Single serve coffee makers come in hundreds of shapes, sizes and functionalities, ranging from fully-manual drip coffee makers to completely automatic “add your coffee, set and forget about it” type of machines.

These coffee brewing devices can be broken down into four groups:

  • Pod
  • Single Cup Drip Coffee Makers
  • Manual Brewing
  • Espresso Machines

Pod Coffee Machines

Pod or capsule coffee machines use plastic or, more recently, paper-pods that contain ground coffee to brew an espresso-like coffee. Pod machines often accumulate a sufficient amount of pressure to generate a decent espresso-like coffee. However, there are two drawbacks to these machines:

  • Most pods and capsules that the machines use comprise of non-recyclable, single-use plastic. Some capsule coffee companies have been working to address the issue, and have come up with compostable paper capsules or reusable plastic ones. Perhaps the industry will shift in this direction and get rid of single-use plastic pods entirely.
  • The coffee inside capsules must be pre-ground, meaning the quality will certainly be impacted compared to freshly ground and roasted coffee. On top of that, the coffee quality inside these pods has, until recently, been fairly poor.

Single Cup Drip Coffee Makers

Drip coffee makers are known as large machines that make a huge batch of freshly brewed coffee. They are quick and easy, and many of them are equipped delayed start timer. This means you can wake up to coffee being brewed in the morning. These same drip coffee machines exist in single-serve versions – no reason to drink four cups of coffee on your own.

These machines offer both flavor quality and ease of use. Add in high-quality, freshly roasted ground coffee with the recommended water amount, and that’s it. You’ll get a decent result if the coffee you use is good. Be sure to check our curated guide on how to choose the drip coffee maker that is suitable for you.

Manual Brewing

Manual brewing refers to any way of making coffee that’s not electrically powered. Instead, the person using the device controls the brew. This comes in numerous forms, and the brew flavor can vary significantly from each device.

There’s something to be said about the manual coffee brewers – it’s a little bit of a ritual – a process if you will. You first weigh your coffee out, grind it, and prepare the brewing equipment, heating it, so everything is just right. Slowly and carefully, you start brewing. When the process is complete, you have a drink that your own two hands made.

Yes, manual brewers are completely manual, which means there’s more to learn about them that a fully-automated machine.

And, that’s the point of manual brewing machines. You learn how to make your own perfect cup of “heaven.” You learn how to adjust things, so the coffee fits your particular palette. There are thousands of techniques and ways to brew with these machines – due to their flexibility.

Of course, they do take longer to prepare a single cup of coffee and require even more care than other machines, but it’s worth it if you want a great tasting coffee. We’ll go more in-depth about manual brewers and reviewing our favorites in an upcoming article.

Espresso Machines

These machines are a great way to get a single cup of coffee largely because you can only brew one at a time. Espresso is, in most people’s opinion, the only way to have coffee. There is certainly nothing like a beautifully crafted espresso in the morning hours.

Espresso coffee, however, is the most difficult to get right, and it’s also the most expensive option of all single serve coffee makers. It’s not just the machine that’s expensive, but also the grinders that produce the results that are expensive.

Like any manual brewing device, an espresso machine gives you control in producing the perfect cup. However, like the manual brewers, there is a learning curve to them. We’ll look deeper into our favorite espresso machines in a future article.

11 Tips To Help You Choose A Single Serve Coffee Maker

Reliability

When we’re talking reliability, one thing we look at is build quality. Is the device or machine made of plastic? If so, it is high-quality plastic. Are there any moving parts? If so, how smoothly do they move? Are they clunky? Can any part of the device break? If so, how many of them?

We also look at how consistent the machine or device is. Does it produce the same result every time – all the time? This is what we want – a reliable, well-built, consistent coffee maker.

Brew Speed

This boils down to personal choice – you can have it fast or slow, but should still stay within the recommended brew times. Speed is a big factor for some people when buying a coffee maker. After all, parents getting kids ready for school are on a time crunch, which means the brew time may be a key point for them.

Cost/Budget

Coffee makers can vary in their prices – from under $20 for a manual brewing device to more than $300 for a domestic espresso machine. Value for money is important.

Convenience

How many steps must you go through to have a delicious cup of coffee in your hand? Do you have to do a lot of preparing – rinsing filters, grinding coffee, setting times, etc. – to start the brewing process. How easy is it to clean?

Capacity

In my book, extra points go to capacity if it can serve for multiple purposes. If a device brews just one cup, it means brewing a second time for another cup. Or, I’ll have to purchase another device to handle more than one cup at a time. At the same time, if I want to brew one cup, but only have a machine that brews multiple cups, there’s a need for another device. Many drip coffee makers have a minimum amount you can brew – something I would consider a minute drawback.

Ease of Use

Some machines work with a touch of a button; others don’t have buttons. A pod or capsule coffee machine is easier than an Aeropress.

Temperature Consistency

One of the most important things when brewing coffee is water temperature. This is due to the rate at which coffee beans extract under different water temperatures. Colder water leads to a lower extraction rate compared to higher temperatures, which have a higher extraction rate.

With manual brews, the user controls everything including the brew temperature. However, with single serve drip coffee machines, the machine is in charge of the brew temperature consistency. The majority of good machines will have a stable brew temperature to ensure the best possible extraction.

Taste

You could take the same exact coffee and brew it in multiple devices, and end up with different tasting coffee each time. This difference could be big such as the difference from a pod and a drip, or it could be small such as one pod to another pod. Brew speed, convenience and ease of use all affect the taste.

Physical Space/Footprint

Most people do not have a huge kitchen to house a commercial-sized coffee machine. If you do, I’d love to see your kitchen. Your kitchen space will play a role in what kind of machine you get.

Accessories

Does the device need filters or extra bits? Does it comes with or offer additional accessories that add to the feature list?

Environmental Impact

How much waste is there after every use? Most products have some type of environmental impact. For example, an espresso machine uses more power than a manual brewing device. For example, the Hario V60 uses disposable single-use paper filters, but a Nespresso pod machine uses single-use plastic capsules, which is has more of a negative impact on the environment.

15 Single Serve Coffee Makers To Consider For Your Home and Office

Here’s our curated guide of 2019’s best single serve coffee makers, allowing you to start tasting delicious coffee close to your local coffee shop back home or at work.

Bunn MCU Single Cup Coffee Maker

Bunn MCU Single Cup Coffee Maker

Bunn makes a single serve coffee maker that brews K-cup capsules or ground coffee.

Pros:

  • Reliability – Well-designed machine
  • Convenience - Can be used for drip coffee or K-cups, so convenience is down to brew method
  • Physical space/ footprint - Takes up little kitchen space
  • Temperature consistency – Keeps a consistent temperature
  • Ease of use - Very easy to use
  • Capacity - Brews only a single serve at a time, cup easy to make multiple, quickly
  • Brew speed – Brews quickly
  • Taste - K-cups can have a negative effect on flavor; Ground coffee tends to have better results

Cons:

  • Environmental impact – K-cups leads to excess plastic waste
  • Cost/ budget - A mid to upper-priced machine

illy Y3.2 iperEspresso and Coffee Machine

illy Y3.2 iperEspresso and Coffee Machine

The illy Y3.2 uses its own iperEspresso capsules instead of K-cups or other pods.

Pros:

  • Physical space/ footprint - Small footprint
  • Brew speed - Brews quickly
  • Reliability - Nicely designed machine
  • Convenience - Almost no prep needed
  • Ease of use - Just load the capsule and brew
  • Temperature consistency - Brews at a consistent temperature
  • Capacity - Single serve only, but can quickly and easily make a second cup making a second cup

Cons:

  • Cost/ budget - Mid-priced machine; additional cost for every capsule
  • Environmental impact – Illy will recycle capsules sent back, but how many people will use the feature
  • Taste - Pod coffee machines typically produce a poor quality cup

Ninja CF091 Coffee Bar Brewer System

Ninja CF091 Coffee Bar Brewer System

The Ninja CF091 is a non-capsule coffee brewer that can brew multiple sizes - from a single cup to a full carafe. Also, it includes a milk steamer.

Pros:

  • Reliability - A well-made machine
  • Ease of use - Add coffee and water and push a button.
  • Temperature consistency - Brews at a consistent temperature
  • Capacity - Can brew anywhere between one cup and a full carafe
  • Environmental impact - Doesn’t use capsules
  • Taste - Add great coffee to get a good cup

Cons:

  • Physical space/ footprint - Takes up more space than other machines on the list
  • Brew speed – Slow brew compared to other capsule coffee makers
  • Convenience - Less convenient than a capsule machine, as users have to add ground coffee
  • Cost/ budget – Mid to upper-end price range

Litchi Single Serve Coffee Maker

Litchi Single Serve Coffee Maker

This inexpensive little coffee maker from Litchi comes with 2 options available: K-Cup or ground coffee to make a single cup.

Pros:

  • Physical space/ footprint - Small footprint.
  • Brew speed - Brews quickly.
  • Convenience – Comes with 2 options available: K-Cup or ground coffee for brewing.
  • Environmental impact – K-Cup capsules meant more plastic waste.
  • Ease of use – Just add a capsule and brew.
  • Temperature consistency - Brews at a consistent temperature.
  • Cost/ budget - Inexpensive.

Cons:

  • Taste - K-cups mean unless you buy the specialty capsules, quality will be bad.
  • Capacity - Brews one cup at a time, but can quickly brew many cups.

CHULUX Single Serve Coffee Maker

CHULUX Single Serve Coffee Maker

This inexpensive K-cup coffee maker from CHULUX comes in an array of funky colors and will make a single cup at a time.

Pros:

  • Ease of use - Couldn’t be easier to use
  • Physical space/ footprint - Small footprint
  • Temperature consistency – Decent temperature stability
  • Capacity – Brews one cup at a time, but can quickly brew many cups
  • Cost/ budget - Inexpensive
  • Brew speed - Fast brew speed
  • Convenience - Add a capsule and brew

Cons:

  • Environmental impact - Capsules mean plastic waste
  • Taste - K-cups mean unless you buy the specialty capsules, quality will be bad

Cuisinart SS-10 Premium Single-Serve Coffeemaker

Cuisinart SS-10 Premium Single-Serve Coffeemaker

The Cuisinart SS-10 can brew K-cup capsule coffee. It comes with a re-usable K-cup, allowing you to brew using your own ground coffee. It can also brew in multiple sizes - from 5oz to 12oz.

Pros:

  • Taste – Add good coffee and get a decent cup (just like other coffee makers)
  • Environmental impact - Re-usable K-cup lowers environmental impact
  • Reliability - Made reasonably well
  • Convenience - Just add coffee and water
  • Ease of use - Fully automatic
  • Physical space/ footprint - Small footprint
  • Brew speed - Brews quickly
  • Temperature consistency – Consistent brew temperature

Cons:

  • Cost/ budget - Not the cheapest machine on the list
  • Capacity - Brews a maximum of 12oz

Aicok Single Serve Coffee Maker

Aicok Single Serve Coffee Maker

The Aicok coffee maker is a very affordable and space friendly K-cup coffee maker.

Pros:

  • Ease of use - Couldn’t be easier to use
  • Physical space/ footprint - Probably the smallest machine on the list.
  • Temperature consistency – Decent temperature stability
  • Capacity – Brews one cup at a time, but can quickly brew many cups
  • Cost/ budget - Inexpensive.
  • Brew speed - Brews quickly
  • Convenience - Add a capsule and you’re good to go!

Cons:

  • Environmental impact - Capsules mean a lot of plastic waste.
  • Taste - Unless you buy the specialty capsules, quality will be bad.

AdirChef Grab N' Go Personal Coffee Maker

AdirChef Grab N' Go Personal Coffee Maker

This inexpensive coffee maker from AdirChef comes with its own portable travel cup, which means you can bring them along to work. It also comes in an array of funky colors to choose from.

Pros:

  • Environmental impact - Doesn’t use capsules or disposable filters.
  • Cost/ budget - Inexpensive.
  • Reliability – A well-made affordable coffee machine.
  • Convenience – Comes with a portable travel coffee cup.
  • Physical space/ footprint - Very small footprint.
  • Temperature consistency – Decent temperature stability
  • Ease of use – Simply by adding your coffee and start brewing.
  • Taste – Benefits of using your preferred brand of ground coffee Good coffee in= good coffee out.

Cons:

  • Capacity - Brews one cup at a time.
  • Brew speed – Slower brew process in comparison to capsule based coffee makers.

Chefman Instabrew Single Serve Coffee Maker

Chefman Instabrew Single Serve Coffee Maker

The affordable Chefman Instabrew coffee maker comes with two available options for you to brew you cup of joe. You can either brew it with a reusable K-cup or the reusable filter for coffee grounds or even to make tea by adding loose tea.

Pros:

  • Environmental impact - Re-usable K-cup and filter lowers environmental impact.
  • Convenience - Uses ground coffee or K-cups.
  • Ease of use - Fully automatic
  • Physical space/ footprint – Small footprint.
  • Temperature consistency – Decent temperature stability
  • Taste - Add good coffee to the K-cup and the results should be decent.
  • Cost/ budget – Affordable.

Cons:

  • Capacity - Brews a maximum of 12oz
  • Reliability – Considering the affordable price tag, the components are made of plastic which might not be the best build option.

Casara Single Cup Coffee Maker

Casara Single Cup Coffee Maker

This is one of the only single cup coffee makers we’ve come across that has a delayed start time; good for busy mornings and people on the run. It also comes with its own travel cup.

Pros:

  • Environmental impact - Does not use K-cups or disposable filters
  • Cost/ budget - Inexpensive
  • Convenience - Delayed start timer and includes its own travel cup
  • Physical space/ footprint - Small footprint
  • Temperature consistency - Keeps a fairly consistent temperature
  • Taste - Add your own coffee to get good results

Cons:

  • Capacity - Brews only a single serve at a time
  • Ease of use - Not as easy to use as capsule coffee makers
  • Brew speed - Doesn’t brew as fast as capsule coffee makers

SENSEO Original XL Coffee Pod Machine

SENSEO Original XL Coffee Pod Machine

The XL coffee pod machine is priced fairly high but is interesting to look at. It also uses its own brand of Senseo coffee pods.

Pros:

  • Environmental impact - Re-usable K-cup lowers the environmental impact
  • Reliability - Made reasonably well
  • Convenience - Just add the pod and brew
  • Capacity - Can brew two cups simultaneously
  • Ease of use - Fully automatic
  • Physical space/ footprint - Rather small footprint
  • Brew speed - Brews quickly
  • Temperature constancy - Brews at a consistent temperature

Cons:

  • Cost/ budget - Expensive
  • Taste - Coffee pods can lead to terrible taste

Breville Nespresso Creatista Single Serve Espresso Machine

Breville Nespresso Creatista Single Serve Espresso Machine

This is both an espresso machine and pod coffee maker. It uses pods to make coffee and comes with a steam wand and jug for foaming milk.

Pros:

  • Reliability – Well-constructed
  • Temperature consistency - Brews at a consistent temperature
  • Convenience - Couldn’t be easier
  • Physical space/ footprint - Takes up very little space
  • Ease of use - Add the capsule, press the button and wait for coffee. Foaming milk makes things a little more complicated
  • Capacity. Brews only a single serve at a time; refill to brew a second cup

Cons:

  • Cost/ budget - Most expensive machine on the list
  • Taste - Using standard non-specialty coffee K-cups tends to lead to poor tasting coffee
  • Environmental impact – Standard, non-recyclable capsules lead to a lot of plastic waste being created

Hamilton Beach Automatic Single Serve Drip Coffee Maker

Hamilton Beach Automatic Single Serve Drip Coffee Maker

An inexpensive, easy to use and automatic single serve drip coffee maker from Hamilton.

Pros:

  • Reliability – Well-built using high-quality stainless steel
  • Cost/ budget - Inexpensive for a well-built, automatic dripper
  • Taste - Like most coffee drippers, adding good coffee results in a decent cup
  • Environmental impact - Metal filter means no waste
  • Convenience - Add coffee and water; the machine does the rest
  • Ease of use - Fully automatic
  • Physical space/ footprint - Has a smaller footprint than most automatic drip brewers

Cons:

  • Brew speed - Brews 14oz in 2.5 minutes, meaning coffee doesn’t get enough extraction
  • Capacity - Brews a maximum of 14oz - not quite enough for two people
  • Temperature constancy - Brews at a consistent temperature

Breville Nespresso Essenza Mini Original

Breville Nespresso Essenza Mini Original

The Nespresso Essenza mini is a capsule or pod coffee machine.

Pros:

  • Reliability - Solid build
  • Temperature consistency - Brews at a consistent temperature
  • Convenience -No preparation needed
  • Physical space/ footprint - Has a small footprint
  • Ease of use - Add the capsule and press the button
  • Capacity - Brews only a single serve at a time but re-loading the machine is easy to make a second, third and fourth cup
  • Brew speed - Brews quickly

Cons:

  • Taste - Standard Nespresso capsules have poor-quality, pre-ground coffee beans, making coffee tastes bad
  • Environmental impact - Standard Nespresso pods are non-recyclable, non-compostable plastic waste
  • Cost/ budget – An expensive machine, as cost per cup is expensive compared to using fresh coffee beans

Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker

Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker

The Keurig K-Classic is a pod coffee maker, which uses K-cup pods rather than Nespresso pods.

Pros:

  • Physical space/ footprint - Doesn’t take up much space
  • Brew speed - Brews quickly
  • Reliability - Well-made machine
  • Convenience - Almost no prep needed
  • Ease of use - Couldn’t be easier to use
  • Temperature consistency - Brews at a consistent temperature
  • Capacity - Single serve only but can make a single cup quick and easy

Cons:

  • Cost/ budget - Machine isn’t too expensive, but regular pods will increase the price in the long run
  • Environmental impact - Standard pods create a lot of plastic waste; recyclable and re-usable K-cups are now available
  • Taste – Most K-cups produce poor quality coffee that tastes terrible

There is a large array of machines out there, and their prices can vary dramatically, For that reason, we’ll break down our top picks for the following three prices ranges – value for money, mid-range and high-end.

Best Value for Money Pick

Hamilton Beach Automatic Single Serve Drip Coffee Maker

Hamilton Beach Automatic Single Serve Drip Coffee Maker

It’s hard to beat the Hamilton Beach Automatic Single Serve Drip Coffee Maker for its price. It brews in just the right about of time for a good coffee. It’s well-made and looks nice in the kitchen.

Best Mid-Range Pick

Bunn MCU Single Cup Coffee Maker

Bunn MCU Single Cup Coffee Maker

For the mid-range, we’re choosing the Bunn MCU Single Cup Coffee Maker. It takes up a minute amount of space and can use either ground coffee or K-Cups. This is the best of both worlds!

Best High-End Pick

Breville Nespresso Creatista Single Serve Espresso Machine

Breville Nespresso Creatista Single Serve Espresso Machine

The coffee machine from Breville is two times the price of the second most expensive machine on the list, but it has an array of unique features that make it stand out and the winner of this price category. First, it looks like an espresso machine. Second, it has a steam wand, which is rare for pod machines. You can use specialty eco-friendly pods, and you’re ready to enjoy some great, fast coffee from a nice-looking machine.

Have you used any of these machines and want to declare your love for them? Are you a top secret brewer or have tip or hack you want to share with the world. Leave us comment and share the caffeinated love!

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