So you’re in the market for an entry-level single-serve machine? Then you’ve likely come across the K50 and K55. Both offer a low-cost, no-frills way to get your cup of coffee, but how do the two models differ?
They’re very similar coffee makers, but after you read our comparison of the Keurig K50 vs. K55, you’ll see that there are some differences worth noting.
The Keurig brand is known for its easy-to-use single-serve brewers, and the K50 is one of the simplest machines on offer.
…there aren’t many coffee makers on the market that replicate the ease and simplicity of a Keurig…The Spruce Eats
This coffee maker has none of the bells and whistles that you would from the brand’s higher-end models. But that’s part of the appeal for someone who wants a quick and consistent brew.
The machine will make you a 6 oz, 8 oz, or 10 oz coffee, with the choice of a “strong brew” if you want an extra kick start to your morning. The K50 is fitted with a water reservoir that holds 48 ounces, which will get you through a few days of caffeine before refilling. After brewing, your K50 machine will automatically shut off after 30 minutes, making it more energy-efficient.
For some time, both the K50 and K55 were part of the line-up of Keurig coffee machines. However, the K50 has now been discontinued, and the K55 sold in its place. The upside to this is that you might be able to get a great deal on the K50 with those retailers who still offer it for sale.
The Keurig K55 was introduced as a subtle upgrade to the K50. Keurig quickly dropped the numbering system for this line, and you’ll probably most likely see this offered as simply the K-Classic. This, of course, paves the way for Keurig to make more small tweaks without changing the model name.
The two models share many of the same specs. The K55 offers the exact three cups sizes for brewing and is likewise fitted with a 48-ounce water tank. However, this water tank is compatible with Keurig’s activate charcoal water filters that will improve the quality of your brew.
The K55 has the benefits of some user-friendly features not offered on the previous model, including a low water alert and a reminder to descale the machine. This machine also has an auto-off feature for power saving, which is set to two hours after your last coffee-making session.
Keurig has since introduced an even cheaper K-Select model, but the K-Classic remains the best-selling single-serve machine on Amazon (1).
What is the Difference between Keurig K50 and K55
We’ll be the first to point out that these models are similar in many ways. But when it comes to buying appliances like coffee makers, you must know even the smallest difference in details before purchasing. Here’s how the Keurig K50 vs K55 compare.
Design and build
At first glance, you might have trouble telling the Keurig K50 and K55 apart. But look a little closer and you’ll see subtle differences in the finish. The K55 has the same shape, but the corners have been smooth out for a more modern look. And if you see a machine in a rhubarb red, that will be the K55 coffee maker – the K50 is only available in black.
Standing at 13 x 9.8 x 13.3 inches, it’s one of the larger Keurig models, but still easily tuckable under kitchen cabinets. If you’re really short on space, you might want to consider the Keurig K-Mini.
There’s no LCD screen here, but that’s to be expected from an entry-level coffee machine. Instead, you have simple button controls. There’s just a power button, auto-off button, and buttons for each size: small cup, small mug and large mug. A light will tell you when the machine is in heating up mode, and the Keurig K55 features alerts for when you need to add water or when it’s time to clean the coffee maker.
Coming in at 10.6 pounds, the K55 is slightly heavier than its 7.6-pound younger brother. This might sound strange when the two models are the same size, but it gives a hint as to where some of the updates have been made.
With the K55, Keurig seemed to have ironed out some of the issues with the K50. Some users of the older model complain of it being prone to breakdowns, while the K55 seems to have been given greater longevity.
Keurig coffee makers come with one of two brewing systems: Keurig 1.0 or 2.0. While the basic “pop in a pod” premise is still the same, the pods themselves aren’t interchangeable.
Both the K50 and K55 are Keurig 1.0 machines. As they’re compatible with both the Keurig brand and third-party compatible K-cups, you have access to hundreds of different flavors of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of K-cup (which is certainly something to consider), you have the option of brewing with the reusable My K-Cup.
1.0 machines can’t brew carafes of coffee, a feature of 2.0 machines like the K200 or K575. On the K50 and K55, you have the choice of 6 oz, 8oz, or 10 oz brew sizes. Selecting the cup size will simply add more water to the brew, so with the 10oz size, you’re getting a weaker coffee than the 6oz. If you want a bit more oomph in your cup, the K50 has a button for “strong brew”. This increases the extraction time to get every last bit of flavor out of the pod (2).
If you’re looking for a more versatile machine, you may want to consider the K-Cafe, which has a built milk frother, as well as five different coffee sizes.
Brew time for the two coffee makers is advertised in less than a minute, but only the newer K55 comes through with this. The K50 has a brewing time of around 1.5 minutes, which, to be fair, is not a lot longer but adds up over time.
It might not seem like an exciting feature, but this is perhaps one of the key differences between the K50 and K55. The original model relies on a mesh filter, which screens out any larger pieces of sediment that may have ended up in the water reservoir. The K-Classic also includes the mesh filter but is compatible with Keurig’s activated charcoal water filters. It should mention that the filter doesn’t come as part of the package and needs to be purchased separately.
A charcoal water filter will do a couple of things. First, and probably most importantly for the majority of us, is that it improves the taste. The filter will help remove chlorine and impurities such as sediment, which can alter both the flavor and aroma of your coffee (3).
The second benefit is that it will reduce the total hardness of the water. Hard water is heavy in minerals, including calcium, which winds up in your machine in the form of limescale (4). While you can remove this by regular descaling of your machine, it will impact the longevity of your coffee maker over time.
Cleaning and maintenance
The K50 was designed to be not only easy to use but easy to clean as well. The removable drip tray holds a decent 8 oz of spillage before it needs emptying, and you can slide it out via the front for easy cleaning. The water tank is also removable, which makes both filling and cleaning simple. The K-Cup holder and funnel are dishwasher safe, while the rest of the machine needs wiping down with a damp, soapy cloth from time to time.
The K55 has the same easy-to-clean design but also has an alert to let you know when the machine needs descaling. Of course, you can always set your reminder to descale your machine every 2-3 months. But this won’t consider that you might need more frequent cleaning for hard water or particularly heavy use.
The bottom line is that the Keurig K55 is in most aspects a better machine, which makes sense for a model upgrade. And with the K50 getting shelved by Keurig, you’re probably not going to be in a position where you have to choose between the two. That said, if you can find the older model at a discount, you’re getting almost the same features at a better price.
Use the Keurig K50 if:
- You can find it at a good price
- You want the option for stronger coffee
- You need a lighter machine
Use the Keurig K55 if:
- You want a better water filter
- You need a cleaning reminder
- You want a more reliable machine
The best Keurig model for you is the one that suits your needs and budget. We like the K-Elite for its wide range of features like strong brew, iced coffee, and hot water functions. It also includes a generous 75 oz water reservoir.
You can not use a Nespresso pod in a Keurig machine. Although these are both single-serve coffee makers, the brew systems are different. The pods are also different shapes and sizes, so you’ll find you won’t be able to fit them in the other machine.
You descale a Keurig K-Classic with Keurig Descaling Solution. First, empty the water reservoir, then tip in the entire bottle of descaling solution, followed by a clean water bottle. Run a brew cycle without a K-Cup until the “add water” light comes on. Leave the machine to sit, turned on, for 30 minutes. Discard any remaining solution and rinse the water reservoir well. Fill the tank with fresh water and run at least 12 brew cycles.
- Freedman, L. (2020, January 24). The best Keurig machines for quick and Easy coffee at home. Kitchn. Retrieved from https://www.thekitchn.com/best-k-cup-coffee-maker-22987588
- How to hack your Keurig machine and get the much better cup of coffee you deserve. (2017, March 1). National Post Retrieved from https://nationalpost.com/life/food/how-to-hack-your-keurig-machine-and-get-the-much-better-cup-of-coffee-you-deserve
- Use water filters to PURIFY & soften your water for Better Espresso! Crema Coffee Garage. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://cremacoffeegarage.com.au/blog/importance-using-filtered-water-coffee-machine
- How to PREVENT Limescale in coffee machines. Beanmachines Coffee Co. (2019, December 19). Retrieved from https://beanmachines.co.uk/how-to-prevent-limescale-in-coffee-machines/
Coffee expert and industry insider, I’ve dedicated years to mastering the art and science of coffee making. From scrutinizing particle fineness to evaluating burr shapes, I delve into the minutiae that elevate coffee from good to exceptional. Whether it’s a complex pour-over or a robust espresso, my insights cater to those who don’t just drink coffee, but experience it.