Why do Keurig K-Cups taste bad – And How To Fix It

Since coming on the market, Keurig machines have made the process of drinking coffee much easier than ever before. Unfortunately, that ease has come, for some, at the cost of the coffee’s taste.

Below, we’re going to go over why your Keurig coffee tastes bad and some simple steps you can do to improve the taste right away.

Why Does Keurig Coffee Taste Bad?

When it comes to Keurig K-Cups tasting bad, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that there’s nothing inherently wrong with your Keurig machine and virtually any issue you’re having can be fixed pretty easily.

The bad news is that pretty much every issue you’re having is realistically your fault. (Sorry! Don’t shoot the messenger!)

But why am I able to say that?

Well, besides being an avid coffee drinker (and don’t care where I get it) I’ve been in exactly the same shoes as you when it comes to my Keurig machine. I’d start with great-tasting coffee for a few months and then things would just go south for some reason. It would taste bitter or burnt or stale and I wouldn’t understand why.

Well, after doing some research and performing some experiments, I actually found that I had made some small, yet essential mistakes when it came to my Keurig. Things that, I noticed were the same mistakes a few of my fellow coffee drinker friends had dealt with THEIR Keurig machines.

I’ll go into all of the reasons (and how to fix them) in detail below, however, if you’re looking for an immediate answer as to why your k-cup coffee tastes terrible, it’s this.

Through our research we’ve found that the top 5 reasons that k-cups taste bad are as follows:

  1. Qualirty: Use Higher Quality K-cup coffee from recognized brands
  2. Water: use a water filter and replace your water filter every other month
  3. Filter: You may need to change the water filter.
  4. Descale: descale and clean your Keurig every 3 months
  5. Rise: rinse any leftover descaling solution after descaling
  6. Sinlge Use: Only brew a single cup of coffee per K-cup

Simply put, if you follow those five steps, your coffee issues should be either outright solved or at least dramatically reduced.

For those that want to understand how these factors play into your coffee’s taste, and gain a few more important tips, keep reading.

Reason #1. Your Coffee May Just Not Be Good

This is the simplest step and, for many, should be the first thing you look into. What many people don’t realize is that there are a lot of lesser-known companies that will opt for selling lower-quality pods to undercut the market.

It’s not just a difference of Frosted Flakes vs. store brand Frosted Flakes, where the only difference is the branding. Often, these companies may use Robusta beans over Arabica. Robusta is a much cheaper option for coffee production but will often result in a more bitter coffee.

What’s the Solution?

Now, you don’t even need to break the bank on premium coffee to see the difference. If you’re usually buying the cheaper stuff, just switch over to Starbucks, Newman’s Own, or Green Mountain. These are all delicious coffee brands that are also very affordable.

Bad coffee may be an easy fix, but it’s not a long-standing solution. You can have the best-tasting coffee in the world, but if you’re messing up in some other key areas, it can still taste unreasonably bitter and burnt. That’s where the next reasons come in.

Reason #2. You’re Using Tap Water

Just as easy as replacing your coffee is replacing the quality of your water. You’d be surprised to know just how much stuff is tap water; much of it, not only being bad for your health but causing a pretty big impact on the taste.

What kind of things?

Well, these range from Chlorine, Fluoride, Heavy Metals, Lead & Copper particles, nitrates, pesticides, and even runoff!

The ones listed are honestly only a handful listed because this isn’t a health article and I don’t want to scare you too bad. The ultimate point I’m getting at is that your tap water has got a lot more in it than just H20. These additions flatten the taste of your coffee, often making it drinkable only after throwing in a ton of milk and sugar.

What’s the Solution?

When it comes to fixing the issue, there are really two things you can do.

The first is to use bottled water. Most bottled and packaged water goes through a filtration process or is bottled at clean water sources. You’ll ideally want to find any bottled water that references “reverse osmosis” or “distilled” as those methods completely remove any additions that might be tacked onto your water. It’s a super simple method and you can just make a point to grab a gallon every time you hit the grocery store.

The second method is to invest in a home filter system or a quality water filter for your sink faucet. If you’re like me, getting a home filter is ideal, however, if you’re not trying to go crazy just for a cup of coffee, considering a water filter for your sink works just as good and is only a fraction of the price.

Reason #3. Your Coffee’s Water Filter May Need to be Changed

We just finished talking about using filtered water, but did you know that your Keurig machine actually has a water filter in it? Now, don’t think that this negates reason #2. The filter on your machine is not going to be properly equipped of getting all the crud out of your water, so don’t expect it to.

Still, virtually all water will have some amounts of calcium that will stay even after being steamed. This remaining calcium can eventually lead to large deposits that end up in your coffee. These, while not obvious enough to be noticeable by you inherently, are big enough of an issue to affect the taste of the coffee.

What’s the Solution?

It’s not too big of n issue to fix this. All you’ll need to do is to follow your machine’s filter schedule. If this is the reason your coffee is having a poor taste, the problem should almost immediately be fixed by your next cup. Generally, this shouldn’t need to be fixed more than once a month but always defer to your own machine’s schedule.

Reason #4. The Machine May Need to be Cleaned

This was actually my problem and I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it. I’d always been a fan of Starbucks coffee and I’m big into clean water. However, I, never took much stock in actually cleaning out my Keurig machine, which is weird because I always cleaned my old coffee pots. I guess I just figured it automatically cleaned itself.

When I finally broke down and checked out the different parts, one thing I noticed was a ton of coffee bean oils in the holder. This was the reason why my coffee always had a burnt taste to it. The residue from each previous cup was slowly adding up until each cup of coffee tasted like I hadn’t added enough water.

What’s the Solution?

The good news is that, while the issue can take a while before it shows, so long as you’re cleaning it regularly there should be a problem. All you need to do is take each piece of your Keurig machine apart and wash it thoroughly with soap and water.

It’s one of those things that takes about 5 or 10 minutes if you do it once every week or so. I clean mine every Sunday and that keeps my coffee from getting that burnt taste. You can clean it as much as you want, but two weeks really should be the latest. Any longer than that and you’re likely going to know it.

Reason #5. Your Machine May Still Have Some Residuals from Descaling

If you’ve washed out your Keurig and cleaned out the water filter, you may think that’s enough to avoid any bad tastes; and you’d be right from a certain perspective.

Unfortunately, there can be some slight residuals that stick around that you’ll need to clear out, otherwise you’ll notice a slight vinegar taste to your coffee.

What’s the Solution?

To fix the problem, all you’re going to want to do is run the Keurig with some water to essentially “boil out” anything that’s still there. Here’s a brief rundown on what you’re going to do:

  1. Make sure there’s no pod in the machine. Remember that you’re not actually making coffee right now.
  2. Fill the reservoir up with water until it’s full. Whatever the maximum amount is, you’re going to fill it to that level. Remember to use filtered water if at all possible.
  3. Run your Keurig until all the water is finished. Each time you fill a cup, just dump the water and redo the process.

This should ideally remove the taste. If it’s really bad, you may have to do this entire process one or two more times.

If you’ve done it several times and there’s still a hint of vinegar in your coffee, consider adding half a teaspoon of baking soda to your water. This should fix the problem. Depending on the situation, you may have to do this process a few more times as well.

Reason #6. You’re Using a K-Cup More than Once

Lastly, a simple issue that you may not be aware of is the number of times you’re using a k-cup. This kind of goes back to the quality coffee, but more on the user’s side than the product’s.

Each k-cup is meant for only a single cup of coffee. The problem is that we often think that because can leave one in and the remaining contents “look” like coffee, that it’s going to be of the same quality.

As you’d expect, every time you pour burning hot water through those grounds, you’re scalding them again and again. Worse, since much is washed through the first and second time, each cup you use is going to taste worse and worse.

What’s the Solution?

It’s a fairly simple solution. You’re just going to replace the k-cup with another one. In fact, you’re going to want to replace it each and every time you make a cup of coffee.

And this is where the problem comes in.

It’s one thing if it’s just you. You really only need a coffee or two per day. The problem comes if you’ve got a spouse or roommates or guests, and you’re going to need to have a few cups every breakfast. That’s when this process can get a bit pricey.

If you’ve got a lot of guests or people you’re serving coffee to, and spending a lot on coffee, consider asking one of them to help go in on the costs. Generally, even if you’ve got a big group, two or three boxes for the month shouldn’t set you back even if you’re getting the good stuff, provided you ask to split the price up or have someone help out a bit.


If you’ve got bad-tasting coffee with your Keurig, it doesn’t mean you need a new machine or you just have to deal with what you’ve got. There are fixes, and most of those fixes are really simple and really easy. By following some simple maintenance, improving the quality of your coffee and your water, and only applying one k-cup per cup, you can almost completely transform your coffee quality overnight.

Follow these tips, and I promise you will be MUCH happier because of them.

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