Kicking Keurig To The Curb

It’s hard to know exactly how annoying a Keurig is until the electricity goes out. Electronic devices—in this millennium—should reboot to their last operating state. The Keurig wouldn’t quite. It was sort of like Jurassic Park. Yeah, the computers are sitting at the command line. But rebooted my ass. Running a phalanx of misanthropic mega-reptiles to actually get the job done is not rebooted.

So every time the power went out (often in our neighborhood) or you’d unplugged the thing, there were those extra few settings to reset. This would have been okay except that they were all parlor tricks. Like changing the clock face between digital and analog. Why does it even have a clock? I know it is 4:30 in the morning. That’s why I’m gulping coffee!

Let’s face it: a coffee maker is nothing more than a water heater and a pump. It only needs to heat water and spit it out over some grounds. No dumbass needs more than that. If you want to be a highfalutin dumbass, however, make sure to the water is 202°F when it spits out over the grounds. And make sure it has a showerhead, not a nozzle, to evenly distribute that hot water. And if it can hit a flow that gives the water a little hold time in the filter basket, a little time to bring out the notes in your beans—that nice balance between sweetness and acidity, with touches of ash, smoke and malt that turns it from utilitarian to delicious—you have a winner.

The Keurig is not a winner. It does heat water. I’m not sure of the temperature. But I’m guessing that it is not much above 180°F. (After all, you wouldn’t want Poopsie to burn his widdle wips on that first sip.) 180°F is hardly optimal. And it does pump water. In fact, it makes a lot of noise doing it. It’s pretty much the same noise you get plunging your toilet. With similarly edible results.

After that, it is nothing like a coffee maker. You would think that there is some little secret in those pods; some trick that makes things better. But no. The pod lets two things happen. One, it is a way to package ground coffee so that it stays fresh for, maybe, decades. You know, like a Twinkie. Two, it is a way to force water through the grounds faster—with pressure. That way bored, stressed-out office workers can have a quick shot of caffeine as a delightful alternative to garroting themselves with their neckties. Nothing in that process makes better coffee. In fact, the one thing they could control, a 1:15 ratio between the weight of the grounds and the weight of the brewed coffee, is the one thing they don’t control.

So, like every other appliance that is 99% horse shit, Keurig added a touch screen. The touchscreen is what you use to conjure up all of these nice little settings that it doesn’t quite remember when the power fails. To be fair, I would not have been annoyed if it wasn’t brewing swill. But if I want coffee and you hand me swill, I get a little annoyed.

So how did this malarkey ever get out of the office breakroom and into our homes? Well, in my case I bought it for my wife. Her sister had one. She fell in love with it while visiting her sister. And since I love her, and she loved it, it only made sense to buy one. Once the one she wanted hit a suitable discount, I did just that.

I set it up on the kitchen counter. I read through all the directions. I punched in all of the settings on the touchscreen. Then I popped in a pod, hit the button and waited 60 seconds to be delighted. That 60 seconds never passed. But the 60 seconds needed to brew a cup of what Keurig believes to be coffee did. I have never been more underwhelmed in my life.

So here we have a $100 coffee machine that does nothing well. It is not a cheaper way to make coffee. Even if you use the refillable pods, which we do, it takes nearly twice as many beans to make a cup of joe compared to automatic drip. It is not a way to make better coffee. The resulting dark liquid is bland at best. And we had the advantage of grinding ours any way that we wanted. In over a year, I could not come up with a grind that worked. You might be able to say that it is faster. But if you are willing to drink coffee that will pull your teeth out of their sockets, with ADC you can always grab that first ‘cup’ when it hits the pot. The Keurig doesn’t squirt out a cup much faster than that. And it is way slower than a carafe sitting on the hot plate, already brewed. When it comes to having a second cup, my drip machine will smoke your Keurig every time.

After almost two years of ho-hum java, the subject of the Keurig finally came up. I told my dream girl that if she ever wanted another one she could certainly have it. But I allowed that I personally would be heading in the direction of good old pour-over coffee. Because that’s how you brew coffee one cup at a time. She agreed. Not to standing over each individual cup and gently swirling 202°F water through the grounds for an exact amount of time. But she agreed that the Keurig was a shell game.

And that is the story of how we ended up with a Bodum Bistro Pour-Over coffee machine. My sweetie was in the Beyond section of Bed, Bath and Beyond when the words pour-over caught her eye. And BB&B had it deeply discounted. I mean stupid deep. So she got it because she loves me as much as I love her. If I wanted pour-over coffee, by god that’s what we were going to have.

It is not, of course, a pour-over coffee machine. There is no pour-over machine. Pour-over coffee is done with care, by hand. Bodum is just latching onto a buzz word. What the Bodum Bistro Pour-Over coffee machine is, is a fantastic drip brewer. Fantastic. I mean, it brewed me the first mug of beans that I have truly enjoyed in a coon’s age. Best of all, when you turn it on, the start button flashes green. When the brew is complete, the green light stays lit. That’s it. To be sure, I unplugged it and plugged it back in. The green light did not need reset. The rest is just a heater, a pump, a shower head, and a basket that holds 202°F water just long enough to coax out all of the notes in your beans. In fact, in a slick industrial design move, Bodum gave it a clear back panel so you could see all of the parts. Simple. Highfalutin dumbass simple.

We are kicking the Keurig to the curb. Maybe someone with an itch to scratch can buy it and learn, for a lot less money than we spent, that Keurig is the greatest name in hokum.

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