By November 5, 2010

Keurig B-40 Elite Gourmet Single-Cup Coffee Brewing System Review

My mother and stepfather share my love of coffee. They even have a coffee machine in their bedroom so they can wake up to the smell and sounds of a fresh pot in the morning.

That being said, they both work and travel a lot. They are never sure when they will be back together after their shared pot in the morning. My stepfather felt that making an entire pot just to drink a cup or two later in the day was wasteful. My mom picked up the Keurig B-40 Elite coffee maker to make a few cups at a time.

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Construction and operation

The Keurig B40 Elite is pretty simple to use. There is a water tank on the left side that detaches for easier filling. The machine took one minute, twenty-four seconds to warm up in a room with an ambient temperature of 68°F.

There is a large plastic handle on the center of the Elite. You lift the handle up a put a single coffee serving inside. There are two needles (one top, one bottom) that pierce the coffee serving once the handle is closed.

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There are just a few buttons: power, a timed shut-off button, a button for small cups, and a button for large cups.

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The buttons on the B-40 Elite are labeled well. I wish the buttons were not black on black, sometimes they are hard to see.

The small / large cup buttons flash when the B-40 Elite is ready to brew.

Brewing and taste

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Brewing took one minute, fourteen seconds for the “large” cup, which appears to be about eight fluid ounces. The brewed temperature was 180°F. I warmed up a porcelain cup with an insta-hot tap, so I don’t think the Keurig’s brewing temperature fell too much due to a cold cup.

Our Bunn NHBX-B drip coffee maker brews at 195°F, which is just about as close as you can get to the mystical 200°F ideal brew temp without spending an arm and a leg on a machine.

The lower brewing temperature of the Keurig was evident. It didn’t make as good of a cup as the Bunn, but it made about as good of a cup as your typical consumer-grade brewer. It tasted a little bitter overall. I think this was also due to the fast brewing process.

I drank several cups from the Keurig during my stay at my parents’s house. I didn’t particularly love them, but they did taste better than I expected. However, this leads me to my biggest complaints about the Keurig.

Waste and cost

If you drink coffee in any volume at all, the Keurig should raise some financial and ecological concerns. Every plastic container I used went into the waste bin — they were not recyclable. My stepfather said he bought 100 “pods” for $40 before shipping on Amazon.com. I’m going to throw in shipping and call it an even $0.40 per cup of coffee.

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The single-use coffee pods can be expensive if you drink more than a few cups a day.

At home, we use three level coffee scoops (at two table spoons per scoop) of coffee ground to a medium grind for automatic drip machines. A pound of ground medium-dark roasted Mayorga coffee yields roughly twenty 10-cup pots of coffee. That’s 150 eight ounce cups of coffee per pound, or $0.15 per cup of coffee.

If you drink less than 40% of a full pot of coffee before throwing it out, the Keurig may be for you. If you drink even half of a standard pot of coffee, the Keurig isn’t worth it. Add to the ecological impact of the coffee pods, and I think the B-40 becomes even less attractive.

The system seems to be okay for people like my stepfather, who just want one cup of coffee at 6PM and then calls it a day. It also may be worth it for couples who want to make one decaf cup and one “full-test” cup without throwing away two pots of coffee. Taste-wise, the Keurig system itself seemed good enough, especially if you are used to typical consumer-grade drip coffee.

However, I think buying a cheap Thermos air pot and storing your coffee for is a better choice than chain-brewing several cups of coffee over the span of a five hour period.

There is also a reusable filter attachment for the Keurig, but I can’t give my opinion on it since my parents don’t own one.

Recommended, with caveats.

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6 Comments on "Keurig B-40 Elite Gourmet Single-Cup Coffee Brewing System Review"

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  1. IRS says:

    Doc, I have one of these as well and I wish there was a solution to help with the ecological guilt that I have, but let me tell you with all the selections of coffees and teas – it’s hard to resist. I have the reusable filter and works well, btw. I have had mine for about two years now and I highly recommend it. Nothing beats having coffee ready in two minutes for the drive to work without having to jump through a ton of hoops to get it made.

  2. DrFaulken says:

    Hey IRS, thanks for posting a reply! I am glad that you are still reading.

    Thanks also for your information about the reusable filter. I will pick it up for my parents for the holidays as a gift.

    If you get some free time, would you mind measuring the temperature of your brewed coffee? I’d like to have a second data point, and I am also curious if the brewed temperature stays consistent after two years of use.

    Thanks again, good to hear from you. :)

  3. Adam says:

    I have that exact same mug! I used to carry it around my college dorm filled with hot chocolate and peppermint Schnapps. Seventeen years later it’s still my favorite hot chocolate mug, though these days I tend to spike it with amaretto of some sort. :)

  4. CoffeeAddict says:

    A friend has a Keurig machine that uses K-cups. He showed me this site that has supplies to make your own K-cups with reusable components.

    http://www.coffee.org/products/list.php?CatID=102

  5. Matt Schuette says:

    I have the smaller Keurig model, but we did have the B40 at work until recently (still works I assume, company just moved across the country and don’t need it anymore in the new space). I have all but stopped using K-Cups and am considering buying another reusable filter. I think it’s got to be more economical, though I do tend to use more grounds per cup than with a full pot of coffee. I have also successfully reused the plastic K-Cups – remove the foil, rinse thoroughly, add new grounds, seal with press ‘n seal. I’ve used the cups at least twice, but it’s a paper filter inside, which has a pretty limited life. Also, I’ve had blowouts with the press ‘n seal since the Keurig is slightly pressurized and that’s messy. Except for weekends, I don’t really use the drip pot anymore.

  6. IRS says:

    Doc, FINALLY got around to measuring the temperature yesterday. Freshly brewed the coffee is at 153 degrees. Which is nicely hot to me. Just FYI.

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