Photos Courtesy of Nespresso
On a mission to brew the perfect cup of coffee? While there are plenty of ways to make your morning cup of Joe, a single-serve coffee maker might help get you there. After all, making one cup at a time lets you customize it to a tee. And there are no concerns over your coffee getting cold or losing flavor sitting in the pot, only to be tossed out and wasted.
Manual single-serve coffee makers—from a French press to a pour-over set-up—allow for maximum personalization. On the other hand, automatic single-serve makers, from drip to those that use coffee pods, are convenient and consistent.
Whichever method works for you and your brew, we asked coffee experts, from café owners to roasters to educators, for their recommendations.
Here are the six best single-serve coffee makers.
1. Keurig K-Supreme Plus
For electric single-serve coffee makers, Ever Meister, writer and specialty coffee professional, recommends Keurig K-Supreme Plus. “It allows the user to control a number of variables like brew temperature, brew volume and even automatically identifies the type of K-cup you put into it to offer recommendations,” says Meister. “You can learn a lot about what makes good coffee flavor from experimenting with the variables.”
Machines like these, “don’t require a ton of accessories—coffee grinder, coffee beans, scoops and hot water kettles—[which] means they can fit virtually anywhere and will work at the drop of a hat,” says Meister. “Some people just want it brewed and ready to drink, bing-bang-boom.”
2. Nespresso Essenza Mini
Though convenient, “most [electric] single-serve coffee makers don’t achieve high enough temperatures to brew coffee, and nearly all suffer from environmental issues,” with so much waste generated from single-use capsules, explains Christopher Feran, director of coffee at Phoenix Coffee Company in Cleveland, Ohio.
An exception? “Both in terms of quality and end-of-life environmental practices, Nespresso machines are tough to beat,” says Feran, who’s also an independent coffee consultant. Consistent and convenient, Nespresso also offers a free, mail-return capsule recycling program.
You don’t have to just use Nespresso pods, either. Another option is to use a reusable coffee pod, points out Kaleena Teoh, director of education at Coffee Project NY. Fill it up with your favorite coffee, and you won’t have to sacrifice convenience or flavor, says Teoh, who cofounded the minority women-owned coffee company—with its four coffee shops, a roastery and training center—with partner Chi Sum Ngai.
3. Phin Filter
The phin filter is a brewing tool popular in Vietnam. Sahra Nguyen, founder and CEO of Nguyen Coffee Supply (NGS), is such a fan that she created her own to sell on NGS’ website.
“When you brew coffee with something like a phin filter, you can make the perfect amount of coffee each time,” says Nguyen, whose specialty coffee company imports beans directly from Vietnam and roasts them in Brooklyn, New York.
Plus, you avoid wasting the “one to three ounces at the bottom that [typically] gets tossed” when making a larger amount of coffee. There’s no paper filter required, she adds, making it an even more eco-friendly method.
Nguyen notes phins are also “super versatile—you can brew a highly strong, concentrated cup and you can do a second pour of water to open it up—like when we add water to an espresso shot and it becomes an Americano!”
5. Clever Coffee Dripper
“With great coffee, the customer has an important role to play,” says Philip Anacker, cofounder and managing partner of Flying Goat Coffee, a specialty coffee roaster in Healdsburg, California. “The coffee brewing process is very important if you want to get the most out of your morning cup.”
Anacker brews his morning cup with the Clever Coffee Dripper, “a wonderful combination of full immersion and paper filter brewing,” he says. With the Clever Dripper, “you get complete and even extraction of your coffee, like a French press, with clean sweet flavors and no sediment like filter brewing. You can also easily control steep time for a perfectly brewed cup.”
6. The Breville Precision Brewer
For Teoh, single-serve means “no more coffee sitting for a prolonged period of time, oxidizing and losing flavor,” as it does so often with bigger batches.
Though she favors manual brewing (her favorite is the Origami Dripper with a resin holder as of late), Teoh can vouch for the quality of the Breville Precision Brewer, which features an array of settings to get a more personalized cup of flavor.
However you brew your single cup, Teoh advises, invest in good quality coffee from your local roaster. “The cup of coffee will only be as good as the ingredients you use to brew it.”