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The Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker was our testers' favorite single-serve coffee maker because it's more than just a single serve. It lets users whip up a 10-cup pot of joe as well as specialty drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. Customers looking for a high-quality pod-based instead brewer should check out the Keurig K-Café.
All too often a full pot of coffee ends up half finished, with the remainder sent down the drain after it has gone cold. Single serve coffee makers not only eliminate this waste, making them ideal for personal use, but they are typically among the fastest kinds of brewing devices.
Keurig is the most popular maker of single-serve machines, but there are many other brands worth buying. You can find options that use coffee grounds or coffee pods, ones small enough to travel with or others designed for home use, as well as pour overs with a variety of features. Below, we go through the best options in an array of categories, breaking down what we like and dislike about each one.
For a quick and personalized cup of joe, here are the best single serve coffee makers to buy.
Best Overall: Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker
Choice of glass or thermal carafe
Removable water reservoir
Coffee concentrate, not real espresso
Not fully programmable
Why limit yourself? This Specialty Coffee Associate-certified single-serve coffee maker can fill your travel mug with regular coffee as you’re dashing out the door on a workday, but it will also make specialty brews, froth your milk for lattes and cappuccinos, and let you choose your own cup size with a simple dial. Choose from classic coffee, super-rich, or brew for serving over ice.
Since this doesn’t require pods, you can buy your favorite coffee beans from a boutique local coffee roaster or buy inexpensive grocery store grounds to save money while still making interesting coffee drinks every day of the week. Special thermal extraction ensures full flavor no matter what you brew.
Grounds or Pods: Grounds | Dimensions: 12 x 8.8 x 15 inches | Warranty: 1-year limited | Wattage: 1,500 | Voltage: 120
"With multiple brew functions, serving sizes, and other extra features, this coffee maker creates the perfect cup of joe to wake you up in the morning. However, be sure to note that it doesn't make true espresso." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Best With Pods: Keurig K-Café
Multiple drink options
Easy to use
Dishwasher-safe milk frother
Not "true" espresso
Takes up a lot of counter space
There’s no doubt about it, brewing coffee with pods is convenient, and there are more and more types of coffee available every day, along with tea and other beverages. But this coffee maker is more than just convenient. It can also brew concentrated coffee shots with the push of a button, so you can create coffeehouse-style drinks at home, or choose to brew a stronger cup of coffee whenever you want it. The frother cup gives you hands-free frothing of milk, skim milk, soy milk, or almond milk, and the cup is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning when you’re done.
You can choose from four different cup sizes from 4 to 12 ounces. The 60-ounce water reservoir lets you brew multiple cups of coffee before you have to refill, saving you time in the morning. This also saves energy by turning itself off two hours after your last cup of coffee was brewed.
Grounds or Pods: Pods | Dimensions: 12.5 x 15.3 x 11.7 inches | Warranty: 1-year limited | Wattage: 1,500 | Voltage: 120
"This would be an ideal machine for someone who wants to skip the many steps of using a home espresso machine but still get a very similar result." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Best Dual Brewer: Hamilton Beach FlexBrew 2-Way Coffee Maker
Programmable up to 24 hours
Takes K-Cups and ground coffee
Two separate water reservoirs
Grounds occasionally spill and get into cup
On one side of this machine is a 12-cup glass carafe for when you want a full pot of coffee. On the other, a single-serve brewer that works with both ground coffee and coffee pods. The single-serve side brews up to 14 ounces when using ground coffee (or 10 ounces with K-cups), which is more than enough for one cup of coffee. You can also remove the plastic cup platform to fit a travel mug before your morning commute.
Unlike many single-serve machines, the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew does not have a water reservoir for the single-cup side, so you will need to pour a cup of water every time you want one cup of coffee. Some customers also question the machine's durability, noting that issues arose around one year of use. Aside from this, the product has great reviews and other impressive features, like a 24-hour programmable timer, a pause-and-serve feature, and automatic shutoff after two hours.
Grounds or Pods: Both (carafe side is grounds only) | Dimensions: 11.4 x 12.2 x 13.7 inches | Warranty: 1-year limited | Wattage: 1,050 | Voltage: 120
Best Non-Electric: AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker
Brews high-quality coffee, fast
Great for travel
Not the most attractive device
For some coffee lovers, the AeroPress is what first comes to mind when picturing a single-serve brewing device, especially for those who prefer non-electric coffee makers to, say, a Keurig or Nespresso product. The AeroPress is affordable, extremely compact, and gives users the flexibility to brew something like drip-style coffee or a richer, espresso-like cup depending on preference. Although it requires more hands-on effort than electric devices, it brews very quickly at around two minutes once the water is boiled.
After testing the product, our reviewer called it a "must-buy." She described the taste as smooth and similar to pour-over coffee, adding that you can also use the AeroPress to make lattes, Americanos, and even cold brew. There may be a slight learning curve, which means the first few cups might not be as tasty until you get the hang of it, but overall this coffee maker is an excellent value that you can take and use anywhere.
Grounds or Pods: Grounds | Dimensions: 11.3 x 5 x 4.25 inches | Warranty: 1-year limited | Wattage: N/A | Voltage: N/A
"For a small investment, you get high-quality coffee, easy cleanup, and a travel companion in return. This little coffee maker would also make a great gift for any coffee lover." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Best for Ground Coffee: Hamilton Beach 49981 The Scoop Single-Serve Coffee Maker
Removable coffee basket
Easy to use
No filters needed
Prone to leaking
The sleek look, ease of use, simple cleanup, and flavorful coffee were praised by reviewers of this coffee maker. It can accommodate either standard coffee cups or travel mugs up to 14 ounces and 7 .25 inches high and has a bold setting for extra-strong coffee.
This has a permanent metal mesh filter, so a paper filter isn’t required, but some users prefer the flavor of coffee that has been filtered more thoroughly. This can accommodate some small paper filters made by other brands, while some users said that cutting large filters to size is easy and affordable.
Grounds or Pods: Grounds | Dimensions: 8.35 x 6.7 x 8.67 inches | Warranty: 1-year limited | Wattage: 1,300 | Voltage: 120
Best Pour Over: Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper 02
Requires special paper filters
A lot of effort for one cup
Pour over is the preferred brewing method for many baristas and coffee experts; when done right, it can create an unbeatably bold and flavorful cup of coffee. One of the best pour-over coffee makers, especially for those interested in a single-serve device, is the Hario V60. It's compact, affordable, and easy to use. Since it's about the size of a coffee mug, you can even take it with you while traveling (you'll just need access to hot water). The item is available in a range of materials, including glass, plastic, and ceramic. You can also buy it in multiple sizes, starting at 1 to 2 cups and working up to 6 cups.
Grounds or Pods: Grounds | Dimensions: 4.7 x 5.5 x 4 inches (02 model) | Warranty: 90 days | Wattage: N/A | Voltage: N/A
Best for Office: Keurig K-Elite Single Serve Coffee Maker
Large water reservoir (75 ounces)
Prone to leaking
Whether your office is above the garage at home or you’ve got the corner office with a view, this coffee maker will be a great fit. This can brew from 4 to 12 ounces of coffee at a time, while the strong brew button increases the strength of the brew for a bolder cup. You won’t need to wait long since this makes a cup of coffee in less than a minute.
If you’ve got a cup of ice, you can use the iced brew setting to make iced coffee any time you like, and the 75-ounce water reservoir means you won’t have to make a lot of trips to fetch water for your brews. When you need to fill it, the reservoir is removable.
The hot water on demand button dispenses hot water for your instant oatmeal, or cup of soup or noodles for those days when you’ll be eating at your desk. It’s also handy for making tea using your favorite tea bags rather than k-cups.
Grounds or Pods: Pods | Dimensions: 12.7 x 9.9 x 13.1 inches | Warranty: 1-year limited | Wattage: 1,500 | Voltage: 120
Best Compact: Presto MyJo Single Cup Coffee Maker
Compact and portable
Takes K-Cups and ground coffee
Valve is inconsistent, hard to clean
Plastic gets hot to touch
It doesn’t get more compact than this—you can even take it with you when you go camping since it doesn’t require electricity. All you need is hot water and ground coffee. For extra convenience at home, you can heat the coffee right in the water reservoir in your microwave.
This can use either K-cups or your own ground coffee. Once you’ve got water and coffee, you simply pump the water through the grounds and into your favorite coffee mug. The silicone grip makes this easy to hold, even when it’s full of hot water. This can make from 6-10 ounces of coffee, and it’s simple to toss the grounds, rinse the base, and brew more whenever you want it.
While this is built to be portable and compact, users were pleased with the flavor of the coffee. This can also be used to brew hot tea, simply by placing a tea bag in the space where the coffee would normally go.
Grounds or Pods: Both | Dimensions: 4 x 4 x 9 inches | Warranty: 1-year limited | Wattage: N/A | Voltage: N/A
Best for College: AdirChef Grab N' Go Personal Coffee Maker
Slower brew time
Travel mug leaks
Whether it's an early morning in the dorm or a late-night studying sessions, this brews directly into the included travel mug so you can take coffee on-the-go and keep it handy with a lid on to thwart spilling. The mug is insulated to keep the heat off your hands and to keep the coffee warm as you dash across campus or sit in the morning class. If you lose the mug, other standard travel mugs will also work.
This has a permanent filter, so there’s no need to spend money on paper filters, and it uses your own ground coffee so you save money. For ease of cleaning, all the removable parts are dishwasher safe, and just as easy to hand wash.
The brewer turns off automatically after it finishes brewing, saving power and extending the life of the brewer. The compact size saves space in tiny dorm rooms, as well as in a home, RV, or small kitchen where the counter gets easily cluttered.
Grounds or Pods: Grounds | Dimensions: 6.7 x 5.1 x 10.3 inches | Warranty: 1-year limited | Wattage: 750 | Voltage: 120
The Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker is more than a single-serve brewer; it can also whip up a full pot of coffee or a few shots of espresso, all at an affordable price. Another reliable option is the Keurig K-Café, which can brew a bevy of drinks with easy-to-use K-Cups.
What to Look for in a Single Serve Coffee Maker
Many go the single-serve route for the expediency of one-touch coffee. It's quick, easy, and brews the same cup of joe every time. But you can also find single serve coffee makers that craft a variety of drinks, pour multiple cup sizes, and offer a medley of convenient features. Deciding the level of versatility that you want is a great first step in the buying process.
Pods or Grounds
Many single serve machines take both ground coffee and coffee pods, but sometimes you might have to choose one or the other. Pods are quicker and easier but don't quite compete with the taste of freshly ground beans. Your final decision might come down to whether you prefer the convenience of pods or the flavor of grounds.
A large machine will likely make a permanent home on your counter, while a small machine can easily be moved in and out of storage. Mid-sized machines can be moved if you need the counter space. Consider how much room you have, as well as how portable you’d like your machine to be.
What types of coffee can single-serve brewers make?
Drip-style coffee is the most common kind that single-serve brewers make—namely that of a Keurig device—but the options don’t end there. French presses, pour-overs, and percolators are also available in single-serve form. Some machines, including ones listed above, have the versatility to brew single cups of drip coffee and other caffeinated drinks like espresso, lattes, or cappuccinos.
Can coffee pods be recycled?
With so many single-serve coffee makers relying on pods and capsules, it’s worth knowing the ins and outs of recycling. In 2020, Keurig announced its K-Cups were 100 percent recyclable after the company began producing them with polypropylene (#5 plastic), though you'll need to confirm locally, as they are not accepted in every community. As for Nespresso, another popular pod-based brand, its aluminum capsules can be recycled too. Nespresso simplifies the process by offering free capsule-recycling bags that can be dropped off (also for free) at any UPS location or Nespresso boutique. The bags hold up to 200 OriginalLine capsules or 100 VertuoLine capsules.
If your single-serve brewer uses a different type of coffee pod, check with the manufacturer to see if it can be recycled, too. Most brands post recycling information online or include it in instruction manuals.
What are “soft pods?”
Soft pods are small, paper-covered disks designed to brew one cup of coffee each. They are usually sealed in individual wrappers to keep them fresh. Many different brands manufacture soft pods, which means they are compatible with a variety of coffee makers, including ones made by Bunn, Hamilton Beach, Black & Decker, and more. Soft pods are similar to Easy Serving Espresso (E.S.E.) Pods because of their size, shape, and material, but the two are not one in the same. Soft pods are used to brew drip coffee, while E.S.E. pods are used to brew espresso.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a freelance food writer who specializes in product reviews and recipes. Her work has appeared on Serious Eats, Fine Cooking, and her own recipe blog, Cookistry.com. Cheyenne Elwell, another freelancer specializing in coffee and tea products, tested three of the items on this list and contributed her insights.
This piece was updated by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight.