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Want a quick cup? Here are the 5 Best Single Serve Coffee Makers of 2020

A single serve coffee maker can be a lifesaver when you need that caffeine hit in a hurry. In this review, I’m taking a closer look at some popular options on the market.
Asser Christensen
Asser Christensen
Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism

Coffee can be a bit of a ritual… And if you’re like me; usually a time-consuming one.

But sometimes you just want to grab a quick cup and get going. That’s precisely where the single serve coffee maker comes into the picture.

This kind of coffee is less about flavor and all about speed and efficiency.

If you want to find the best single cup coffee maker, then read on.

My top pick:

Clever Coffee Dripper by...
The Clever Coffee Dripper is extremely easy to use and clean. Still, it offers a lot in terms of flavors. If you want a quick cup without sacrificing quality, this is an excellent little device.

What kind of Single cup coffee makers are there?

Broadly speaking we’ve got two different kinds of coffee brewing contraptions that will brew you a single cup in a matter of seconds or minutes:

  • Manual style
  • Electric devices

Personally, I love a manual 1 cup coffee maker. Take the Aeropress as an example. Its footprint is tiny, you can bring it on a trip, and it’s virtually indestructible.

You can brew a tasty cup of coffee in about 120 seconds. Besides, the cleaning is super simple. Just shoot the coffee puck in a bin and hold the device under running water for a quick rinse.

Yes, I’m not going to try to hide my love for the Aeropress. It’s a brilliant little brewer.

In the same vein, we also have the Clever Coffee Dripper. On the surface, it looks like a simple coffee cone, but in daily use, it’s actually damn efficient to use.

It offers a lot of the same benefits as the Aeropress:

  • Portable
  • Sturdy
  • Easy to clean

Capsules, pods & K-Cups

Many lazy home baristas crave the convenience of pods and capsules (or even grind & brew machines.)

These pre-mades are a bit like the coffee world’s version of the frozen pizza. In spite of their flaws, however, they still have some pros worth mentioning.

A system like Nespresso requires no barista skills nor coffee knowledge. Still, you can get a decent cup of coffee in less than a minute. That’s pretty neat.

With a manual device, you will usually have to measure and grind the coffee beans by yourself. It’s not much effort if you ask me, but I do know a lot of people who don’t want to through all that. Instead of obsessing over coffee all the time, these people reserve their mental faculties for annoying stuff like work and social life. If those are your priorities, I’m not gonna judge you.

Pods are great for: People who don’t care about the small details of coffee brewing. Or people who are extremely busy.

Different kinds of pod coffee makers?

Pods can be many different things when we’re talking coffee. In general, I’d put all the different versions of pre-ground and prepackaged coffee into this category.
That being said, pods usually aren’t interchangeable. Many corporations are behind the most famous and widely available pods, so it’s worth buying into the right ‘ecosystem’.

These are the most famous ones:

  • Nespresso. Back in the days, you could only get Nespresso pods made by Nestle but back in 2010 and 2011 other companies started producing Nespresso compatible capsules. Nestle took these companies to court but ended up losing in many cases. Today a vast range of coffee companies (even third wave roasters) produce Nespresso compatible pods (or capsules as they are often referred to). There’s a wide range of coffee types available, but predominantly the focus is on espresso-like coffee.
  • K Cups are made for particular coffee makers from Keurig. This brand is well-known in the US, but in Europe and Asia, other systems dominate. Today, you can get a wide range of K-Cups made by companies such as Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and Barista Prima. Honestly, I don’t think you should expect amazing flavors from any K Cup, but it’s convenient.
  • Senseo: Philips and Douwe Egberts invented this system; both companies hailing from the Netherlands. The coffee is more like black coffee rather than espresso style.
    The system had momentum in Europe for a few years in the noughties, but it seems that they have been taken over by the other options by now. You could probably call Senseo the Nokia of pod coffee without offending anybody.
  • The Easy Serving Espresso Pod (ESE) is the best pod coffee maker system if you ask me. It’s espresso style like Nespresso, but way closer to the real deal. ESE pods work with regular espresso machines that have a unique basket to insert in the portafilter. Illy invented the system in the 1970s, but today a bunch of roasters offer this kind of pod. However, these roasters tend to be Italian and often you’ll have to buy the pods online.
A manual single brewer like the Clever Dripper requires more patience than a pod coffee maker (Joseph Robertson: Flickr CC 2.0)

Should you get a manual 1 cup coffee maker?

So which option should you go for when shopping for the best single serve coffee maker? Let’s take a moment for an honest self-assessment.

  • Do you already own a grinder? Do you love to brew coffee? In that case, I’d 100% recommend that you go manual. To me it just offers way more flexibility, not to mention vastly superior coffee.
  • On the other hand, if you aren’t grinding your own coffee at home, and find it cumbersome even to measure beans and water, then you’d likely be a lot happier getting a convenient system that only requires you to push a button.
    Yes, the coffee will not win any barista competitions, but it will probably be just as good as the to-go you’d get at Dunkin Donuts.

The Best Single Serve Coffee Makers

1: Nespresso Inissia by Delonghi

Nespresso by De'Longhi EN80B...

Nespresso is both famous and notorious. Both the technology and the marketing that has gone into this espresso device is really fascinating.

The Nespresso systems brew quite good coffee, and it’s straightforward to use. Just press a button, more or less.

Most of the Nespresso machines are also stunning and rather cheap compared to how much bang for the buck you get with them.

The downside is that you’re locked into a capsule system that is significantly more expensive per coffee than the alternatives.

But if you just want a well-brewed espresso now and then without all the fuss and inevitable geekiness that comes with real coffee equipment, then I won’t blame you for choosing this coffee path.

Also, more and more serious coffee roasters (Colonna from England for example) are starting to produce capsules making it an exciting arena to watch in the future.

See more reviews

2: Aeropress Single Serve Coffee Maker

AeroPress Coffee and Espresso...

I can’t escape the fact that I’m an Aeropress evangelist. This little device is just a piece of engineering genius.

The Aeropress can be used in a multitude of ways. It can brew small espresso-like shots or subtle and nuanced filter-style black coffee. You can even bring it on a camping trip.

Regarding size, it’s definitely a single cup coffee maker. The regular Aeropress coffee is usually around 7-8 oz.

The main issue with the Aeropress is that it can take a little practice to get the technique right. The more time and money you invest in good coffee and preparation, the more you’ll be rewarded.

See more reviews

3: Technivorm Moccamaster 69212

Technivorm Cup One Coffee...

This is the Rolls Royce of 1 cup coffee makers. Do you know the regular versions of the Moccamaster? Well, this basically does the same it’s just way smaller.

Technivorm is a Dutch company that is famous for producing top-notch drip coffee makers. They come with a 5-year warranty, and that shows you that they mean serious business.
This particular model has pre-infusion which lets your coffee grounds bloom and get ready for the brewing process. It takes about 4 minutes to produce one cup, but according to many happy users, it’s more than worth waiting for.

See more reviews

4: Clever Dripper One Cup Coffee Maker

Clever Coffee Dripper by...

This device should make a lot of small coffee makers superfluous. If you’re just brewing one or two cups at home, and you already own an electric kettle, then this single serve coffee maker is an excellent addition to your coffee arsenal.

The Clever Coffee Dripper is simple to use and clean, it’s damn cheap, and it brews tasty coffee (that is if you use quality beans).

I love the fact that you can both use Hario style cone-shaped filters, as well as the more common Melitta filter.

I have brought the Clever Coffee Dripper with me on vacation several times, and the device always does a great job.

See more reviews

5: Keurig 1 Cup Coffee Maker

Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker,...

Keurig has a lot of fans. The coffee isn’t the best in the world, but it’s a very convenient system.

This particular model takes the most common K-cup sizes, and it has the option to brew three different cup sizes: From small French café style to supersize Starbucks style. You can use all brands of K cups with it.

This coffee maker has a cleaning and a descaling mode too. The water reservoir is big enough that you don’t have to refill it every day.

Yeah, not the most exciting device in the world, I know. But if you really just ease then this might not be a wrong choice depending on your personal needs.

See more reviews

6: Delonghi RetroBar 32

De'Longhi BAR32 Retro 15 BAR...

The Delonghi Retro Bar32 was one of my first espresso machines. It’s not exactly the world’s most advanced device, but it does have a couple of strong points going for it.

First of all: The price! It’s hard to find anything comparable at this price point.

Second of all, it takes ESE pods. This type of pod makes real espresso with both crema and flavor.

The last point I want to mention is that it’s capable of steaming milk.

For just a tiny amount of time, effort, and money, you’ll be able to make a decent espresso or cappuccino at home. That should be reason enough to consider this little pod coffee maker from Delonghi.

You can also use regular ground coffee for your espresso if you want.

See more reviews

One cup coffee maker & the environment

Besides, the convenience, another great reason to opt for single-serve is because of the environment. Every day so much coffee goes to waste because people brew large batches that go stale by just sitting on the heating plate for hours. Brew and drink right away is a good mantra to follow if you want to give the planet a rest.

Having said that, you should be aware that there are some environmental concerns with both Keurig’s and Nestlé’s proprietary models.

Further Reading: The Best Coffee Makers Under $50

Keurig plans to go fully recyclable in 2020, but there’s still some time. Are we just going to pollute the earth for the next couple of years until that happens?

In the same vein, Nespresso has been criticized for using aluminum in their products. The company has attempted to organize better ways to collect and recycle the used capsules, but at this moment I’m not really sure if it has much of an effect.

Lack of customizability

As a true coffee lover, I would also quickly grow bored with the lack of customizability that you get with the pod or capsule system. Sure, you might be able to change brands to get a new flavor, but you will never be able to experience the full potential of the coffee bean using these devices.

Learn More: The Best Smart Coffee Makers According to the People

Fragile

A third concern is that coffee makers with many electronic parts tend to have a pretty short shelf life. If something goes wrong with your electric coffee maker after the warranty has expired, chances are that the machine will end at the dump site, whereas something elementary and well-engineered such as the Aeropress is easy to get replacement parts for – should the accident occur (they almost never do).

Top Featured Image: Bex Walton | Flickr CC – Source
about the author

about the author

Hey, I'm Asser Christensen from Denmark – the founder & editor of this site.

I have been crazy about caffeine for almost as long as I can remember. Today, I'm a licensed Q Arabica Grader and full time coffee writer.

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