Today, we’re going to walk you through everything you need if you’re looking for a single-serve coffee maker.
The definition of single-serve can be extended to any coffee brewing method that gives you the option of making just enough for one person.
There are several variations of single-serve coffee makers, and we’ll be covering all of them for you today.
The first type of machine that probably springs to mind is a pod-based system. Pods are packaged coffee grounds in a filter. The industry leaders in this vertical are Nespresso and Keurig. We have examples from both stables for you here today.
Manufacturers have concluded that many consumers are looking for combo machines. Let’s face it, kitchens can easily become overcrowded, especially if you’re a coffee lover. What could be better than a single-serve machine allowing you to use pods but also giving you the opportunity to use freshly ground coffee when you want to brew a bigger batch? Again, we have you covered there today.
Coffee bags also give you the option of making a single cup but the end result is not quite so impressive.
You can also find variations on the manual approach to brewing. These coffee makers are similar to a French press but deliver arguably superior results with much less bitterness. This is mainly achieved through a steeping time of 1 minute set against the 5 minutes required with a French press.
As always, we’ll give you more than just a few reviews to help you streamline your buying decision. We’ll also be outlining what you should look out for when you’re on the buying trail so you should find this one of the easiest purchasing decisions ever.
So, we’ll kick off with a look at some of the options at your disposal…
I. Our Top Picks for Single Serve Coffee Makers
|Products & Features||Image & Price|
Keurig K-Elite Our #1 Pick
|Best Single Serve Coffee Maker Without Pods: Ninja Single-Serve Auto-iQ|
|Best Single Serve Drip Coffee Brewer: Keurig K-Duo|
|Best Single Serve Coffee, Latte & Cappuccino Maker: Keurig K-Cafe|
|Budget Pick: Hamilton Beach Single-Serve Coffee Maker|
|Best for Travel: Coffee Gator Travel Coffee Maker|
|Nespresso Single-Serve Coffee Maker: Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker|
|DeLonghi America Lattissima Pro|
|Hamilton Beach FlexBrew|
|AdirChef Grab N’ Go|
|AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker|
|Hamilton Beach Single-Serve Coffee Maker|
|Presto MyJo Single Cup Coffee Maker|
II. What Kind of Single-Serve Brewers Are There?
Not all all single-serve coffee brewers are created equal so we’ll recap the options you have when you’re looking for this type of coffee maker.
All that counts here is finding a machine capable of making the drinks you want…
If you want pod-based convenience, Nespresso, Keurig and Tassimo are the heaviest hitters. You can also buy regular coffee makers that accommodate K-Cups or pods.
For espresso fiends, opt for a machine that lets you make your favorite short shot and/or other drinks. Whether you choose a dedicated single-serve pod espresso machine or another variant offering you espresso along with other drinks, you have plenty of choice.
As an aside, true espresso lovers will likely prefer a semi-automatic espresso machine but these are more involved and fall outside the scope of today’s study.
Tea or hot chocolate lover? Look for a machine that gives you hot water on demand.
You can also find plenty of manual solutions to making just enough coffee for one. From coffee bags – these tend to polarize opinion – to drip coffee makers, we’ll walk you through all of these and more when we hit our review section.
Before that, though, we’ll touch on the core differences between single-serve coffee makers and regular alternatives…
III. Single-Serve vs Regular Coffee Maker
With a single-serve approach to brewing, you’ll get exactly what the name promises: just enough coffee for one person. There are some exceptions to this with machines offering a combination of single-serve convenience along with the option of making a full carafe of drip coffee. The focus of these single-serve makers is on serving a single person and reducing wastage.
If you choose a straight-up single-serve that doesn’t allow you to make more than one cup at a time, you might want a back-up coffee machine.
Single-serves offer you complete convenience at the expense of the environment. The pods and capsules use a lot of plastic. You’ll also spend a fair amount on buying pods, especially if you’re a heavy coffee drinker.
So, there’s no right or wrong answer, just a case of getting the right solution for you and your family.
IV. Things to Consider
Buying a single-serve coffee maker can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Luckily, we do know what we’re looking for so focus on the following elements to simplify your buying decision:
- Type of Single-Serve Coffee Maker
- Pods or Capsules?
- K-Cups: Are They Really Worth It?
- Running Costs
- Physical Size
Type of Single-Serve Coffee Maker
The first broad decision you’ll need to make is whether to buy an electric single-serve machine or a gravity-powered manual coffee maker. We’ve got plenty of both so you can see which feels like the best fit.
Which makes most sense, though?
Well, if you’re looking for raw convenience, go electric. You’ll get the water heated for you and everything done at the push of a button.
If you prefer to get more involved with the brewing process and you like the idea of customizing your brew, a manual coffee maker is ideal. These gravity-fed options also make superb travel coffee makers if you’re always on the go.
For those choosing to go electric, you’ll also need to think about whether you’re happy with a single-serve machine only, or whether you’d prefer a combo unit giving you the best of both worlds.
The next issue you’ll face is the difference between pods and capsules…
Pods or Capsules?
Pod and capsule are routinely used interchangeably but they are not the same thing.
What’s the difference, then?
Well, capsules are small plastic cups like those used by Keurig and Nespresso. You pop these capsule into a machine and they are pierced before scorching, highly pressurized water is forced through the container.
Highly convenient, these sealed capsules keep the contents fresher for longer. This is due to coffee being vulnerable when exposed to oxygen, light, moisture, or heat.
A pod is a round bag of ground coffee roughly resembling an oversized tea bag. Typically biodegradable, pods are standard-sized allowing you to use them in a range of machines. These pods will lose their flavor quicker since they are exposed to oxygen and other contaminants.
We will occasionally use the word pod to describe what are, in reality, capsules. With Keurig using the term K-Cup pods, it’s often easier to fall in line with this convention.
You should now be clear on the difference between the two, though.
Now, how about those K-Cups we mentioned?
K-Cups: Are They Really Worth It?
When Keurig introduced the K-Cup to market, the single-serve coffee game was transformed.
As you would expect from any innovation, this seismic change brought both positives and negatives along with it.
For the consumer, making gourmet coffee suddenly became much easier. Convenience rules. The ability to get unrivalled consistency, albeit at the expense of flexibility, was another key selling point.
On the flip-side, K-Cups are ruinious for the environment. Few of these K-Cups end up being recycled and they end up in landfills in huge quantities. To address the issue, many manufacturers – Keurig included – are becoming more proactive in combating the eco-footprint of K-Cups.
The other serious drawback is the cost. Buying coffee this way works out much costlier than picking up freshly ground coffee or buying whole beans. The more coffee you drink, the pricier it becomes to run one of these machines.
More on those running costs now…
A rough guideline is that a cup of single-serve coffee using pods, K-Cups, or capsules, comes in at anywhere from 30 cents to 70 cents a cup.
You’ll be able to make slight savings by buying in bulk but you’ll be limited to proprietary pods for the most part.
Our advice is to consider how much coffee you drink and do the math before committing to purchase. A single-serve machine with no ability to use ground coffee will become expensive if you’re using 6 or more pods every day. For casual coffee drinkers, price won’t really be an issue.
If you’re opting for an electric model, make sure you’ve got enough power on top. Make sure, too, the machine runs on the correct voltage for your country. Some are only suitable for use in the US unless you buy a transformer.
You should ensure you’ve got enough power for your needs without obsessing over it.
With manual coffee makers, make sure you’re happy with the level of effort involved.
Features vary wildly and all that counts is buying in line with what suits your needs.
Many single-serve machines are just that. Pod or capsule-driven models still vary in terms of what type of drinks you can rustle up. You’ll typically be able to enjoy espresso, cappuccino, latte, and other milky drinks at the push of a button. Look out for iced functionality as well if you’re partial to cold coffee. Hot water on demand will extend your repertoire further.
As we mentioned, many other machine vary dramatically in functionality allowing you the freedom to make a whole carafe of drip coffee. This is a superb option if you have a larger family but you still like the convenience of slipping in a capsule first thing in the morning when you’re rushing around.
Make certain the variety of brew sizes is to your liking and check that you can fit in your travel mug if you drink coffee on the go frequently.
Programmability allows you to wake up to fresh coffee or return home to a machine fired up and primed for action.
With manual coffee makers, look closely into the brewing method and make sure you’re comfortable with it.
You should be clear about how much space you have in your kitchen to accommodate your new coffee maker.
Ideally, locate your single-serve machine on a stable surface close to your faucet to simplify refilling.
Weight is not so much of an issue since you’ll normally install your machine and leave it in place.
We made sure to include plenty of smaller models today so there’s something for everyone. It doesn’t matter how small or crowded your kitchen is, there’s no excuse not to invest in a single-serve machine.
With the groundwork laid, you should already have a clear idea of what to look out for if you want the best single-serve coffee maker. So without further ado, we’ll launch directly into our reviews.
V. 17 Best Single Serve Coffee Makers
1. Our #1 Pick: Keurig K-Elite
Our overall winner for best single-serve coffee maker is the classic Keurig K-Elite. While no machine is perfect, this comes pretty close.
If you’ve got a large family, you’ll appreciate the supersized 75oz water tank. Cut back on refilling and free up some precious time in the mornings.
Choose from multiple brew sizes including travel mugs so you’ve got something for the whole family. The drip tray is removable to facilitate using larger vessels.
You’ll also have the freedom to rack up iced coffee without that diluted mess that often results. Beyond this, hot water on demand further broadens your scope of drinks.
Do you find yourself forgetting to descale your coffee makers? If so, you’ll appreciate the K-Elite alerting you when it’s time for a clean.
K-Cup pods give you plenty of choice when it comes to finding your favorite roast.
2. Best Single Serve Coffee Maker Without Pods: Ninja Single-Serve Auto-iQ
If you want the ease of use provided by a single-serve machine but you’re not a fan of pods, what can you do?
Well, the Ninja Auto-iQ gives you push-button simplicity without being locked into proprietary pods or using too much plastic. Use your preferred ground coffee and tweak to taste.
If you like your coffee strong and intense, hit Café Forte and you can enjoy a full-bodied drink to rival anything your local coffee shop serves up.
Flick between 5 brew sizes to suit with this CF112 iteration and enjoy classic, rich, or specialty coffee. Over ice lets you take advantage of cooler drinks when the mercury rises.
With the frother baked in, you can create longer, creamier drinks with consummate ease.
This model does not come with a carafe included. There are several other iterations of the Auto-iQ giving you glass and thermal carafes so roll with one of those if you want your coffee hotter for longer.
As an added kicker, you’ll get a recipe book jammed with 40 recipes so you can get your creative juices going.
3. Best Single Serve Drip Coffee Brewer: Keurig K-Duo
Perhaps you’re sold on the idea of single-serve convenience but you don’t fancy relinquishing your freshly brewed drip coffee? Well, you don’t need to compromise. Keurig’s powerhouse K-Duo gives you pod-based coffee on one side with a glass carafe on the other side so you get the best of both worlds.
A powerful machine needs a decent water reservoir or you’re constantly scuttling to the faucet to refill. At 60oz, you can make coffee for all the family in a single session. The carafe holds a full 12 cups.
If you always find yourself rushing around in the morning, the K-Duo can free up some precious time. Program your machine to brew up a fresh carafe any time you want. Head downstairs to the alluring smell of fresh coffee and simply pour rather than waiting around.
If you like more of a kick to your caffeine fix, hit Strong and you’ll get an amped up coffee.
Brew size options include 6oz, 8oz, 10oz, and 12oz and you can brew a carafe with 6, 8, 10, or 12 cups.
4. Best Single Serve Coffee, Latte & Cappuccino Maker: Keurig K-Cafe
Keurig has a tight stranglehold on the single-serve coffee vertical and the K-Café is another solid model from their broad and deep bench.
The jumbo 60oz water reservoir gives you enough to fuel up the family every morning. If any of you commute with a cuppa, remove the drip tray and you can slide in a travel mug fuss-free.
You can program your machine to power down automatically 2 hours after you last brew up. This is a small but valuable extra giving you peace of mind.
If you like the idea of using freshly ground coffee as well, this model is compatible with the permanent filter but you’ll need to buy this separately.
The only constant with Keurig that doesn’t will is customer service. Many frustrated users report lengthy waiting times and underwhelming assistance. In all other respects, this is a powerhouse single-serve unit worthy of a place on any shortlist.
5. Budget Pick: Hamilton Beach Single-Serve Coffee Maker
If you thought it was impossible to get a decent single-serve machine for well under a Ulysses, you need introducing to Hamilton Beach. We’ll tell you upfront that a machine at this price-point won’t stand up to heavy punishment. You also need to be realistic about lifespan. With that said, for light users looking for single-serve on a budget, this unit punches above its weight.
Despite such attractive pricing, you’ll get an expanse of stainless that sets off your kitchen counter.
You won’t be pegged to pods with this machine. Use your favorite ground coffee and don’t forget to grind directly before brewing for best results.
Choose from regular or bold brews so you can customize coffee for all the family.
This machine is easy to use even if you’re a complete beginner, and needs almost nothing by the way of cleaning or maintenance. What’s not to love?
6. Best for Travel: Coffee Gator Travel Coffee Maker
If you travel regularly and don’t want to rely on low quality coffee when you’re away from home, why not invest in this innovative travel coffee maker from Coffee Gator?
Along with the robust travel mug, you’ll get a stainless steel filter. This allows you to make pour-over straight into your cup. Cut down on clean-up and benefit from a completely portable solution. Also, the reusable filter saves your pocket and the environment since you won’t need to buy endless paper filters.
Don’t be tricked by the simplicity of this brewing method. The pour-over approach unlocks all the flavor and aroma from your fresh coffee. Remember, though, grind those beans right before brewing if you’re looking for the ultimate golden cup of coffee.
While this is not cheap, you’re getting a rugged and versatile weapon to liven up your journeys so why not treat yourself? And on the plus side, it’s still much cheaper than most machines with similar end results so why not give it a try?
The vacuum-layered and highly insulated travel cup ensures your drink stays hotter for longer.
7. Nespresso Single-Serve Coffee Maker: Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker
It’s worth pointing out off the bat that the Nespresso Pixie is now discontinued. Don’t let that stop you from giving this nimble machine a shot, though.
If you’re looking for coffee in a hurry, you’ll get your drink in just 30 seconds with the thermoblock heating unit packing a serious punch.
As with all pod-based machines, using the Pixie couldn’t be much easier. Top up the reservoir – it only accommodates 24oz which is disappointing – and add a Nespresso capsule and you’re ready to roll.
Punch a button and enjoy fresh espresso or lungo without needing to hustle to the coffee shop. Clean-up, as with all single-serve pod machines, is an absolute cinch.
Setting aside that dinky water tank, this classic pod-driven unit still deserves a place on any shortlist of the best single-serve coffee makers.
8. Keurig K-Classic
A compact and highly affordable single-serve coffee machine from an industry legend, the K-Classic gives you a budget machine capable of returning first-class results.
Use multiple pod sizes (6oz, 8oz, or 10oz) and choose from hundreds of stunning roasts so you can get coffee to rival that from Starbucks without the exorbitant bill.
The mid-sized 48oz water tank means you won’t be continually topping the machine up and you’ll have ample coffee for all the family in the morning.
The only real downside of this machine are the relatively underwhelming looks but you can’t have everything at this price-point.
9. Cuisinart DCC-3000
The slick Cuisinart DCC-3000 belies its near-budget price tag since it looks outstanding and performs similarly.
Get your drink started the right way with the charcoal water filter removing impurities and leaving you with a great foundation for stellar coffee.
The filter basket is built to accommodate either a permanent or paper filter. There’s no right or wrong answer here, simply choose which makes the best fit for you.
A nifty gauge indicates how much coffee you have remaining while the double-walled coffee reservoir can keep up to 12 cups nicely warmed for hours on end.
This machine is also easily programmable. Whether you want a nice cup of joe waiting for you in the morning or when you return from work, cut down on the waiting time and say hello to complete convenience.
10. DeLonghi America Lattissima Pro
DeLonghi makes a broad range of highly effective coffee machines and the America Lattissima Pro is among the finer examples.
With the proprietary cappuccino system onboard, you’ll be able to enjoy a wide variety of specialty coffees at the push of a button. You can also make top-notch espresso thanks to the ample pressure of 19 bars.
Load your Lattissima Pro up with your favorite Nespresso capsules and you’ll enjoy gourmet coffee with remarkably little fuss.
You can remove the milk carafe so you can keep your milk nicely refrigerated. It’s also dishwasher-friendly which cuts back on the cleaning you’ll need to carry out.
Heat-up is predictably swift so you won’t need to stand on ceremony.
Although the Lattissima Pro is certainly not cheap, if you move quickly, you could benefit from a steep discount so what are you waiting for?
11. Cuisinart SS-10
Another looker, the Cuisinart SS-10 might be made from plastic but it makes a statement on any kitchen counter.
You’ll be free to use any K-Cup pods so you won’t be locked into one particular ecosystem.
If you prefer tea, hot chocolate, or infusions, just hit the hot water on demand button and you’ll have that covered, too.
Despite looking stripped-down and minimalist, functionality and programmability are robust.
Multiple brew sizes expands your freedom of choice further, and all you need to do is push a button for nigh-immediate service.
With a generous and class-leading 72oz water reservoir, the SS-10 works well for large families or anyone with a huge appetite for coffee.
12. Hamilton Beach FlexBrew
Stepping up the Hamilton Beach range a little, the FlexBrew still represents exceptional overall value while delivering a flexible experience for beginners and pros alike.
On the right-hand side of the FlexBrew, you’ll enjoy single-serve pod-driven convenience. Slide in your preferred K-Cup pod and you’re away at the push of a button. On the left-hand side, a glass carafe and permanent filter gives you the scope to make freshly brewed coffee fuss-free.
A pair of water reservoirs simplifies operation and you’ll be able to tweak the strength of your brew with ease.
You can expect your single-serve drink in your cup in roughly 3 minutes which is not the quickest. You can program the FlexBrew to minimize waiting time, though.
Multiple colorways allow you to match your machine to your kitchen décor.
13. AdirChef Grab N’ Go
This innovative travel-friendly single-serve solution comes in a full spectrum of colors so you’ve got no excuse not to find something you like the look of.
The permanent filter in this unit brings your ongoing expenses right down while also minimizing your environmental footprint.
Slip the travel mug under the machine and you can get piping hot coffee ready for the road. The insulated mug will keep your drink warm all the way into work giving you the ideal travel companion.
While the machine is regrettably heavy on the plastic, all parts are free of contaminants so you can drink with a clear conscience.
The one serious flaw with this machine is a thermometer issue that forces you to wait up to 10 minutes between brewing. Depending on your usage habits, this might be no big deal or it could be a huge pain. Be aware of this before committing to purchase.
14. AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker
Do you prefer a more involved and manual approach to brewing up your coffee but dislike the slight bitterness of French press? If so, the AeroPress is a wonderful alternative.
You’ll be able to make up to 3 cups of Americano in a minute compared to the 5 minutes required with a French press. Thanks to the paper microfilter, you’ll get none of the grit and sediment that can mar French press coffee. In most respects, this delivers superior results.
You can also rack up a serviceable espresso-style coffee. Drink this alone or use it as base for creamy latte and cappuccino.
Although there’s a great deal of plastic on display, it’s certified free of all contaminants.
This set includes:
- AeroPress press
- 350 microfilters
- Filter holder
With that in hand, you’ll have everything you need to make first-class coffee in 60 seconds flat.
15. Hamilton Beach Single-Serve Coffee Maker
Yet another Hamilton Beach up next as we edge to the end of our single-serve coffee maker reviews.
If you live in a small apartment or your kitchen is overcrowded with appliances, the slim and squat footprint of this machine might be just what you’ve been looking for.
You can brew either using a pod pack or fresh coffee grounds broadening your options without forcing you to buy two machines.
Flick between bold or regular coffee at the press of a button so you can create drinks for the whole family just the way they like them.
As with all Hamilton Beach kit, avoid this machine if you make huge quantities of coffee. It’s not designed for continuous and heavy punishment. Equally, keep your expectations about lifespan reasonable and you won’t end up disappointed.
Overall, the strengths of this solid yet small unit vastly outweigh the drawbacks so check one out at your earliest convenience.
Choose from 3 colors to complement your kitchen décor.
16. Presto MyJo Single Cup Coffee Maker
Our penultimate single-serve machine is incredibly cheap yet still capable of helping you enjoy great coffee on the daily.
With this portable gem, all you need to do is load the base with a K-Cup pack then you’ll be less than a minute from lip-smacking coffee.
The portable nature of this little unit makes it a great match for busy travelers not prepared to forego quality coffee when they’re not at home.
Simply place the Presto on top of your mug and sit back for fantastic results with minimal effort.
17. Mueller Ultima
To round out our quest for the best single-serve coffee maker, we’ve got the Mueller Ultima.
Use all types of pods giving you maximum choice while allowing you to save money since you won’t be locked into a single ecosystem.
At 48oz, the water tank could be a bit bigger but it’s more than fit for purpose. The same could be said in reverse about the amount of plastic but at least it’s all BPA-free.
Choose from 4 brew sizes (6oz, 8ox, 10oz, 12oz) and you can also manipulate the strength.
A small unit weighing only a fraction over 2 pounds and measuring up at 15 x 13 x 9 inches, you’ll be free to slot this machine into the smallest kitchen without eating up too much precious real estate.
With our reviews put to bed, you now have a huge choice of the best single-serve coffee machines money can buy. We tried to serve you up with a variety of styles of machines and we also targeted multiple price-points so there’s truly something for everyone.
Whether you prefer pod-based machines or you like to use freshly ground coffee, many machines we explored today give you the chance to use both methods. We’ve also thrown in some more manual solutions.
If you take the time to focus on the elements we outline in our buying guide as well, choosing which machine to add to your arsenal should be a piece of cake. And, here at La Mano Coffee, that’s what we want to do every time you visit – make your life easier while saving you time and money.
So don’t forget to bookmark our site as we’ve got a huge content calendar for the new year and we have a treasure trove of the best appliances so you can make gourmet coffee without leaving home. See you soon!