What Does “Prime” Mean On A Keurig? Here’s What To Know

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Keurig has undoubtedly made a name for itself in the world of home coffee-making machines.

While we personally prefer the meticulous process of French press or pour-over brewing, we understand the appeal of convenience that Keurig offers for those seeking a quick cup of Joe in the morning.

However, even the most reliable brands have their share of quirks, and for Keurig, it’s the notorious “Prime” error message that frustrates users when their machines fail to dispense water from the reservoir correctly.

Gone are the days when a swift kick or a stern scolding would fix the problem. But fear not, fellow coffee lover!

In this blog post, we’ll explore effective solutions to banish that pesky “Prime” message once and for all. Say goodbye to disrupted morning routines and regain control over your Keurig brewing experience.

Understanding the “Prime” Error

When you encounter the dreaded “Prime” message on your Keurig coffee maker, it signals that water flowing from the reservoir to the brewer is being obstructed.

This issue can arise due to various reasons, and understanding the causes will help you resolve it effectively.

One common culprit behind the “Prime” error is an improperly aligned or dirty water reservoir. If the reservoir is not seated correctly or contains debris, it can hinder the smooth movement of water, triggering the error message.

Therefore, it is essential to ensure the reservoir is properly aligned and free from any obstructions.

Another factor that can contribute to the “Prime” error is mineral buildup within the Keurig’s tanks and tubes.

Over time, minerals like calcium and limescale can accumulate, obstructing the water flow and impeding the brewing process.

Regular cleaning and descaling of your Keurig are crucial to prevent such buildup and maintain optimal performance.

Quick Fixes Before Troubleshooting: Addressing the “Prime” Error

Before diving into extensive troubleshooting procedures for the “Prime” error on your Keurig, there are a couple of simple tricks worth trying.

In some cases, these quick fixes might resolve the issue, saving you from a lengthy troubleshooting process.

Firstly, if you encounter the PRIME message, it’s possible that your water reservoir is not attached correctly. Begin by removing the reservoir and reinserting it, ensuring a proper alignment.

Take a moment to inspect everything and ensure that all components are properly lined up. This simple step may solve the problem without any further intervention.

If the “Prime” message persists, another easy troubleshooting step is to reset your Keurig. Unplug the machine and let it sit for a few minutes to allow any residual power to dissipate.

After the brief pause, plug the Keurig back in, turn it on, and observe if the “Prime” message has vanished. Sometimes, a simple reset can clear any temporary glitches and restore normal operation.

If these initial attempts do not eliminate the “Prime” error, don’t worry. There are further steps and solutions to explore, which we will discuss in the next section of this blog post.

Cleaning the Water Reservoir to Eliminate the “Prime” Error

When your Keurig displays the frustrating “Prime” message, it’s often a result of limescale or calcium accumulation within the machine.

The good news is that resolving this issue is a straightforward process, and performing it every three to six months can prevent the problem from reoccurring.

Follow these steps to effectively clean the water reservoir of your Keurig:

  1. Remove the reservoir from the brewer.
  2. Take off the lid and empty the reservoir.
  3. Wash the inside of the reservoir using warm, soapy water and a soft, clean cloth. Remember, never wipe the inside with a dry cloth as it may leave lint or particles that could find their way into your beverage.
  4. Rinse the reservoir thoroughly and dry only the exterior.
  5. Replace the reservoir and run two hot water cleansing brews before using the Keurig again.

If the initial cleaning doesn’t resolve the issue, you can repeat the process, but this time utilize a proprietary coffee machine descaling product.

Follow the product instructions, allowing it to soak into the calcium deposits, and then run the machine with plain water to flush out any residue.

This thorough cleaning should leave you with a sparkling clean reservoir.

To maintain optimal performance, it is advisable to clean the water reservoir every week if you use your Keurig on a daily basis.

You can also consider using diluted white vinegar as a descaling solution to remove mineral buildup.

Additionally, Keurig provides a descaling solution and maintenance kit that includes water filter cartridges and rinse pods for a more comprehensive cleaning routine.

Remember to give the exterior of your Keurig brewer some attention as well. Wipe it down with a damp, lint-free cloth on a weekly basis or as needed to keep it looking clean and well-maintained.

If this hasn’t fixed the error, move on to the next step.

Needle Maintenance: Clearing the Path to a Pristine Brew

If you’ve already cleaned and descaled the water reservoir, but the persistent “Prime” error continues to haunt your Keurig, it’s time to turn your attention to the needles.

Cleaning the needles is a crucial aspect of maintaining your coffee maker, as they can gradually accumulate coffee grounds, affecting the quality of your brew and the machine’s performance.

Follow these steps to clean the needles on your Keurig:

  1. Start by unplugging your Keurig and removing the pod holder.
  2. Raise the handle of the machine and, with one hand, gently push up the holder. With your other hand, carefully pull the holder out of its housing.
  3. Separate the funnel from the bottom of the pod holder to access the needles.
  4. To clean the entrance needle, utilize a paper clip or Keurig’s brewer maintenance accessory tool to remove any debris, dirt, or trapped coffee grounds that might be obstructing it.
  5. Flip the pod holder upside down for the exit needle and insert an unbent paper clip into the small tube at the bottom. Gently wiggle the paper clip around for approximately 30 seconds to loosen any clogs. Afterward, rinse the pod holder under running water to wash away any remaining residue.
  6. Reassemble the pod holder and funnel, and plug in your Keurig.

It’s crucial to exercise caution while cleaning the needles, as they have sharp edges. Take your time and be gentle to avoid any injuries.

With the needles now cleaned, you can look forward to brewing a steaming cup of delicious coffee without the unwelcome interruption of the dreaded “Prime” message.

If not, then let’s move on to the next step.

Crystal Clear: Cleaning the Filter Screen

Inside the water reservoir of your Keurig lies a vital component—the filter screen. This screen plays a crucial role in filtering the water before it enters the brewing chamber, ensuring a clean and flavorful cup of coffee.

However, over time, mineral deposits and other contaminants can accumulate, hindering the filter screen’s effectiveness and impacting the taste of your brew.

Follow these steps to clean the filter screen and restore its optimal function:

  1. First, turn off your Keurig machine and unplug it for safety.
  2. Remove the water reservoir and carefully drain any remaining water.
  3. Take a damp cloth and clean the base of the reservoir, focusing on the area that holds the water. Pay close attention to the small opening in the base, ensuring it is completely clear. If necessary, you can use a paperclip to gently clear any blockages.
  4. Place the water reservoir under running water, allowing any debris trapped in the mesh filter to be washed away into the reservoir below.
  5. Once you observe the accumulated residue in the water reservoir, drain it and refill it with clean water.
  6. Replace the water reservoir onto the machine and run several water-only brew cycles to thoroughly rinse the system.

Recognizing When the Filter Screen Needs Attention

To ensure a consistently delicious cup of coffee and maintain your Keurig’s performance, it’s crucial to pay attention to the signs that the filter screen requires cleaning.

Here are some indicators that it’s time to clean the filter screen of your Keurig:

Unpleasant Taste

If you notice an unusual or off-putting taste in your coffee, it may be a sign that the filter screen is clogged with accumulated residue.

This buildup can impact the flavor of your brew, and cleaning the filter screen will help restore the desired taste.

Dirty Water

Over time, as the filter screen becomes congested with contaminants, you may observe that the water in the reservoir appears progressively dirtier.

This discoloration is an indication that the filter screen is in need of cleaning to maintain the quality of your brew.

Machine Grime

If you notice a significant accumulation of grime or residue on the machine itself, it could be a sign that the filter screen is no longer effectively filtering out particles.

Cleaning the filter screen will help prevent these contaminants from finding their way into your coffee and keep your Keurig looking clean and well-maintained.

Unpleasant Odor

A funky or unpleasant smell emanating from the water reservoir can also indicate that the filter screen needs attention. Cleaning the filter screen will eliminate any buildup or residue that may be causing the unpleasant odor.

By regularly cleaning the filter screen and keeping it free from buildup, you can maintain the quality of your coffee and reduce the likelihood of encountering the frustrating “Prime” error.


Understanding what the “Prime” message means on your Keurig can save you time, and frustration, and ensure a smooth brewing experience.

This error typically occurs when there are issues with water flow, such as misalignment, clogs, or mineral buildup.

By following the troubleshooting steps outlined in this guide, including checking the water reservoir, cleaning the needles, and maintaining the filter screen, you can effectively resolve the “Prime” error and restore your Keurig’s functionality.

Remember, regular cleaning and maintenance are essential to keep your Keurig in optimal condition and to enjoy consistently delicious cups of coffee.

From cleaning the water reservoir to descaling and clearing the needles, these simple steps will help you prevent future “Prime” errors and extend the lifespan of your coffee maker.

So, the next time your Keurig displays the dreaded “Prime” message, don’t panic. Instead, follow the tips provided in this guide.

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Jacob Harris

Jacob is a coffee enthusiast who turned his passion into a career. As the owner and editor of Karma Coffee Cafe, he shares his extensive knowledge and recommendations, captivating fellow coffee lovers.

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