Keurig K45 – Keurig Elite Coffee Maker Review

Keurig Elite ReviewAre you looking for a new Keurig coffee maker? You could probably spend hours reviewing the various Keurig brewers and still not be able to choose!

The Keurig Elite coffee maker (K45/B40) is a good introduction to the Keurig line of personal brewers. It’s a tried and true model with the original K-Cup Brewing System technology (learn more about how Keurigs work).

That means it will accept all K-Cups, whether they’re made by Keurig or not – unlike the newer Keurig 2.0 machines that only brew with Keurig-made K-Cups.

Because it uses K-Cups, brewing is fast, easy and cleanup is a breeze. You can have a cup of fresh hot coffee in about a minute. Plus, every coffee drinker has the convenience of choosing his or her own K-Cup flavor from the many available

There aren’t a lot of extra bells and whistles on the K45 brewers, either – just a nice selection of features you’ll want and use.

One big plus is that the Keurig Elite accepts My K-Cup and third party reusable coffee filters, so you’ll be able to brew your favorite ground coffee. This is a money-saving option that many users appreciate.

The K45 is the least expensive Keurig machine with a water reservoir, meaning you don’t have to add water for every cup of coffee. The reservoir holds 48 ounces of water and can be removed and filled at the sink.

The Elite comes in four attractive colors with silver gray trim: Black, Rhubarb (red), Patriot Blue and Coconut White.

This Keurig machine is a best seller for home use. It is not UL listed for use at the office or in other commercial buildings.

The Elite sounds great, but is it the right Keurig machine for you? The following review covers everything you need to know about the Keurig Elite K40/B45 coffee maker.

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Type of Coffee Used

Reusable Coffee Filters

Keurig Elite Colors

Pros and Cons

Keurig Elite Review – Our Conclusion

 

Keurig Elite Review

The Keurig Elite coffee maker is a popular lower end Keurig single cup coffee maker. It’s also known as the Keurig K45, B45, Keurig Elite B40, and K40. The “B” and “K” designations refer to distribution channels, not differences between machines. We’ll use these names interchangeably in this review.

The Elite is available in several versions. The difference is that the older Keurig B40/K40 has two cup sizes (6 and 8 ounces, or 8 and 10 ounces depending on where purchased) while the K45/B45 usually has three (the K45 has three – 6, 8 and 10 ounces; the B45 may have 2 cup sizes – 8 and 10 ounces). Otherwise the machines are identical. Some versions come with the optional water filter and some don’t – it will say whether or not it’s included on the box.

The Elite brews a cup of fresh hot coffee in less than a minute, once the machine heats up (which takes 3-4 minutes). It has an Auto-Off option that, once selected, turns the machine off if it hasn’t been used for two hours. Otherwise, the machine stays on, producing individual cups of coffee and other hot beverages quickly.

The removable 48-ounce reservoir holds enough for three 10-ounce cups or four 8-ounce cups. The remaining water is stored inside the Keurig. The Elite will stop brewing when the “Add Water” light comes on, but will resume once the reservoir has been filled.

The Keurig B40/K45 sometimes comes with charcoal water filters and a water filter assembly(read the box/product description to determine if it’s included). This is designed to improve the taste of the coffee by removing unpleasant tastes from water, like sulpher and chlorine, but won’t affect the need to descale regularly.

Indicator lights make it easy to set up the Elite for brewing. There are also lights that indicate when water needs to be added and when the machine should be descaled.

The Keurig K45 employs the original K-Cup Brewing Technology. Consequently, all K-Cups work in this machine, not just those produced by Keurig – a big plus for many users.

The machine features Quiet Brew technology, so it’s quieter than some single cup coffee makers. Still, it does make some noise when heating and dispensing water. Most users don’t find it loud enough to be disruptive.

The drip tray can be removed so that the Elite B40 will accept taller mugs, even medium sized travel mugs.

All plastic parts that come into contact with water are BPA, including the K-Cups.

The Keurig K45 is designed for use by 1-3 moderate coffee drinkers. If you’re a heavy coffee drinker or will be sharing the brewer with several people you may prefer the more robust K145 or K155. These are heavy-use commercial machines adapted for household use.

Does the Keurig Elite coffee maker seem not quite right for you and your household? Read our comparison of all Keurig brewers for home use.

Want to know more about the new Keurig 2.0 machines? Read our review here.

Coffee-Making Process

To make a cup of coffee, make sure the coffee maker is plugged in and the green “Power” light is on. Otherwise, turn the machine on and allow it to heat, which takes about 4 minutes.

Fill the water reservoir to the Max Fill line and snap it into place on the machine. Replace the water reservoir lid.

Place a cup or mug on the drip tray.

Once the red “heating” light goes off, lift the handle so that the K-Cup Pack Holder opens. Insert a K-Cup into the holder and lower the handle completely to close the lid.

Choose your brew size. When brewing is complete, lift the handle and discard the used K-Cup.

Note: It’s important to clean your new Keurig Elite coffee machine before making your first cup of coffee. Simply follow the instructions in the manual for brewing a cup of coffee but omit the K-Cup and discard the resulting cup of hot water.

 

 

Type of Coffee Used

The Keurig K45/B40 uses K-Cups. 250+ flavors of coffee and other beverages are available.

This machine does not read the K-Cup lids, therefore it can brew any K-Cup, regardless of who produces it – unlike the Keurig 2.0 machines that only work with Keurig brand K-Cups.

You can also brew your favorite ground coffee using the My K-Cup reusable filter, which is sold separately. There are several third party reuseable filters that are also popular for use with this machine.

Type of Coffee Produced

K-Cups are available in a wide range of flavors, including light roast, dark roast, flavored coffees and decaf. Many popular coffee brands are also available, including Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Folgers. Espresso, latte and cappuccino flavored K-Cups are available, but don’t expect to make traditional espresso or frothy drinks with the Keurig Elite. You’ll need an espresso maker for that. You might consider the Keurig Rivo.

K-Cups are designed for single use. Brew one cup and toss it. However, some people will use the same K-Cup for a second brewing, producing a larger cup of coffee than is available from the built in cup sizes. Keep in mind that the second brewing will produce weaker coffee.

For the strongest coffee, choose the 6-ounce cup size (the less water, the stronger the coffee). You may also prefer an “extra bold” K-Cup, which contains 30% more ground coffee.

Tea, Hot Chocolate, Iced Coffee and More

K-Cups come in many flavors, including popular teas, hot cocoa, hot cider and more. There are also “Brew Over Ice” K-cups for making iced coffees, teas and lemonade.

While the Elite does not cold brew, you can brew into a cup of ice to produce iced beverages. Fill a 16 oz. cup with ice and brew 8 ounces of hot coffee or tea into it (preferably using a “Brew Over Ice” K-Cup). A 12 oz. cup would work with 6 ounces of hot beverage (fill half of the volume of the cup size with the hot beverage).

Keep in mind that you can remove the drip tray to accommodate a taller cup, or dispense the coffee or tea into a smaller cup and pour the hot beverage into a large cup filled with ice. Do not use a glass cup, as it may crack or break.

 

 

The Keurig B40/K45 also produces hot water for use with tea bags, your favorite hot cocoa, instant oatmeal and more. Simply run a brew cycle without a K-Cup installed. Piping hot water will pour into the cup. Since brewing happens within the K-Cup (or reusable filter), hot water produced by the machine does not have any lingering coffee flavors.

Reusable Coffee Filters

Reusable coffee filters, such as the My K-Cup filter, allow you to brew your favorite ground coffee in this machine. There are several good third party filters available, as well, such as Ekobrew (paper inserts also available) and Solofill. Some people report finding a few grounds in their coffee when using reusable filters. In that case, look for a reusable filter that accepts paper filter inserts, such as the EZ-Cup by Perfect Pod. Paper inserts, which prevent grounds from seeping into the cup, are also a bit easier to clean, since you simply need to discard the paper filter with grounds and rinse the filter holder.

Reusable filters are inexpensive and are purchased separately. Some people buy several and fill them once a week so there’s always one ready to go first thing on work mornings.

Water Filter

The Keurig Elite K45 often comes with a water filter (read the box or product description). It’s not required, but you’ll like using it if your water has an “off” taste. The water filter uses charcoal to remove sulpher and other flavors in order to produce the best tasting coffee. However, the water filter does not remove minerals that cause residue to build up inside the machine. Regular descaling is necessary to keep the machine working properly.

Water

Keurig recommends room temperature bottled or filtered water, especially if your water tastes like chlorine or other undesirable substances (although the water filter will help remove unpleasant flavors). Reverse osmosis and distilled water is not recommended. Water straight from the tap can be used, but avoid softened or overly hard water (high in mineral content).

Regardless of what type of water you use, “scale” can build up inside the K45 machine, especially if you’re using water high in calcium and other minerals. This buildup can affect the brewer’s performance, so plan to descale regularly.

The Elite comes with a “descaling needed” indicator light, but keep in mind that this is set for a specific period of time and does not reflect how much buildup is present in your machine. Descaling every 3-6 months is recommended. Your water will dictate how often you’ll need to descale.

Water Temperature

You cannot adjust the water temperature on the Keurig B40 or K45. The temperature is pre-set by Keurig to 192 degrees, which is what they feel produces the best tasting coffee and other hot beverages.

This is the temperature of the water during brewing. However, the temperature can vary once it’s dispensed, depending on the temperature of the cup and what it’s made of. Coffee brewed into an insulated cup, like a foam cup, usually registers 180-185 degrees, while a ceramic cup might cool the coffee a bit more. A cold cup will reduce the coffee temperature significantly.

Also, the first cup brewed after turning on the brewer, or after it has been sitting for awhile may be slightly cooler. You can eliminate this by brewing a small cup without a K-Cup, producing hot water that will warm all the internal tubes and the cup itself.

Amount of Coffee Per Serving

The Keurig B40/K40 offers two cup size options, 8 and 10 ounces or 6 and 8 ounces. The newer B45 may have 2 or 3 cup sizes (8 and 10 ounces, or 6, 8 and 10 ounces), while the K45 gives you the choice of three cup sizes: 6, 8 or 10 ounces of coffee per cup. Read the product description or box to determine how many cup sizes you’ll get with the machine you’re considering.

Keep in mind that K-Cups are pre-measured, so the strength of the coffee produced depends on the amount of water used during brewing. For the strongest coffee, choose the 6-ounce cup size. K-Cups that are marked “Extra Bold” also produce stronger coffee, as they contain up to 30% more ground coffee than regular K-Cups.

For large mugs of coffee, like big travel mugs, you may want to brew twice, pouring the coffee produced both times into the large mug. Use the same K-Cup twice, or use a new one each time for a stronger brew. You can also remove the drip tray to fit a larger cup, which allows some travel mugs to fit under the coffee dispenser.

Keurig K45 Brewing Time

The Keurig Elite coffee brewer needs three to four minutes to reach brewing temperature once it is turned on. After that, it takes less than a minute to brew a fresh cup of coffee.

Auto Shutoff

If the Auto Off option is selected, the machine will turn itself off about two hours after the last cup was brewed. Otherwise, it will stay on, hot and ready, until you turn it off or unplug it.

 

Keurig Elite

Keurig Elite Colors

The K45 comes in four colors with silver gray trim: Black, Rhubarb, Patriot Blue and Coconut white.

If you’re looking for a red Keurig, this machine is a good choice. While photos usually depict the machine as a blueish red (leaning toward a raspberry color), the red color of this Keurig brewer is actually quite close to the popular “small appliance red” you’re used to seeing in mixers and such. It’s a bit darker, perhaps not quite as vivid, and does have a blue cast in some light, but the colors work together and the difference won’t be noticeable, especially if the machines aren’t sitting next to each other. With the silver gray trim, it’s a very attractive brewer.

The Patriot Blue machine is a lovely royal blue color. It’s not as dark as navy, but a few shades lighter and somewhat more vivid. It’s not a bright blue, either, just a nice rich royal blue.

The Coconut White is great looking machine in a standard white that goes well with white appliances.

The Black is a true black that looks crisp and clean with the silver gray trim.

Dimensions

Unit size: 13″H x 13.3″D x 9.8″W. Overall height when the handle is open to insert a K-Cup is 17.1”.

Weighs 12 pounds.

Cord: 36” to the prongs of the three-pronged plug.

The Elite brewer accommodates a mug that is 6” tall with the drip tray in place and 7” without the drip tray.

UL Rating

UL Listed for Household Use Only. This machine is not appropriate for office buildings and other commercial environments. Learn more about UL listings here.

Power Usage

1,500 watts

Voltage: 120VAC / 60 Hz

Controls

The Elite operates via manual push-buttons. Green lights indicate that the machine is on and whether or not Auto-Off is engaged. Red lights alert you to when the machine is ready to brew or when it’s time to descale, and a blue light indicates when water needs to be added. There are also buttons for choosing a cup size.

Keurig Elite Cleaning and Ongoing Maintenance

The owners manual provides instructions for cleaning your brewer. Keurig also provides videos that demonstrate more in-depth cleaning here.

After you’re finished brewing, remove the K-Cup and wipe down the outside of the coffee machine with a soft damp non-abrasive cloth.

Remove and discard water in the drip tray, if needed, and wipe it clean. The drip tray is not dishwasher safe.

You’ll want to empty and rinse the water reservoir every few days. To keep water moving smoothly through the machine, clean the Filter Screen and Water Reservoir Port every week or so.

Once a week remove and clean the K-Cup Pack Holder Assembly. It can be put on the top shelf of the dishwasher and run on a low temperature. Remove and clean the funnel in the K-Cup Pack Holder. This can also be put in the dishwasher.

The entrance and exit needles will need to be cleaned if a clog appears and the machine isn’t dispensing as it should. Use a paper clip as shown in the instructions. Be careful! The needles are very sharp. Note that there are 2 holes shown in the entrance needle in the video. There’s a third hold around to the back that’s not shown.

Learn more about cleaning your Keurig here.

You’ll need to descale your Keurig machine every three to six months, depending on how fast minerals build up from your water. You’ll find complete instructions in this video.

Run a full reservoir of fresh water through the brewer when it has not been used for a week or more.

Since the internal water reservoir cannot be completely emptied, store the coffee maker upright in a frost-free place, otherwise freezing water might damage the machine. Make sure the water reservoir is empty. If it has been stored in a cool place, allow the machine to rest at room temperature for two hours before turning it on. After storage, rinse clean the water reservoir and run at least three cycles without K-Cups before using the brewer.

Keurig Elite K40/K45 Features

  • Single-use personal coffee maker
  • K-Cup Brewing Technology
  • Choice of 2 or 3 cup sizes depending on where purchased: 6 and 8 ounces or 8 and 10 ounces. The K45 has 3 cup sizes – 6, 8 and 10 ounces
  • 4 colors to choose from – Black, Rhubarb, Patriot Blue and Coconut White
  • 48-ounce water reservoir
  • Water filter comes with some machines – check the box or product description
  • Removable drip tray
  • Auto-Off option
  • Quiet Brew Technology
  • UL rated for Household Use Only

What’s in the Box

Keurig Elite brewing systemCoffee maker, water filter (for some models), Owner’s Manual, Quick-Start Guide and a 12-cup K-Cup variety pack.

Accessories

Reusable filters for use with ground coffee.

Replacement water filter cartridges.

Iced beverage tumbler.

Handy K-Cup storage units.

16-ounce travel mug that fits (without the drip tray).

Warranty

This machine has a one-year warranty against defects under normal home use. The warranty will be voided if you open up the machine to try to diagnose a problem or fix it yourself.

Customer Service

The manufacturer can be reached by phone 7 days a week and any time by email to help with the machine’s performance. The seller handles refunds and replacements.

Replacement drip trays, exterior reservoirs and K-Cup holders are available.

Pros

  • A solid, basic single cup coffee maker that’s easy to operate.
  • K-Cups make it largely mess-free and easy to keep clean.
  • Each cup of coffee can be a different flavor – just use a different K-Cup.
  • Can be used to make coffee and tea in a variety of flavors, as well as other hot and iced beverages.
  • Employs the original K-Cup Brewing Technology so non-Keurig K-Cups work with the machine.
  • The My K-Cup reusable coffee filter can be purchased separately for brewing your favorite ground coffee.
  • Choose between making 6, 8 or 10 ounces of coffee or tea on the K45, or two cup sizes on other models.
  • Removable drip tray so medium height travel mugs can be used.
  • There’s no need to use special water, although filtered or bottled water is recommended, and hard, softened, distilled and reverse osmosis water is discouraged.
  • A water filter is included with some models to clean up the taste of your water.
  • 48-ounce water reservoir can be filled at the sink.
  • All plastic parts are BPA free.
  • Produces fresh hot coffee in about a minute.
  • The coffee has good flavor.
  • Four colors to choose from.
  • Quiet Brew Technology.

Cons

  • Produces a limited amount of coffee per brewing – 6 and 8 ounces, 8 and 10 ounces, or 6, 8 and 10 ounces with the K45.
  • Larger cup sizes with more water produce weaker coffee.
  • Needs regular cleaning of exterior and internal parts to perform well.
  • No auto-start feature so you can’t schedule it to begin brewing at a certain time, like first thing in the morning.
  • UL listed for Household use only – not intended for use at the office or in other commercial environments (a plus if you’re looking for a machine for home use).

Tips from Users:

Some users feel that the 12-pound weight makes the Elite a little hard to move around a kitchen counter and recommend something like the Handy Caddy Sliding Counter Tray to facilitate pulling it out from the wall.

A tablespoon of Cream of Tartar placed in the water reservoir (instead of vinegar) can remove lingering plastic taste and smell. Run brew cycles without K-Cups until the reservoir needs to be filled. Rinse with at least three reservoirs of clear water.

Another method for removing plastic taste is to fill the water reservoir with 1/4 vinegar and 3/4 water and run it through by brewing without K-Cups. Follow that with 3 full reservoir run-throughs of clean filtered water. Clean the K-Cup Pack Assembly with vinegar water as well.

If you want more than 8 or 10 ounces of coffee, brew twice using the same K-Cup, or for stronger flavor, using 2 K-Cups.

Avoid clogged needles by removing the K-Cup immediately after brewing.

When using a reusable filter with tea, be sure to clean the K-Cup Pack Assembly area after brewing. Bits of loose tea can collect there and taint the taste of the next beverage brewed.

Users report having good results using reusable filters from Cafe Cup, Solofill, Melitta Java Jig and EkoBrew instead of My K-Cup.

Buy multiple reusable coffee filters, fill them, and have them standing by for busy workweek mornings.

If your reusable filter is allowing grounds and sediment into your cup, choose a reusable filter with a paper filter insert. Or, insert a paper filter into the filter you already have.

You may need to experiment to achieve the brew you want when using ground coffee. Some users say that their usual store-bought ground coffee produces weak coffee in the Keurig Elite, while others say their favorite ground coffee is too strong. Adjust the amount of coffee used, the grind, and the amount of water to suit your tastes. Some say to use twice the amount of ground coffee as you would in a drip maker. Others suggest that grinding your own beans improves the flavor over store-bought grinds. You may need to experiment to find the right beans and coarseness. Grinding your own coffee beans rather than using finely pre-ground coffee for drip brewers can also eliminate silt in the bottom of the cup.

If you’re concerned about K-Cups filling up landfills, look for biodegradable K-Cups, such as those from the San Francisco Bay.

You can buy K-Cups that taste like cappuccino but the Elite does not have the capability to make frothy milk foam. However, milk frothers can be purchases separately.

Keurig Elite Coffee Maker Performance and User Reviews

At the time this was written the Keurig Elite K45 coffee maker had 1350 reviews on Amazon. 88% of those reviewers gave this brewer a high rating of 4 or 5 stars.

The 114 reviewers who give it 1 or 2 stars had problems with weak coffee, partial cups, or instances of the machine not working properly.

The vast majority of users report that this coffee maker produces excellent coffee, and they appreciate its ease of use. They also appreciate being able to brew ground coffee in a reusable coffee filter.

Those who are unhappy about weak coffee are encouraged to try other K-Cup flavors, such as a dark roast, until they find a bolder blend that suits their tastes. The “Extra Bold” K-Cups contain up to 30% more grounds and yield a stronger brew.

Like all Keurig brewers, the Elite makes good coffee but may not satisfy coffee connoisseurs. If that’s you, then you’ll probably prefer an espresso machine, coffee press or drip coffee cone.

A common complaint with Keurig machines is that they can begin to produce partial cups of coffee (not all of the water flows through). Cleaning the exit needle and/or descaling usually fixes this. If not, or if no water flows through at all, you may need to clean the entrance needle as well, removing all coffee particles from all holes in it.

Users also suggest gently pushing the K-Cup down onto the lower needle to release internal air pressure before closing the lid, as this prevents trapped air from puffing grounds up into the entrance needle.

Keurig Support is attentive and dedicated to helping to solve any problems, and will quickly send a replacement machine if that is required (when under warranty). They stress that it’s important to keep the needles clean and the machine descaled.

It’s reported that this machine does not emit excessive steam, and therefore can be used under an upper cabinet.

While the 48-ounce reservoir sounds generous, you’ll only get three 10-oz. or four 8-oz. cups from one fill (the remaining water is held inside the machine). Some users mention being annoyed because they set it to brew and came back later to see that it had stopped mid-brew because the reservoir needed to be filled. You may prefer a machine with a larger reservoir if you’ll need to fill it often.

You may also prefer a larger machine if you’ll be brewing several cups per day. The Keurig K155 is a commercial machine adapted to household use and is built to hold up under heavy use (4-5+ cups per day).

Keurig Elite Price

The Keurig Elite K40/K45 is reasonably priced and offers good value for a home-use pressurized single cup coffee maker.

Conclusion

We agree with the vast majority of users who feel that the Keurig Elite is a good choice for home use. We like how quickly it brews a cup of fresh hot coffee because of the water reservoir.

We also like having the option to use the water filter to clean up questionable-tasting water (check the product description to see if it’s included) and that reusable coffee filters (purchased separately) allow you to brew your own ground coffee.

The Keurig Elite coffee maker also accommodates non-Keurig K-Cups, another plus. This Keurig machine seems to have a good mix of options, is simple to use and comes in four popular colors, including a gorgeous red.

However, if your household brews 5 or more cups of coffee per day you may be happier with the K155. This Keurig brewer is built to withstand heavy use and has a large 90-ounce water reservoir, making it a good single cup coffee maker for households with heavy coffee drinkers.

 

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