Best Single Serve Coffee Makers

Coffee lovers come in all shapes and sizes. Some love getting that special brew made by a the best barista they can find. Others invest in the best equipment to brew their caffeine delivery system from the comfort of their own kitchen. For some the time and effort that goes into brewing a cup of coffee is irrelevant.

They enjoy the process as much as the end result.

Cup of coffee on a table

Others want they coffee quick, easy and flavorful. 

For this last group of people: enter the single serve coffee maker.

When you only want to make one or two cups of coffee at a time, you do not want to brew (and probably waste) an entire pot. You want a machine that can produce a great cup of coffee (or two). And you want it fast.  Because your waiting. Right?

In this case single serve coffee makers (primarily those using pods and K-cups) might fit the bill. In this article, we take a look at the five best single serve coffee makers on the market today. Below we dive deep into the what, the how and the why. 

But, in case you are just looking for the quick list, here are the five best single cup coffee makers on the market:

Best premium Keurig (K-cup) coffee maker

Best budget keurig (k-cup) coffee maker

Best premium Nespresso coffee machine

Best budget Nespresso coffee machine

Best premium pod-free single serve coffee maker

Best budget pod-free single serve coffee maker

What is a single serve coffee maker?

At this point you might wonder: what is a single serve coffee maker? These machines are also known as single cup coffee makers or by their brand names: the Keurig coffee maker, the K-cup coffee maker or the Nespresso coffee maker. No matter what you call it, a single serve coffee maker is a coffee brewing machine that makes enough coffee for a single cup. 

Duh! Of course it is. 

So, a single serve coffee maker makes enough coffee just for you (and in some cases for a second cup). No need to brew – and potentially waste – a whole pot of coffee.  These coffee makers are designed for usability and speed. And those are also their main strong characteristics. A single serve coffee maker will produce a steaming cup of coffee with hardly any effort and in no time. When you want a quick cup of coffee before you head for work or school in the morning, a single serve brewing machine is ideal.

Another advantage of these machines is the fact that they use cups or pods that contain the coffee grounds.

The inner workings of an espresso machine

You don’t need to measure or weigh (and grind) the amount of coffee you need. You just make sure there is water in the machine, pop in a cup or pod, and hit brew. Coffee pods and cups come in a wide range of brands in an even wider range of tastes. This allows you to explore the available flavors and find your favorite. 

Taste – of course – is an opinion, and while for some a cup or pod brewed cup of coffee will never be as good as a cup brewed from freshly ground single origin coffee beans, for a lot of coffee drinkers the coffee from a single serve brewer is good enough for daily use. And I understand that. Coffee is my hobby and I will go to lengths to get the most out of a cup. But, for this articles I have used these machines extensively and drank A LOT of coffee from them and – I must say – I’m not disappointed. Coffee from pods or cups is relatively good for coffee that is not freshly ground. It misses some of the finer details on the range of flavors coffee can have, but it is  lot tastier than you would expect from a brew made from pre-ground coffee.

For people in a hurry or those who value convenience and like an easy way to explore different flavors of coffee, the single serve coffee maker is a great choice.

How do single serve coffee makers work?

As said, making coffee in this kind of machine is a matter of filling it with water, turning it on to allow the water to heat up, popping in a coffee cup or pod, and pressing a button. 

Off course, the inner workings of a single cup brewer are different at each manufacturer. But basically, these machines consist of the following components:

  • A water reservoir to store the water needed for multiple cups. Usually manufacturers make these containers quite large so you don’t constantly have to refill between cups.
  • A thermal unit or heating chamber. The water from the reservoir is pumped into the heating unit and heated to the optimal temperature for brewing coffee (between 195 and 205 Fahrenheit or 90 and 96 Celsius).
  • A system of pressurized tubes that transports the heated water to the top of the brewer and the housing for the cups or pods.
  • A housing for the coffee cups or pods. Upon closing the lid of the housing the pod or cup is pierced from both sides. On the foil side to allow the hot water to be pumped into the pod or cup, and on the bottom to allow the brew to leave the cup or pod.

These items are encased in an as-fancy-as-possible housing for visual appeal. The housing also has a plateau on which you can set the container in which you want your coffee to be delivered. Usually, the device also has a container for discarded cups/pods which need to be emptied regularly.

A brief history of the single serve coffee maker

The history of the single serve coffee maker goes back longer than you might think. I thought this coffee making method was a product of the 21st century. I knew the Nespresso system became popular in Europe after 2009. So, I imagined the single serve brew method was invented a few years earlier.

Boy, was I wrong.

It was in 1976 that a Swiss engineer by the name of Eric Favre developed what he named his “formula” for homemade espresso. Favre’s journey started by travelling all across Italy with his wife to find the perfect espresso. In Rome they found that outside the Café Sant’Eustachio the locals lined up evert single day to get their hands on the espresso made by their barista, Mr. Eugenio. Favre and his wife joined the line and when inside they tasted the espresso and realized they had found the espresso they were looking for.

The quality of Mr. Eugenio’s espresso was achieved by the method the barista used. He operated a classic four piston espresso machine in a way that Favre had not seen before. 

The inventor of the single serve coffee maker

Instead of pulling the piston down just once like Favre had seen barista’s all across Italy do, Mr. Eugenio pumped three or four times (the exact number is lost to history). Talking to Mr. Eugenio, Favre learned that this was to aerate the coffee.

According to the barista, for a great espresso you need to introduce the maximum possible amount of air into the water before it comes in to contact with the coffee. Favre’s research later taught him that the oxygen in the air oxidizes the aroma’s and oils in the coffee, which in turn allows them to be extracted faster. Espresso, essentially, is a mix of air, water and oils from the coffee. 

In the lab Favre realized that espresso is different from filtered coffee due to the air that is introduced. There is a great analogy here. Filtered coffee stands to an espresso as plain water stands to sparkling water. The air bubbles in the espresso burst in your mouth waking up your taste buds. This makes an espresso more densely aromatic and flavorful. 

It took quite a while for Favre’s invention to become a household name. 10 years after his invention, in 1986,  Nestlé (the parent company of Nespresso) tested the concept in Japan and introduced the Nespresso machines and cups in Switzerland, France, Italy and Japan in that same year.

In the next 20 years the Nespresso steadily built market share mainly in Europe and Japan. But it wasn’t until the early 2000’s before things really started to take off. By 2009 roughly 15% of the coffee drank at home in Europe came from a pod. By 20216 this number had grown to roughly 24%.

A note on numbers: getting exact numbers on the market share of coffee pods proves to be quite a challenge. Different sources give different estimates. I took the average of the most reliable sources I could find. These are Statista and Euromonitor. Take these numbers with a grain of salt. They are rough estimates to give you an idea about the market share of coffee pods and how things have developed in the past decade.
Monsieur Coffee

The story for North America is different. Nespresso never really had much success in the North American market. Keurig is the brand that dominates the North American market. It’s version of the coffee pod was the K-cup. The K-cup was invented in the 90’s but mainly for use in machines designed for offices. It wasn’t until 2004 that Keurig had a model available for home use. But after that, things went fast. Ten years later Keurig coffee makers dominate with a market share of 60% of the single serve market. The market for single serve coffee is still a bit smaller than in Europe. In the U.S. about 10% of all home brewed coffee comes from a pod (well, from a K-cup mostly).

The rest of the world is a mixed picture. While there are no reliable numbers for much of the developing world, I think it is plausible that coffee in these parts of the world is generally made with more traditional methods. We know that single serve coffee makers are starting to become more popular in Asia as coffee is also becoming more popular. Asia, as you probably know, has historically seen a preference for tea.

All in all, the single serve coffee maker has seen a rapid increase in popularity in the past years. Since it’s invention in the late seventies, the device and the cup or pods have become an important part of our home coffee culture.

Coffee pods and the environment

Keurig Green Mountain and Nespresso, the two largest pod producers in the world, jointly sold around 40 billion pods in 2014. Add to that the estimated sales of the various third party pod manufacturers and annual pod consumption could easily be upwards of 60 billion coffee pods.

That is a huge waste pile of plastic aluminum and ground coffee. Recycling this pile of pods is not easy. Separating the plastic, aluminum an organic parts of a use pod is complicated process. 

And let’s not forget the pods that are discarded are produced at one point. 

Nespresso reportedly uses so-called virgin aluminum for their cups. No recycling, all newly mined aluminium.

All in all, using coffee pods or cups isn’t the best choice from an environmental perspective. Keep that in mind.

If you decide to use a pod operated single serve brewer, please consider a reusable coffee pod [add link] or, if that’s at all possible in your area, collect the pods for recycling. 

The environment (and your grandkids) will thank you.

Things to look for in a single serve coffee maker?

When you want to pick the best single serve coffee maker for you, there are thing you need to look out for. The three most important factors in choosing a single serve coffee maker are:

  • Price
  • Durability of the brewer unit
  • Brew quality
  • Availability of coffee pod products

The price of single serve coffee makers

Looking at the price of this type of brewers, you can spend anywhere from $40 to a couple hundred USD. Machines for coffee pod range from really basic and budget models to the full option Rolls Royce of single serve coffee brewers. But whatever your budget is, there is a suitable option available. De single serve coffee maker boom of the past few years has resulted in a wide range of models. It has also increased competition among manufacturers which has driven them to make the best possible machine for the least amount of money. 

durability and design

The durability is off course another very important aspect. Whatever you decide to spend on a coffee maker, it is still an investment which you want to enjoy for multiple years (at least). The machine should feel solid and clips an levers should be sturdy enough to take their daily beating. Weight is also an important factor. The pumping action in the device to get the water from the reservoir to the heater and from the heater to the coffee, cause quite a lot of vibration. You don’t want a featherweight machine that dances around the countertop with every cup of coffee you make. A heavier machine is generally also more quiet. I like my machinery to operate on a noise level at which there is no need for shouting to be heard across the room.

A factor related to durability is design. This machine will probably be quite visible in your kitchen. And as well as tastes in coffee, tastes in design also differ. So, choose a machine that you like the look of. You’ll be seeing a lot of each other. Besides looks, design is also about usability. For example, is there enough room between the brew head (from which the coffee flows) and the base? And, is the part of the machine where you put your cup well designed? Do you need to fidget to fit the cup in the housing or can you just drop it in and will it settle itself?

The availablility of cups

Another attribute to consider would be the availability of coffee cup, coffee capsules, coffee pods, K-cups for the machine you pick. Some of the larger single serve brewing systems are truly a ‘system’ of brewer and compatible coffee capsules. 

For example, Keurig offers a brewing machine and then you can buy Keurig K-Cups to use within that system. Compare that to more of a niche brewing machine that might be available to produce a more specific type of coffee and will have less (and probably more expensive) single serve capsule selections available for it (e.g., a specialized espresso style machine from a smaller company). 

Generally, this will not be a problem. In today’s market almost all patents on cups have been lifted and you can get brand or more generic (i.e. cheaper) cup or pods for any machine. Besides the type of pod that fits your machine, the availability of coffee flavors for your type of pod is something to consider. There are third party companies that produce very interesting individual coffee cups or pods. But again, unless you buy a very niche single serve brewer, this will not be a problem.

the brew quality of single serve coffee makers

The final attribute of the best single serve coffee makers is the brew quality. A good single serve coffee maker needs to be able to brew a good and consistently good cup of coffee. While this may seem obvious, it is worth checking. User reviews are very helpful in this regard. Reading through user experiences on Amazon.com can be very informative.

All of the machines in this round up of the best single serve coffee makers brew a consistenly great cup of coffee. No worries there.

Single Serve coffee makers: cost per cup

One thing to think about when you consider buying a single serve coffee maker, is the cost per cup. A cup of Nespresso coffee will most likely cost you around $ 0.85. K-cups are a bit more varied in price but on average you pay a little more than $ 0.90 per cup. That doesn’t seems pretty cheap, but when you calculate what that means in terms of what you pay per pound of coffee, you might be surprised.

A Nespresso cup contains about 5 grams per cup and a K-cup about 10 grams of coffee. A K-cup generally makes a larger cup of coffee, that’s why it contains more grounds. This means that Nespresso coffee costs roughly $ 42.50 per pound. A pound of Keurig coffee pods will cost you about $ 22.50. 

While these calculations will give only a rough idea of the costs per pound (you could buy cups on sale, in big batches or from other manufacturers than Nespresso and Keurig), it shows something interesting. Most high quality single estate, specialty coffee beans sell for (way!) less than $20. 

To give an example: one my favorite specialty coffees that is available online only costs only $13 per pound! I usually buy my coffee freshly roasted from a local coffee roaster and even that costs me “only” $16 (including the hipster-fee).

Is the higher cost of cups or pods a bad thing? No, not necessarily. But in my opinion it is something you should know and consider when buying a single serve coffee maker.

Innovation in the world of cups and pods: Nespresso VertuoLine

Originally, Nespresso cups were geared towards smaller cups of coffee. The name Nespresso comes from the combination of Nestlé (the parent company of Nespresso) and espresso. Especially in North America Nespresso found that customers wanted larger cups of coffee. They were accustomed to drinking large cups of filtered coffee and the tiny espresso sized brew weren’t a grand success in the U.S. and Canada.

To appeal to the demand in North America, Nespresso developed the VertueLine range of cups and machines. This line differs from the original Nespresso cups and machines in two ways. First, the cups have a barcode embedded in the rim of the capsule which a machine from the VertuoLine can read. This barcode contains 5 pieces of information for the machine to take into account while brewing. Cup size, water temperature, rotational speed (I’ll explain in a bit), flow rate and the time the water is in contact with the coffee. The rotational speed is the second innovation in the VertuoLine. This system uses something Nespresso dubbed “centrifusion”. The machine spins the cup around at a maximum speed of 7000 RPM to mix the coffee and water and generate a better extraction. 

Although it is possible to get a larger size coffee from a traditional Nespresso machine, a VertuoLine machine and cup can do a much better job. You can get a VertuoLine cup specifically for a larger cup and the machine will automatically match the correct amount of water. No diluted taste, you get a full bodies mug of java.

The VertuoLine was developed in 2014 and introduced only is the U.S. and Canada. Nespresso was, and still is, a small player in North America. Keurig coffee makers reign in this region. VertuoLine is Nespresso’s attempt to gain market share here. In Europe the original Nespresso lineup is the market leader and services 70% of the single serve market. Nespresso introduced the VertuoLine in France in 2016 and the rest of Europe will follow in 2018.

I recognize the benefits of Nespresso’s new system, but I am also a bit skeptical. In recent years the proprietary Nespresso system has been copied by many competitors as patents on the features of the Nespresso cups and brew system have expired. Maybe this is Nespresso’s way to introduce a new proprietary system which will allow them to be the only player in the Nespresso market again. But still, I must admit that the VertueLine is a great next step for pod operated coffee makers. 

Innovation in the world of cups and pods:
Keurig 2.0

In 2015 Keurig Green Mountain introduced the Keurig 2.0 coffee maker. The Keurig 2.0 system allows for more personalization of the cup of coffee you brew. First of all, it can brew different size cups. Where the original Keurig could brew cups up to 10 oz or 295 ml, the Keurig 2.0 system can handle cup sizes up to 16 oz or 470 ml. The Keurig 2.0 system is also able to brew a carafe of up to 30 oz or 885 ml. So finally, you can make coffee for a group in one go! Al these different sizes correspond to different cups and a proprietary technique that is comparable to a bar code allows the machine to ‘read’ which kind of coffee and which kind of cup size you are brewing. 

So, you might be thinking: isn’t that the same story as with the Nespresso VertuoLine?

Yes it is. 

I am not sure who came first or who copied who, but that doesn’t really matter. Both of the leading single serve coffee maker brands innovate. This allows the customer to make a more personalized cup of coffee and the manufacturer to have a proprietary line of coffee cups. Win-win? I’ll let you decide.

Now that you know most of what you need to know about single serve coffee makers, let get into how to pick one that is right for you.

How to choose the best single serve coffee maker

There is only one method: do research

Think about what you would like to see in a single serve coffee maker. Next, think about what you are willing to spend on a coffee maker. Do you want a basic model or are you looking for the best machine money can buy? The final step would be to go research and review various models, comparing their individual pros and cons, and how well they meet your specific criteria. 

Fortunately for you we have done the last step for you. Below you will finds reviews of the single serve coffee makers we mentioned at the beginning of the article. Mind you, this is a set of coffee makers we think are the best on the market and reflect a range of budgets and user preferences. If you feel none of these products meet all your requirements, I urge you to do your own research. There are so many models out there, one is bound to meet you criteria. And Google is your friend.

But before we get to the reviews let’s take a look at the different categories we defined. We put each reviewed single serve coffee maker in a category. We chose to do this because the most important choice you have to make is in which ecosystem you want to invest. Do you prefer Keurig’s K-cups or Nespresso’s coffee cups? There is also a possibility to go cup-less, which might be interesting if you prefer versatility. 

When you prefer a cup operated coffee maker my advice would be to buy from the market leader in your area. That means: if you live in North America, choose a Keurig coffee maker. If you live in Europe, choose a Nespresso. Choosing the market leader in your area ensures that you have ample access to places that sell the pods or cups you need. Both companies make excellent machines and in the end, when you have a good machine, good availability of cups is the most important.

Back to the categories: we have three categories: Keurig coffee makers, Nespresso coffee makers, and pod-free single serve coffee makers. More on each below.

Reviews of the Best Single Serve coffee makers

In the next part we will take a look a the best six single serve coffee makers available today. 

Best PREMIUM Keurig (k-cup) Single Serve coffee maker
keurig k575 single serve k-cup pod coffee maker

The Keurig K575 is a very good yet reasonably affordable single serve coffee maker. The features of this machine make it customizable to just about any coffee routine. 

These are the most important characteristics of the Keurig K575:

  • A big (80oz or 2.3L) water reservoir
  • 8 different cup size settings, from 4oz or 120ml to 12oz or 350ml
  • Strength control to adjust the strength of the brew
  • Temperature control to make the coffee hotter or more drinkable right away
  • Hot water on demand (with adjustable cup size) to get hot water for your tea, cup a soup or whatever you might use hot water for
  • Fast brewer: 1 minute for a cup up to 3 minutes for a carafe
  • A very nice 2.8 inch touch screen display
  • Water filters included
  • Programmable timer: fresh coffee the moment you step out of bed!

The water reservoir in the Keurig K575 allows you to brew a lot of coffee before you have to refill it. The reservoir is bigger than in other Keurig models. I find that with the previous models I owned I had to refill regularly during the day when I make coffee for a group. And when a refill is necessary, it’s easy. The reservoir is easy to remove and place back when filled with water. You are back to brewing in no time.

The 8 different cup sizes allow for a wide range of cup sizes. From a tiny espresso (4oz or 120ml) to a big mug (12oz or 350ml) to get you started in the early mornings. The K575 is the only Keurig model at this moment that accepts K-mug cups. So your big mug of coffee isn’t just a watered down version of the espresso size. It even has the option to fill a 32oz or 950ml carafe. The carafe that goes with this machine is sold separately. If you regularly make a large batch of coffee I can recommend buying this one. It is great. It keeps the coffee warm a long time.

A QUICK TIP!
The Keurig 2.0 Thermal Carafe will only work with your machine if you have inserted a K-Carafe cup. If you use a reusable K-cup (which is a real money saver!) you need to tweak the carafe first. On the bottom of the carafe is a little ‘bump’ which contains a magnet. This magnet tells the machine only to operate when a K-Carafe cup is inserted. To allow the machine to work with reusable K-cups or other cups, remove the magnet using a star or torx bit on your screwdriver.
Monsieur Coffee

Do you prefer a steaming hot cup of coffee? Or do you want it at a drinkable temperature right away? The temperature setting have you covered. Same goes for different strengths of the brew. The strength control lets you control this. Personally, I don’t think the strength control goes far enough. I like my coffee strong and I finds the Keurig machine in general brew coffee that is just a tad under strength.

Another great feature for people in a hurry is the programmable timer on the Keurig K575. It allows you to set a timer and enjoy a freshly brewed cup the moment you step out of bed. 

The machine comes with a water filter handle and two water filters and a maintenance kit to clean the needles in the machine. 

One thing to keep in mind is that this is a tall machine. To allow for use with the Keurig Thermal Carafe it stands  13.2 inches or 33.5cm high. 17.5 inches or 44.5cm even when the lid is opened for insertion of the K-cups. Something to keep in mind when you want to place the machine in a cabinet or under something (shelves or kitchen cabinets.)

In terms of K-cups, there are both a lot of variety in the beverages (yes, also non-coffee drinks) and flavors, but also variety in the brew sizes available. Being part of the K-cup system from Keurig allows this brewer to access a wide range of coffee, and other beverage, flavors. Chances are you will easily find a flavor or beverage to meet your taste. 

Pro's & Cons of the Keurig K575 K-cup single serve coffee maker

  • The K575 offers a lot of variety, great choices and flexibility to get to the perfect beverage for you. Multiple beverage sizes add a lot of flexibility and the hot water on demand further extend the applicable uses for this brewer.
  • The carafe is sold separately, so that means an additional cost for this unit.

Best BUDGET Keurig (k-cup) Single Serve coffee maker
Keurig K55 K-Classic Coffee Maker

The Keurig K55/K-Classic Coffee Maker, K-Cup Pod is the second Keurig coffee maker that we reviewed and recommend. Where the K575 is the premium brewer, the Keurig K55 is the budget option in the Keurig line-up. Beware! It is not the cheapest K-cup coffee maker, but in our opinion the best cheap single serve coffee maker. 

Although it costs a lot less that the Keurig K575, this unit offers a lot of cool features.

This single cup coffee maker has a 48oz or 1.4 liter water reservoir. It makes about 6 cups before having to refill it. When it is time to refill, the reservoir is easy to remove, making refilling a non-chore. 

In terms of K-cups, the K55 is part of the Keurig family of products, so there is a lot of variety in the beverages and flavors. Being part of the K-cup system from Keurig allows this brewer to access a wide range of coffee flavors and other beverages. This particular machine is not from the Keurig 2.0 line so it won’t accept larger K-cups to fill mugs or a carafe. You are limited to the standard K-cup size.

The K55 does allow for a variety in brew sizes. You can brew cup sizes 6oz (177ml) 8oz (236ml), and 10oz (295ml). But, because the K55 only accepts standard size K-cups, more water means a less intense flavor. For my tastes, the 6oz (177ml) tastes best. Larger cups tend to be on the weak side. But as I said before, taste is just an opinion. So, be sure to test different cup sizes if you have the chance. 

This brewer’s main functions are all available from buttons located on the front and top of the unit. From the control area, the descaling, heating, add water and power functions are available. The K55 also has an auto-off feature that will turn off the brewer after two hours of inactivity. This helps to conserve the energy and prevents overheating.

As said, this machine is, in our opinion, the best budget option among the Keurig coffee makers. It lacks some of the features that make the Keurig K575 the best premium option but it is still a very good machine. If you are looking for a quality Keurig single serve coffee maker and plan to drink only standard size cups, this is a great machine. If you’re looking for a machine that can handle bigger brews, (travel)mugs or a carafe, the K575 is the better option.

Pro's & Cons Of The Keurig k55 K-Classic single serve Coffee Maker

  • The K55 offers a lot of variety, great choices and flexibility with its brewing options. Multiple beverage sizes add a lot of flexibility. The descaling feature is a nice maintenance feature detail and the front control panel is easy to use.
  • Although there are multiple brewing sizes available, it does not brew more than 10 oz. at a time. This may not fill a larger, personal insulated beverage holder.

Best PREMIUM Nespresso Single Serve coffee maker
Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville

Breville’s Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine is another quality Breville product. If you already have other Breville appliances, you know about their quality and durability. This brewer is no different. 

Offering barista style coffee and espresso with ease, this brewer can make both with the touch of a single button. It only uses the Nespresso Vertuo capsules though. 

The Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine has 5 single serve coffee cup sizes. It can produce anything from a 1.35 oz. espresso, a 2.7 oz. double espresso, 5 oz. Gran Lungo, 7.7 oz. cup of coffee and 14 oz. Alto. For any iced version of your beverage, you simply, manually pour the final beverage over ice. 

The Nespresso’s Centrifusion technology uses barcodes to get to that perfect cup of coffee. Just scan the barcode and the brewer goes to work, brewing your technologically enhanced beverage in moments. It can brew a beverage in 15 seconds, showing a very fast heat-up time. This brewer also has an auto-shutoff, energy saving feature that turns off after inactivity of 9 minutes. 

This brewer also includes a 40 oz. removable water reservoir. The water tank is well designed, making for easy refilling. 

Pro's & Cons Of The nespresso vertuo coffee and espresso machine

  • Fast heat up time, one-touch ease for a cup of coffee and espressos, and even the production of an espresso shot are just some of the reasons to love this unit. Another quality kitchen appliance from Breville, including the 40 oz. water reservoir and energy saving auto-shutoff are great features as well.
  • It only uses the Nespresso Vertuo capsules which can limit the variety of coffee and beverage flavors.

Best Budget Nespresso Single Serve coffee maker
Nespresso Essenza Mini Original Espresso Machine by Breville

If you are looking for a more budget friendly Nespresso machine the Nespresso Essenza Mini Original by Breville is a great choice. It is one of the smallest Nespresso machines on the market so it is even suitable for small kitchens. There are no compromises on the quality of the espresso, but a smaller machine avoids clutter on your countertop.

It’s sleek and simple design make a beautiful machine. Simplicity was also kept in mind for the way the machine operates.

Making coffee is just the push of a button and cleaning couldn’t be easier. It lacks most of the features of the more expensive Nespresso machines (no Bluetooth feature, no latte or cappuccino maker), but you won’t miss them. Most features on more expensive machines don’t add to the quality of your coffee and if you want to make lattes or cappuccinos, you’re better of with a milk frother or electric milk steamer. The Nespresso Essenza Mini Original focusses completely on delivering the best cup of coffee you can get from a Nespresso cup. And that’s what counts, right?

One thing to consider is the size of the water tank and the waste container. The tank and waste container on the Essenza are smaller than on most more expensive Nespresso machines. But in my experience that doesn’t really matter. The low cost and quality operation on this machine more than make up for having to refill or empty said containers regularly. And, regarding the water tank, it’s not like you have to refill after every cup. The water tank has a capacity of 20oz or 0.6 liters. More than enough to brew 3 to 4 cups of coffee.

Pro's & cons of the nespresso essenza mini original espresso machine

  • Low cost, simple operation and cleaning.
  • Lacks features of more expensive models. If you like lattes or cappuccinos you’ll need to buy a separate milk frother or electric milk steamer.

Best PREMIUM Pod-free Single Serve coffee maker
Ninja Single Serve, Pod-Free Coffee Maker Bar

Ninja Single-Serve, Pod-Free Coffee Maker Bar with Hot and Iced Coffee is a great brewing unit. Like the name says, it does not use pods, capsules or K-Cups. While these coffee pods, etc. can offer a lot of variety, you still get even more variety when you do not have to use them (non-coffee capsule variety is larger than that of the capsules). Eliminating the need for pods also lowers the cost of use for this style of unit. 

This Ninja model allows you to brew multiple sizes: single cup, extra large (XL) cup, Travel mug and extra large (XL) Multi-Serve. Thus, you get a lot of variety in brewing sizes. 

There is also a lot of variety in what this brewer can do. It produces hot or cold beverages. It has multiple brew styles. It can even do milk frothing with the push of a button. You can get very creative with the beverage making and be your very own barista! 

There is even design attention to offer technology help you get to the best beverage possible. Ninja offers technology for advanced thermal flavor extraction and one-touch Auto-iQ Intelligence to enhance the ultimate beverages for your consumption. 

pro's & cons of the ninja single serve, pod-free coffee maker bar

  • The Ninja Single-Serve offers great variety in brew sizes and types of beverages. It even has built in technology to help get you to a better beverage.
  • It can take some work and configuration to get your more specialized beverages beyond just the normal cup version.

Best BUDGET Pod-free Single Serve coffee maker
Hamilton Beach Single Serve Coffee Maker

Hamilton Beach’s The Scoop Single-Serve Coffee Maker is a durable and versatile single serve coffee brewer. It is also offers a lot of variety with its coffee choice possibilities. 

The Scoop Single-Serve Coffee Maker can brew single serve cups all the way up to a full pot of coffee. It is adjustable to produce out cups, mugs, travel mugs and carafes. A carafe is also included at no additional cost.

You can specify the brew strength via the brewer’s functions. It easy to select either bold or regular versions of your coffee. This brewer also has an auto shutoff for energy saving conservation. It is also programmable for technological ease and pre-set beverage preparation up to 24 hours in advance. There is also a water reservoir for fast beverage preparation. 

Pro's & cons of the hamilton beach "the scoop" single serve coffee maker

  • Great flexibility and variety are offered throughout this brewer’s thoughtful design. It is moderately priced, but gives top-end options for your beverage preparation.
  • It is a smaller unit, so it can be somewhat compact in its operation.

Conclusion

Well, hopefully the reviews of these 6 models have given you a good opportunity to see what’s on the market. I think the models we reviewed are all excellent choice. But, the one you pick has to fit your coffee habits. You check them out and make you choice.

Caffeinated greetings,

MC

You might also be interested in our Chemex vs Hario V60 Brew Method Stand-off