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If you are anything like us, then your day doesn’t really start until that caffeine punch kicks in. To be honest, that’s the reason why we’re always on the lookout for new ways to enjoy our morning cup of Joe. And while options like the disposable French press and the text-enabled espresso machine have stolen our attention for a short while, nothing guarantees an A-1 cup of morning jolt more than a reliable single-cup coffee maker.
This innovative brewing machine takes the guesswork out of the whole process by adjusting the water-to-coffee ratio itself, all while making zero mess and presenting you with hundreds of pod or capsule options from Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Nespresso, etc. So, if you think it’s high time you stepped up your java drinking game, these top 6 single-cup coffee makers can make it happen.
What Is A Single-Cup Coffee Maker?
Also known as the single-serve coffee machine, the single-cup coffee maker is a small kitchen appliance that is used to brew a single portion of your favorite caffeinated drink. As simple as that sounds, there is so much more to this device than meets the eye. In fact, single-serve coffee makers come in three variations.
The first one is a simplified version of the conventional drip coffee machines, and it’s programmed to function just like them. So, you grind the beans or buy some that are already crushed, place a filter in the respective part of the machine, add the coffee and push the START button. Then, hot water flows over the granules or fine powder, and the fresh brew drips down through the filter and into your cup. As their name suggests, they are designed to produce just one cup of coffee.
The second variation is a bit different. So, instead of freshly ground coffee, these models require the use of capsules or pods which contain the granules/powder. Note that the capsules’ contents are vacuum-sealed in nitrogen, so they don’t go stale. The main component of these single-cup coffee makers is two small pins which pierce the top and the bottom of the pods.
So, as you put the capsule in place and push the START button, the pins do their job, and moments later, hot water is forced through the pod and into your mug. Keurig coffee machines are a representative example of this variation.
Illustrative of Nespresso’s mentality, the third version is all about strong, flavorful espresso and espresso-based brews (cappuccinos, lattes, etc.). So, these machines are designed to produce single shots of the aromatic coffee and then top it with a layer of frothy milk.
Why Use A Single-Cup Coffee Maker?
We get it: Replacing your good old drip coffee maker can be a challenge. After all, you’ve been using it for so long that it’s become part of your everyday routine. But, if you knew the potential that comes with a single-cup coffee maker, you’d switch gears in a heartbeat. From cutting brewing time in half to challenging your palate with a variety of flavors, this high-end coffee machine has a lot of reasons to make you wanna say “I want in on the action!” So, if it’s time for an upgrade, these four reasons are the living proof that single-serve coffee makers should be your go-to option.
Wide Range of Flavors
The truth is that not all coffee pods are created equal, and some of them have a reputation for tasting bitter, watered down and even over-roasted. But, that was the case back when single-cup coffee machines were still in their infant stages. Now that these appliances have proven their worth, many brands have jumped onto the single-serve coffee bandwagon, offering more and more options.
So, from Caribou’s best-selling K-cup pods to Newman’s Own delicious blend, these days there is a variety of options to please any palate, whether you are accustomed to high doses of caffeine or just need your occasional after-dinner cappuccino.
So, you know the drill with regular coffee makers. You place the filter, add the coffee, pour some water in the tank and wait for your carafe to be filled. But, that’s just the fun part. Then, you have to clean up the mess, from detaching certain parts and loading them into the dishwasher to removing coffee residues from the dripping pathway. That sounds like a lot of work for a few sips of java, doesn’t it?
That’s where single-cup coffee makers step in. Whenever you are in the mood for just one cup of coffee, these unique brewing appliances minimize cleaning time as they take paper filters and ground coffee scooping out of the picture. Not only that, but due to their small size, pods/capsules create almost zero mess inside the special socket and cuts your cleaning time in half.
Easy to Use
One of the most remarkable qualities of the single-cup coffee makers is that they are super easy to use. They eliminate the hassle that comes with measuring out portions (coffee-to-water ratio) and adding flavorings and simplify the whole process. So, you just add the pod in the special socket, push the respective button, and a cup of freshly brewed java is moments away. Once your coffee is brewed, you just toss the pod and go about your day. It’s as simple as that; no measuring and no playing barista when you don’t have the skills.
Fresh Coffee Every Time
Another reason to make this appliance part of your kitchen equipment is the blend’s freshness. Brewing just one cup at a time guarantees that the coffee you are drinking is always fresh AF. Just imagine waking up to a cup of java that has been sitting there for about an hour, maybe more. Not cool, right?
What to Look For When Shopping For A Single-Cup Coffee Maker
We don’t mean to scare you, but searching for a high-quality single-cup coffee maker can be downright confusing. Between the variety of models out there and the unique features each one has to offer, it’s no wonder many potential buyers do a quick search and end up buying the first one they think it matches their need.
But, somewhere along the line, they realize that the choice they made is not a good fit and stop using the maker altogether. Such a waste of money! To spare you the disappointment and unnecessary splurge, we’ve rounded up the five most important things you need to look for when buying a single-serve coffee maker.
Single-serve coffee machines vary in size. So, before you go ahead and buy the first one you see, you need to consider just how you (and the people around you) are going to use it. If there are a lot of people in your household and every single one of them needs their caffeine fix day in day out, then you need to opt for a model with a big water reservoir.
The same goes for coffee makers meant to be used in an office environment. Note, though, that choosing a big-sized machine is going to cost you some precious counter or cabinet space. On the flip side, if you are not an avid coffee drinker or living alone, a maker with an average/smallish water tank is all you need.
Cup Height Access
Let’s be honest: Sometimes regular cups don’t cut it. Instead, you need a Venti-sized travel mug to squeeze as much of the jitter juice as possible and head out to work. On those days, the cup height access of your single-serve coffee maker is what matters the most. This feature allows you to adjust the machine’s height from standard to tall to fit your largish travel mug, tall cup and the like. So, to skip brewing coffee in batches, look for a model with a removable drip tray that will extend the cup height in no time.
As the name suggests, single-cup coffee makers are designed to brew a single serving of your favorite drink. However, some models take it a step further and allow you to customize just how much coffee you need in your cup.
That said, some can produce as low as 4-5 ounces of java in one go (that’s great for espresso lovers) while others go as high as 10-12 ounces per serving. So, if you think this feature is something you could benefit from, decide which way you want to go (up or down) and choose your brewer accordingly.
Automatic Shut-Off Feature
Weekday mornings can be hectic. So, forgetting to do certain things such as turning off the coffee maker on your way out is quite common. Luckily, most high-end brewers come with an auto shut-off feature that deactivates the machine and keeps any accidents from occurring. Talk about a “smart” device that has your back, amiright?
As mentioned above, there are various types of single-cup brewers. So, while some models support the use of ground coffee, others are specially manufactured to work with K-pods or capsules. That said, you need to decide which of these two options works best for you and your budget, and pick accordingly. Also note that some models come with a variety of brewing options such as tea, cocoa, and ice coffee making. Once again, the choice is entirely up to you.
The 6 Best Single-Cup Coffee Makers, Reviewed
Got a house full of coffee addicts? Now that you know single-serve brewers are the easiest way to a cup of pure caffeinated goodness, you got every excuse to treat yourself and everyone around you with one of these puppies. But, which one is it worth the splurge? From catering all your gourmet coffee needs (lungo, espresso, etc.) to brewing a cuppa in under a minute, these top 6 single-cup coffee makers guarantee you’ll get a bang for your buck.
If you are not a fan of capsules/pods and prefer the nose-tingling aroma of a freshly ground brew, then this model is all you need. Designed to support the use of ground beans, this maker is perfect for the coffee enthusiast who wants something more to his/her brew than a fruity flavor and a brand’s logo.
Plus, it’s capable of producing up to 14 ounces of java which works perfectly if you spend long hours on your daily commute and need something to wake you up until you get to work. If you feel that this model may be the one for you, here’s everything you need to know about it (both good and could-be-better).
- Durable Construction
This brewer is made of stainless steel, a type of material that is resistant to corrosion, stains and heat damage. So, even if you use it on a regular basis, there’s little chance of it breaking – especially if you take good care of it. In fact, it’s likely to stick around for many years, so you’ll get your money’s worth, for sure.
- Large Brewing Capacity
The water reservoir can hold up to 14 ounces of water which means you can brew a significant amount of coffee in one go.
- Supports Ground Coffee
Unlike pod-friendly machines, this model supports the use of ground coffee only. That means that you can enjoy a fresh brew every time which is not always the case with capsules as their contents may go stale after a while. Plus, you can choose from a variety of blends (even flavored ones) by any brand you like.
- Compact Size
Despite its largish water reservoir, this maker is known for its small footprint, making it an ideal choice for anyone with a small kitchen and limited counter space.
- Removable Steel Filter
One of the most notable features of this single-cup coffee maker is its filter. First of all, it’s made of steel which eliminates the need for paper filters and saves you lots of dough down the line. Besides that, it’s removable which allows you to clean the coffee residues very easily.
- Comes With Measuring Instructions
Adjusting the water-to-coffee ratio is always an issue when you are using a brewer that supports ground blends and not capsules. However, this model throws this problem out the window by featuring an easy-to-follow measuring system. Specifically, the scoop filter has two distinct lines which indicate the recommended serving for specific amounts of brew. To be honest, we’re officially impressed!
Pro tip: Make sure not to crowd the filter, or else water will overflow and ruin your coffee’s taste. Stick to the guidelines.
- Flavor Adjustments
No two coffee drinkers are the same. So, why should their brews be any different? No matter if you prefer your coffee strong or weak, this single-cup maker can adjust to your needs. That said, you can switch the brewing mode from REGULAR (for basic drinks) to BOLD which is recommended for fine and decaf grinds as well as premium-brand blends such as Starbucks and Douwe Egberts.
Pro tip: If you want your coffee to taste that much better, make sure you tamp down the grinds in the scoop with the help of a teaspoon. This way the hot water will flush away the coffee’s essence from the get-go instead of spreading it all over the scoop and then pouring it into your mug. Many people ignore such details, but this hack can get your coffee from zero to hero in no time.
- Fast Brewing
You want your caffeine, and you want it STAT. If that sounds like you, then this brewer is the solution to your coffee cravings. According to the manufacturer, this model can brew 8 ounces of java in less than 90 seconds (!) while it can fill your 14-ounce travel mug in under 2.5 minutes. If that’s not a quick (caffeine) fix, then we don’t know what is.
- Automatic Shut-Off Feature
It also comes with an auto shut-off feature which turns the device off on its own after a couple of hours and prevents accidents from occurring.
- Funny-Tasting Brew
Several previous owners report that their brew tastes like plastic from time to time. But, that should not be an issue if you soak the removable parts in water for 15 minutes and then run a couple of test cycles (without coffee, of course).
If you are always on the go and look for a single-cup coffee maker to match your active lifestyle, then this model is a dream come true for you. Using a travel mug that doubles as a carafe and equipped with a “your coffee is ready” signal, this brewer allows you to literally grab your brew and go. So, the name isn’t lying. But, this is just one of the many perks. Check out below to see what else this model has in store for you.
- Large Brewing Capacity
This device comes with a travel mug that holds up to 15 ounces of coffee. That said, it can brew enough coffee for even the most demanding java lovers.
- Space-Saving Design
Despite its ability to brew a significant amount of coffee in one go, this model takes up very little counter space and is ideal for small kitchens, dorm rooms, and office cubicles.
- Auto Shut-Off Setting
It comes with a unique feature that turns off the device after a while. So, you can finally have some peace of mind when you rush out the door in the morning and can’t remember whether you unplugged it or not.
- Permanent Filter
Unlike many of its peers, this model has a reusable filter. As a result, you spend zero money on paper filters.
- Easy to Clean
From the filter and the filter basket to the mug and its lid, several of this brewer’s parts are dishwasher-safe, cutting cleaning time in half.
- Durable “Carafe”
As mentioned above, this device features a travel mug instead of a carafe which serves your on-the-go needs. But, the best part is that this mug is made of stainless steel which means that even if you drop it (which is common when you’re in a hurry), there’s zero chance of it breaking. Plus, it’s resistant to corrosion and stains which means it may last for years under proper maintenance.
- Occasional Overflow
Even though it’s not common, this brewer may cause some of the coffee to spill, causing a slight mess. To avoid that, just pour less water in the tank.
Fun fact: Keurig is the company that introduced us to coffee pods, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that this model made the list. But, this is just one of this brewer’s perks. It also features a responsive, easy-to-navigate touchscreen that allows you to personalize your coffee drinking experience based on your likings. Intrigued much? Then, check out the full list of its pros below to see why this single-cup coffee maker is an absolute must-have.
- Temperature Control Options
Unlike most coffee makers, this one allows you to adjust the temps at which your coffee is being brewed. Specifically, you can choose between five different temp settings which include low, low/medium, medium, medium/high and high. Note that this is a rare trait, but Keurig coffee makers like this one manage to pull it off successfully.
- Huge Water Reservoir
It comes with an 80-ounce water tank which only needs to be filled every two or three days even if you are an incurable coffeeholic. It is also removable, so refilling it is a breeze.
- Automatic Turn On/Off Features
Thanks to its integrated, high-tech software, this model is designed to turn on/off automatically. That means that you can program it to switch in on/off at set times and have it ready for use almost immediately. That can be a huge time-saver.
- Strength Control Settings
This single-cup coffee maker features a strength control setting which allows you to adjust the flavor of your coffee, from strong to medium to weak. This feature tweaks your coffee’s taste by increasing or decreasing the total brew time and making it more concentrated or watered-down.
- Various Brewing Volumes
Some days you just need more caffeine to get things done. This model is well-versed with this mentality, and that’s why it’s designed to produce different volumes of coffee based on your preferred settings. So, you can brew 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 ounces of java for a travel mug and 22, 26 and 30 ounces of brain juice when you have a carafe. Note that the carafe and the respective K-pods are sold separately.
This model is also designed to boil water on demand, a trait that allows it to prepare so much more than just coffee. Some of these out-of-the-box options include tea, cocoa, chai, and even soup.
- Colored Touchscreen
Besides being your medium to a unique cup of coffee, the brewer’s touchscreen is also customizable. So, you can choose to “decorate” it in any color you like, from orange to blue.
- Pod Compatibility
Unfortunately, this model is only compatible with Keurig 2.0 pods which limits your options in this department.
If you are looking for a single-serve coffee machine that is all about effortless cleaning, then this model is a safe bet. Sporting a descaling feature, it can remove all calcium residues that build up inside the tank and other parts of the device hassle-free. But, the best is yet to come. If you want more reasons to invest in this Keurig coffee maker, the pros and cons below will help you reach a more educated decision.
- Huge Water Tank
It features a 48-ounce water reservoir. As a result, you have to refill it only every 6-7 cups or so. That doesn’t just save you time, but it also makes the brewing process so much easier. Note that it’s detachable, a trait that makes refilling more accessible.
- Compatible With Ground Coffee Use
Even though it’s labeled as a pod-friendly coffee maker, this model is also compatible with Keurig’s Classic Series reusable filter which means you can brew your favorite ground blend.
- Descaling Feature
It’s no secret that hard water has a high mineral content (calcium, magnesium, and milestone). Once inside your maker’s tank, these minerals build up a wall which affects the taste of your coffee. To prevent that, you need to descale the machine every chance you get. This model comes with an indicator which shows you when it’s time to maintain your coffee maker. The company has even released a related video with step-by-step instructions on how to do it properly.
- Automatic Off Setting
This coffee maker is also programmed to switch off on its own when it’s inactive for more than a couple of hours. That is great for two reasons. First of all, it saves you lots of energy. And second of all, it prevents the machine from overheating and resulting in accidental combustion.
- Variety in Brew Sizes and Strength
Depending on your taste, you can brew different volumes of the energy-boosting drink (6, 8 and 10 ounces). Of course, the strength of the brew will vary according to the amount of water used. Pro tip: The less water you use, the stronger the coffee.
- Adjustable Cup Height
This model comes with a removable drip tray which allows you to fit any cup size, from tall travel mugs to regular-sized glasses.
- No Temperature Control Settings
Keurig and adjustable temps go hand in hand. However, this model doesn’t come with such luxury, limiting your brewing options – especially if you are a coffee addict who’s accustomed to certain commodities.
If you want to invest in a 2-in-1 brewer to help you switch between regular coffee and espresso, then this model is tailored to your needs. Nespresso has a reputation for brewing the best espresso in town, but this DeLonghi version can pull off the same tasty tricks on regular coffee. So, if you want to spice up your coffee drinking routine, here’s what you should expect from this model.
- High-Quality Flavor and Aroma
This single-cup coffee maker features a patented extraction technology known as Centrifusion. According to this patent, the capsule spins up to 7.000 times per minute and makes sure the coffee blends with the water and cream to perfection. This mixture guarantees you get the most out of your brew, mostly in the form of a nose-tingling aroma or a taste bud explosion.
- “Smart” Brewing
Each capsule comes with a specific barcode which is located on the rim. As you place it inside the socket, the machine’s system recognizes the particular barcode and adjusts the settings depending on the said coffee blend. As a result, you don’t have to worry about settings and are guaranteed to enjoy the best, most refined cup of coffee you’ve ever had.
- Dual Brewing Potential
This model can brew 8 ounces of regular coffee (large capsule) and 1.35 ounces of espresso (small pod) with the push of a button. So, depending on your mood, you can switch between these options and satisfy your inner caffeine geek.
- Easy to Use
All you have to do is place the respective capsule in the socket and give the machine 15-20 seconds to preheat the water. Once it’s warm enough, the brew will fill your cup, and the capsule will be automatically ejected from the socket.
- Large Water Reservoir
It has a 54-ounce water tank that spares you the refilling after every use.
- Frothy Milk Feature
This model features a frother known as Aeroccino which can turn your freshly brewed espresso into a work of art in minutes. Specifically, it processes fresh milk and turns it into hot or cold milk froth based on your liking.
- Welcome Capsule Set
Each brand new machine comes with a welcome set that contains 12 capsules. Each of these capsules features a unique gourmet blend which introduces you to the variety of aromatic and flavorful options available by Nespresso.
- Pricey Capsules
Whether you want to make a cup of regular coffee or an espresso shot, the capsules for this model cost a little more than the average. So, be prepared to put your hands deep in your pockets. PS: The flavor and aroma alone are worth every penny.
If you are on the market for a single-serve coffee maker that is not going to take up much of your counter or cabinet space, then this model should be your go-to option. Sporting a medium-sized water tank and clean lines, it can fit any small kitchen. But, that’s not its only asset. Read on and find out why this model is worth your attention.
- Compact Design
As the name suggests (Pixie), this model comes in a compact design which is friendly to small kitchens with limited counter or cabinet space.
- Adjustable Cup Height
It also comes with a folding drip tray which allows you to fit tall glasses and travel mugs under the drip socket.
- Water Tank Refill Reminder
This model also has a set of red backlights on both sides which turn on when water levels in the tank are low. That’s a neat way to refill your coffee maker, isn’t it?
- Auto Shut-Off Function
The device is designed to turn off nine minutes after the last use, saving you lots of energy and giving you some peace of mind.
- Efficient Brewing
This brewer works based on Thermoblock Technology which is a patent to ensure the brew reaches a specific temperature. As a result, your coffee tastes fantastic every time.
- Complementary Capsule Set
When you purchase this model, you receive a capsule set as a welcome. This set contains 16 pods which allow you to explore the variety of brews (including their aromas and flavor) introduced by Nespresso.
- Fast Brewing
This single-cup coffee maker heats up in about 25 seconds, helping you get your caffeine fix as soon as possible.
- Easy to Use
It’s also user-friendly as it only requires the push of a button to start brewing your favorite espresso blend. Besides the one-touch button feature, this coffee maker can be reprogrammed to prepare custom volumes of your favorite caffeinated drinks.
- Compatible With Certain Capsules Only
The bad news is that this model is designed to fit only specific capsules which ultimately limits your options.
From getting us out of bed to keeping our eyes open during pesky morning meetings, coffee makes our lives better in ways we can’t even describe. However, spending a small fortune on overpriced drinks every morning (we’re looking at you, Starbucks) is not a viable option, and that is why we’re hooked with single-cup coffee makers.
Not only do they allow us to enjoy our favorite gourmet brews but they are also super easy to use and require almost zero cleaning. So, if you are ready to show your caffeine-obsessed taste buds some love, these top 6 single-serve coffee makers are a great place to start.