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Our list includes manual and electric options from Bialetti, Keurig, Ninja, and Nespresso.
If you like to start your day with a cup of coffee, sometimes brewing an entire pot from a drip coffee maker or a thermal carafe coffee maker is simply too much work. Luckily, the best single-serve coffee makers allow you to quickly and efficiently brew individual servings, which is perfect if you’re limited on space or time or just want to brew one cup at a time.
“Small coffee makers that make one cup at a time, like Nespresso, Keurig, Aeropress, and Bialetti, are easy to use,” says Lukas Van Vyve, founder of Emergent Brew. “It’s crucial to know that the machine you choose is compatible with specific coffee capsules, pods, or filters you have easy access to.”
We tested dozens of single-serve coffee makers, small espresso machines, and small coffee makers and evaluated them on their ease of use, design, maintenance needs, and more to determine which picks made our list. Here are the best single-serve coffee makers to kickstart your morning.
Best Nespresso: Nespresso Vertuo Plus Coffee and Espresso Maker by De'Longhi
This machine is incredibly easy to use. It offers the option for drip coffee and espresso.
It is only compatible with Vertuo pods, which can get expensive.
There are several excellent Nespresso machines available, but the Vertuo Plus grabbed our attention thanks to its sleek design (one of the things that makes it different from its predecessor, the Vertuo). Unlike the original Nespresso machines, this machine is capable of making drip coffee in addition to double and single shots of espresso.
During testing, we gave this model top marks for ease of use. The pod chamber automatically opens and closes, and the machine operates at the touch of a button, adapting brewing time, temperature, and coffee size depending on the capsule. We also liked the design feature that allows you to rotate the 40-ounce water tank to wherever it is most convenient. The tank is also removable and very easy to clean with mild dish soap and a sponge.
Price at time of publish: $165
Brew Sizes: 5 or 8-ounce cup
Water Reservoir: 40 ounces
Best Combo Machine: Ninja DualBrew Pro System 12-Cup Coffee Maker CFP301
The dial control allows for easy selection between sizes. It also comes with a hot water setting and a foldaway frother.
This machine is the most expensive single-serve option on our list.
If flexibility is important to you, the Ninja DualBrew Pro covers all your bases — it can function as a single-serve machine or a larger-capacity carafe brewer with many customizable options in between. There are four brew styles: classic, rich, over ice, and specialty (for use with select grounds and coffee pods). It also features a hot water system that you can use for instant soups or oatmeal, as well as a foldaway milk frother to make foamy milk for cafe au lait and other coffeehouse-style drinks.
Included in our review of the best drip coffee makers, we like that the Ninja Specialty coffee maker has a dedicated iced coffee functionality. It brews with special saturation control, so you don’t end up with watered-down coffee, unlike traditional brewing over ice. We also love this machine’s built-in frother, so we can make fancy cappuccinos or top our iced brews with cold foam.
Price at time of publish: $230
Brew Sizes: 6, 8, 10, or 12-ounce cups plus multiple sizes up to a full 14-cup carafe
Water Reservoir: 60 ounces
Best Keurig: Keurig K-Supreme Plus
The straightforward design makes it easy to use. It has multiple brew-size options as well as a setting for iced coffee.
It’s on the expensive side and doesn’t allow you to customize the brewing temperature.
Not all Keurig coffee makers are created equal — this model is one of the brand’s higher-end offerings. It has better extraction and flavor than its predecessor, the K-Classic Brewer, thanks to multiple streams of water that help saturate grounds more evenly. It gives you the option to customize brew strength and also has multiple brew size options so you always make the perfect amount.
During our Keurig Single-Serve Coffee Maker tests, we found this machine’s features to be very straightforward, making it easy to set up and use. The illuminated control panel on the top of the machine lets you pick the size and strength, with the option to brew coffee to drink over ice. With its 78-ounce water reservoir, we were able to make many cups of coffee before having to refill it. Cleaning the machine is simple, requiring a weekly clean with Keurig rinse pods and descaling every three months, in addition to regularly changing out its water.
Price at time of publish: $200
Brew Sizes: 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12-ounce cup
Water Reservoir: 78 ounces
Best French Press: Bodum Chambord French Press Coffee Maker
This fuss-free press is easy to use and delivers excellent, consistent brew quality.
We wish this came with a finer filter to keep sediment at bay.
This French press from Bodum is a combination of straightforward design and excellent value. Made of heat-resistant borosilicate glass, this classic coffee maker doesn’t require any capsules or additional disposable filters, making it highly eco-friendly. Since it’s fairly compact and doesn’t require an outlet, it’s also ideal for anyone who may be limited on counterspace.
During our best French press tests, we liked how easy this was to use, noting the security of the lid and how easy it was to plunge down the grounds. We also found this to hold heat better than some of the other models we tested (though since it is not insulated, it isn’t meant to stay warm for too long). One drawback is that there was a small amount of sediment at the bottom of our cups, but we’re willing to overlook it because of the overall brew quality. It comes apart easily to clean and offers just about every feature we want in a French press.
Price at time of publish: $27
Brew Sizes: Up to 12 ounces
Water Reservoir: 12 ounces
Best Pour Over: Chemex Funnex
The Chemex is easy to set up and use anywhere, and it’s also easy to clean.
The bonded filters for this model are harder to find than the standard Chemex cone filters.
The pour-over is a favored brewing method of serious java aficionados since it is said to enhance the more nuanced flavors of high-quality coffees. Even if you’re not brewing a single-origin specialty roast, you can still coax the best characteristics from your grounds with the Chemex Funnex. Made purely of borosilicate glass, it allows you to brew coffee directly into your preferred vessel.
We tested this brewer during our best pour-over coffee makers tests and liked the quality of the coffee it produced — wonderful, full-bodied flavors and aromas with zero sediment. The accompanying silicone gasket prevents the brewer from moving and protects it from impact with the cup. Because of its design, it’s also very easy to keep clean by rinsing and hand washing when necessary. The one caveat is that its required half-moon filters are harder to find than the typical Chemex cone filter, but that can be remedied by a filter subscription.
Price at time of publish: $42
Brew Sizes: Up to 15 ounces at a time
Water Reservoir: 450-milliliter capacity
Best Portable: AeroPress Original Coffee & Espresso Maker
It’s easy to control the brew strength. It’s also very easy to clean since it comes apart.
If space is limited, it may feel clunky to transport since there are a lot of pieces included.
The Aeropress Original Coffee and Espresso Maker offers the most in terms of portability and ease of use. This system uses pressure, agitation, and microfiltration to produce a clean-tasting, sediment-free cup of coffee in just moments.
We tested the Aeropress and found it to be fairly user-friendly, and easy to control the strength of the brew. The paper microfilters ensure a very smooth cup of coffee, and if you prefer a more eco-friendly option, metal microfilters are available. While we found that this is easily portable in most settings, we also recommend the Aeropress Go Travel Coffee Press Kit which works identically but includes a cup, is self-contained, and is intended for hiking or camping.
Price at time of publish: $40
Brew Sizes: Up to 3 cups
Water Reservoir: 10-ounce capacity
Best Stovetop: Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker
This is a classic way to make strong coffee and only requires only a stovetop — no outlet needed.
Aluminum can create an off taste for some people.
This classic coffee maker is made in Italy and uses a percolator-style method of brewing that results in a deliciously strong cup of joe that is somewhere between drip coffee and espresso. Available in several sizes, this manual coffee maker only requires grounds, water, and a heat source like an electric range, gas range, or an induction cooktop if you purchase the adapter.
In our tests of the best small espresso machines, we found the Bialetti to be pretty straightforward to use — fill the reservoir with water, pop in your grounds, screw on the top half, and place on the stove to start the brewing process. One note is that the aluminum body gets pretty hot, so you’ll want to handle it with care. The coffee we were able to make tasted great, without any bitterness or burnt notes. Overall cleanup was easy since the Moka Pot came apart and the grounds could be washed away.
Price at time of publish: $28
Brew Sizes: Up to 6 cups
Water Reservoir: 6 cups
How We Tested Single-Serve Coffee Makers
We've tested hundreds of top-rated coffee makers, from electric models by Nespresso and Keurig to manual pour-over coffee makers, stovetop coffee makers, and more. To curate this list of the best single-serve coffee makers, we pulled data from several different coffee maker tests conducted both in our lab and in real-world settings, including our tests of Keurig single-serve coffee makers, Nespresso machines, French presses, pour-over coffee makers, and small espresso machines. For each test, we evaluated each coffee maker based on ease of use, design, performance, and value.
For each coffee maker test, we noted how long the coffee maker took to brew a single cup or full carafe of coffee and how easy to use and clean the coffee machine was overall. We carefully evaluated the aroma, taste, and mouthfeel of the brewed coffee, noting any burned taste or aroma, sediment, or other textural inconsistencies. Finally, we noted each machine’s noise level, footprint, and overall ease of use.
Factors to Consider
When selecting a single-serve coffee maker, you’ll want to decide what type of coffee you prefer. If you like the efficiency of a coffee pod, machines like Nespresso and Keurig are the way to go — they typically have many coffee flavor and roast options, and their convenience is unmatched. However, if you prefer a model with a reusable filter, you have more latitude with the types of coffee, flavors, strength, and temperature available for use.
Size should be a factor when choosing a single-serve coffee maker. If you’re short on storage or counter space, you may want an option that can be easily tucked into a cabinet when not in use. Or, if you’re dedicating counter space to your coffee machine, you’ll want to ensure that it fits — features like a rotating or moveable water reservoir can make all the difference.
Manual coffee makers like pour-over drippers and the Moka Pot do require some time to set up and use. If you find that taking a little bit of time to make your coffee in the morning is not for you, look for an automated machine that can help you cut down your preparation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a single-serve coffee maker worth it?
It can be. “Most of these machines are easy to clean and maintain but you should look for features like removable parts and dishwasher-safe components because it will help you to clean it more easily,” says Van Vyve.
Which single-serve coffee maker is best?
It boils down to individual preference. “Brewing options may vary based on the differences of what capsules or filters you use,” says Van Vyve. If you can’t decide on which one to buy, consider buying a machine that accepts compatible pods from various brands.”
What's the difference between a Nespresso and a Keurig?
Keurig machines can make coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and more, using the brand’s K-cups (pods). Though there are “espresso” K-cups, they produce something more like a very strong coffee and don’t have the same depth or signature crema layer as a true espresso shot.
Nespresso machines can make espresso and coffee (depending on the model), and use their signature Nespresso pods. The espresso pods result in bold shots that resemble traditionally pulled espresso— with a nice layer of crema—that can be used to create lattes, cappuccinos, and other espresso-based drinks.
Other Single-Serve Coffee Makers We Tested
Keurig K-Cafe Single Serve Coffee Maker ($189 at Amazon) We liked this machine because it gave us the ability to make specialty drinks, thanks to a built-in frother. It’s simple to use and easy to clean, as the frother and reservoir are dishwasher safe.
Keurig K-Slim + ICED Single-Serve Coffee Maker ($130 at Amazon) This Keurig model is great for anyone with limited counter space, as its slim design still gives you three brewing sizes and an option to brew coffee that is meant to be iced. It’s a no-frills design that delivers a cup of coffee in under two minutes.
Nespresso Vertuo Next ($179 at Nespresso) The latest model in Nespresso’s Vertuo line, we found this to deliver espresso with a thick crema, which we liked. However, we found this model to be noisier and less user-friendly than the Vertuo and Vertuo Plus.
Melitta 1-Cup Porcelain Cone Coffee Maker ($24 at Amazon) With its simple design, this 1-cup porcelain pour-over filter received high marks in all categories. We loved how easy this was to use and clean up, but found that it required a little more coffee than other models to produce a single cup.
Miir Pourigami ($30 at Amazon) This uniquely designed pour-over filter is very portable — to set it up, you simply get the three flat powder-coated stainless steel pieces to interlock. It has a smaller chamber than most, so you’ll have to be cautious about not causing it to overflow, but the resulting coffee was smooth and balanced.
What Didn’t Make the List
Keurig K-Mini Plus Single-Serve Coffee Maker ($110 at Amazon) While we appreciate a compact coffee maker, we found this model to be fussy to use and too noisy. It is not as easy to use as many of the other Keurig models we tested.
Melitta Filter Coffee Maker, Single Cup Pour-Over Brewer ($8 at Amazon) This inexpensive filter might be great if you’re on a budget or in a pinch, but we found it to be flimsy and the resulting coffee to be lackluster.
Bernadette Machard de Gramont is an LA-based freelance writer specializing in food, wine, and kitchen products. After a two-year stint at Williams Sonoma headquarters in San Francisco, she now researches and tests a variety of cookware, bakeware, and wine tools, and interviews field experts for their insight.
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