What are the Best Small Coffee Makers?
If you’re living in a dorm room, hitting the road in an RV, or just simply short on counter space, a small coffee maker is your best option for freshly brewed coffee. You should also consider a personal coffee brewer if you live alone and don’t want to brew a large carafe at once. Whether you want a single cup of coffee or a small-sized carafe, Home Grounds has picked the best small coffee maker for your needs.
At A Glance:
- OUR TOP PICK: Black + Decker 5-Cup Coffee Maker
- BREW TWO WAYS: Chefman InstaCoffee Single Serve
- BARISTA STYLE: Nespresso Essenza Mini
The Best Small Coffee Makers for 2023
Downsizing to a small or mini coffee maker doesn’t have to mean a reduction in quality. Here are some of the best compact coffee machines that will provide you with a delicious brew.
1. BLACK+DECKER CM0700B 5-Cup Coffee Maker – Best Overall
The Black+Decker 5-Cup Coffee Maker is the perfect example of a small coffee maker. It has the power of the best drip coffee machines, but with compact size (and fantastic price), making it the best coffee maker for a small apartment.
Considering the good drip coffee it makes, as well as its compact and storable size, you’re really getting a good deal on this little guy.
The body of the coffee machine is all plastic, which is what you would expect at this price point, but with an all-black design, it doesn’t look cheap. The carafe is made of Duralife glass, with an ergonomic design to help prevent drips. It has a permanent, removable filter basket, but you’ll need basket-shaped ones if you want to use paper filters.
The operation is simple, with just an on/off switch at the side. It’s also easy to clean, as all removable parts can be placed in the top rack of the dishwasher. This small coffee machine has cord storage, making it easier to pack away in a cupboard when not in use.
The one downside here is that there are no options to customize your brew. There’s also no automatic shut-off feature, so you must remember to turn it off when you’re done making coffee.
The Black+Decker 5-Cup Coffee Maker is priced at $24.99 and is manufactured in China.
2. Keurig K-Mini Plus – Best Single Serve Machine
If you’re looking for a compact coffee machine, a single serve coffee maker is an obvious choice, and the Keurig brand rules the single-serve market in the US. The K-Mini Plus is one of Keurig’s smallest coffee machines at less than 5 inches wide in its line-up.
Like all Keurig machines, using the K-Mini Plus is simply adding a K-Cup and pressing the start button. You also have the option for “strong” coffee if you need a bit more of a caffeine kick to your morning.
For ease of use, the K-Mini Plus has a removable water tank and a removable drip tray to accommodate a travel mug up to 7 inches tall. It has cord storage plus K-Cup storage for up to nine used capsules. The auto-off function switches the machine off 90 seconds after you finish brewing.
One thing that might bother you about this machine is that you need to refill it each time you brew coffee, and the machine will use all of the water you have in the reservoir each time. The good thing about this is that you can brew precisely the amount of hot coffee you want, between 6 and 12 oz.
The Keurig K-Mini Plus is priced at $98.39 and is made in China. Read our Keurig K-Mini Plus coffee maker review to learn more.
3. Bodum Pour Over Coffee Maker – Best Manual Coffee Maker
A round-up of the best small coffee makers wouldn’t be complete without at least one manual brewer. Non-electric coffee brewers can get seriously small, but these will produce similarly small quantities of coffee. Home Grounds’ pick is the Bodum Pour Over because it gives you the option of batch brewing.
It has an elegant design that’s reminiscent of the famous Chemex coffee maker. The carafe is borosilicate glass, with a cuff in either cork or silicone.
There’s a permanent stainless-steel mesh filter for brewing, which eliminates the need for paper filters.
Using a manual pour-over coffee brewer gets you a more flavorful and nuanced cup of coffee than you would when using an automatic drip coffee maker.
The downside here is that you’ll need to do everything yourself. You’ll also need to invest in a good coffee grinder and gooseneck kettle to get the most out of it (1).
Prices start at $32 for the 17 oz model. The Bodum Pour Over is made in Portugal.
Consider the AeroPress if you want a genuinely compact or portable coffee maker but don’t need to make multiple cups.
4. Cuisinart 4-Cup Coffeemaker with Stainless Steel Carafe – Most Durable
The Cuisinart 4-Cup ticks many boxes when it comes to the best mini drip coffee makers. It’s compact, affordable, and fast, with a brewing time of just four minutes.
Cuisinart products are known for a good quality build, and this compact coffee maker is no exception. The body is plastic, but the carafe is made from brushed stainless steel, giving the machine some extra heft.
A 3-year warranty backs the Cuisinart 4-Cup Coffee Maker.
The Cuisinart DCC-450 features a showerhead brewing system for even extraction, a brew-pause function for pouring a single cup, and an auto shut-off timer of 30 minutes.
Be aware that this is not a thermal carafe, even though it is stainless steel. You’ll still need to use the warming plate to keep your coffee hot. The big plus here is that there’s no chance of breaking your carafe if you drop it on the floor as you would with a glass carafe.
The Cuisinart 4-Cup Coffee Maker is priced at $39.95 and is made in China.
This small coffee brewer is a downsized version of Bonavita’s SCA-certified BV1900TS model. The Bonavita 5-Cup hasn’t received the same official certification, but it’s built to the same standards and reached Golden Cup Standards in independent testing (2).
The 5-cup model includes many of the same features for brewing as the bigger high-quality coffee maker, including a showerhead design, optional pre-infusion mode, and an optimal brew temperature between 198°-205°F.
The standout feature is the stainless steel thermal carafe, which will keep your coffee warm for hours. This is preferable to the standard hot plate, affecting the coffee taste (3). The body is also stainless steel, and all plastic parts (such as the water reservoir) are BPA-free.
The downside is that all these features come at a cost. The Bonavita 5-Cup coffee maker is the most expensive drip machine on our list, though it does offer great value for money.
The Bonavita 5-Cup One-Touch is priced at $129.99 and is made in China.
6. Mr. Coffee 5-Cup Mini Brew Switch Coffee Maker – Budget Pick
This mini coffee maker is small in price as well as size. Mr. Coffee produces some of the best cheap coffee machines around, so if you’re in the market for a small coffee maker on a tight budget, this is the brand.
The Mr. Coffee 5-Cup Mini Brew Switch is a simple, no-frills machine. In terms of making life easy features, the machine has a Grab-a-Cup Auto Pause to allow you to pour a single cup of fresh coffee before the brewing process is complete. It’s also compatible with the Mr. Coffee filtration system, which will provide you with a better-tasting cup of coffee.
This is not the coffee brewer to buy if you want any special features. There’s no option to customize your brew and no auto shut-off, so you need to remember to turn off the machine after use.
The Mr. Coffee 5-Cup is priced at $24.99 and is made in China.
For more coffee makers on a budget, check out the Home Grounds guide to the best coffee makers under $50.
7. Chefman InstaCoffee Max Single Serve – Most Versatile
If you like the idea of a single-serve brewer but don’t want to be constricted by capsules, the Chefman InstaCoffee provides the best of both worlds. This personal coffee brewer can brew with K-Cups for convenience or ground coffee when you want to choose your coffee beans.
There’s a K-Cup holder for brewing, which you can swap out with the reusable mesh filter basket. Kike the Keurig, the machine will use as much water as you add to the tank, from 6-14 oz to adjust the coffee’s strength. You can raise the drip tray higher to avoid splashing when using smaller cups or left as is to accommodate travel mugs.
The InstaCoffee Max has a fast brew time of 30 seconds and a self-cleaning function to eliminate mineral buildup.
The downside is that you will need to refill the water reservoir after every use. Some coffee drinkers have also complained that the holder for the K-Cups is not as durable as it could be.
The Chefman InstaCoffee Max is priced at $49.99 and is made in China.
8. Nespresso Essenza Mini – Best for Espresso Lovers
Nespresso was the originator of the pod coffee maker, which makes espresso-style drinks available to coffee lovers everywhere in a convenient, compact coffee maker. The Essenza Mini is the smallest of the Nespresso line-up but has the exact same brewing mechanism as all of the brand’s bigger (and more expensive) machines.
We like the compact Nespresso Essenza Mini because it makes the same quality coffee as machines that cost hundreds more, without any extra frills.
You have the option of brewing an espresso or lungo size, and the preset volume for each can be adjusted. For ease of use, there’s a removable water tank, a used capsule holder for 5-6 capsules, and an auto-off function that kicks in after 2 minutes.
The downside to this machine is the price, as it’s the most expensive on the list (although it is one of the cheaper Nespresso pod coffee makers). It’s also not suitable if you want a true espresso shot. If you’re in the market for small espresso machines, take a look at the Coffee Gator Espresso Machine.
The Nespresso Essenza Mini is priced at $169.95 and is made in Hungary. Here’s our full review of the Essenza Mini.
How to Choose Best Small Coffee Maker for Your Needs
When choosing the best compact coffee maker for your needs, there are a few things you should take into consideration.
- Size: if you want the best coffee machine for a small space, don’t just look at the overall dimensions. You’ll need to check that you have enough room to open the water reservoir and filter basket or capsule holder.
- Capacity: you might be thinking the smaller the better, but be realistic about how much coffee you want to brew at a time.
- Brewing method: drip coffee makers are fine if you like that style of coffee, but if you prefer espresso, consider a Nespresso machine or a manual espresso maker.
- Quality: materials and engineering quality will determine how long your coffee will last before replacing it.
Pros and cons of a small coffee Brewer
There are pros and cons to buying a small coffee maker, as with most things. The small size is a defining feature, but it may mean that you have to give up on other benefits. Just make sure you’re willing to accept the disadvantages.
Compact size is, of course, the main reason for buying a small coffee maker. Not everyone has the counter space for an oversized coffee maker, particularly in dorm rooms or RVs. Small machines are also a good option if you don’t want to use a coffee brewer every day, as you can put them away quickly in a cupboard between uses.
Compact coffee makers tend to have a faster brewing time, drip coffee makers in particular. Brewing just 4 cups compared to the standard 10-12 cups will take less time. Many coffee makers of this size use less energy for brewing, too, with an approximate 550-900 watts compared to 750-1200 watts for a full-size drip machine (4).
The payoff to having a smaller coffee maker is that you’ll also have a smaller water reservoir. Their capacity is acceptable for a single person or couple but not practical for an office. A single-serve coffee brewer might be a good option if you want a high volume with a small footprint. These are designed to brew quickly, so there’s no waiting for more coffee to brew.
Saving space might mean giving up on a few key features. For example, you’re unlikely to find a small coffee maker with a built-in grinder or steam wand attached. Even some more basic features are often left of small machines, such as options for brew temperature, brew strength, cup size, or a programmable timer.
You can see from this list that there are plenty of available coffee makers for small apartments and homes, and for people with limited space. Home Grounds recommends the Black+Decker 5-Cup Brewer as the best small coffee maker. It’s compact and powerful, with a price tag that makes it very affordable.
A coffee maker is any automatic or manual device that’s used for brewing coffee. Using a coffee maker makes it easier to brew coffee, but it also allows you to brew different types of coffee and have control over the final flavor. Coffee maker types are automatic or manual, then categorized by the brewing method, including espresso, pour-over, drip, French press, or stovetop espresso.
A coffee maker works differently depending on the brewing method that it uses. Espresso machines work by forcing hot water through coffee grounds at high pressure. Drip or pour-over coffee makers work by pouring water slowly over coffee grounds in a filter, with the extraction occurring through gravity. French press and cold brew coffee makers work by immersion, where the coffee grounds are steeped in water until the right extraction level has been achieved.
The types of coffee makers usually refer to the type of coffee they produce, though sometimes it refers to the amount of coffee made. The main types of coffee makers are:
1. Espresso machine: a manual or automatic machine that makes true espresso coffee (5).
2. Drip coffee machine: an electric coffee maker that uses the pour over method for batch brewing.
3. Pour over brewer: a manual coffee maker used for single cups or batch brewing.
4. French press: a manual coffee brewer that uses the immersion method, where coffee grounds are steeped in water.
5. Single serve: usually an automatic coffee brewer that makes a single cup of coffee at a time. This can either be espresso-style or drip-style coffee.
6. Stovetop espresso maker: a manual coffee brewer placed over heat to produce an espresso-style coffee.
7. Percolator: a manual or automatic coffee brewer that uses decoction, which boils the coffee grounds with the water.
8. Cold brew coffee maker: this can be a manual brewer that works similar to a French press or one that drips cold water over coffee at a very slow rate.
- Oden, G. (n.d.). 3 Reasons You Need A Gooseneck Kettle For Pour Over Coffee Brewing. JavaPresse Coffee Company. https://www.javapresse.com/blogs/pour-over/3-reasons-gooseneck-kettle-pour-over-coffee-brewing
- 5-Cup One-Touch Thermal Carafe Coffee Brewer. (n.d.). Bonavita. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://bonavita.co/products/5-cup-one-touch-thermal-carafe-coffee-brewer
- How Do I Keep My Coffee Hot? (2019, July 23). Driftaway Coffee. https://driftaway.coffee/hotcoffee/
- How Many Watts Does A Coffee Maker Use? (2022, March 18). Measuring Stuff. https://measuringstuff.com/how-many-watts-does-a-coffee-maker-use/
- Botha, T. (2010, August 25). What “true” espresso is, and how Americans ruin it. Salon. https://www.salon.com/2010/08/25/american_espresso/