If you love the simplicity of one cup coffee makers, you’ll love Keurig coffee machines.
But there are loads of different models out there – so which one do you choose?
Here we put two very different options to the test: Keurig K55 vs K250.
Read on and decide which is right for you.
K-Cups or K-compatible?
At the heart of the differences between the two coffee makers is the fact that they’re from two different lines.
After losing a series of legal cases, Keurig was forced to make the specifications of their machines publicly available. That meant other manufacturers could make pods compatible with their machines.
It was great news for coffee lovers everywhere. Suddenly Keurig owners could use a whole new range of capsules with their machines. And a lot of them were a whole lot less expensive than Keurig’s K-Cups.
The K55 is one of these first-generation machines. That means you can enjoy any of the range of Keurig compatible capsules produced by everyone from supermarkets to artisan roasters. You’ll be able to spend less too.
The K250, on the other hand, is from Keurig’s 2.0 line (1). It’s a more sophisticated machine and it’s far pickier about the pods you can use. With a K250, you’ll be restricted to K-Cups.
There’s still plenty to choose from – Keurig have collaborated with lots of other coffee makers on hundreds of pods. But for all that, the variety is inevitably less than with the simpler K55.
Strength of brew
While you’re more restricted with your choice of coffee capsules with the K250, there are some advantages. Perhaps the biggest is the ability to adjust the strength of your brew.
The clever K250 allows you to choose between mild or bold settings. If you’ve found Keurig coffee a little weak for your taste in the past, this might be the answer.
There are some options to increase the strength of your brew with the K55 too. Here though, it’s up to you to do the work (2).
The key thing to remember is that coffee strength is determined by the ratio of coffee grounds to water. More grounds and less water means stronger coffee.
With Keurig, remember that the amount of coffee in the K-Cup stays the same. So if you want a stronger cup, select the K55’s smallest serving to add the least amount of water. If you want a bigger drink, use a second K-Cup and repeat the process.
Two brews mean taking a bit more time, a modicum of extra effort, and an additional K-Cup. So if you want a stronger cup with minimal work, the K250 is the better option.
Related Post: Best Low Acid Coffee K Cups – Top 10 Picks
One major disadvantage of K-Cups is that they’re not widely recycled. Keurig has committed to doing something about that by 2020, but they’re not there yet.
If you want to save the planet from the curse of plastic, there are better ways to brew your coffee. But if you want the convenience of the Keurig whilst minimizing environmental impact, there are ways to do it.
Both the K55 and K250 come with a refillable K-Cup. Use it to avoid sending loads of plastic pods to landfill. You can also use your favorite coffee, and even grind it fresh for a superior flavor and aroma. It’s a great option for those occasions when you have more time to play with.
One cup or many?
Both the K55 and K250 will happily brew cup after cup. But only the K250 will give you the option of brewing a whole carafe. For this, you’ll need to invest in an additional carafe and a K-Carafe pod. These mammoth capsules hold enough grounds to fill your carafe with decent strength coffee.
So how big a carafe can you use? Well, we’re not talking about huge options here. A K250 carafe setting will give you enough for four to five cups of coffee. Depending on your household size, that might be enough to give everyone their first cup in the morning.
And of course, the beauty of all Keurigs is their one-touch operation. So if you need a second carafe, it will be quick and easy to prepare.
With the K250, you’ll also be able to use K-Mug pods. These are designed for bigger servings, holding more coffee so there’s no compromise on strength. Use one to fill up a travel mug to enjoy your morning brew on the go.
Serving size options
So what are your size options if you’re looking for just a single cup?
Here the K250 offers a little more variety. In addition to the six, eight and ten-ounce serving sizes, you can also have a smaller four-ounce serving.
The more significant difference, though, is the ability to use those K-Mug pods. With the K55, you’ll be stuck with the same capsule, and your ten-ounce cup is going to be significantly weaker. The K250 makes it that little bit easier to get a stronger flavor with larger servings.
With everything we’ve said about the large servings available with the K250, you might expect it to have a bigger reservoir. But you’d be wrong.
Bizarrely, the K250 has a reservoir that will hold just 40 ounces of water. So if you want to brew the biggest possible carafe of coffee – 30 ounces – you’ll have to refill it before you can repeat the process.
In contrast, the K55 has a 48-ounce reservoir. That will give you an extra cup before you need to head to the tap again.
The K55 is a straightforward machine. It has simple button controls with some attractive lighting.
The K250, on the other hand, uses a touchscreen display. Unlike some of the fancier new generation Keurigs, this one is black and white.
Both options are easy to use. But the screen of the K250 gives it a more hi-tech appearance.
Keurig offers perhaps the simplest option when it comes to brewing coffee; but what about other beverages?
Both the K55 and K250 will also dispense hot water on demand. That means either machine can be used for tea, hot chocolate or even instant soup. The maximum ten ounces serving size of the K55 might, though, make throwing away your kettle a less realistic option.
So how do you do it? The process is just as easy as brewing coffee. Simply raise and lower the handle of the brew compartment, but don’t insert a pod. When you press the “brew” button, hot water will be dispensed from the machine.
Too hot to handle?
Whether you’re making coffee or dispensing hot water, the question of temperature has been the subject of extensive debate. So are Keurigs able to get the water hot enough?
Some of the higher end machines will allow you to select an extra hot option. Neither the K55 nor the K250 will let you do that. But is there any difference between them?
We’ve heard claims that Keurig has improved the temperature in their version 2.0 models. The reality is that it’s still pretty hit and miss. And if there’s one aspect of performance where both the K55 and K250 are prone to developing faults, it’s temperature.
If a really hot cup is a priority for you, you’d be better off with a Keurig with temperature control. The K575, for example, offers no fewer than five different temperature settings.
So much for the specifications. But if you’re buying a single serve coffee maker, chances are it’s going to sit on your countertop. You want something that’s going to look good and fit in with your décor.
Both the K55 and K250 have the distinctive Keurig style. And in case you were in danger of forgetting who made them, both carry branding. For the K55, it’s printed boldly across the top of the brew compartment. The K250 has it more discreetly on the brew button itself.
The LCD screen and angled handle give the K250 a fresher appearance. And we like the way the reservoir is positioned at the back, making it symmetrical.
The K55 is available in black, white and rhubarb. But for those who like a splash of color, the K250 has a dizzying array of options.
Our favorite is the “oasis”, a gorgeous baby blue. See it in all its glory in this YouTube video. The delicious “sandy pearl” runs a close second.
In short, while the K55 is a perfectly good-looking brewer, pick the K250 in a funky color for something a bit special.
Keurig K55 vs K250 - Conclusion
If you want a consistent cup of coffee with the minimum of fuss, either the K55 or K250 are good options.
But if you’re looking for something with a wider range of serving options, it has to be the K250. Even better, you’ll be able to pick a great color to really make a statement on your kitchen counter.
Just remember that you will be sacrificing the option of using K-compatible pods. So if you’ve got a favorite that won’t work in the newer models, you’ll be better sticking with the K55.
My name is Kathy Gallo, Editor of Daily Cupo, a Coffee buff. The guide you find here is designed exactly for you, and it is our hope that you find it not only interesting but also actionable.