Finding The Best Single Serve Coffee Maker: 5 Top Choices
**Updated for 2017**
Today I’m trying to choose the best single serve coffee machine currently available. It’s not easy to pinpoint an outright winner, but you should find the perfect machine among the 5 top rated ones below.
Just to be clear, there are a lot of other very good 1 cup coffee makers out there, but making a list of all of them would serve no purpose. What I’ve done here is to isolate the 5 best rated ones, while also advising you on their strengths and weaknesses to help you make a good buying decision.
Let’s get straight to it. First a short review of each model, then a summary and recommendation at the bottom.
- 1 Finding The Best Single Serve Coffee Maker: 5 Top Choices
- 2 Best Single Serve Coffee Maker: Final Words
Keurig K-Series Single Serve Programmable K-Cup Pod Coffee Makers
Keurig is the king of single-cup brewers. On the entry-level side, the K55 is the #1 best-selling single-serve brewer on Amazon at the time of this writing. It’s not hard to see why this is Keurig’s most popular model.
You get a great balance of features and size with the K55. The 48-ounce removable water reservoir holds enough water for multiple cups (about 6) without refilling. You get three brew size options (6, 8 and 10 oz.). The water level is easily visible thanks to the see-through reservoir.
Operation is dead simple. You can choose between the different brew sizes with a simple press of one of three backlit buttons on the control panel at the top of the machine.
There is plenty of space between the nozzle and the removable drip tray for taller cups. The unit can be programmed to automatically switch off after 90 seconds.
Keurig machines of course use the patented K-cup pods, and you get plenty of different flavors. However, with the aid of a My K-Cup reusable filter you can also use your own favorite coffee in the Keurig. This added versatility makes the Keurig a great investment.
Pros: Easy to use, great coffee, fairly versatile, low price per cup
Cons: Reliability concerns
Satisfied Buyers: 83%
For more features, a large 70 oz water reservoir, color touch screen functionality and brew sizes up to 30 oz, take a look at the Keurig K475 – another excellent entry in the K-series.
Keurig continues their line of affordable, highly capable single serve coffee makers with the entry-level K55 (replacing the ever popular K45). There are no digital displays or touchscreen functionality here – just a straightforward machine delivering a great cup of coffee at the push of a button. More bells and whistles and larger brewing capacities are available in the K475/575 models.
Hamilton Beach 49980A Single Serve Coffee Brewer
Hamilton Beach has produced a “best of both worlds” coffee machine with the 49980A. Not only is this a very accomplished single serve brewer, but it can also brew a full 12-cup pot of coffee.
This machine is not compatible with K-cups, but does have a pod holder for other soft pods. A handy measuring scoop makes it easy to get the right amount of coffee for a great tasting single serve brew. You can also choose between regular or bold brews with the brew strength selector.
Divided into two sides (single-serve and carafe), you’ll have little hassle switching between brewing a full pot of coffee or just grabbing a quick single cup for the road.
The fairly straightforward control panel and display enables you to program your brewing up to 24 hours in advance – handy if you want to wake up to an already steaming cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
Pros: two-in-one machine, programmable, user-friendly, good quality
Cons: slower than some other coffee makers
Satisfied Buyers: 82%
Hamilton Beach has produced a brilliant coffee maker here, essentially combining two machines into one while keeping the price ridiculously low. Reliability and build quality seems to be solid as well, and the 49980A is an easy machine to recommend. It does brew a little slower than many other machines, so don’t be in a hurry.
Keurig K145 OfficePro Brewing System
If you’ve done any amount of research on Keurig machines, you’ll know that a major complaint is their reliability, particularly the pumps. Is it then possible to have Keurig’s sleek design and quality coffee in addition to decent reliability?
The answer is yes, and it comes in the form of the commercial-grade Keurig K145 OfficePRO. This is a beautiful one cup coffee maker, sporting the classic Keurig look. It has a 48-ounce water reservoir, supports 3 cup sizes and has a removable water tank.
So, you’re getting commercial-grade performance in a home-grade priced system. What are the downsides? First, the machine is more noisy than the Keurig Elite models. Also, if you want to use your own coffee instead of K-cups, you need the additional purchase of an Ekobrew filter (around $10) as this model is not compatible with reusable My K-cup filters. It is also slightly larger and heavier than the Keurig Elite models.
What you get for those few inconveniences is a fast (about 90-120 seconds from a cold start to brewing), durable Keurig single serve coffee maker that still looks stylish and produces the goods.
Other features it has over the other Keurig models are a drain button for draining the entire brewer (including the tank), rotary knob selector instead of buttons, heavy duty pump system and heavy duty power cord.
Pros: Fast, durable, stylish, low price per cup, price
Cons: Needs additional filter for own coffee, somewhat noisy
Satisfied Buyers: 80%
The Keurig K145 makes a strong case for itself. Being a commercial-grade model it has a few rough edges, but overall you get the classic Keurig look and functionality with better reliability. Buyers love this machine, with 80% of them scoring it extremely favorably in online reviews.
Bunn MCU Single Cup Multi-Use Brewer
The Bunn MCU is arguably the most versatile single cup coffee maker available right now, and offers some serious competition for Keurig. With just this one brewer you can use K-cups, soft pods (coffee and tea), tea bags, loose tea and ground coffee. You can also use it simply as a hot water dispenser.
To facilitate all this versatility you get 4 different trays with the machine, which you need to exchange depending on what you wish to brew. This highlights the one drawback that may put some people off the MCU: it takes more work than, say, a Keurig would to get the job done and definitely isn’t as user-friendly.
For example, the water reservoir is not removable and is hidden completely. You have to set your brew size manually by pouring the required amount of water into the machine.
So, if you’re used to the clear push button functionality of a Keurig, the Bunn will take some getting used to and may not be for everyone.
However, having one brewer compatible with just about any pod or tea/coffee out there is a big plus. The Bunn MCU is fast, efficient and doesn’t seem to suffer from the reliability issues that plague many Keurigs.
Pros: Incredibly versatile, fast, great results, reliable
Cons: More manual input required, hidden water reservoir
Satisfied Buyers: 75%
It may not be for everyone, but the Bunn MCU has quickly collected a score of satisfied users and it has a good real world track record. What it lacks in convenience and user-friendliness it makes up for in versatility and performance.
Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker
Ok, we’ve looked at some sleek automatic machines that make the job of creating an excellent cup of coffee easy. But what if you prefer absolute control over your final product, and don’t mind putting in the manual work to get there?
The Aeropress may just be the perfect single cup coffee maker for you. It may look more like something you’d use for lab experiments than for coffee brewing, but don’t let that put you off. The Aeropress is a simple, very effective way to produce delicious coffee or espresso. With a bit of practice, you can get it just the way you like it.
You don’t have to worry too much about getting the “perfect grind”. The Aeropress will work fine even with rougher grinds.
The brewing process involves about the same amount of work as a French press would, with much better results. The coffee is less oily and the filter ensures that there are no ground coffee floating around in the cup.
Pros: Cheap, effective, easy to maintain, no pumps or electronics that can break
Cons: Requires manual work
Satisfied Buyers: 90%
Most buyers love this coffee maker, with 90% reviewing it very favorably. It is not for everyone, but if you want to control every bit of the brewing process to nail down the perfect cup without worrying about mechanical failures, you’re going to love playing with the Aeropress.
Best Single Serve Coffee Maker: Final Words
So, what single cup coffee brewer do you buy?
For push button convenience, any model in the Keurig K series will do you just fine. You just need to choose the size and features you need. The Keurig K55 is great for its simplicity, while the K475 model makes everything bigger and more shiny.
The Hamilton Beach single serve / 12-cup carafe combination is a fantastic concept and very well executed. It offers good value and solid, if somewhat slow, performance.
For versatility, you can’t beat the Bunn My Café MCU, although it does have some drawbacks with regards to ease of use.
If you want the Keurig experience without some of the reliability issues of their home models, you need to take a good look at the Keurig K145 OfficePRO. I feel the slight concessions you have to make in terms of features and noise is worth the faster performance and better reliability.
Finally, the Aeropress is perfect for those who don’t mind to put in some work to get the perfect cup of coffee. It’s cheap and easy to use, can almost last forever with the odd cheap part replacement and offers great tasting results.
I hope the single serve coffee maker reviews on this page help you to find the best machine for your personal needs!