My morning coffee ritual is one of my favorite parts of the day. I'm normally just a coffee and almond milk kind of girl, but especially as fall and winter weather arrives, it's fun to indulge in an at-home pumpkin spice latte every once in a while. And as the sole coffee drinker in my household, Keurigs have been my go-to brewer for years. Keurig's newest brewer, the K-Cafe SMART, gives you the best of both worlds — you can have an excellent cup of coffee, or a fancy coffee-house-style latte, straight from your kitchen. I've been having so much fun playing at-home barista with this brewer for weeks now — read on for all my thoughts and an honest review!
(While I did receive the brewer as a gift from the brand, all of the following thoughts and opinions expressed below are my own and are not influenced by Keurig, in any way.)
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How is the K-Cafe SMART different from other Keurig brewers?
Keurig is best known for its single-serve coffee brewers, and I think it's fair to say that coffee snobs in the past have turned their noses up at these machines since they used to only be able to brew coffee in a singular way. But, Keurig has actually made huge advancements over the last two years — the new K-Cafe SMART has multi-stream technology, meaning the grounds are saturated much better than they were before, giving you a flavorful, bold cup of coffee. Another key feature is what Keurig calls BrewID technology — the brewer connects to your WiFi and recognizes the specific brand and roast of each K-Cup, then automatically adjusts the brew settings to make the perfect cup of coffee, according to the roasters themselves. This is mind-blowing to me since every Keurig-compatible K-Cup brand like Starbucks or Dunkin will have different brew settings based on the grounds, from the temperature to the size of your cup. That is what you call a customized cup of coffee!
What really sets this brewer apart, however, is the built-in milk frother. You no longer need to make a separate purchase to froth your milk. This one is simply attached to the brewer, making it easy to froth up milk for cappuccinos or lattes. If you're newer to making lattes at home, or are perhaps a bit intimidated to try your hand at coffee-house-style drinks, Keurig has you covered! A big part of the experience is the Keurig app, which has tons of drink recipes to try, from mochas to caramel hot cocoas and affogatos to vanilla lattes. The app has step-by-step instructions and even recommends recipes based on the pods you've most recently brewed. It's been fun to browse through the recipes and get ideas for new drinks to try — like a Black and Brown, which is essentially a root beer float with coffee. Yum!
What makes the K-Cafe SMART so great?
A few years ago, I had the non-smart version of this brewer, the K-Cafe, and the improvements that Keirug has made to this brewer are huge. The BrewID technology definitely makes a difference in how bold and flavorful the coffee is, and this milk frother is much quieter than the previous model. The frother is my favorite part. There are three-speed settings depending on how much foam you prefer, and there's a cold option as well. The frother works for both dairy and non-dairy milk and leaves me with an impressive amount of foamed almond milk, which is not always the easiest to froth. I love sipping on an almond milk cappuccino!
The brewer also has an iced coffee setting, which I was using all the time in August, and no doubt will be using sporadically before the weather gets really cold. Plus, putting cold foam on top of my iced coffee always feels like a little treat. I've recently been frothing up Chobani's pumpkin spice creamer and adding it to Death Wish Coffee's Pumpkin Chai coffee, which has been a vibe and has definitely saved me some Starbucks trips for PSLs. And even when I want just a regular cup of coffee, hot or cold, this brewer delivers. Keurig's BrewID really does make a difference to the quality of their coffee, and it should be noted that this cup of Keurig coffee is way better than the previous brewer models.
Are there any cons to the K-Cafe SMART?
The one setting I find myself not using a ton is the "shot" brewing option for lattes or cappuccinos. These milk-based drinks are typically mixed with espresso shots, and Keurig gives you the option to brew a single or double shot, or rather, a 2-ounce or 4-ounce cup of coffee. And while Keurig isn't advertising their brewers as espresso machines, if you're looking to drink americanos, doppios, or macchiatos (as in an espresso shot topped with foamed milk, not like a caramel macchiato from Starbucks) — I'd say you'd be better off buying an actual espresso machine than a Keurig. The shot brewing option does make a small, bold cup of coffee, but it's not quite the same as an actual shot of espresso. Luckily for me, this is not a huge deal. I prefer adding milk to a 6-ounce or 8-ounce cup so I'm getting more coffee than milk, and this method works great for me! But I can see some straight-up espresso drinkers not being totally satisfied with a shot brewed on a Keurig.
The K-Cafe SMART is a great brewer to have if you prefer making single cups of coffee, you're interested in making lattes and cappuccinos at home, if you want a brewer that comes with an attached milk frother, or you just want the option of having frothed milk with an excellent cup of coffee. It's a great way to give your coffee station a little upgrade, and especially with the holidays just around the corner, it will be excellent to have for guests. Who wouldn't be impressed with a homemade pumpkin spice latte or peppermint mocha post-holiday meal?