The 9 Best Single Serve Coffee Makers
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Why brew a whole pot of joe and waste all those grounds when you only want one cup? These single-serve coffee makers deliver a delicious brew one mug at a time, which is great for individuals, businesses, and couples who like different flavors. They work quickly enough to function well in an office break room or even at a party, allowing people to enjoy a cup of their favorite on demand. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
July 29, 2021:
A couple no-name generic pod machines got the boot for both availability reasons and questionable long-term reliability. Instead, we've highlighted the straightforward Hario V60, which is little more than a plastic funnel that sits on top of a coffee cup to produce a simple and delicious cup of pour-over coffee. Especially if you get a reusable filter, it's one of the most economical and environmentally friendly ways of making coffee overall.
March 12, 2020:
As more high-quality models make their way onto the market, it behooves us to get rid of some of the cheaper offerings and the underperformers. The AdirChef Grab N' Go, for example, and despite having been well-regarded in our last ranking, has simply been outdone by the likes of the Sboly Thermal Brewer and the Hamilton Beach Fast Scoop, both of which offer superior build quality.
We saw a few upgrades from top contenders, as well, including a new Keuring in the Keurig K-Elite, which has an excellent new finish, and which eschews the previous model's touchscreen interface for a control scheme that might be even simpler. Of course, given the popularity and usefulness of a well-designed touchscreen, especially when talking about the units that offer multiple brewing options for lattes and other specialty beverages, the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Majesto offers one that is intuitive and colorful, adding to its already funky design.
And for serious baristas, there's a newcomer to our list in the Breville-Nespresso Creatista Plus, which rises to the kind of water pressure you'd expect to see in a much larger model, and that offers an integrated milk frother, as well. It's pricey, and it's not ideal if you prefer coffee to espresso, but it's cheaper and easier to use and maintain than many espresso makers.
Benefits Of Single Serve Coffee Makers
Single serve machines also allow businesses to provide their customers with fresh coffee or tea at a moment's notice.
Convenience is one of the main reasons most consumers and offices first switch to single serve machines. One can make fresh, hot coffee in less than a minute, without having to deal with filters or grounds. Many models also contain a large reservoir, so there often isn't need to add water to a machine before every brew. Unlike with a traditional drip machine, one isn't left with a large carafe that needs to be cleaned out once the coffee is finished. Instead, single serve machines brew coffee directly into the serving cup. Being able to brew individual cups of hot beverages can be great for dinner parties, too. Instead of serving all of your guests the exact same thing, each guest can choose their beverage of choice.
Using a single serve coffee machine results in significantly less wasted coffee every day, as well. No matter whether we live alone, with friends, or with family, it is almost inevitable that we will make more coffee than we need. With a standard machine, it is not uncommon to pour a cup or two of coffee down the drain with each pot. Single serve coffee makers eliminate that waste. Each individual can make a cup for themselves, whenever they want it. There is no need to brew a large pot in the hopes that there will be enough for everybody, while at the same time hoping that everybody will actually drink a cup and you won't be left with half of a pot to dump out.
It isn't just home consumers that can benefit from a single cup coffee makers, but businesses, too. Nearly every office has that one coworker who always takes that last cup of coffee, but never makes a new pot or washes out the old one. This can quickly cause feelings of animosity in other workers. There is also the problem of having regular and decaf drinkers. Before the advent of the single serve coffee maker, offices would need to have two machines, one for decaf and one for regular. Single serve machines also allow businesses to provide their customers with fresh coffee or tea at a moment's notice.
A Few Things To Consider When Choosing Your Single Serve Coffee Machine
Not all single serve coffee makers are created equal. You can choose from high-end models that are capable of making cappuccinos and espressos that can rival those from your favorite coffee chain, all the way down to basic models that do nothing more than make a single cup of drip style coffee. No matter which type you choose, there are a few features that you may want to consider before making your choice.
No matter which type you choose, there are a few features that you may want to consider before making your choice.
If your budget allows, it is always best to choose a model that features adjustable brew strength settings. These allow you to customize the cup of coffee to match your taste. Generally, single cup coffee makers achieve different strengths by altering the brew time. When selecting the strong brew setting on a machine, it will increase the brewing time so that the water spends more time in contact with the coffee grounds.
An adjustable brew size is also a nice feature to have. On lazy weekend mornings, you may only want to make enough coffee to fit into the standard 8 or 10 ounce home mug, while on workdays, you may want to make enough coffee to fill your 12 or 16 ounce travel mug. A model with an adjustable brew size gives you the freedom to do just that.
Ideally, you should also choose a model with an adjustable temperature range, as brew temperature can have a serious impact on the end result. If the water is too hot, it can over extract the flavor from the grounds, resulting in a bitter taste. Water that is too cold can result in a weak, watered down cup of coffee. Having a machine with an adjustable temperature range gives you one more tool at your disposal to customize your java.
The size of the reservoir can play a huge role in how convenient you find a particular model to be. Some models have a large reservoir that can make 10 or more cups of coffee before being refilled. Other models may require you to fill them before brewing each cup. The trade-off here is that models with large reservoirs will require more counter space.
K-cups Versus Coffee Pods
The terms coffee pod and K-cup are often used interchangeably by the uninitiated, but they actually refer to two very different products. The majority of consumers with a single serve coffee machine use K-cups. These are small plastic cups that contain a paper filter and coffee grounds. They are completely air-tight and sealed with a combination foil and plastic lid. During brewing, the machine pierces the lid and the bottom of the cup so that pressurized hot water can pass through it. Most people appreciate the K-cup for its convenience. Many machines automatically move the used cup into a receptacle bin, but even those that require manual removal won't get the users hands dirty or wet, as the exterior of the cup will be completely dry.
Coffee pods are packaged ground coffee beans that come in a filter bag.
Critics of the K-cup often lambast it for not being easily recyclable, though when put into perspective, it can be said that they make up for the waste in water conservation. Either way, the controversy has prompted Keurig, the main manufacturer and license distributor, to make a recyclable version, though this too may have its failings.
Coffee pods are packaged ground coffee beans that come in a filter bag. This bag is placed directly into the brewing chamber of a single serve pod machine. Hot water is then either dripped over the pod or forced through it by pressure. Pods are slightly less convenient as they require the user to open the chamber and remove a damp filter bag. The brewing chamber of pod machines also needs to be cleaned more often. The upside is that they are often fully biodegradable, making them more eco-friendly.