Keurig’s been dominating the pod machine industry for more than two decades now. If convenience and variety is important to you, they’re great machines to look into.
What if you have a really small kitchen though? Can you still get a taste of the Keurig experience at home?
To answer this question, I’ve reviewed the Keurig K-Compact. It’s a model designed for just this purpose, but how well does it perform?
(When you’re done here, head back to my massive home coffee brewing guide for more help with this side of kitchen life!)
About Pod Machines
Keurig machines are designed to deliver pretty good coffee with maximum convenience. Their growing popularity has meant there are now hundreds of different pod flavors to choose from.
Suffice to say, you’re not going to run out of new brews to try any time soon.
They suit people who aren’t exactly coffee connoisseurs, but do want something a little better than coffee from a jar.
They’re by no means for everyone though. If you like taking control over your brew, you’ll be better served by something like a grind and brew machine, or even a semi-automatic espresso machine if you’re feeling brave!
You get more brewing options with these, but you need to invest a little extra effort.
If you are going down the pod route though, keep the following crucial buying considerations in mind:
Water Reservoir Size – The bigger the water reservoir is, the less often you’ll have to fill it up. Simple enough, right? The thing is, that extra convenience comes at a price of a machine that takes up more space. You need to strike the right balance for your own circumstances.
Pod Compatibility – How many flavors and brands do you want to explore? If you want to recreate your Starbucks experience at home, for example, is there an official pod for your preferred machine? Most pod machines have hundreds of brews to choose from, but it’s worth doing a little digging around first.
Pre-ground filter – If you want to continue using some of your favorite ground coffee brands, you’ll need a pod machine that supports this. Many do, but the accessories are very rarely provided with the machine. Factor this into your budget considerations.
Environmental Impact – There’s no getting away from the fact that burning through dozens of little plastic and foil pods is bad for the environment. They’re much easier to recycle these days, but if this is important to you then you’ll need to make the extra effort to dispose of them properly.
Brewing Options – Check the machine has a size setting dedicated to the cup sizes you have at home. Most will have at least a few sizes to play with. If someone in your household likes a stronger brew than others, check whether the machine has a setting for amping up the flavor.
Overview of the Keurig K Compact
Keurig positions the K Compact single serve coffee maker just as you’d expect from the name alone!
This is an entry level brewing machine that’s designed to deliver the full Keurig experience in a particularly small form factor.
The K Compact is ideal if you have either a smaller kitchen, or just a smaller appetite for coffee.
It’s also a good option for places like college dorms, or even RVs if you can’t tackle the great outdoors without a cup of Keurig inside you.
The K Compact will definitely work well for you if you tick any of those boxes.
Here are the main pros and cons of choosing the Keurig K Compact:
- An extremely compact coffee machine that still delivers the “full” Keurig coffee experience for small kitchens.
- Compatible with more than 200 official pods, which include products from the likes of Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. Tea and hot chocolate options are also available.
- A budget-friendly way of making Keurig coffee.
- Incredibly simple to use, with just a couple of buttons to go from popping the pod in to finishing the brew.
- Lots of color options to choose from. You shouldn’t struggle to find a design that works for your kitchen.
- Compatible with all K-Cups, and a Reusable K-Cup accessory is available for purchase separately. That’ll allow you to continue using pre-ground coffee if you wish.
- Limited serving sizes (6, 8 and 10 oz) and brewing options. That does mean though that you’re not paying for features you wouldn’t actually use.
- The 36 oz water reservoir is a little smaller than I’d like, and it clips off from the rear rather than from the side. That keeps the size of the machine down, but you’ll need a bit of clearance space to fill it up.
- The design and build feels a little cheap, but that’s very common with Keurig machines.
- Like all pod machines, the actual brewing process is quite noisy.
- Keurig coffee in general always ends up a little on the weaker side. Only you’ll know how important that is to you.
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Keurig Compact: Main Features
Here’s what you need to know about the specific features of the Keurig K Compact:
Servings and Sizes
You have three serving sizes to choose from here: 6, 8 and 10 oz.
Just be aware that there are no extra brewing options on the K Compact, beyond the size of the drink itself. You can’t select a stronger brew, for example.
This means you’re looking at a very basic pod machine. That’s fine as long as you know what you’re getting into!
The water reservoir on the K Compact has a maximum capacity of 36 oz.
That helps keep the overall size of the machine down, but it does mean you’ll only be able to make four 8 oz servings before you need to refill it.
It’s good news though that you can detach the water reservoir for easier refilling. That’s not always the case on the smaller Keurig machines.
Just be aware that it’s located to the rear of the machine, so you’ll need enough space to get the thing out easily.
Auto Shut Off
Although this is a very basic brewing machine, I always appreciate an auto shut-off function.
The K Compact turns off automatically after two hours of inactivity. That means you don’t need to worry about leaving the thing heating in the background during the day or overnight.
The whole ethos of Keurig coffee is to strike a fine balance between convenience and coffee quality.
It takes around four minutes from a cold start to get your first cup of coffee. The next brews are quicker though, taking around one minute each.
As with all Keurig machines, the K Compact is incredibly easy to use:
- Hit the Power button.
- Wait for the warm-up process to finish.
- Lift the handle, insert the K-Cup, then close the machine.
- Pick your brew size and hit the button.
What about the actual coffee though?
It’s not the strongest I’ve ever tasted – to put it mildly – but it’s more than good enough for a lot of people.
Taste is a very subjective thing though.
Try a friend’s Keurig machine – any model – if you want to be sure before committing to one. I’ll be astonished if you don’t know someone who has one of these in their kitchen!
Design & Build
The shell of the K Compact is plastic yet feels durable. That is pretty much the Keurig design aesthetic in a nutshell!
It’s main selling point of course is its compact size. Here’s the size and weight details so you can check it will fit in your home.
- Dimensions: 13.2 x 8.2 x 12.5”
- Weight: 8.78 lb
As for color options, I don’t think you’ll struggle to find a model that works in your kitchen. Black, Red, White, Grey and Turquoise options are all readily available online.
I should also mention here that the drip tray is removable and comes out really easily. That’s useful when you want to squeeze in something slightly taller, like a travel mug.
While the machine measures 12.5” tall when closed, that extends to 16.25” when you’re inserting a pod. Make sure you’ve got the vertical space in your kitchen to accommodate this.
Finally, the machine comes with a standard one year warranty.
In my experience you’re not going to get more than two year of use out of any Keurig machine. At this end of the budget though I don’t think that’s too unreasonable.
Cleaning & Maintenance
I’ve yet to use a Keurig machine that caused me much bother in terms of cleaning and maintenance.
The plastic shell on the K Compact is extremely easy to keep clean with a quick wipe over using a damp cloth. When it comes to daily or weekly care, that’s about as much work as you’ll ever have to do.
That said I do recommend you descale the machine with an approved solution at least once every six months. That’ll stop mineral build-up, which affects the internal workings and the flavor of your coffee.
If you live in a hard water area, you should probably descale the machine a little more frequently than this – around every three months or so I’d say.
There are a handful of alternative machines you might want to look at before committing to the K Compact. I’ve highlighted two different Keurig coffee maker models, as well as a Nespresso machine I’m particularly fond of.
The K-Mini is best thought of as the next step up from the K-Compact. It’s a super-narrow device, but it doesn’t have a water reservoir. Instead you’ll have to add each cup of water at a time.
The most significant difference between the Mini and the compact is found in the serving sizes. With the Mini, you get an additional larger option at 12 oz.
Nespresso Essenza Mini
To be clear, this is more of a premium machine when compared to all the Keurig makers I’ve looked at in this article.
Still, it’s worth considering the Essenza Mini as I find Nespresso pod coffee to be significantly tastier than Keurig’s
I’ve got a full review of the Nespresso Essenza Mini elsewhere on the site if you want to find out more.
If you’re really worried about the capacity of the water reservoir on the Classic, have a look at the K-Select instead.
It’s a little bigger at 52 oz and – like the K-Mini – also includes an extra 12 oz serving size.
Check out my Keurig K-Select review for a deeper dive on this popular option.
Although I would have liked a slightly bigger water reservoir, that would undermine the main selling point of the K-Compact – its dainty size.
As a budget-friendly and space-saving way of getting into Keurig coffee though, it just about does what you need it to. It’s simple to use and makes piping hot drinks.
There’s a huge selection of coffee pods to explore as well, and if you don’t mind buying the separate accessory you can continue using your current pre-ground coffee.
Put simply, if some of the limitations of the K-Compact are actually an advantage for you, then there’s not much to complain about here.
Click here to read more reviews of the machine, and see how other owners have been getting on with it.
Mark’s a lifelong food fanatic and spent ten years working as an entertainment journalist. He now combines his love of food, drink and writing as the founder and editor of Viva Flavor. Read more