I’ve always been rather taken with the single serve coffee systems that have flooded the home coffee market in recent years. There’s something so George Jetson about the contraptions. A pod, a lever, a button, and out comes the coffee. With no boiling, no pressing, no filtering.
Recently Keurig, arguably the granddaddy of them all, starting marketing a new line of brewer. Dispensing with the now industry standard K-cup, they have taken single serve coffee making to a new level with the Vue System. Forget George Jetson, this is Cosmo Spacely’s coffee maker.
The Vue System has all the advantages that the Keurig brought to the home coffee market back in 2004, when it reached beyond office coffee needs. A single serving of the beverage of your choice, from a single handy package. Very little trash, virtually no clean up. Consistent flavoring and strength in each cup. A variety of drink choices, from one person to the next, covering most of your favorite coffee shop beverages. Twinings, Gloria Jeans, Folgers, Starbucks, most of the companies that took on the K-cup have jumped straight on board to provide drinks for the Vue System. So why upgrade? What benefits are there for your momentary escape from reality?
With this new system, you can optimize your single serve to provide that same consistent brewing experience, but on your own particular terms. With improved technology that adjusts water pressure, timing, and airflow, you can customize your beverage on several levels:
- STRENGTH After picking a Vue pack of strong, medium, or light roast coffee, you can then refine the strength of your brew, making a regular serving or selecting strong depending on your coffee preference. I’m a lightweight, my husband is a staunch medium, and his best friend is a black sludge kind of coffee guy. Now we are all happy.
- SIZE No longer do you have to run the system twice to fill your travel mug, or, as I see people at work do, set a larger brew and just catch and toss the overflow. With the Vue system, you can set between 4 and 16 ounces depending on the drink you are processing.
- TEMPERATURE As a native Brit, it is my belief that all tea should be made with boiling water, not boiled a few minutes ago, not boiled a little while ago. With my coffee I am less picky, but I do like that I can now get a hotter cup of Joe. If the standard pre-set isn’t to your liking, you can choose your temperature from anywhere between 187 and 197 degrees.
I have been using the basic model, the Keurig V500 Vue Brewer, but some of the higher end models can read the RFID tags embedded within, and automatically program the Vue system with the optimal brew settings for that particular beverage.
Admittedly, the beverage variety available for the Vue System isn’t as extensive as the basic K-cup yet, and they aren’t as ubiquitous, but even the basic model Vue allows for a two-pack process whereby you can make your own pseudo latte/cappuccino at home. As a pumpkin latte is my beverage of choice this time of year, my Vue Packs and I get along just fine! In the two months that I have been buying coffee for my machine, I have seen Vue packs go from scarce in my area to available at my local Walmart, and considering I live in small town Maine, I’d say availability is growing fast.
The choices available and the strengths offered are enhanced by the flexibility of the Vue technology. Where the K-cup was one size fits all, the Vue packs are differing sizes according to what best serves the drink in question. The iced coffee packs are large, most of the regular coffees are small, and the teas seem to vary.
I have purchased and tried several brands of coffee; we prefer the Donut Shop as we did with the K-cup. We have also tried a few teas and like the Bigelow English Breakfast, high praise considering my English standards. The Dark Chocolate Cocoa is vastly superior to the Milk Chocolate Cocoa, and the Cider is passable but only if you like it pre-sweetened. I look forward to trying the different varieties as more companies—hint hint Dunkin’ Donuts—come on board.
One of the more prominent advantages of the Vue System over the more “traditional” Keurig model is Keurig’s response to making the single serve solution more eco-friendly. The Vue pack itself consists of two components: the outer shell and the inner “bag.” The shell is made of #5 (polypropylene) plastic, the inner “bag” can be emptied and composted, and the overall box is made of paperboard. When the pack has cooled down you simply peel back the tab, recycle the cup, compost the ground, and reduce your single serve throw-away to the membrane and seal surrounding the grounds. We have our own recycling system for the discarded plastic packs. On any given day it’s called the toy box, the craft box, the bath toy box, or the Christmas ornament box. They are pretty craftable remnants now that the contents are separable. I plan on using mine to jury rig a popular Advent calendar from Pinterest. I see no reason to waste my muffin tin.
The biggest plus for me when comparing the V500 to my past experiences with Keurig, is pretty superficial—the sound. I’ve read a few other reviews to make sure I’m not projecting my dream life onto reality, and I’m pretty certain I’m not imagining it: the Vue is quieter than the Keurig. My husband’s grandmother has refused to use her basic Keurig for several years because of the noise, with the Vue I feel I can make that early brew and not worry about waking the kids. Cosmo Spacely, we have arrived.
If, like Dave Barry, you believe that “it is inhumane… to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity,” then you are going to love this machine. As the season of holiday parties and cold morning runs is upon us, it’s a great addition to a busy family home. For this family with two geeklings under the age of four, the speed and precision it offers has become an easy way to add a little more time and luxury back into our mornings.
GeekMom received this item for review purposes.
Sarah Pinault was born in England, where she lived peacefully until her handsome Prince turned out to be a Mainer. She relocated in 2003 and has been happily living in Vacation Land ever since. Sarah is the mother of two boys, and writes about living the Maine life at www.mainemummy.blogspot.com She is a craft junkie, and a glutton for the written word.