When it comes to individual coffee machines, buyers are often drawn to their convenience. The machines allow you to brew a cup of coffee in seconds – they’re a quick and easy way to get your caffeine fix if you’re rushing out the door or are in between meetings while working from home. Many people use them at home, but smaller machines can also be useful in dorm rooms or on desks in the office.
In recent years, individual coffee machines have become more and more popular. In a survey of 1,526 coffee drinkers aged 18 and over conducted by the National Coffee Association this fall, 23 percent of those polled who drank coffee in the past day said they had used single-cup machines, up from 15 percent in January 2013.
LEARN MORE What are individual coffee machines
âThe popularity of single-serve machines has increased in recent years, which has also led to a greater variety of machines on the market,â said Jessica Rodriguez, certification program manager for the Specialty Coffee Association, a non-profit commercial coffee organization. âInnovation and new technologies from manufacturers have led to machines offering a variety of single-serve options, from espresso and hot coffee to iced coffee and even tea.
We spoke with experts about the pros and cons of individual coffee machines and the features you should consider when considering purchasing one. Using their tips as filters, we’ve also rounded up some popular options from brands like Keurig, Nespresso, Hamilton Beach and more.
Popular individual coffee machines
Keurig K-Supreme Plus Smart
Keurig’s new K-Supreme Plus machine is the brand’s first Wi-Fi enabled machine. You can control it using the companion app and schedule the brews in advance so your coffee will be waiting for you when you get out of bed in the morning. The coffee maker equips the brand’s BrewID to detect the type of K-Cup pod you are using and adjusts the brewing settings accordingly. You can also manually change the brewing settings, choosing between five cup sizes, five strength settings, and six temperature settings. The 78-ounce water tank is the brand’s largest to date, and it uses multi-flow technology – five needles versus a single needle on other models – to get more of the coffee bed moist. and extract more flavor.
I invested in the Keurig K-Mini coffee maker because of its compact size and more affordable price compared to some of the brand’s other machines. It is less than 5 inches wide and allows you to brew 6 or 12 ounce cups of coffee using the K-Cup pods. You must fill the water tank with each brew and the machine cord can be tucked in at the back when not in use. The coffeemaker’s drip tray is removable so you can fit a 7-inch-high travel mug, and it automatically turns off 90 seconds after your last brew. The machine is available in colors like black, dusty pink, poppy red and studio gray.
The Nespresso Vertuo Plus pairs with Nespresso Vertuo coffee and espresso capsules and automatically adjusts the coffee size, temperature, pressure and brewing time by reading the barcode on the capsule you insert. You can change the position of the machine’s 40-ounce water tank or remove it completely when it needs to be filled. The coffee maker has a built-in capsule storage container and heats up in 15 seconds, and automatically turns off after 9 minutes of inactivity. You can buy it in colors like red, gray, ink black and matte black LE.
Instead of pods, Hamilton BeachThe s coffee maker brews using a mesh filter basket that doubles as a spoon, making sure you always measure out the correct amount of coffee grounds. It’s built with a 40 ounce water tank that you can pull out to fill it up. You can brew an 8- or 14-ounce cup of coffee, and the flip-up stand adjusts to multiple heights to accommodate different mugs and travel mugs. The machine also offers a bold brew setting to brew a stronger cup of coffee.
The Cuisinart Single Serve Coffee Maker is compatible with Keurig K-Cup pods and you can choose from five different drink sizes: 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 oz. It has a 72 ounce water tank with an included charcoal water filter and you can adjust the brewing temperature. In addition to brewing coffee, hot chocolate or tea with pods, you can brew hot water or press the ârinseâ button to clean the machine. It is available in colors such as Silver, Robins Egg Blue, Matte Black and Cream.
Smeg fully automatic coffee machine
Smeg’s fully automatic coffee machine allows you to prepare individual servings of six different drinks, including coffee, espresso and ristretto, as well as brew hot water. It’s built with a stainless steel conical burr grinder, so all you have to do is load beans into the machine and it grinds fresh coffee every time you brew a drink. The infuser has a stainless steel steam wand for frothing milk and an adjustable cup holder.
With NutriBullet’s very first coffee maker, you can brew single servings of coffee with K-Cup pods or brew a large carafe using a reusable filter basket. The machine uses Brew Sense technology to automatically detect if you have added a pod or filter basket. You can choose to brew 6, 8, or 10 ounces of coffee with a K-Cup pod, or 6, 9, or 12 cups of coffee in the carafe. The machine fits travel mugs up to 7 inches in height. It comes with a reusable pod and a ground teaspoon.
What are individual coffee machines?
Single-serve coffee machines are designed to produce brewed coffee in small batches, typically between 5 and 12 ounces. They brew coffee in seconds, which is one of their main advantages, but also where their disadvantages come from.
âIn any method of brewing coffee, the right water temperature is essential for good extraction,â Rodriguez said. âAs single-serve brewing happens in such a short time, some machines face the challenge of being able to achieve an appropriate brewing temperature. “
Coffee brewed in a single-serve machine may taste weaker than if you were using a drip coffee maker, for example. Single-serve machines typically don’t allow you to customize brewing settings, which Rodriguez says can prevent you from brewing a strong cup of coffee.
Pods versus reusable infusion baskets
Single-serve machines use reusable pods or filter baskets to brew coffee. Pods – which are used with Keurig or Nespresso machines, for example – are pre-ground coffee capsules packaged in aluminum or plastic containers. Rodriguez explained that the coffee inside is ground to a specific particle size to optimize extraction and throughput during brewing. Reusable filter baskets, on the other hand, are designed to hold the right amount of ground coffee for a single cup. You need to add ground coffee to the filter every time you use it.
Brewing coffee with pods rather than a reusable filter basket is one of the main factors that experts have said you should consider when shopping. Here’s what you need to know about them before you buy:
There are two downsides to using pods with single dose machines: a lack of fresh coffee grounds and the creation of waste. Pods are filled with ground coffee weeks, or even months, before you buy them, so they’re not fresh the moment they’re used. This can impact the strength and taste of your brew, said Kaleena Teoh, director of education at NY Coffee Project‘s Academy. And using disposable pods every day, or several times a day, generates a lot of waste.
However, businesses are starting to catch up with demand. “[Because] the specialty coffee industry has started to embrace the coffee capsule revolution and the demand for single serve machines, we are seeing great innovation and improvement in the quality and variety of machines and capsules, âsaid Rodriguez.
One of those innovations is recyclable and compostable pods, Teoh noted. For example, as of 2020, 100% of Keurig K-Cup pods are recyclable. You can buy reusable pods for some single serve machines, which act as a small brew basket. You fill them with the ground coffee of your choice.
Reusable infusion baskets
Compared to pods, reusable brew baskets âoffer the freedom to brew the coffee you want and are better for the environment,â Teoh said. You can grind coffee whenever you need to refill the filter instead of buying pre-ground beans, for a cooler brew.
Since the pods are filled with pre-ground coffee, Teoh said they “lose a lot of aromatics after grinding and there will also be a lot of surface area for oxidation.” In other words, after being ground, coffee begins to lose some of its smell and flavor. To combat this problem, the pods are often flushed with nitrogen to prevent oxidation, Teoh explained. Thus, using freshly ground coffee in reusable brew baskets eliminates any additives that may be in the pods.
Other features to look for in a personal coffee machine
In addition to choosing between a single-serve machine that uses pods or a reusable brew basket, you’ll need to think about the size of the water tank you’ll need. Some single-serve machines have a reservoir that only holds enough water to brew a 12-ounce cup of coffee, while others are built with a larger reservoir so you don’t have to refill it every time. once you prepare.
Additionally, some machines allow you to make both single servings and a large carafe of coffee – these are often referred to as double coffee makers, or you may see machines advertised with multi-brew settings.
Single serve machines also have a range of brew times. âIf speed is a top priority, look for a machine with the shortest brew time,â Rodriguez advised. If you want to buy a machine that uses pods, it’s also important to research the types of ground beans and the flavors they contain to make sure they match your coffee preferences. Beyond coffee and espresso pods, some brands sell pods for hot chocolate, tea, matcha and more.