Ahh, it's good to be able finally to write a review of the Keurig Rivo R500. It's taken a little while for us to get our hands on this particular machine and there's been a lot of excitement building around here.
Let's start with what we really like before delving into the detailed pros and cons. The one cup coffee world is constantly changing, and one of our greatest fears is that we will buy a great new coffee brewer but realize too late that this particular company was struggling to survive. In a few months, will I still be able to find coffee pods for this great machine?
Well, one of the great things about the Keurig Rivo R500 is that it has two real powerhouses behind it: Keurig, one of the greatest marketers of our time, and Lavazza, a company with an excellent reputation for espresso machines. The Rivo is a joint effort by these two companies who have the resources and savvy to ensure that this product will be around for a while.
The Keurig Rivo R500 has two major "halves." The first half is reminiscent of most of the Keurig brewers. There's a 60 ounce water tank, which is more than sufficient for the small amount of water used for espresso. There's a slot to insert the Rivo pack, and a nice metal closing mechanism to puncture the pack and get it ready for brewing. You then have the option of brewing a short (1.4 oz.) or long (2.8 oz.) pull of espresso (just push the button of the one you want). In less than 60 seconds, you'll have your cup of espresso.
The other half of the machine is designated for frothing milk. You have your choice of three separate frothing options. There is a Cappuccino mode that will steam the milk and maximize the froth, a Latte mode that steams the milk and minimizes the froth, and a Cold Froth mode, that will froth the milk without heating the milk. In our tests, the first two modes heated the milk to about 150 degrees, which seemed to be quite good. Again, the frothing part of the system is very straightforward. You add milk up to the max fill line in the included pitcher, put the pitcher in place (the Rivo will beep at you when it's ready to froth), and press the button for the frothing mode you want. Then, just combine the frothed milk with your espresso and enjoy. The machine is well designed and brewing an espresso drink is easy to pick up on.
We've been really impressed with Keurig recently. If you've read some of our other reviews of Keurig machines (at least prior to Summer 2012), you've probably picked up on the fact that while we always like Keurig, we've rarely been blown away. This view of the company, however, has been changing. We think that when Keurig's patents expired in late 2012, they really had to pick up their game and the Keurig Rivo R500 is a great example of that.
First, let's start with who this machine is not for. You will not want this machine if your goal is to control every step of the espresso making process. This machine is automatic at nearly every stage, so if you're training to be a barista, this may not be the best machine.
However, if you're looking for a fully automated, push-a-button-and-your-done type of machine, it's hard to imagine a much better fit. Here are the key things that make this machine so good. First, and most importantly, this machine uses real milk (rather than powdered milk). We think this will be a huge deal for most folks. While the Nescafe Dolce Gusto and the Starbucks Verismo are solid machines, our chief hangup has always been the chemical, off-flavor of the powdered milk. The Rivo gets it right with using actual milk.
The second significant plus for the Keurig Rivo R500 is the Lavazza espresso. Lavazza's been around since 1895 and is one of the best players out there when it comes to making high quality espresso. The four Rivo coffee packs available are what we expect from Lavazza, excellent. Each pack contains 7.5 grams of coffee. Here are the four Rivo packs currently available along with the descriptions given by Keurig:
The final positive is what we mentioned above. In the ever-changing world of one cup coffee, it's assuring to have major players like Green Mountain and Lavazza behind this product.
As far as negatives go on the Keurig Rivo, there's not too much on this front. One thing we ran into was that the machine does automatically shut off after 2 minutes. This is great for saving power, but can occasionally be a slight annoyance if we got distracted while making a cup of espresso. The other potential negative is that I wouldn't classify any of the espressos we made as in-your-face strong. Nearly all of our tasters felt the strength of the espresso was right where it should be, but we have one taster whose idea of good espresso is what most of us would feel of licking the bottom of an ash tray (not pleasant:)). However, if you are one of those folks who want ultra-dark espresso, there's not currently a coffee option for you with this espresso brewer.
From the brief tests we've done with the Keurig Rivo R500 and from the reviews we've read elsewhere, this is a well made machine. It's not commercial grade, but it will be perfectly adequate for consumer use. In addition, you have the excellent customer service of Keurig behind this product, and you can be certain that they'll take care of any problems that come up.
We really like this machine. It is simple, easy to understand, well made, and produces excellent espresso. We think for the vast majority of folks looking for a single serve espresso machine, this is an excellent fit. From reviews elsewhere, other folks seem to agree. When the Keurig Rivo 500 first came out, we were seeing prices north of $400; however, the price has come down pretty significantly.