Mornings can be hard, but a great cup of coffee while you rush to get ready is crucial and can set your mood for the rest of your day. Fortunately, k-cup coffee makers were invented and perfected to quickly give your daily dose of caffeine and make it delicious, too.
By having the best single-serve coffee maker for your needs, you’ll have an efficient way of quickly making a professionally brewed coffee in the comfort of your own home. And since there are so many different options available on the market today, you can always match the coffee maker to your taste and preferences and get impeccable results every time. But, how do you find the best single-serve coffee maker?
The truth is, the market is littered with products varying in shape, size, functionality, and automation level, among other aspects. We understand that the filtering and choosing process can be daunting and time-consuming. Plus, even if you buy a great coffee maker, it can still be wrong for your specific needs.
Luckily, we decided to compare and share our honest opinion about the best single-serve coffee makers in four different categories. We also shared a lot of valuable information you should consider before making a buying decision, so keep reading to find the best single-serve coffee maker for you.
The Single-Serve Coffee Maker
Best Overall: Keurig K-Cafe Coffee MakerThe best single-serve coffee maker overall is none other than Keurig’s K-coffee maker. Keurig is the inventor of the K-cup coffee maker and a true game-changer in the industry. The K-Coffee model is a well-rounded, high-quality device that’s fully automated and very easy-to-use and maintain. It’s a smart choice for most people, both experienced coffee maker users as well as first-time buyers.
Since coffee makers are here to offer us convenience and constantly give us delicious results, we’ll start by praising the automated functionalities of Keurig K-Cafe that make the device really attractive.
The unit has a smart start functionality, which means you don’t need to wait for the water to heat before selecting your cup size – simply turn it on, insert the k-cup pod, and select your program.
Another great functionality is that the Keurig K-Cafe is programmed to turn itself off two hours after the last brew. This feature makes the unit energy-efficient, saving you money on electrical bills.
Keurig K-Cafe also features a maintenance reminder functionality, meaning it will remind you when it’s time to descale your coffee maker. Descaling is a very important process that prevents the build-up of calcium deposits to damage the device or interfere with the coffee flavor.
Since it’s fully automated and your next coffee cup is just a touch away, the Keurig K-Cafe is a perfect device for first-time buyers and people who appreciate convenience before anything else. Plus, most parts of the unit are dishwasher safe, which means cleaning it won’t be a problem either.
Finally, the Keurig K-Cafe is great for families as well as people living alone. The unit comes with a 60 ounces removable water tank that can make approximately 6 cups before it has to be refilled.
The Keurig K-Cafe coffee maker isn’t very versatile, as it’s only compatible with K-cup pods. It doesn’t support pods from other brands, nor K-Carafe pods, K-Mug pods, Vue pods, or Rivo pods.
Some customers have complained that they didn’t like that the device is made of plastic and feels very light, although its performance doesn’t seem to be affected by this.
The K-Cafe is one of the best k-cups coffee makers from the Keurig brand as well as our choice as the best single-serve coffee maker overall. The unit is the latest brewer innovation that has incorporated some great automatic functionalities, guaranteed to make your life easier. It’s a smart choice for most people who want to enjoy a fine cup of coffee quickly, with practically no effort.
Best Quality: Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee MakerOur highest quality choice is the Ninja CM407, as the unit is exceptionally well thought out and will perform reliably even after years of use. The Ninja CM407 coffee maker is versatile, automated, environmentally friendly, and comes with an SCA certificate. It’s the perfect coffee maker for hard-core coffee drinkers who don’t mind spending an extra buck for the best coffee maker on the market.
One of the best qualities of the Ninja CM407 model is that it’s highly versatile. It features 6 cup sizes (cup, XL cup, travel mug, XL multi-serve, half carafe, and full carafe), and it gives you a choice of classic, rich, over ice, & specialty brewed coffee, plus a program for making travel-mug size coffee. You only need to place your travel mug under the spout, press the button for that option, and you’re good to go.
The unit can satisfy even the biggest nitpickers, as the coffee maker offers a choice between glass or thermal carafe.
Just how perfect this unit is for home-brewing speaks the SCA certification that accompanies it. The device has earned the Golden Cup of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) for its thermal flavor extraction technology through which it delivers the highest quality home-brew standard.
Yet another great aspect of Ninja CM407 is that it’s environmentally friendly, as it doesn’t require k-pods. Using this device, you’ll cut your footprint significantly and even save up to $200 on pods annually. Plus, if you’re worried about the amount of coffee for making a perfect cup, you’ll be pleased to know there’s a measuring tool that mounts to the side of the machine, so you can make precise measurements for every coffee cup.
On hot sunny days, you can enjoy a cold brew coffee with just the touch of the button because the Ninja CM407 comes with this functionality. It also comes with a removable water reservoir and a built-in frother for turning milk into a silky froth in a matter of seconds.
The only drawback that we noticed about the Ninja CM407 is that it doesn’t brew real espresso. Instead, it makes a coffee concentrate. Considering the fact that espresso is really hard to make right, and espresso machines are expensive, this might not be such a big deal – unless you’re a passionate espresso drinker. If this is the case, Breville Nespresso Vertuo is a much better choice.
The Ninja CM407 is definitely one of the best single serve coffee makers that can be found today – the device is versatile, highly-functional, and has an amazing design. On top of that, it comes with advanced automated functionalities that will especially be appreciated by coffee aficionados.
Best on a Budget: AeroPress Coffee and Espresso MakerCosting just a fraction of the price of most high-end single-serve coffee makers, the AeroPress model is a real refreshment for people who don’t want to dip into their savings but still want to enjoy a high-quality brewed coffee. We chose it as the best on a budget choice for many reasons, some of them being the device’s portability, ease of use, and travel-friendliness.
The AeroPress is a simple and straightforward device. It’s made from BPA-free plastic and comes equipped with 350 microfilters, meaning you only need your favorite coffee blend to make the perfect coffee cup in a matter of seconds. Given that you can use your own coffee mix, you can easily adjust the coffee this machine makes to your taste.
Another thing we like about the AeroPress is that it’s very fast. It works similarly to Fresh presses but with a patented AeroPress mechanism. You can make up to three cups of American coffee in just one minute. According to the manufacturer and thousands of customer reviews, the difference is that with AeroPress you don’t have to wait for the coffee to steep, which removes the acidity and bitterness.
Best of all, you can also brew espresso-style coffee, which you can use to make lattes, cappuccinos, and other espresso-based drinks.
Since it’s made of plastic, some users have expressed concerns about the durability of the device, especially the seal on the first unit. The good news is that you can order a replacement, but you have to contact the manufacturer directly.
The AeroPress is a great manual single-serve coffee maker, that has the potential to make a lot of people really happy – especially those who can’t afford to invest in a high-end electric coffee maker, or those who want an additional machine for the office or while traveling. The unit is easy to use, easy to clean, and most importantly, makes high-quality coffee.
Best Smart Features: Breville Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso MachineWe know how hard it can be to make espresso just right. Fortunately, the Breville Nespresso Vertuo makes this process a piece of cake. It’s the best single-serve coffee maker when espresso is the number one priority. The Breville Nespresso Vertuo follows high brewing standards and it’s versatile, fully automated, and a great choice for people who want to experiment with flavors.
The Breville Nespresso Vertuo makes delicious espresso and other coffee styles consistent in temperature and volume every time. Thanks to its extraction technology titled Centrifusion, the unit’s capsule spins up to 7,000 rotations per minute producing creamy and intensely flavored espresso.
The machine is fully automated and everything is just a button away. You can make up to three cup sizes (14 ounces – Alto, 8 ounces – Coffee, and 1.35 ounces – Espresso) by clicking a button. The capsule for Alto and Coffee is the same size, while it uses a different capsule for espresso for better results. You can also adjust the machine for Gran Lungo (5 oz) and Double Espresso (2.7 oz).
We were especially impressed by the automatic blend recognition. The Vertuo uses an intelligent extraction system that is capable of recognizing each Grand Cru blend thanks to the barcode. Once it recognizes the blend, it adjusts its settings for delivering the best possible coffee flavor.
Finally, people who love to try out new flavors will appreciate the welcome set that’s included in the package. The device comes with 12 Nespresso Vertuo capsules containing individual aromas. You can try all of the unique flavors and know exactly what you want next time you’re buying capsules.
You can also register in a Nespresso Club through which you can order your Nespresso capsules online (24/7), receive personalized advice, and obtain technical support for your machine.
Some customers have complained that while the taste is amazing, the coffee was always warm instead of hot. Anyone who enjoys a super hot coffee might be a little annoyed or disappointed.
Another thing that espresso virtuosos have complained about is that because the device is fully automated, there’s no control over the process whatsoever. While some might consider this an advantage, for others it’s quite frustrating.
Breville Nespresso Vertuo Coffee made our list because of the brewing quality – simply put, it makes an amazing espresso. Even though the device is quite expensive, some of the reasons that can persuade you to invest in it are the automatic functionalities, great customer service, and capsules with unique flavors.
The Keurig K-Cafe is the best single-serve coffee maker overall as the model comes from the most influential pioneer in the industry (Keurig), offers amazing performance and functionalities, and is affordable for most people. It’s a good choice for first-time buyers as it’s easy to use and clean. At the same time, it’s a good choice for experienced coffee makers as it comes equipped with advanced automated features.
The best single-serve coffee maker for diehard coffee lovers is the Ninja CM407, as the machine is reliable, well-equipped with advanced functionalities, fully automated, and incredibly versatile. Furthermore, the unit doesn’t require k-pods, meaning it will cut your environmental footprint. It’s a great choice for people who are willing to splurge for the perfect cup of coffee.
The best single-serve coffee maker on a budget is the manual AeroPress #83R20 coffee and espresso maker. It’s an amazing device for offices, travelers, and people with small kitchens that prefer something simple. Its size shouldn’t be underestimated, though, as the device is perfectly capable of producing high-quality brew just like many high-end machines.
Finally, the Breville Nespresso Vertuo Coffee is the go-to coffee maker for espresso lovers as the unit is unbeatable at making the best espresso shots. Aside from that, the unit features some advanced automated functionalities and unique flavors that appeal to curious coffee drinkers.
Everything You Need To Know About Single-Serve Coffee Makers
If you’re not really concerned about how your coffee tastes and can drink almost any kind, then you might believe brewing coffee is a simple and straightforward process. Experienced coffee masters, however, would strongly disagree. There are many things you should consider and know to be able to make gourmet coffee.
Types of Single-Serve Coffee Makers
There are four different coffee makers that make single-serve cups of coffee.
Pod Coffee Machines
Pod coffee machines, or more popularly known “k-cup coffee makers”, use pre-packed coffee pods (plastic or paper) that contain coffee grounds to make the coffee. They’re the most well-known and frequently used coffee makers nowadays. The downside of using k-cup coffee makers is that most devices use non-recyclable, single-use plastic pods, which means they’re not environmentally-friendly at all. Additionally, finding high-quality pods can be a challenge and an expensive quest.
Espresso machines are designed for making single-serve coffee since you can only make one at a time. This is because espresso is the strongest coffee containing up to 80 milligrams of caffeine in a 2 oz serving-cup. However, espresso is also considered to be the most difficult coffee to get right, so espresso machines are among the most expensive coffee makers on the market, even though many of them are manual.
The term “manual machines” refers to all the coffee makers that are operated manually. While they’re not as fast as electric machines, and a little experience is required to be able to make the perfect cup of coffee, professionals and coffee-enthusiasts sometimes prefer them because they give them the opportunity to play with the coffee’s flavor. On top of that, many people enjoy the ritual of brewing coffee just as much as actually drinking it, so fully automated machines might not be that appealing to them.
Single Cup Drip Coffee Makers
Although drip coffee makers are known for brewing large quantities of coffee at once, there are variations and models designed to make single-serve coffee. These types of coffee makers represent a great balance between a fair price, high-quality customizable coffee grounds, and user-friendliness.
Cold Brew vs. Hot Brew Coffee
A hot cup of coffee feels so nice in winter, but when the temperatures rise above 80°F, you have to find an alternative. While ice-coffee sounds tempting, there are a few things you should know to make the perfect cold brew.
Since hot brew is what you get from typical and popular coffee makers (although there are specialized devices that make cold brew), there are a few brewing methods to get cold coffee.
The first method is by using room temperature water. You can make the cold brew by steeping coarsely ground coffee in room temperature water for around 12-24 hours (the longer the steeping period, the better the taste). The advantage of this method is the taste and quality of the coffee, while the downside is the brewing time, which some people don’t have.
The second method is using ice to cool a hot brew. You can pour hot water over coffee grounds or granules, and mix until the coffee is completely diluted. After this, add a few ice-cubes in your cup and the coffee will cool in just a few minutes. Unfortunately, the ice-cubes will melt in your coffee and make it taste blander. You can also place the ice in a vessel below the coffee container, and wait for five to then minutes.
Finally, the third method is to leave the hot brew in the freezer and wait for it to cool. However, this is not recommended since there’s an oxidation process happening which can make your coffee more acidic and bitter.
To find out more about cold brewing and which coffee is the best for this process, check out our article on “Best Coffee for Cold Brew.”
Tips For Brewing The Perfect Cup Of Coffee
Choosing the best coffee maker is the first step, but knowing how to brew delicious rich-in-flavor coffee is the second, equally important step. Here are a few tips that will help you on this journey.
- The water you use affects the taste. Don’t use home drinking water. Instead, use filtered water at room temperature or between 195 – 205°F (never boiled or you’ll “burn” the compounds that release the taste).
- Specific measurements are crucial for consistency. If you use k-cup pods you only need to find a brand you like, but if you insert coffee grounds manually, then make sure you measure how much coffee you put. Use 2 tbsp for 6 ounces of water.
- Take good care of your coffee maker and make sure the filters are clean before using it.
- Experiment with different brands and flavors of k-cup pods. This way you’ll get a better chance of finding what works best for you. You can check out our article on the most exotic and delicious coffee around the world for more info.
- Go for drip-style single-serve coffee makers if you prefer customized coffee blends or you have a particular mixture that you already love.
How To Find the Best Single-Serve Coffee Maker?
Different types of single-serve coffee makers can satisfy different coffee needs, however, regardless of the type of coffee maker you’ve chosen, there are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for the best single-serve coffee maker.
Coffee makers are manufactured to make our life easier and help us get gourmet coffee fast. While some people might prefer a slowly brewed coffee, the truth is that for most customers speed is an important factor. To make sure your coffee maker can brew coffee quickly, look for models with a powerful heating mechanism that can brew coffee in less than a minute.
This is probably the most important factor to look for in coffee makers, as it directly affects the coffee’s quality and flavor. Different compounds in coffee dissolve at a different temperature rate and some of them (chlorogenic acid lactones and phenylindanes) can make your coffee bitter. If you’re buying a manual machine, then you’ll control the temperature of the water, but automated single-serve coffee makers have heaters that control the temperature inside the device. Make sure you choose a machine that’s praised for its stable brew temperature.
Convenience And Ease Of Use
Coffee makers should be convenient and easy to use, but this can vary depending on the type. For example, manual machines are the least convenient and hard to figure out for complete amateurs when it comes to using coffee machines. There’s a learning curve for espresso machines, too, while single cup drip and k-cup coffee makers are beginner-friendly and incredibly convenient. They do put some restrictions on the brewing process, which professionals might dislike. If you’re confident in your coffee-making skills, go for manual and espresso machines, otherwise, look for single drip and k-cup coffee makers.
Before You Go
Coffee lovers will agree that buying a high-quality coffee maker that brews coffee to your taste is a life-changing experience, especially if you rely on caffeine to get through your day. You’ll be surprised how a simple and small device can make you feel so happy when you smell the intense aroma of your freshly brewed coffee.
Hopefully, our detailed reviews were useful in your search for the best k-cup coffee maker for your specific needs. But, if you’re still undecided, feel free to follow the links we’ve provided and check current prices, in-depth specifications, and customer reviews for each product.
Want to see our favorite single serve coffee makers one more time before you go? Here they are!
Amazon product information last updated on August 10, 2020. Images, prices and links from Amazon Product Advertising API.