Last year, for Christmas, I gave my married adult kids, my parents, and myself a Keurig machine. Even though I don’t drink coffee, we use it all the time. We have purchased some of the apple cider and hot cocoa cups, but honestly, I mostly use it as an instant hot water dispenser to add to my own Homemade Hot Cocoa mix and a myriad of other things.
Since I know there are a lot of Keurig owners out there besides me and my family, and after Christmas there will probably be a lot more…today we are sharing tips for using and caring for your machine.
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Britta writes……… When it comes to coffee convenience, it’s hard to match a Keurig machine. They heat up very quickly, operate at the push of a button, and dispense your coffee right into your mug (meaning there’s no coffee pot to wash every day!). Personally, I love my Keurig Vue V600 machine! After receiving it as a gift last Christmas, it very quickly became a fixture on my kitchen counter. Not only do we use it every morning for coffee, but we’re constantly discovering great non-coffee things to use it for! So whether you’re a brand new Keurig owner or just thinking about getting one for your ktichen, I thought I’d put together a handy guide of everything you could want to know about owning a Keurig.
Caring For Your Keurig
“Cleansing Brews” – daily
Running regular cleansing brews on your Keurig machine helps to keep the needles that puncture the cups clean, which is important because they can get blocked up by cocoa, tea, or coffee residue pretty easily. Taking a couple of extra seconds each day to run a cleansing brew will help keep your Keurig clean and functional.
Once a day, simply place an empty Vue cup in the brewer and run a brew cycle into an empty mug, and discard the brewed water into the sink. (If you have a K-cup brewer, just run a brew cycle without a cup in the machine.) My husband and I do this right before we turn the machine off after our morning coffee. However, if you make a lot of powdered drinks (such as lattes or hot cocoa), you may want to do a cleansing brew between each beverage.
If you suspect that the needle in your Keurig may already be clogged, I’ve had great success with unfolding a paper clip and gently using it to clear the clog out of the hollow needle. Obviously I was taking the life of my Keurig into my own hands with this method, because I’m sure I could have done some serious damage, but it worked out incredibly well, so use this tip at your own risk. :-)
General cleaning – monthly
Once a month or so, you should clean the brew head of your machine. With some models, you simply lift the handle and pull the plastic part out. Mine has two buttons on the side that you press, then pull it out. Clean the brew head thoroughly by hand using warm, soapy water and a soft washcloth (don’t put it in the dishwasher!).
To clean the exterior of the machine, use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the outside of your machine, and wash the drip tray thoroughly using warm, soapy water.
Descaling – every 3-6 months
Descaling your machine removes mineral deposits and greasy films that can form inside your machine. Descale your machine every 3 to 6 months or so (closer to 3 months for those with hard water) to ensure proper function and taste. (Tip: If you filter your water before using it in your Keurig, you won’t need to descale your machine as often!)
Keurig offers a “descaling solution” for purchase on their website, but this process can easily be done using plain old white vinegar as well. Simply fill your water reservoir with a 50:50 mix of white vinegar and water, then run several brew cycles WITHOUT a brew pod, dumping the water into the sink after each brew. Once the machine tells you to add more water, let the machine sit for at least a half hour (you can let it sit for up to a few hours if you wish). If you machine has an auto-shutoff function, make sure to disable it during this process.
After the waiting period, remove your water reservoir and dump the rest of the contents into the sink. Replace the reservoir on your machine, fill it with clean water, and run several more brewing cycles (dumping the mug out after each one), until the taste and smell of the vinegar is gone. You’ll probably need to do around 8-10 brews.
Other Handy Keurig Tips
Using Your Own Coffee
Whether you’re concerned about saving yourself some money or saving the environment, many people are interested in using their own coffee in your Keurig machines. Luckily, there are a bunch of great reusable Keurig cups out there that make it easy to do! For Vue owners, I highly recommend this one. Not only can you fill it with your own coffee, but it also comes with an adaptor that lets you use regular K-cups in your Vue machine! This is a nice feature, because sometimes the Vue cups can be hard to find.
If you have a Keurig machine that uses K-cups, this stainless steel refillable cup is a great option!
Think Outside the Mug
To really explore all the benefits of owning a Keurig machine, think outside the coffee mug!
- Make one-cup servings of things like instant oatmeal, noodles or jello for a snack that doesn’t require heating up the stove.
- Create quick baby food. Add a bit of hot water to rice cereal (cool with a spoon or two of cold milk), Malt-o-Meal, instant mashed potatoes, or even fruits (like bananas) to puree. Note: always drain the excess water, and cool the food completely before serving it to a child.
- Place an infuser of loose leaf tea or a few spoonfuls of hot cocoa into a mug. The hot water from the machine can “brew” these items just as easily as coffee for a quick, one-cup hot beverage. My favorite: Semi-Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix!
- Create unique cocktails. If you’re looking for something a little stronger than your traditional cup of coffee, use different K-Cups or Vue Cups combined with your favorite alcohols to create unique coffee and tea flavored mixed drinks. CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE for lots of Keurig cocktail recipes.
- Need some hot water to help dissolve a super-sticky mess? Brew a mug of hot water from your Keurig to dip a cleaning cloth in, instead of wasting water while waiting for the water from your faucet to heat up.
Reuse Your Cups
- K-cups and Vue cups are not designed to be reused, but a “second pass” of the cups through the machine still brews a small (though weaker-flavored) cup of coffee. Just think of it as a “blonde roast.”
- If you find yourself all out of cups, and haven’t purchased one of the reusable ones mentioned above, you can try this hack using an old one in a pinch.
Empty K-cups and Vue cups can also be reused in a number of ways around your home that don’t involve coffee:
- Use them to start seedlings.
- Use them to corral small items like buttons, paper clips, beads, etc.
- Use them in the doll house or with Barbies for garbage pails, buckets, laundry hampers etc.
- Cut a slit in the bottom, put a piece of paper towel inside, and use it to catch the mess of melting popsicles
- Use them as tea party cups.
- Use as forms for making your own small soaps.
- Use hot glue to seal the hole at the bottom and use as small paint pots or glue pots at craft-time.
- And much, much more………..
When in Doubt, Call Customer Service!
My experiences with Keurig’s Customer Service department have been nothing but excellent. My Keurig Vue started leaking water around 8 months after I got it, so I called Customer Service and they shipped a new water tank out to me very quickly. When the new tank didn’t fix the problem, I called them back and they had a whole new machine shipped out to me with little-to-no hassle on my part! So if you have an issue with your machine that you don’t think you can fix, I would recommend calling their customer service line instead of the store you got the machine from.
How do YOU Keurig?