If a cup of coffee is crucial to kick-starting the day, a poor-quality drink or sad instant coffee can ruin your morning. It's not easy to brew pour-over coffee or a shot of espresso while barely awake and bleary-eyed, but you are more likely to make great brewed coffee if you have one of the best single-serve coffee makers, which requires practically nothing from its foggy-headed owner. It's the brains of the operation, capable of delivering a barista-level Americano from your countertop every dang time. When you're ready to upgrade, check out our top picks for the best pod coffeemakers. For more information on pod coffeemakers, head on down to the bottom of the article.
- Most versatile
Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe Espresso Machine by Breville
- For fancy drinks in a small space
Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee and Espresso Maker by De'Longhi
- Best small footprint
Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine by De'Longhi
- Best classic machine
Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker
- Best affordable single-serve
Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker
- Best multipurpose machine
Keurig K-Duo Plus Coffee Maker
- Affordable multipurpose machine
Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Trio 2-Way Coffee Maker
- Best single-serve multipurpose
Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Single-Serve Coffee Maker
- Best single-serve machine
Cuisinart Premium Single-Serve Coffeemaker
- Best classic multipurpose maker
Cuisinart SS-15P1 Single Serve + 12 Cup Coffee Maker
"Works great," said a five-star reviewer. "Just keep it clean all the time and it's reliable and fast! More expensive than using a standard drip coffeemaker, but much more delicious and convenient. The little metal pods look nice displayed in the kitchen too. The milk steamer is a MUST as well. ... Really love the whole setup. The only drawback is that I might be drinking more (and stronger) coffee than I used to — but it's always delicious!"
A shopper says the Vertuo Next is "the best purchase I have ever made! I love Starbucks lattes and specialty coffee, so a Nespresso is ideal for me. I haven't even thought about Starbucks since I got it. ... It's really easy to order pods and recycle bags from the app. The milk frother is what takes your coffee to the next level. I love to put flavored creamer in it; it is heavenly. Easy to operate and not a super bulky machine. If you have been thinking about getting [one], do it. You will not regret it."
"The only complaint I have about this is: It's too good," said one of 6,100-plus verified five-star reviewers. "It's too easy to use. It makes having espresso too convenient. I went from maybe having one espresso every few months to multiple ones a day. I hear colors. I find myself falling down weird YouTube rabbit holes at all hours of the night. I've become nocturnal. So, if you like to sleep, this is not for you. If you like random facts about how cold fronts affect catfish, BUY THIS!"
This superstar is endorsed by more than 72,000 five-star reviewers! "My first time using this type of coffeemaker, and am I happy!" said one such fan. "It makes delicious coffee, is easy to program and operate, and it is very attractive on the kitchen counter. It comes securely packaged with a user manual that is easy to understand and set up, and very reasonably priced for the excellent quality. ... I highly recommend it!"
"Love it," said a happy shopper. "I ordered this machine to replace the giant one I had before, which finally died. ... I like this one a lot better because the color is prettier and it doesn't take up so much counter space. I like that it only holds one cup of water at a time. My son had a bad habit of letting the water in the big, black Keurig sit around for a couple of days and then using it. Gross. Now I know he can't do that with this machine. It brews a great cup of coffee and seems quieter than my old machine. ... I highly recommend it."
"This thing is amazing," said a five-star reviewer. "I love at least four things about it. 1) Easy to use. 2) It replaced a Mister Coffee brewer and a Keurig K-Cup brewer, saving a lot of counter space. 3) The reservoir can be placed right, left or back to suit your counter situation. 4) The Mister Coffee required you to add the right amount of water for the amount of coffee that you wanted. The K-Duo Plus will use the correct amount of water based on the number of cups (carafe) or ounces (K-Cup) that you select."
"This is the best multipurpose appliance!" said a reviewer. "To begin with, it's easy to use — use one side or the other. I normally program my carafe side the night before so my coffee is ready in the morning. ... The single-serve, or K-Cup, side works great."
The size of the FlexBrew Single-Serve is perfect for many coffee drinkers, including this happy shopper: "I never wanted a K-Cup coffeemaker, [but] when I saw this one I was intrigued. The size is smaller, and it is flexible for making my favorite coffee or using K-Cups. I LOVE it. One feature I like is that you empty the reservoir each time you brew. The coffee-grounds insert comes with the appliance, as does the K-Cup insert. Can't say enough good things about this product!"
"I love this coffeemaker!" says one of 10,000-plus five-star fans. "I've had two now, one of the previous models for nearly six years and then this newer version. ... I REALLY like this unit's features. For one reason, we drink different brands of coffee, which is what makes single-serve coffeemakers so convenient. For another, I love the added convenience of this particular single-serve for the fact that I don't have to wait for the water to heat up as I do with other brands. You just turn it on, pop in the pod, press the brew button and it INSTANTLY starts brewing without the wait for the water to heat. HELLO, who wouldn’t love that feature?!"
"I've had many coffeemakers over the years, and this is by far the best," said a five-star reviewer. "I love this machine and have not found any issues in the few weeks I've had it. I generally make a pot of coffee in the morning and use the single-serve in the afternoon or evening. I have used several types of coffee, and each one tastes great. It is easy to use and clean. Very happy with this."
What are single-serve coffee machines?
A pod coffeemaker is essentially a machine that makes coffee after you simply pop in a prepurchased "pod" of ground coffee. (Some reusable pods will let you add your own freshly ground coffee to the pod before inserting.) Next, add fresh water to the reservoir never exceeding tank capacity, add the pod in the appropriate place and press start. From there many offer a lot of versatility. You can adjust the brew settings for a regular cup of joe or the best espresso you’ve ever had. A downside? Most don’t do iced coffee or cold brew, so these picks are best for folks who love hot coffee.
What size drinks can pod coffeemakers make?
They can make them in 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 ounces, depending on the serving size you’re looking for.
Why do people like pod coffeemakers?
As you might imagine, a pod coffeemaker tends to brew coffee a lot faster than a traditional drip brewer. What might take five minutes can often require just one or two minutes of brew time with the best pod coffee machine. When you're in a rush, those few minutes are very valuable! Plus, cleanup tends to be easier too. Instead of having to deal with messy coffee grounds, coffee grinders or french presses, you can just toss the used capsules like you would a paper filter.
What to look for in a pod coffeemaker?
Since the reason you would want a pod coffeemaker is for the speed and convenience, you should look for high-quality machines that offer fast brew speeds as well as those that are easy to operate and clean. Nespresso machines tend to have better-tasting coffee (some say the resulting coffee is a decent espresso replacement), while Keurig tends to have a much greater variety of blends and coffee brands.
That said, don't expect the best coffee you've ever had. These pod machines tend to sacrifice coffee taste in favor of ease of use. A coffee lover with higher standards should look for a great drip coffee machine instead.
Do coffee pods expire?
If you tend to buy your pods in bulk, don't worry, as coffee pods will remain safe to drink long after their expiration dates. They're hermetically sealed, after all, which helps reduce the chance of bacteria growth and mold. Their overall taste and flavor might diminish over time, but they won't make you sick.
Can coffee pods be recycled?
It depends. All Keurig K-Cups and Nespresso capsules are recyclable, as they're made out of plastic or aluminum. However, recycling them might take a bit more effort than one might think. Recycling a K-Cup pod, for example, requires peeling off the foil top, emptying the grounds and rinsing the pod before tossing it in the recycling bin — otherwise they’ll end up in a landfill. While Nespresso capsules are also recyclable, not all towns recycle that specific type of aluminum. That's why Nespresso has its own recycling program; you can return a spent coffee capsule to the company via prepaid UPS shipping labels or to any Nespresso Boutique.
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The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.