Keurig K-Elite review

The K-Elite is the ultimate Keurig machine

Keurig K-Elite on kitchen counter
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The K-Elite is one of the best Keurig coffee makers, ready for iced coffee, stronger brews, and dispensing hot water. Features like temperature adjusting, a clock, and a timer make the K-Elite a worthy coffee maker replacement.

Pros

  • +

    Strong brew option makes delicious coffee

  • +

    Superfast brew times

  • +

    Timer function helps plan brews ahead

  • +

    Large water reservoir

  • +

    Very versatile

Cons

  • -

    Lukewarm brew temperatures

  • -

    Flimsy drip tray

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Keurig K-Elite: Specs

Reservoir Capacity: 75 ounces
Size:  13.1 x 9.9 x 12.7 inches
Brew sizes: 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-ounce cups
Removable water reservoir: Yes
Milk frother: No
Strength settings: Yes
Temperature control: Yes
Iced coffee: Yes
Auto off: Yes

Whether you love K-Cups or despise them, one thing is for sure: the K-Elite is the ultimate Keurig experience. This is Keurig in its final form, with a wide range of serving sizes — 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-ounces — the ability to brew for iced coffee, a hot water dispenser, a strong brew option, temperature settings, a clock, timer, auto-off feature, and a 75-oz water reservoir. This machine takes the technology introduced by other Keurig models and rolls them together into one convenient package as you will see in our Keurig K-Elite review.

With so many versions of Keurig machines on the market, it’s hard to tell which appliance is best for you and your lifestyle. If you’re looking for a coffee pod machine that can provide a coffee house experience at home, and you don’t mind a lack of frothy milk, the K-Elite is the best Keurig coffee maker you can buy. 

Keurig K-Elite review: Price and availability

The K-Elite costs $189, roughly $40 more than the standard K-Classic. However, it’s frequently on sale and hovering around $150 at retailers like Amazon, Keurig’s official store, and Walmart. This is one of the most expensive Keurig machines, closest in price with the K-Cafe, which has an attached milk frothing station and the ability to brew espresso-like shots.

Like all Keurigs, the K-Elite can only use K-Cup pods to brew coffee, tea, and hot cocoa, which can run anywhere between $7 to $14 per 12-pack, depending on the brand name. This equates to roughly 60 cents to $1.15 per pod. The K-Elite, however, is compatible with reusable K-Cups, which allows you to save some money if you’ve already got pre-ground coffee at home.

Keurig K-Elite review: Features

The K-Elite has plenty of bells and whistles to put other Keurig models to shame. It has the largest range of single-serve sizes, able to brew 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-ounce cups. It can dispense hot water for hot cocoa and teas, and it has an option for iced coffee, which brews the coffee at a higher strength so it can be properly diluted with ice without losing flavor.

Keurig K-Elite settings buttons

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Also included is a clock, which is a surprisingly big deal for the usually screenless Keurig. This allows the K-Elite to be programmed to power on before you even wake up — you can just prep a K-Cup the night before, and the machine will heat up, ready to brew, at a set time. It can’t, however, start its brew function via its timer, meaning you still have to get up and press it on. The machine also has an auto-off feature, which turns the K-Elite off two hours after its last brew to save energy.

The K-Elite also comes equipped with a Keurig-branded filter handle and water filter, to purify the water in the reservoir. The only other Keurig machine to come packaged with this is the K-Select. These water filters must be replaced every two months.

Keurig K-Elite water reservoir

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Finally, the K-Elite has a “strong” brew feature, which deeply saturates K-Cups with a slower brewing process in exchange for a bolder K-Cup flavor. This, in conjunction with the machine’s temperature adjustment option — which allows you to set temperatures between 187 and 192 degrees Fahrenheit — can provide a tasty cup of coffee.

Keurig K-Elite review: Design

The K-Elite is about the size of the K-Classic, sharing a build similar to Gru from Despicable Me — curved at the top, slight taper at the waist. It’s 13-inches tall, 10-inches wide, and just under 13-inches deep. It has a brushed silver texture on its exterior, a plastic body, and a straightforward, perforated stainless steel drip tray. 

Keurig K-Elite on kitchen counter

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The K-Elite also has plenty of buttons to hit, and although there’s way more on offer compared to the usual Keurig control panel, it’s still just as easy to navigate. Lights indicate when the machine is due for a descale and when the water reservoir needs refilling. Selecting your cup size and strength is a matter of hitting a few buttons.

Keurig K-Elite removable drip tray

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The biggest design flaw with the K-Elite is its drip tray, which is flimsy and too easily removed. It quickly glides from its placement because it’s not secured in any way, and it’s nearly impossible to move the machine without it falling out. 

Keurig K-Elite review: Performance

The Keurig K-Elite is one of the most impressive Keurig machines you can buy, simply for the taste it provides. While I’m not usually a fan of K-Cup coffee, the K-Elite’s “strong” brew feature is able to provide a robust cup of coffee that rivals my Hamilton Beach coffee maker. Hitting that strong button before choosing a serving size provides a slower drip — usually an extra minute — of brewing, but it’s worth the wait. It results in a more flavorful cup that will impress even the biggest coffee pod naysayers.

Keurig K-Elite coffee pod holder

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Once the machine is turned on, it begins warming immediately and takes less than two minutes to heat up ready for brewing. The K-Elite can brew 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-ounce cups in less than a minute. Without hitting that strong feature, you can brew 10-ounces of hot coffee in about 40 seconds flat. The longest I waited for a single-serve was 55 seconds for a 12-ounce pour. That’s seriously impressive.

Keurig K-Elite coffee pod

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

However, those quicker brews aren’t as tasty — for me, anyway. Part of the reason why Keurigs can’t brew espresso-quality coffee is a lack of crema. Keurig machines can’t produce crema, which is a caramel-colored layer of foam that sits on the coffee. It is a result of both heat and pressure building up through the brewing process, and is what many coffee snobs believe gives espresso and coffee a complex flavor. This is why Nespresso machines win so many people over. 

Per the National Coffee Association, the optimal coffee cup is brewed between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit, and the K-Elite can’t heat water high enough to provide that sort of flavor. Even when I adjusted the machine’s temperature to 198 degrees Fahrenheit, the hottest cup I recorded post-brew was 182 degrees. That could be a bummer for those wanting an intense cup of coffee, or who prefer to drink their coffee piping hot.

Keurig K-Elite on kitchen counter

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you like iced coffee, the K-Elite might intrigue you, though, fair warning, the iced feature doesn’t taste too far off from its ‘strong’ option. To brew iced coffee, the K-Elite simply pulls a longer brew cycle, similar to a strong cup. Keurig advises filling a mug up with ice and leaving it underneath the spout as it pours. After tasting it, I honestly think the iced feature makes the already weak K-Cup experience even weaker — too watery and flat. If you’re a K-Cup fan, your mileage may vary though. 

Keurig K-Elite making coffee

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The K-Elite doesn’t take much energy to operate, thankfully. During 25 minutes of use, the machine only used roughly 115 KWH, making it the best Keurig for low energy use behind the compact K-Mini. It’s also quiet when brewing, with the highest noise reading at 67dB. The K-Elite and the K-Select are the quietest Keurig machines we’ve tested. 

Keurig K-Elite review: Ease of Use

The K-Elite introduces multiple buttons to its control panel, but it’s still incredibly easy to operate. You turn it on, and while waiting for the machine to heat up, insert a K-Cup into the pod compartment. You then just need to select what size coffee you’d like. If the water reservoir is low — which, at 75 ounces, will be rare — a light will turn on to tell you to add more. There’s also an indicator that shows when the K-Elite needs a descale. Any button that needs your attention will glow with a bright blue light.

Keurig K-Elite illuminated settings buttons

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

You can adjust temperatures and set the clock by flipping through the options menu, which is as simple as hitting the options button and using the arrows. Powering off is also made easier with the auto-off feature, which cuts the machine after two hours of inactivity.

Keurig K-Elite review: Verdict

The K-Elite is, without a doubt, one of the best Keurig coffee makers that money can buy. It’s quiet, fast, efficient, and has the ability to brew a tasty cup of coffee — with a few of the machine’s special features. Its wide range of serving sizes, along with an iced coffee option, makes it one of the most versatile Keurigs on the market. Its only potential drawback is a lack of a milk frother, which you can buy separately from the company directly. 

If you already enjoy K-Cups, the K-Elite is a no-brainer investment. It’s got plenty of features to entice you into ditching your no-frills Keurig, and it’s a quieter brew compared to other machines within the line. If you’re not a fan of K-Cups, I’m confident the K-Elite can, at the very least, pique your interest with its ability to brew a bolder, stronger cup. We put it just behind our best overall Keurig coffee maker, the K-Cafe, for its plentiful coffee brewing range.