Average Customer Review:
Small coffee makers are the ultimate in fresh convenience. Just pour in water, put your cup under the spout, place a pod or coffee grounds in the holder, and brew. Many people prefer these single-cup models because they don't like the idea of water sitting in a reservoir. If you don't like filling your coffee maker with water each time you use it, see our discussion of large pod coffee makers.
For this year's update, we're naming a new coffee maker, the Mr. Coffee K-Cup Brewing System (Est. $60) as our Best Reviewed pick. While it's not, technically, a Keurig, it is actually made by Mr. Coffee in partnership with Keurig. That allows this small brewing system to use all of the Keurig pods -- both the original and the 2.0 pods -- as well as your own ground coffee with the included, reusable grounds filter.
The Mr. Coffee K-Cup Brewing System isn't perfect in that it's not quite as straightforward to use as a Keurig, but it's not exactly difficult either. Instead of lifting a handle and inserting a pod (or filter full of grounds), you slide the pod compartment out, insert a pod (or filled grounds filter) and slide it back in. Then, pour in up to 10 ounces of water and push a button to brew. It takes between three and four minutes to brew, which is a bit long, but when you compare that to the up-to-10-minute brew cycle of a traditional drip coffee maker, it's not too bad.
This Mr. Coffee is popular with users who say it consistently makes a good cup of coffee and they love both the convenience and the vast selection of available pods; coffee, tea, soups and more. It's also popular with those who have limited space for appliances, its small, 9.9 by 5.8 by 13-inch footprint means it will fit just about anywhere, including a boat or RV.
Another good choice in this category, and our former Best Reviewed, is the Keurig K15 (Est. $70). It's dropped out of our top spot because of a spate of recent complaints about durability -- and unhelpful customer service from Keurig in trying to solve those issues. In spite of that, many owners still love this little machine, saying the coffee is delicious. It uses the original K-Cups, as well as generic pods, giving users plenty of options. With the optional My K-Cup (Est. $10) filter you can brew from your own grounds.
As with the Mr. Coffee, the Keurig K15 is small and compact so that it doesn't take up much counter space. It's also cute as can be, with five color options (as of this update) so you can match it to your décor.
The K15 is even simpler to use than the Mr. Coffee: just fill it with up to 10 ounces of water (there are fill lines for 6, 8 and 10 ounces), put in a pod (or the My K-Cup filter filled with grounds), choose 6, 8 or 10 ounces, and push "brew." It flashes blue to remind you to start brewing, flashes red while heating, and goes to solid red when the cycle is complete. It takes about two minutes to brew a single cup
We didn't see it in any professional reviews, but we can't ignore the popularity of the K-Cup by Mixpresso (Est. $80) with owners. It's compatible with any type of K-Cup, including 2.0 pods, 1.0 pods, unlicensed generic pods and the My K-Cup filter. Mixpresso also sells their own line of pods that includes espressos. Plenty of users say they prefer this Mixpresso to Keurig machines they've owned in that past, and that it feels like a higher quality machine. It's also fast, they note and very easy to use -- and they do love its versatility. It brews 6-, 8- and 10-ounce cups.
For those who want a single-serve coffee maker but don't want to use pods, the Hamilton Beach 49981A Single Serve Scoop Coffee Maker (Est. $35) will be a good choice. It's a drip-style single serve coffee maker that gets good reviews from experts and owners for convenience and ease of use. Reviews on its resultant brew are more mixed, some say it makes delicious coffee and is highly customizable since it brews from grounds, others say you can't put enough grounds in to get a good, strong cup of coffee even when you choose the "bold" setting. It also gets more complaints about messy coffee making than others in this category, but some say that's just part of the learning curve, which is worth contending with for the quality of the brew (at least for those that are pleased by it). It has auto-shutoff and a permanent filter, which is a plus for many.
There are plenty of folks who just like to grab a cup of coffee to take along with them in the morning and one-cup coffee makers with included thermal to-go cups are a great option to do just that. The drip-style Black & Decker DCM18S Brew 'n Go (Est. $20) rises to the top of the pack in this category for its convenience and affordability. The price includes an insulated travel mug that owners say keeps coffee hot for a long time, and that is shaped to fit in most cup holders. It uses ground coffee instead of pods, which is great for people who don't like the idea of pods, or who want to pay less per cup for their coffee. However, that makes it less convenient to brew subsequent cups as you have to empty the grounds and rinse the filter after each use. It also dispenses a cup of hot water very quickly, so you can make tea, soups or hot cereals.
Users love this little single-serve coffee maker, saying it's simple to adjust the brew strength and that it makes an excellent cup of coffee every time. Its small footprint is very popular with college students and those who don't have a lot of space. It gets excellent reviews for long-term durability. Quite a few reviewers own more than one; keeping them at multiple locations, such as home and office. We even read a couple of reviews from coffee lovers who keep one downstairs in the kitchen and one upstairs in the bedroom.
There are plenty of people who don't want to be tied to pod coffee makers, but also love the idea of using pods if they so choose -- mostly because of the convenience. This is where a multi-use coffee maker comes in. These can accept a wide variety of pods, or use ground coffee so that you can get maximum versatility in one machine. They also offer more customizing options for brewing any kind of coffee
It's no contest in this category: the BUNN My Café MCU (Est. $130) gets some of the best reviews of any coffee maker we saw. It can brew from K-Cups, generic soft pods, tea bags and ground coffee. Two professional testing organizations make it their top pick, and owners agree, giving it high ratings at retail review sites.
The BUNN MCU is not just convenient, reviewers say, it also makes an excellent cup of coffee no matter what type of medium you use. It came out on top in CNET's reviews of coffee makers, and was their top pick in terms of taste. Experts and owners like its options for customizing your brew, by tweaking either the amount of coffee or the quantity of water. It's fast too, brewing a cup of coffee in about 42 seconds.
There is a bit of a learning curve with the BUNN MCU, but most reviewers say it's not too bad. It has a four "drawer" system; one for K-Cups, one for soft pods and tea bags, one for ground coffee and one for hot water. These drawers are literally small drawers of various configurations that you insert in the brewer. The MCU does not have a reservoir, so you have to add the appropriate amount of water each time. That gets a few complaints, but the majority of owners say they don't like reservoirs anyway -- they prefer a fresh cup of water each time. Because of the lack of a reservoir, it has a small footprint, but you need to have a place to store the four drawers.