Don't bother brewing a whole pot of coffee for only one person. A single-cup unit offers a cup of joe that's similar in quality to one brewed by a traditional machine. If you live alone, are the sole coffee drinker in your household, or aren't willing to sacrifice counter space for a larger machine, consider tasking a single-cup coffee maker with the job of brewing your morning cup.
Our buying guide details the information you'll need when deciding on a single-cup coffee maker. Also, consider our recommendations at the end of this article, like Hamilton Beach's The Scoop Single-Serve Coffee Maker, which is our No. 1 pick for its superb quality and sleek stainless steel design.
Considerations when choosing single-cup coffee makers
Advantages of a single-cup brewer
Do you prefer a bolder brew compared to your partner? Since these types of machines make a single cup at a time, it's possible to brew different cups of coffee for each member of your household. A single-cup brewer also minimizes waste because it brews one cup at a time. These machines usually deliver faster results. They're perfect for those who are always on the go. Many single-cup units use pods, which eliminates the need for grinding beans and measuring out grounds.
Pods vs. filter coffee
Pod unit: Single-serving pods are available in countless varieties, from flavored to decaffeinated. You can even purchase pods that brew hot chocolate or tea. Pod machines are extraordinarily easy to use and brew coffee in a flash. While recyclable and compostable pods are increasingly available, this method of brewing coffee is not particularly environmentally friendly.
Filter unit: Use whichever coffee grounds you like with a filter-type unit. A single-cup machine with a filter is essentially a mini version of a traditional coffee maker. The difference is that you use fewer grounds to brew a single cup. Choose between a model with a permanent filter made of metal or one that uses paper filters.
Water reservoir size
Depending on the amount of counter space you have available, choose between a unit with a large reservoir or one with a compact tank that requires more frequent refilling. Many single-cup units feature removable reservoirs for easy filling.
A few single-cup brewers offer users the option to program operation. Set the timer to start your coffee machine in the morning. The water will be hot and ready to brew as soon as you wake up.
Size and design
Pick from single-cup coffee makers with a slim profile to versions that take up a bit more real estate. Many brands also offer brewers in a variety of colors and finishes.
Brew strength and cup size
Some single-cup coffee makers let users choose their cup size, which allows for a customized cup of java. Other units may have a designated brew strength option.
Single-cup coffee maker prices
Single-cup brewers vary significantly in price. You can pay between $15 to $200 depending on the brand of the coffee maker and its included features. The least expensive units only have a simple on and off switch. Moderately priced models may have a few advanced features, including brew strength and cup-size options. You'll pay the most for a high-quality machine with sturdy construction and multiple functions.
Q. Is there a way to use ground coffee in a pod-style machine?
A. Absolutely. Many pod machines are now compatible with reusable pods, which are typically made of stainless steel. Fill with your favorite ground coffee and use as you would a regular pod.
Q. How often should I clean my single-cup coffee maker?
A. Check manufacturer instructions for specific guidelines on how to clean your single-cup machine. Routine cleaning increases the longevity of your unit.
Single-cup coffee makers we recommend
Best of the best: Hamilton Beach The Scoop Single-Serve Coffee Maker
Our take: A sleek stainless steel design for the coffee lover concerned with style.
What we like: No need to purchase pods -- use ground coffee with this machine. Has a "bold" setting that delivers a robust cup of joe.
What we dislike: Some report that coffee isn't hot enough.
Best bang for your buck: Vremi Single-Cup Coffee Maker
Our take: A budget drip coffee machine made with quality parts.
What we like: No-frills coffee maker that's easy to use. Compact design fits easily on almost any countertop. Includes a travel mug, too.
What we dislike: Flimsy mesh filter doesn't match the quality of the rest of the machine.
Choice 3: Keurig K-Select Coffee Maker
Our take: One of the best pod coffee makers on the market. Made for the coffee drinker obsessed with convenience.
What we like: Incredibly simple operation. Vast selection of K-cup options available. Choose from multiple cup sizes. Has a roomy water reservoir (52 ounces).
What we dislike: Quite a few plastic components.
Steph Coelho is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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