A cup of coffee brewed at its best
“What is the best single cup coffee maker?” asked one of my friends a few days ago, instead of a greeting. I immediately realized that my friend, otherwise polite and well-mannered, was in an “impasse”. I instantly blurted all I knew about the best single cup coffee machines, and the best brands. At which point he snaps, and he replies back: “Don’t you think I knew all of that before asking you?” Oh, silly me, of course he knows already all of that, he is one of those analytical people who has to gather a lot of information before making a decision. I should have known. “Oh…” I replied a little embarrassed , “I see now.”
He wanted to know which one was the best for him, and the information he gathered, and all the reviews he read, weren’t helping. I took a deep breath to evaluate how my knowledge about brewing coffee could help him, and then we had a really interesting discussion on how different brands of single serve coffee machines target different coffee drinkers, and to say that a Tassimo is better than a Keurig, or viceversa, is just not right. So I started by asking my coffee lover friend a few questions, and then I didn’t even have to give him an answer, he already had it.
This page is the result of the discussion with my friend and a little bit more, for those who didn’t make the research yet.
Why Do We Love the Single Serve Coffee Machine
I don’t want to bore you with a lot of facts, but at the very least, you should know that the history of brewing in a single cup coffee maker started in 1990, Keurig being the initiator of the trend of brewing a single cup. The first single cup coffee makers were designed for office use and the sales were limited. The company took off only after Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has invested in the company in 1996.
The idea caught up with the public for several reasons:
- Convenience: it is the easiest way to brew coffee
- Consistency: you get the same cup of coffee every time you brew no surprises
- Great coffee: the brewed coffee is great
- Fresh coffee anytime you want, you don’t have to make an entire carafe as with drip coffee machines, make one cup when you need it.
- No skills required: a 5 years old can brew a cup
Other companies realized the immense benefits and potential, so they wanted a share of this growing market. Soon other type of brewing showed up on the single cup market: drip, espresso, low pressure brew. The single cup concept introduced easy to brew espresso to home baristas without any experience with espresso making.
The industry is continuously growing, and even espresso veterans, who started with manual and semiautomatic espresso brewing, are converted to Nespresso gear. The Nespresso machines are so much more consistent and convenient. Drip coffee can be delicious, if brewed with the proper equipment and with a bit of knowledge, however, using a Keurig type of coffee maker, (low pressure brewer), will eliminate all of the variables, and you will get a great flavorful cup. Which of these machines is for you? Read on and you will find your answer.
Keurig K60/K65 Special Edition Coffee Maker
K-Cup brewers are just brewers that use a low pressure pump, to force hot water through the ground coffee. The pressure from the pump pushes the water through the ground coffee in the capsule. The special filter, the perfect temperature, and the sealed for freshness capsule, ensure the best experience for drip coffee lovers. The result from a K-Cup brewer, such as the Keurig, is similar to drip coffee, but with a little more body, and flavor. The coffee is perfectly clear, and it is not too strong, but is not weak either. The Keurig machines have three brewing strengths accommodating most of the coffee lovers.
The best K-cup single serve on the market is the new Keurig 2.0 brewer. The new coffee machine from Keurig is a major upgrade to their famous single serve brewer.
Scoop Single Serve Coffee Makers
Scoop coffee makers are basically drip coffee machines, that are tweaked to allow brewing a single cup. With regular drip coffee machines, making a single cup is wasteful, and it doesn’t provide consistency. The rule with drip coffee machines is that the more coffee you make, the better the coffee is. That happens because when dripping all the coffee needs to be properly submersed into hot water, and the more water passes through the grinds, the more complete is the extraction. For small quantities Scoop coffee makers are basically drip coffee machines, that are tweaked to allow brewing a single cup. With regular drip coffee machines, making a single cup is wasteful, and it doesn’t provide consistency.
Hamilton Beach Single Serve Scoop Coffee Maker
The rule with drip coffee machines is that the more coffee you make, the better the coffee is. That happens because when dripping all the coffee needs to be properly submersed into hot water, and the more water passes through the grinds, the more complete is the extraction. For small quantities you cannot pass enough water through the grinds, because the coffee would be weak. This is how scoop coffee machines appeared. Scoop coffee machines use a modified filter basket, to slow down the dripping, so that the hot water stays in contact with the ground coffee more. The method is not new, it is actually inspired from the pour over devices and applied to an electric coffee machine. You cannot pass enough water through the grinds, because the coffee would be weak. This is how scoop coffee machines appeared. Scoop coffee machines use a modified filter basket, to slow down the dripping, so that the hot water stays in contact with the ground coffee more. The method is not new, it is actually inspired from the pour over devices and applied to an electric coffee machine.
I rarely take sides, when it comes to recommending a machine, because everybody has different priorities. But I would choose this coffee dripper over any capsule based single serve. It is ecological, it gives a better coffee than Keurig, and it’s easy to clean. Sure, any capsule based machine is very convenient, but that the only battle where the Scoop loses.
Nespresso U D50 with Aeroccino
Nespresso took Keurig’s idea, and applied it to espresso. Until the apparition of the Nespresso coffee machines, espresso lovers had two choices, have their daily espresso in a coffee shop, or learn how to brew an espresso. Many espresso adicts sticked to their coffee shop routine, as preparing an espresso at home was too complicated, and the results were mixed. Now, you can find Nespresso machines even in the most fancy restaurants. It’s true, espresso geeks will never admit they enjoy a shot from one of these devices, but in reality there is no difference between a shot from a Nespresso machine and a “real” espresso coffee maker.
OK, I’ll admit that brewing with a Nespresso machine will not allow you to use your special Ethiopian beans. You won’t be able to finely tweak the shot for your taste. But all this is traded for the best consistency, and for the greatest convenience. So if you want convenience and consistency, this kind of machine is for you. On the other hand, if you need more control over your brewing, you need an espresso machine.
Pour Over Coffee Maker
Melitta Pour-Over Coffee Brewer
Pour over is a very simple, inexpensive device to make one cup of drip coffee. The water is heated in a separate pot, and the poured over grounded coffee, through a paper filter. The paper filter sits in the brewer, which is designed to slow down the dripping, to allow better coffee extraction.
Pour over seems like the cheapest solution for getting a single cup, but it’s not. It does give you a fantastic cup of coffee, (it is my favorite way of making drip coffee), but it’s not very cheap. In order to obtain a great cup, you need to use a good coffee grinder, which will provide you with a consistent, even grind. You will also have to pay for the filters, and this translates into one filter per cup. Coffee aficionados also use special kettles to ensure the perfect brewing temperature.
Pour over coffee is a bold drip coffee, with more flavor and aroma.
Dolce Gusto Coffee Brewers
Dolce Gusto Piccolo Plus
This is a nice little machine that makes perfect coffee. It is a capsule based espresso machine, very convenient, while still affordable. The 15 bar pump, is perfect for pulling great espresso shots from the Nescafe capsules. You can customize to a certain degree the prepared beverages, and it brews various espresso based beverages with a button touch.
The machine has a thermoblock, (the heating element), that will heat up the water instantly. There is basically no waiting time when making a coffee, like with many other single serve brewers.
The machine is very affordable, and very elegant in your kitchen. The capsules that go with it are the Dolce Gusto pods, which are among the best options on the coffee capsules market.</div>
The only disadvantage with Dolce Gusto Brewers are price of the capsules. The Dolce Gusto capsules are slightly more expensive than the average single serve pod, but they are worth every penny, if you ask me.
Bunn My Café MCU
My Café MCU from Bunn is one of my favorite coffee makers. It is probably the most versatile single serve. It can brew both coffee and tea, which is a plus, even though we don’t care much about tea. My Cafe MCU can brew pods, loose ground coffee or K-cups. This is amazing, you can pop in a capsule whenever you need your coffee fast. You can also use your own coffee, and make use a single origin, or your favourite beans.
Besides versatility, the machine from Bunn is designed to improve brewing. The pulse brew allows you to get a stronger cup. Compared to Keurig, or any other capsule based single serve, this machine brews a more flavorful coffee.
The machine comes with two years warranty, and customer support with Bunn is great.