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Best Single-Serve Coffee Makers
A single-serve coffee maker gives you the convenience of making one cup of coffee at a time just the way you like it. Pop in your favorite coffee pod, press a button or two, and you’re ready to go. If you like the convenience and speed of brewing coffee directly into your cup, you want the option of brewing different types of coffee, or maybe your family or co-workers have particular preferences for coffee, a single-serve coffee maker is for you. There is no wasted coffee since you’re brewing one portion at a time, and you're always guaranteed a fresh and hot coffee right when you want it.
However, not all single-serve coffee makers are created equal.
How we test coffee makers
To find the best single-serve coffee maker, the kitchen tech experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute tested 15 best-selling and highly-rated models from brands we trust, including AeroPress, Cuisinart, Hamilton Beach, Keurig, and Nespresso. When we test single-serve coffee makers, we evaluate how straightforward each model is to setup and use, as we as how easy it is to clean the single-serve coffee maker. We also consider ease of use when it comes to filling the water reservoir, preheat time, and brew time.
When making coffee, we measure how much coffee splatters during brewing and drips afterwards. We record the temperature and volume of numerous coffees brewed from the same machine to compare consistency and most importantly, taste them in search of a full-bodied cup of coffee with little to no acidity and bitterness. Also considered: the cost and availability of coffee pods, refills, and paper filters.
How to choose the best single-serve coffee maker
Single-use coffee pods vs. reusable filter: Most single-serve coffee makers use store-bought coffee pods, like K-cups, a small plastic or aluminum cup that contains pre-portioned ground coffee and a built-in filter. K-cups and capsules are convenient to use, but are more expensive than using your own ground coffee. Even though some K-cups are recyclable, reusable filters are kinder to the environment. Soft pods are also popular: They're coffee in a tea bag-like round paper filter, which eliminates plastic waste.
On the other hand, some coffee makers provide a reusable filter to fill with your own ground coffee. These are the more eco-friendly option but they need to be washed after each use. All of the reusable filters we tested were easy to detach from the coffee maker and dishwasher-safe. We recommend adding two tablespoons of ground coffee into the reusable filter for a six-ounce cup of coffee.
Water reservoir: Consider how often you brew coffee. For two or more servings per day, you would benefit from a large water reservoir which means less refilling. When it comes to refilling, some water reservoirs are removable and have handles that make it easy to refill and clean, while others are permanently attached to the coffee maker. Others lack a water reservoir altogether and require you to measure and add the amount of coffee you want to brew each time.
Brewing options: While some single-serve coffee makers brew only one size of a cup, some models provide more brewing options from single espresso shots to 16 ounces (perfect for a travel mug) with choices ranging from basic (like regular or strong brew coffee) to fancy (think iced drinks, or even cappuccinos and lattes on more advanced models that have milk frothing attachments).
Speed: One advantage of single-serve coffee makers is getting a cup of coffee quickly. Some models have a powerful heating mechanism that can boil water and brew coffee in about one minute. Others require you to heat and pour your own water over the ground coffee. In our tests, the average time it took to brew an eight-ounce cup of coffee was about two minutes.