Keurig coffee makers occupy a strange space in the coffee world. Allow me to present to you the Keurig Paradox; the brand itself is both one of the most recognizable names in coffee in America and, at the same time, offers some of the weakest coffee makers on the market worldwide. How does this add up? How does Keurig manage to survive and thrive in the free market like this?
Their initial success came from what was, admittedly, an original idea coffee on-demand in the office space that wasn't from a stale pot someone brewed 5 hours ago. An excellent idea to be sure, deserving of respect, but times have changed and the brand currently succeeds because of a very simple calculus; they have a low upfront cost, and you've heard of them already.
Thus, the brand has momentum. It's in the zeitgeist, for better or worse. In this article, we'll discuss better options, and why Keurig is one of the worst ones you could pick.
Caution the following statements are stronger than any coffee you'll get out of a Keurig.
Arguably, the most attractive quality of a Keurig nowadays is its low cost of entry. If you were to take a glance at the price range of all Keurigs on the market, you can expect to spend between $60 and $250 on one of their single-serve coffee makers at the time of this writing. Honestly, yeah, that's pretty cheap. Sounds like a good deal right? It is (until you think about it).
Keurigs take proprietary K-Cups to function, and they're expensive. Here's where you can expect to bury all the money you saved by getting a cheap coffee maker. Before we get into cost, though, let's talk about what you can find in a K-Cup capsule. Underneath the colorful aluminum lid of a K-Cup is pre-ground coffee, which means two really important things the grind will be inconsistent between batches and the coffee has already lost some of its freshness.
This severely limits quality, and your drink will suffer for it. Such contents will cost you about 60 cents per capsule, sometimes more. Now, according to Statista, the average American drinks about 2 cups of coffee per day. If you're in a household that drinks maybe 2 coffees a day, this translates to $37 a month. In a year, that's upwards of $430. After 5 years, your $60 Keurig you got on sale will have cost you over $2200.
Conversely, while a Keurig has hidden costs, automatic coffee machines like the Gaggia Brera have hidden savings. The upfront cost of a Brera, as of this writing, is about $450. For many customers, we understand 450 can be an intimidating number, but keep reading.
The Brera primarily uses whole bean coffee, which is both fresher than pre-ground and offers better, more flavorful results in the cup. The built-in ceramic burr grinder grinds beans fresh right when you want a coffee for the freshest results you could hope for. Now, whole bean coffee tends to come in 1 kg or 2.2 lbs. bags, which are around $20 a bag. A great example is Maromas Orphea. You can get almost 100 shots out of a 2.2 lbs. bag of coffee, which brings the cost per cup to around 20 cents (read a third of the cost of a K-Cup). That's about $12 per month, and $146 per year.
After 5 years of owning the Brera, you'll have spent $744 on coffee for a net cost of $1194 if we include the cost of the machine. That's less than half the long-term cost of a $60 Keurig, making the Brera both better and less expensive than the least expensive Keurig when it's on sale.
Keep in mind that these are pretty generous metrics. If we go by the New York Times' findings that K-Cups can cost $50 per pound, then we're looking at a much more hellish cost. We did the math and, even in 2019, the numbers check out; you could be spending 89 cents per capsule or $50 a pound. Compared to our previous example of Maromas Orphea, that's more than twice the cost of gourmet whole bean coffee.
If we use our equation from earlier of 2 cups of coffee per day, and figure in New York Times' findings of 8 grams of coffee per Folger's Black Silk capsule, that comes to 5.8 kg or 12.9 lbs of coffee used in a year. At $50 a pound, that's $645 per year. For comparison, you would need to buy 6 bags of Maromas Orphea (a total of 13.2 lbs of coffee) running you a much more manageable $120.
So, the Gaggia Brera is less expensive to own and operate than the least expensive Keurig, and it makes better coffee. On even playing field, an automatic coffee maker like the Brera crushes the Keurig, but the playing field isn't even. Whereas the Keurig stops at coffee, it's one and only job, the Brera has a lot more going for it.
Here's a quick breakdown of the extra features you'll find on the Brera when comparing to a Keurig that we haven't already discussed
Some of these features can be found on more expensive Keurigs, but why compare to those when the Brera is already less expensive than their cheapest offering? At this point, it's better to burn your money than buy a Keurig, but if you're going to do that, you might as well get something that values your time.
For an exhaustive list of automatic coffee machines that are more worth your time, have better value, and respect your taste buds, click here. For anyone who wants to upgrade but doesn't know what to do with their old Keurig, review the picture below.