Best Pod Coffee Maker Reviews: 8 Capsule Machines Worth Getting
The best pod coffee maker is the one speaking to your lifestyle. With tons of single-serve coffee makers on the market, the chances are high that you’ll make the wrong investment.
But have no fear!
We’ve surveyed the marketplace to track down the top models. Here are our 8 unbeatable picks for every type of coffee lover.
Nespresso Vertuo by Breville
The Nespresso Vertuo made by Breville is a machine with something for everyone, from coffee lovers to espresso enthusiasts. With their Centrifusion and Intelligent Extraction technologies, it couldn’t be easier to brew the perfect morning pick-me-up.
The 8 Best Pod Coffee Makers in 2021
Here are our top picks for pod coffee makers this year: for coffees, espressos, and lattes. For more options, we’ve also reviewed some of the best Keurig coffee makers and other great Nespresso coffee makers to choose from.
Nespresso’s newly-launched Vertuo line appeals to espresso and coffee lovers alike (2). That versatility is what makes this brewer our favorite pod coffee maker this year.
This single serve machine takes only 15 to 20 seconds to preheat and then a single touch to start brewing. It brews using a patented technology known as Centrifusion. Hot water is injected into the capsule, which is then spun at 7000 rpm. This maximizes contact between the grounds and the water for the best extraction and flavor.
The Vertuo line also employs intelligent extraction technology. The downside is that the proprietary Vertuo capsules are mandatory, and they can be expensive.
Nespresso Vertuo reads a barcode on the capsule and automatically optimizes brewing parameters for that specific coffee.
Still, the Vertuo line machines are less expensive than the original Nespresso, and each comes with 12 free capsules. Note that this machine can also be sold with the Aeroccino at a discount.
If you like Nespresso machines, check out our roundup of the best Nespresso machines.
If you’re just after a basic K cup coffee, it’s hard to beat the K Classic. We love this single serve coffee maker for its consistent quality and super low price. For a convenient way to enjoy great-tasting flavors and brands of K coffee capsules, including both the 1.0 and 2.0 versions, this is our top pick.
It’s incredibly simple and easy to use. Just insert the pod, close the lid, and choose your brewing size. You’ll be enjoying a warm cup of coffee in less than a minute. Unfortunately, brew strength can’t be adjusted with this single serve machine. If you forget to turn it off, it shuts down automatically 2 hours after brewing.
The 48-ounce removable water tank is conveniently large, allowing you to brew 4 to 8 cups of coffee before it needs a refill. The drip tray is also removable so that you can fit up to a 7″ tall travel mug under the brew head.
Given its rock bottom price, you might not expect much from the Chulux Single Serve, but you would be mistaken. This little single serve coffee brewer, perfect for a dorm room or RV, packs enough features into its compact frame to be a great value, not just a low price.
It takes only 2 or 3 minutes to heat up and brew your cup of coffee, and it’s compatible with all K coffee pods as well as with refillable single serve coffee filters if you prefer ground coffee or worry that Keurig K Cup coffee pods are not so good for the environment. It powers down automatically after brewing, an eco-friendly feature.
The 10-oz water tank is for single use. Add as much water as you want to brew, and it will keep brewing until the water is gone or you tell it to stop. This feature allows you total control over the cup size but will be an inconvenience for lovers of larger mugs of coffee.
At just over 4″ wide, the Nespresso Pixie is their smallest espresso machine, and one of their longtime best sellers. We love this single serve machine because it’s simple, functional, stylish, and delivers a legitimately delicious espresso shot. Or pair it with the Aeroccino for a foamy cappuccino.
Despite its tiny size, the Pixie packs a punch. It heats in only 25 seconds and is equipped with a 19 bar high-pressure pump, ensuring properly extracted espresso with a rich layer of crema (3).
We want to make sure there is crema because it tells me that the coffee is fresh…and well-extracted.
A surprisingly large 24-ounce water tank means you can pull 16 shots without a refill, and red light alerts you when it’s running low. After brewing, this machine automatically ejects the used capsules into the waste bin. So, clean-up is virtually nil, plus it powers down automatically in 9 minutes.
You can read our full review of the Nespresso Pixie here.
The Creatista is the most expensive brewer on our list, but it also has by far the most to offer. If you have the budget, and love of cafe-style drinks, this beautiful coffee maker deserves a place on your countertop.
Internally, this single serve machine offers a thermojet heating element that brings it to temperature in under 5 seconds and a 19 bar pump that guarantees properly extracted espresso. Externally, it features Nespresso’s premium design, a rich medley of stainless steel, and a high-gloss finish that harkens to an original manual espresso machine.
It’s the only item on our list to offer a built-in milk frothing system. It comes in the form of an automatic steam wand that sterilizes itself with a jet of hot steam after each use. Use it to entirely customize your favorite drink, including cappuccino, latte, and flat white.
The original Keurig machines were built with the office in mind, to spare workers the inevitable disappointment of a stale carafe of coffee, and they still find a welcome home there (4). Allowing each user to quickly brew a fresh serving of their favorite Keurig K Cup coffee, tea, or hot chocolate is perfect for the workplace.
The Keurig K155 OfficePro was built with this in mind. It features a large, full-color touchscreen interface that operates in three languages. With this, you can choose between four cup sizes, adjust brewing temperature, and even program automatic on and off times. The drip tray is removable to accommodate tall mugs.
The best feature for a large user base like a workplace is the massive 90-ounce removable water tank, something you’ll rarely see on a home coffee maker.
In the past, having the flexibility to brew a carafe of coffee or just one cup meant having two separate coffee machines. But no longer. The Hamilton Beach Flexbrew 49966 satisfies both needs in a single, surprisingly compact machine.
The single-serve machine side comes with adaptors so you can brew using either Keurig K Cup pods or freshly ground coffee beans. Conveniently, whichever adaptor is not in use can be stored in the empty drip tray. It takes about 3 minutes from turn on to brew up a single serving, up to 14 oz.
The carafe side can be programmed to brew coffee on a timer. It features a stainless steel thermal carafe, which we much prefer to glass both in terms of durability and coffee quality. If you remove the carafe during brewing, it pauses automatically to avoid a spill.
No matter how you choose to brew coffee, you can select regular or bold brew strength. The brave option increases the brew time, which yields a stronger cup of coffee.
Nespresso is the undisputed king of capsule-style espresso machines, and the Inissia is one of its tried-and-true models. It’s a compact brewer, with a timeless design and multiple color options that ensure it fits nicely in any kitchen.
This single serve machine heats in just 25 seconds, then employs Nespresso’s patented extraction system and a 19 bar pump to guarantee a flavorful espresso and thick layer of crema every time.
Upon completion of brewing, the machine automatically ejects the spent capsule into the waste bin, and the machine powers down automatically after 9 minutes. A 24 oz water tank ensures you can brew up to 9 coffees before a refill.
How to Choose the Best Coffee Pod Machine
The best capsule coffee maker makes great-tasting cups of coffee at an affordable price, but above all, it’s convenient and easy to use. So how do you find this perfect brewer? Keep reading, and we’ll walk you through it.
||Nespresso Vertuo by Breville||
||Keurig K Classic||
||Chulux Single Serve Coffee Maker||
||Nespresso Pixie by Delonghi||
||Hamilton Beach Flexbrew 49966||
||Nespresso Inissia by Breville||
What style of coffee do you like to drink?
When shopping for a pod coffee maker, or any of the coffee brewers for that matter, the first and most important question to ask yourself is: how do I like my cup of coffee?
We can broadly divide pod coffee makers into two categories: drip coffee makers and espresso machines. Keurig models, and Keurig alternatives typify the former market. On the other hand, Nespresso and their branded capsules dominate the latter.
Luckily, if you want the flexibility to drink either coffee or espresso, you won’t need to buy two coffee makers.
Nespresso’s new Vertuo line of pod-style brewers can make everything from a single espresso shot up to a 14-ounce mug of coffee.
If you love a latte or cappuccino, look for a model with a built-in milk frothing system, or the one you can purchase with a milk frother. Most Nespresso models, for example, are sold with the highly-regarded Aeroccino milk frother as an optional add-on.
Convenience is king.
It’s safe to say that if you’re in the market for a pod coffee maker, brewing a cup of coffee quickly and conveniently is a priority (1), whether it’s pods, K-Cups or capsule and yes, they’re different.
Capsules are so easy to prepare and enjoy. You don’t need to have anything other than a coffee machine that uses capsules to enjoy an outstanding coffee.
For that reason, when shopping for this style of a brewer, in particular, it’s crucial to consider customer reviews regarding ease of use and reliability. That’s why our list of recommendations features only top-rated machines.
Don’t forget to factor in ease of maintenance as well. A brewer with an automated cleaning cycle will make your life easy, particularly for those with built-in milk frothing.
If you plan to brew several drinks in a row, look for the automatic ejection of used capsules into a waste bin. This will save you time and avoid potential burns.
Consider a drink size variety.
If you’re the sole user of your pod coffee maker and use the same mug every morning, you don’t need to consider a machine’s drink sizes. That’s great because you’ll likely be satisfied with a simpler and less expensive brewer.
However, if you’ll be brewing different sizes or anticipate several users, look for a model that offers brewing size options. Some brewers even have the option of making a single cup or a full carafe, which can be a great compromise.
Where is it going to fit?
You don’t want to buy your pod coffee brewer to realize that it’s not going to fit your kitchen countertop. Without the need for a large filter basket or carafe, these coffee makers can be incredibly compact, but each additional feature increases the machine’s footprint. So think about where you plan to fit your pod machine when deciding if these add-ons are worthwhile.
For example, a big water tank can up the overall size of a coffee maker, but that may be advantageous for large households or offices because it won’t need constant refilling.
With such a variety, we couldn’t choose just one pod coffee maker.
If you’re a lover of coffee and espresso, we recommend the Breville-Nespresso Vertuo, the only machine on the market, to deliver both with remarkably high quality. For fans of coffee exclusively, our runner up, the Keurig K Classic, offers reliable and convenient K Cup coffee at a price that will fit any budget.
Yes, you can buy refillable Nespresso capsules, though they are less common than refillable Keurig K Cup capsules.
Keurig coffee will taste more watery if the piercing needle is clogged, which causes the water to run around the K Cup and into your mug without extracting any coffee.
You can reuse some coffee pods. Nespresso capsules can still produce a tasty brew the second time, but a second brew from a Keurig K Cup will be very weak (5).
- Grant, T. (2020, March 30). Why Are Specialty Coffee Capsules Growing in Popularity? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/03/why-are-specialty-coffee-capsules-growing-in-popularity/
- Nespresso set to revolutionize the North American coffee market with the launch of VertuoLine. (2014, February 19). Retrieved from https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/nespresso-set-to-revolutionize-the-north-american-coffee-market-with-the-launch-of-vertuoline-513763421.html
- Petrich, I. (2020, April 21). Crema: How It’s Formed, What It Tells Us, & How to Learn From It. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/04/crema-how-its-formed-what-it-tells-us-how-to-learn-from-it/
- McGinn, D. (2011, August 7). The Buzz Machine. Retrieved from http://archive.boston.com/business/articles/2011/08/07/the_inside_story_of_keurigs_rise_to_a_billion_dollar_coffee_empire/
- Rawes, E. (2020, May 5). How to Recycle or Reuse Nespresso Pods. Retrieved from https://www.digitaltrends.com/home/how-to-recycle-or-reuse-nespresso-pods/