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Product Review: Keurig Ultra B50

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My eight-year-old can make my coffee.

She doesn’t want to drink it, just make it – and that’s okay with me for now. She enjoys being able to help, and watching our new coffeepot in action is part of that excitement. We’ve added a Keurig Ultra B50 to our countertop, and she’s not the only one enjoying the new functional appliance beside the sink.

This past month, with our old machine giving us fits (I explained to my folks that I just had “issues with our coffeepot”), I dug into lots of coffeepot information, surfing the ‘net for details and reviews on the single-cup brewers instead of the normal pots. We needed a new machine, and it just seemed that the Keurig came out above the others. I decided to give it a shot.

It looks like a small spaceship sitting on the counter, really cool between the sink and the coffee fixin’s. The Ultra B50 has an LCD menu on the right side for setting the time and optional turn-on/turn-off timer, and for selecting your size for the brew, 5.25 ounces or 7.25 ounces. On the left is the water container – water is pulled into the machine and pre-heated for each fresh cup. A K-Cup, the coffee or tea blends provided by quite a few different brands, is placed into the machine, and two sharp prods poke into the cup from above and below. Water is pushed down through the coffee within the K-Cup, out through the self-contained filter, and finally through the bottom of the capsule to the coffee cup waiting on the removable splash guard below. It’s that easy, and a few splatter drops on the counter are nothing compared to the occasional 40 ounces of coffee mess I was cleaning with the old pot. I’m all about process steps, and this is quicker and easier than anything we’ve tried like this before.

But for all the coolness of the machine’s footprint on our counter and the experience for the kids, it wouldn’t be worth it if it didn’t taste good – but it does, and that’s where that surprising factor from last summer is still playing out. Keurig was kind enough to send a large assortment of blends, and we’ve enjoyed all the taste-testing of the various K-Cups to find those flavors that we like the best. Vicki has settled on the Breakfast Blends and French Vanilla-flavored cups. I’m leaning towards the Kenyan and all of the new Tully’s offerings, and towards the Hazelnut for my own flavored tastes. The milder blends are as strong as our “bold” from before, and there’s a fullness without bitterness that’s really good from the first sip. Normally, I doctor my cup with whatever flavored creamer we have in the fridge, no sweetener – but even with trying the new coffee at full tilt black, I couldn’t taste any of the normal bitterness from before. In that way it’s like our French press – except that the machine is still really cool to use in making just one cup at a time. The decaf coffee is just as good as the regular, and we’re finding that the blended teas available from Timothy’s and Celestial Seasonings are very nice for that need to calm and relax before bedtime. They all smell incredible when brewing, especially the aromatic flavored blends, another welcome addition to the atmosphere around the house.

[ADBLOCKHERE]We’ve found that dark roast blends are a very strong brew that can leave a little thicker aftertaste. But the other flavors had their own benefits, and we can stick with them instead. My Dad, the person who walks into Starbucks asking, “Do you have just coffee?,” enjoyed two cups of the Green Mountain Lake & Lodge. I’ve never seen him drink two cups, and that might be the most ringing endorsement right there. For me, it’s the ability to make the coffee I want, just as much as I want, and it tastes wonderful without leaving a mess all over.

In opting for the Keurig, I wanted a machine that would taste at least as good as I remembered from last year, and that would change up our experience with our morning coffee. That’s the time we really go for a cup – I take two cups, one for the commute and one for the office, and Vicki gets one for her trek into school. Before, we’d make a whole pot, use three travel mugs, and end up wasting a fourth or so of the coffee each morning. Now, we make what we like, only what we’ll drink, and the pot will wait for us ’til next time without the waste, the fuss.

And the fact the our kids can make us coffee, that’s just an added benefit of getting the Keurig. They’ll thank us later, I’m sure.

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About Rick Stilwell

  • Mark Saleski

    i just bought one of these for my dad’s birthday. a pretty cool machine. it won’t cause me to give up on my french press or anything, but the coffee is surprisingly good.

    …that and it does look like a space ship on the counter!

  • Mary K. Williams

    If we could only figure out how to keep the cafeine from wreaking havoc with our innards.

    Rick – this is a good write up. Makes me want to put this on a wish list : )

  • BethB

    We have replaced ours 3 times. They only work about 2 months then they start to leak and the water won’t pump out of the machine. The customer service is not very good either.