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The 4 best single-serve coffee makers: When one cup is enough

What is the best single-serve coffee maker? ZDNet's No.1 choice is the Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo Coffee and Espresso Machine. We researched and compared pricing as well as features like design, cleaning, options, and brew strength to come up with our top pick and other honorable mentions.
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Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

The average American drinks up to three cups of coffee a day, but that doesn't mean you want all of your servings up front. When all you need is a single cup of joe, you'll want one of these single serve coffee makers to do the job.

Here are our picks for the best single serve coffee makers in 2022.

Must read: 

Coffee maker brewing one cup of coffee on kitchen counter
Nespresso

Features: 30 included capsules | Eco-mode setting | Brews up to 14oz at a time

Nespresso pulls out all of the stops with its popular Vertuo Evoluo Coffee and Espresso Machine. Its silver design incorporates buttons for control, offering simple one-touch brewing with three different settings for your choice of espresso, alto, or coffee. You can even save your favorite settings, and warm-up time is just 25 seconds before you can begin brewing. 

Nespresso's Centrifusion technology delivers authentic-tasting espresso and coffee, automatically adjusting itself to brew the best drink possible based on your beverage of choice. There are dark and medium roast options that are available in three intensities: 6, 7, and 8.  

The machine uses its exclusive Vertuo capsule technology that works much like K-Cups, brewing up to 14oz at a time. Thirty capsules are included, and then you will need to purchase more to continue enjoying your machine. A descaling reminder lets you know when it is time to rid your machine of calcium and mineral build-ups. For those looking to go green, this machine is environmentally-friendly, too, thanks to an eco-mode setting that automatically turns the machine off after nine minutes.    

Pros:

  • Exclusive Nespresso Centrifusion technology
  • Excellent for espresso
  • Descaling reminder 

Cons:

  • Restricted to Nespresso Vertuo capsules
  • Pricey to replace Vertuo pods
  • Not recommended for light roasts
Person's hand pushing down on a French press coffee maker at the kitchen counter
AeroPress

Features: Brew up to 24oz | 2-minute brewing process | Included tote bag

The AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker accommodates both American- and espresso-style coffees -- without any of the bitterness or acidity that can come with other machines. The microfilters are efficient in removing grit from your brew, and its signature rapid, total immersion brewing process takes just two minutes. When you don't have a ton of time to spare, this machine is a perfect solution. 

Each press makes up to three cups, so it's a great fit for both single and two-person households. Made of phthalate-free and BPA-free materials, this coffee maker is designed for home use with clean-up that is fast and efficient, lasting just a few seconds. And everything you need comes in a convenient tote bag.

Pros:

  • Ready to go out of the box
  • Simple cleaning process
  • Travel-friendly design 

Cons:

  • Subpar heat retention
  • Limited controls for brew strength 
  • Not ideal for lighter roasts 
Stainless steel coffee maker on a kitchen counter next to a plate of croissants
Hamilton Beach

Features: Brews up to 14oz | Auto shutoff | Spill-resistant drip tray

The Hamilton Beach Scoop Single Serve Coffee Maker can brew 14 fluid-oz in less than 2.5 minutes. When you brew an 8oz cup, the brew time is cut down to just 90 seconds. 

Included is a single-serve scoop designed using a mesh filter, allowing for greater versatility when brewing different coffee varieties. There is also a regular automatic drip option, or you can upgrade to a bold brew. The automatic shutoff is a convenient addition to keep the home safe, while the sleek stainless steel design is easy to clean and offers great durability. Plus, there's a spill-resistant drip tray to cut down on clean-up time and a built-in adjustable stand, which accommodates different cup sizes.

Pros:

  • Adjustable stand
  • Simple cleaning process
  • Variable brew strength

Cons:

  • Poor filtering
  • Some users report plastic-like flavor 
  • Subject to overfilling
Keurig coffee maker brewing one cup of coffee on a neutral kitchen counter
Keurig

Features: 5 different cup sizes | Brew up to 12 oz | 3 color options

Keurig is a well-known name among coffee makers, offering several models that incorporate its exclusive K-Cup design. The K-Elite model's plastic construction is accented with brushed silver and features an oversized 75oz. water reservoir. There are five different cup sizes available, including 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12oz. sizes, plus convenient buttons that give you full control of the brew type, strength, and size. The brew button allows you to choose a bolder brew, while the iced setting is excellent for warmer days. 

If you are in the mood for something different, like soup or oatmeal, the K-Elite has a hot water function that skips the brewing process altogether. The K-Elite is restricted to K-Cups and hot water, but if you purchase the additional Universal My K-Cup Reusable Coffee Filter, your machine can then accommodate coffee grounds, too.

The removable drip tray is a welcome convenience, holding an entire cup in case of over-brewing. However, your cup size is limited to 7.2 inches tall. Keurig also incorporates an exclusive maintenance notification that will remind you when it is time to descale and clean your K-Elite machine.

Pros:

  • Compatible with K-Cups 
  • Five brew sizes 
  • Separate beverage settings 

Cons:

  • Higher price tag
  • It may be too tall for some spaces
  • Lengthy warm-up process

What is the best single serve coffee maker?

The best single serve coffee maker is the Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo Coffee and Espresso Machine since it makes authentic-tasting espresso and coffee. It also automatically adjusts itself to brew the best drink possible based on your beverage of choice.

Single Serve Coffee Maker

Price

Brewing Capacity

Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo Coffee and Espresso Machine

$194

14 oz

AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker

$45

24 oz

Hamilton Beach Scoop Single Serve Coffee Maker

$53

14 oz

Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker

$130

12 oz

Which single serve coffee maker is right for you?

Before purchasing a single serve coffee maker, it's important to consider a few factors, such as how many people will be using it daily, what type of coffee you prefer, and what price you're willing to spend. Any of the options on this list are great picks -- it just depends on what you are looking for and what kind of coffee drinker you are.

Choose this single serve coffee maker...

If you want...

Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo Coffee and Espresso Machine

The best overall option

AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker

A single serve French press

Hamilton Beach Scoop Single Serve Coffee Maker

A simple, single serve coffee maker with an automatic shutoff feature

Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker

To make single serve iced coffee

How did we choose these single serve coffee makers?

While narrowing down our choices for the best single serve coffee makers, we considered these factors:

  • Brew function: Some single serve coffee makers may offer a lighter blend, but only coffee makers that are capable of stronger brews offer an espresso option. 
  • Type of coffee: While some machines are compatible with normal coffee grounds, others may rely upon manufacturer-specific products, like Keurig's K-Cups. 
  • Brew time: The warm-up and brew process varies from machine to machine.
  • Construction: The machine's material will help determine not only how long clean-up will be but also how long the machine will last. 
  • Price: Single serve coffee makers range in price from budget-friendly and splurge-worthy. 

What is a single serve coffee maker?

A single serve coffee maker is designed to brew coffee, espresso, or hot chocolate in smaller servings than the traditional coffee maker. The smaller brew size allows for ultra-quick brewing, plus many machines give you the option to customize and even save your preferred settings. 

What brew strength is available from a single serve coffee maker?

Single serve coffee makers are traditionally known for weaker blends, but today's best machines incorporate options that allow you to choose from stronger blends.

How much does a single serve coffee maker cost?

The cost of single serve coffee makers can vary significantly based on its size and features. Our picks for the best single serve coffee makers range in price from $32 to $200, so there's something available for every budget. 

It's also important to consider any additional purchases that may be required to use your machine, such as Keurig's K-Cups and Nespresso's capsules.

Is a Keurig coffee maker worth it?

A Keurig coffee maker is worth it if you need coffee fast and aren't too picky with how your coffee tastes and how it is brewed. However, a Keurig probably isn't for you if you prefer a specific kind of ground coffee or like your coffee brewed a certain way. 

Keurig's also aren't too great for the environment because of their K-cups, but you can buy reusable K-cups that are more eco-friendly and let you put any coffee you want in. 

Are there alternative single serve coffee makers worth considering?

In our search for the best single serve coffee makers, we came across some great options. These machines almost made our list:

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