In 2018 & 2019 Keurig introduced a number of new styles to their line of coffee brewers. The new Mini and Mini Plus came out as well as the new K-Cafe machines which directly compete with Nespresso if you ask me.
The K-Duo machines however are the most appealing to me because I always teeter back and forth brewing single cups of k-cup coffee and making full pots of coffee depending on the circumstances of the day.
To completely summarize the K-Duo, K-Duo Essentials, and the K-Duo Plus I can say that these three machines are the best dual brew coffee makers made to date in my opinion and certainly the best ever made by Keurig.
A while back Keurig released the K-475, a 2.0 era machine that would brew different size cups of coffee with K-cups, as well as small carafe sizes using the K-Carafe, a small carafe made specially for certain Keurig 2.0 systems.
None of the 2.0 machines ever got to be very popular and since then the K-Carafe and the K-475 have been replaced by the three versions of the new K-Duo which I want to review and compare in this article.
These new machines are fundamentally different from the older carafe-machines and they more closely resemble other dual brew coffee makers like the super affordable Hamilton Beach Flexbrew machines or the fancier Cuisinart machines like the best selling SS-15.
I own each one of the three K-Duo machines for the very purpose of this website so I hope you’ll find what I have to say useful.
The Similarities Between Each K-Duo Machine (Including the Plus & the Essentials Models
The K-Duo machines actually let you brew regular K-cup singles just as you would expect and have grown to love over the years, but they also let you brew full carafes with your own ground coffee just the way a traditional drip coffee maker does inside a standard flat-bottomed filter basket.
No longer do you need special K-Carafe pods or small Keurig branded carafes.
“Game Changer” is probably to strong of a term to use to describe the K-Duo series of brewers but the ability to brew regular drip coffee is certainly a huge selling point for me. I’m sure it will be a big draw for countless others as well.
Basically no matter which K-Duo you buy you will be able to brew K-cup pods or ground coffee with no additional items needed.
With the release of three different K-Duo machines however you would be hard-pressed to not ask what the difference is between them.
I can answer that for you succinctly.
The Differences Between The K-Duo & K-Duo Essentials
Contrary to the norm these days on the internet I can review each of these units from actual personal experience. I bought all three and own all three. I have even brewed hundreds of k-cups in the machines collectively so I know a few things that aren’t apparent from the various sales pages found online.
For one I can say that the stated water reservoir is not 60oz as advertised!
On the K-Duo Essentials machine (available only for sale at Walmart and Walmart.com) I was able to pour 73-ounces of water into the reservoir before hitting the max-line.
Then after brewing the first cup of coffee a full 11-ounces is pulled into an internal water holding tank/reservoir for heating. Like older model Keurig removable reservoir brewers this secondary chamber can’t easily be drained either.
Basically, both of the K-Duo and K-Duo Essentials machines can hold 11-ounces internally plus an additional 73-ounces in the removable water tank.
The only caveat is that you can’t use all 84-ounces of water without refilling the reservoir well before it’s empty.
When the water gets down to (just above) the “Minimum” line there is still approximately 25-ounces of water left in the removable reservoir in addition to the extra 10-11oz of water still inside the machine in the internal heating tank and tubing.
Once the machine gets to the “Minimum” line it won’t cycle a new cup of coffee of any size effectively resulting in a real reservoir size of only 48-ounces because the machine isn’t ever actually emptied all the way.
Both the K-Duo and K-Duo Essentials have a reservoir that needs to be filled after only 48-ounces of water has been used. Weird I know, but this is how many Keurig machines have operated for years and it’s why the advertised reservoir sizes on Keurig coffee makers are always suspect IMO.
What About the K-Duo Plus?
The K-Duo plus has a very different style removable water reservoir. It can be located in one of three different locations around the main brewing body of the machine.
The reservoir also more closely resembles a water pitcher which can be picked up and filled easily at the faucet and then replaced at the machine.
In my opinion the K-Duo Plus’ water reservoir is the easiest removable water reservoir to fiddle with, remove, replace, and refill that I have ever used.
As far as size though, the same internal tank exists in the Duo-Plus for quick water heating of single cups of coffee and the refillable external water tank holds 68-ounces up to the Max-fill line and will blink the “Add Water” light when the tank gets down to approximately 14-ounces, just under the “Min” line.
Basically this machine’s water tank must be refilled after every 54-ounces of water have been brewed give-or-take.
Other Main Differences Are As Follows:
- The K-Duo Essentials is significantly cheaper than the regular K-Duo but the Essentials model is only for sale at Walmart and Walmart.com.
- Both the K-Duo and the K-Duo Plus allow you to program a brew cycle on a timer up to 24 hours in advance just like a regular programmable drip coffee maker does. The Essentials model however doesn’t include this feature.
- The K-Duo and Duo Plus machines offer 6, 8, 10, and 12-cup sizes on the carafe side and 6, 8, 10, and 12oz sizes on the K-cup side. The Essentials machine however doesn’t offer the 6-ounce K-cup size or the 6-cup carafe size.
- Each machine also accommodates different heights of mugs. The cheaper K-Duo Essentials allows for a maximum mug height of 6.2 inches with the drip tray inserted. The regular K-Duo model allows 6.5 inches of clearance under the spout with the drip tray inserted. Lastly the K-Duo Plus offers 7.25 inches of space for cups and travel mugs with the drip tray inserted.
- Both the K-Duo and K-Duo Plus offer a “Strong Brew” option whereas the K-Duo Essentials does not.
- Only the K-Duo Plus offers the unique multi-position water reservoir that can be set up to the machines left, right, or back side.
- The K-Duo Plus is also the only one designed as a slim machine where the carafe and single-serve functions pour from the same spout. In short the K-Duo and the Duo Essentials are side-by-side dual brew coffee makers while the Duo Plus is not.
- The K-Duo and Essentials models come with a glass carafe and a hot plate like a traditional drip coffee maker. The Duo Plus does not use a hot plate but rather comes with a stainless steel thermal carafe.
Basically if you want to pay less and don’t care about the strong brew option or the lack of a small-cup or small-carafe size then the K-Duo Essentials is easily your best option.
If you need (want) the Strong Brew button and/or want to make either 6-ounce cups of coffee or 6-cup carafes of coffee but don’t care about the glass carafe, the flexible water reservoir placement, or the slim design of the K-Duo Plus then the plain-Jane K-Duo will do just fine.
If you are like me however I only brew with the Strong Brew button. I absolutely love the water reservoir on the K-Duo Plus, and I really appreciate the smaller footprint of the Plus model on our kitchen counter so it is of course the model I would use daily if I weren’t always testing new products for the sake of this website.
For me I feel that the extra price I paid for the K-Duo Plus was well worth it!
Yes the cost was higher but it wasn’t obscene and I LOVE the fact that the Duo Plus has a handle on the side of the water reservoir and that I can place that reservoir on the side of the machine that is most convenient for my counter.
I also can easily operate this entire machine with it located under my cabinets.
Another almost forgettable feature of the K-Duo Plus is the stainless steel carafe. I hate hot plates, they burn coffee way too easily, and the thermal carafe means I don’t need a hot plate when brewing a full pot of coffee.
If you are wanting a good side-by-side machine then the Duo Plus won’t be best but I imagine most people want their coffee machines to take up less space and perform better and this one delivers.
If you are still considering the basic K-Duo Essentials then you can only get that at Walmart or Walmart.com. Here’s a link to current Walmart pricing for the K-Duo Essentials.
If you buy from Walmart’s website they will ship it to you or allow you to pick it up in the store the same day most of the time, so that’s a plus.