This customization and ease of use come largely via the touch screen. The touch sensitivity is just right, making for a no-stress experience as you key in exactly what kind of drink you're thirsty for. There's something inherently reassuring about a machine that provides basic, step-by-step instructions in real time, even for those of us who might consider ourselves tech-savvy. Try programming a screen-free coffee maker to brew your half-size cup extra hot and extra bold at 5:30 in the morning, then see how tech-savvy you feel. A little guidance is a near necessity for anyone craving something more than the default cup of coffee, and Keurig understands this. The V700's touch screen does the job, and does it admirably.
General usage of the V700 is simple as well. When needed, there's a cleverly designed platform you can lift up out of the drip tray to give smallish mugs a boost. You can also pull the drip tray away completely in mere seconds for easy cleanup, or to clear room for taller travel mugs. As for the reservoir, it takes up roughly the left quarter of the machine, making it about the size of a small pitcher and easy enough to fill. It lifts straight out and settles back down into place without much difficulty, or you can simply open the lid and pour the water straight in. One gripe -- the 74-ounce reservoir capacity is generous, but the water sensor at the bottom of the pitcher is much too tall, meaning that your V700 will start telling you to refill the reservoir as soon as it's only about half empty, which can get annoying.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
The V700 brews a cup of coffee on the slower side of the single-serve brewers we tested. It still falls under the ever-important sub-60-second mark, a reasonable benchmark for a coffee maker sold based on its speed and convenience. I wouldn't let an extra 10 seconds per cup impede a purchase.
As stated before, the V700's greatest asset is the Vue pack, which consistently beat out its K-Cup counterparts across multiple brands of coffee in our taste tests. That said, you'll need to temper your expectations somewhat because, like any quick-brewed beverage, Vue pack coffee is a tad on the watery side. It still maintains respectable flavor, especially if you take advantage of the machine's Strong mode, which slows the brewing process down to help give your coffee more kick. You can also tell the V700 to use a little less water, which will make your drink smaller but more potent.
Another attractive feature is the V700's setting for making iced beverages. With one touch, you can tell the machine that you'd like a cold drink. The V700 will brew coffee or tea into your cup of ice, automatically adjusting the brew speed and amount of water used. The result is a very satisfying iced beverage -- not too strong, not too watery.
One feature we would have liked to have seen included with the unit is a reusable Vue pack like the one included with the Cuisinart SS-700 K-Cup brewer. A reusable cup would address a primary weakness of the V700, the fact that it doesn't have as many brand and variety options as the K-Cup brewers. Of course including such a cup would also deprive Keurig of Vue pack revenues. Fortunately for Vue users, there's at least one Vue-compatible model available, the roughly $20 Solofill Cup V1 Gold from a company called Coffee Outlaw. While Keurig is also gradually continuing to expand its already numerous Vue pack offerings, popular brands like Millstone, Eight O'Clock, and Dunkin' Donuts are still only available in K-Cup form.
Keurig recommends replacing the cartridge in the V700's water filter every two months, and offers a six-pack of refills for $24.95 on its Web site. The company also provides step-by-step instructions for descaling the V700 with vinegar in the event of mineral buildup in the machine's inner workings. The brew head detaches from the unit with the click of a button for easy cleaning, then snaps right back into place.
Service and support
Keurig warrants that the V700 will be free of defects in materials or workmanship under normal home use for one year from the date of purchase. You can return defective machines within this period for a free replacement unit, which will come with its own one-year warranty. Troubleshooting help is available toll-free 7 days a week at 866-901-BREW (866-901-2739). The Keurig Web site also features a series of how-to and troubleshooting videos, though the current offerings all showcase earlier K-Cup models.
The V700 has its flaws, but on balance, it consistently brews perfectly good coffee to your specific tastes, and does it with ease. For its touch screen and ease of use alone, it merits strong consideration, especially from the eco-conscious consumers Keurig seems to be targeting with its recyclable Vue packs.
The Bunn MyCafe MCU is our favorite sub-$200 brewer for its low price, as well as its combination of K-Cup compatibility with the ability to brew the best overall cup of coffee from fresh grounds. But given that Vue Cup coffee is clearly superior to the K-Cup alternatives, we recommend the Keurig V700 in this price range to those committed to pod-based brewing. At least until 2021.