Never underestimate the power of a single-serve coffee maker. As far as we’re concerned, every positive, productive day starts with a fresh cup of Joe. (We wouldn’t want to imagine our mornings without a jolt of caffeine.) While you could get your fix at your local café, having an at-home coffee maker is a great way to dodge lines and the steep up-charge.
But, unless you’re caffeinating a small army, you don’t need a huge, multi-cup machine to start your mornings. That’s exactly why a single-serve coffee maker is the best of both worlds: This machine will get the job done by brewing up some delicious java, but you won’t have to worry about what to do with leftovers. And, since most single-serve coffee makers are relatively compact, you won’t have to worry about it taking up precious real estate in your kitchen.
At first thought, buying a single-serve coffee machine seems easy: All you need to do is choose one that’s well-reviewed and reasonably priced, right? Well, not quite. It turns out, each single-serve coffee maker has a bunch of different nuances that make some models more compatible with your lifestyle than others. To help, we scoured the Internet and found the best options around. Whether you prioritize convenience, versatility, or price, there’s bound to be something for you here.
Looking for another coffee maker, perhaps one which makes several cups of coffee? Check out our best coffee makers guide for more top picks.
The best single-serve coffee maker buys of 2021
It's no surprise Keurig's single-serve coffee makers do not disappoint. Let's just say we've found the highly customizable and sleek K-Supreme Plus Coffee Maker a cut above the rest. Like all Keurigs, the K-Supreme Plus Coffee Maker uses K-Cup pods, which offers a dizzying array of coffee options, as well as specialty tea or hot chocolate options too.
A simple brewing system with options
Instead of spending the time and energy grinding coffee beans, Keurig’s machine uses K-Cup pods. Not sure how K-Cup pods work? Think of it as a compact alternative to a traditional coffee maker: The machine’s hot water saturates the pod’s ground coffee, flows through the paper filter, and offers rich, flavorful java. The K-Supreme makes use of Multi-Stream technology which uses 5 needles instead of the standard one, like a rainfall effect, for better saturation and flavor.
Simply insert the pod of your choice into the machine, select your brew size, and Keurig will take care of the rest. The Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker can brew five different sizes—4, 6, 8, 10, or 12-ounce—so you can start the day with a perfect jolt of caffeine. A 12-ounce brew is perfect for anyone who wants a subtle pick-me-up but doesn’t want to feel wired all day. Need more? A four-ounce brew size will create the strongest cup of coffee, but we found the eight ounces to be the perfect medium.
From here, you can also select brew strength and temperature adjustments? Fancy an iced coffee? There's an easy "Over Ice" button so you can have a chilled coffee, without worrying about diluting it.
Keurig’s popular single-serve coffee maker has a lot more to offer than versatility. In fact, the machine is packed with small details that will help start your day on the right foot. Unlike most multi-cup coffee makers, which require you to refill the water every time you want to make a new batch, this model has a massive 78-ounce reservoir that will allow you to brew as many as nine cups before you have to refill it. Sure, filling the water reservoir is a small chore, but think of all the time you’ll save in the long run.
Of course, Keurig’s intuitive design is just as present long after you brew a perfect cup of coffee. This model boasts an auto-off feature, which will turn off your coffee make once it’s been idle for five minutes. Not only will it save energy, but you also won’t have to wonder if you’ve turned off the coffee machine before heading to work. Plus, it alerts you to descale after every 250 brews, so you can know exactly when it's time to give your machine some attention to keep it in top shape.
Need for Speed
Best of all? If time is of the essence, you’ll be happy to hear Keurig’s K-Supreme Plus machine and brew a batch of coffee in under one minute. That way, you’ll have a pipin’ hot coffee waiting for you as you get ready to start the day.
Real Homes Rated: 5 out of 5 stars
- See why we rated this winning machine the full five stars in our Keurig K-Supreme Plus review.
Want to add some more oomph to your morning routine? You might need a latte or cappuccino. Since espresso generally has more caffeine per ounce, it’s a great way to add some extra pep to your step. Nespresso has been the gold standard of at-home espresso machines since its founding in 1986 and teamed up with Breville to create the Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine.
Best of Both Worlds
For most people, your go-to coffee order isn’t set in stone. Sometimes, you’ll need a huge, double americano to move the needle, while a simple cup of coffee will suffice on other days. So, shouldn’t you own a single-serve coffee maker that can do it all? Not only does Nespresso by Breville’s Vertuo machine compatible with Nespresso's exclusive Vertuo espresso and coffee pods, but it also makes five brew sizes so you can always wind up with the perfect cup.
Craving some coffee? The Vertuo machine can make a small, five-ounce Gran Lungo tasting, a traditional eight-ounce cup of coffee, and a large 14-ounce Alto Coffee on those days when you need some extra energy. Or, if you need some espresso, Nespresso by Breville’s Vertuo machine makes it possible to brew a double or single shot. Thanks to a spacious 40-ounce water reservoir, you can make up to five cups in one swoop. That way, you can continue to make yourself a great beverage as your tastes evolve.
Means to a Blend
In addition to offering plenty of options, Nespresso by Breville’s Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine is designed to make whipping up a perfectly brewed cup a breeze. Once you insert your pod and select the designated brew size, this machine uses its patented Centrifusion technology to spin the capsule up to 7,000 rotations per minute. Since Nespresso’s Centrifusion moves so quickly, it mixes the ground coffee and water just right to create the perfect crema every time. This machine only takes 15 to 20 seconds to preheat, and once it makes some creamy caffeine, it will automatically eject the used Nespresso pod. That way, you can spend less time fumbling with your machine and more time enjoying your creamy caffeine.
Have an extra minute to spare? Often times you can find the Vertuo Coffee Machine accompanied with a Nespresso Aeroccinno3 milk frother. This milk frother makes it easy to whip up lattes and other specialty beverages at home.
Short on space, but uncompromising in coffee quality? Well, the Illy Y3.3 Iperespresso is here to fit the bill. It's under four inches wide, slim enough to fit in the most narrow spaces, and delivers coffee with Italian flair.
Available in four eye-catching colors, the illy y3.3 may be small, but she is stylish. It's also incredibly simple to operate with just two touch buttons on the front for a short cup and tall cup. Beyond those two functionalities, you won't find much else, and you'll need to stock up on illy capsules so you never run out, but if you seek a quality machine with the convenience of espresso, look no further.
Real Homes rated: 4 out of 5 stars
- For more with our experience, read our illy iperespresso coffee machine review.
Sure, a single-serve coffee maker might be great for your current needs. However, whether live with a roommate or decide to host a decadent brunch, there’s a good chance your caffeine needs will change over time. Why go rotate between a large and single-serve coffee maker when you can find one machine that does it all?
Small and Large Batch Build
Unlike most coffee makers – which are designed for large quantities or a single serving, not both – Cuisinart’s Coffee Center machine is built to do the best of both worlds. One side features a 12-cup carafe and 60-ounce fixed water reservoir, so you can brew enough java for a large group. (Or, you know, have plenty of leftovers for a day where you need a second cup.)
There’s also a single-serve side – complete with a separate 40-ounce removable reservoir – so you can make coffee for one. Simply choose between a six, eight, or 10-ounce brew, and Cuisinart’s Coffee Center machine will take care of the rest. The single-serve side also features a charcoal water filter, which will remove volatile organic compounds, unfavorable tastes, and bad odors from your blend.
Another bonus: The single-serve side is surprisingly versatile. While Cuisinart’s Coffee Center machine is compatible with pre-packaged K-cups, it also comes with a reusable filter so you can use your favorite ground coffee.
Drinking a cup of coffee should be an enjoyable experience; a small reward for stopping the snooze button and finally starting your day. The very last thing the coffee-making process should be is a nuisance. Fortunately, Cuisinart’s Coffee Center machine is designed to make brewing a cup of Joe a breeze.
This option features 24-hour programmability, so you can set it up the night before and wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. (Isn’t that the dream?) If you want to give some extra oomph to your beverage, select the “Bold” button for a stronger coffee flavor. While a pipin’ hot cup of coffee might be the norm, it’s not everyone’s preference. Fortunately, Cuisinart’s Coffee Center machine has a temperature control feature, so you won’t have to worry about scorching the roof of your mouth on your beverage.
Once you’re done making the perfect blend, you can press the “Self-Clean” button to keep your machine tidy. And, thanks to its auto-off feature, you can rest assured that your coffee isn’t draining your home’s energy.
Just because most single-serve coffee makers use pre-packaged pods doesn't mean it's the status quo. If you want to blend a delicious cup of coffee that meets your standards time and time again, you might want to consider Hamilton Beach's Scoop Single Serve Coffee Maker.
At first thought, choosing freshly ground coffee over pre-packaged pods seems like a strictly personal decision. Freshly ground coffee might give you the freedom to enjoy whatever blend you please, but injecting a pre-packaged pod is quicker and more convenient. That said, there are plenty of benefits to opting for ground coffee. Not only does freshly ground coffee typically have a stronger aroma and better taste, but research suggests it's also packed with more antioxidants.
This option from Hamilton Beach uses a mesh scoop filter to brew your favorite blend with ease.
Made with durable stainless steel construction, Hamilton Beach's Scoop Single Serve Coffee Maker is built to deliver. It features fast-brewing technology to make an eight-ounce cup in 90 seconds and a 12-ounce travel mug in under three minutes. (Translation: This model will do the legwork for you as your brush your teeth.) While Hamilton Beach's regular (a.k.a. automatic) drip will create a rich cup of Joe, you can select the machine's "Bold" setting for extra flavor. Once you're done using the machine, it will automatically shut off to help preserve energy.
Believe it or not, you don't have to spend a small fortune on a great single-serve coffee maker. With nearly 7,500 positive reviews on Amazon, a 4.3/5 rating on the site, and an "Amazon's Choice" badge, Black+Decker's option strikes a great balance between quality and affordability.
Consider Black+Decker's coffee maker a great option for anyone who wakes up craving a jumbo cup of coffee. Instead of having a number of brew sizes, this machine dumps your java into an accompanying stainless steel travel mug. That way you can enjoy up to 16 ounces of coffee in a snap. Simply add a mug of water and coffee grounds – this machine comes with a reusable filter – and Black+Decker will take care of the rest.
Simple, Yet Sensible Design
When compared to the rest of the single-serve coffee makers on the list, Black+Decker's option feels incredibly simple. However, as this option proves, there's nothing wrong with simplicity. This model has a single switch, so you won't have to worry about fussing with superfluous buttons. Plus, once your coffee is brewed, the coffee maker will automatically shut down. An easy, effortless option that will get the job done.
Contrary to popular belief, grabbing a delicious cup of Joe is easier said than done. Anyone who is running late for work might not have the time to wait for their coffee to brew—let alone stand in line at their local café. Or, if you are traveling, there’s a good chance you have no idea where the nearest coffee shop is located. If you want to enjoy a great brew anytime, anywhere, you might want to consider incorporating Coffee Gator’s portable, pour-over-style into your commute.
At first glance, this option from Coffee Gator looks like any other travel mug you’d bring on your morning commute. However, this option is decked out with a removable filter so you can make a great cup of Joe on the go. Simply fill the filter with your favorite coffee grounds, some hot water, and the two will blend together to make a delicious brew.
Since this option doesn’t have any special electronic features, it’ll take a minute to create a flavorful cup of coffee. That said, you can prep all your ingredients before you leave the house, and have a delicious cup ready by the time you step into the office. If time is on your side, this model will prove that patience is a virtue.
Coffee Gator’s portable option might be simple in style, but rest assured it has its very own features. One of our favorite perks is its temperature-controlled design. Let’s face it: Nobody wants to brew a hot cup of coffee, only for it to go lukewarm a few hours later. Fortunately, this model is designed to keep hot beverages warm for up to six hours and iced drinks cold for as long as 20 hours. That way, you can take your time to enjoy your java.
What to look for in a single-serve coffee maker
With so many brands, prices points, and special features to choose from, finding the right single-serve coffee maker for your needs can be easier said than done. To help, check out a few pieces of criteria you'll want to add to your wish list:
Serving size: Just because you're on the hunt for a single-serve machine doesn't mean you have to cut down your coffee consumption. While some coffee makers are designed to dump the caffeinated goodness into a travel mug, others will give you the luxury of choosing one of a few sizes. But, depending on the model, smaller serving sizes usually mean more concentration.
Water reservoir: Very few things can cramp your coffee-making process like refilling your water container every time you're craving a cup of Joe. Fortunately, many single-serve coffee makers have large water reservoirs that can make a few cups of coffee before you need to refill it. While a small water reservoir may not be a deal-breaker, it's something to keep in mind when you're looking for the best bang for your buck.
Capsules or coffee: When selecting the machine, know the type of coffee pods you'll likely need to keep in stock, or if you can use your own ground coffee. While ground coffee usually tastes better (and is better for you), pods offer an easy, mess-free way to enjoy a cup of coffee with minimal thought. . There is no right or wrong answer. At the end of the day, it all boils down to personal preference.
It seems like Keurig's K-Cups are almost universal at this point, compatible with 3rd party brewers like Cusinart, Chefman, Mueller and more. After normal ground coffee, K-Cups offers some of the most variety in terms of coffee options from Dunkin to more specialty flavors. There's also a Keurig attachment that lets you fill with your own coffee. Meanwhile, Nespresso uses it own Vertuo or Original line capsules, as does illy. And, if you've been concerned about sustainability, all parties, from Keurig, Nespresso, and illy have created recyclable pods, it's just up to you now to dispose of them properly.