Top-Rated Coffee-Pod Brewers for a Morning Pick-Me-Up

Nespresso, a Swiss company still revered for its high-quality espresso makers, pioneered the use of coffee pods. Keurig, the second wave, introduced a single-serve alternative to traditional drip coffee to homes all over the world. Pod coffee makers can be purchased today in a wide range of styles, sizes, and price points. Below, you'll find a collection of our favorite options, ranging from basic and inexpensive tools to sophisticated machines that brew lattes and cappuccinos.

Here are some of the best pod coffee makers for a fast and simple morning brew.  

Nespresso Vertuo and Milk Frother

Things We Dig

  • Quickly mixing a drink

  • Delicious coffee and espresso drinks

  • Elegant, space-saving layout

  • Packed with 12 individual coffee pods.

Things We Dislike

  • Use only Vertuo coffee pods.

  • Coffee tends to be on the potent side.

  • Only good for creating one-off cups.

For many years, Nespresso has dominated the coffee pod market, and the Vertuo has been the most popular model due to its adaptability and affordability. In addition to producing the thick, crema-topped espresso for which the brand is known, the machine provides a range of beverage sizes, from a single shot of espresso to a 14 oz. cup of coffee. With the help of one of Nespresso's many bundles, you can upgrade your home coffee station to café quality by adding an Aeroccino milk frother to this already powerful machine.

The machine can hold up to 13 used capsules in its container before it needs to be emptied, and the water tank is a reasonable size and can be removed for simple refilling and cleaning. The high cost of Nespresso capsules is the only drawback. Prices may be higher per pod than K-Cups, on average. If you can get past that, the Vertuo is the perfect pod-based coffee maker. It's easy to use and produces delicious coffee every time.

As of this writing, the price is $260.

Author(s): Cheyenne Elwell, The Spruce Eats

Nespresso capsules are accepted, a frother is included, the water reservoir holds 40 ounces, and the machine is 8 inches tall, wide, and deep. 32 x 11 91 x 11 Inches: 93 | Coverage Period: 1 Year

Their Opinions, Our Testers

High-quality espresso drinks, minimal counter space required, and a short investment time all add up to a great value. Product Analyst Cheyenne Elwell

Keurig K-Café Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker

Our Favorites

  • Variety of beverages available

  • Practical and simple to employ

  • Machine-washable milk frother

The Things That Bug Us

  • False espresso

  • Uses up a lot of tabletop real estate.

Even with a plethora of K-Cup varieties available, it's easy to tire of drinking the same coffee every day. The Keurig K-Café, however, has a milk frother that can help break up the routine. Lattes and cappuccinos, two classic and delicious coffee drinks, are available. For convenience, the milk frother can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

While the K-Café isn't capable of producing authentic espresso, it does have a "strong brew" setting that produces coffee with a higher concentration level. A variety of 6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-ounce drinks are available.

This Keurig machine, like all Keurig machines, is ridiculously simple to operate. With so many different beverages to choose from, it's impressive that the number of buttons has been kept to a minimum while still being clearly labeled. Because of its large capacity (60 ounces), the water tank can be easily removed. To accommodate your tall travel mug, simply remove the drip tray.

As of this writing, the price is $190.

Author(s): Cheyenne Elwell, The Spruce Eats

Dimensions: 12" x Width: 8" x Height: 5" x Depth: 3.5" x Height: 3.5" 5 x 15 3 x 11 7 inches | Limited 1-year warranty

Opinions of Our Quality Assurance Experts

The Keurig K-Café is low-maintenance and produces high-quality coffee drinks. Product Analyst Cheyenne Elwell

Chulux Single Serve Coffee Maker Brewer

Our Favorites

Disliked Features

  • The coffee is weak.

  • Problems with Longevity

The Chulux Single Serve Coffee Maker has one of the lowest prices of any pod-based brewer on the market. It makes one simple cup of coffee well but lacks the sophistication and adaptability of more expensive models.

Because it uses K-Cups, you can use it with any K-Cup compatible coffee machine. The fact that it's small is another huge plus. The Chulux Coffee Maker is more compact than the typical Keurig, making it ideal for use in any home, apartment, or office. Due to its small size, the reservoir needs to be filled frequently, potentially before every use.

It takes about three minutes to brew, which is longer than most other pod coffee makers, but the coffee is reliably good.

As of this writing, the price is .

Dimensions: 7" x Compatibility: K-Cups x No-Frothing x 12 oz. 4 x 4 3 x 9 6.06 inches | 12 month guarantee

That's Neat!

There's no telling how fresh the coffee is that goes into coffee pods because it's already ground. Because of this, the flavor is typically not quite as strong as when using freshly ground beans and a good drip coffee maker. The greatest advantage of a pod coffee maker is its portability. When opting for a pod-based machine, you give up some coffee's flavor for convenience. Content Marketing Specialist for Seattle Coffee Gear, Patrick Cotter

Nespresso De'Longhi Lattissima Pro

Our Favorites

  • Coffee's got more uses than you think.

  • Automatic or nearly so

  • Minimalist layout

Disliked Features

The Nespresso Lattissima Pro is the kind of appliance that can radically alter your daily coffee ritual at home. Need an instant espresso? No problem Do you like complex beverages, like lattes and cappuccinos? The built-in milk frother makes that a breeze, too.

It has a digital interface with which you can set any one of its six drink options with a single touch. Our reviewer tried out the product and liked how simple it was to use, praising the wide selection of coffee pods available. She went on to say that her "first impression was that it was cute" and that she appreciated how well it utilized the available space. "

The high price tag, both for the product itself and for the additional Nespresso capsules, is the biggest drawback. Furthermore, there is no equivalent to a cup of drip coffee. A delicious alternative is an Americano, which is made by mixing espresso with hot water.

Current retail price is 5.

Dimensions: 10 inches tall, 44 ounce water capacity, and compatibility with Nespresso capsules. 8 x 7 6-by-13-inch | 2-year guarantee

Reviewers' Feedback

"Where this machine really excels is in efficiency." It heats up rapidly and eliminates the need for messy, wet coffee grounds and cleanup. Product Analyst Donna Currie

Bruvi The Bruvi Bundle

Our Favorites

  • Flavorful, robust coffee

  • Superior, longer-lasting pods

  • Stylish and one-of-a-kind style

  • Adaptable brew types

The Things That Bug Us

  • You can only buy B-Pods from the internet.

  • Deficiency of a milk-frothing device

Bruvi, based in Los Angeles, was founded in 2018 with the intention of challenging Keurig's dominance in the single-serve coffee market. The Bruvi BV-01, a pod coffee maker with several distinguishing features that set it apart from the competition, was not released until 2022. After using the brewer for a while, the article's author had nothing but glowing things to say about it.

Instantly distinguishable from the standard black coffee maker upon opening the box, the white design with wood accents is accompanied by an easy-to-use and responsive touchscreen interface. The Bruvi app allows its users to do things like brew from afar or plan ahead for their brewing needs. When it comes to the coffee itself, we found that Bruvi's signature B-Pods, which contain 40 percent more grounds than standard pods, produced stronger, tastier brews. B-Pods are also made to decompose more quickly than traditional pods and not to release any microplastics into the environment.

As of this writing, the brewer can be purchased as part of the Bruvi Bundle, which also includes 20 assorted B-Pods and a water filter kit. An excellent all-around device that feels like it belongs to a new era for pod coffee, but more expensive than comparable machines because B-Pods aren't yet available in stores.

As of this writing, the price is $300.

Size: 12 | Frothing: Yes | 70-ounce water capacity | Compatible with B-Pods 6 x 10 2 x 11 Distance: 5 inches | Duration: 12 months

Checking Understanding

It's fast and easy to use, like other pod coffee makers, but it has a much classier, high-end vibe. After customizing the settings to my liking, the coffee has a better flavor than the single-serve brewers I've been using. "

De'Longhi Dedica Pump Espresso Machine

Things We Dig

  • Allows for use of both coffee pods and ground coffee

  • Milk-frothing mechanism built in

  • Quite diminutive

The Things That Bug Us

  • Expensive

  • Infrequent seepage

  • Prospective Hill to Climb

The flavor of fake espresso is just not the same. The De'Longhi Dedica is an efficient coffee maker that uses pods. Coffee made with this machine isn't as popular as that made with Keurig or Nespresso machines, but many customers prefer it.

The Dedica is also incompatible with K-Cups and Nespresso capsules, so keep that in mind. You may substitute ground coffee or E S E pods; short for "Easy Serving Espresso," these tiny paper packets were developed in the 1970s by Illy and are now widely available in grocery store coffee sections.

The Dedica has a built-in milk frother, so you can make lattes and cappuccinos in addition to single or double shots of espresso. Its width is only about 6 inches, making for a surprisingly compact design. While a few customers complained about portafilter leaks, overall ratings are quite high.

Cost at time of publication: $350

Identical to: E S E capsules; foaming capability; 35-ounce water capacity; 13 by 5-inch footprint; Size: 9 x 12 inches | Guarantee Period: Two Years

Hamilton Beach FlexBrew 2-Way Coffee Maker

We Appreciate

  • Versatile

  • Timer that can be set for up to a day

  • Adapted to both K-Cups and regular coffee grounds

The Things That Bug Us

  • Dual water storage facilities

  • Time spent brewing is appreciated

However convenient they may be, pod-based coffee makers typically only produce one serving at a time. You can't always rely on single-serve capabilities, especially if you want to brew coffee for a large group or for more than one cup. The Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Coffee Maker is a great alternative because of this.

The coffee maker has a K-Cup brewer on one side and a traditional drip brewer with a 12-cup carafe for ground coffee on the other. The machine has several convenient features, such as a 24-hour timer and a stronger coffee setting, and its design is straightforward and user-friendly. The item has two uses, but it costs about the same as other pod-based machines.

As of this writing, the price is $120.

Features a 12-cup carafe and a 14-ounce single-serve water reservoir and is K-Cup compatible; there is no frothing mechanism; and the unit is 11 inches in height. 4 x 12 2 x 13 Seven inches | Limited One-Year Warranty

That's Neat!

"Be careful that the coffee doesn't get scorched by the machine and that it brews at the proper temperature." Finding a drip brewer that maintains a consistent temperature is crucial. Patrick Cotter, Seattle Coffee Gear's Content Marketing Specialist

Keurig K-Café SMART Single Serve Coffee Maker

Our Favorites

  • Extremely adaptable

  • Featuring BrewId's innovative technology

  • Smaller in size than the typical K-Café

The Things That Bug Us

Keurig incorporated all of our favorite aspects of the original K-Café into the K-Café SMART, and then added BrewID, a program that suggests different brew settings depending on the K-Cup being used. Some K-Cups taste better when brewed at 6 ounces, others when brewed at 12 ounces, and so on, and BrewID not only improves the user experience for Keurig owners but also fixes a long-standing flaw of pod-based coffee. The optimal serving size, coffee strength, and brewing temperature have recently been determined for over 900 unique K-Cup flavors. The Keurig app or the top screen of the machine both provide suggestions.

You can select from four different cup sizes, five different brew strengths, and six different temperatures. Moreover, that's not all it can be used for. You can whip up lattes, cappuccinos, and more with the K-Café SMART's detachable milk frother. For those who aren't satisfied with watered-down iced coffee, the brewer offers a setting to produce extra-strong coffee that can be poured over ice. The K-Café SMART is not incredibly more costly than the original K-Café, despite being a fairly pricey pod-based brewer. We think the premium is fair if you value the extra amenities.

Current price (as of publication): $250

Dimensions: 12" x Width: 8" x Height: 5" x Depth: 3.5" x Height: 3.5" 1 x 11 x 12 7 inches | Limited One-Year Warranty

Keurig K-Mini Plus Single Serve Coffee Maker

Our Favorites

  • Minimalist layout

  • Unexpected adaptability

  • K-cup organizer

Disliked Features

  • Always need to refill water before using.

  • A hotter coffee is possible.

The Keurig K-Mini Plus, measuring in at less than 5 inches across, is perfect for those who yearn for a minimalist kitchen. The item's small size belies the fact that it is surprisingly adaptable and comes with a number of useful features. The water tank can be taken off. The height of the travel mug that can be accommodated by the drip tray is 7 inches. The fact that it has a place to keep extra K-Cups and an outlet for the power cord is a particularly neat addition. The water tank needs to be refilled before each use, which is a minor annoyance but understandable given how incredibly tiny (and cute) it is.

Unlike some of the larger Keurigs, it also has the ability to brew strong coffee. According to Seattle Coffee Gear's Patrick Cotter, "using more coffee grounds or less water" is what the bold setting usually means. He continues, "It all depends on the machine." To lengthen the extraction process, "some may use less water, some may brew at a different temperature, and some may pump at a lower pressure." "

Cost as of publication: $110

Water reservoir capacity is 12 ounces (refill after each use) and the machine is 11 inches in height and width. 3 x 4 5 x 12 Limited one-year warranty | 1 inch in height

Staresso Portable Espresso Maker

Things We Dig

  • Minimalist layout

  • Rapidly forming

  • Uses both regular coffee grounds and Nespresso pods.

Disliked Features

  • Broken glass

  • Easily irritated by noise

This portable coffee maker is the best accessory for any trip. The Staresso Portable Espresso Maker is a convenient way to bring your favorite caffeinated beverage with you wherever you go. It weighs less than 1 pound and is shorter than 10 inches. Trips to the beach, campground, or office It can be used with either ground coffee or Nespresso capsules, and it folds up small enough to fit in a suitcase or bag.

However, you will need a source of hot water. Many buyers, however, prefer to make a refreshing cold brew by pouring the coffee over ice. The little brewer has received rave reviews due to its simplicity and the surprisingly thick crema it creates.

Currently (as of publication)

Compatible with Nespresso capsules; froths (hand pump required); comes with three water reservoirs Weight: 5.05 oz. | Size: 3.0" 35 x 3 35 x 8 Length: 86" | Guarantee: Nil

Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee and Espresso Machine

Things We Dig

  • Classy matte surface

  • Produced using recyclable resources

  • Produces excellent espresso and related beverages.

  • Conveniently simple to employ

Disliked Features

  • Costs a lot more than you'd expect

  • Milk frothers are bulky.

New from Nespresso, this coffee maker is eco-friendly thanks to its use of 54% recycled plastic. Used capsules from any Nespresso machine are accepted for free recycling. The Nespresso Vertuo Next can automatically download and install software updates thanks to its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. If you want to make lattes and cappuccinos at home, you should only use VertuoLine capsules with this product, not OriginalLine, and you should look into the bundle deal that includes an Aeroccino milk frother.

According to our taster, the machine's speed in brewing coffee is what makes it stand out; a delicious cappuccino can be made in just a few minutes. The "consistent, quality espresso-based drinks" were also highly rated. "

The price is $220 as of this writing.

Cheyenne Elwell's The Spruce

Capsules from Nespresso are compatible; a milk frother is included in the package deal; the water reservoir holds 37 ounces; the machine is 5 inches tall. 5 x 16 8 x 12 4 inches | Warranty: One year

Their Opinions, Our Testers

Like all Nespresso beverages, the espresso flavor was strong in all of these. The milk was silky smooth, too, which is ideal for making cappuccinos. Product Analyst Cheyenne Elwell

Consensus Decision

The cost-effectiveness and adaptability of our two top picks are very close. Overall, most people agree that the coffee produced by the Nespresso Vertuo and Milk Frother is superior in both flavor and quality. However, personal preferences vary, especially when it comes to coffee, so K-Café is a safe bet for Keurig fans.

Our lab tests on the Keurig K-Elite led us to the conclusion that it isn't worth the premium over other models, including other Keurigs. The overall taste wasn't particularly memorable, despite the fact that it has a large 75-ounce water tank and a setting to brew iced coffee.

If you're looking for a simple pod-based coffee maker, the Keurig K-Classic is a good option. It's functional, but not very flexible. Unlike the vast majority of Keurig models, this one doesn't have an iced coffee or strong brew option. The K-Classic does not have any major flaws, but it was not able to convince our testing team that it should be included on this list.

We had a few design issues with the Keurig K-Mini during testing. The lid was fussy, requiring multiple openings and closings before the machine recognized the presence of a pod and began brewing. Quite a few coffee grounds also made it into our mugs.

Our lab tests of the Nespresso Pixie indicated that it performed admirably. It's quick, compact, and produces espresso that lives up to the name. There are better brewing devices that offer the same portability benefits as the Pixie, so it didn't make the cut.

Coffee pods (K-Cup, Nespresso capsule, and E S E pod These are the most common kinds of coffee pods, and the brewer you end up buying will probably only work with one of them. This is a great starting point for narrowing down your purchasing options if you have a preference for a particular kind of pod due to factors like taste, cost, or convenience.

Some pod-based coffee makers only allow for varying cup sizes, while others have a number of customization options and can brew a wide variety of beverages. Think about what you absolutely need, and what you think is unnecessary. Consider purchasing a machine with a milk frother if you plan on making cappuccinos and lattes at home. You may need to increase your spending if you want a programmable coffee maker.

Because coffee makers last a long time and are usually displayed prominently in the kitchen, the available counter space may determine which model is best for you. While there are always exceptions, generally speaking, slimmer machines tend to cost less because they have fewer features and beverages available.

Even though coffee pods eventually go bad, that time is quite far in the future. Assuming they haven't been punctured, they should last anywhere from eight months to a year. Pods should have a "best by" date printed on them or on the packaging they came in. However, this is not the same as an "expiration date," which indicates when perishable food should be thrown away. Coffee pods that are past their "best by" date may have lost some of their freshness and flavor but are still safe to consume at this time because the date reflects the brand's standard of quality.

You can recycle most coffee pods, yes. Brand websites are the best resource for recycling information, but we'll touch on a few of the most common methods here. Keurig, to begin with After switching to polypropylene (#5 plastic), the company declared in 2020 that all of its K-Cups would be recyclable. Nespresso's aluminum coffee pods are similarly recyclable. To make things easier, the Swiss company provides free capsule recycling bags that can be returned to any UPS or Nespresso store for no cost. Bags can hold up to 100 VertuoLine or 200 OriginalLine capsules. Last but not least, Nescafé employs a comparable transport method when recycling its Dolce Gusto pods.

Soft pods are single-serve coffee capsules that are made of paper. Typically, they are packaged in separate wrappers to maintain freshness. Coffee makers from Bunn, Hamilton Beach, Black & Decker, and many more are all compatible with soft pods because so many different brands produce them. Comparable to the Easy Serving Espresso (E) pods, soft pods S E (Pods are similar to (in terms of size, shape, and material to) (but are not the same as) Drip coffee is brewed with soft pods, and E S E Espresso is brewed with pods.

The answer to this question is highly dependent on the coffee maker you own, as coffee pods are surprisingly adaptable and can make beverages of varying sizes. For instance, certain Keurig machines can produce beverages in four different sizes (six, eight, ten, and twelve ounces) using the same pod. Nespresso makers are the same. The Original models of the brand's machines typically offer two cup size options, while the Vertuo models offer up to six. While there are single-serve pod coffee makers, it shouldn't be too difficult to locate a model that can accommodate a variety of cup sizes.

The cost of extras like a coffee grinder, scale, or canister is reduced when using a pod coffee maker. However, there are a few additional resources at your disposal to help you improve your coffee routine. Unless your coffee machine already has one built in, a milk frother will be your most used addition. Espresso and strong coffee can be brewed in many pod machines, allowing for the creation of a wide variety of specialty beverages such as lattes, cappuccinos, and more. A customized or portable mug is yet another option. Choosing a mug can be an aesthetic decision for some, a functional necessity for others (such as those who are constantly on the go), or a pleasurable technological experience for others (such as those who want a mug that can heat your coffee to a precise temperature). Finally, a storage drawer is recommended to keep your favorite coffee pods from going stale and disorganized.

Derek Rose, The Spruce Eats' resident coffee and tea expert, penned this article. He investigates everything from coffee scoops to industrial espresso machines and talks to specialists to get the lowdown. At home, he makes cappuccinos and lattes with the Bialetti Moka Express and a separate milk frother.

Patrick Cotter is Seattle Coffee Gear's Content Marketing Specialist. The company's blog, social media, and content pages are all under his supervision. Seattle Coffee Gear is a retailer that opened in 2005 with the mission of educating customers about coffee.

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