Review: Brewing Coffees with the Keurig Vue V700 Brewing System
We've already taken a look at our likes/dislikes as well as a rundown of comparison features between the old K-Cup brewers and the newer Vue-Pack brewers. As a result, we're continuing our review series today by taking a look at some of the new options which are now available when brewing coffees on the Keurig Vue V700 brewer.
Unlike the older K-Cup brewers, you can now adjust a variety of options prior to brewing. Anything from water temperature to brew strength is now user-adjustable. Let's take a look at some of the new features and how they work, shall we?
Hotter Water Temperatures
One of the major complaints most K-Cup brewer users had in the past was that their coffee would get cold too quick and that they had to figure out different work-arounds such as brewing into a thermal cup or pre-heating a mug with hot water before brewing.
Now with the Keurig Vue V700 brewer, you can adjust which temperature all your drinks will be using by default via the "info" button on the main startup screen (see section circled in red within photo). Once you select "temperature", you can increase the temperature all the way up to 197 °F (default setting is 192 °F which is coincidentally the hottest setting on the older K-Cup brewers). Just press the yellow "set" button, then the "back arrow" to back out to the main screen & you're good to go. All your drinks will now brew by default at the newly set temperature.
Personally, we prefer our coffees in the 194 °F range but we know a lot of people like it piping hot, so the 197 °F max setting should satisfy most users.
Larger Cup/Mug Sizes
Another new feature was brought about to deal with travel mugs and how they're continuously getting bigger & bigger. You can now brew as small as a 4oz "lungo" cup or go all the way to a giant 18oz travel mug. In case you're wondering, yes, there are new "travel mug Vue-Packs" that are formulated to handle the newer brew sizes without becoming diluted too much.
One minor glitch we noticed however, we tried using a 16oz travel mug only to notice the particular model we had chosen (Thermos Sipp Vacuum-sealed mug) didn't quite fit under the machine even with the drip tray removed. There was just under half an inch clearance required in order for it to fit properly. We managed to remedy the situation by tilting the entire machine backwards a little bit and setting it back down so that the machine was resting on top of the travel mug.
It's not exactly an elegant solution and a potentially dangerous one (should the mug slip out of place), so we were left wondering how the heck an 18oz mug would fit if a 16oz version didn't. We'd recommend shopping around for 18oz mugs that aren't too tall as we think that's the only way to make things work here.
Adjustable Brew Strength
Probably the most important & most desired of all the new features would have to be the new "strong" brew strength button (see section circled in red within photo). This button enables longer pulse-mode brewing in order to allow for water to remain within the Vue-Pack for a slightly longer amount of time. This allows the coffee to become more saturated and enables stronger extraction of all the oils/flavors contained within.
When we first heard of this, the first thing that popped to mind was "yeah, right!", but we were shocked to see that this actually WORKED. We tested using different roasts and got consistently stronger results depending on which cup/mug size we chose. Coffee People's Donut Shop Travel Mug Vue-Packs actually tasted strong at the 16oz setting instead of watered-down. When we switched to the 12oz setting to accommodate a bag of Joulies, things only got better. A light roast Tully's Breakfast blend tasted more like a medium extra bold once we used the 8oz setting. Simply amazing!
The key to making this feature work is to experiment with different roasts & cup/mug sizes. We can't emphasize that enough, but suffice it to say this new feature works and works quite well. We think this feature along with the hotter water temperature feature will be the sole 2 features that sway current K-Cup brewer users to buy a Vue V700 brewer should pricing ever drop within the next year or so.
There are still some hiccups with the Vue V700 (tall travel mugs STILL don't fit under the machine, can't adjust froth levels, can't enable strong setting for anything other than coffee/iced coffee, etc) but we'll cover some of those issues in future reviews. We like the minor touches as well such as the color-coding of symbols on the Vue-Packs themselves (see sections circled in red within photo). Drinks that are supposed to be made in the Coffee/Tea/Hot Cocoa/Other screen now have that same colored symbol on the foil packaging. The same applies for Café-style drinks and Iced drinks.
Sure, it could be considered superfluous, but with the addition of multiple screens/settings, it's still a neat fool-proof way to ensure each Vue-Pack gets brewed under the correct settings. The new RFID-enabled commercial Vue brewers due this Fall will likely eliminate the need for this altogether as the brew settings will be stored within the RFID chips much like how a Tassimo reads the barcodes on T-Discs. The "brewing" screens could also be considered overkill as it's pretty darn obvious you're brewing something when you see the liquid pouring out into your cup!
The main thing to take away from THIS review is that brewing coffee Vue-Packs with the Vue V700 is now a measurably more enjoyable experience than it was with the older K-Cup brewers & K-Cups. Now, don't get us wrong, we still love us a good flavored or extra bold K-Cup when we're presented with one, but the fact that we can now get stronger & hotter coffee out of the Vue just means we're rather anxious for the remainder of our favorite brands/flavors to be made in Vue-Pack format.
As with any other brewer on the market, the main thing that will scare away potential customers is the pricing and at $250, the Vue V700 isn't cheap compared to the $160 to $190 cost of a Keurig Platinum B70 K-Cup brewer. Pricing taken into consideration, when was the last time you saw a color touch-screen coffee brewer for under $250? Even the older commercial/office B155 K-Cup brewer which had a fancier touch-screen setup is priced at $250. (No, the Mr. Coffee eLume doesn't count as it's not full color).
As with all things in life, nicer features = higher price. It just remains to be seen if users are willing to pay a premium for stronger & hotter coffee.
More at Keurig Vue V700 Brewing System and you can read our full review of the Keurig Vue V700 here.
A special thanks to SH for providing this Single Serve Coffee staff review.
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Posted by Jay Brewer at May 29, 2012 7:44 AM