Keurig K-express vs K-mini | Best cheap coffee maker

By Barath
Last Updated:
keurig K-express vs K-mini

This is our review of the Keurig K-express vs K-mini, the battle of the cheapest coffee makers from Keurig.

If you want fancy features, look elsewhere. Read through to find the winner of the compact coffee maker. I researched both these models and spent a whole day comparing K-mini and K-express, two cheap coffee makers from keurig. Are they worth it?

In this article, we will focus on K-mini and K-express only, Keurig K-mini vs K-mini plus is a completely different cheap coffee maker battle.

Note that keurig also sells a Walmart/amazon only coffee maker called keurig express essentials. This is very similar to K-express but with minor differences in controls.

Whatever it is, Keurig K-express beats both K-mini and K-mini plus virtually on all parameters like usability, design, and controls except for the compactness factor. If you are in a hurry, K-express is the better choice even for travelers. It gives the best everyday home brewing experience and is compact enough for travelers.

The main difference between K-Express and K-Mini other than comparable prices are

  • K-express has a strength control button while K-mini does not
  • K-mini has a 12 Oz (Single serve) water reservoir and K-express has a 42 Oz
  • K-express has a superior thermal unit, and faster brewing capability, while K-mini lacks this
  • K-express weighs lesser than K-mini, but K-mini is compact in size and easy to pack for travellers

Read also: Best coffee beans on Amazon 2023

Is K-express Essentials the same as K-express?

K-express Essentials is only available on Amazon and Walmart and not in the official store. If you can grab yourself a cheap variant of keurig express, go for it. Otherwise, order the K-express from Amazon (or) the official Keurig store.

I think Walmart offers very good budget-friendly products and since these are from official Keurig partners, you can trust it.

However, the key differences between K-express essential and K-express are

  • Strength control – With the press of a button, you make a noticeably stronger coffee with K-express. But the essentials K-express does not have this control
  • Water tank – K-express comes with a 42Oz (in little) tank, while K-express essentials come with a 36Oz water tank
  • Compactness – K-express essential is wider than the K-express but overall looks compact because of the smaller water reservoir.

To know more about fine-grained differences, read Keurig K-express vs K-express essentials.

Quick Glance

Keurig K-Express

Water Reservoir – 42 Oz (1.254 L)

Size – 12.6” H x 5.1” W x 12.8” D

Controls – Strength

Brew Sizes – 8, 10, 12 Oz

Detachable reservoir + carbon filter

Pod detection restricts non-keurig

High Altitude setting

No cord storage space

Keurig K-Mini

Water Reservoir – 12 Oz (.354 L)

Size – 12.1” H x 4.5” W x 11.3” D

Controls – No controls

Brew Sizes6-12 Oz (Single Serve)

Fixed reservoir + No filter

No pod detection technology

No High Altitude setting

Cord storage space

Overall, the models are very similarly priced, therefore it comes down to the usability, design & additional controls.

K-express: Keurig’s cheapest, most basic brewer, the K-Express measures less than 5″ wide (just like the K-Mini and K-Slim) with 8-12 oz brew sizes, Strength Control, and a 7.4″ mug clearance. Compact Keurigs, it beats the K-Mini easily.

K-mini: The super-slim successor to the K10/K15, the Keurig K-Mini is just 4.5″ wide and brews 6-10 oz with its “fill before each use” reservoir. No-nonsense brewing, very suitable for frequent travelers, but lacks controls and usability for everyday home use.


When it comes to design, the keurig K-express has an overall wider look, while K-mini is very compact and longer. Surprisingly, K-express weighs lesser than K-mini with the water reservoir. This makes it super easy to pack the K-express.

Color options

K-express has only 1 color option, Black, and K-mini on the other hand has 6 eye-popping color options. If you are furnishing an Airbnb with a simple and cheap coffee maker, then K-mini should be your choice.

Note that K-express essentials has multiple colors like Red and Oasis green, however, these are not easy to find.

If you are not in it for the color and want a value-for-money coffee maker, then K-express will be my choice.

Check the various color options for K-mini.

Tank capacity

The primary purpose of the water reservoir is not to hold a lot of water, but rather to assist back-to-back brewing.

K-express can hold enough water for 4-6 coffees. The thermal unit also allows for this, by not taking a lot of time to cool down after brewing. In fact, you can brew your coffee in under a minute.

If you are in a hurry, fill up your travel mug up to 7.4” in height, using a 12 oz K-cup.

K-mini has a fixed tank, more like a water cabinet that has to be filled every time before brewing. Once all the water in the reservoir is completed, it stops the brewing process.

This can help you in 2 ways, you don’t have to worry about the water level, and it gives control of the strength of the coffee.

Second, you can brew any capsule using this machine. Since the reservoir is attached, there is no place to house the pod detection mechanism like K-express contains.

WINNER - K-express

Mug capacity

Both these Keurigs are built with the frequent traveler in mind. The size however affects the usability of the features.

K-express has a non-removable drip tray, but the height of the machine allows travel mug up to a 7.4-inch travel mug. This fits a 12 Oz (350 ml) coffee easily in all standard-height travel mugs.

The non-removal drip tray can be quite difficult at times to clean, I find it annoying to lift the entire machine and tilt it to remove any residual water over it.

K-mini however comes with a removal drip tray. This means you don’t have to worry about height in theory! Put your keurig on top of a box and fill any size travel mug (16 or 24Oz)

With the drip tray attached, you can reach a travel mug up to 7-inch. Given that you have to refill the machine multiple times to fill anything more than 12Oz, this is a very thoughtful design.

Unfortunately, both these keurigs are not designed to fit a carafe.

Looking for a compatible, cool travel mug for your K-express and K-mini: Consider the Yeti shot shambler

WINNER - K-express

Compatible K-cups

When it comes to the K-cup options, K-mini is better because of the lack of pod scanning technology (who knew!). You can use any pod on the market, but be careful to not use poor-quality pods that have a strong outer layer. This can break the needle on K-mini.

Even though K-express does not allow non-Keurig pods, the options are not limited. Both these models support K-cups of sizes up to 12Oz, this gives roughly 100 different options from the official Keurig pod catalog.

If you are considering K-mini only, it lacks pod storage. This is a small box where you can store a maximum of 10 k-cups.

On top of this, you can use the official reusable K-cup to brew your choice of ground coffee.

WINNER - K-mini

Control Panel

K-express K-mini control panel difference
K-express and K-mini control panel difference

Head to head on additional controls, put K-express in the lead. The strength control option is available in K-express which lets you brew a strong coffee by increasing the duration of the brew. [2]

K-express contains led indicators on the button itself, indicating the process of brewing/descaling and other controls. I find this easy to understand especially when you are not sure what mode the machine is still on.

Note that, I personally noted a strong coffee on some K-cups, while others tasted roughly the same. You cannot increase the “caffeine” content magically, rather reduce the amount of water needed to brew the coffee giving you more punch.

K-express being the cheapest model has only auto temperature control, which deals with how hot your water gets before it starts dripping from the nozzle. The coffee turned out to be hot consistently.

K-express: Out of 10 brews, 8 had a temperature between 165-170F, while the other two were warm.

The high-altitude setting is helpful for K-express if you want to brew above 1500 feet from sea level. Press and hold the POWER button and 10 oz button for 3 seconds till the 12 oz button starts to illuminate.

K-mini, on the other hand, has no strength or temperature control. It has a simple one button at the top, with a curved led to indicate the brewing cycle. Press this button to brew any K-cup of yours.

K-mini: Out of 10 brews, 7 of them had a temperature above 165F (drinkable hotness), while others were lukewarm.

In K-mini, the High Altitude setting isn’t a button you press. Instead, Keurig says you activate the setting by inserting the pod into the machine and puncturing it by pressing it down before sealing the pod compartment.

Both the machines come with an auto turn-off feature, for K-express it is 5 minutes after the last brew, and for K-mini it is 90 seconds after the last brew.

Hands down K-express comes with better core controls and a superior thermal unit.

WINNER - K-express

Brew Time and Machine Noise (Usability)

What I really like about K-express is that it brews coffee back to back. With the larger reservoir, and a better thermal unit, you can fill up 42 Oz of coffee with no time to cool the machine in between brews.

K-express is eerily silent when it runs, compared to the other models where you can hear the K-cup spinning. You seem to lose the sound even if you are in the same room. You are left wondering if the machine even runs.

K-Mini, on the other hand, is not built for back-to-back brewing. The heating element needs to cool down between every brew. It takes quite some time to start again, especially after a full 12 Oz brew.

It takes roughly 75 seconds to brew and another 1 minute to cool down between brews. Does not produce a lot of sound during the brewing process, but is louder than K-express. You can very well hear the machine running if you are in the same room!

The markings on the K-mini water are very light. You can’t really judge to perfection how much water you are pouring. If you pour 8 or 10oz of water, the machine runs and finishes the entire water before stopping the brew.

I think this is a no-nonsense simple approach for first-time users, but for everyday coffee, this can get annoying quickly.

Purely on the usability, K-express is again my choice.

WINNER - K-express

Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning any Keurig is simple. You run the hot water through and it should be done. You are advised to clean after brewing hot cocoa, tea, or other strong-flavored coffee. This is important because the brewing nozzle will have a residual amount of the previous brew still present.

To turn on the cleaning mode, fill the reservoir with water, and have no K-cup on the holder. Press the 8 Oz button (in the case of K-express) (or) the brew button (K-mini) to run hot water through.

K-express has a removable tank and a water filter support that makes it easy to clean. I clean the tank once every 2 weeks, and the removable tank on the side comes in handy. Cleaning the K-express needle is easy, as you can detach it in 2 simple motions. [3]

Press the 8 Oz and 10 Oz buttons to put your K-express in descaling mode, and add the descaling solution to finish the process. Periodic descaling improves the longevity of the machine. [4]

K-mini has a nonremovable tank. Use a damp cloth to wipe the small compartment at the back. The only disadvantage is you don’t get water filter support. This is important especially if you live in places that do not always have a clean source of water.

Descaling K-mini is not very straightforward. You are advised to add the descaling solution into the reservoir and brew it normally. To help with deep descaling, press the button once and before it starts blinking press it again and let it sit for 30 minutes.

This is not very helpful because the indicator blinks immediately at times and you are left clicking it multiple times and wasting the descaling solution.

WINNER - K-express

Additional features

There is nothing additional about these two coffee makers, it’s all wrapped as a single unit and honestly, you can’t expect much for the price.

If you have seen or heard about “Pod Storage”, a rectangular box that fits the front of the Keurig, K-mini does not come bundled with pod storage. Only K-mini Plus has this additional unit.

This is insignificant if you can throw a box of K-cup pods into your bag and go about your day.

However, K-mini has a retractable cord mechanism to store the connector at the back. Again, this was built with the frequent traveler in mind, and it is definitely very useful. This gives the overall compactness with no wires hanging around.

K-mini cord storage at the back of the machine. Retractable cord makes it easy to pack
K-mini cord storage at the back of the machine. Retractable cord makes it easy to pack

K-express has no pod or cord storage. You might find some dealers on Amazon offering bundles along with K-express, like reusable K-cup which is definitely a steal for the price.


Best Overall – What should you buy?

Based on the factors like Design, Usability, and Controls, K-express is definitely the superior model when it comes to budget coffee makers. Priced the same as K-mini but a better thermal unit, a larger reservoir, and light weight make it even better for travelers.

You get the benefit and comfort of a longer brew with additional strength control that is lacking in K-mini.

Go for K-mini only if you are a frequent traveler, and don’t want to spend money on official K-cups. I personally have a few non-Keurig capsules that make amazing coffee. K-mini’s no-nonsense brewing is handy when you want to taste a different coffee flavor now and then.

Barath is a coffee lover, who has been brewing his coffee at home for several years. He talks about coffee tasting, brewing guides and much more in home coffee wizard. Follow barath on X (twitter) @diputsC