Best Single-Cup Coffee Makers of 2019

Linda Thomson ·
Writer/Reviewer
Updated
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We spent 80 hours researching an extensive range of single-cup coffee makers to recommend the best. After considering each carefully, checking with manufacturers, browsing user reviews and cooking blogs, we choose the Hamilton Beach The Scoop as our favorite. This coffee maker yields a great cup of hot and flavorful coffee in 90 seconds, and it can brew enough fine coffee to fill a 14-ounce travel mug in under three minutes. One of the key benefits is that you can use the scoop for regular ground coffee, saving you a bundle over the cost of expensive pods.

Best Overall
Hamilton Beach The Scoop
You get a scoop with this aptly named single-cup coffee maker: Hamilton Beach The Scoop. Instead of using costly pods, you can save by using the scoop and ground coffee for your brew.
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Best Value
Black & Decker Brew ’n Go
Black & Decker Brew ’n Go single-cup coffee maker is modestly priced, and operating it is less expensive since you can use ground coffee – and you don’t even have to bother with paper filters.
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Best Keurig
Keurig K55
Keurig K-Classic coffee makers are known for their convenience and quality design, and the Keurig K55 single-cup coffee maker is a formidable force with its quick brewing times and ease of use.
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Best Overall
If you want hot, tasty coffee and you want it fast, Hamilton Beach The Scoop is a great choice. This single-cup coffee maker can brew an 8-ounce cup of coffee in 90 seconds, and it takes less than three minutes for the machine to fill a 14-ounce travel mug. You also can save money with this coffee maker since you don’t use prepackaged pods.
Instead, you use a scoop filter to measure ground coffee into the Hamilton Beach’s brewing basket. The scoop has measuring lines for specific amounts. Buying your own coffee, already ground or in bean form and grinding it yourself, saves money over buying the rather costly pods. In addition, you can adjust the coffee’s strength by using the “regular” or “bold” settings. Regular works nicely with standard grocery-store coffee, while bold is better suited to finer grinds and gourmet coffees. The regular setting releases hot water quickly since that works best for the coarser ground coffee. The bold setting allows more time for the hot water to flow through finer coffee grounds to brew the finished product.
Pros
  • You save money by using ground coffee.
  • It shuts off automatically.
  • It takes about 90 seconds to make 8 ounces of coffee.
Cons
  • The tank holds just 14 ounces.
  • The bold setting makes very strong coffee.
  • Sometimes coffee splashes, depending on cup size.
$34.99Amazon
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Best Value
You don’t have to spend a lot to get a well-made, compact and easy-to-use coffee maker. The Black & Decker Brew ’n Go single-cup coffee machine can quickly dispense hot, flavorful coffee into the 15-ounce mug that comes with your modestly priced purchase.
You also will find this to be an economical single-cup coffee maker to operate, since you get a permanent filter and don’t have to mess with paper filters. Along with that, this Black & Decker coffee maker lets you make another economical choice: You can use regular ground coffee in it or you can opt for the more expensive pods if they suit you better. This is a simply constructed machine with a basic on/off switch, and the machine automatically turns itself off once the coffee is done, so there are no worries about a hot carafe plate if you’ve left home in a hurry. The accompanying mug is made of stainless steel and tapers into a slimmer shape on the lower half, so it’s easy to hold and fits into most standard cup holders – including the one in your car.
Pros
  • It comes with a 15-ounce insulated coffee mug.
  • You can use ground coffee or pods.
  • It shuts off automatically.
Cons
  • You can’t leave coffee on the hot plate to stay warm.
  • It doesn’t have a brew strength setting.
  • You must refill the water reservoir each time you use this.
$22.36Amazon
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Best Keurig
The Keurig K55 is an affordable, convenient single-cup coffee maker that brews coffee quickly and easily thanks to its K-Cup brewing system. And you can make iced coffees and iced tea, as well.
The Keuring K55 heats up water and dispenses it within 90 seconds. While this is quick, it is a somewhat relaxed pace compared to other single-cup coffee makers. However, it still saves a lot of time compared to conventional brewers and helps you get your coffee fix quick. It has a relatively large water reservoir of 48 ounces, and you can choose to make a 6-, 8- or 10-ounce cup of coffee. The removable drip tray makes for easy cleaning, and the company states you can fit a travel mug under the spout when the tray is removed. Though if you use a 16-ounce travel mug, you might need a couple of K-Cups to fill it.
Pros
  • Heats water in 90 seconds
  • 48-ounce water reservoir
  • Easy to clean
Cons
  • K-Cups pods can be expensive
  • 10 ounces is the largest size cup it can brew at a time
  • Brew strength control is lacking
$95.48Amazon
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Best Splurge
The Bunn My Café MCU is expensive compared to other single-cup coffee makes we reviewed, but it's worth its price.
This multi-purpose machine makes several kinds of coffees and teas and even has a hot water drawer to make things like instant oatmeal or dehydrated soups. It's also fast – this machine can turnout out a cup of coffee in one minute. This Bunn model is also quite versatile since it works with K-Cups, pods, ground coffee and tea bags. You can even brew a cup of tea with loose tea. This single-cup coffee maker includes a pulse brew feature that gets the greatest flavor from coffee without sacrificing speed. It also has a variety of cup-size settings, extending from 4 to 14 ounces, so you can grab a tiny cupful or a full thermos.
Pros
  • Speedy, well-designed and makes many beverages
Cons
  • Expensive
$125.88Amazon
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Best for Travel
If you travel frequently or have a tiny kitchen, the slender Keurig K-Mini Plus Single Serve Coffee Maker might be just the machine for you. Measuring a mere 12.1 x 4.5 x 11 inches and weighing just 4.6 pounds, this single-cup coffee maker is streamlined enough to pack in your suitcase and take with you on your journeys.
The K-Mini Plus has an onboard storage area that holds nine Keurig K-Cup pods, and there’s a recessed section to store the cord. You can brew 6 to 12 ounces of coffee, and removing the drip tray lets you fill a travel mug up to 7 inches tall. One drawback is you can only use Keurig K-Cup pods or the Keurig My-Cup Universal Reusable Coffee Filter that you fill with your own ground coffee. Further, you must buy these separately. This is a basic machine, but it has some helpful features, including a “strong” button for a more robust brew and an auto shut-off that turns off the machine after it sits idle for 90 seconds.
Pros
  • Small enough to take on trips
Cons
  • Only works with Keurig K-Cup pods and Keurig reusable pods
US$84.82Amazon
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Why Trust Us?

During our 80 hours of research, we decided to look across a wide price range to find options suitable for nearly every budget. We looked at models created by respected name-brand manufacturers, and we looked for a variety of characteristics, including coffee-making options, the time it took to brew a cup of coffee and extras like travel mugs.

We also checked to see how easy each machine was to clean, the overall dimensions, and what – if any – accessories come with each model.

Perhaps most important was how each machine brewed coffee. Some single-cup coffee makers won’t work without buying prepackaged pods of coffee, and these make delicious cups of coffee. However, we wanted to expand the field so you can choose whether to use pods or go with already-ground coffee, K-Cups, loose tea leaves or tea bags.

How We Researched

We researched single-cup coffee makers, keeping in mind that consumers have different tastes as well as different levels of patience as they wait eagerly for a hot cup of coffee in the morning. We considered a wide variety of machines, including regular countertop models and compact coffee makers, paying particular attention to which use soft premade pods or prefilled K-Cups and which let you use your own grounds. The latter takes a bit more time but is a budget-friendly way to brew.

Beyond mere brewing, we looked for machines with extra features that can make your life easier. For example, some machines have an automatic shut-off so you don’t have to worry about burning down your house if you rush out the door and forget to turn off the coffee maker. In addition, you may want a machine that keeps the water tank full and hot, can accommodate both regular cups and taller travel mugs, and has features that enhance the flavor and strength of your coffee.

During our 80 hours of research, we searched the internet and carefully read manufacturers’ websites and online user manuals. We also pored over warranty information. In addition, we watched videos that show how each coffee maker operates, looked at reviews and read reader comments. We also checked to see how extensive and helpful each manufacturer’s customer service is.

Things to Look For in a Single-Cup Coffee Maker

How Much Do Single-Cup Coffee Makers Cost?
Single-cup coffee makers range in price from $25 to $250. With this type of appliance, a higher price often indicates the machine is higher quality, more durable and more versatile. More expensive machines also tend to have more features. While more expensive models are typically better, there are excellent single-cup coffee makers in the mid-price range.    

Brewing Choices
Some of the best single-cup coffee makers let you make a hot, robust cup of coffee using a prepackaged pod of grounds. However, we looked for other models as well so you’d have a greater range of choices. We found machines that let you use loose coffee or tea leaves, pods, K-Cups and even tea bags. This offers great variety for you as a consumer, as well as potential savings if you opt to use ground coffee.

Coffee Strength
The best single-cup coffee makers let you adjust the strength of the coffee you brew, which as every coffee fan knows, is probably the most important feature. Weak, watery coffee doesn’t appeal to anyone, but people have different standards when it comes to what is acceptable “regular” coffee and the best “bold” coffee. With a machine that lets you control the strength, you can brew your java just the way you want it.

Extra Features
Depending on what you’re seeking in a single-cup coffee maker, the extra options and accessories included with your purchase might sway you one way or the other. For example, you might like the idea of a matching thermal travel mug as part of the coffee brewer. Someone else might be pleased with an extra button to add boldness to their cup of coffee. Easy cleaning is another welcome feature, and we looked for coffee makers whose drip trays can be quickly removed and washed, along with the holders for pods and grounds.

How to Clean a Coffee Maker

To keep your favorite morning appliance in good shape, you’ll need to clean it regularly. But how do you go about cleaning a coffee maker? Fortunately, it’s easy: 

  1. Empty any leftover coffee grounds or pod residue from the basket.
  2. Fill the water reservoir with a mixture of half white vinegar and half water. Vinegar is acidic, so it will loosen and remove grime from your device without introducing harmful chemicals. With this mixture in place, run your coffee maker through a cycle as though you’re making a cup of coffee (sans the pod).
  3. When the cycle ends, pour the mixture back into the reservoir, and run it again.
  4. Unplug the device.
  5. Wash the inside of the pot and reservoir with soapy water and a sponge or bristle brush to remove any residue.
  6. Do not submerge the device in water or allow water droplets to run into the electrical areas of the device, as this can cause the machine to short or break or lead to electric shock if the device is plugged in.
  7. Rinse the pot thoroughly to remove the taste of vinegar and soap.
  8. To make sure unwanted flavors are removed from the device, plug it in once more, fill the reservoir with fresh water and run the cycle again.
  9. To clean the exterior of your device, once again use a mixture of vinegar and water to remove grime. Just make sure you don’t get the electrical components wet.
  10. If the exterior is stainless steel, it’s harder to remove fingerprints. We recommend using hot water, dish soap and a damp rag to remove finger oils and then following it up with a cleaner like Windex to make your appliance shine.
  11. Check the instructions that came with your device to see how often the company recommends cleaning the coffee maker. Most companies say coffee makers should be cleaned every three to six months.