The Best Single Serve Coffee Maker Of 2020
Brewing a steaming pot of java to sip slowly throughout a lazy Sunday is one of life’s great pleasures. But downing a quick cup to start a hectic workday morning is an equally vital activity.
We’ve compiled a list of ten best single serve coffee makers so you can get that caffeine in your bloodstream swiftly and efficiently, without sacrificing great coffee.
Keep reading to see which one suits your particular needs.
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10 Best Single Serve Coffee Makers
We’re here to help you choose the best of the best single serve coffee makers. So read carefully, and soon you’ll be sipping your favorite cup of joe.
The Nespresso Pixie is a higher-end single serve model that produces a barista-style result thanks to a high-pressure pump that fully extracts the flavor of the coffee beans. This is a great little espresso maker. It even made our list of the best Nespresso coffee machines.
What else do you get for the extra investment? A single serve machine that can be programmed to dispense just the strength and volume of coffee you want – if you can’t make it to your local barista and you’re willing to compromise for a fast, simple alternative, this is your best bet.
Read our review of the Nespresso Pixie here.
- High-pressure pump (19-bar) yields barista-style results
- Heats water from water reservoir in only 25 seconds
- Easy to use
- Programmable so you can get exactly the strength and size of coffee you want
- Shut off occurs after 9 minutes to minimize energy use
- Requires Nespresso capsules
- Coffee choice restricted to the capsules available
Most single-serve coffee makers are quick and convenient, but the Cuisinart SS-10 takes that to the extreme. This brewer heats up in seconds and takes under a minute to brew a cup of coffee. If that doesn’t sound fast enough, you can even program it to have your coffee ready and waiting when you need it.
For ultimate convenience, the SS-10 brews with K-Cup pods. But if you’re not a fan of its weak coffee or questionable environmental reputation, it also comes with a reusable filter cup to fill with your favorite ground coffee. And there’s a designated hot water button if you prefer tea or cocoa.
This is a stylish single serve brewer, with a shiny silver finish that gives it a sleek modern look you’ll love to display in your kitchen. It’s controlled via a backlit LCD screen where you can program the brew timer, auto on/off, brew temperature, and choose one of 5 brew sizes. It’s large for a single-serve machine, mainly due to the massive 72-ounce water reservoir. This, too, is a time-saving feature, as it rarely needs a refill.
- Instant heat-up and fast brewing
- Brews with K-Cup pods or ground coffee
- Extra large water reservoir
- Programmable brewing timer and auto on/off
- Large footprint might overwhelm small kitchens
- Plastic construction is not as durable as metal
Buying a Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker for your kitchen is the next best thing to hiring a professional barista. This impressive brewer has been certified by the Specialty Coffee Association for its brew quality, but it’s perhaps even more outstanding for its versatility.
It can brew four styles of coffee: classic, rich, iced, or specialty. The latter is a rich coffee concentrate to serve as a basis for your favorite milk-based drink. True, you won’t be getting a real espresso, but with the addition of frothed milk, you’ll never taste the difference. The Ninja CM407 also features a fold-away automatic frother, which produces smooth and airy foam from hot or cold milk.
It’s versatile when it comes to coffee sizes and six options, which is great if you want to brew more cups of coffee. The thermal carafe will keep your coffee warm for hours without the need for a hot plate, so you never lose that fresh coffee taste.
It brews using ground coffee, rather than pods. Maybe this is slightly less convenient, but you’ll be getting a better quality brew, helping the environment, and saving money.
- SCA certified for best-quality coffee
- Can brew classic, rich, iced, or specialty concentrated coffee
- Built-in milk frother
- Can brew a single serve or a full carafe
- Can’t make a true espresso
The AdirChef Grab N’ Go Coffee Maker is a simple coffee-delivery system with a tiny footprint. It’s perfect for tight kitchens with limited counter space or office cubicles.
Though simple, this single-serve coffee machine is well-built and well-designed. It won’t break on you, and neither will the included stainless-steel travel mug – this brewer is very affordable and will work for years.
As with the Ninja, this capsule-less system offers the user complete freedom when it comes to selecting beans and grind. The built-in filter is a boon to both the environment and your wallet – no buying filters or throwing out used ones.
- Tiny and light enough to be easily portable
- Easy to use
- Comes with a stainless-steel travel mug
- A permanent filter means less waste
- The parts are dishwasher-safe!
- Works best with accompanying 15-oz. travel mug (though others fit)
- Not as good for brewing other beverages
The introduction of the Aeropress brewing system took the coffee world by storm in 2005, thanks to the remarkable quality and flavor of coffee being extracted. It was designed by the head of a frisbee company who wanted to engineer the perfect cup of joe (no, really!). Its simple design belies the complex nuances of flavor achieved.
It operates much like a French press. Pour hot water over grounds and then push the coffee through a microfilter. Unlike a French press, however, the microfilter ensures there are no gritty remnants in your cup, or in the press. You can also use it as an espresso maker with a little creativity. Clean up is quick and easy.
The Aeropress requires no electricity and brews a cup in only a minute.
It’s great for travel, and has found a particular fanbase among campers and backpackers as it packs down smaller than a travel mug, and is durable enough to survive being crammed in the bottom of a backpack. To see what it looks like in action, check out our video guide on Aeropress brewing:
Read our Aeropress review to find out more about this portable single-serve coffee maker. It is also worth noting that there is a newer, supposedly more travel-friendly, version of the Aeropress out now called the Aeropress Go. You can read our full Aeropress Go review to help you decide which version is right for you.
- Known for the incredible flavor of resultant brewed coffee
- Simple design and no electricity required
- Only takes one minute to brew a cup (and you can brew for multiple cup sizes)
- A favorite among campers and backpackers as it is light and portable
- Requires the purchase of paper filters unless you buy a reusable stainless steel filter
- You’ll need ground coffee
6. Oomph Coffee Maker – Best All-in-one
Coffee maker type: Gravity (and pressure)-powered – capsule-free
- Known for: Ultra-portable filtered coffee – brew and drink from the same container (or not)
- Price: $
The Oomph coffee brewer is a bit like the younger cousin of the Aeropress. It makes rich, high-quality coffee using a combination of steeping and hand pressure, and it’s amazingly convenient, especially if you’re on-the-go or travelling.
It’s much like the classic Aeropress, but with some key differences. Rather than having a bunch of parts to keep track of, the Oomph gives you everything in one container – from brewing to drinking. The Oomph uses gravity for the first part of the extraction process, while the Aeropress allows the coffee to steep. The Oomph also might be a little more stylish – though the Aeropress is better-known and has won some barista championships, some say it looks clunky.
Debate as you will, we’ll be here, drinking great coffee from both of them. Here’s our full review of the Oomph Coffee Maker.
Important Note: The Oomph is currently out of stock as the company deals with the Covid-19 crisis.
- Uses a built-in stainless steel filter – nothing to buy or throw out (except your used grounds)
- All in one brewing and drinking – you don’t need to pour into a decanter or a mug
- Adjust the brew strength and extraction until the coffee is just the way you like
- Offers maximum convenience only if you use the brewer as a mug
- You can only buy it from their website, which ships from the UK
If the Oomph is a portable coffee brewer that hints at a pour over, the Coffee Gator single cup coffee maker takes it all the way. This single serve coffee maker is a coffee mug and brewer in one – take off the lid, throw on the pour over filter, and you’re brewing. The filter is stainless steel mesh, so there’s no need for any paper waste, and it makes a great, clean cup of coffee.
If you need pour over on the road, we’d recommend grabbing the Coffee Gator – it’s a sturdy, all-in-one system. Pour over coffee makers like these are great single serve options that provide high quality coffee fast.
- Pour over quality coffee
- Stainless steel reusable filter
- Mug keeps coffee hot for hours
- Takes some pour over technique to brew well
The cheapest, smallest, lightest, and easiest pod coffee maker on this list is Primula’s Brew Buddy. Essentially a pour-over method with a reusable filter, the Brew Buddy is an eco-friendly single serve coffee maker for the traveling coffee fanatic.
It’s small enough to fit in your pocket and will never break. Its near-universal design means it works with almost any coffee cup. Its simplicity allows for limitless flexibility in choice of beans, size of grind, and quantity of water so you can have your coffee just how you like it.
- Very inexpensive
- Small, light and easily portable
- Will not break
- Does not require the purchase of filters or capsules
- Only makes drip-style coffee, no espresso
9. The Hamilton Beach 49981 Single-Serve Coffee Maker – Best Coffee Machine (Drip)
Coffee maker type: Drip
- Known for: Convenience and speed
- Price: $
With the option of brewing directly into a travel mug, the Hamilton Beach coffee maker, which the manufacturer calls “the Scoop,” is clearly bidding to be a rushed morning’s new best friend.
This easy-to-use single serve coffee maker is fast: an 8-oz. cup brews in 90 seconds, and a 14-oz. travel mug two and a half minutes. But the brew speed isn’t the only way “the Scoop” helps get you out the door in a hurry: the stainless-steel filter is the measuring scoop, literally – measure the ground coffee in the included scoop, slip the scoop into the coffee maker, make sure you’ve got water, and push the button. No filter papers, no pods, no capsules.
There’s a switch for “Regular” and “Bold” brewing, where “Bold” is recommended for more finely-ground coffee.
- Use your choice of ground coffee
- Stainless steel reusable filter/scoop simplifies brewing
- Drip tray raises/lowers to fit 14-oz. travel mug or standard cup
- Overfilling the coffee filter can result in spills
Versatility is one of the Sboly’s standout features with the popular brewer able to make coffee from ground coffee as well as the ubiquitous K-cup pods. This coffee maker enjoys a sleek design with stainless steel features meaning it would look good in even the smallest of kitchens.
This easy-to-use single serve coffee maker’s 14-ounce water reservoir is relatively small for an electric brewer but the size means that it is able to heat up the water much quicker. This means you’ll have less time to wait for your first brew of the day. The other standout feature here is the auto-clean function, which makes maintenance of this versatile and budget-friendly brewer a piece of cake.
- Use pods, ground coffee, or K cups
- Easy to use
- Small footprint perfect for smaller kitchens
- Auto-clean function
- Small water reservoir
How To Choose the Best Single Serve Coffee Maker
These single serve coffee makers are simple enough, but there are some make-or-break features that you’ll want to consider before you start considering options.
Electric Or Gravity-Powered?
Single serve coffee makers can be broadly divided into two categories: electric coffee makers, and gravity-powered options. The latter allows for time or air pressure to percolate your grounds and aid extraction whereas the former simply works with electricity.
Before deciding for one or the other, consider the following:
- For the easiest coffee makers to operate even in that early morning fog, go electric
- For travel or camping trips and with no risk of breakdown, go for gravity-powered
- For a machine that will heat the water for you, go for electric. This may seem obvious, but if you’re going with one of the gravity and pressure-powered options, you’ll need a way to heat the water.
If you’d rather take a little more time and care, check out this list of drip coffee maker reviews. It’s still a fairly quick and convenient way to make coffee! If you an option to brew more cups of coffee and if you’re torn between getting a single serve and large capacity brewer, you can check out our list of the best dual coffee makers instead.
K-Cup Pods: Yay or Nay?
The introduction of the K-Cup pod, and subsequent imitations revolutionized the single serve coffee game in both positive and negative ways (1).
In 2014, enough K-Cups were sold that if placed end-to-end, they would circle the globe 10.5 times. Almost all of them ended up in landfills.
The biggest advantages of using this coffee capsules are that they provide consistent brewing (no errors) with a variety of flavors (feel like hot chocolate today?) The biggest disadvantages of using them, however, is poor quality coffee, and they have a large negative environmental impact.
Besides this, and interestingly enough; they cost more! These coffee capsules often cost much more than the same quality of coffee as whole beans or grounds. How do we know? Math. A pack of 24 capsules costs around $16, each capsule contains an average of 11 grams of coffee. That’s 264 grams of coffee, which works out to $27.50/pound.
K-Cups aren’t wholesome for your wallet or the environment.
A great alternative to coffee capsules or pods is a refillable insert like the My K-Cup – they allow you to fill your own capsule with the coffee and grind of your choice. Plus many of the companies producing capsule or pod coffee makers are proactive about research addressing their environmental issues (2). The company has also recently introduced recyclable capsules.
If all this convinces you to choose a single serve coffee maker that works with ground coffee, there’s a world of beautiful beans waiting for you out there. If you’re still curious, here’s a list of the best Keurig coffee makers.
Coffee Pods Vs. Coffee Capsules
Though many reviewers and some brands use the terms pod and capsule interchangeably, they, in fact, refer to two distinct coffee ground containers. Capsules are the small plastic cups favored like Nespresso, among others. When slotted into a machine, the machine pierces them before running hot pressurized hot water through the capsule.
Capsules are convenient and they are sealed, meaning their contents stay a little fresher over long periods of time – if you are a sporadic coffee drinker, choose capsules (preferably reusable ones!).
…coffee is vulnerable to multiple elements: light, heat, moisture, and most of all, oxygen.
Pods are round bags of ground coffee that look a lot like large tea bags. They are more often biodegradable and come in a standard size that can be used with a variety of coffee makers. However, because they contain coffee grounds that are exposed to the air and contaminants, they will lose their flavor faster than capsules (3).
Whether single-serve coffee makers are worth buying depends on your preferences. If you like the convenience and are often in a hurry, this type of coffee maker is perfect for you. It brews fast, makes just enough coffee for your daily needs, and leaves no mess.
You clean a single serve coffee maker according to the cleaning instructions in the manual. Or you can simply use water and vinegar to clean the machine. Fill up the water reservoir with a 1-1 water and vinegar solution. Run a brew cycle without inserting a capsule or pod. Then, run a few more using just water to get rid of any vinegar residues.
Yes, you can usually use coffee pods in a regular coffee maker, because they’re not designed for a specific brand. You can even use them without a coffee machine – try them with a drip or pour over brew method.
- Linshi, J. (2014, June 23). Here’s What You Need to Know About the War on K-Cups. Retrieved from https://time.com/2913062/k-cups-war/
- Hunt, K. (2018, July 17). 4 Eco-Friendly K-Cups You Can Swap Into Your Keurig. Retrieved from https://www.greenmatters.com/home/2018/07/17/Zcy0TY/eco-friendly-reusable-keurig-k-cups
- Tark, S. (2019, April 17). How to Store Roasted Coffee & Prolong Its Freshness. Retrieved from https://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2019/04/how-to-store-roasted-coffee-prolong-its-freshness/