Single serve coffee machines are built to do a simple thing: churn out a single cup of decent coffee (hey, it’s what it says on the tin!). Despite that, manufacturers each have their own way of doing things. Different pod types, a whole host of distinct technical features, and a wildly fluctuating price range.
And that’s where we come in. To find the best single serve coffee machine, read our handy guide and single serve coffee machine reviews to find out more about what each maker has to offer.
Benefits of single-cup coffee makers
While there are numerous different types of single serve coffee makers out there, they all share several mutual benefits.
Single servings: An obvious benefit is that they make one serving at a time. This means that you don’t end up wasting coffee, while it also means that you don’t end up drinking too much.
Some people end up drinking several cups of coffee if they use a drip coffee maker, simply because they have a full pot ready to go. While this may not be a problem for some, it might be good if you are looking to cut down on your caffeine intake.
Freshness: Since you only make one serving at a time, you ensure that you have a fresh cup of coffee every time. This is a much more appealing alternative than pouring yourself a cup of coffee from a pot that been sitting there for over an hour. Not only will a heated pot lose flavor over time, but also it might take on a burnt taste if left on the hot plate for too long.
Convenience: One of the main reasons people opt for single serve coffee makers is that they are super convenient to use. They require very little work to operate, so you can quickly make a nice fresh cup of coffee in the morning with minimal effort. Ideal if you want to make a single cup of coffee for the road.
Certain models also work incredibly fast. Most single serve capsule coffee makers can make a fresh cup of coffee in a mater of seconds. If you are looking for a quick machine, then this is the ideal choice for you.
Versatility: One of the greatest benefits of owning a single-cup coffee maker is how easy it is to customize your drinks. With so many pods and k-cups available to purchase, you can find a drink, flavor and brand to suit every individual.
If you expect several people will use this machine, then versatility is a great benefit. It makes it incredibly simple to cater to different palates and needs, as you can even purchase teas or hot chocolate options.
This function is precisely what makes single-serve coffee makers so popular for office environments. You can cater to diverse tastes by having different brands, coffee strengths and types of beverages, so nobody is excluded.
Types of single serve coffee machines
Single serve coffee makers are hugely popular these days and it comes as no surprise. There are many people out there that are simply looking to make one cup of coffee at a time, so it makes sense that there are lots of different machines on the market now.
If you’re on the look out for a single serve coffee maker you really are spoilt for choice. There are essentially three different types of machines out there and we will discuss each one in a little more detail.
Capsule coffee makers
Also known as K-cup or T-disc coffee makers, the capsule variety is one of the best known on the market. It comes as no surprise that this is such a big hit amongst consumers, as they allow you to purchase lots of types of coffee from various different brands.
These coffee makers use a patented coffee system, which uses small disposable cups filled with a wide choice of coffee grounds. To make a cup of coffee, all you have to do is fill the machine with water, pop your chosen pod inside and press the start button.
The most popular brands are Keurig and Breville, which tend to get great reviews and offer good value for money. They also offer plenty of different pod options, so you will never run out of choices! Of course, if you’re looking for something different, there are also options provided by Nespresso and Tassimo.
The one thing you need to be careful with is that some machines only allow you to use capsules that have been specifically designed for the machine. When you are selecting your capsule coffee maker you should also take a look at the different capsules available to see if they will suit your needs and personal taste.
Added benefits: K-cup style coffee makers come with some additional benefits. Not only are they fast, convenient and offer a great deal of variety, but they also leave you with very little mess to deal with. You don’t have to worry about getting grinds all over your counter – simply throw away the k-cup once you have finished and you are good to go.
Of course, if you were looking for more coffee making options, you can now purchase reusable k-cup filters that accommodate coffee grinds. They might not be available for every model, so it’s worth reading the reviews first for more information.
Pod coffee makers
These single serve coffee machines use tea-like pods, which you simply load into the top. Then, all you have to do is add some water and press brew. They are commonly found in hotel rooms, but they can be purchased for the home as well. They work much like your drip coffee makers, so they do take a little longer to brew than your K-cup variety.
Single brew coffee machines
If you still want to get the same taste you get from a traditional ground coffee beans and filter coffee maker, but only want to brew one cup at a time, then you should consider getting a single brew coffee maker. They work just like your regular drip coffee makers, just smaller. All you do is load in your filter with your chosen grounds at the top, and hit the brew button for a single serving.
As most drip coffee makers these days give you the option to make smaller quantities, we’re not sure we see the full benefits of owning a single brew over another single serve coffee machine. It would most likely suit a household where individuals prefer this brewing method, but each have their preferred coffee grinds, such as caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.
Of course, you can also purchase hybrid single and multi-cup coffee makers, which offer both single-serve and multi-cup brewing methods. This added flexibility allows you to get the best of both worlds, all in one machine.
Features to consider
With a range of machines to choose from, it helps if you have a better idea of which factors to consider to help you make your purchasing decision. When looking through the different options, you should ask yourself which factors matter as this might help to narrow down your choices.
Price: When it comes to buying single serve coffee machines, budget will always play a part in your purchasing decision. Generally you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to over $500 for a machine, depending on the quality, brand and available features. However, if you are thinking of buying a capsule machine, then you need to consider more than just the price of the machine itself.
You don’t want to forget about the price of the refills, or pods, themselves. Some people automatically purchase the cheapest machine, without thinking about the pods and then end up having to pay a fortune for every cup of coffee. So, always make sure you consider both pricing factors before you commit to purchasing a machine.
Timer: For added convenience and the ability to set your coffee machine to start brewing first thing in the morning, you want to keep a lookout for a timer feature. This is ideally suited to those who have a regular sleep schedule and like to have a coffee before work every day.
Brew speed: If you want to make a quick cup of coffee in the morning, then brew speed might be an important factor. Of course, a quicker brew does not necessarily mean a tastier brew, so you might want to consider waiting a little longer for better coffee.
Brew strength: Some single serve coffee makers have a brew strength option, which essentially allows you to adjust how much water is used for each cup of coffee. This means you will need to accommodate a larger water storage area.
If you enjoy drinking different strengths, or need to cater to different tastes within your household, then you might want to look out for a machine with this option.
Machine size: If you don’t have much space on your kitchen counter and want the option of storing your coffee machine away when not in use, then you should make sure you take size into consideration.
We recommend measuring your cupboard to see how much space you have available. This is also important if you need to fit your machine under an upper level cupboard, limiting your space. You should make sure it would fit, including if you need to lift the lid to use it. Carefully measure out available space and always look at product dimensions when reading single serve coffee machines reviews.
Cup size: If you like to use large mugs, or need the machine to accommodate a travel mug, then make sure you keep an eye out for a machine that will allow this. Some only offer small cup sizes, so it’s something to take into consideration.
Temperature control: If there is a particular temperature at which you prefer your coffee to be brewed, then you should look out for coffee makers that offer variable water temperature for brewing. A good range would be between 195 to 202 degrees Fahrenheit, but it really depends on your personal preferences.
Water reservoir features: There are a few things to consider when it comes to the water reservoir. Firstly, you should consider the size of the reservoir. You might find a larger size more convenient so you don’t have to add water after each cup of coffee. Of course, this might mean needing to get a larger machine.
You should also consider whether or not the reservoir is removable. Detachable options are generally preferred since they are very simple to refill. If not, you will need to fill it with a separate jug.
Another convenient feature is a transparent water reservoir. While this is not a hugely important feature, it does make it easier to see when refilling is required. While those that do not have a transparent reservoir will typically have a feature built in to let you know when you need water, it is that little bit less convenient.
Filtration system: If you want the best tasting coffee, then you need to use filtered water. Some of the more expensive models come with a built-in filter, although this feature is pretty rare. Alternatively, simply fill your water reservoir with filtered or bottled water.
Noise: Some single-serve makers are a little on the noisy side, while others are very quiet. If you don’t like to be disturbed by noise, or are worried about waking up loved ones early in the morning, then you will want to look for a quieter model. Generally, the more expensive machines run quietly, but I would suggest always reading coffee machine reviews first.
Design: This might not be the most important feature, but it is something to take into consideration if you are down to your few last options. If you have a particular design or color scheme in your kitchen, then you might want to keep an eye out for machines that will match your style.
Some machines are available in a variety of colors, so always make sure you look at the options that are available. While you might only be able to find one color at your local store, online retailers such as Amazon tend to have a wider variety available. Always be sure to check out the online offers, which tend to have more choices available at cheaper prices.
Coffee selection and availability: While single brew options simply require your favorite coffee grounds, capsule coffee makers tend to have their own specially designed pods.
The two most popular selections are K-cups and Tassimo discs, which are widely available online and can easily be purchased in most grocery stores. They also offer a huge selection of different flavors and brands, so you will easily find a coffee or hot drink to suit your tastes.
However, other pods are less widely available, such as Nespresso capsules. While these are readily available online, they are not as widely available at your local grocery store. As well as pricing, you will also want to take availability and selection into consideration when looking at capsule models.
Making your selection
There are a great deal of single serve coffee machines on the market, but the best one for you will really depend on what you are looking for in a machine. The main points to consider are whether you are looking for a capsule machine or simply a drip coffee maker.
Think about your budget, importance of features such as timers, coffee selection and brew strength to help guide you in your choices. Always be sure to read the latest single serve coffee machines reviews to avoid buying a machine that comes with a multitude of problems.