Fresh coffee is the best coffee—it’s an obvious statement, but when I say “fresh” I mean made-five-minutes-ago fresh, not the sitting-on-a-hot-plate-for-an-hour “fresh. The fact of the matter is that within just a few minutes of brewing, coffee begins to stale, unique notes degrading.
This is where the Keurig K-Mini K15 Pod Coffee Maker can come in handy. Compact and cutesy, the K-Mini K15 serves exactly one cup of coffee at a time, freshly brewed and piping hot. Is it the right machine for everyone? Probably not. Is it the right machine for some? Totally.
Here’s our overview of the Keurig K-Mini K15 Pod Coffee Maker.
advance features guarantee the best tasting brew
fair price according to its reputation in the industry
our rating, based on our sound and impartial assessment
A Personal, Self-Serve Machine
The K-Mini is the definition of a personal machine in the sense that you literally cannot make more than one cup at a time in any capacity. Many single serve coffee machines tout large reservoirs with filters although water does, in fact, go stale leading to a less satisfying cup of joe. The K-mini leaves no room for that to happen—only 10 oz. of water will fit in the “reservoir,” prompting users to fill it with exactly what they intend to use right that minute.
Pop in any of the hundreds of K-cups options on the market and away this puppy will brew, done in just 120 seconds with the single press of a button—brew. What makes this machine so simple and straightforward also takes away the finer details of making a cup of coffee, though, such as length and temperature of brewing, as well as any sort of auto-programming, which is the primary shortcoming on this model.
In some instances, the same technology that makes the K-Mini great also makes it a bit frustrating, such as the 90-second auto shut-off feature and its compact size.
Ease of Use
Let’s just flat out say it: anyone looking at a Keurig is looking for a certain level of convenience. It’s expected at this point, right? The expectation is that the manual is an optional read—you should be able to plug it in and pretty much walk away five minutes later with a decent cup of coffee. Keurigs are designed to be easy.
In that regard, the K-Mini certainly will not disappoint. The machine features exactly two buttons—one to turn the machine on and off and one to start the brewing process, respectively labeled, so there’s really no hitting a “wrong” button. The machine’s top flips up to allow up to 10 oz. of water, pop in a K-cup, and you’re ready to go.
The K-Mini is also uniquely designed to be portable, which is great for frequent travelers, as well as individuals who spend different seasons in different places. The cord retracts inside the body of the machine for easy stowing. At 11.1 inches (12.8 with the K-cup lid up) and weighing just over 6.5 pounds, this little coffee maker is easy to tote along even in a carry-on bag.
Heck, even in the face of user error the K-Mini conducts itself with comport. The removable drip tray is designed to handle an entire 10 oz. cup of java if say, for instance, you forget to slide your mug under the spout. You can also go sans drip tray for larger travel mugs, though keep in mind this little machine does max out at 5.2 inches.
Despite its compact size, the K-Mini K15 maintains the sleek, display-capable looks of its much larger brethren. Clocking in at 7.5 inches wide and 10.5 inches deep, the K-Mini won’t be taking up any significant real estate on your counter. This miniature has the same flip top compartment for K-cups, as well as the comforting blue LED lighting around the “Brew” button.
The familiar design and decent looks make the fact that the body is made of plastic largely negligible. Most Keurigs have plastic body parts, though, so the encasement on the K-Mini isn’t a surprise. Just like its kin, the K-Mini feels sturdy and has the appropriate heft-to-size ratio so it doesn’t feel cheap. You can also buy it in ten different colors, so it’ll match whatever kind of area you’re placing it in.
If you’re looking for a lot of customizability, you’re looking at the wrong model. Take a look at some of the other popular names in the Keurig lineup—you’ll find more features to fawn over there.
The fact is, the Keurig K-Mini was designed to do exactly one thing: brew coffee using whatever water you pour in, and that’s exactly what it does. The griping regarding the lack of control over temperature and brew time mean there’s a sort of fundamental misunderstanding over what the K-Mini is for: just making a cup of coffee. The fact is, most people don’t do a ton of fiddling with those features, but yeah, sure, it’s nice to have them available.
One feature that the K-Mini does have, however, is auto shut-off. While auto shut-off is a nearly universal feature on coffee makers these days, most slip into the 30 minutes to 1.5-hour range, which can seem a little excessive depending on what type of coffee drinker you are. The K-Mini automatically turns off after 90 seconds, which can shave some excess off your electricity bill, certainly, and it’s an environmentally-friendly feature, undoubtedly.
If you have multiple coffee drinkers in the household, though, it can feel a bit excessive, turning the machine on every 1.5 minutes, but it’s not like there’s any water for it to keep warm in the reservoir, right? We’ll call this odd little feature a moot point.
When it comes to capability, technically, the K-Mini can “only” brew K-cups, but it’s sort of an it-can-only-promise-to-brew-K-cups sort of thing. You can usually (don’t quote me) get away with using whatever pods you want to pop in there. To clarify, I’ve never had a problem, but some people do.
There are more than 400 types of K-cups, though, including Donut Shop, Green Mountain, Krispy Kreme coffee, and so much more, making variety not really the problem—it’s the brand tax you end up paying on them. K-cups are, indisputably, expensive. However, shameless plug, you can take your pick from any of the reusable K-cup options available, which are both environmentally and economically friendly!
The fact of the matter is, the taste is good. Keurigs do a pretty good job at cranking out extremely drinkable coffee. We can fuss and muss about temperature control and whatnot all we want, but the standard settings on an out-of-the-box Keurig machine are pretty spot-on for most daily brews.
The only area where we can get a little spotty on taste is with the 10 oz. cup option. While the 6 oz. brews hot and strong, the 10 oz. option also brews hot but definitely not as strong. The K-Mini doesn’t quite have the wherewithal to lengthen the brewing time when handling larger cup sizes, a problem that isn’t as prevalent on the larger Keurig models (though still noticeable at times).
The K-Mini K15 Versus…
I mean… what’s life without a little competition, right? And who doesn’t want to see what else is out there? That said, let’s stack the K-Mini against some direct competitors.
It’s hard to qualify buying the K-Mini K15 after taking a look at the Gloridea. I was going to save that for the hard-hitting finish, but even little league has a slaughter rule, right?
The Gloridea can brew K-cups, plus all competitor knock-offs, as well as any ground bean you see fit. Simply select the brew type you want and you’re good to go. It can also brew a handful of cup sizes, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14 ounces, outdoing the K-Mini by two cup options, but, again, it has the same brew-the-amount-you-fill mentality. It features a removable drip tray, as well, but ups the ante by including a removable water reservoir for easy cleanup and refilling.
The auto-clean function can be started by pressing any two buttons (a feature missing entirely from the K-Mini) and it’s smaller in width than the K-Mini by more than two inches! Clocking in at a trim 5.2 inches wide, it is about half an inch taller at 11.6 inches in height, but it totally takes the cake in depth—at only 7.3 inches deep, it sticks out three inches less than the K-Mini.
The Gloridea doesn’t offer the same customizability as larger models can, but it offers just enough that it outshines the K-Mini while somehow being decidedly minier.
In another case of something being minier without having the designation in the name, the CHULUX Single-Serve Coffee maker clocks in closer in size to the Gloridea than it does to the K-Mini K15.
The CHULUX is 4.3 inches in width (!!!), 7.5 inches in depth, and 9.8 inches in height. The height can be a bit of an issue depending on the size of your travel mug, so whip out a measuring tape and see what you’re looking at.
Either way, the CHULUX is a very tiny machine and weighs in at an incredibly light 2.2 lbs, making it more than ideal for traveling. Heck, shove it in your purse. The CHULUX touts having a one-touch operation, and they mean it. Pop in the coffee capsule or filter with some grounds, pour in the desired amount of water up to 12 ounces, and hit exactly one button. There are no others. Just one. It automatically shuts off right after brewing, as well.
While the CHULUX doesn’t have any standout extra features, it’s more compact than the K-Mini K15, making it more ideal for traveling, it’s capable of brewing a 12 oz. cuppa, and it’s significantly cheaper, all of which I think makes it worth considering. However, its likely inability to handle travel mugs make it a less desirable option for some, so be aware that height-wise, space is super limited on the CHULUX.
The Keurig K-Mini K15 Pod Coffee Maker is a stripped-down version of the bigger models and, in some ways, it forces you to make better coffee by requiring fresh water and refusing to let you leave coffee sitting on a burner. In other ways, it limits the way you brew—no temperature control, no automatic programming, and no brew strength.
Consider your options, including taking a look at the new-and-somewhat-improved Keurig K-Mini and Keurig K-Mini Plus, both of which feature pod holders, slimmer figures, and can make cups up to 12 ounces.
Ultimately, it just depends on what you’re looking for, but it’s always worth keeping your options open when it comes to making the perfect cup of joe for your type of morning.