Why You Don’t Have to Kick Your Keurig To The Curb

How I make coffee in the morning. I don’t own a Keurig, nor am I paid by them. But I do love coffee – and …

When I was dating my wife April, I bought her a Keurig coffee maker. The Keurig® K-Cup® K60/K65 Special Edition & Signature Brewers turned into our favorite machine. We were living in different cities at the time- and she didn’t have a reliable coffee maker to make that one cup she wanted in the morning. She thought this was one of the best gifts I ever gave her. For the first few months of her pregnancy we were still commuting and she used this coffee maker every morning. So, when I hear that someone is saying bad things about this type of coffee maker, I had to read the article and dissect it with a skeptical eye.

Microbes in the Coffee Maker
Allegation:
One of the allegations is that you can never dry the coffee maker out, it is a sealed system, and there is concern that bacteria would grow in the water, and form a biofilm.
Facts:
In order for bacteria to grow, and make biofilms, they need to have a source of nutrition. They can’t make it from water, because there is nothing in water for the little bugs to feed from. The microbiologist in me wondered why would someone talk about that who should know better. The bacteria cannot eat plastics (if they would we would have our landfill problem solved and could use plastic bags from the grocery store without feeling bad).

Think of your kitchen tap- all the water that is in there and yet, you don’t worry about bacteria in your water supply unless it has been contaminated with something. Plant material, for example.

Keurig’s water temperature is 192 degrees F. At that temperature it takes less than 1/2 second to kill 99.999999% of the bacteria in the unit. You don’t have to worry about bacteria living or enough of them living to harm you.
FORK U RULING: no worries about bacterial build up in your machine unless you have a contaminated water supply with lots of sediment.

PLASTIC K CUPS

JJ has been drinking coffee for a long time- so far- so good.

Allegation:
The K-cups will cause estrogen-like activity because that is what plastics do.
Facts:
The K cup is PA-free and there is no evidence that there are any estrogenic activity found in that type of plastic used in any of the plastics.
FORK U RULING: No worry about growing man boobs with K-cups.

Allegation:
The Cups are non-recyclable
Facts:
This is true. They are not recyclable and can pose a problem.
FORK U RULING: If you worry about the environment, use the reusable K-cups if you still want your Keurig

Allegation:
The lid is aluminum foil and we have to avoid aluminum because of the connection to alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, autism, and celiac disease
Facts:
The aluminum has not been related to the diseases like Alzheimer’s – and aluminum is the third most common metal on earth. This notion comes from old folk lore from years ago, never proven. In fact, when brain tissue was examined from patients who had died with Alzheimer’s disease they found no aluminum in the brain. In terms of the other diseases claimed to be associated with aluminum – there has been no evidence of this.

Allegation:
The coffee is not fresh
Facts:
The coffee is ground, packed, nitrogen flushed, then sealed. It won’t oxidize nor is it exposed to sunlight. However, if you want fresh ground coffee- chances are you will be grinding it yourself and not using a K-cup.
FORK U RULING: The coffee isn’t fresh, but like most ground coffee that is vacuum packed and sealed, it will remain in reasonable shape until you use it. For those of us who use to open the large cans of coffee – that delicious fresh smell when you first open the coffee – that is what you get with the Keurig.

FINAL:
I don’t use the Keurig – but the problem with the article about kicking this machine to the curb is that it is filled with inaccuracies of people whose idea of the scientific method come from the dark ages. But my dad now has the machine- and he is 90 years old and going strong. When I am at his house- I use the machine. So Don’t kick your machine to the curb – in fact, if you want to buy one for a gift, know it is one of the nicest gifts you can give to someone who needs that single cup of coffee.

Dr. Terry Simpson About Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit www.terrysimpson.com.

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Latest Comments

  1. beerman42 says:

    Love ours, B60 is leaking badly on fill. Reading they have problem with a part in unit, looks now if we replace will buy another brand, burn my once, do not offer help or discount on replacement buy someone elses.

  2. janscholl says:

    We also had a leaky machine and I went back and forth via email about the problem. They wanted to give me a discount. I told them I believe a class action should and will be filed soon against them and I was leaving now to buy a competitors machine as Keurig was not being honest with their owners. An hour later, I got an email with tracking for a new machine. There is a big problem with several models leaking and shorting out the solenoid near the leak rendering the machine not usable. You have to get tough with them and tell them you will no longer use their products. Their money is in the coffee, really. Kinda like printers and ink.

  3. Claude Strickland says:

    I love my Keurig. I would like to point out biofilms do form in untreated small diameter tubing using normal tap water. This is well documented in dental literature. Personally I believe the high temperature water will keep the bugs at bay. If you are worried about this issue, I suggest you run a 5% sodium hypoclorite (Clorox/bleach) solution through the unit every now and then. Claude Strickland DDS

  4. beerman42 says:

    Who did you contact. If they would give a coupon for discount on new improved machine it would work and be cheaper than anything else for them.

  5. disqus_tJjCEjb8bw says:

    Together between our 2 households we have 3 Keurigs. One of them is the kind that has the tank on the side. It consistently has a nasty film on top and the water goes rancid.

    My father in law cleans it with vinegar and water and it takes a couple of hours for the lines and everything to get clean. He doesn’t use anything but tap water in it after it’s clean, he fills it then it sits while he makes coffee in it every day. I go up to clean his house and I can watch the growth occur. I tell him the water is nasty in the tank and he’ll take it apart and clean it again.

    He has to deep clean it every month or so.

    The ones we have that don’t have tanks stay clean and are fine to use all the time. I just can’t recommend the ones with the tanks on the side due to our experience with them.

  6. lisa says:

    I had the same issue as your father-in-law. What I found out was that using filtered water changed my Keurig world. I would also get those nasty film lines when I used tap water and would have to clean the system in order to break down the build-up. Because the Keurig system only brews it doesn’t not filter, I suggest giving filtered water a try to see if that changes anything for him!

  7. Mark says:

    Ever since my coworker advised me to use DISTILLED water in the Keurig tank, no more film or lime scale. What a huge change. I do not use distilled water at home in my Nespresso machine, and its tank does have the lime scale. Distilled water is PURE – try it.

  8. cigarweekly.com ! says:

    Nice Article.
    My problem with the K-cup is cost. I just drink too much coffee (I know, I know…) to even approach the device without the reusable-self filled cups. I like pouring a cup from my thermal carafe when I want one. I wait 6 minutes to make a full pot of coffee. Filling the re-usable cup, puttin in water, pushing button, waiting… nah.

  9. David Druin says:

    google “bacteria eating plastic” and you’ll find plenty of hits.

    And I doubt a Keurig is a completely closed system at the microscopic level. But I’m not trying to say Keurigs are unsafe. Doc’s point on bacteria in water is still valid – you don’t worry about your tap water, so why worry about that same water when it’s in a Keurig.

    James Blonde makes a good point tho – why the hell is doc letting lil baby JJ drink coffee “for a long time”?

  10. janscholl says:

    I just went thru Customer Service. You could escalate to high executive but I would be firm with CS first. It helps if you registered your machine when you purchased it. Some have tried to scam with garage sale buys.

  11. cjblaney0 says:

    I suppose you’ve somewhat refuted the medical allegations, not enough to make me feel safe to drink from Kuerig though.

    The taste/quality of the coffee matters as well, and it’s simply atrocious when brewed from a Kuerig. By far the worst cup of coffee I’ve had in the last year has been from a Kuerig. Coffee noticeably diminishes in quality a week after being roasted, and as little as 20 minutes after being ground. A tasty “Nitrogen Flush” as you’ve outlined above won’t change that.

  12. moleshired says:

    Article tailored to those that want to keep the highly overpriced coffee maker. It makes no better coffee than a Blacker & Decker Brew N’ Go. People with more money than sense.

  13. Terry Simpson says:

    When you say it diminishes you have to provide a mechanism- and that is oxidation. When you get rid of oxidation then you don’t have the flavor issues in twenty minutes. Nitrogen takes that away

  14. Michael Medico says:

    First off Dr. Simpson, there would be algae and bacteria in your kitchen tap if it were not for the copper pipes that get it there. As a retired chef I live first hand with all types of kitchen equipment. These machines would be okay if they were used continuously and always kept on, filled, and used at least every four hours, like in the break room in a 24 hour fish packing plant where it is served for free. I judge things with health, safety, and taste in mind. If Keurig were to give me forty of these machines and supplied me with all the little cups that I need to serve my restaurant forever for free, sorry I would turn it down. I would not take any amount of money and use my credentials to write a positive article about them either.

  15. Dr. Terry Simpson says:

    You must live in some ancient city because most indoor plumbing uses PVC as the price of copper has gone through the roof. The tap water is most cities (all in the United States) has high standards and often is chlorinated which inhibits growth of bacteria and algae. In terms of writing a positive article for someone- I was answering an article- I am not paid by Keurig, nor do I currently own a Keurig (gave it to my dad). That charge- by the way – is a logical fallacy, that I must be paid for my article – I am not. The article is based on science, and my science comes from a background in medicine and microbiology. So I judge things with health and safety (hence the background in medicine and microbiology) and taste. Most food borne illness doesn’t come from pipes and water, however long water is kept there- but from poor technique and cross-contamination.

  16. Terry Simpson says:

    Most water pipes in the US are made from PVC plastic, not copper. The algae and bacteria are inhibited not by the copper pipes (copper in levels high enough to inhibit microorganisms is toxic to people also) – but from chlorination of the water systems. There is no evidence that the machines would be better if used.

    I judge things with health and safety in mind from a background in medicine and microbiology (my chef credentials I use for taste- although I am a professional eater). Finally – the logical fallacy that the science of the article is bias is incorrect – first it is a logical fallacy- second, Keurig doesn’t pay me, give me any coffee or machines. My article was a response to grossly incorrect and misleading information that is finding its way around the internet.

  17. Mark says:

    Tap water would be my last choice. Before using distilled water, I used tap water run thru a Brita filter. The water tank showed the white “slime” and the device started malfunctioning. After several cleanings with vinegar, it began working fine again. Since switching to distilled, not once has it malfunctioned, and the tank remains perfectly clear. I’m not the only one to claim this. There is no difference in coffee taste to me. I’m pleased with the results. Unless someone PROVES there is a health risk in using distilled water, I’ll be sticking with status quo (FYI – my local grocery store sells distilled water in the baby section with a special label for infants, which I buy when regular supplies are gone. If it’s safe for babies, I assume it’s safe for me too).

  18. Darlene Smith says:

    Been using our machine for over two years. We use tap water. Never seen or have had any problem with lime scale or anything else. We do use vinegar to flush it once in a while, but not because we have any problems.

  19. Dr. Terry Simpson says:

    Tap water meets safety requirements in all US cities for infants – even more so than bottled water. The hard water residue is a price to pay – it is the minerals – many of which are needed for normal bodily function.
    The only way you could tell a difference in taste is by doing the test- not by memory –

  20. TerryInIowa says:

    We have always used bottled SPRING water in our Keurig and we don’t have any problems with lime or anything else, and it has a better flavor than distiilled water does.

  21. Co-Reigner says:

    I don’t know enough about the health aspect of K-cup coffee but I definitely know that K-cup coffee tastes like crap. I’ll only drink brewed drip or percolated coffee from freshly-ground dark-roasted coffee beans. K-cup stuff and instant coffee taste pretty much the same.

  22. Dr. Terry Simpson says:

    They are far from the same, and if you think they taste the same then your taste is probably not refined. That’s ok- I am sure you enjoy your percolated coffee- which is probably the way to ruin a good cup

  23. Jason Perrone says:

    Distilled water is the way to go, if you can afford it. It’s the purest form of water, with exactly 7.0 neutral pH balance and absolutely no solutes in the water. No minerals, no lime, nothing… just 100% water in its purest form… and also the most delicious version of water and the only water you should be drinking if you’re trying to live a toxin free life.

  24. Jason Perrone says:

    I disagree. Spring water tastes marginally better than tap water and still contains minerals that would cause kidney stones eventually.

  25. Jason Perrone says:

    Health risk using distilled? lol. It’s the only water that has NO health risk. Tap water is disgusting, filtered water still has a lot of bad stuff in it the filter doesn’t catch, spring water is loaded with minerals (rocks to the layperson).. the purest form of H20 is distilled, plain and simple.

  26. Dr. Terry Simpson says:

    You don’t want pure water to make good coffee. You want tap water – do the test. Phoenix water and Scottsdale water are terrible to drink- but make amazing coffee. Go to Italy – see where the best water is to drink coffee. that “awful” stuff complexes with the coffee and takes away a bit of bitterness and makes a lovely cup — maybe the only good thing about bad water

  27. Andrea says:

    Keurigs are prone to bug infestation. Is there a safe way to avoid getting them in the first place?serious replies only

  28. Dr. Terry Simpson says:

    Not sure what you mean by bug infestation- never had this as an issue. The tap water you use should be clean – and normal cleaning should not be an issue with any bugs. Since it heats to 180 degrees or so, it will self sterilize quickly.

  29. TanteF says:

    I started drinking boiled coffee cut half with unpasteurized milk from Flora when I was about 2. Gradually the milk went away…I did not see the connection with Flora also going away, but I was 5 so…I am now 68, the brain still works and like JJ, I stop the coffee in the evenings most of the time. For several years Pet milk substituted for Flora and I still occasionally use evaporated milk to this day.

  30. Lenna Hanna-O'Neill says:

    One minor point, Doc… ever hear of ‘slime in the ice machine’? There are plenty of air and water borne contaminants that can get into coffee makers of ANY type to wreak havoc. Not just your coffee maker, either. The thought that ‘they need something to eat’ implies these microbes need something the size of a cookie. Plenty of stuff in your water supply that can grow, incidentally, most of it microscopic. So, sorry, fail on that one. Otherwise, fairly good points. I still don’t want a Keurig but for those who do, enjoy it.

  31. Dr. Terry Simpson says:

    It isn’t that there are not microbes- the question is which microbes and do they harm us? What in the water supply can they eat – by the way – since there is chlorine, most pathogenic bugs cannot survive in that, and the plant material is gone- and so when we culture water we find some things- but not too many, and it is what is there and what will harm us. I prefer other ways to make my coffee – as you can see from my articles here. But, Keurig is just fine and having a sealed unit is fine.

  32. Brian4000 says:

    Great article. I have celiac disease and am thinking about purchasing a Keurig. I have had a lot of trouble tracking down information about coffee brands and gluten (usually articles are filled with speculation about cross contamination or just reproductions of middle of the road statements from the companies). I’ve heard that K-cups are gluten free, do you know if this is the case. It seems like a convenient way to get morning coffee.

  33. jewelsot says:

    I use tap water filtered through a brita pitcher, and haven’t had any file or lime scale (but know I’ll need to clean it eventually because we have hard water here)

  34. Dr. Terry Simpson says:

    Nothing would grow at the temperature that the coffee was brewed. Coffee in Keurig is brewed at 194 degrees, and any bug that is in contact with that for half a second is dead. So, it wasn’t that. But – there are far better ways to make a cup of coffee – and hopefully you found some delicious coffee that you could grind and enjoy.

  35. Dr. Terry Simpson says:

    Not a penny. Not a single cup of coffee. Not a single machine. Always good to have an ad hominem attack – meaning, you attack me or the motives but have nothing to say about the article. Or, to put a bright side on it– now you know a doctor who would write an article like this. And like all articles that I write- backed with science.

  36. Dr. Terry Simpson says:

    No Keurig has not sent me a thing- but I did buy my dad a new machine when he and mom moved to an assisted living facility. If you follow my coffee category on here you will see I love a good Aeropress or Chemex.

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