Keurig K-Cafe Special Edition Coffee Maker Review for 2021

By: | Updated: May 14, 2021

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The Keurig K-Cafe is a single-serve, multiple-bar brewing machine that lets you make regular hot coffee, espresso-tasting drinks, chilled beverages, lattes, and cappuccinos.

On the other hand, the Keurig K-Cafe Special is a slightly better twin of the K-Cafe with more visual appeal. 

Just like other Keurig single serves, this model uses K-Cup pods to make your favorite cup of coffee. It comes with a built-in frother. So, you have the additional option to make a soft, delicious foam to top your drinks. Besides, it’s compatible with all types of milk, including skim, almond, soy, and cow milk.

If you’re longing for instant lattes and cappuccinos, read this Keurig K-Cafe and K-Cafe Special Edition review to learn more about their features.

Pros

  • Large and handled reservoir.
  • Easy-to-understand buttons.
  • Strong brew option.
  • Espresso shot option.
  • Ability to brew over ice.
  • Built-in frother.
  • Auto-Off feature.
  • Compatible with all types of K-Cups.
  • Multiple cup sizes.
  • Top-rack dishwasher-compatible, removable parts.

Cons

  • Plastic body.
  • No temperature control, auto-start, or hot water button.
  • A bit noisy.

Things to Consider before Buying a Coffee, Cappuccino, and Latte Maker

If you’re an avid espresso fan but working with espresso machines seems like a hassle to you, the K-Cafe is here to help. It makes high-quality drinks like the ones you get at coffee shops, without costing you much.

The machine simply automates the tricky steps of making a cappuccino or latte. So, if you really enjoy grinding, pressing, and extracting espresso, this device might not be for you.

Here are some other factors you should consider before buying a single-serve coffee, cappuccino and latte maker:

  • Device dimensions.
  • Ease of access to the control panel.
  • How to clean the unit.
  • Performance, materials, and durability of the frother.
  • Ease of use for novice espresso makers.
  • Serving options.
  • Mug and pod variability.
  • Reservoir capacity.
  • Style and color.
  • Taste.
  • Affordability.

Why You Should Consider the K-Cafe and K-Cafe Special

Besides making espresso-style drinks and creamy foams, the Keurig K-Cafe (both regular and special editions) comes with fantastic features.

Design

With a three-pronged structure, the K-Cafe has a distinguished appearance compared to other Keurigs.

The center’s main part contains a brewing outlet, the K-Cup handle, and the drip tray. It also has enough clearance for a mug. The control panel also remains on top of this part.

On the left side sits a half-transparent water reservoir that’s almost as tall as the middle area. There’s another wing on the right that contains the frother base, the frother mug, and another switchboard. This part is almost half tall as the two other sides, creating a step-like design.

The device measures 12.5 inches high, 15.3 inches wide, and 11.7 inches deep. So, despite what it seems, it doesn’t take up much space on your countertop.

Although the casing, drip tray, and water canister are plastic, the frother jug has a stainless steel material. Also, the round bar frother handle is very user-friendly and long enough to avoid burning your hands.

It’s a non-electrical frother that runs with a magnet inside the frother base and an agitator ring in the container. 

Control Panel

The Keurig K-Cafe features two sets of buttons’a separate set on the top that helps you control the brewer settings and a three-button interface on the right front to adjust your frothing choices.

All buttons are easy-to-spot and beautifully curved, with clear descriptions. 

The coffee button makes a regular K-Cup coffee, and the numerical controls let you choose your favorite portion. With the Strong Brew option, you can brew a more concentrated beverage. And the Shot button gives you a 2-ounce cup of bold coffee to mix with your frothed milk. The difference between the Shot and Strong feature is that you can control the cup size with the former, but not with the latter.

On the right-hand settings, you can see a Cold button together with the Cappuccino and Latte options. If you only choose the Cappuccino or Latte buttons, the frother heats and stirs your milk.

If you also select the Cold setting, you won’t have to go through the heating procedure. So, you’ll have a chilled foamy solution rather than hot frothed milk.

Remember that each type of frothing needs a particular share of milk. So, fill the frother up to the appropriate markings (there are two fill lines inside the frother, one for cappuccinos and another for lattes.)

Serving Options

Being a single-serve coffee maker doesn’t mean being single-size. Fortunately, the K-Cafe can brew at four individual cup sizes: 6, 8, 10, and 12 ounces. You can include the two-ounce Shot feature as a fifth option.

Pod Variability

Keurig brewers may be limiting in the sense that they only work with K-Cup pods. However, there are no restrictions on what type or brand of K-Cup you choose. It means a vast horizon of price options and flavor varieties. 

If you still want more options, you can buy a My K-Cup reusable filter to make your own coffee. It not only keeps you in charge of your drink’s taste but also cuts down on your expenses and lowers the environmental effects of plastic K-cups.

Brewing time

Keurig K-Cup brewers are great for impatient coffee drinkers, and the K-Cafe is an excellent choice.

Going to a coffee shop or waiting in drive-thru lines can take you more than half an hour, but this machine prepares your coffee in one minute and your cappuccino in less than four minutes. The cappuccino takes longer because it takes the frother three minutes to heat and whip your milk.

Reservoir

With a massive tank capacity of 60 ounces, this coffee maker saves you from going to the water tap every single day. A filled reservoir gives you about six cups of coffee. So, if you brew one cup a day, you’ll have about a week before your next filling.

The K-Cafe reservoir comes with a handle, something you don’t see with the other Keurig machines. So, you’ll find it a lot easier to carry the tank to the sink. Besides, the tank won’t slide out of your hands when it’s heavy and full.

Being compatible with Keurig’s charcoal filters is another advantage. It helps to remove undesirable particles from the water, lessens your descaling efforts, and improves the taste of your coffee.

Advanced Features

The Add Water lamp is there to prevent damage. When it illuminates, it means there’s not enough water to brew a cup of coffee. So, the machine stops brewing until you refill it.

The Auto-Off indicator means the device will automatically switch off after two hours of being idle. It lights up each time you use the machine. The feature reduces energy consumption and the less chance of electrical accidents. 

Last but not least is the Descale indicator. Although the manual says you should descale the machine every three to six months, this may vary based on how often you brew. So, the indicator is a great help.

Unfortunately, there’s no auto brew option, temperature control, or timer on the K-Cafe. It also lacks the Quiet Brew Technology or on-demand hot water that you can find in other Keurig models.

What it does have, though, is the Smart Start technology. It means you don’t have to wait until the brewer warms up to choose your settings. As soon as you insert a coffee pod and press the “go” button, it starts dripping coffee into your mug.

Travel-Mug Friendly

Most Keurigs, including the K-Cafe and K-Cafe Special, can accommodate up to 7.2 inches travel mugs under the brew head. But it’s only possible when you remove the drip tray.

With a travel mug, you can easily take your coffee out, drink it at the office or on the way.

Maintenance

The device’s parts, including the drip tray, water reservoir, and milk frother, are removable. So, cleaning the machine isn’t difficult. Besides, the reservoir comes with a handle, which means fewer fingerprints on its walls and less wiping efforts.

To clean the exteriors, pick up a non-abrasive, lint-free cloth and dampen it with soap and water. Then, wipe down the outer surfaces. To clean the drip tray, gently pull it towards and wash it in your sink just as you do the dishes. Remember that harsh chemicals or stiff dishrags could leave scratches on your appliance.

Cleaning the reservoir and milk frother is similar. Just make sure you don’t dry the inside of the reservoir because the cloth lint can stick to its walls and find its way into your coffee.

While washing the frother, put the whisk inside the utensils rack because it’s tiny and it isn’t attached to the frother, so you may quickly lose it. Also, let the frother cool down before you hold it under the water. This avoids extreme temperature change and potential discoloration.

Clean the whisk immediately after use to avoid milk sticking inside its wire loops. If you forget to wash it right away and the cream dries inside the whisk, soak it in some warm water for about ten minutes so it’ll be easier to clean it. A tiny bristle brush can also help.

The good news is that all the detachable parts are top-rack dishwasher safe, which is a plus – except for the reservoir, which is pretty tall and may not fit in the top rack. You can put the lid in the dishwasher, though.

Taste

Since the unit uses K-Cups, your coffee’s taste will depend on the K-Cup you use. Still, I can assure you that what you’ll taste is the genuine taste of a K-Cup – not a manipulated one.

When making a cappuccino or latte, you’ll get a free version of what you buy in coffee shops. And when using the shot button, you’ll have a semi-dark, espresso-like flavor.

Of course, it’s not real espresso because the machine doesn’t have a piston to press the coffee grinds. But the coffee will be bold enough to make a decent cup of espresso-based drink.

Value

The Keurig K-Cafe is more expensive than many espresso machines. But if you consider the additional capabilities – such as frothing both cold and hot milk, brewing regular, dense, and espresso-style coffee – you’ll know you’re getting the best value for your money.

What’s the Difference Between The Keurig K-Cafe and the K-Cafe Special Edition?

The Keurig K-Cafe and the K-Cafe Special Edition have precisely the same functional and technological features. The slight aesthetic differences between the two include:

  • Color: The K-Cafe has a charcoal gray color with silver details. However, with a metallic, nickel colored coating, the Special Edition is more fashionable and eye-catching. 
  • Frother handle: While the regular K-Cafe has a black plastic handle for the frother, its Special edition features a metallic handle. This makes it more durable and dazzling.
  • Drip tray: Other than the frother handle, the K-Cafe Special boasts a more reliable, metallic drip tray.
  • Quality: Although both machines are made of plastic, the K-Cafe Special has thicker plastic, and therefore, better longevity.
  • Price: Added features come at a cost. The K-Cafe Special is a little more expensive, but you should decide whether the tradeoff is worth it. 

Things to Know about the Keurig K-Cafe and K-Cafe Special

  1. How Do You Make a Latte in a Keurig K-Cafe?

You can make a latte in a Keurig K-Cafe with four simple steps:

  1. Pop the brew head lever, and insert a K-Cup of your choice. A latte K-Cup, dark roast, or espresso blend will work the best.
  2. Put an eight-ounce mug under the nozzle and then hit the Shot button. In less than a minute, you’ll have two ounces of concentrated coffee.
  3. Add some milk to the frother up to the “latte” filing line. Wait for about three minutes so that the whipping mechanism does its job. You’ll get about six ounces of milk with a 30 percent foam.
  4. Add the frothed milk to your coffee shot, top it with your favorite syrup, and you’re good to go.

2. How Do You Descale a Keurig K Cafe?

Descaling a Keurig K Cafe is an easy process and takes about half an hour. Empty the reservoir and fill it with ten ounces of vinegar or an appropriate portion of descaling solution. Top it with enough water until you reach the max line.

Select a cup size and start the machine’s brewing cycle without inserting a pod. Ensure you put a big container below the nozzle and repeat the process until there’s nothing left inside the reservoir.

Once you’re done, wash the reservoir with soap and water, and let it dry. Your water tank is free of scales for the next three months! 

Although using vinegar is cheaper, it’s better to use a descaling solution because it won’t leave an odor and won’t affect your drink’s taste.

3. Is the Keurig K-Cafe Worth it?

The Keurig K-Cafe is worth your money because it gives you instant coffee as well as steamed milk for lattes and cappuccinos. It blends the convenience of K-Cup brewers with the usability of espresso machines. Besides, it has the closest taste to what you get at coffee shops, all at a fraction of that money.

Final Thoughts on Our Keurig K-Cafe and K-Cafe Special Review

The Keurig K-Cafe is a combo coffee machine that gives you regular or strong coffee, two-ounce shots of espresso, and a decent jug of whipped milk to make tasty lattes/cappuccinos. 

Its user-oriented features allow you to make home-made coffee at the click of a button. Still, it’s easily comparable with professionally-made beverages. So, it can reduce your expenses by eliminating takeaway coffees.

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