As appliance manufacturers work to differentiate themselves, one way they’re doing so is by including smarts. That can mean a full touchscreen or a simple app. GE is setting itself apart by including a Keurig K-Cup brewing system in some of its refrigerator models. The coffee maker is an interesting addition that could potentially save counter space in the kitchen – as long as you’re a fan of Keurig coffee.
The coffee maker works with one of GE’s more popular features, an integrated hot water dispenser. For some, the coffee maker might be a step too far, but immicks aside, the French-door fridge is spacious and does a solid job at keeping food at the proper temperature.
Beyond basics with disco-lighting drawers
The 22.2-cubic-foot, French-door GE refrigerator is spacious at 69 7/8 by 35 ¾ by 31 ¼ inches (height, width, depth) and should easily accommodate large platters. On the left door panel is the water/ice dispenser and a spot where you can slide in the K-Cup brewer to make coffee. The pull-out freezer drawer has two sections that provides room for plenty of cold items – especially since it lacks an ice bin. (You’ll find that on the left fridge door.) The only design quibble we have is that it has an adjustable divider on each section, making it difficult to fit a large sheet ice cream cake. The fridge comes in either stainless steel or slate gray.
Setting up the fridge is pretty straight forward. The fridge has two water lines to accommodate the hot and cold water, but you only need one water hookup. This means you’ll get filtered water that’s either hot or cold. Inside there are three adjustable shelves and multiple door shelves (some with anti-slip mats). Each shelf has a specific spot, so don’t try to push a shelf into place if it doesn’t fit. In case you need an extra shelf in a pinch, the butter compartment has a drop-down tray.
The coffee tastes just as you’d expect of Keurig brewers.
Located at the lower part of the fridge are three drawers: two for produce (select either fruits or vegetables on the drawer), and one full-width temperature-controlled drawer for larger items like serving platters and wine bottles. The bottom drawer has options for meat (32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius), deli (36 degrees Fahrenheit or 2.22 degrees Celsius), and beverages (34 degrees Fahrenheit or 1.11 degrees Celsius). Select the type of food you want to store in the drawer and the temperature and lighting (meat is white, beverage is blue, and deli is green) will automatically adjust. When you open the door, the light in the bottom drawer illuminates based on its setting, which is kind of fun.
It’s fairly straightforward to adjust the overall temperature of the refrigerator using the controls on the front door panel. The panel on this model isn’t as sleek as those of other GE refrigerator models with the Keurig feature. It has a small digital display that streams messages about the fridge in a banner style. Also, on the front panel, you’ll find an option for a door alarm. No, a sound doesn’t emit when someone opens the fridge or freezer. It’s essentially a fail-safe feature that prevents you from using any of the controls on the display when the door is locked. It’s easy enough to set: Simply hold down the lock button for three seconds to activate or deactivate.
Does it Really Make coffee?
The standout feature in this refrigerator is the inclusion of a Keurig K-Cup brewing system on the door. The coffee maker shares the same space with the water/ice dispenser. To make more room for coffee cups the base tray easily slides out. The tray can also be completely removed for cleaning.
In order to make coffee, place a Keurig pod in the K-Cup brewer and slide it into place. Select the amount of coffee you’d like to make: six ounces, eight ounces, or ten ounces. Press the brew button and watch the 3, 2, 1 screen countdown. The noise level for brewing coffee is about 70 decibels, which is equivalent to the sound of a vacuum. When the coffee is finished brewing, it does make a louder sound that could jolt you awake if you’re not a morning person. The coffee tastes just as you’d expect of Keurig brewers, however, the 6-ounce coffee was a bit stronger due to it being more concentrated. Here are our test results:
|Temperature (Farhenheit)||Brew time||Coffee Amount|
|163||53 seconds||6 oz|
|167||58 seconds||8 oz|
|165||1 min 5 seconds||10 oz|
When coffee is finished brewing, you can make another cup. Be careful removing the K-Cup brewer, since it can be hot to the touch. The water will need to reheat in order to make another cup. Once a cup is brewed, the system reheats quickly and displays in percentage the progress level for reheating. However, if you wait much longer, the water can take a bit of time to reheat. For example, when the setting shows 80 percent, it took one minute and 14 seconds to reheat. Additionally, we should point out that if it’s the first brew of the day it takes the system five minutes and 55 seconds to heat up.
You can also use the K-Cup brewer to make a cup of hot water for tea. However, you’ll need to rinse out the pod section first, or else you may end up with some extra grounds in the water. In our tests, hot water took 53 seconds to pour and was 170 degrees Fahrenheit (76.67 degrees Celsius). For those who like hot cocoa, if you have a Keurig pod for hot chocolate you can use the dedicated cocoa setting. We made an 8-ounce glass of cocoa, which took 56 seconds to brew with a temperature of 156.7 degrees Fahrenheit (69.3 degrees Celsius) that, we’ll admit, tasted a bit watered down.
What modern day appliance would be complete if it didn’t have an app? Of course, there’s an iOS and Android app that can be used with this GE fridge. The app is called Kitchen – GE Appliances, and it works with more than just the company’s refrigerators. You can use the app for some GE wall ovens, ranges, and dishwashers. Once connected to your home Wi-Fi network, you can use the app to start the heating process for the Keurig attachment (so you can start the warm-up process from bed); it also gives you real-time temperature readings and lets you adjust freezer and fridge temperatures remotely.
We were particularly impressed with the water flow on this model. Before getting water, you’ll definitely want to remove the K-Cup brewer; otherwise, it’s too crowded to fit your glass. When you use the on-door water module, it will display on the screen how many ounces of fluid you’re receiving. It dispenses water quickly, about a second per ounce. In our tests, we were able to retrieve an eight-ounce glass of water in eight seconds. The water was the perfect temperature – not too cold, but not room temperature, either.
The ice dispenser is equally pleasing. The cubes (or crushed ice) goes right into the glass, so you never have to worry about ice missing the glass and landing on the floor.
We tested the half-full fridge to see how well it kept its cool. We’re happy to report that it was right on target. The temperature controlled drawer set to meat, kept a cool 32 to 33 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 0.55 degrees Celsius), which is on par. The crisper drawers remained a steady 37 degrees Fahrenheit (2.78 degrees Celsius), while the freezer maintained between 1 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.22 to -13.89 degrees Celsius).
While those are solid numbers, we wanted to see how it would do returning to its chill state after leaving the door open for 15 minutes. It took the fridge and freezer about 30 minutes to get back to their regular temperatures. Speaking of leaving the door ajar, the fridge light stays on for 13 minutes before shutting off.Our Take
Overall, the GE Cafe Series Refrigerator with Keurig K-Cup Brewing System is a solid refrigerator, if not an entirely sexy. The implementation of the Keurig coffee making option is intuitive and fairly easy to use, though it does take quite a bit of time to heat the water back up. We’re not entirely sure why you would want a fridge with a built-in coffee maker, but it at least now you know you can have one.
The DT Accessory Pack
Is there a better alternative?
When it comes to fridges with coffee makers, GE is the only game in town. GE is known for taking ideas that seem a little off the wall and turning them into products, and we definitely admire them for that. This fridge isn’t for everyone, and if you love the idea of a hot water dispenser but could do without the Keurig machine, GE has that option in its Café Series as well.
How long will it last?
One thing that actually worries us about this fridge is its long-term viability. Putting a small appliance inside a bigger one doubles the possibility that something that can wrong. The warranty is one year for parts and labor and five years for the sealed refrigerating system, so that’s something to keep in mind.
Should you buy it?
The real question to ask is, “Is it worth the extra few hundred dollars it adds to the price?” If you’re looking for a fridge that has the coffee maker feature, but is a little more upscale consider the GE Café Series. The amount of people who have counters so crowded they want their coffee maker off them but who still have enough room for a French door fridge probably isn’t huge, but it’s still a versatile fridge with some great features – though we might like the hot water dispenser and fun light-up drawers more than Keurig itself.