Sometimes it’s nice to make a cup of coffee. One. Not a whole pot, not a mess of coffee, but one cup.
Single serve coffee makers are great for many reasons: single person who wants to save money on coffee, the one coffee drinker in a family of non-coffee drinkers, or the person who really loves fresh brewed coffee and only fresh brewed coffee.
For these people, and so many more, let’s take a look at the 5 best single serve coffee makers available today.
Our Picks for the 5 Best Single Serve Coffee Makers in 2016
We took a look at the dizzying array of choices in the single serving market (and believe us, it is dizzying) and found some clear choices that rose above the rest. Here are the 5 best single serving coffee machines for 2016.
Keurig Coffee Maker
Bunn Single Cup Coffee Brewer
Hamilton Single Serve Coffee Maker
Cuisinart Single Serve Brewing System
Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker
Considerations When Buying a Single Serve Coffee Maker
All right, here’s where it gets a little messy. But stick with us and you’ll see how it all plays out.
Single serving coffee machines run the gamut from pre-packaged K-Cups and Nespresso pods to drip makers. What does that mean? Glad you asked.
K-Cups are small pods, made by Keurig. They are an attempt to make coffee easier and cleaner to make. You have a ginormously wide variety of flavors and drinks, including iced tea, available.
They work like this — you put the little K-Cup in the right spot and press a button. Hot water goes into it, filters through and into your mug. Voila, coffee.
In theory. Purists will always claim K-Cups taste like crap. Others who love the convenience will say they taste fantastic. The truth is somewhere in between, meaning it depends on a lot of factors.
Nowadays, you can get reusable filters for use in Keurig machines, allowing a lot more customization. Like using your own coffee blends instead of the premade choices. Just make sure you’re getting a machine that is compatible, typically referred to as a Keurig 2.0.
Here’s a quick video on how to make a decent cup of coffee with a Keurig machine
While K-Cups are the reigning champs of pre-packaged single-serving coffee, Nespresso are the Euro-contenders. Hot on the continent, they’ve focused on espresso with lots of flavors and grinds.
While they don’t have the wide variety of options as K-cups, they’re trying. George Clooney and Jack Black are in their commercials and it does nothing to improve the taste of the drinks, which is passable, fantastic, or pure garbage depending on whom you talk to.
There are a wide variety of makers that have come along to fill in the gaps. What gaps? The gaps between convenience, taste, and cost.
See, K-Cups and Nespresso cost a lot to drink. Like, $50 bucks per pound of coffee. But since there are some people want to save money but don’t want to brew lots of coffee at the same time, other makers have come up with refillable K-Cups. Or machines that accept both K-Cups and ground coffee. Or hybrids that pretty much do anything you want.
The greatest advantage of single serving coffee machines is the ability to get fresh brewed coffee every time. With the recent hybrid devices coming on the market, you can get that but aren’t locked into a single maker’s choices and costs. You can get a machine that offers fantastic flexibility for pretty much any brand of coffee or tea you choose to drink. And that is awesome.
- 48 ounce water reservoir with viewing window
- Reusable K-Cup filter compatible
- Can brew multiple volume cups
- One-touch brewing
Keurig makes the K-Cups. The K-Cups are Keurig. Since they are the makers and designers, the movers and the shakers of the K-Cup, it stands to reason they’d have a pretty good machine to back up their product.
The K55 is just that. It’s not overly complex. Fill the water reservoir, pop in your K-Cup of choice, and go to town.
It’s compatible with the new reusable K-Cups, but doesn’t come with them, so keep that in mind if you want to try that out right off the bat.
- Keurig is the big daddy of the single-serving market
- Simple and flexible to use.- Large enough to make coffee for larger groups
- Only takes K-Cups
- Reusable K-Cup filters don’t come with it
- The price of using K-Cups is high. And wasteful
Best suited for: The Keurig is best suited for the person who really wants to use K-Cups. That’s what it does best. In fact, it’s kinda all it does. So if you’re looking for no-hassle, foolproof coffee and don’t care about anything other than K-Cups, this is a great choice for you.
- Can brew everything. EVERYTHING. (Except Nespresso.)
- Pulse brew to make stronger coffee, attempting to get close to espresso flavor
- Compact, simple design
Bunn is the company that makes pretty much every drip coffee maker you’ve ever seen in a restaurant. They’ve taken that experience, shrunken it down into a nice compact package and made it available for you in your home.
The Bunn MCU’s claim to fame is it can brew everything. K-Cups? Sure. Ground coffee? Yup. Loose-leaf tea? You got it. Hot chocolate? Why not. Soft coffee or tea pods? Pfft, of course.
It’s like the Swiss Army knife of the single serve world. It really can do just about everything. Except Nespresso. It doesn’t do that. George Clooney may shed a tear, but that’s okay.
- Did we mention it can brew everything?
- Sleek, almost simplistic design makes for easy use
- Ingenious design for the different types of coffee products used
- The drawers, although ingenious, take a little getting used to
- Must fill with water every time — no real reservoir
- Always on means it consumes more energy than maybe it should
Best suited for: The person who wants fresh brewed coffee but wants the absolute largest field of choices available: soft pods, tea, hot chocolate, K-Cups, ground coffee, loose leaf tea. EVERYTHING.
- Brews single scoops of coffee at a time
- Stainless steel construction
- Steel mesh filter, no need for paper filters
The Hamilton Beach Single Serve Scoop is like the K-Cup for ground coffee. All it does is brew coffee one cup at a time.
That’s it. It doesn’t do pods or K-Cups or tea or anything else. It just brews coffee. One cup at a time. Or one travel-sized mug at a time.
If you’ve got no desire to mess around with anything else because you know you love drip coffee, then this would be a good machine. Why?
That’s all it does. And it does it pretty darn well, and pretty darn cheaply – it’s the cheapest one on this list.
- Simplicity in brewed coffee without a lot of waste compared to the pod machines
- Stainless steel is great for cleanup and longevity
- Adjustable cup height for your regular mug or your travel mug
- Brews fast so stronger coffee requires more coffee grounds
- Can splatter if you don’t adjust the cup size well
Best suited for: The Hamilton Beach Single Serve Scoop Coffee Maker is great for the person who has no desire to mess with K-Cups or anything other than straight-up coffee, but likes to have fresh brewed coffee every time.
- 80 ounce removable water reservoir
- Suits 5 cup sizes as well as tall travel mugs
- Backlit LCD readout with clock and programmable on and off times
One of the great things about the K-Cup design is the flexibility. No need to wash anything out when changing blends. Just pop in another cup and you’ve got a different kind of coffee than you just made.
Which is great for larger groups or even a small office. That’s exactly where the Cuisinart Single Serve Brewing System can shine through. With its large reservoir and simple operation, a group of people can pick and choose and not worry about leaving the pot empty or cleaning up for decaf or anything like that.
Of course, one person can use it just as well. It leaves their options open for when more than a few people come over.
- Huge reservoir for large groups or the really thirsty.
- Reusable K-Cup compatible for more options, included in package
- Charcoal water filtration
- Only uses K-Cups, providing less flexibility
- Big machine takes up a lot of counter space compared with the others on this list
- The most expensive machine we cover here
Best suited for: The Cuisinart Single Serve Brewing System is great for people who will be entertaining a lot or just like to drink lots of coffee and don’t want to mess with regular ground coffee. K-Cup lovers will likely love this machine.
- Thermo Block heating element for fast heating
- Holds ten used capsules n the bin
- Automatic shutoff
Love espresso, want the simplicity of a single serving coffee machine and have no desire to pull your own espresso shot? We hear ya. And so does the Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker.
I know, I know. It’s not espresso! Yet, for all its detractors, the Nespresso has got something going for it. A lot of people like it. It’s simple: fill the reservoir with water, put in one of their pods and push a button. The very definition of no muss, no fuss.
That small size comes with one major tradeoff — it has a freakishly small water reservoir. At 24 ounces, it’s the smallest one on this list by far. If you’re just making the occasional cup, this could be no problem. If you make a lot, it’s easy to refill. But it could be a pain, which is why we mention it.
And yes, the Pixie is the machine in this commercial:
- So freakin’ small and cute!
- Very modern, stylish design
- Easily makes something resembling espresso
- It’s not real espresso!
- Tradeoff for size: tiny water reservoir
- Only uses Nespresso pods, lacking the flexibility of other hybrid machines on this list
Best suited for: The Nespresso Pixie is great for someone who likes espresso but really doesn’t want to mess with custom crafting their own shot of espresso.
Verdict – and the BEST Single Serve Coffee Maker is..
There are so many choices in this space it’s hard to choose. But our nod has to go to the Bunn MCU. With so many options available, it doesn’t make sense to limit oneself to only a certain brand of product. Ground coffee, tea, K-Cups. Everything is available to use in the Bunn MCU. Everything.
There are a lot of options when looking for the best single serve coffee maker. Whether you go with the K-Cups, the Nespresso or something that allows you more flexibility, make sure you’re getting something that will match up with what you are really going to be using. Don’t just grab something because of the bells and whistles. Examine your drinking habits and buy appropriately.