Quick Answer: I’d recommend the Keurig K Elite as it’s the most reliable of Keurig’s premium coffee makers.
On seeing the Keurig K Elite’s boxy design, you’re probably wondering why the machine costs the thick end of $200.
Does the K Elite actually justify the same price tag as Keurig’s newer K Supreme models?
In this Keurig K Elite review, I’m going to run through what the machine can and can’t do, as well as answer the following:
- Whether you should get the Keurig K Elite or one of Keurig’s K Supreme models.
- If the Keurig Elite’s iced coffee, temperature, and altitude settings are any good.
- Whether there are any good cheaper alternatives to the K Elite.
Should I Buy the Keurig K Elite (Quick Verdict)?
I’d recommend the Keurig K Elite if you want a single-serve coffee maker that can comfortably make several coffees every day for years.
The big advantage that the K Elite has over other Keurig machines (especially the K Supreme range) is its reliability.
The K Elite does not have the technical bugs that seem to be so common among Keurig Supreme models.
In particular, the Elite’s lack of a descaling mode means that it does not run the risk of breaking down during descaling (this is a problem that affects a shocking number of high-end Keurig machines).
Add this to the fact that it makes some of the best-tasting coffee of all Keurig machines, and the K Elite is undoubtedly one of the better single-serve coffee makers on the market right now.
Keurig K Elite Pros
It’s far less prone to breaking down than the Keurig K Supreme models.
It makes better-tasting coffee than the majority of Keurig coffee makers.
It has a four-ounce serving size which allows you to make an extra strong coffee.
It doesn’t have a dedicated descale mode which (paradoxically) makes descaling the machine far easier.
Keurig K Elite Cons
It is the largest Keurig coffee maker so it’s not suitable for kitchens with limited counter space.
Its auto-on functionality just turns the machine on at a set time. It doesn’t actually make the machine brew a coffee at that time.
There are cheaper coffee makers that perform similarly to the K Elite (the K Select for instance).
Overview of Keurig K Elite
The Keurig K Elite is meant to be one of the higher-end Keurig machines and is priced accordingly.
Keurig has attempted to upgrade its more basic models by endowing the K Elite with:
- Five serving sizes (including a 4 oz serving size which is not available on most Keurig coffee makers).
- A 72 oz water tank (second largest only to the Keurig K Supreme & K Supreme Plus).
- A built-in digital clock and an “auto on” functionality.
- A “strong” button forces the K Elite to brew more slowly (a lot of cheaper Keurig machines have this, in fairness).
- Six brewing temperature settings and an altitude mode that lowers the Elite’s water boiling temperature.
- An “over ice” button is meant to allow Elite to brew coffee in a way that’s designed for iced coffee.
You can find a table with the Keurig K Elite’s specifications below:
|Attribute||Keurig K Elite|
Dimensions (width x depth x height)
9.90” W x 12.70” D x 13.10” H
Maximum height with lid up
Maximum mug clearance (drip tray removed)
6.20 inches (7.20 inches)
4 oz, 6 oz, 8 oz, 10 oz, 12 oz
Yes, 2 strength settings in total
High altitude setting
Yes – shows time and temperature settings
Uses “Multistream Technology”
Can take reusable K-cups
I’m now going to asses the Keurig K Elite across the following five criteria:
- Quality of coffee
- Ease of use and cleaning
- Design and build quality
- Value for money
Quality of Coffee
The Keurig K Elite makes better-tasting coffee than all Keurig coffee makers with the exception of Keurig’s K Supreme range.
The Keurig K Elite makes much better than the average K-cup coffee.
The K Elite’s excellent-tasting coffee is down to two reasons:
The K Elite Offers Six Ounce Serving Sizes
K-cups only hold enough ground coffee (10.5 grams) to brew a maximum of 6.5 oz of coffee.
Any coffee over 6.5 oz will come out watery when brewed with a K-cup.
This means that K-cup coffee makers that start at 8 oz serving sizes will always make worse-tasting coffee than ones that offer 6 oz servings.
This means that the Keurig K Elite makes better-tasting coffee than:
- Keurig K Slim
- Keurig K Express
The K Elite Has a “Strong” Button
The K Elite’s “strong” button lengthens its brewing time from 40 seconds to 60 seconds.
The longer K-cups are brewed, the better their final coffee will taste.
This is because a longer contact time between your brewing water and ground coffee means that more of the flavorful compounds in the ground coffee will extract into your water.
This results in a deeper and more complex-tasting final drink.
The K Elite’s “strong” button means that it makes better-tasting coffee than machines that do not have this functionality. This includes:
- Keurig K Mini
- Keurig K Express Essentials
- Keurig K Compact
Despite its strong button, the K Elite still brews more slowly than the K Supreme & K Supreme Plus.
The K Elite, therefore, does not make as good-tasting coffee as the K Supreme and K Supreme Plus.
Quality of Coffee Rating: 8/10
The Keurig K Elite is one of the most feature-rich Keurig machines. Not all these features are executed well, however, with its temperature settings and altitude mode being basically just for show.
Here are the following features that the Keurig K Elite has, along with how well I think that each of these features is executed:
Five Serving Sizes (4 oz, 6 oz, 8 oz 10 oz, 12 oz)
As I said earlier, the most important serving size that you want a K-cup coffee maker to have is 6 oz.
This is the serving size that K-cups are designed to brew, based on the quantity of ground coffee that they hold.
You can still make a good 8 oz and 10 oz coffee with the K Elite, you’ll need to use a reusable K-cup to do this.
Reusable K-cups can hold more ground coffee than standard, single-use K-cups so, therefore, allow you to brew a strong 10 oz coffee.
While the 12 oz serving size is superfluous (no pod coffee maker can make a 12 oz coffee without it being super watery), I like the K Elite’s addition of a 4 oz serving.
This allows you to make an extra strong coffee, especially if you brew it with the “strong” button on. It’s not something I’d drink every day but it’s a nice option to have when you’re in the mood for a more intense drink.
The Keurig K Elite brews K-cups for 40 seconds with the strong button off and 60 seconds with the strong button on.
This puts the K Elite’s brewing time on equal footing with mid-market Keurig coffee makers that have a “strong” button. This includes: Keurig K Mini Plus, Keurig K Select and Keurig K Slim.
The K Elite still doesn’t brew K-cups for as long as the Keurig K Supreme and K Supreme Plus, even with its “strong” button on.
Although this may seem underwhelming as the K Elite has the same brewing times as many cheaper machines, you should bear in mind that brewing length and serving sizes together determine how well a K-cup coffee maker brews coffee.
Only two Keurig coffee makers match the K Elite’s 60-second brewing time and 6 oz serving size while also being cheaper than the Elite. They are:
The K Elite, K Select, and the K Mini Plus, therefore, make the best-tasting coffee of all Keurig coffee makers (other than Keurig’s Supreme range). Much of this is down to their inclusion of a “strong” button.
The Keurig K Elite’s over-ice setting makes the machine brew a six-ounce coffee at a lower temperature and for a longer time than on its standard brewing setting.
This brewing temperature fluctuates as the coffee is being made.
It starts at around 165 Fahrenheit for the first three ounces of water and then drops to 150 Fahrenheit for the other six ounces.
This results in a final coffee that does not melt your ice as much as a regular brew but is also less complexly flavored due to this lower brewing temperature.
Honestly, you get much better results by brewing a standard 6 oz coffee into a mug, waiting one minute, and then pouring it into a glass with ice.
This “cup swapping” technique will mean that your coffee is about the same temperature when it hits your ice as it would be if you brewed on “over ice” mode, but you have the added benefit that your coffee is not diluted.
Sure, the over-ice mode saves you a minute of time and dirtying a cup, but I don’t think it’s worth it for a worse-tasting iced coffee.
Six Temperature Settings
The Keurig K Elite has six brew temperature settings, ranging from 187-192 Fahrenheit.
I tested out the temperature settings on my Keurig K Supreme Plus (which has three temperature settings) and found that different temperature settings did not affect my coffee’s dispensing temperature or flavor.
Since the K Elite uses older technology than the K Supreme Plus, I have massive doubts as to whether its temperature control actually affects brewing temperature in any way.
The Keurig K Elite’s altitude mode is supposed to lower the temperature that it heats your water to. This is meant to make up for the fact that water’s boiling point lowers by one degree Fahrenheit for every 500 feet of elevation.
Again, I don’t trust the Keurig K Elite’s temperature control, especially when it comes to fine-tuning temperatures to the nearest degree (its over-ice mode involves much larger temperature swings which is easier to engineer).
I, therefore, have massive doubts as to whether the K Elite’s altitude mode does anything.
Built-in Clock and Auto-On Functionality
The K Elite has a built-in digital clock which allows you to set the machine to turn on at a preset time.
Unfortunately, you can only get the K Elite to turn on at this preset time. It won’t make coffee at this time. You still need to go down and program the machine to brew your coffee.
This saves you about ninety seconds in the morning which is…hardly life-changing.
Functionalities Rating: 7/10
Although not all of the Keurig K Elite’s functionalities are executed well, it still has the two most important functionalities that a K-cup coffee maker needs: the ability to make 6 oz coffees and a “strong” button.
Ease of Use and Cleaning
Although the Keurig K Elite is not quite as user-friendly as the Keurig K Supreme models, the Elite’s lack of a descaling mode makes the machine far easier to maintain than these models (and other models that also have a descaling mode).
Ease of Making a Coffee
The Keurig K Elite is slightly harder to make a coffee with than other similarly priced Keurig machines like the Keurig K Supreme and K Supreme Plus.
This difficulty is mainly down to its awkwardly shaped water reservoir.
This reservoir is flat and wide, making it impossible to carry with one hand. It attaches to the machine by sliding down it which is very difficult to do when full without spilling water everywhere.
You pretty much have to fill the K Elite’s reservoir with a separate water reservoir which if you don’t have a big jug will involve several trips from the sink to your machine.
Keurig’s Supreme range uses a tall thin “pitcher style” reservoir with a handle that you can easily carry and attach/detach to the machine, even when full to the brim.
The K Elite’s control panel is not terrible, but pretty poorly designed by Keurig machine standards.
As I spoke about earlier the machine has a lot of functionalities and its control panel doesn’t have enough buttons to have a dedicated button for every functionality.
A lot of buttons do more than one thing depending on how many times you press them. These “double functionalities” really aren’t all that intuitive.
You can see an example of someone running through how to set brew temperature and “auto on” on the Keurig K Elite below.
Notice how they have to cycle through all the machine’s different settings just to get to the functionality that they want (watch from around 1 min 8 seconds to 2 mins 50 seconds):
In short, while the machine should be easy to use once you are used to it, it might take a bit of figuring out to get started with it.
Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance
The Keurig K Elite is one of the easiest Keurig machines to keep clean and maintained.
Like all Keurig machines, its parts that come into direct contact with ground coffee and water (its water reservoir, drip tray, and K-cup port) can be removed from the machine and cleaned in the sink or dishwasher (these parts are dishwasher safe other than the K-cup port).
What makes the K Elite so much easier to clean than the majority of Keurig machines is that it does not have a descaling mode.
While Keurig’s descale mode is supposed to make descaling the machine easier, it actually makes it much harder.
In particular, Keurig’s descale mode has a tendency to malfunction and put the machine into an endless loop of needing to descale or kill the machine off entirely. You can find two Reddit threads talking about this happening to the Keurig Supreme Plus here and here.
Fortunately, the Keurig Elite does not have a descaling mode, so cannot malfunction in this way.
You can find a video showing you how to descale the Keurig K Elite below:
While this lack of descale mode may not seem like much, I can’t put into words how much easier it makes the Keurig K Elite to use compared to the K Supreme models.
By far the most common problem I find with the Keurig K Supreme models on the Keurig subreddit is the machine malfunctioning during or straight after descaling, and in 99% of cases, the machine’s poorly designed descale mode is to blame.
The K Elite not having a descaling mode removes the most common headache that Keurig users have with their machine.
Ease of Use and Cleaning: 8/10
Design and Build Quality
Although the Keurig Elite might not be the most elegant-looking Keurig machine, it is one of the most reliable and generally has the longest lifespan of all Keurig coffee makers.
External Build Quality
The Keurig K Elite’s external build quality is not great. Lowlights include:
- Its water tank has to slide down the side of the machine to attach to it. This makes it really hard to attach back the water tank to the machine after filling it.
- Its drip tray just sits on top of the bottom of the machine rather than attaching to it. This means that you cannot move the K Elite without its drip tray sliding apart from it.
- Its K-cup port is on a hinge rather than being fixed to the machine. This adds an unnecessary point of failure especially as you sometimes have to firmly push a K-cup into its port to puncture the bottom of it (this firm push could potentially break the K-cup port’s hinge so be careful).
It’s worth putting these problems into perspective – they are annoyances that affect the usability of the K Elite, rather than problems that render the machine unusable.
These shortcomings in the K Elite’s external build are more than made up for with the machine’s internal build quality.
Internal Build Quality and Known Technical Issues
Although the Keurig K Elite is slower and noisier than Keurig’s newer machines (like the K Slim and K Supreme), I could find far, far fewer reports of the K Elite breaking down compared to the similarly priced Keurig Supreme range.
In fact, on the majority of the Keurig subreddit threads where people are asking for advice about dealing with faulty K Supreme models, the most common answer is to get the K Elite instead of the K Supreme.
As one Redditor puts it (on this thread):
“K Supreme is trash. We had two fail us in the span of less than 2 months. We had an Elite that lasted us 6 yrs, no problems. We gave it away when we got the first Supreme. Wished we hadn’t.”
While I could find some reports of the K Elite malfunctioning (you can find reports of every coffee machine malfunctioning online if you look hard enough), I couldn’t find any technical problems that were being reported over and over again.
This makes me think that the machine doesn’t have any “known” technical issues and that the problems people report were either one-offs or the result of user error.
While being free of technical bugs shouldn’t be something to praise a coffee maker for (it should be expected), the fact that most Keurig coffee makers are usually very buggy means that the K Elite’s lack of technical problems makes it stand out from the pack.
Design and Build Quality: 8/10
Value For Money
The Keurig K Elite’s reliability makes it a good value for money.
Although the K Elite is one of Keurig’s most expensive machines, it should last you longer than most other Keurig coffee makers.
This reliability means that the K Elite should gradually pay for itself over time.
I do need to dock the K Elite marks because you can get the Keurig K Select, a very similar performing machine, for about 70% of the price of the K Elite.
Value for Money Rating: 7/10
Product Alternatives: Keurig K Supreme Plus and the Keurig K Select
Keurig K Supreme Plus – Better Tasting Coffee but Less Reliable than the Keurig K Elite
The Keurig K Supreme Plus makes better-tasting coffee than the K Elite because of its longer brewing times.
The K Supreme Plus is also more compact and has a more user-friendly design.
The K Supreme Plus seems to be more prone to breaking down than the K Elite (not least because of its stupid descale mode), so just beware that you’re taking a risk of needing to get a replacement on warranty in order to get a machine that brews nicer tasting coffee.
To see more on how these two machines compare, please see my comparison of the Keurig K Supreme Plus vs K Elite.
Keurig K Select – Cheaper but Similar Performance to the Keurig K Elite
The Keurig K Select is a stripped-back version of the Keurig K Elite.
The machine still has a strong button and a six-ounce serving option, meaning that its coffee quality is the same as the K Elite.
The K Select does not have the K Elite’s over-ice or temperature settings, but as I’ve explained earlier, these aren’t big misses.
The K Select is around $40 – $50 cheaper than the K Elite, making it a better-value purchase in my book.
Better value for money than the K Elite
The K Select is a stripped-back version of the K Elite but still has all the features that make the K Elite a good coffee maker. Its cheaper price makes it a better-value purchase than the Elite.
I’d recommend the Keurig K Elite as it makes better coffee than most Keurig coffee makers and is one of the most reliable single-serve coffee makers.