Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to brew a whole pot of coffee. In those moments, single-serve coffee makers are the perfect solution. While pricey (and somewhat wasteful) pod coffee machines might first come to mind, they’re not the only choice. From cheap, pour-over coffee makers to multifunction machines that can grind and brew coffee, there’s an option for almost every coffee drinker.
Just like any coffee brewing device, the best single-serve coffee makers are a pleasure to use and reliably brew a good cup of coffee. Their main draw is their convenience, with many making hot coffee and sometimes lattes, cappuccinos, and other drinks at the touch of a button. A few options take a bit more effort, but they’re ideal for those who enjoy the coffee-making process and want more control of their brew. Read on for the best single-serve coffee makers to craft the perfect cup of Joe.
- BEST OVERALL: Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Black+Decker Single-Serve Coffee Maker
- BEST FRENCH PRESS: Mueller French Press Coffee Maker
- BEST DRIP COFFEE: Hamilton Beach The Scoop Single-Serve Coffee Maker
- BEST POUR-OVER: Bodum Pour Over Coffee Maker
- BEST DUAL COFFEE MAKER: Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker
- MOST VERSATILE: Instant Dual Pod Plus Coffee Maker
- BEST COMPACT: Keurig K-Compact Coffee Maker
- BEST LARGE-CAPACITY: Cuisinart Single-Serve Coffee Maker
How We Chose the Best Single-Serve Coffee Makers
One of the main draws of single-serve coffee makers is that they’re convenient, so ease of use was one of the main features we evaluated. We considered how difficult it was to brew a cup of coffee (the fewer buttons and steps, the better) as well as the ease of cleaning and maintenance (dishwasher-safe parts are a big win for convenience).
Convenience doesn’t mean compromising on taste, however, especially since the single-serve coffee maker market has only grown in recent years. We selected coffee makers from reputable brands that also are known for brewing tasty coffee (including many that have the option for users to brew their own favorite ground coffee). We have picks on our list that can brew specialty drinks and even espresso drinks.
There’s no way around it: Disposable single-use pods are rather wasteful, but sometimes that’s the trade-off for convenience. With sustainability in mind, we prioritized more eco-conscious options, choosing coffee makers with recyclable, or even better, reusable filter, capsule, or pod options.
Our Top Picks
Looking for a coffee maker for only one cup at a time? Morning and afternoon pick-me-ups are tasty and fresh with the best single-serve coffee makers ahead.
A one-touch brewing system makes it almost impossible to brew a bad cup of coffee in the Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe: Just insert the capsule, press the button, and it starts brewing. This countertop machine is versatile and convenient, brewing 5-ounce or 8-ounce coffees as well as espressos and double espressos. It adjusts the brew settings (like the coffee size, temperature, pressure, and brewing time) according to the inserted Nespresso Vertuo capsule, choosing the best settings automatically.
An automatic opening mechanism makes it so simple to insert and eject capsules. The capsule ejects itself when the coffee is finished brewing, then moves into a storage container that holds around ten used capsules—which means less frequent emptying. You can then collect the capsules and return them to Nespresso for free recycling. Unfortunately, Nespresso does not offer reusable capsules. Third-party reusable capsules are available, though they may not perform as well as expected.
In terms of convenient design features, this coffee machine has an adjustable and removable 60-ounce water reservoir. The reservoir holder is mounted on a swivel so you can change its position, placing it either beside the machine or behind it to create the optimal layout.
- Type: Pod coffee machine
- Dimensions: 12.8 inches tall by 9.1 inches wide by 13.2 inches deep
- Reservoir capacity: 60 ounces
- Very user-friendly with 1-touch operation and automatic opening system
- Automatically ejects capsule after brewing and holds it in a 10-capsule storage container
- Water-tank position is adjustable to optimize this coffee maker’s footprint
- Only compatible with Nespresso Vertuo capsules
- Does not have a Nespresso reusable pod option
Get the Nespresso single-serve coffee maker at Amazon, Walmart, Target, or Nespresso.
Single-serve coffee machines have a reputation for being pricey, but that’s not always the case, especially with a super-simple model like this coffee maker from Black+Decker. This model is essentially a drip coffee maker in a much smaller footprint. It comes with a removable brew basket with a reusable metal mesh filter for users to fill with their favorite grounds. Used this way, there’s no extra waste, though this machine is also compatible with soft coffee pods for extra convenience. For those who like to take their coffee on the go, it also comes with a 16-ounce travel mug, which fits perfectly in the coffee maker as well as most car cupholders.
This single-serve coffee machine measures 9.4 inches tall by 6.1 inches wide by 5.5 inches deep, so it won’t take up much counter space. Its plastic construction isn’t the most durable or stylish, but it’s a practical and very convenient coffee machine for a budget-friendly price. Best of all, cleaning is easy with this coffee maker since it comes with dishwasher-safe parts.
- Type: Single-serve coffee machine
- Dimensions: 9.4 inches tall by 6.1 inches wide by 5.5 inches deep
- Reservoir capacity: 15.89 ounces
- Includes a reusable brew basket (with a permanent filter) and a 16-ounce travel mug
- Very compact design with small footprint; ideal for tight spaces
- Dishwasher-safe parts make cleaning convenient
- Not compatible with popular hard coffee pods
Get the Black+Decker single-serve coffee maker at Amazon, Wayfair, or Black+Decker.
As a pour-over coffee maker, this product from Bodum brings it back to basics, but in an elevated way. At its core, it has a simple design like many pour-over cones, with a filter to place coffee grounds in. This one has a permanent plastic and stainless steel mesh filter that’s dishwasher-safe. It doesn’t use paper filters, which means less waste and a more robust coffee taste (paper can absorb some of the coffee’s flavorful oils).
One reason why this coffee maker is a favorite is that it comes with a borosilicate glass carafe that fits the coffee filter perfectly. Since the glass is nonporous, it won’t absorb any flavors or aromas between brews. For added convenience and safety, the carafe is dishwasher-safe and has a heat-resistant cork band handle.
- Type: Pour-over coffee maker
- Dimensions: 6.06 inches tall by 4.52 inches wide by 5.43 inches deep
- Reservoir capacity: Not applicable
- Plastic and stainless steel mesh filter is dishwasher-safe and very easy to use
- Comes with a dishwasher-safe, nonporous borosilicate glass carafe
- Carafe features a cork band for better grip and protection against hot liquids
- Thin glass carafe is breakable and does not retain heat
Get the Bodum single-serve coffee maker at Amazon, Bloomingdale’s, or Bodum.
Another old-fashioned alternative, a French press is a manual coffee-making option, great for brewing single cups. The Mueller French press coffee maker is on this best coffee makers list for good reason: It’s durable and easy to use. Made of double-layered stainless steel, Mueller claims it will keep coffee hot for 60 minutes longer than thin steel or glass models, but a cool-touch handle keeps users safe. Since it’s made of metal, it’s entirely shatterproof and dishwasher-safe as well.
This coffee maker is useful for more than just making single cups. It has a 34-ounce capacity to make one or a few mugs of coffee, with a four-layer filtration system to effectively filter out grounds. It’s also useful for making tea, hot chocolate, and cold brew coffee, as well as frothing milk for homemade drinks. This French press is a good travel companion since it comes with a travel canister to hold up to two mugs of coffee grounds.
- Type: French press
- Dimensions: 8.25 inches tall by 7.05 inches wide by 4.17 inches deep
- Reservoir capacity: 34 ounces
- Stainless steel material and double-walled design helps retain heat
- All elements are made of stainless steel; shatterproof and dishwasher-safe
- Includes a travel canister to store 2 batches of coffee grounds
- Over time, the plunger screw may eventually become stripped, rendering the French press unusable
Get the Mueller single-serve coffee maker at Amazon, Walmart, or Mueller.
Looking for a drip coffee maker, but on a smaller scale? This coffee machine from Hamilton Beach is both a useful and attractive alternative. It is made of metal, so it looks upscale and is more durable than plastic options. It also takes coffee grounds and doesn’t use paper filters. Instead, it comes with a mesh brew basket with a handle so it doubles as a coffee scoop. This model doesn’t take single-use pods, so it’s the right pick for coffee lovers who only stick to drip coffee. You can choose between a regular or bold brew strength.
Though it’s designed for single cups, it has a 40-ounce removable water reservoir, which means it doesn’t need to be filled for each cup. A flip-up cupholder makes it possible to brew mugs of coffee or insert a travel mug up to 7 inches tall.
- Type: Single-serve coffee machine
- Dimensions: 12.9 inches tall by 5.6 inches wide by 11.2 inches deep
- Reservoir capacity: 40 ounces
- 2 coffee-strength options: regular or bold brew
- Flip-up cupholder makes it possible to use regular mugs and tall travel mugs
- Mesh brew basket doubles as a coffee grounds scoop
- Not compatible with single-use coffee pods or capsules
Get the Hamilton Beach single-serve coffee maker at The Home Depot, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, or Hamilton Beach.
Dual coffee makers can make both single-serve portions and full pots of coffee. The Ninja Specialty coffee maker has six brew size options, ranging from brewing a single cup up to a full pot of coffee into the included carafe. This coffee maker takes grounds, not pods, so it’s a lower-waste option. To accommodate its size options, it has a removable water reservoir with the necessary capacity.
Choose from four brew options: classic, rich, specialty, and iced coffee. These brew settings make it possible to make a wide range of drinks. Best of all? The coffee maker has a foldaway frother on its side, which makes it possible to froth hot or cold milk without adding an extra device to the kitchen.
- Type: Dual coffee maker
- Dimensions: 15.04 inches tall by 8.75 inches wide by 11.99 inches deep
- Reservoir capacity: 40 ounces
- 6 brewing sizes, ranging from a single serving to a full pot of coffee
- 4 brewing options: classic, rich, specialty, and iced coffee
- Includes a built-in, foldaway milk frother for making specialty drinks
- The removable water reservoir may be more prone to leaking
- The milk frother does not heat the milk; it only froths
Get the Ninja single-serve coffee maker at Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, or Ninja.
The Instant Dual Pod Plus coffee maker is the coffee machine for homes with a range of coffee preferences. Unlike the other coffee makers on this list, it’s compatible with Keurig K-Cup pods and Nespresso capsules, plus it comes with a reusable pod for ground coffee.
For even more personalization, the brew strength and cup size are adjustable. These features mean you can truly take advantage of the wide range of single-serve coffee options out there, including whipping up cafe-rivaling drinks. This coffee maker is travel-mug-friendly to make it easy to bring drinks on the go. A removable 68-ounce water reservoir makes refilling a less frequent chore.
- Type: Single-serve/pod coffee maker
- Dimensions: 13 inches tall by 7.2 inches wide by 16.2 inches deep
- Reservoir capacity: 68 ounces
- Compatible with K-Cup pods, Nespresso capsules, and an included reusable pod for ground coffee
- Brew strength and cup size are adjustable
- Easy to access and intuitive controls
- Large size; can take up a good chunk of counter space
Get the Instant single-serve coffee maker at Amazon, The Home Depot, Best Buy, Target, or Instant.
In small apartments and cramped kitchens, there might not be much space for a coffee maker, so a compact single-serve machine is ideal. Its ease of use and quick brewing time (under a minute!) made it a clear winner. Measuring 12.5 inches tall by 8.2 inches wide by 13.2 inches deep, it provides hot and tasty coffee, without taking over the kitchen counter. Though compact, it’s still tall enough and has a removable drip tray to fit travel mugs 7 inches tall or less.
Like other Keurig machines, this coffee maker takes K-Cup pods and other compatible pods, as well as Keurig’s reusable pod (sold separately). Users can choose from three cup sizes (6, 8, and 10 ounces) and will get multiple cups out of the 36-ounce water reservoir before needing to refill it.
Read our full review: Keurig K-Compact Coffee Maker
- Type: Single-serve/pod coffee maker
- Dimensions: 12.5 inches tall by 8.2 inches wide by 13.2 inches deep
- Reservoir capacity: 36 ounces
- Compact footprint is suitable for cramped kitchen counters
- Brews single-serve coffees in under a minute
- Removable drip tray makes it possible to use travel mugs
- Water reservoir is relatively small and may need frequent refilling
Get the Keurig single-serve coffee maker at Amazon or Walmart.
In homes or offices that go through a lot of coffee, it makes sense to choose a large-capacity machine. Even if it’s pouring single servings, that means less time spent refilling the water reservoir. The Cuisinart single-serve coffee maker fits the bill with a removable 72-ounce water reservoir—the biggest on this list.
Of course, we didn’t only choose this coffee machine for its large capacity. It’s also very user-friendly, compatible with Keurig K-Cup pods, and includes a reusable brewing basket. You can choose from five cup size options and adjust the brewing temperature. A hot-water button makes it easy to switch to tea or hot chocolate when it’s too late for coffee.
- Type: Single-serve/pod coffee maker
- Dimensions: 12.13 inches tall by 9.33 inches wide by 11.03 inches deep
- Reservoir capacity: 72 ounces
- Extra-large 72-ounce water reservoir means fewer refilling trips
- Relatively compact footprint compared to its large water reservoir size
- Users can adjust brewing temperature and choose from 5 size options
- May have slow brewing times
Get the Cuisinart single-serve coffee maker at Amazon, The Home Depot, Walmart, or Cuisinart.
What to Consider When Choosing a Single-Serve Coffee Maker
Single-serve coffee makers range from simple manual pour-over filters up to automatic coffee machines that can grind and brew coffee as well as steam milk and create specialty drinks. With so many options to choose from, there are a wide range of features to consider, which we explain ahead.
There are a few types of coffee makers that can make a convenient single cup of java. The most popular types include pour-over coffee makers, French presses, and pod or single-serve coffee machines.
- Pour-over coffee maker: Simple, low-tech, and affordable, pour-over coffee makers are essentially cone-shaped filters that hold coffee grounds. Users pour hot water over the grounds, which filter through and drip directly into a mug below. Some use a disposable paper filter for each brew while others come with a reusable filter. Coffee purists enjoy the coffee-making process as well as the control that pour-over filters can offer. However, it is a very hands-on process, so it’s not the best choice in terms of convenience.
- French press: The French press is another manual coffee maker, but instead of a funnel, it steeps coffee grounds in a cylindrical container with a filtered plunger. After letting the coffee grounds soak for a few minutes (which creates a rich coffee), press down on the plunger to filter down the grounds and leave the coffee behind, ready to pour. It’s another way to make single servings of coffee, but it also requires a fair amount of participation in the process.
- Pod/single-serve coffee machine: Pod and single-serve coffee machines are the most hands-off option—they are automatic and allow you to press a button to return fresh hot coffee. While they have a bit of a wasteful reputation, there are more eco-friendly options nowadays, with compostable, recyclable, and reusable coffee pods or filters. These coffee machines offer much more in terms of flexibility, with options to grind coffee, steam milk, and create specialty drinks like lattes, cappuccino, espresso, and more, depending on the machine.
Pod and single-serve coffee machines can have a range of brewing methods and options, making everything from simple drip coffees to barista-style lattes. Brewing options and pod or capsule availability are two of the first features to consider when shopping. Even if a machine has one brewing setting, it doesn’t mean it can’t make a range of drinks—some pods come with additives like milk, flavorings, and sweeteners inside to create lattes and other drinks without any extra from the machine (or the user!).
Keep in mind that some pod and capsule types aren’t interchangeable between machine brands, most notably between the two major brands Keurig (which uses K-Cup pods) and Nespresso (which uses Nespresso capsules). For those with a favorite pod or capsule drink, it’s important to check compatibility.
Even when it comes to drip coffee, for those who like a customized cup, some machines come with the option to choose the coffee strength, brewing temperature, and brew time. Most machines also have the option to choose a cup size. For making tea or hot chocolate, many single-serve coffee machines have a hot-water feature as well. Iced coffee lovers can look for an iced coffee setting, which brews a stronger cup that’s suitable for cold drinks. Other coffee brewing options include the ability to craft specialty lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, tea-based drinks, and more.
Size and Capacity
When it comes to size, there are a few features to consider, including the coffee maker’s dimensions and capacity. Pour-over coffee makers and French presses are small and easy to store in a drawer or cupboard—they don’t need to take up any counter space at all. On the other hand, single-serve coffee machines are intended as countertop appliances, and their footprint can vary depending on the machine’s functions. If counter space is limited, look for a compact option that won’t take up too much room.
Another size consideration to keep in mind is the space between the spout and the mug. In homes where tall travel mugs are the cup of choice, look for a taller design to fit to-go cups and large mugs. Lastly, pay attention to the water reservoir size, which is often measured in the ounces of water it can hold. Some only hold enough water for one cup of coffee and will need to be refilled after each use, while others hold enough water to caffeinate a crowd.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Pour-over coffee makers and French presses are easy to clean, pretty much just like any other kitchen tool. Water and dish soap will do the trick, but some also have dishwasher-safe parts.
Single-serve coffee makers are even more convenient since they don’t require daily cleaning. They will need an occasional scrub, which involves cleaning removable parts and descaling the inside of the machine. An affordable and natural descaling method is running a vinegar and water mixture through the machine, though it’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s directions. Some have dishwasher-safe pieces, such as their reservoir, drip tray, and reusable pods. All in all, this means cleaning and maintenance are relatively easy, but to make it as convenient as possible, consider looking for a coffee machine with dishwasher-safe parts.
The best single-serve coffee makers let you make the solo serving of fresh coffee you want—no more wasted pots or stale cuppas. Still having trouble choosing or using a single-serve coffee maker? We’ve rounded up some frequently asked questions and their answers on the topic of single-serve coffee machines.
Q. What is the best coffee machine for a single user?
It depends on how hands-off you want to be in the process. When most people think of a single-serve coffee maker, they think of a pod coffee maker, where you can just insert a coffee pod and press a button for a fresh cup. If the cost or the potential waste of these machines doesn’t appeal to you, you can opt for a pour-over coffee maker or French press instead. These are two popular types of coffee makers, but there are other options as well, like coffee percolators or moka pots. These are more hands-on, but they are traditional, affordable, and have low-waste brewing methods.
Q. Should I use hot or cold water in my coffee maker?
It’s best to use cold or room temperature water in a coffee machine. It’s safer and results in better-tasting coffee.
Q. What kind of water should I use in my coffee maker?
Any clean, potable water is suitable to use in a coffee maker. However, coffee lovers may argue that some types of water (such as filtered, bottled, or purified) are better than others when it comes to taste. In areas with hard tap water, using softer water can help to reduce mineral buildup in the coffee machine.
Q. What is the difference between machine coffee and instant coffee?
Instant coffee is a more processed product, cutting out the brewing process to make an instant cup of coffee when mixed with hot water. Though convenient, it might not have as rich and full-bodied of a flavor as coffee from a machine. Of course, the quality of the coffee product itself matters a lot here, but generally machine coffee is higher quality and nicer tasting than instant alternatives.
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