Many people enjoy a cup of latte in the morning or a refreshing cup of hot chocolate as they wind down. Waiting five minutes for the milk to boil can seem like an eternity, and those who feel impatient might want to put milk in their Keurig water tank to make the latte or hot chocolate in one step. This is something you never want to do because the results would be disastrous. In this article, we will look at why you should never do this, what happens if you do, and what you should do instead.
How Does a Keurig Work?
Before you make a latte or hot chocolate with the machine, do you know how to use a Keurig? Keurig is the premier manufacturer of single-serve coffee makers and coffee pods. Their machines come in different models, namely the older model 1.0 and the more modern model 2.0. Both of these models have the same parts and work the same.
They have the main coffee-making machine and water tank that are used together with a single-serve coffee pod. These pods contain a pre-measured amount of coffee that is enough for a single cup of coffee or other coffee variations.
To use the machine, you need to add water to the water tank and place a pod into the K-cup holder. This holder is built specifically for K-cup coffee pods, but some alternatives also fit the system such as the EZ cup. Once you do this, you close the cup holder, and the pod is punctured by a sharp needle to allow extraction. Depending on the machine you are using, you will see a message that alerts you that the machine is ready to brew a delicious cup of coffee.
Once you press the appropriate brewing button according to your machine, the water will be heated and pumped through the needle and into the pod. You only have to wait for about a minute for the coffee to start being extracted into the cup you have placed at the appropriate position in the machine.
Adding Milk to Keurig
The combination of the machine and the pods makes it easy and convenient to brew coffee fast. Once you know how to use Keurig to make coffee using water, you might think about replacing the water in the tank with milk. Your thinking is that you will make a latte quickly without having to follow additional steps. You would not be the only one thinking this.
So, why should you never do this? Because the milk will clog the piping and the machine’s interior. Additionally, the machine has a rapid heating state that is meant to heat the water quickly. Adding milk which is then heated so rapidly can spoil the milk but, even more disastrously, it will destroy the Keurig machine.
So, What Happens When You Put Milk in the Water Tank?
If you do this, one of three things will happen. The first is spoilage. This machine has a large enough water tank so it can hold enough water for a cup of coffee for some time, usually a maximum of 12 hours to avoid bacteria growth. Leaving water in for 5 to 6 hours is typical since nothing will happen to it, but the same cannot be said for milk.
At room temperature, milk cannot last for more than a few hours, and certainly not for the 5 to 6 hours that you would leave it in the machine. Additionally, the Keurig water tank heats up so it will not take long for the milk to curdle and spoil.
Once this happens, you will have a very hard time cleaning everything. Also, the sour milk taste will be difficult to get rid of for some time.
The second thing that will happen is burning. As we discussed, the heating element inside the machine gets very hot. It does the same for milk but, because milk contains fats, proteins, and other constituents, it will burn long before it ever boils. Burnt milk tastes bitter or sour and you will realize it in your latte.
One thing a lot of people notice almost immediately is a strong, sharp odor of burning milk immediately after they start the brewing process. This smell can persist in the kitchen or even the whole home for a few days.
The third issue you are likely to encounter is scorched metal. Once the milk burns, it forms curd and sticks to the metal heating elements. Once this happens, the metal gets scorched and there will be inefficient heat transfer due to the buildup of material on the element.
Also, this hardened crust might be difficult to remove since you do not have direct access to the machine’s internals. Some people try using spoons and scrapers to get it off with little success, and many of them end up damaging internal components. All this hassle and potential damage dictate that if you own a Keurig how to use it properly should be something you learn.
Can You Clean a Keurig After Using Milk?
The answer is, it is possible to clean it. However, it will be a lot of hassle and you have to be careful. The first thing you have to do is turn the machine off as soon as possible and let it sit for a few minutes to let everything cool down. You can use this time to fetch the manual that you will need to know how to dismantle the machine.
Next, get a screwdriver and a sponge scrubber. The screwdriver will be for taking the machine apart, while the scrubber will be for cleaning the components. Scrape off the residue on the bottom, being careful and going slowly to avoid damaging anything.
Boil some water and add some vinegar to it. Adding baking soda to this solution has also been shown to produce better results. Add this solution to the water tank of the Keurig machine and let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes. The solution can help loosen any residue that is left inside the machine. Once the solution is cooled enough, you can try using the scrubber to remove all the residue that is left.
Next, we have to clean the waterline. These machines do not have any drain plugs, but they do have internal hoses. You can remove these hoses to let any liquid in the pies flow out. Doing this also helps remove any milk residue that is still inside the machine. Once the waterline seems clear, it is time to run several milk cycles.
For this, you will need to create a solution of water vinegar and baking powder and add it to the water tank. Do not put a k-cup in the holder and then start a cycle. Running the cycle once will not be enough, and you will need to do this until your solution is clear and the sour odor of milk is gone. Run this cycle one more time and then it will be time to rinse the machine.
You can use filtered water to cleanse the machine, rinse it out and remove any vinegar that might be left. If you still have any issues after following these steps, talk to a Keurig technician for the next steps.
What If You Need to Use Milk with the Coffee Maker?
Now that we have learned how to use a Keurig and why it is a bad idea to add milk to the water tank, what can you do if you want to make a drink that contains hot milk? The first option is using a milk pod. They work the same way k-cups do. Second, you could trade your machine for a k-cafe coffee machine.
The K-cafe machine can heat and froth milk since it has a built-in milk frother and heater. This machine is also great for making lattes and cappuccinos. If you want to look beyond the Keurig family of machines, some alternatives have separate water and milk tanks to help you make milk-based drinks without heating the milk separately.
Since you cannot add milk to a Keurig water tank and do not want to buy a separate machine, what options do you have? The best option is adding milk separately to a cup before adding the coffee. To do this you need to set the machine to make the smallest cup of coffee possible. Doing this will leave you with a somewhat concentrated and very strong cup of coffee. You can then add this coffee to the milk you already have in a cup.
This method also works for espresso for those who know how to froth milk. If you do, you can make great espressos and lattes at home using a Keurig.
A Keurig is an amazing machine if you want to make great cups of coffee. This applies as long as you use the machine the right way, which means adding milk to it is not an option. Doing so can make the milk unpalatable at best and completely wreck your machine at worst.