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Keurig Express vs Mini

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Last updated: January 2, 2024

Quick answer: You should buy the Keurig Express over the Keurig Mini. The Express is less effort to use than the Mini and will likely have a longer lifespan. Their coffee quality is similar despite brewing in slightly different ways.

This is my comparison of the Keurig K Express vs the Keurig K Mini.

I own the Keurig K Mini Plus, a very similar machine to both the Mini and Express, and I spent a whole day researching these two machines to put together this comparison.

The main differences between the two machines are:

  • The Keurig K Express has a large water tank that can store water between brews. The Express needs to be filled with water every time you make a coffee.
  • The Keurig K Mini offers 6 oz – 12 oz servings of coffee, whereas the Express offers 8 oz – 12 oz servings.
  • The Keurig K Express has a “strong” button which lengthens its brewing time. The Mini does not have this feature.

With the two machines typically retailing for the same price, let’s see which is the better purchase.

Should You Buy the Keurig K Express or Keurig K Mini (Quick Answer)?

You should buy the Keurig Express over the Keurig Mini. The Keurig Express’s larger reservoir and water filter make it easier to use and clean than the Mini. It will also likely last you longer than the Mini as its internal pipes are less prone to scaling.

Better than the Keurig Mini
Keurig K Express
$89.99 $69.99

The Keurig K Express’s removable water reservoir makes it easier to use and keep clean than the Keurig K Mini.

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04/03/2024 11:56 am GMT

The only advantage that the Keurig Mini offers over the Express is that it can brew 6 oz servings of coffee.

This means that it brews standard, single-use K-cups slightly better than the Express. 

However, this difference is so marginal that I don’t think it makes up for the design and usability flaws that the Mini has compared to the Express.

If you’d like to find out more about how the Keurig K Express compares to other Keurig machines, please see my comparison of the Keurig K Express vs Keurig K Compact.

What are the differences between the Keurig Express and the Keurig Mini

Here are the differences between the Keurig K Express and the Keurig K Mini:

  • The Keurig Mini has more available serving sizes than the Keurig Express: The Keurig Mini can brew serving sizes between 6 oz and 12 oz. The Express can only brew serving sizes between 8 oz and 12 oz. (Winner: Keurig K Mini).
  • The Keurig Express can brew coffee for longer than the Mini: The Keurig Express has a strong button that allows the machine to brew coffee for longer than the Mini (longer brewing means a better-flavored coffee). The Keurig Mini does not have this feature. (Winner: Keurig K Express).
  • Keurig Express has a larger water tank than the Keurig Mini: The Keurig Express has a 48 oz water reservoir and can store water between brews. The Keurig Mini has a 12 oz water reservoir and needs to be filled with water before every coffee that you make. (Winner: Keurig K Express).
  • Keurig Express has preset serving sizes; the Keurig Mini does not: The Keurig Express allows you to select serving sizes with the press of a button, and the Mini just brews with whatever water you put in its water tank. (Winner: Keurig K Express).
  • The Keurig Mini is available in more colors than the Keurig Express: The Mini is available in six colors. The Express is only available in one. (Winner: Keurig Mini)

You can find out more about the Mini in my Keurig Mini review.

What do the Keurig Express and Keurig Mini have in common?

Here is what the two machines have in common:

  • Size: The Keurig Express is half an inch wider, deeper, and taller than the Mini. This is such a small difference that I honestly don’t think you can say one machine is noticeably more compact than the other.
  • Pod compatibility: Both machines can brew with standard and reusable K-cups.
  • Price: The two machines typically retail for the same price.

The table below shows the differences and similarities between the Keurig K Express vs Mini.

Specification Keurig K Mini Keurig K Express
Dimensions (width x depth x height)
4.50” W x 11.30” D x 12.10” H
5.10” W x 12.80” D x 12.60” H
Maximum Lid-up height
16.80 inches
17.20 inches
Mug Clearance (drip tray removed)
6.00 inches (7.00 inches)
6.50 inches (7.50 inches)
Reservoir size
12 oz
42 oz
Can you store water between brews?
No
Yes
Serving Sizes
6 oz – 12 oz
8 oz, 10 oz, 12 oz
Strong Button
No
Yes
Multistream Technology
No
No
Descale Warning Light
No
Yes
Cord storage in machine
Yes
No
Number of available colors
6
1
Compatible with reusable K-cups
Yes
Yes

I’m now going to run through how these two machines compare across the following five criteria:

  • Quality of coffee
  • Ease of use
  • Ease of cleaning
  • Design, aesthetics and build quality
  • Value for money

Quality of Coffee

The Keurig K Mini makes slightly better coffee than the Express if you brew with standard K-cups. The Keurig Express brews better coffee than the Mini if you use reusable K-cups. 

There is a fair bit of difference between the two machine’s coffee quality depending on whether you brew with the standard, single-use K-cups or if you use reusable K-cups.

I’ll therefore look at how these two coffee machines perform with these two types of pod separately.

Standard K-Cups

The Keurig Mini makes marginally better-tasting coffee with standard K-cups than the Keurig Express because it allows you to brew 6 oz servings of coffee. 

The Keurig K Express’s lack of a 6 oz serving size makes it unsuited for brewing with standard K-cups.

Standard K-cups hold 10 grams (0.36 oz) of coffee grounds. 

Since you want an 18:1 water-to-coffee ratio when you brew, a standard K-cup is designed to brew a maximum of 6.5 oz of coffee.

The Keurig Express’s minimum 8 oz serving means that it will always make a watery coffee with a standard K-cup. 

The Express’s “strong” button means its 8 oz servings are better than the Mini’s, but I’d still prefer a 6 oz K-cup coffee than an 8 oz K-cup coffee with the “strong” button on.

Since the Keurig Mini can make 6 oz servings of coffee, it will make better-tasting coffee than the Express when you use a standard K-cup. The difference here is marginal, however.

Ideally, you want a machine that can have a 6 oz serving setting and a “strong” button. The Keurig Mini Plus has both of these, making it better than both the Mini and the Express for standard K-cup brewing.

Reusable K-cups

The Express makes better coffee with reusable K-cups than the Mini due to its “strong” button.

My K-Cup Universal Reusable K-cups hold up to 0.6 oz (15 grams) of coffee. This is enough for a 9 oz cup of coffee (10 oz at a push).

While both Keurig machines can make an 8 oz or 10 oz coffee with a reusable K-cup, the Express makes better coffee at this serving size due to its “strong” button.

The “strong” button increases the Keurig Express’s brewing time from around 40 seconds to about 65 seconds. The Keurig Mini can only brew for a maximum of 40 seconds.

This means that the Express extracts your ground coffee more thoroughly extracted than the Mini, resulting in a better flavored and fuller-bodied coffee. 

Quality of Coffee Winner: Keurig K Mini for standard K-cups, Keurig Express for reusable K-cups

Ease of Use & Cleaning

The Keurig K Express’s larger reservoir and ability to store water between brews make it easier to use than the Mini. The Express is also easier to clean than the Mini because its reservoir can be cleaned in the sink.

Ease of Making a Coffee

It’s easier to make a coffee with the Keurig Express than with the Mini.

The Express can store water in its water tank between coffees, this means that you only need to fill it with water for one in every five coffees that you make.

The Mini has to be filled with water for every coffee that you make.

You also need to measure out your brewing water for every coffee that you make with the Mini. The Mini’s reservoir is not designed to make this easy as its water tank measurements are hard to read.

Are dark measurements too much to ask for?

You don’t need to measure out water with the Express as it has preset serving sizes. This removes the only potentially fiddly bit of making a K-cup coffee.

Both machines have very intuitive control panels. The main difference between the two is that with the Express you need to select your serving size, whereas with the Mini you don’t. Serving sizes are labeled with their corresponding numbers.

I can’t see anyone having a problem with programming either machine to make the type of coffee that they want.

The Express has a superior heating element to the Mini. This makes the Express easier to make a coffee with than the Mini in three ways:

  • The Express goes from off to ready-to-brew around 30 seconds faster than the Mini.
  • The Express can make several coffees in a row quickly; the Mini needs about a minute’s rest between brews.
  • The Express is a noticeably quieter machine than the Mini.

Ease of Cleaning

The Keurig Express’s removable reservoir and descale lights make it an easier machine to clean than the Keurig Mini. 

The Keurig Express’s removable reservoir means you can clean it directly in the sink.

This makes cleaning the Express’s water tank much easier than the Mini’s. With the Keurig Mini, you have to awkwardly lean over the machine to sponge-clean its water tank while it is still attached to the machine.

Like this

All the other parts of the two machines that are cleaned in the same way are:

  • The K-cup ports can be removed and cleaned in the sink.
  • The K-cup needles need to be cleaned of all visible coffee grounds with something hard and sharp (a toothpick or straightened-out paperclip, for example) every few weeks.
  • The removable drip trays, which can again be removed and washed in your sink

Ease of Descaling

You have to descale the Keurig Express less often than the Keurig Mini. The descaling process for both machines is the same, however, the Keurig Express tells you when it needs to be descaled whereas the Mini does not.

The Keurig Mini needs to be descaled every 2-3 months depending on the hardness of your water.

The Keurig Express needs to be descaled every 3-4 months depending on the hardness of your water.

The Express needs to be descaled less than the Mini because it uses a water filter. This slows down the rate that limescale builds in the machine’s internal pipes.

Both machines are descaled in the same way, by running a 12 oz brew with either descaling solution or white vinegar (make sure there are no K-cups in the machine when you do this). 

You’ll need to run at least half a dozen rinse cycles after descaling, so the whole process takes about an hour.

The only difference between descaling the two machines is that the Express has a descaling light that flashes when the machine needs to be descaled, whereas the Mini does not. 

With the Mini, you just need to remember to descale it.

I think that the descale warning light is an excellent addition to the Express because the descale light should help improve the machine’s longevity.

Using a Keurig machine when it needs descaling can permanently damage its pumping system. The Express’s descale warning light ensures that this does not happen.

Ease of Use & Cleaning Winner: Keurig K Express

Design, Build Quality, and Aesthetics

The Keurig K Express has a better build quality and should last you longer than the Mini. The Mini looks a bit nicer than the Express, mainly because of its wider range of available colors.

Build Quality and Durability

The Keurig Express has a better internal build quality than the Mini. It should have a longer lifespan than the Mini so long as it doesn’t succumb to the “descale warning” bug.

The Keurig Express is a newer machine than the Mini. Keurig has upgraded the internal brewing system of the Keurig Express vs Mini in the following ways:

  • The Express has a more powerful heating element than the Mini: The main benefit of this is that you can make several coffees in a row much faster with the Keurig Express than with the Keurig Mini.
  • The Express has a water filter, whereas the Mini does not: The first part of a Keurig machine to die is usually its pump. The addition of a water filter should increase the lifespan of the Express vs the Mini in most cases.

However, with added complexity comes added points of failure. 

The Keurig Express’s descale warning light makes it susceptible to a technical issue that plagues a lot of Keurig coffee makers: namely that its descale light comes on far too often.

Since you cannot brew a coffee with a Keurig machine that has its descale warning light on, this can render a machine unusable if it happens.

This problem only affects a small number of units. However, it is a technical problem that you don’t have to worry about at all with the Mini, but it may affect the Express.

Available Colors

At the time of writing, the Keurig K Express is only available in black

The Keurig K Mini is available in six colors. You can see these below

These available colors make the Keurig Mini a more aesthetically pleasing coffee maker than the Express.

Design, Build Quality, and Aesthetics Winner: Keurig Express

Although the Keurig Mini is a prettier machine than the Keurig Express, the Express should last you longer due to its inclusion of a water filter.

Value For Money

The Keurig Express’s additional durability means that it offers better value for money than the Mini.

The two machines retail at the same price. Since the Express should last you a bit longer than the Mini, the former will give you more coffee for your money.

At the time of writing (March 2023) the Keurig Mini Plus is about the same price as both the Keurig Express and the Keurig Mini.

The Mini Plus makes better coffee than both these machines, as it includes both a 6 oz serving size and a “strong” button. 

The Mini Plus, therefore, offers you better value for money than both the Express and the Mini.

Better than the Keurig Express and Mini
Keurig K Mini Plus
$109.99 $93.99 ($93.99 / Count)
The Keurig Mini Plus can make better coffee than the Mini and the Express as it includes both a 6 oz serving size and a “strong” button.
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04/03/2024 02:37 pm GMT

Value for Money Winner: Keurig K Express (although the Keurig Mini Plus is better value than both the Express and the Mini)

Final Verdict

The Keurig K Express’s inclusion of a “strong” button, better quality brewing system, and ability to store water between brews makes it a superior machine to the Keurig Mini.

Although the Keurig K Mini makes slightly better coffee than the Express, this difference is so marginal that I’d still recommend the Express over the Mini in pretty much any circumstance.

Better than the Keurig Mini
Keurig K Express
$89.99 $69.99

The Keurig K Express’s removable water reservoir makes it easier to use and keep clean than the Keurig K Mini.

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04/03/2024 11:56 am GMT

I still think that the Keurig K Mini Plus is a better coffee maker than the Express. 

If you want to find out more about the Keurig K Mini and K Mini Plus, please see my comparison of the Keurig K Mini vs Keurig K Mini Plus and Keurig K Slim vs Mini.

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