Unlike many manufacturers, Keurig has always been a company that listens to its customers. They take a lot of their ideas and designs based on feedback from their current models of coffee makers. By doing this, they eliminate what isn’t working and will even bring back things people ask for.
The Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker addresses some of the problems Keurig ran into, such as the 2.0 pods which tried to eliminate third party coffee distribution and added things that make life easier, like Smart Start. This review takes a closer look at what is working and where this coffee maker falls short.
You’ll find resources at the end of this article that will help you decide if this is the right coffee maker for your household.
Features of the Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker
Part of the Classics line of Keurig machines, the K-Elite (model 90) gets rid of the touchscreen, saving you from wiping off fingerprints every day. It also goes back to a 1.0 functionality leaving 2.0 models to be the only ones that don’t allow third-party coffee pods such as those made by San Francisco Bay Coffee.
The basics of this machine are solid. The extra features are a bit of surprise. It’s almost as if Keurig is actually paying attention to the YouTube videos that show the tips and tricks Keurig machines are capable of.
Type of Coffee Maker: Single Serve/Ice Coffee/Hot Water Dispenser
The Keurig K-Elite is a multi-functional coffee machine. It brews single serve K-cups, has a special brew cycle for iced coffee and also has a button for plain hot water (187° to 192° Fahrenheit).
The temperature control also controls the brew temperature. The K-Elite coffee maker’s temperature control is adjustable from 187° to 192° Fahrenheit.
The hot water function is great for making tea or even oatmeal but it uses the same spout as the coffee so Keurig recommends running a clean water cycle through the machine before you add water to your cereal or ramen.
The iced coffee function brews six ounces of coffee (or tea) with a stronger flavor. In this way, the beverage isn’t diluted when it’s dispensed over a cup filled with ice.
Type of Coffee Used: Ground roasted coffee.
Keurig has licensing agreements with a lot of the top names in fine roasted coffee so you will probably find a K-cup to suit your taste.
Note that the 2.0 reusable filter will not fit into the K-Elite coffee maker.
Type of Filter Used: None
K-Cups have a paper filter built into their cups. No other filters are necessary.
The 75 ounce reservoir is detachable which makes it easy to fill up at the sink or refrigerator.
This Keurig model also ships with a water filter handle and water filter. These water filters eliminate chlorine from the water. The minerals which are an important part of a proper brew cycle will pass through.
Even with such a large reservoir, there is no carafe available since it only brews one cup of coffee at a time.
Number of Cups Can Brew at Once: One Cup.
That single cup can be brewed in five different sizes; 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 ounces. Unlike most carafe-style coffee makers, this machine brews to match what the coffee shops sell. It’s definitely not a plus to true coffee aficionados that plan their day around discovering the perfect five ounce cup of java but the average person trying to jump start their day won’t have to try and do match to fill their travel mug.
Does the coffee taste diluted at 12 ounces? Of course it does, but not as much as you’d think. Set it up with the Strong flavor option and it tastes like a regular cup of coffee.
Warming Plate: No
Since there’s no carafe, there’s no need for a warming plate. The Keurig K-Elite has a nice drip tray to catch anything that goes awry. These trays are removable, not only for cleaning, but also to accommodate travel mugs up to 7.2 inches tall. Keurig was nice enough to make this tray deep enough to allow for a full eight ounce cup of coffee to drip in (just in case you programmed the machine but forgot to put a mug on the tray).
Not only is no auto pause feature necessary, the coffee maker completes its brew cycle in under a minute – under three minutes if you have to wait for the water to heat up and pick the largest size cup (12 ounces). Just let it do its thing.
Automatic Shut-off: Yes
The K-Elite will shut off automatically after two hours of inactivity. There’s also a programmable option to shut off in 15 minute increments just in case you get distracted before getting that third cup you had planned on brewing.
Single-Serve: Yes: K-Cups, My K Cup Reusable Filters, Other Pods
The war between Keurig and non-licensed brands seems to have let up for now. Many people have reported they can use other pods such as San Francisco Bay Coffee’s compostable pods in this machine.
Those types of pods do have a tendency to clog the Entrance and Exit needles though. If you run into problems with the machine leaking water, be sure and check that the needles are clear.
You can also use a Keurig My K Cup Universal Reusable Coffee Filter if someone bought you an awesome tasting bag of coffee while they were vacationing in Guatemala.
Brew Strength Options: Two options: Regular and Strong
A regular tastes like a standard cup of Keurig single serve coffee. Including the Strong setting during the cycle creates a bolder flavor. If your coffee tastes a little on the watery side when you fill your mug from the eight ounce size on up, try using the Strong setting to beef it up a little.
Color: Brushed Gold, Brushed Silver, Brushed Slate
The brushed gold is a nice change from the standard “charcoal” machine. Between the three choices, you should be able to pick one that matches your kitchen’s décor.
The touch screen is gone from this coffee maker. The buttons are light to the touch, back-lit like a high end gaming keyboard and easy to read. Since the panel is facing upward, you won’t be able to see the clock from across the room but you also won’t have to bend over to read which buttons you’re pressing either.
There’s a Smart Start feature with this model. You put your mug on the drip tray, add the pod, lower the handle, select the size and the entire brew cycle will follow through. It allows you to avoid the hassle of waiting for the water to heat up before you could select your cup size.
There’s a temperature control feature under the settings as well. It can be set from 187° to 192° Fahrenheit. This will work with most cereals, hot coffee and hot chocolate. Black tea requires water to reach the boiling point of 212 F so it falls a little short in that respect.
There’s an Auto On feature available when you set the clock. This will turn on the machine at a specific time and heat up the water. Heating the water can take up to three minutes. If you only have one minute to get coffee in the morning, this is the way to go.
It’s also programmable to brew at high altitudes. This setting prevents the K-Elite coffee maker from over-pressurizing at altitudes over 5,000 feet.
Power Failure Recovery No
There are no recovery features that hold your clock and Auto On settings in case of even a short power failure.
How Easy is the Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker to Clean?
The pods make it simple to remove coffee grounds. Using non-licensed products and a My K Cup filter has a tendency to clog the Entrance and Exit Needles.
The pod filter holder can be pushed out and cleaned but you do have to watch out for those Entrance and Exit needles.
There’s an indicator light on the front panel to let you know when it’s time to descale the machine. This is usually done every three to four months. If the machine sees heavy use, this may need to be done more often. Keurig recommends a special descaling solution for this process.
How Much Counter Space Does it Use?
The Keurig K-Elite measures 13.1 inches High x 9.9 inches Wide x 12.7 inches Deep. The cord runs about 26 inches long. There is never a lot of steam associated with a Keurig pod brewer and you don’t need a lot of clearance under the cabinet for filling the reservoir or lifting the handle.
What the Comments Say
There’s a lot more controversy over this coffee maker than you’d think. At first glance, it would seem to be a pod coffee maker’s dream machine. Let’s see what happens when you take a closer look.
Praises From Reviewers:
When this machine works, it’s a dream come true. People love the Smart Start feature, the auto shut off and the fact that you don’t have to lift handles up and down just to get the plain hot water going.
Drawbacks to Consider
There are a lot of reports that this machine stops working after about three months. This is really unacceptable. Most brand-based appliances rely on multiple manufacturers to build out multiple models. Keurig is no different and their choice in manufacturers seems to have bit them hard when it comes to Model 90.
The Keurig K-Elite offers a lot of features at a relatively low price. We love the Smart Start, the auto programming, brew strength options and the multiple options of brew sizes. Keurig has always made sure that simplicity of use is a highlight of their designs. In this regard, we commend them for all of the insightful features they have packed into this coffee maker.
On the other hand, it would seem that in order to keep the price down, they somehow took a wrong turn when bringing this design to market. It could be a parts issue. It could be a manufacturing issue. We don’t know what it is and we don’t want to speculate other than to say, Keurig, please take a close look as to what people are saying.
As an end buyer, you may never have a problem with this machine. Please buy from a Keurig listing instead of a third party listing. In this way, Keurig will have to honor their warranty and replace the machine if something goes wrong.
Resources for the Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker
Manual for the Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker
You can download the instructions for the Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker here.
How to Descale the Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker
Descaling should be done every three to six months. The descaling indicator light may go on more frequently if the machine is used heavily or if your water is hard.
Allow 45 minutes to descale the machine.
If you see foam during this procedure, don’t worry. This is normal and a result of calcium deposits breaking down and interacting with the water and descaling solution.
Steps to Descale the Keurig K-Elite Coffee Machine
- Keurig® Descaling Solution
- Fresh Water
- Access to a Sink
- Ceramic Mug that holds at least 12 ounces of liquid.
- Remove any pod that may be in the pod holder.
- Empty any water in the reservoir.
- Remove the water filter from the reservoir (if using).
- Turn off the power to the machine.
- Empty the bottle of descaling solution into the reservoir.
- Fill the now empty bottle of solution with water and empty that into the reservoir.
- Make sure the reservoir is securely on the base and the lid is on.
- Place the ceramic mug on the drip tray.
- Select Hot Water and largest size of drink.
- Empty the solution into the sink and replace the mug.
- Repeat this procedure until the Add Water light indicator goes on.
- Allow the coffee machine to remain on and stand for 30 minutes. This gives the descaling solution time to soften the calcium deposits.
- After at least 30 minutes, discard any remaining solution in the reservoir and give it a thorough rinse.
- Fill the reservoir to the MAX line.
- Run at least twelve fresh water cycles through the machine, emptying the mug as you proceed. The reservoir will need to be refilled to reach 12 cycles.