetermined temperature a valve opens, the pump activates and the water is recirculated to the heating element which is activated and back to the water container.
Your Keurig continues to do this until the water reaches the brewing temperature, the process stops. This process is repeated every time the water temperature drops below the threshold.
The result of this means that the water is always at brewing temperature or very close to it.
How Does A K-Cup Work?
Now that I have covered the inner working as functionality of a K-Cup coffee pod. Unlike a drip coffee machine where a considerable amount of ground coffee is used, each pod contains only the right amount of coffee to brew a single cup of coffee. Like a drip coffee machine, each pod has a small paper filter.
It is impossible not to come across K-cups somewhere as many retail outlets like supermarkets and convenience stores sell them.
They are recognizable with their small cup-shaped food grade plastic bodies and foil-sealed caps.
The small mini paper filter is held in place at the bottom with food-grade plastic.
Prior to sealing the foil lid all oxygen is removed via a vacuum and nitrogen flush. The removal of oxygen is to prevent the degradation of the coffee grounds via the oxidization process. The nitrogen flush is used to help preserve the coffee and prolong the expiry date. The whole objective is to keep your coffee fresh.
A jet of hot water is injected at the top of the K-Cup via a hollow needle which then brews and then exits via the hollow exit needle and then into your coffee cup.
Despite the very fast brew time, Keurig K-cup coffee pods are not instant coffee, they are brewed. No instant coffee granules are used, only ground coffee is used.
Who Is A Keurig Single Serve Coffee Maker For?
A single-serve coffee maker like a Keurig is ideal for you if you are a busy person and want to make gourmet coffee at home on command.
Making great gourmet coffee at home can be time-consuming even if you have all the right gear and brewing equipment and then there is the time to learn how to use them.
A Keurig is a device of modern convenience.
It’s also great if you love Starbucks style coffee and want to save some money on your coffee expenditure and get that great coffee at home.
A Keurig is great for the work place, for the office that wants to spoil and treat their staff well with the choice of great quality gourmet coffee. An office is best seeking to have the machine connected to the main water line to avoid the inconvenience of having to refill the water reservoir.
One of the plus points for having a single serve coffee maker at home or in the office is the ability to cater to everyone’s individual coffee tastes instead of the one size fits all approach of a drip coffee maker or a coffee percolator.
Keurig K-Cup Drink Options – What Can You Brew?
Owning a Keurig coffee maker might be heaven for coffee lovers and coffee enthusiasts, and to be quite frank, the new microwave for students!
There are 600+ varieties of pods from 60+ different brands. Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Peet’s, Kahula, Costa Coffee, Maxwell House, Folgers, Tully’s, Krispy Kreme, McCafe and more.
All your favorite coffee drinks can be found from iced coffee to a latte, macchiato, mocha, cold brew and Caffe Americano and more.
There is no shortage at all.
Late at night and too late for coffee?
Have an exotic Swiss or Belgian hot chocolate!
Fancy a tea?
Sure, they gave that covered to with many high quality tea options ranging from chai latte to earl grey and more.
How about a Campbell’s soup? or using the hot water option to for hot water only and a bowl of Ramen noodles – I did say this was the new microwave for students!
I’ve heard stories of various student meals being made with these!
How To Clean, Unclog And Descale a Keurig
Cleaning, unclogging and descaling your Keurig is not difficult at all. No special equipment is needed.
Start by using a damp cloth or sponge and give the exterior a wipe clean. At Latte Love Brew we encourage you to use and think of cleaning your needles and descaling your machine as preventative maintenance.
Unclogging The Needles
To clean and unblock the needles, the best way is to let them get clogged in the first play and preform a simple cleaning every other week.
Locate the needle maintenance tool, fill it with hot water and lift the lid of your Keurig coffee machine and insert it where you would put a K-Cup coffee pod.
Open and close the lid 5 times. Repeat as necessary. It is that simple.
For seriously clogged needles you may need to use a fine needle or paper clip and poke around carefully inside both needles. Then use your needle maintenance tool to clean and clear them of the loosened dirt.
Run a needle cleaning routine once every other week, every 14 days.
The needle maintenance tool comes with your Keurig. If you have lost it, order a new one from Amazon, Keurig, or eBay. Keep your new one taped to the rear of your machine for safe keeping.
(it’s where I keep mine!).
Cleaning And Descaling Your Keurig
This is very easy to perform. Instead of waiting for the descale light to illuminate and get sub-par coffee run a light descaling cycle every other week to keep your machine in top condition for brewing coffee.
Fill your water reservoir with 50% distilled white vinegar and 50% water and run a brewing cycle until the reservoir is empty.
With Keurig mini or mini plus you may need to run 2 or 3 cycles due to the small capacity of the machine.
When your machine has been successfully descaled run several flushing cycles to rinse the machine of the vinegar and scent of vinegar. You may need to run up to 5 or more flushing cycles.
Remove all the removable parts, including the drip tray and the water reservoir and clean them well. Let them air dry before putting them back in place.
Frequently Asked Questions About How Does A Keurig Work?
How Do You Work A New Keurig Coffee Maker?
A Keurig coffee maker is purposely designed to be easy to use. Your first step is to run a cleansing brew with only water, a simple rinsing cycle without a K-Cup inserted.
This will help to remove any dirt and dust from the manufacturing process.
- 1. Select a K-Cup coffee pod to brew and put a mug below the coffee spout.
- 2. Lift the handle of your Keurig coffee maker and insert your coffee pod. Close the handle.
- 3. Select the settings that you want for your brew.
- 4. Press the brew button and wait for the coffee to pour.
- 5. When your coffee stops pouring, remove your coffee pod.
- 6. Drink and enjoy.
Does A Keurig Need A Water Connection?
The correct answer is: No!
You do not need to connect your Keurig coffee maker to the main water line. Each coffee maker can easily be adjusted and adapted slightly to be connected to a mains water supply, if the user wants to. This is why you see single serve coffee machines connected to a main water line in offices.
How Long Does It Take For A Keurig To Start Brewing?
Keurig single serve coffee machines are built for speed and efficiency and only take a minute or two, and in most cases just under a minute to brew a cup of coffee.
They work so quickly by keeping the water hot and almost a brewing temperature.
Should I Remove K-Cup After Brewing?
Yes, I encourage you to remove your K-cup immediately after your coffee has brewed.
If you leave your coffee pod in your machine for too long, the needles can become clogged with coffee grinds.
What Is The Best Type Of Water To Use In A Keurig?
The best type of water to use in your Keurig brewer or single serve coffee maker is bottled water or filtered water.
Distilled water has no minerals, and thus will attract the minerals from the metal in the internal pipes. Bottled water and filtered water will help to prevent the build up of limescale and minerals.
Why Do K-Cups Taste Watery?
If your K-Cup coffee is tasting watery, the principal culprit is usually your needle being clogged. When the needle is clogged only some water ends up in the K-Cup, the rest leaks and drips out. The result of this is a watery and weak cup of coffee.
Locate your needle maintenance tool that came with your machine. Fill it with hot water and insert it into the K-Cup holder and one and close the lid of your machine 5 times to clean the needle.
Repeat as necessary and descale your Keurig coffee brewer.
Final Thoughts – How Does A Keurig Work?
It is in my humble opinion that this article details the question “How does a Keurig work?” in great detail.
If I have missed something out or you need your question answered join our active, fun and vibrant coffee community on Facebook/Meta and ask your question Feel free to share your fave coffee jokes and memes and cool coffee creations!