The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best One Cup Coffee Maker: Exploring the Top Single-Serve Pod Coffee Makers, Examining Style, Coffee Options, and Test Results
Have you been on a quest to find the perfect one cup coffee maker? Look no further. In this article, we will delve into the world of single-serve pod coffee makers and explore the top contender on the market: The Bruvi Bundle. With its sleek style and wide range of coffee options, this coffee maker promises to revolutionize your morning routine. Join us as we put the Bruvi Bundle to the test and discover if it lives up to the hype.
Other single-serve pod coffee makers I tested
Nespresso Essenza Mini
The Nespresso Essenza Mini is a compact single-serve espresso maker that belongs to Nespresso's Original line of machines. Unlike the centrifuge extraction method used by the VertuoLine machines, the Original machines utilize pressure-driven extraction and smaller, angular pods. The Essenza Mini applies 19 bars of pressure to extract two sizes of beverage from the Original pods: a 1.35-ounce single espresso shot or a 3.7-ounce Lungo. It is worth noting that while the Essenza Mini applies more than double the standard nine bars of pressure required for a professional espresso machine, Home Grounds experts advise against overthinking this number as a significant portion of the pressure dissipates within the less powerful brewing mechanisms of a plug-and-go machine. Although the Essenza Mini does not brew regular coffee, it stands out as a high-quality, compact machine suitable for those who prefer lattes, cappuccinos, or americanos over traditional drip-style coffee. Its removable drip tray and water tank make it extremely portable and easy to store.
L’or Barista Coffee & Espresso System
The L'or Barista Coffee & Espresso System has been available in France since the 90s but is now gaining popularity in the US. This machine is capable of brewing both coffee and espresso-style drinks, similar to the Nespresso Vertuo. However, it operates differently. The L'or machine accepts the brand's proprietary coffee capsules as well as Nespresso Original espresso pods (which can also be used in an Original Nespresso machine). Operating the machine is simple, as users can choose between three brew sizes and enjoy coffee or espresso extracted under 19 bars of pressure through two dispensing spouts, resulting in a velvety crema comparable to that of Nespresso. In my testing, I brewed the same pods at the same size (3.7 ounces) using both the L'or Barista and the Nespresso Essenza Mini. Though the differences were subtle, the espresso from the Nespresso machine displayed a slightly more balanced flavor profile and a smooth finish. Overall, the L'or Barista stands as one of the few single-serve coffee makers that can truly compete with Nespresso. However, it would be beneficial for the system to provide cup size recommendations on the pods for optimal taste.
Instant Dual Pod Plus
The Instant Dual Pod Plus was the most pleasant surprise among the single-serve coffee makers I tested. Manufactured by the same company as the popular Instant Pot, this machine is capable of brewing a flavorful cup of coffee or espresso-style shot using K-Cups, Nespresso Original pods, or the brand's own compostable pods (note that these require an industrial composting environment and are not suitable for regular backyard compost piles). Additionally, the Dual Pod Plus comes with a refillable pod for brewing single servings of your favorite coffee and a hot water button for tea. This brewer exceeded expectations and even produced a delightful crema on the espresso shots. The regular coffee it brewed surpassed the quality of anything I had tasted from a Keurig machine. While I wouldn't replace my VertuoPlus with the Dual Pod Plus due to its larger size and my personal preferences, I would be delighted to find this machine in a hotel or vacation rental. Its versatility makes it an excellent choice for households with both Nespresso and K-cup enthusiasts, as well as small offices and teachers' lounges.
Epi's reviews editor, Noah Kaufman, is a dedicated fan of the Bruvi single-serve coffee brewer—and for good reason. Apart from its aesthetically pleasing design, the Bruvi offers impressive functionality. The touch-screen control panel allows users to choose between eight cup sizes and offers one-touch brewing options for low acid, americano, iced coffee, and cold brew. While any single-serve coffee maker can be used to brew coffee or espresso-style shots over ice, the Bruvi's cold brew setting requires a few additional minutes and utilizes cooler water. Similar to the Nespresso Vertuoline, the Bruvi reads data from proprietary pods and adjusts various brewing factors accordingly. However, users can still select the highlighted default cup size or choose another, and there is an option to manually modify settings for a stronger, hotter, or lower acid brew. When brewed in eight-ounce servings without any additional modifications, the light- and medium-roast coffees produced a well-balanced and nuanced flavor. It is worth noting that some sediment remained at the bottom of the cup, and the espresso did not meet my expectations. As a relatively new player in the market, Bruvi offers fewer coffee pod options compared to Nespresso or Keurig. Nevertheless, the company sources beans sustainably and ensures that their treated polypropylene cups will largely break down in a landfill, eliminating confusion over recyclability or the appropriate composting method. For those seeking the convenience of a pod machine while also desiring the versatility and functionality of a high-end drip coffee maker, the Bruvi is an excellent choice. However, its robust features and higher price point may not suit coffee drinkers who only seek a quick and easy morning brew.
The Bruvi Bundle
Nespresso Vertuo Next
The Nespresso Vertuo Next is another machine from Nespresso's Vertuoline series. While it brews coffee just as beautifully as the recommended Vertuo Plus, it boasts a few distinguishing features. On the positive side, the Vertuo Next is smaller than the Vertuo Plus but can brew larger coffee sizes. The Plus offers four sizes and can yield a maximum of eight ounces of coffee from a single pod, whereas the Next provides five brew size options and accepts pods that generate 18 ounces of coffee (compatible carafes are also available for use with larger pods). If you prefer the quality and convenience of Nespresso but desire the ability to brew more than a single cup, the Vertuo Next is a suitable choice. However, please note that the Next has a slightly smaller water reservoir compared to the Plus, and the top of the Next does not open automatically; you must lock and unlock it using a lever on the lid. Initially, this mechanism may require some force until you become accustomed to it. Another notable feature is the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, which may seem gimmicky to some but could be appreciated by users who value maintenance alerts, firmware updates, and capsule tracking for convenient replenishment. Overall, using the Vertuo Next was not as enjoyable as using the VertuoPlus. Therefore, if the 18-ounce pour or app connectivity is not essential, it may be better to choose the Plus model instead.
Cuisinart Premium Single Serve Brewer
The Cuisinart Premium Single Serve Brewer is a popular one-cup coffee maker that works with K-Cups and comes with a reusable mesh pod for your preferred ground coffee. This fully programmable machine allows users to select from five cup sizes and two brew temperatures. While additional features such as auto-on and shutoff may seem unnecessary for a single-cup brewer, they are available. The removable 72-ounce water tank eliminates the need for frequent refilling, but it requires a charcoal filter insert that should be replaced every 60 days or after 60 uses. Although this machine cannot compete with Nespresso in terms of quality, it represents an upgrade for those accustomed to using Keurig machines. In multiple rounds of testing using the same K-Cups, the coffee from the Cuisinart consistently displayed greater depth of flavor and less murkiness. It is worth mentioning that I initially encountered difficulties with the reusable pod, as the machine failed to register its insertion properly. However, a simple clockwise rotation solved this issue.
Ninja DualBrew Pro
Ninja's DualBrew Pro Specialty Coffee System is a modular brewer that centers around a 12-cup drip coffee maker. It features a detachable milk frother and K-Cup adapter. While this machine offers various options for brew size and strength, it may be too large and complex for those seeking the convenience of a pod machine. The drip coffee maker takes priority, with the frother and K-cup capabilities serving as add-ons. To switch between carafe mode and single-serve mode, the machine must be reconfigured. However, if you mainly brew pots of coffee but occasionally desire the convenience of a pod, this could be a suitable option if you have sufficient counter space. The DualBrew Pro brews K-cups better than a Keurig machine, and the model I tested came with a few starter paper filters for brewing into the carafe. Additionally, there are reusable mesh filter options available to reduce waste. While I did not find any Ninja brand refillable pods, there are compatible aftermarket options that appear promising.
The Keurig K-Mini currently holds the top spot as Amazon's best-selling single-serve brewer, thanks to its compact size, range of attractive colors, affordable price point (around $100), and the prevalence of K-Cups in American households. If I were uninformed about coffee or simply wanted something on hand to offer guests a cup, I might choose this machine as well. However, after testing a wide variety of pods, I found that neither the K-Mini nor the more expensive Keurig model produced a satisfactory cup of coffee. The lack of depth in flavor and consistent watery yet overly bitter taste were unappealing. Furthermore, the K-Mini's internal water reservoir holds only enough for one cup, requiring refilling before each brew.
Keurig K-Supreme Smart
The Keurig K-Supreme Smart Single Serve Coffee Maker appears to be Keurig's response to the Nespresso Vertuo line. However, it falls short. Beyond the disappointing coffee it produces, the technology does not live up to the marketing claims, and the machine itself struggles with some of its own features. The K-Supreme Smart offers options for brew strength and temperature, allowing users to save up to 10 favorite settings as presets. The machine is supposed to recognize the K-Cup pod inserted and customize the brew settings accordingly. However, users still need to select the brew size (ranging from 6 to 12 ounces), and the brew temperature can be adjusted if desired. App connectivity enables remote brewing and provides inventory management for K-Cup pods. However, when attempting to brew consecutive cups of coffee, the machine encountered freezing issues. I had to unplug it multiple times to clear the display. The K-Supreme Smart features a 66-ounce water reservoir but lacks a pod receptacle, requiring users to manually remove used K-Cups after each brew.
Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Single-Serve Coffee Maker
The coffee from Keurig machines set a low standard, and unfortunately, the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew fell even lower. This versatile single-serve coffee maker allows users to brew three cup sizes and offers two brew strengths. It includes a reusable pod for brewing ground coffee and features a removable 40-ounce water tank. The machine also has a hot water button for tea or instant ramen. On paper, it presents promising features. However, it produces a significant amount of noise during operation and brews remarkably hotter than other machines tested. The excessive heat leads to scalding coffee, overshadowing the potential flavors of even locally-roasted, freshly-ground beans. If you seek an alternative to Keurig at an affordable price and desire the option to use any type of coffee with a reusable pod, this coffee maker is not recommended.
Amazon Basics Compact Dual Brew Single Serve Capsule Coffee Maker
The Amazon Basics Compact Dual Brew Single Serve Capsule Coffee Maker failed to impress the Epicurious product testing team. While we have been pleasantly surprised by other Amazon Basics gadgets, such as the kitchen scale, the single-serve coffee maker did not meet expectations. When brewing the same K-Cup pod in both the Amazon machine and a Keurig, the coffee from the Amazon brand machine was inferior in taste, texture, and temperature. It reminded us of drinking from a styrofoam cup out of desperation while awaiting a long day of car repairs. Unfortunately, even the freshly ground, high-quality coffee we used in the reusable pod did not yield satisfactory results. As a result, we cannot recommend this product.
The Testing Process
In order to evaluate the performance and features of top-rated single-serve pod coffee makers, we conducted a series of tests. First, we brewed at least 10 cups of coffee with each machine and measured the brewing time. We also assessed the ease of filling the reservoirs and the versatility of the machines for brewing tea, iced coffee, and hot chocolate.
We repeated these tests over the course of a week for each machine, paying attention to additional factors such as descaling difficulty, user comfort, portability, build quality, and ease of storage. We also took note of any safety concerns and special features offered by the machines.
In addition to these tests, we evaluated the taste of the coffee and other beverages produced, the speed of brewing (averaging one cup per minute for all options tested), the temperature of the brew, the ease of disassembling parts for cleaning, and the recyclability of the pods.
What to Know About Pod Coffee Makers
Inserting pods into Keurig pod coffee makers is a simple and easy process.
When Keurig introduced in-home coffee machines in 2004, it revolutionized the coffee industry and transformed the daily caffeine habits of Americans. From a scientific perspective, the mechanism behind Keurigs is similar to that of drip coffee makers, but much faster. The hot water is poured over the coffee beans and pressurized to extract the juices in less than a minute.
After the K-cup technology patent expired, numerous other pod coffee manufacturers entered the market, breaking Keurig's monopoly. Nestle's Nespresso followed suit by introducing its advanced VertuoLine of single-serve coffee makers, featuring centrifusion technology that significantly enhances the taste.
Today, Keurig and Nespresso are the leading players in the pod coffee industry.
Undoubtedly, a pod coffee maker offers the most convenient option compared to a French press or a drip coffee maker. To help you find the ideal single-serve coffee maker, here are a few factors to consider.
Overall, after extensive testing and comparing, it is clear that the Bruvi Bundle stands out as the best one cup coffee maker on the market today. Its sleek style and variety of coffee options make it not only a functional appliance but also an elegant addition to any kitchen. The tests proved that the Bruvi Bundle consistently delivers exceptional quality and bold flavors in every cup. So, if you're in search of the perfect one cup coffee maker that can instantly elevate your mornings and satisfy your taste buds, look no further than the Bruvi Bundle. It truly is the ultimate choice for coffee enthusiasts seeking convenience and a splendid brewing experience.
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