The boiling point of water reduces with the increase in altitude. For example, the boiling point of water is about 95°C (203°F) at 5000 feet as compared to 100°C (212°F) at sea level. [Source]
A Keurig is designed to heat water to a temperature of 89°C (192° F) which is the optimum temperature for brewing.
When using a Keurig at altitudes of 5000 meters and above, your Keurig will heat water to a temperature that is above its optimum brewing temperature. This interferes with the extraction and the quality of your coffee.
To counter this problem and to enable you to still brew your favorite cup of Keurig coffee at high altitudes, Keurig has innovated a high altitude setting on some of its coffee makers.
So what does the high altitude setting in Keurig do?
The high altitude setting in Keurig lowers the brewing temperature of a Keurig coffee maker to about 187°F by taking into account the high altitude effect on water’s boiling point. This enables your brewer to function optimally even at high altitudes.
Which Keurig Brewers Have a High Altitude Setting?
Some Keurig brewers such as the K-Elite and Keurig 2.0 Plus series have a specific high altitude setting feature. Some other Keurigs such as the K-Cafe, Special Edition, Supreme, Ultimate, Platinum, and K-Select have no specific high altitude setting but they have a setting to manually lower the brewing temperature.
How to Use a K-Cup Pod at a High Altitude
When using a K-Cup pod at a high altitude, keep in mind that the pod will appear to be inflated due to pressure differential. The pressure inside the pod is higher than the atmospheric pressure and results in the pod bulging outwards.
Keurig advises pre-puncturing the pod when brewing at a high altitude to prevent the pod from blowing up when Keurig pumps hot water into the pod during brewing.
Pre-puncture your K-Cup pod to release excess pressure by lifting the Keurig handle and gently pushing the K-Cup down so that the exit needle punctures a hole through the bottom of the pod. Lower the handle and brew your coffee.
How to Activate High Altitude Brewing Mode in Keurig
There are two ways to activate Keurig’s high altitude setting depending on the model of your brewer:
- For Keurigs without a specific altitude setting or button:
- Switch the brewer off while the cord is still plugged in
- Press and hold down the “strong” and the “8 oz.” buttons simultaneously until they flash 3 times to signal that high altitude brewing has been activated.
- If your Keurig has a specific high altitude setting, press the programming feature and scroll through the options until the high altitude prompt shows on the screen. Then press the programs button to activate the setting.
How To Deactivate High Altitude Brewing
Option 1– This is for a brewer that has no specific high altitude option
- Switch the brewer off while the cord is plugged in
- Press and hold down the “strong” and the “8 oz.” buttons simultaneously until the two buttons have no light
For brewers that have a dedicated setting for high altitude such as Keurig 2.0 Plus, press the programming button and scroll through until the high altitude option shows up on the screen. Press the up or down arrow to turn it off.
See our review of the Keurig K-Duo Plus here
See this method in action in the video below.
Other Ways to Use the High Altitude Setting in Keurig
- To reduce bitterness. If your coffee is too bitter, you may want to use the high-altitude setting in Keurig to reduce the temperature of your brew. This will reduce the extraction of the bitter taste
- When drawing just hot water from Keurig. For example, when drawing hot water for a recipe that requires a water temperature that is below the regular Keurig temperature
Recap for Keurig High Altitude Setting
Brewing coffee at an altitude above 5000 feet presents a fair share of problems to do with water’s boiling point. A Keurig coffee maker’s high-altitude setting enables you to lower the brewing temperature so that you do not use boiling water to make coffee at a high altitude.