When choosing a dorm room coffee maker you are faced with an overabundance of coffee machines and devices, and this only makes it worse. Sometimes, too much choice is confusing, especially when buying for a student, who didn’t fully immersed in the coffee culture. Well, if that student knows what kind of coffee they want, the job is half done. But usually they only need a decent way to caffeinate themselves in preparation for the tough exams.
Both my daughters are preparing to go back to school, away from home. They got hooked into the daily cup of coffee, and they rely on the black nectar of Gods to wake them up. I don't like Starbucks, and I don't want them to spend their money on syrupy concoctions made with bad espresso. So it was about time to buy them the “perfect dorm room coffee maker”.
Nespresso is an automatic espresso machine that uses coffee pods. You can call them a single serve, if you want, but espresso is always single serve, so it is a bit of a misnomer. If your thing is espresso, that means a concentrated shot of coffee, with an explosion of aroma and taste, this is the best for you. The great thing about it is the convenience. You just pop in a capsule, press a button, and in less than a minute you have an espresso.
Consistent results, great taste, absolute convenience, what can you ask more? Add some milk and sugar to your shot, and you just avoided spending at Starbucks three times more.
There are espresso purists, who say that capsule machines can never deliver a proper shot. But the reality says otherwise.
How To Choose The Perfect Dorm Room Coffee Maker
Whether you are buying this dorm room coffee maker for yourself, or for your kid, you need to have these criteria in mind.
- A dorm room is always messy, and tiny, so the coffee maker has to be compact, a small footprint is essential.
- Students have a hectic life; they are still maturing, so convenience is important. Making a coffee should be a simple and fast way to brew a hot drink.
- On the convenience side, one more item: the best coffee makers college needs to be easy to clean.
- The coffee machine needs to be safe, and have an automatic shut off. After an exhausting exam session, (of after a party), they will most likely forget to turn it off after brewing.
- Reliability is probably overrated, in our time and day, when all devices are programmed for obsolescence. However, it would be nice if your brewing device would last you through the college years.
- Finally, the device needs to brew the coffee that you like. Do you like espresso, or maybe drip is your style?
- Brewing quantity is most likely not a factor to take in consideration, so let’s stick with single serve units. Unless you want to open a coffee shop in your dorm.
The Keurig brewing system is one of the most convenient and most popular ways to brew coffee. The coffee brewed with Keurig is nice and flavorful, like you would get from a high end drip coffee machine like Technivorm or Bonavita. The only problem with Keurig brewers is that the strongest coffee you can get from it is not strong enough for some people. The new version of the brewer, the Keurig 2.0 has a smarter design, and allows you to brew a stronger cup, if that’s what you want. However, the new model is designed to work with only authorized pods manufacturers. You know what that means, higher prices per capsule, and limitation in terms of coffee beans.
Keurig’s great flavor is obtained by using a 1.5 bar pressure pump in the brewing process. This helps extracting more flavors than regular drip.
What Are the Best Coffee Makers for Students?
Armed with the above criteria, I dug deep into my vast knowledge about coffee brewing devices, and I started to reflect. No matter how I turned it, I needed to buy two coffee makers. My older daughter is an espresso lover, straight shots, nothing added. She's a toughie. I like a bit of sugar in my espresso shot. Anyway, back to my choice of coffee machines, my younger daughter likes Turkish coffee, she picked that from her mom. She drenches it in milk and adds sugar, so I assumed she would be fine with a strong, flavorful drip, as a compromise.
My older daughter knows how to pull an espresso, as she worked in a restaurant, and she learned it there. (No, she didn’t learn that from me, I am ashamed to admit it.) However, when I offered to buy her a Gaggia Classic, she replied almost offended, “Dad, do you really think I am going to have time to operate this?” “And where am I going to put this in my dorm room?” She had a point. So I recovered fast, and I said, “You know, there are these espresso machines with pods, but they are not like the real thing…” The answer came back more enthusiastic than I expected it, as the coffee snob that I am. “I love Nespresso machines, they are the best.”
We got one solved; now I was going to take care of my Turkish coffee lover one. I wasn’t sure what would be the best brewer for her. I was debating with myself between Hamilton Beach Scoop and Keurig. The debate was abruptly interrupted by the future recipient of the brewer. She said, “Dad, there isn’t too much space in our dorm room. If you buy me the Scoop, I will also need a grinder. I don’t have space for two objects.” I was going to mention that the Scoop could give her a better coffee, closer to the strong, full bodied coffee that she is used to. But I realized that she already gave some thought to the matter, and convenience was the number one factor in her decision.
This was actually the short version of my quest to find the perfect dorm room coffee maker. In my initial selection I considered the following coffee machines: Tassimo, Dolce Gusto, Keurig, HB Scoop, and Nespresso. Looking up on the Internet for ideas I have found an interesting article which recommended AeroPress, French press and Toddy as in the top 5 coffee makers for college. While I love all three brewing methods, and I regularly use these coffee brewers, I personally don't recommend them for college students. It’s all about convenience. The AeroPress could qualify, but you still need a grinder for it, and this is where it drops off my top 5. Here are the reviews of my top 5 brewers for University students.
Dolce Gusto also makes espresso, and it has a 15 bar pump to ensure a great shot. However this espresso maker is aimed at another market than the Nespresso. While Nespresso has a milk frother for the cappuccino lover, making one is not that easy. Dolce gusto makes the preparation of a latte or a cappuccino the easiest task possible. Just pop a capsule in and press a button, and your cappuccino is ready in under one minute. I had this machine in my top three, but because my daughter only drinks black espresso, I felt like Nespresso was the better option. Back to our Dolce Gusto, it was named the best single serve four years in a row. This means something. With an automatic stand-by system to save energy, and a very small footprint, is probably the choice of latte and cappuccino lovers.
Tassimo is a coffee brewer like no other. The great innovation is the barcode on each Tassimo capsule. The bar code allows the brewer to read what kind of beverage is in the capsule, and program a brewing sequence accordingly. The other great thing about it is the wide selection of beverages with their capsules. The coffee is excellent, however, is not and espresso, nor a coffee. It’s something in between. In fact, for people who find an espresso too strong, and drip coffee too weak, Tassimo coffee is a perfect choice.
Hamilton Beach Scoop
This is one of my favorites because it is almost a hybrid between manual and automatic drip coffee makers. The machine allows you to adjust the brewing time and the grind size, but it delivers hot water at the proper temperature. The permanent filter makes sure you don't overspend on paper filters, and that your coffee retains more soluble solids, and oils during brewing. This is actually my personal favorite, but since it needs a coffee grinder, it didn't make it on top. This brewer has a small footprint, looks great, and it brews great coffee.
If the student in your life buys pre-ground coffee, or owns a coffee grinder, this is a great choice since it is very versatile. We wrote a blog post comparing the Keurig and Hamilton Beach. Take a look at it, it is more detailed than this review.