It’s tempting to start this post with paean to coffee, glorious coffee, but the chances are I’d be preaching to the choir. Coffee is the lifeblood of millions of businesses around the world, and consequently the coffee machine is often the center of office life. No breakroom — no matter how beautifully designed — is complete without some kind of coffeepot or machine. That’s been true for generations, but the arrival of Keurig® coffee makers on the scene (like this beauty right here) was a bit of a game changer. No more burned, cold or stale communal pots, no more weird-tasting instant “coffee” or watery machine-mixed mud!
This post, however, isn’t a love song to coffee or to Keurig®, as magnificent as they both are. Today I’m talking about the behind-the-scenes secret of how to clean a Keurig® coffee maker. While these machines are magic, they don’t clean themselves (yet). If your office is anything like mine, your Keurig® coffee maker sees a lot of use, but aside from emptying the pod receptacle when it’s full, you might not know how to clean it. The process isn’t difficult, it just takes a little know-how.
1. Unplug it.
2. Take it apart.
There are more components and mysterious moving parts than your average drip-pot, but we’re here to clear that all up.
- To take out the K-Cup pod holder, just pull the top of the holder with one hand while pushing upwards on the bottom of the assembly from underneath with your other hand. Watch out for the sharp needles inside (intended to pierce the K-Cup pods) which could give you a stick if you’re not careful.
- Give the funnel a gentle pull and it will come away from the K-Cup pod holder.
- The water reservoir and its removable lid can be lifted away from the side of the machine.
- The drip tray can be lifted out from the machine’s base.
3. Separate the parts into machine-washable and non-machine washable.
- Can go into the dishwasher: K-Cup pod holder, funnel, drip plate and drip tray.
- Can NOT go into the dishwasher: water reservoir and lid and machine base.
4. Give it a wash
- If you’re just washing it all by hand, then everything except the machine base can be cleaned with warm water and a soft cloth or non-abrasive sponge, rinsing very carefully. Avoid using detergents on the water reservoir components, as they can taint the water supply.
- Give the outside of the machine base a gentle wipe with a damp cloth.
5. Clear out the exit needles
Both the top and the bottom of the K-Cup pod holder have an exit needle with three small holes. These can fill up with coffee grinds and mess with the machine’s brewing abilities. A straightened-out paper clip is a great tool for clearing out clogs.
6. Reassemble everything
- The funnel will snap back into the Keurig K-Cup pod holder and the assemblage can be inserted back where they belong. There are handy arrows on the K-Cup pod holder which will match up with arrows on the machine. Make sure the holder’s two front tabs are on the bottom and the single tab is at the top.
- Replace the water reservoir and lid.
- Slide the drip cover and tray back into the machine until you hear it click.
7. Once every 3-6 months, descale with vinegar or Keurig® descaling solution.
This is really easy, but it’s a lifesaver for your machine, removing water deposits and mineral scale before they cause damage.
- You can use straight white vinegar or a mixture of half vinegar/half water.
- Pour the vinegar into the water reservoir.
- Place a mug in its usual spot to catch the vinegar as it is dispensed.
- Don’t put a K-Cup pod in!
- Hit “brew” and wait for the vinegar to run through the machine.
- If you feel that the machine could do with a second vinegar rinse, repeat the steps. You can also let the vinegar soak in the machine by hitting “brew” and then unplugging the machine. Let it sit for half an hour before resuming the brew cycle.
- Finally, run plain water through the machine (without a K-Cup pod) to flush any vinegar residue.
So there you have it: how to clean a Keurig® coffee machine to the highest standard. After you’ve done it once or twice it will take you no time at all, and it’s really worth the effort. Nothing will make your break room more inviting than a pristine high quality coffee machine, well-stocked with K-Cup pods. Having access to a single perfect cup of fresh-brewed coffee (or tea, I suppose) on demand, in minutes, in the flavor of your choice, is pretty much heaven.