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Best Single-Serve Coffee Makers

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Top Single-Serve Coffee Makers

Single-serve coffee makers are convenient, fast, and portable. Their easy mess-free operation has made them very popular in office settings, and they’re a great option for homes with limited space.

The key is to find a single-serve brewer that can produce a truly flavorful, delicious cup. In this article, we’ll check out the 12 best single-serve coffee makers on the market, along with giving you some helpful tips on choosing the right one (and getting the most out of it).

Product Ranking

The CHULUX Single-Serve Coffee Maker is a versatile little device designed to go with you anywhere. It’s perfect for small spaces like dorm rooms, office desks, and RVs because it takes up almost no space on the counter. It’s also compact and lightweight, perfect for travelers.

An 800-watt heating element gives this CHULUX coffee maker a fast brewing time—less than 3 minutes from start to finish. Using it couldn’t be easier, either, with a one-button start and one-button clean.

We also appreciate the automatic shut-off. It powers down as soon as it finishes the brew, a great safety feature that also keeps it from wasting energy when it’s not in use.

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Product Ranking

The Cuisinart SS-10P1 Premium Single-Serve Coffee Maker has a large 72-ounce reservoir that can brew 5-10 cups before it needs refilling. While that makes it less portable, its slim design is still easy to fit on tight counters.

The interactive digital display on the Cuisinart SS-10P1 lets you pick between 5 brew sizes from 4 to 12 ounces. You can also program it to brew at a specific time, up to 24 hours in advance, and set it to automatically turn off when it’s finished.

We also appreciate the built-in water filter. This both improves the taste and cuts down on scale build-up in the lines by removing impurities from the water before brewing. Using it is slightly more complicated than one-touch machines but it’s still very user-friendly and an ideal choice for home kitchens and office break rooms.

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Product Ranking

The Black+Decker Single-Serve Coffee Maker is perfect for commuters. It comes with an insulated stainless steel travel mug and is designed to brew right into it. Starting the brew is easy thanks to the one-touch operation. Once the brew is finished, it shuts off automatically.

You can use pods to brew in this Black+Decker coffee maker, but you don’t have to. The included reusable metal mesh filter lets you brew your own ground coffee, reducing both waste and recurring costs.

All these included extras make the Black+Decker Single-Serve Coffee Maker an exceptional value. It’s fairly compact, too, so it’s a great choice for spaces like dorm rooms and RVs as well.

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Product Ranking

Keurig is the leading name in single-serve coffee makers, and their K-Classic model is the best all-around option for home use. The 48-ounce reservoir holds enough water for 4-8 brews, depending on the size. When you do need to refill it, you can remove the reservoir and fill it straight from the faucet, cutting down on mess.

The user-friendly interface on the K-Classic is its best feature. The size selection, power, and auto-shutoff buttons are clearly marked. Brewing starts automatically once the pod lid locks into place. It’s fast-brewing, too, giving you a fresh cup in less than a minute. We also appreciate the LED display, which gives warnings when you need to add water or descale your machine.

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For small spaces, the 5-inch profile of the Keurig K-Mini is perfect. It’s about half the weight of the K-Classic above, too, so it’s a much more portable option for coffee lovers on the go. It’s travel mug friendly, too, brewing into mugs up to 7” tall with the drip tray removed.

There’s no size selection option on the Keurig K-Mini. However much water you put in the reservoir, that’s the cup size you’ll get. This simplifies the interface, though it does mean you’ll need to fill this coffee maker before every brew—the main convenience trade-off of its compact build.

That said, the K-Mini still has the user-friendly features you’ll find on other Keurig brewers, including automatic shutoff and a fast brew time. We also like that the cord tucks into the back of the brewer, helpful both for transporting the K-Mini and for reducing clutter on your counter.

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Product Ranking

The Mueller Pro Single-Serve Coffee Maker is designed to work with a variety of different pods, giving you more flavor options. You can also choose your cup size, which in turn lets you adjust the brew strength. Choose a smaller cup for bolder flavor or a larger cup for milder brews.

Filling the water tank is easy on the Mueller Pro Single-Serve Coffee Maker. The opening is large if you want to fill it on the machine. You can also remove it, helpful for both filling and cleaning.

Maybe the most impressive thing about this Mueller Pro coffee maker is its improved heating element. You’ll get a consistent and full extraction of the coffee with every brew. And quickly, too. Even at the 12-ounce size, a brew takes less than 1 minute.

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Product Ranking

The Hamilton Beach Scoop has a slightly more industrial vibe than most single-serve coffee makers. Compared to the plastic housings used by many single-serve coffee makers, the stainless steel used for the Scoop is both more durable and easier to clean. That makes it a very appealing choice for offices, waiting rooms, and other high-use applications.

We also appreciate the versatility of the Hamilton Beach Scoop. It comes with a reusable filter for brewing any ground coffee and can brew cup sizes up to 14 ounces. You can adjust the flavor, too, with a “bold” setting for those who like a stronger cup of joe. The adjustable drip tray accommodates tall travel mugs that won’t fit in other single-serve brewers.

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The 2-in-1 Dnsly Single-Serve Coffee Maker includes a reusable filter for brewing fresh ground coffee, as well as accommodating K-Cups. How much water you put in determines the brew size, anywhere from 6 to 14 ounces depending on your mug size.

At under 3 pounds, this Dnsly brewer is one of the lightest single-serve coffee makers on the market. Don’t take that to mean it’s flimsy, though. It’s made of stainless steel and BPA-free plastic, both of which are durable enough to stand up to regular travel.

Another convenience feature unique to the Dnsly Single-serve Coffee Maker is its self-cleaning function. Just press both buttons on the side to start the cleaning cycle. The machine will turn itself off automatically once it’s done, so it’s energy efficient, too.

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This affordable single-serve coffee maker from Proctor Silex comes with both a filter basket for ground coffee and a pod holder for K-Cups. It fits mugs up to 14 ounces, even tall travel mugs, and does so without taking up too much space. Since it’s less than 6” across, it’s small enough for use in tiny homes, dorm rooms, and other compact spaces.

Our only issue with the Proctor Silex Coffee Maker is the placement of the reservoir lid. Depending on your counter set-up it can be tricky to fill, and that’s especially annoying since you have to fill it for every brew.

That said, it’s otherwise a convenient and easy to use coffee maker. Just add your water, insert your pod or filter, and press the lever. It’ll turn itself off when it’s done so you can brew your coffee worry-free.

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Here’s another excellent choice for budget-conscious coffee lovers. Speed is its main advantage over other brewers in its price point. You can brew any hot beverage in 30 seconds, including any style of K-Cup, ground coffee, or loose-leaf tea.

The Chefman InstaCoffee has a 950-watt heating element, more powerful than many single-serve brewers. That means it consistently achieves the right brewing temperature, ensuring the best taste no matter what drink you’re making.

Best of all, the Chefman InstaCoffee is less than 5” across, and only 6” deep—compact enough to fit on even the smallest kitchen counter. While it is taller than other single-serve brewers and may not fit as easily under counters, that has its positives, as well, since it accommodates mugs up to 7.6” tall.

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The upgraded brew basket on the Sboly Single-serve Coffee Maker holds the coffee in place better, preventing grinds from escaping into the brew. It’s versatile, too, with both a mesh filter and a pod holder.

Of all the compact single-serve coffee makers, this model from Sboly is among our favorite for traveling. It strikes the ideal balance between durability and portability and is perfect for use in RVs and campers, hotel rooms, and other small spaces.

Our only complaint with the Sboly Single-serve Coffee Maker is its brewing temperature. It only brews at 170°F, not ideal for those who like a bold, strong cup of coffee. That said, the fast brew time and self-cleaning capability give it high marks for convenience, especially if you prefer a milder cup anyway.

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The Bonsenkitchen Coffee Maker is a 2-in-1 option for coffee drinkers with discerning tastes. Its advanced heating element gets the water to the 195°F-205°F range recommended by experts, producing a flavorful and aromatic cup of coffee.

Heating to this temperature does take a bit longer than other single-serve machines. After the 3-minute heat-up, though, it brews quickly—less than 2 minutes for a 14-ounce cup. Its simple interface is intuitive, too, and it’s relatively compact considering the size of the reservoir.

We love the Bonsenkitchen Coffee Maker for home use because of its mess-free design. The reservoir is removable and holds enough water for 2-5 brews, depending on your cup size. And if you forget to put the cup in, it’s got you covered. The drip tray can hold a full accidental brew without overflowing.

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Buying Guide & FAQ

Pros and Cons of Single-Serve Coffee Makers

Single-serve coffee makers have become popular primarily because of their convenience. They also have a bad reputation among coffee experts, though, and have come under fire from environmental groups because of the waste from disposable K-Cups.

Like any brewing method, single-serve coffee makers have their strengths and weaknesses. Before we get further into how to choose the best brewer, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of single-serve coffee makers as a whole so you can decide if it’s the right option for you.

Pros of Single-Serve Coffee Makers

  •  Speed. Single-serve coffee makers brew a cup in 3 minutes or less, with some models brewing in as little as 30 seconds.

  • Convenience. If you brew from a K-Cup, the coffee is already ground and dosed for you. Most single-serve machines have one-button or automatic brewing functions, so they’re easy for anyone to use regardless of their level of coffee experience.

  • Less mess. Since the grounds are contained in the K-Cup, they won’t end up all over your counter. Cleaning up is as simple as tossing the used cup and rinsing the filter basket.

  • Smaller counter footprint. If you have a small kitchen, you need to maximize every inch of counter space. The compact size of single-serve brewers makes them ideal for cramped spaces like studio apartments and RVs.

Cons of Single-Serve Coffee Makers

  • Brewing temperature. Some single-serve brewers reach optimal brewing temperature but many don’t. Low brewing temperature means not all the flavor compounds will be extracted from the grounds, resulting in a weaker, less flavorful cup of coffee.

  •  Brew strength and flavor. The coffee in a K-Cup is pre-ground. A lot of flavor compounds in coffee dissipate within 15 minutes of grinding, so you won’t get the full taste profile when you brew from K-Cups. Even if you use your own ground coffee, there’s the brewing temperature issue mentioned above.

  • Ongoing costs. You’ll pay more per cup brewing from K-Cups—as much as 3-4 times the cost of brewing whole bean coffee, depending on which cups you get.

  • More waste. Some K-Cups are recyclable but others aren’t, and all that plastic waste is bad for the environment.

Buying a Single-Serve Brewer or Coffee Maker

Now that you know what single-serve brewers do well, how do you pick the best one? The truth is, no model is going to be the best for everybody.

Before you start shopping, think about what you’re looking for in a coffee maker. Do you want something you can take with you on business trips, or will it primarily live on your kitchen counter? Do you want your coffee ready and waiting in the morning, or are you willing to wait a bit longer for a more flavorful cup?

Think about your budget, too. The main features to consider when comparing single-serve coffee makers include:

2-in-1 Brewing

A lot of the disadvantages of single-serve brewers are directly related to using K-Cups. You can get around that by getting a 2-in-1 machine. These coffee makers come with a reusable filter for ground coffee as well as a K-Cup holder.

A 2-in-1 single-serve coffee maker can be an excellent space-saving alternative to a drip brewer, and they’re versatile, as well. You can brew a K-Cup when you don’t have time to grind beans but still have the option of using fresh coffee when you want to.

Heating Element

A high-quality heating element gets the water to a hot enough temperature to fully extract the flavor from your coffee. Many single-serve brewers only reach temperatures of 170°F-180°F. The higher the wattage of the coffee maker, the more power the heating element is likely to have. Ideally, you want it to be at least 800 watts, with a brewing temperature of at least 195°F.

Brewing Time

Speed is one of the main reasons people go with single-serve brewers. Smaller, more portable models tend to take longer to brew—usually somewhere in the 2-3 minute range. Larger units with more powerful heating elements can brew in 30 as little as 30 seconds.

You should also think about the heat-up time if you want the fastest brew. Some machines take up to 3 minutes to heat before the first use. That’s not a particularly long time to wait, but when you’re running late in the morning sometimes every minute counts.

Capacity vs. Portability

A multi-brew reservoir spares you the need to fill the machine every time you brew. On the other hand, it adds bulk to the coffee maker and takes up more space on the counter.

Single-serve coffee makers with reservoirs of 30 ounces or more are designed to stay in one place long-term and aren’t built for easy travel. If you need a brewer you can take with you on the road, a single-brew reservoir is a better option.

The size of the reservoir also affects how you choose your brew size. Coffee makers with larger reservoirs have a size selection control, letting you pick the precise ounce measurement of the brew. Brewers with 14-ounce or smaller capacities will brew through the entire reservoir before stopping. It’s up to you to measure the water you’re adding.

Programming Capability

Nothing wakes you up in the morning quite like the smell of fresh coffee. Coffee makers with programmable timers can be set the night before to start brewing the next morning and that can be a great time-saver on busy mornings.

How Do Single Serving Coffee Makers Work?

Single-serve coffee makers share a lot of interior components with drip machines. In both cases, water is pumped from the reservoir through a heating element and dispensed into the chamber with the coffee.

In most single-serve machines, the pump is run by a small motor using an uneven roller. Other machines have what’s known as a check valve. By limiting the water flow to run only one direction, they can use gravity to draw the water through the tube into the heater.

The main difference between single-serve machines and drip machines is how the heated water is dispensed. Rather than the showerhead seen in drip machines, a single-serve coffee maker pushes the water through a nozzle to increase its pressure. That high pressure is what gives single-serve machines their fast brew time.

If you’re brewing from a K-Cup, small holes are poked in the top and bottom when you lock it in place. Water flows through the top, mixes with the coffee to extract the flavors, then flows out the bottom hole to dispense into your cup.

Reusable filters for single-serve machines have permanent holes built into the top and bottom. This makes positioning of the filter especially important. If it’s not aligned correctly, the tubes that deliver and extract the water won’t go into these pre-made holes. Luckily, you’ll know if this happened before you start the brew because the lid won’t close properly. Most single-serve brewers have a safety feature that prevents the brew from starting until the lid is locked.

How to Make a Perfect Cup of Coffee

Despite their poor reputation in the barista community, single-serve brewers can make a delicious cup of coffee on-par with what you get from high-end drip machines. This starts with buying a brewer that reaches optimal brew temperature and gives you the option of using ground coffee.

The process of using a single-serve machine is simple:

  1. If you’re using the machine for the first time, do a “cleaning brew” of plain water without any coffee in the filter. You may still need to lift and close the lid to start the cycle but don’t put in a pod. An initial cleaning brew will clear away any debris or residue left behind during manufacturing.

  2. Verify there’s enough water in the reservoir for your brew. If it’s a single-brew reservoir, measure out the right amount of water and pour it into the reservoir.

  3. Put your mug underneath the brew spout.
  4. Open the lid on the top of the machine to access the filter. Check to make sure there aren’t any old grounds in the filter basket. If you see any, rinse the basket before starting the next brew.

  5. If you’re using a K-Cup, insert it into the filter slot. If you’re using whole-bean coffee, grind it and pour it into the reusable filter. Don’t pack the grinds down like you would on an espresso machine. This can lead to uneven extraction by creating dense, dry pockets inside the filter. Once the filter is filled, close the lid and wipe away any excess grounds from the outside before putting it in the filter slot.

  6. On machines with a size selection option, push the button for the size you want before you close the lid on the filter area. The same goes for strength selection controls. Some machines start brewing as soon as the lid is locked.

  7.  If you’re using a 2-in-1 brewer, verify that you’ve picked the correct brew style (ground coffee or K-Cup).

  8. Close the lid and, if necessary, press the brew start button.

  9. Once the brew is finished, open the lid and dispose of the K-Cup (or empty and rinse the reusable filter).

There are a lot of variations in single-serve brewer design, so even though the steps above are true for most models, it’s still a good idea to check out the user manual before you use the brewer for the first time. This also makes sure you’re taking advantage of all the settings and options available on the brewer.

You know how to use your machine now, but how do you get the best taste? Here are some simple tips to follow:

  • Always start with fresh, whole beans. Coffee beans taste best in the first 4-6 weeks after roasting. Whatever brewing method you’re using, buy fresh beans and grind them right before you brew for the best taste and aroma.

  • Grind to the correct size. Because the brew time is shorter in single-serve coffee makers, they need a slightly finer grind than drip machines. Use the medium-fine setting on your grinder, aiming for grinds roughly the same size as table salt. Most pre-ground coffee is slightly too coarse and will result in a weak brew.

  • Use the right ratio of water to grounds. Most experts recommend using about a teaspoon of grinds for every 1-2 ounces of water. Reusable K-Cup filters have a capacity of about 4 teaspoons, so start off using between 4 and 8 ounces of water for the best flavor. You can adjust the strength to your tastes by adding more or less water for future brews.

  • Use filtered water. Any bad taste in your water is going to come through in the final cup. Some single-serve coffee makers come with a filter to remove impurities. If your brewer doesn’t have this feature, it’s best to use filtered tap water, not distilled water or mineral water, which can leave your coffee tasting flat or one-dimensional.

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