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Best single-serve coffee maker: 7 top pod coffee makers for your caffeine fix

Pop in a pod, and hit brew for easy, great-tasting coffee and espresso with the best single-serve coffee makers

Best single-serve coffee maker
(Image credit: ADDICTIVE STOCK CREATIVES / Alamy Stock Photo)

The best single-serve coffee makers come into the equation for mornings when you simply want the best cup of coffee, fast. We get it, sometimes, it doesn't make sense to brew a whole carafe of coffee or to fuss with a complicated espresso machine.

Single-serve coffee makers are a must-have to keep around on days you're only drinking coffee for one, and don't want a whole carafe to go to waste. They're also optimal if you entertain, and everyone around you has varying coffee tastes.

With a pod-style machine, there are no coffee grounds to spill, no beans to grind and the coffee comes out consistently every single time. Set up usually involves popping in a pod, and selecting brew. Just make sure you have a mug underneath. The machines heat up quickly and many let you choose your ideal cup size, temperature, and even brew strength. 

But you aren't just limited to pod and capsule styles,  several companies are building out their own pod-free coffee makers that brew single-portions on demand, with your favorite ground coffee or espresso at the tap of a button. 

Single machines tend to be smaller – and often more stylish – than traditional designs and take up very little space on the countertop. They’re a good option for small kitchens, and even the larger designs which offer milk-steaming options for lattes and cappuccino are fairly petite. They also quite popular as part of a coffee station in your bedroom or home office, with water reservoirs that can go a few days without refills, for a caffeine kick before you have to feed the dog and grab the newspaper. 

We've researched the pod coffee makers available that work with the popular Nespresso pods and K-Cups, to machines that let you go pod-free, so you can find the best single-serve coffee maker for your lifestyle. 

Looking for a full-size machine too? See our best coffee makers guide to find a machine that best suits your coffee drinking needs.

Best single-serve coffee makers 2021

Best single-serve coffee maker Nespresso Vertuo Next

(Image credit: Nespresso)

1. Nespresso Vertuo Next

Best single-serve coffee maker, overall

Specifications
Tank size: 38.7oz./ 1.1ltr
Pressure: 19bar
Dimensions: H31.7 x W14.28 x D42.9 cm / 12.4 x 5.5 x 16.88in
Reasons to buy
+Small footprint+High pressure +Made from recycled plastic+Works with Nespresso Vertuo capsules
Reasons to avoid
-No built-in milk steaming-Not compatible with Nespresso OriginalLine capsules

The Nespresso Vertuo line is built for coffee drinkers who also enjoy espresso drinks. The Vertuo Next is Nespresso's most compact and sustainable design (made of over 50 percent recycled materials) but also offers the most versatility when it comes to drinking sizes.  

Key Features
Unlike other Nespresso models, the Next can also brew an 18oz. carafe for when one cup isn't enough, as well as the standard 5oz., 8oz., and 14oz. options and single and double espresso shots. 

Vertuo uses a barcode recognition system and knows exactly which coffee pod you’ve placed in the machine. The machine then adjusts the extraction process, including flow, volume, and temperature of water to get the best results. It also uses ‘Centrifusion’ technology, where the pods are spun at 700prm to extract every drop of flavor and also create a larger than average crema head.

Why you'll love it

Nespresso remains one of the highest regarded capsule-style makers with its wide availability of over 30 coffee blends, plus a rotating schedule of limited-edition releases available will keep you from getting bored with offerings. 

The machine takes just 40 seconds to heat up and we also love the fact the machine is made using 48 percent recycled plastic, although please remember to recycle your pods!

The only thing this machine lacks is the ability to steam milk, but we would recommend investing in the Nespresso Aeroccino to complete the coffee experience.

Best single-serve coffee maker Keurig K-Supreme Coffee MakerH&G gold badge

(Image credit: Keurig)

2. Keurig K-Supreme Coffee Maker

Best large-capacity single-serve coffee maker

Specifications
Tank Size: 66 oz.
Dimensions: 14.84 x 10.12 x 14.41 inches
Warranty: 1 year
Reasons to buy
+Outfitted with Keurig's latest Multi-Stream technology+Brews iced coffee, too+Strong brew button option for bolder coffee+Makeup to 5 beverages before needing to fill the 66 oz. water tank+Works with reusable k-cup pod (purchased separately) 
Reasons to avoid
-No height adjustable cup platform-No instructions to set up water filter

Keurig's proprietary k-cups provide some of the most versatility in its pod machines with partnerships with top coffee brands, so you'll rarely have to compromise giving up your favorite blend. 

Key Features
The K-Supreme, the latest Keurig edition can make up to five 12 ounce coffees in one fill. For such a large water reservoir, you'd imagine the Supreme to be quite bulky, rather, we think it looks pretty sleek on your countertop. 

However, the core design update on the K-Supreme is the incorporation of its new MultiStream technology that extracts more flavor and aroma in every brew. Rather than the singular puncture in the center of the k-cup, the MultiStream uses 5 entrance needles instead of one to saturate the grounds more evenly throughout with water.

 It also has features settings to customize your beverage according to desired size, temperature and brew strength, as well as the ability to store user settings for up to three people, for even more convenience. And if the mood for iced coffee strikes, it also features a pour-over ice function.  

Why you'll love it
In less than a minute, you can have a delicious cup of coffee, in one of five cup sizes. Unlike other Keurig machines where the amount of water you fill, is the amount of your beverage, the K-Supreme automatically measures out how much water you selected, taking out much guesswork. 

K-cups are readily available in supermarkets and online, 

Best single-serve coffee maker Nespresso CitiZ Original Espresso Machine by De'Longhi

(Image credit: Nespresso)

3. Nespresso CitiZ Original Espresso Machine by De'Longhi

Best single-serve espresso maker

Specifications
Tank Size: 34oz.
Pressure: 19 bars
Dimensions: 5.1" x 14.6" x 10.9"
Warranty: 1 year
Reasons to buy
+Retro-design+Two cup-size options+OriginalLine pods are less expensive than Vertuo pods+Version available with Aerocinno milk frother
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't pull a ristretto-small water tank

Espresso purists will want to revert back to Nespresso's Original Line of machines, with more than 29 varietals sourced from all over the world to choose from.   The Nespresso CitiZ Original Espresso Machine by De'Longhi will look impeccable on your countertop with its retro design while delivering a powerful and smooth espresso experience. 

Key features
To get the perfect cup, Nespresso utilizes a 19 bar high-pressure extraction that releases the fresh aromas and rich coffee blends flavors, from each capsule, resulting in an alluring layer of thick crema on top. It offers two cup sizes with espresso (1. 35 oz. ) and Lungo (5 oz. ) buttons.   The fast heat-up system reaches the ideal temperature in just 25 seconds, while the automatic energy-saving function switches the machine off after 9 minutes of inactivity, so you can walk away after your espresso is dispensed. The used capsules automatically drop into a container (with space up to 9) so the next user can brew a cup without interruption. 

Why you'll love it
Quick and easy, authentic espresso at the touch of a button? Yes please!  The sweet, retro design will also look good on whichever counter it lays, but won't take up much space at all. 

Best single-serve coffee maker Cuisinart Combo 12 Cup and Single-Serve Coffee Maker

(Image credit: Cuisinart)

4. Cuisinart Coffee Center 12 Cup and Single-Serve Coffee Maker

Best dual-action coffee maker with single-serve capability

Specifications
Tank Size: 40oz.
Dimensions: 14" x 10.38" x 10.13
Warranty: 1 year
Reasons to buy
+Brew a 12-cup carafe or a single cup+Works with K-cups+Includes a reusable K-cup
Reasons to avoid
-Takes up more space on countertop than typical single-serve options-Single-side prone to splashing unless you use a tall mug

The Coffee Center 12 Cup and Single-Serve Coffee Maker combines two coffee makers into one unit with the ability to brew a full 12-cup cup of coffee, or a single cup with a K-Cup. It even includes 

Key Features
The 12-cup side offers common drip-coffee features like 24-hour programmability, self-clean, Bold coffee option, temperature control, and auto off (0-4 hours). The single-serving side lets you brew in 6, 8 or 10 oz. sizings with a separate  40 oz. removable water reservoir for easy filling and a removable drip tray fit to accommodate travel mugs.

Why You'll love it
If you're a person of practicality or want to keep less out on your countertop, the ease of this dual machine means you'll never have to comprise between a full-size and a single-serve coffee machine . Some reviewers even say that the Cuisinart can brew a better single-cup than a standard Keurig machine. 

Best single-serve coffee maker NESPRESSO CREATISTA PLUS BY BREVILLE

(Image credit: Breville)

5. Nespresso Creatista Plus by Breville

Best single-serve coffee maker with a frother

Specifications
Tank size: 1.8 L
Pressure: 19 bar
Dimensions: 16" x 12.2" x 6.7" in.
Warranty: 2 years
Reasons to buy
+Exceptional build quality+High-quality milk steaming+Fully automatic+Ability to make latte art
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Only works with Nespresso Original capsules

So you want to get fancy with your Nespresso? The Nespresso Creatista Plus is a wonderfully premium design for Nespresso fans that can dispense nine different coffee styles and milk froth textures at the touch of its handy LCD interface. Made by Breville, it is high quality, clad in stainless steel, and screams quality.

Key Features
Like the most expensive standard coffee makers, it has the ability to make coffee and steam milk simultaneously. Oh, and it heats up in just three seconds and can make latte art. 

There’s a small color touch screen that gives you a choice of nine black coffee drinks, just pop in an original Nespresso pod and press go. If you’re selecting a milk-based coffee, you fill the aluminum jug, place it under the steam wand choose from cappuccino, flat white, latte or latte macchiato, and the machine will do the rest. When finished, simply pour over your coffee.

Why you'll love it?
You can easily adjust the coffee volume and tweak the frothiness of the milk to suit your tastes and save in the machine’s memory. If you have a big budget and love Nespresso you won’t be disappointed.

Overall, it’s a stunning countertop appliance and one that takes all the hassle out of making coffee…which is quite a feat, given how simple it already is to use Nespresso machines. 

Best single-serve coffee maker illy® Y3.2 Espresso/Coffee Machine in Black

(Image credit: illy)

6. illy Y3.2 Iperespresso Espresso and Coffee Machine

Best Nespresso Alternative

Specifications
Tank size: 24 oz.
Pressure: 18bar
Dimensions: 12.2 x 3.9 x 10.4
Reasons to buy
+High-quality coffee+Compact size
Reasons to avoid
-Limited to illy coffee only-Smaller water tank

If you consider yourself an illy coffee devotee, you'll want the best machine to get your fix of this fine Italian espresso.  The illy Y3.2 Espresso/Coffee Machine works exclusively with Iperespresso capsules and use a proprietary brewing technology that never allows the coffee to come in contact with the machine. Each capsule contains approximately seven grams of expertly roasted and ground illy coffee for rich, smooth espresso and coffee.

Key Features
Whether you're in the mood for coffee or espresso, the Y3.2 is compatible with both types of illy pods. It also features a removable water reservoir, a brew-temperature adjustment, a height-adjustable drip tray, and auto-shutoff. 

Why you'll love it
Espresso purists seeking convenience will delight at the smooth tastes this illy espresso maker creates. 

Best single-serve coffee maker

(Image credit: Ninja)

7. Ninja Specialty 10 Cup Coffee Maker

Best pod-free single-serve coffee maker

Specifications
Dimensions: 11.99 x 8.75 x 15.04 inches
Cups: 10
Warranty: 1 year
Reasons to buy
+Brews single cups without use of pods or capsules+Makes every coffee you can think of+Iced coffee setting is a highlight+Fold out milk frother+Six brewing size options from a single cup to a full pot
Reasons to avoid
-No water filter-Doesn't make a true espresso

Ok, Yes, it's a full-size coffee maker, but hear us out! The amount of single-cup beverage options that stem from this specialty coffee maker are exciting... unlock lattes, flat whites, iced coffee all at home,  and with ground coffee, rather than pod options. It's also one of a handful of brewers to have been certified with the Golden Cup Standard Brewing from the Specialty Coffee Association.  

Key Features
Whether you want a travel mug full of coffee as you run out the door or to treat yourself to a mid-day latte, this coffee maker can do it all, plus your traditional full-pot.Up your coffee experience with the fold-out frother. When brewing, choose from four brew options: classic, rich, iced, or specialty, and six cup sizes. Note: the specialty setting brews 4 ounces of coffee concentrate that resembles espresso for a single latte.

The included measuring spoon takes the guesswork out of figuring out how much coffee to use, and it even has a convenient storage spot on the side, so you never have to worry about misplacing it. 

Why You'll Love it
The Specialty Coffee Maker is like having your own coffeehouse on your kitchen counter. When you want something simple on the go, that's just as simple of an ask if you decide you want something.  Plus, the iced coffee feature is pretty clever. 

How to choose a single-serve coffee maker

Best single-serve coffee maker

(Image credit: Williams Sonoma)

When it comes to single-serve coffee machines the most important factor isn’t actually the machine, it’s the type of coffee you enjoy drinking. However, depending on the machine you use, you will need to buy the pods that work with the machine. 

If you love a deep and complex shot of espresso, Nespresso’s excellent selection of capsules – both traditional and Vertuo - will keep you caffeinated. 

Nespresso is the most established pod brand and has the largest choice of machines, from the very cheap, to the eye-wateringly expensive. Most only produce black coffee in various volumes, so you may need a separate milk heater/frother for cappuccino and lattes.

Meanwhile, if you prefer a wide arrange of coffee options, Keurig has partnerships with tons of coffee brands from Starbucks to Green Mountain that are readily available online and in stores. In addition to standard coffee, you'll also find k-cups for milkier lattes, teas, and other specialty beverages.   The k-cups also tend to be more affordable than Nespresso pods. 

Many other brands have adapted their own machines to work with Keurig's k-cup technology or have created their own single-serve options that work with your favorite ground coffee. 

How much should I spend?

Single-serve coffee machines are generally quite affordable – from $50 upwards to $300 - but this price is often kept low in order to get you to buy specific branded pods, such as Nespresso. In fact, some brands offer free coffee machines if you buy a certain number of pods or subscribe to their coffee clubs.

Is a single-serve coffee maker better than drip coffee makers or bean-to-cup?

Capsule, or pod machines, promise mess-free coffee with the minimum of fuss, you just pop in a pre-measured coffee pod, press the button, and wait. There’s no measuring, tamping, grinding, temperature adjusting...just quick, delicious coffee. It's convenient and requires very little expertise. You also don't have to brew an entire carafe of coffee, and only have what you need. 

But remember, the convenience comes at a price, and a single-serve capsule ends up costing more per serving as opposed to buying beans or bags of ground coffee. However, cost aside, the biggest argument against single-serve pod machines is the waste that it creates. Most brands have been working to combat those issues. For instance, all Keurig K-cups are recyclable ( you just have to clean out the grounds) and they've also started including a re-usable K-Cup with its machines. Nespresso will recycle its pods if you send them back.  Some brands have compostable designs in the works as well. 

Now, if you are adamant about a single-serve coffee option without the pods, look for makers that let you brew small portions by measuring out your single-servings.

Some bean-to-cup coffee makers will also automatically grind the right ratio of coffee to water for your selected beverage as well. 

How easy is a single-serve coffee maker to clean?

Single-serve coffee machines are among the easiest of all models to maintain, as the coffee grounds are trapped in their pods. Look for models that offer descaling and cleaning cycles, especially if you live in hard water areas, but on the whole, they take care of themselves.