How to Find the Best Single-Serve Coffee Maker on the Market

The beloved coffee break has gotten a makeover in recent years.

In the past, multiple-serve coffee makers monopolized the market.

But recent statistics show that single-serve coffee makers are quickly rising in popularity. Single-serve coffee machines were the second most popular brewing system – after standard drip coffee makers. 

And it’s easy to see why. 

Single-serve coffee makers bring home the gourmet coffee-shop experience to coffee aficionados. We all know how hard it is to go back to standard brew once you’ve latched onto the gourmet taste!

Instead of brewing large amounts of coffee meant for a large group, single-serve coffee makers produce a single portion. This makes a single-serve coffee brewer ideal for anyone who desires to get their daily cup of coffee at home.

With a single-serve coffee maker, all you have to do is pop a K-cup or a coffee pod into the machine and press a button. In less than a minute, you will have a perfectly brewed cup of coffee. It is instant gourmet coffee!

Brewing single-serve coffee might seem unnecessarily expensive. But if you’re a true coffee aficionado, having your own single-serve coffee maker is more cost-effective than buying regularly from a coffee shop.

Who Needs a Single-Serve Coffee Brewer?

There are many reasons why one might want to buy a single-serve coffee maker. Here are some of them:

  • You’re a casual coffee drinker: Do you enjoy your morning cup of coffee? If you’re not the kind to down multiple cups over the day, a single-serve coffee brewer makes total sense. 
  • You live alone: If you live with others, a standard drip coffee maker isn’t a bad idea. But if you live alone or are the only person who takes coffee in your home, a single-serve coffee maker is ideal.
  • You’re a coffee fanatic: Are you a coffee aficionado? Then it makes sense to get a single-serve coffee brewer instead of depending on the coffee shop for your regular fix.
  • You want to save time: A single-serve machine is generally faster than the standard drip brewer. A good one should be able to produce a perfectly brewed cup of coffee in about 30 seconds.

If you are thinking of buying a single-serve brewer, there are several factors you need to consider.

Here are some tips on how to find the best single-serve coffee maker to suit your needs:

Select the Type of Single-Serve Coffee Maker

Single-serve coffee makers come in different designs suitable for either K-cups or coffee pods.

  • K-cups are the tinfoil-sealed plastic cups containing coffee grounds. The K-cup is lined with filter material that contains the coffee during the brewing process. 
  • Coffee pods are sealed inside filter paper. Coffee pods are often round and flat in shape. They are also soft and pliable. In simple words, coffee pods look a lot like teabags.
K-cup and coffee pod ground coffee side by side

If you prefer one over the other, ensure to get the right coffee maker for it. Bear in mind that most single-serve coffee makers for K-cups won’t work for pods and vice versa.

But some coffee makers can brew coffee from both pods and K-cups. You can also purchase an adapter to enable your coffee maker to be compatible with both.

Some people claim that coffee brewed from pods has better taste and aroma compared to coffee from a K-cup. K-cups are easier to find in grocery stores and have more flavors and coffee blends.

To get you started, here are some of the best coffee brewers for both K-cups and coffee pods.

K-cup coffee makers
Pod coffee makers
Keurig K55 K-Cup Brewer Nespresso Pixie Espresso Machine
Sboly Mini Hamilton Beach FlexBrew
Cuisinart SS-10 Keurig K-Elite Pod Maker
Nespresso Vertuo Cuisinart SS-10
Hamilton Beach 49981A SENSEO Original XL Coffee Pod Machine

Check Capacity and Cup Selections

Some single-serve coffee machines only allow the brewing of one size of a cup. However, some models are more flexible and offer several options in capacity and cup selection.

If you want coffee for your travel mug, go for a 10 to 12 oz. brew size. But if you’re an espresso lover, you should go for 4 to 5 oz. cup size. 

Before buying a single-serve coffee maker, consider how many persons will be using it. Make sure that the cup selections are suitable for everyone. 

To adjust the brew strength, you can select a different cup option on the machine. For this reason, make sure that the coffee maker accepts different cup sizes. 

If several people will be using the coffee maker, look for one with a larger water reservoir. This will mean fewer tank fillings.

Consider Power and Performance 

The power supply for a coffee maker determines its performance. It also affects the brewing temperature and speed. Make sure that your power outlet can handle a 1200 to 1500 watt coffee maker. 

Some coffee machines keep an internal water tank heated and ready for the next brew. This means that the brewer will be drawing power even when not actively brewing.

For energy saving, look for a brewer that has an on/off setting. A machine that has a sleep mode when not in use can also be quite handy. 

If you’re worried about noise, look for a machine that allows you to brew more quietly. It’s also advisable to look for a brewer with a programmable clock and brew temperature features.

Additionally, look for a brewer that is durable and easy to maintain. 

Look at Physical Size and Other Features

How much space do you have in your kitchen for the coffee maker?

Bear in mind that your brewer needs to be placed on a secure and stable surface to operate properly. 

There is a 17” standard distance between kitchen counters and cabinets. This is enough to accommodate the height of most coffee brewers. 

Some brewers have a wide base which means they will need more counter space. Consider this before making your purchase. 

For convenience, the brewer should also have easy access to water for refilling.

Other features to consider include:

Ease of Use 

Most single-serve brewers require very little effort to operate. All you need to do is pop in the K-cup or pod and press a button. 

With that said, single-serve coffee brewers have varying user-friendliness. Before making your purchase, make sure that the water reservoir is easy to refill. 

Read the product manual for maintenance and care of the coffee maker. 

Brew Options

Single-serve coffee makers also differ in the type of brews they can make. 

Although most of them only brew coffee, some can also brew teas and iced beverages. Keurig has a wide range of options when it comes to brewing.

If you’re hooked on cappuccinos, the Senseo single-serve coffee maker is ideal. If you love espressos, Nespresso is a great choice. 

Home or Office Use

If you need a brewer for an office setting, go for a single-serve gourmet machine. They generally require less clean-up and are quick to brew. 

Staff members will also appreciate the gourmet blend varieties. 

Look for a brewer with several cup size options and a larger water reservoir. You should also keep a good on-hand supply of K-cups and/or pods.

For home use, a small home brewer will do. 

The Best Single-Serve Coffee Makers in 2020

With the above considerations in mind, here are some of the best coffee brewers in the market to choose from:

Best Overall: Keurig K-Cafe

Keurig coffee maker K -cups coffee maker ground coffee
Keurig K-Cafe

Amazon price: Usually around $200

An all-in-one coffeehouse brewer, the Keurig K-Cafe is the top of the range. 

It is larger and more expensive than many single-serve machines.

It has an attached milk frother, which gives your cup of coffee that beautiful “coffee shop” finish. 

You can use it to brew your favorite coffee or make creamy lattes and frothy cappuccinos using any K-cup or pod.

With its sleek look, it is guaranteed to fit on any glamorous counter. 

Here are some of its main characteristics at a glance:

  • Price – varies
  • Brews – single-serve coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, and espresso shots
  • Temperature – consistent brew temperature of 170-180°
  • Time – brews 8 oz. in 35 seconds
  • Water reservoir – holds 60 oz. of water
  • Frother – dishwasher-safe milk frother
  • Size – 12×15”
  • Has a “strong brew” option
  • Fits a 7.2” travel mug 
  • Removable pod insert

Runner-Up: Keurig K-Elite

One coffee maker for K-cups
Keurig K-Elite

Amazon price: Usually between $125 and $150.

Stylish and easy-to-operate, Keurig K-Elite is a great addition to any kitchen.

If you love iced coffee, this is the brewer for you. At the touch of a button, you will have full-flavored iced coffee.

This brewer also allows you to adjust the water temperature. This feature ensures that your cup of coffee always comes out at your preferred temperature.

Keurig K-Elite features: 

  • Price – varies
  • Brews – hot and iced coffee
  • Cup size – fits 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 oz. cup sizes
  • Temperature – consistent brew temperature (170-180°)
  • Time – brews 8 oz. in 40 seconds
  • Reservoir – holds 75 oz. of water in the reservoir (which has a handle)
  • Has a digital clock display
  • Has a removable pod insert
  • Has temperature control
  • Has a removable water filter for the reservoir

Best Espresso: Nespresso VertuoLine Evoluo

best coffee maker Nespresso espresso maker
Nespresso Evoluo

Amazon price: Usually between $150 and $200

The Nespresso Evoluo can brew both coffee and espresso at the touch of a button in a range of sizes.

The machine has 5 brewing options to adjust how strong your cup of joe is. If it’s serving several people with different preferences, this feature comes in handy.

With an up to 7-cup water reservoir, it is a great choice for both home and office use.

A big drawback for the Nespresso Evoluo is that it can only use Nespresso pods. 

Here are some of its features at glance:

  • Price – varies
  • Design – Compact design with a small footprint (9.0” wide x 12.3” deep and is only 12.2” tall)
  • Capsule capacity – it can hold 13 large Nespresso capsules
  • Tank capacity – has up to 56 oz. water tank capacity
  • Used capsules – holds 17 used capsules
  • Has an energy-saving mode

Best Budget: Mueller

best coffee makers for K-cup and pods
Mueller coffee maker

Amazon price: Usually under $75

If you’re looking for a single-serve brewer that is compatible with many kinds of pods and K-cups, the Mueller single machine won’t disappoint.

In addition to Mueller pods, this brewer can take different brands of pods and K-cups.

It has four different brew sizes and allows you to choose your desired coffee strength. 

The Mueller is also equipped with new heater technology. It ensures that your coffee brews quickly and at the perfect temperature. No more cold coffee!

It comes with a 48 oz. water reservoir. This means that you won’t have to keep refilling the tank. This feature makes it ideal for both home and office use.

On the downside, travel mugs don’t fit due to the smaller size of the machine.

Mueller features at a glance:

  • Price – varies
  • Compatibility – Highly compatible with pods and K-cups from other brands
  • Cup size – four different brew sizes ) 6, 8 ,10 & 12 oz. cups)
  • Time – Rapid brew with a new heater technology that also ensures perfect temperature
  • Water reservoir – Large 48 oz. removable water tank

Best Travel Option: Coffee Gator Thermal Pour-Over Travel Mug

pour-over one cup coffee thermos
Coffee Gator Thermal Pour-Over Travel Mug

Amazon price: Usually under $30

If you want to enjoy your cup of coffee on the go, the Coffee Gator Thermal travel mug is your best bet.

This compact mug lets you make and carry hot, fresh coffee wherever you go!

It has a stainless steel mesh where you can pour ground coffee for brewing. Then you pour water into the mug to brew a perfect cup of joe.

The mug is vacuum-layered with military-grade 304 stainless steel coating a smart copper lining. This ensures that your coffee is at the perfect temperature and stays hot for longer.

The mug fits perfectly into virtually all car cup holders for hot coffee.

For the eco-friendly, this mug doesn’t use K-cups or pods. It uses normal ground coffee only. 

Coffee Gator travel mug features:

  • Price- varies
  • Compact size that fits into most hot mug holders
  • Eco-friendly stainless steel filter 
  • Keeps coffee hot for 6 hours and cold for 12 hours
  • Has a heat-proof exterior 

Also Highly Recommended: Hamilton Beach 49981A

ground coffee cup coffee maker
Hamilton Beach 49981A

Amazon price: Usually under $75

At a budget price, this humble brewer is worth every penny.

It brews hot, flavorful coffee in 90 seconds. It takes less than 2.5 minutes to brew large travel mugs.

Hamilton Beach is eco-friendly as it uses ground coffee instead of pods or K-cups.

Made of stainless steel, it is easy to clean and very durable.

Hamilton Beach features at a glance:

  • Price – varies
  • Time – brews an 8 oz. cup in less than 90 seconds and a 14 oz. travel mug in under 2.5 minutes
  • Eco-friendly – uses coffee grounds
  • Flexibility – has strength adjustment settings
  • Durability – is made of stainless steel
  • Has an automatic shut-off feature 

If you’re on the market for a single-serve brewer, know you’re fully equipped with the right information.
If you’re a coffee-lover, bookmark the Clearly Coffee blog for informative articles on the subject. Clearly Coffee is devoted to everything coffee – from equipment reviews to how-to guides!

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