Types of Single Cup Coffee Makers
This type is the simplest to use: You just drop in "pods" that are pre-filled with coffee grounds. Keurig makes the most popular line of pod coffee makers and their K-Cups can be used in some other pod-style coffee makers as well (and there are a number of generic pods that will work in Keurig machines). The pods are inserted into a holder that, when closed, pierces the pod with needles. Hot water then flows through the pod, brewing the coffee into a cup placed under the spout. Some pod coffee makers have a reservoir so you can brew multiple cups before refilling; others need water added before each cup is brewed. Pods come in hundreds of varieties, including cocoas, teas and fruity drinks -- some are intended to be served iced. Pod coffee makers can also dispense plain hot water for making tea, instant soups or hot cereals.
Some pod-style coffee makers are more versatile than pod-only machines and can both brew ground coffee and accept K-Cups. There are even a few drip-style, single-cup coffee makers around; the most popular of these are smaller machines that brew directly into a thermal travel mug for to-go convenience. These types of one-cup coffee makers are not as common as pod-style, single-serve coffee makers, but people who want the convenience of a one-cup coffee maker, yet don't want to be tied only to pods, like these machines. They tend to cost less, overall than pod-style coffee makers, but they don't get as good of reviews in general for performance, with more complaints of leakage and messes than with pod coffee makers.
a few downsides…
While one-cup coffee makers are a great fit for
some people, there are some drawbacks to owning one, including:
- You can't brew for a crowd. The nice
thing about traditional coffee makers, which we cover in a separate
report, is that you can brew an 8-, 10-, or 12-cup pot that can be enjoyed by a
large group at the same time. With single cup coffee makers, you only make one
cup at a time, so everyone has to get in line. The exception is Keurig's Plus
Series line of coffee makers, which can brew up to a 30 ounce carafe, as well
as a single cup.
- Pod coffee makers have higher ongoing costs. On a per
pound basis, it's estimated that, if you removed the coffee from the K-Cup pods
to make a pound of coffee, it would cost $50 per pound. By contrast, a cup of
even the highest-end coffee is rarely more than $15 per pound.
- Pods are mostly not environmentally friendly. Most
K-Cups and other coffee pods are not recyclable or biodegradable, although some
are. Keurig has a few recyclable K-Cups available and has pledged to make all of its pods recyclable by 2020.
We present these negatives only in the interest of
full disclosure -- it's important to be sure a single-cup coffee maker will
work for you or you'll be an unhappy buyer. However, for many folks, a
one-cupper is the perfect fit. Also, most of the above downsides can be
addressed by using ground coffee in your pod coffee maker. Most of the coffee
makers covered in this report will brew from grounds, although the Keurig's
require an optional My K-Cup accessory, which one will depend upon which coffee
maker you decide on (there are two).
If you do want to use ground coffee in your
single-cup coffee makers, you might want to try grinding your own beans as
well. In that case, you'll want to see our report on coffee grinders for
some top choices.
Finding The Best Single Cup Coffee Makers
Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2016
Contributors to BedBathandBeyond.com, As of November 2016
Single-cup coffee makers used to get a lot of coverage from
expert reviewers, but that's no longer the case. While many of those
professional roundups are still available, they are quite old and most of the
products have been discontinued. ConsumerReports.org still tests single-cup
coffee makers, but even though their tests have a 2016 date, quite a few of
their tested coffee makers have been discontinued since that report was posted.
However, there are thousands and thousands of owner reviews available and we
evaluated all of those to help us narrow down our picks for the best single-cup
coffee makers, so grab a cup of your favorite joe and enjoy.