How To Use A Keurig: A Simple Step-By-Step Guide

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how to use a keurig

Ugh, forty pages of the user manual?

TLDR, I know!

But now that you’re staring blankly at your machine trying to figure out how it works… You wish you didn’t throw it away before reading.

It’s an honest mistake, and I have a solution for you. 

I know how a Keurig machine works by heart.

So I’ll share with you everything you need to know on how to use a Keurig, without all the boring stuff from the manual.

Let’s get straight to the point.

Setting Up a Keurig Coffee Maker

Hold up!

You can’t jump straight to brewing.

Your new Keurig machine needs a setup first. 

Initial Setup

First, let’s get technical. You need to put the parts together and prepare it for a test run.

Step 1: Plug It In

Of course, this also means you need to remove any protective tape or film covering the plug – your machine won’t be able to receive power with these things on.

Set up your machine close to a grounded outlet.

Now, I know, all modern homes have them.

But just in case you live in a mid-century home, you should know that a Keurig machine can only work with grounded outlets.

Step 2: Prime and Install the Water Filter

If your model comes with a charcoal water filter kit, this is the time to use it. 

But first, you need to prime it.

This is a simple two-step process.

Just soak the water filter in a bowl with water for about five minutes. Then, rinse it under a water stream for a minute or so.

Alright, we’re done!

The only thing you need to do is install it into the water tank.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. The filter comes with two holder parts: upper and lower. Rinse them in the sink.
  2. Grab the primed filter and put it onto the lower holder part. 
  3. Take the upper holder part and lock it with the other.
  4. Place the filter into an empty water tank. Lock it into its designated position on the bottom of the tank. 

That’s it, quick and easy. 

Step 3: Rinse and Fill a Water Reservoir

While your machine was never used, it probably collected some dust on its way to you. Before starting it for the first time, give your new Keurig a quick rinse.

Remove the water tank and give it a quick rinse with warm water.

Some Keurig models don’t have removable tanks. If that’s the case, you’ll have to clean it by running water through the machine.

Once done, refill the water tank with clean water and put it back in.

With non-removable water tanks, you have to pour water in from a separate container. Keep pouring water until you reach the max line indicator.

Step 4: Heat The Water

With a water tank rinsed and refilled, it’s time to start heating the water.

As soon as you press the power switch on, your machine should start heating up. 

Some models have a LED indicator that goes red while Keurig is warming up. But if you hear your machine working, it’s clearly still not done. 

Cleansing Brew

Before you make the first cup of coffee with your new machine, you need to do a cleansing brew first.

For this, you don’t need to add a K-pod, as you’re only running hot water through the machine. 

But even though you’re not making coffee, you still need to put a mug underneath the spout. Something needs to collect all that piping hot water that will start running! You’ll need a cup with a capacity of at least 10 ounces for this.

To run a cleansing brew, simply press the “small cup” button on your Keurig machine. And then, once it stops pouring water, simply throw it down the sink.

How to Use a Keurig Coffee Machine

Finally, the fun part – the machine is ready to brew. 

I’ll guide you through it. Just follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Fill the Water Reservoir

You can’t brew coffee without water, right? 

Before you start brewing, fill your tank with fresh water to its maximum capacity.

With certain models, this means brewing up to 75 ounces of coffee before you need to refill it.

Step 2: Insert the Coffee Pod

Lift the machine handle, which will open up the coffee pod chamber.

Pick a Keurig K cup pod you want to brew right now and place it into the chamber, with the foil part facing up.

This goes without saying – don’t remove the foil before placing the pod inside the chamber.

The machine itself has built-in needles that pierce the foil, allowing the water to pass through the coffee grounds.

There is also a reusable K cup that you can fill with ground coffee and use in your Keurig brewer. This is a good solution for those who want to use the coffee of their own choice and reduce waste.

Once the pod is securely in place, close the lid by pushing the handle down.

Note: Certain models will show a “ready to brew” sign on display, signaling that your machine is properly closed with a pod in place.

Step 3: Place Your Mug

blue mug and keurig coffee machine

Pick a mug to place under the coffee spout.

Now, the actual size of the mug depends on your Keurig machine. 

With the Keurig K155, for instance, you can make a cup as small as four ounces. K-Mini, on the other hand, allows you to make twelve-ounce drinks.

Keep in mind: With some models, you might need to remove the drip tray to fit a cup of the size you want. 

Step 4: Choose Your Brew Settings and Start Brewing

Finally, the only thing that’s left for you to do is to choose the settings for your coffee.

Depending on the Keurig model, you might choose between four to twelve-ounce cup sizes. But the majority of Keurig models make six, eight, and ten-ounce drinks.

Some models offer other setting options aside from the size of your brew.

With a K-Select, for instance, you can choose between a regular and strong cup of coffee. 

Other models, such as K-Slim, allow you to make an iced version of your favorite drink.

And then we have models that go as far as allowing you to choose the brewing temperature, like the Keurig K-Elite. 

So depending on what machine you have, play with the available settings if you want to.

Once done, press the brew button.

The whole process should last about a minute or so. You’ll know your coffee is ready when the machine lets out a large burst of air.

How to Maintain a Keurig Machine

If you want your Keurig machine to serve you well for a long time, you need to take proper care of it. This involves both everyday and periodic maintenance.

Cleaning the Exterior

Over time, your Keurig coffee maker will start building up dust, dirt, and coffee residue. And the longer it stays grimy, the harder it will be for you to clean it.

What’s more, a dirty Keurig is a breeding ground for mold and bacteria that are bad both for you and the machine.

Clean the exterior with a microfiber cloth every few days. In the case of more stubborn dirt, use mild dish soap. 

Don’t wait until your drip tray is full to the brim to empty it out.

 Most Keurig models have drip trays with a capacity of eight ounces, which takes a while to fill up.

(Well, unless you’re on track to win the record for most consecutively spilled cups of coffee.)

You should also remove the pod holder every few days or so and rinse it in the sink. This will remove any coffee residue, which could potentially mess with the way your brew tastes.

For the area underneath the pod holder, use a cotton swab to remove any coffee particles that are stuck.

A carafe should be cleaned after each brew. For this, you should use a damp cloth.

Important: None of the removable Keurig parts are dishwasher-safe. Instead, you have to rinse them manually and dry them with a cloth.

Changing the Filter 

A charcoal filter assures your coffee always tastes great, regardless of the water quality.

But this thing is not without a life expectancy. That’s because a filter works kind of like a sponge – soaking in all the pollutants in water.

Keurig water filters should be replaced every two months or after you refill the tank for the 60th time. 

This is, of course, only applicable if your Keurig coffee maker comes with a filter cartridge. 

Certain models, like K-Mini or K15, don’t have them. With these machines, it’s best to use pre-filtered or bottled water.


Both tap and bottled water contain different minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These can be either naturally present or additionally added.

As water passes through the machine, it deposits traces of these minerals on the interior.

This will happen even if you have a charcoal filter in place.

In fact, the filter does nothing to prevent these minerals from building up. It only removes toxins from water while keeping all the minerals in.

You should descale your Keurig every few months to remove this buildup.

Exactly how often you should do that depends on how often you use your coffee maker. 

So, for instance, if you usually brew coffee more than once a day, consider descaling every month or so.

By switching tap for bottled water, you can get by doing it every three to four months. 

But honestly, you can’t go wrong by descaling more often than necessary. It won’t hurt your machine in any way. In fact, it can only make it work better. 


keurig coffee machine in the kitchen

Still, have unanswered questions about the way Keurig machines work?

Let’s fix that.

How much water do you put in a Keurig?

Keurig coffee makers come with water tanks of different sizes, and it’s always recommended to fill them up completely when replacing water. 

But to brew coffee, you need to have two ounces more water than the size of your drink. This assures the machine doesn’t overheat from lack of water.

Can you use K-cup twice?

According to Keurig, you can’t use a pod more than once. But many people have successfully made two cups of coffee with a single pod. With that being said, the taste and aroma might be slightly watered down for the second brew.

However, sometimes the machine won’t recognize the already used pod, so you won’t be able to use it again.

Can you put anything other than water in a Keurig?

While technically you can put some other liquid than water in a Keurig coffee maker, the brand strongly suggests against it. The machine is built to only handle water through the system. Any other liquid can leave a residue that will permanently affect the way the coffee maker works.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, a Keurig coffee maker is an easy one to operate with.

When setting up for the first time, it’s important to do a cleansing brew first. This assures your new machine is in optimal condition to make good coffee.

Brewing is as easy as ABC. Just put the pod in place and select your settings – the machine will do the rest. 

Even the maintenance is not too much of a hassle with this machine. Just make sure to clean the exterior and removable parts every once in a while, before they get grimy. As for descaling, it won’t hurt to do it more often than needed.

Now that you have all the info you need, go finish up that cup of coffee – don’t let it sit out for too long

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Viktoria Marks
Viktoria is a writer and a journalist who can't imagine sitting by her computer without a large cup of java in her hand. She loves sampling coffee from all over the world as much as writing about it.