We researched dozens of single-serve coffee makers before making our final decisions. First, we looked over models from well-known and lesser-known brands alike, reviewing manufacturer claims and reputations. After that, we turned to user reviews from actual customers. This gave us a better idea of how well these coffee makers worked for real live people, the sorts of features they were looking for in single-serve coffee makers, and what they liked or would change about each product.
When we had narrowed our selection down to fewer than 10 coffee makers, it was time to consult the experts. We read talked directly to a former barista to see what he had to say about single-serve coffee makers and read reviews and articles written by other current and former baristas. With their insight, we were able to narrow down the product selection to the best five options.
Why buy a single-serve coffee maker?
Whether you’re an occasional or daily coffee drinker, you may prefer a single-serve coffee maker for your home. Most of them brew fresh drip coffee more quickly than a standard coffee machine since they make smaller quantities, dispensing the java right into the mug. Less coffee also means there’s less to clean up after the brewing process is finished.
So while a single-serve coffee maker is generally considered best for people who live alone, regardless of their coffee habits, one of these appliances can be useful for households with several people for these same reasons. And if you’re only in the mood for a single cup, you don’t have to brew more and worry about the extra coffee going to waste.
Single-serve coffee makers are also useful for those who live in a home with a smaller kitchen, or their kitchen has limited available counter space. In general, the average single-serve coffee maker takes up less room than the average standard-sized coffee maker.
What should you look for in a single-serve coffee maker?
- Versatility: Your single-serve coffee machine will, as expected, produce a single cup of coffee, though it may come in a variety of sizing options. The standard cup of coffee is welcome, but don’t be afraid to seek out options that are equipped to work with more (i.e., milk frothers, hot chocolate, loose leaf tea, etc.).
- Performance: How quickly can it knock out some java? Will it steam at your ideal temperature? The wattage will affect and increase its speed, temperature, and performance.
- Proportions: Coffee for one person means you’re dealing with a significantly smaller machine, though they can still vary in how much countertop space they’ll need. Most are tall and narrow, but not all. And “single-serve” doesn’t mean these coffee machines only make a standard 8-ounce cup. Some can brew 12 or 14 ounces at a time. Some even offer several different size options that still fall within the realm of a single serving.
Do you use coffee grounds or pods in your single-serve coffee maker?
It’ll depend on which coffee maker you buy and what it’s compatible with. Some only use coffee grounds, some only use cups or pods, and some will allow you to choose between the two. (Keep in mind that some brands are only compatible with coffee cups or pods made by the same company.) It comes down to personal preference and other factors the coffee maker possesses that may be important to you. Single-serve coffee machines that use pods tend to be much easier to use, after all.
Coffee grounds, whether you buy them pre-ground or grind the coffee beans yourself, tend to cost less per serving than pods. And coffee grounds are often more eco-friendly since you don’t have a container to throw away after each use (unless the capsules are biodegradable or you use paper filters).
Note that if you prefer not to fuss about pods or machines, you could also buy a French press coffee maker. While not a single-serve coffee machine per se, you can easily brew a single cup of java in one of these handy little coffee makers, and they don’t require pods or electricity to operate.
Are there specialty single-serve coffee makers?
If you prefer a fancier or more involved cup of joe as opposed to plain coffee, yes; there are single-serve coffee makers equipped to make espresso or cappuccinos or lattes, for instance. Some can even make one or more of these types of specialty coffees as well as a standard drip coffee. These are handy since they allow you to mix up your regular coffee routine if you’re ever getting bored of only drinking one type, or make a different type of coffee for friends or out-of-town guests who may prefer, say, espresso to drip coffee.
Just keep in mind that specialty coffee will take longer to make, require a more involved process, and will be more expensive on average.
Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker
An ideally quaint and simple-to-use coffee maker that can brew cups between 6 and 12 ounces.
Pros: This is a quintessential single-serve coffee maker. It’s slim and compact, y despite this small size, it’s still compatible with travel mugs up to 7 inches tall and can brew a cup of coffee as large as 12 ounces. It’s simple and straightforward to use. All you have to do is add the K-Cup of your choice (no Keurig-brand pod necessary), add a cup of water between 6 and 12 ounces, and hit the brew button. As a bonus, it’s available in seven different colors, allowing you to pick the one that best suits your kitchen decor.
Cons: The water reservoir isn’t the most user-friendly. You don’t have the option to remove it for filling or cleaning, and it only has the capacity for a single cup rather than several. You’ll have to add water each time you want to make a cup of coffee.
Bottom Line: The gold standard for single-serve coffee makers, this Keurig K-Mini machine can fit just about anywhere and makes fresh-brewed cups of joe in mere minutes. It brews 6- to 12-ounce cups with hundreds of compatible K-Cup pods. A smaller build also makes for smarter, energy-efficient features, including its 90-second shut-off feature that automatically turns off the device when no activity is registered. All in all, this is a sleek and compact single-serve coffee maker suitable for various ages, lifestyles, and kitchen sizes.
Chefman InstaCoffee Max
A compact device that not only looks good but drips a good cup in about 30 seconds.
Pros: Even by single-serve coffee maker standards, this coffee machine brews your morning cup of java extremely quickly. Once you’ve pressed the button, it only takes about 30 seconds before you’ve got a fresh, hot cup of coffee ready to drink. And the coffee maker operates at the same speed whether you’re making your coffee with a capsule or grounds. The filter even allows you to brew loose leaf tea in this coffee maker. The slim design will take up minimal room, yet it’s still able to fit mugs up to 14 ounces in size. By coffee machine standards, this model is quite inexpensive.
Cons: While the water reservoir has a fill line, it’s difficult to see and read. Thus, eyeballing the correct amount of water may lead to overflow, spilling, and dripping. As convenient and quick-brewing as this single-serving coffee maker is, it does tend to have a shorter service life than many similar models.
Bottom Line: Another sleek, modern choice that bests the competition in a matter of seconds, this Chefman InstaCoffee machine includes a collection of perks, but it’s the half-minute brew time setting that really takes this coffee maker above and beyond. This is a terrifically multifaceted and versatile option, especially for its low price, one that not only saves you time but space as well.
Keurig K-Cafe Single-Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker
A great choice for the biggest caffeine lover you know, this machine can brew traditional coffee, lattes, and cappuccinos.
Pros: This is one of the most multifunctional single-serve coffee makers you’ll find. It’s capable of making regular drip coffee, lattes, and cappuccinos, all in one machine. The specialty drinks don’t take any longer to make, either. The included milk frother, which is dishwasher safe, works with regular, skim, almond, and soy milk, among others. You can even make iced lattes and cappuccinos, not just hot ones, a feature not offered by many single-serve coffee makers. The water reservoir is quite large (60 ounces) and detaches for easier filling and cleaning. And it’s equipped with an auto-shutoff function that kicks in after two hours.
Cons: As is the case with specialty coffee makers, this single-serve coffee machine is quite pricey. It’ll take up much more countertop space than most. It’s only compatible with Keurig K-Cup pods. If you want to use coffee grounds instead, it is compatible with the Keurig My K-Cup Universal Reusable Coffee Filter. However, you’ll have to find and purchase the filter separately.
Bottom Line: A premium option worth shelling out for, this Keurig K-Cafe Special Edition machine is capable of making not only coffee but lattes and cappuccinos, too. Below the hood are a mix of energy-forward and convenient perks that caffeine fiends will love. As long as you have the counter space to fit it and you aren’t on too tight of a budget, you’ll get lots of mileage out of this versatile coffee maker.
Wirsh Single-Serve Coffee Maker
A coffee maker that practically puts a fresh cup of joe in your hand first thing in the morning.
Pros: If you have a set morning routine, you’ll love the convenient preset 24-hour timer on this machine. Whatever flavor of coffee or coarseness level of coffee grounds, this coffee maker and its reusable filter and funnel are compatible with them. That same filter can also be used to brew loose leaf tea. As a bonus, you also get a complimentary travel mug and lid with your purchase.
Cons: Unfortunately, this single-serve coffee maker isn’t compatible with K-Cups or any other sort of coffee pods. It tends to drip or leak once it’s finished brewing your coffee, so be prepared to have to clean up your countertop a bit. Be sure to keep it somewhere that’s waterproof, and consider even placing a towel or cloth underneath as a preemptive measure. Also be prepared for some noisiness whenever you make your coffee or tea.
Bottom Line: Ever wish you could wake up with a cup of coffee ready to go? Well, this Wirsh Single Cup Coffee Maker can help. With its programmable 24-hour schedule, you can actually preset the desired brewing time. As long as you’re happy making your coffee from grounds instead of capsules and don’t mind a little cleanup, you’ll love this single-serve coffee maker.
Bonsenkitchen Single-Serve Coffee Maker
A coffee maker that knows how to make easy-going coffee and plenty of it.
Pros: If you and your significant other, family members, or roommates have different preferences for which of these two methods you prefer for brewing your coffee, this coffee maker can be used by the entire household. The base can be raised and lowered for accommodating different sizes of cups to catch your coffee and reduce splattering. The preset size buttons are useful for different-sized mugs, too. You don’t have to measure out your water ahead of time; simply fill up the 30-ounce reservoir and choose between a 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-, or 14-ounce cup of coffee. Said water reservoir and the drip tray alike are both removable for easier cleaning as well.
Cons: There are certain types of pods that won’t fit inside. Shorter, wider capsules, like Dolce Gusto capsules, aren’t compatible with this single-serve coffee maker. You’ll also have to be careful with the lid, as it’s not hinged and doesn’t fit quite as securely on top as you might expect. Be sure to clean this coffee machine regularly and treat it carefully, as some users reported that the bottom may begin to leak otherwise.
Bottom Line: Rather than bog itself and its users down with excess features, this Bonsenkitchen Single-Serve Coffee Maker is straightforward but accommodating. Simply put, you can use pods or ground coffee in this machine. However, this is also an ideal choice for coffee lovers who enjoy multiple cups throughout the day. It features a 30-ounce water reservoir that will keep extra liquid on standby to refill the tank less often.
Are single-serve coffee makers more or less expensive than regular ones?
You might think this is the case since they’re smaller and make fewer cups of coffee at a time, but the brand and specialty features of a single-serve coffee machine affect its price more than its size. Some may even cost more upfront than a regular drip coffee maker, especially if they’re able to make specialty brews like cappuccinos. The price for a single-serve coffee maker varies pretty widely.
Do you have to clean your single-serve coffee machine after every use?
Not necessarily. Unlike some other types of coffee makers, you can get away with not cleaning your single-serve coffee machine after every single use. Since they brew smaller quantities, they don’t get dirty as quickly. You’ll have to clean them every couple of uses, but not every time or even daily, depending on how much coffee you drink.
Are there any drawbacks to single-serve coffee machines?
While you won’t have to worry about wasting coffee with a single-serve coffee maker, they can be a hassle if you have more than a couple of people to serve. If you have a house full of guests who are coffee drinkers, you’ll have to brew multiple cups in a row rather than make one pot of coffee to share. And if you yourself drink more than two or three cups a day, using your coffee maker over and over again in the same day can become tedious. It’ll also wear on your machine over time and possibly shorten its service life.
The other big drawback to single-serve coffee machines is their lack of temperature control. It’s very rare to find a single-serve coffee maker that allows you to pick or customize the brewing temperature. And since they don’t have a heating surface to keep your cup of java hot, you’ll have to drink your coffee as soon as it’s finished brewing before it becomes lukewarm or cold and loses its flavor.
A single-serve coffee maker can be a boon for people who live alone, people who like coffee but don’t drink it every day, or those with limited kitchen countertop space. They allow you to make and enjoy coffee and hot beverages in the comfort of your kitchen without having to worry about wasting any. These single-serve coffee makers will be an asset to many coffee-drinkers’ homes.
If none of the single-serve coffee machines in this article capture your fancy or possess the features you’re looking for, here are a few other single-serve coffee makers we would recommend: