If you’ve had your eye on a single-serve coffee machine, then you’ve come to the right place, because we’re going to go over everything you need to know when making a purchase. You may not know this, but there are a number of options out there when it comes to single-serve coffee machines, and the process of selecting one can be a little daunting. When you finish this guide, though, you’ll find making the purchasing decision is a breeze!
For the most part, we’ll be focusing on capsule single-serve coffee machines, like those made by Keurig, Tassimo and Nespresso. However, we’ll also review other options available to you. We’ll also be looking at the factors you should consider when comparing different brands and different machines. Is the kind of coffee you prefer available in capsule form for the machine you’ve selected? Does the machine allow you to program in a brew time, so that you have a fresh cup ready to go when you wake up in the morning? We’ll explore these questions and more!
So, if you’re looking for a single-serve coffee machine, grab a cup of Joe and take a look through this brief and very informative guide! You’re about to learn everything you need to know.
Table of Contents
1. Why Choose a Single-Serve Coffee Machine?
2. What Are My Options?
3. What About Espresso Machines?
4. What Features Should I Consider?
5. What Single-Serve Coffee Machine Should I Get?
If you’re used to brewing your coffee in a pot – or hitting the pot that’s been sitting around at work – then you might be asking yourself why you should invest in a single-serve coffee machine. The biggest reason is simple: absolute convenience and freshness.
Think about how long that coffee you drink during the day has been sitting around? An hour? A few? You know when that Joe hits your lips that it’s not as fresh as it could be. With a single-serve coffee machine, you never have to worry about this! Whenever you want a fresh cup of Joe, you can have one.
But, that’s not the only benefits that a single-serve coffee machine can offer you. So, let’s take a look!
- Convenience: It doesn’t get any easier than putting a coffee pod in a machine and hitting brew!
- Freshness: Like we said, those coffee pots sit around for a long time! With a single-serve coffee maker, you can have a fresh cup on demand.
- Variety: With a regular coffee maker, you’re generally stuck with one or two kinds of coffee. With a single-serve maker, you can try a variety of different styles, from light to dark, from easy drinking to bold.
- Taste: And that’s the thing, depending on what kind of coffee you prefer, you’re sure to find a brand and style that will appeal to your palate specifically.
- Self Control: If there’s a pot of coffee around, can you keep yourself from drinking cup after cup after cup? With a single-serve coffee maker, you’ll find it’s much easier to drink one or two without feeling the need to empty the pot.
- Quickness: This may be the biggest benefit of all! If you find yourself in a rush to get out of the house in the morning, you don’t have time for a whole pot to brew. A single-serve coffee maker can get you a fresh, hot cup of Joe in less than a minute.
Sounds like a good deal, right? Well, now you’ve got to consider what kind of single-serve coffee maker is going to work best for your needs. Let’s take a look at the options…
When you think of single-serve coffee makers, we’re willing to bet that Keurig machines are the first things that come to mind. But, there are more options than that! So let’s consider the others first before we get to the grand daddy.
If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel room, then you know exactly what the pod coffee maker is! They’re single-serve coffee machines that allow you to load a tea-bag like pod of coffee into the top. You add the water, press brew, and then presto: you’ve got some coffee! The only drawback to these models is that, since they work by the drip method, they can take some time to brew.
These coffee makers are much like the coffee makers that you’re familiar with; they’re just smaller. Like a regular coffee maker, you’ll load a filter and grounds into the top and hit brew. The only difference here is that the amount brewed is enough for one serving. These could work well if there’s only one coffee drinker in the household. Otherwise, they’re generally more trouble than they’re worth.
Rather than going with a single-brew machine, you could opt for a hybrid machine. These coffee makers will brew a regular pot of coffee just like any other, but they also come with a single-brew attached, generally with a travel mug for the person in your family who’s heading out for the morning commute. If you feel committed to the regular coffee machine, but you need a single-serve for someone, this might be your best option.
Finally, we come to the granddaddy of single-serve coffee makers: the capsule machine. The most well known of these is the Keurig machine; there are, however other options. For example, there is the Tassimo machine, and there are also options provided by Nespresso. Regardless of what brand you select, all of them work by the same principle. You load a capsule into the machine, hit brew, and presto! Seconds later you’ll have a piping hot cup of Joe!
Whatever option you select, though, you’ll be stuck in the coffee maker’s ecosystem. For example, if you purchase a Keurig machine, you’ll only be able to purchase and then use K-Cups, which have been specifically designed for the machine. So, when you do select a machine, be sure to consider the availability of refills for the machine, as well as the variety of different capsules that are available.
When you choose a capsule machine, you’ll be able to enjoy the following benefits:
Variety: If one person in your home prefers dark brews and another light brews, you’ll be able to have both kinds available and brew them back to back. Plus, many leading coffee producers offer a variety of capsules that you can sample.
Control: By using a simple button on the capsule machine of your choice, you can select the strength of your brew. With a regular coffee maker, you have to guess you way through this – unless you’re a barista, of course!
Cleaner: As much as you might try with a regular coffee maker, you know you’re going to get grounds everywhere! A capsule machine prevents this from happening, as the grounds are always inside of the capsules themselves.
Quickness: Are you constantly running late in the morning? If so, you’ll appreciate how quickly a capsule machine is able to produce a cup of coffee. Depending on the strength of the brew, you could have a cup in front of you in a matter of seconds!
Reusable Capsule: With some machines, it’s possible to purchase a reusable capsule. With one these, you can load in your own grounds, which means you can brew any kind of brand and type of coffee that you’d like!
3. What About Nespresso Machines?
With a regular capsule machine, like a Keurig, you can purchase special capsules that will allow you to make espresso. However, if you’re interested in a convenient and quick, single-serve espresso machine, you’ll necessarily want to go with one of Nespresso’s models.
Their classic single-serve machines, which go by the name OriginalLine, brew espresso exclusively. There is a variety of espresso types to choose from, including those with lighter flavor all the way up to bold ristrettos.
Their newer machines allow you to brew both coffee and espresso and are a part of their VertuoLine. As before, there is a full range of options available to you when it comes to coffee and espresso.
When it comes to flavor for both coffee and espresso, Nespresso is the class of the single-serve coffee market. However, there are some drawbacks to selecting one of these machines. The biggest drawback is that the capsules are not widely available in stores; instead, most consumers have to purchase the capsules online. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a major metropolitan area like Los Angeles or New York City, this will not be an issue, as Nespresso has boutique stores in those cities.
Finally, the capsules themselves need to be recycled by Nespresso, which means delivering spent capsules to a boutique store or mailing them in. If you’re not located near one of Nespresso’s boutiques, the company has partnered with retailers like Sur Le Table and Williams-Sonoma to accept spent capsules at those locations.
Regardless of what brand you ultimately select – Keurig, Tassimo, Nespresso, or something else – there will be a range of machines for you to select from. In terms of choosing what machine will be right for you, consider the following factors as you make your purchasing decision.
Timer: Do you want a piping hot cup of coffee ready for you when you get up in the morning? Then a timer is a feature that you need!
Brew Strength: Some of the more basic models will have one set brew strength, which can be slightly adjusted by changing the “size” of the cup you’re brewing. Others provide actual control over the brew strength, allowing you make lighter and darker cups.
Reservoir: For the ultimate in convenience, you’ll want to get a machine that has a detachable water reservoir. However, you can save some money if you opt for a model that does not. With such models, you’ll simply add water to the machine right before your cup – this might be perfect if you’re the only coffee drinker in the house.
Filtration: In order to ensure that the flavor of your coffee is all that it can be, you need to use filtered water. More expensive machines will come with a built-in filter. If you want to save yourself the expense, you can always use water filtered through another source – like through a Brita, for example.
Temperature: Right up there with the water’s quality, the temperature of the water will play an important role in the ultimate flavor of the coffee. The average coffee drinker won’t notice the difference, but some – particularly those who drink their coffee black – will. If you fall in this camp, consider getting a single-serve machine that allows you to adjust the brew temperature.
Capsule Availability: You can only use your single-serve coffee machine if there are capsules readily available for it! So, be sure to check around at stores in the area to see what they have on offer.
Capsule Variety: Also, be sure that you’re able to readily get the kinds of coffee that you want. For example, if you’re a Starbucks acolyte, then you’ll want to go with a Keurig machine, as Starbucks only offers capsule versions of their coffee for that brand.
Noise: Some single-serve capsule machines are loud, and some of them are whisper quiet. If a noisy machine is going to bother you (or perhaps your sleeping family members) then consider opting for a more expensive machine, as these generally run quietly.
Size: Like any other appliance in your kitchen, you’ve got to consider the space available for it. If counter space is at a premium, then you’ll want to go with a smaller machine. If it’s not, then you can get as big of a machine as you like.
The Look: Also, you should consider how the look of the single-serve coffee machine fits into the design and style of your kitchen. If your kitchen design is accented by red highlights, for example, then you may want to select a red single-serve coffee machine.
Price: You can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $500 on a single-serve coffee machine, depending upon the brand, the features, and the product quality. More expensive doesn’t always mean better, though, as there are many quality machines to be found at lower price points.
Capsule Cost: The ultimate expense of owning and using a single-serve coffee machine will be the capsules themselves. Simply, you’ll be paying more per cup than you would be with a traditional drip coffee machine. However, different stores carry capsules at different costs. So look around, and get an idea of what you can expect to pay. Likewise, remember that you’ll save a lot on the capsules if you buy in bulk.
Reusable Capsule: If the on-going cost of using a single-serve coffee machine is something that bothers you, then you’ll want to make sure the machine you select can accommodate a reusable capsule, which you can fill with your own grounds. Without a doubt, this is the cheapest way to “get refills” for a capsule single-serve coffee machine.
Once you’ve considered all of the above, you’re almost ready to make your buying decision! As mentioned earlier, make sure that you’ll have easy access to capsule refills, otherwise you’ll find that your single-serve coffee machine will be collecting dust faster than you can say “drip coffee machine”!
Also, be sure to read consumer reviews of the specific machines you’ve narrowed in on. Even though they may meet all of your criteria, there’s no guarantee that they’re quality products. Simply scrolling through reviews of the product on Amazon or elsewhere should help you to quell any doubts and to arrive at the correct decision.
After your purchase, enjoy your new single-serve coffee machine! We recommend getting a variety pack of capsules so that you can figure out which brands and styles of brew you enjoy!