Keurig has come to dominate the coffee market in recent years, thanks to its high quality machines and a huge range of coffee pods.
If you’re into coffee and wants bags of variety, you’ll really struggle to go wrong with one of these machines.
The K50 and the K55* are two extremely popular beginner Keurig machines. Not only do they make a great cup of coffee, they can also brew up tea, hot chocolate, and many other drinks besides.
They’re quite similar in terms of looks and performance though, and so in our K50 vs K55 comparison guide we’re taking a closer look at each one to help you work out which one is the best machine for you.
(Want to learn more about home coffee brewing? Take a look through my guide for other brewing methods, buying guides and more.)
Is the latest budget model to roll off Keurig’s production lines really worth the extra money?
(*You’ll quite often see the K55 referred to as the K-Classic Coffee Maker. As the K50 is retired from production, it’s highly likely that this will become the name for the entry level machine going forwards.)
KEURIG K50 VS K55 – THE BASICS
Regardless of whether you buy the K50 or the K55, don’t expect any fancy bells and whistles on either – especially when compared to some of the flashier Keurig coffee machines.
Instead what you’re getting here is a superb machine for entry-level coffee enthusiasts, who want to sample the tremendous range of pods available, and do so at a price that won’t break the bank.
Setting up both of these machines is incredibly simple too:
- Unbox and assemble all the parts
- Switch the power on
- Fill the water resorvoir
- Insert your coffee pod of choice
- Put your cup in
- Hit brew
That’s it! They’re both very easy to use, which is great if you really need to start doing something about your instant coffee addiction, but don’t want to get overwhelmed with options.
KEURIG K50 VS K55 – DIFFERENCES
First up, here’s a general Keurig K50 v K55 comparison. This highlights the basic features of both machines, although you can find out more about the latter in our in-depth K55 review.
The K55 is slightly larger than the K50 but in the average kitchen you’re not going to notice a huge amount of difference between the two. Here’s how they both stack up in the space department, according to the official descriptions:
- K50: 9.8 x 13.0 x 13.3 inches
- K55: 10.1 x 13.2 x 13.3 inches
The K55 weighs in at 12 pounds compared to the 7.6 pounds weight of its smaller brother. As a countertop device you’re unlikely to be moving this around a huge amount, and so that difference should be considered negligible once you’re all set up.
Appearance and Colour Options
At a glance it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between these two machines. The K55 is clearly designed to be an evolution of the K50, with a few aesthetic improvements thrown in along the way.
In either case though, you’re getting a machine that looks like a Keurig and a cut above other machines at this end of the market.
Both are molded from plastic though. If you’ve a particularly fancy kitchen – and a budget to suit – you may want to look elsewhere.
Here are the colour options available to you with each model:
- K50: Black
- K55: Black, White & Rhubarb (Red)
As the majority of kitchenware at this end of the scale is black (or at least sympathetic to black), you should be fine with either model. If you’ve got your heart set on a flashier colour, however, then you’ll need to pick up the K55.
Just keep in mind that brighter colours on cheaper materials tend to give away the fact that they’re more budget-orientated.
Capacity and Brew Size
Both machines have a 48oz reservoir and can produce a 6, 8 or 10 oz brew. Just pick the preset that you want and the Keurig will take care of the rest.
Brewing Time & Temperature
From a cold start each day you can expect both machines to take around 4-5 minutes to deliver its first cup of coffee.
Subsequent brews are much faster, however. The K55 will get another cup ready for you in around a minute, while the K50 takes a little bit longer at around a minute and a half. The difference here is marginal though.
As for temperature, both machines brew at a steady 89 degrees Celsius. If you like to brew hotter than that then neither of these machines will work for you. It’s perfectly adequate for the K Cups you’ll be using anyway.
As entry-level machines you wouldn’t expect advanced functionality with either the K50 or the K55 and so it proves to be. Coffee nerds won’t have a lot to play around with here, and there’s no LCD screen on either model.
What you have instead are all the basic buttons, built with good action and wearability. They even light up in the dark, which is nice when you stumble down to the kitchen early at winter (or you just can’t sleep and figure you might as well get back to work – too familiar!)
Both the K55 and the K50 also come with an automatic shutoff. That’s a rather basic bit of functionality for a coffee machine, and something you really expect to come as standard. It’s always nice when you don’t have to worry about the thing becoming a nuclear furnace when you’re not looking though…
The fact is that both these machines have been designed to produce great tasting coffee with the minimum of fuss. What you lose in functionality you gain in getting a consistently reliable brew. It’s very easy for newcomers to mess things up when there are lots of settings, so in that sense both machines are providing exactly what their target audience needs.
Entry level coffee machines are notorious for making more noise than their small footprint would suggest.
The K55 has one extra feature over the K50 to help with this, and that’s something Keurig calls its “Quiet Brew” technology.
Although we’d describe neither machine as particularly quiet, you will find that the K55 makes at least a little less noise in action.
The K50 comes supplied with mesh filters that can be reused but will wear down over time. That means you’re going to need to buy more filters as you wear through them.
To achieve an improved brew, the K55 uses activated charcoal filters. These do a much better job of removing impurities from the water.
The end result is a much smoother cup of coffee, although as you might expect they’re a good deal more expensive to replace than the standard filters found in the K50.
If you’re completely new to the pod system used in Keurig coffee machines, here are the basics:
- Coffee pods (known as K Cups in Keurig-speak) sit in a special holder
- The machine punctures the top and the bottom of the pod
- Hot water is then forced through it, completing your delicious brew.
The good news about the K50 and the K55 is that they’re both classed as Keurig 1.0 products. That means you can use a much wider array of coffee pods compared to other models.
This includes pods made by third-parties, so you can enjoy a wider number of drinks and flavours, and potentially save money by buying outside of the official Keurig chain.
(If you choose to upgrade to a 2.0 machine down the road by the way, just keep in mind that these machines don’t play nearly as nicely with non-Keurig pods. Check carefully if you’ve found a pod you love.)
Both the K50 and the K55 come with a standard 12 month manufacturer warranty. Pretty standard stuff for kitchenware and so there’s nothing to choose between them in this regard.
As both of these machines make use of Keurig’s K-Cup system, you shouldn’t expect a world of difference in basic taste between the coffee produced by the K50 and the K55.
Regardless of which machine you pick, you’re going to have to do a little bit of experimenting to find the flavour that works for you.
Thanks to that charcoal mesh in the K55, however, you’ll find that it produces a stronger, smoother brew, regardless of the coffee pod you’re using.
We’ve also seen quite a few consumer reviews that complain about a slightly “plastic-y” taste in coffee produced by the K50. That’s been eliminated in the K55, and should be a big consideration in your purchasing decision.
CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE
Keurig makes it extremely easy to clean both the K50 and the K55, thanks to components in both machines that can be easily removed.
Each machine also comes with a comprehensive guide that explains how to clean each model. In fact, it’s identical for both machines, which is perhaps not surprising given that the K55 is a pretty direct evolution of the K50.
The steps you need to take to clean either of these machines is much the same:
- Take the reservoir, the drip tray and the K-Cup holder out of the machine regularly and clean them separately before reassembling.
- Clean the needles and funnels of either device.
- Reassemble the parts as they were – super easy!
Regardless of whether you choose the K50 or the K55, it’s really important that you descale your machine from time to time.
This gives the inside of the machine a thorough cleaning, and eliminates the calcium scale that will inevitably build up over time.
Ingesting this stuff won’t do you any harm, but it will increasingly harm the flavour of the coffee you’re drinking as the problem gets worse.
Keurig’s advice is to descale the machine every six months if you’re a light user, or every three months if you’re blazing through your coffee like there’s no tomorrow.
If you’re not sure which of those camps you fall into, the K55 has a built-in function which alerts you when the machine needs to be descaled.
That’s a really handy feature to have if you want to keep your coffee flowing in top condition. It’s also really important for preventing machine breakdowns, which are commonly caused by a build-up of scale over time.
There’s not an awful lot of difference between these two models to be honest, but as the newer machine it’s probably worth investing a little extra in the K55:
- As a more up to date device, any parts you need in the future are going to be easier to source.
- The K55 is considered to be much more reliable than the K50, with fewer reports of the machine breaking down. With that said, parts for both of these machines can be readily sourced online if they’re needed..
- The descaling function in the K55 makes life a little bit easier. With the majority of machine breakdowns occurring as a result of scaling problems, you’ll likely get more life out of this machine as a result.
- If looks matter to you, we’d say that the K55 comes out on top. We’d generally recommend going for the black model in either case though, as it hides a multitude of budget sins much better than the red in particular.
- The brew quality of the K55 is superior thanks to those charcoal filters. Remember though that they’ll be more expensive to replace.
- Both machines take 5 or so minutes to get started, but the K55 delivers subsequent brews just a little bit faster. Good news for guzzlers!
Taking everything into consideration from build to brew quality, then the K55 is the clear winner for us. There’s nothing worse than an unreliable coffee machine that doesn’t deliver when you need it the most, and the flavour is superior.
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That said, if you’re on a strict budget then the K50 is a perfectly serviceable machine that will do a grand job of keeping your caffeine fix ticking over. They’re a little harder to get hold of these days though, so our advice is to grab one while you still can.