How to Pick the Right Single-Cup Pod Coffee Maker


One of the first things many of us reach for every morning after turning off the alarm is a hot cup of coffee. But with kids to feed, outfits to assemble and a commute to make, there may not be time to grind fresh beans and wait for an entire pot of Joe to brew. Its no surprise then that single-cup pod coffee makers are now the fastest-growing category of coffee makers, according to Consumer Reports.

A relatively new addition to the market, single-serve coffee makers offer consumers more convenience than traditional brewing methods by eliminating the need to grind coffee beans, insert filters and clean up grounds afterwards.

Youre paying a premium for the pods and the makers themselves, says Bob Markovich, home and yard editor for Consumer Reports. But for someone who wants the most convenient coffee possible, this kind of coffee maker is a great option.

We checked in Consumer Reports to find the top six single-cup pod coffee makers under $150, based on ease of use, brewing range and speed. While $150 might seem like a hefty price tag, like with most things, higher prices dont always mean better quality.

You really have to pick and choose, because paying $300 doesnt mean youre getting the best coffee, warns Markovich.

Even with prices higher than what youd pay for a traditional coffee maker, pod coffee makers still offer a deal when compared to prices youd pay for a cup at Starbucks or even McDonalds, according to Markovich.

People want no muss, no fuss, and they arent looking to mess around with loose grounds. They want to push a button and have their coffee, and pod coffee makers are the best way to get that.

Mr. Coffee Single Serve Brewer

Cost: $80

Available at Kmart, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and other major retailers

What Mr. Coffee says:

The single serve coffeemaker category has experienced unprecedented growth, particularly over the last 18 months, with a number of well-known brands unveiling new offerings, says Matthew Ragland, vice president of marketing for the Mr. Coffee brand.  The Mr. Coffee Single Serve Brewer is uniquely positioned to deliver patented Keurig brewed technology under the highly trusted Mr. Coffee brand name, but at a distinct value thats relevant to todays cost conscious consumers.

What Consumer Reports says:

This machine received very good ratings in convenience, brewing range, temperature and speed for the first cup. It rated excellent on size consistency, and scored fair on repeat speed when making more than one cup.

Mr. Coffee has always done a great job with their traditional coffee makers, and I think the quality they deliver is great when you look at price, says Markovich. With the holidays coming, youre going to see more machines drop their prices under $100, but right now, this price point is great.

Keurig MINI Plus & The Keurig B40

Cost:  $100 each per unit

Available at Wal-Mart, Kmart, Best Buy, Sears and other major retailers

What Keurig says: 

From inception, Keurig zealously embraced innovation, quality and convenience and the result is its revolutionary Keurig single-cup brewing system, but we didnt stop there. Through the brands of our parent company, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and the relationships weve forged with other leading beverage brands like Folgers, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks and Swiss Miss, were able to deliver an unmatched variety of Keurig Brewed  beverages within the system,  says Suzanne DuLong, vice president of corporate communications and investor relations at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

What Consumer Reports says:

The Keurig MINI Plus received very good ratings in convenience, brewing range, temperature and first cup speed. It also rated good in repeat cup speed and size consistency.

The Keurig B40 received excellent ratings for repeat speed, temperature and size consistency, but scored fair in brewing range and first cup speed. Convenience for the B40 was rated as good.

Keurig started all, and they have the biggest market share in the pod coffee maker arena, says Markovich. Keurig by far offers the most choice with the types of coffee you can use, because they make the K-cup that is made by several coffee brands. It was a smart decision on their part to do that.

DeLonghi Nescaf� Dolce Gusto

Cost: $150

Available at Wal-Mart, and other major retailers

What Nescaf� says:

The NESCAF� Dolce Gusto by DeLonghi, is an Italian-inspired single-serve coffee system, offering the highest quality coffeehouse drinks without breaking the bank or adding clutter. Any NESCAF� Dolce Gusto machine lets you enjoy your favorite coffeehouse drinks, from creamy layered lattes to bold black coffees with its unique espresso-making capability and milk frothing technology.

What Consumer Reports says:

The Dolce Gusto scored excellent ratings on first cup and subsequent cup speeds, and ranked very good for convenience, temperature and brewing range. The machine rated good for size consistency.

Senseo Original & The Senseo Supreme

Cost: $69.99 for the Senseo Original  and $109.99 for the Senseo Supreme

Available at Target, Wal-Mart and most major retailers

What Senseo says:

For the Senseo Original:

The Senseo coffee system uses pre-measured soft pods to conveniently brew a delicious cup of premium coffee.  The patented system uses perfectly-balanced proportions of coffee and water, allowing coffee lovers to brew the perfect cup of coffee in under a minute.  With 11 delicious flavors such as Dark Roast, Medium, French Vanilla and Sumatra, there is a blend to suit all taste palettes, says Patty Garcia, assistant brand manager of retail coffee at Sara Lee.

For the Senseo Supreme:

The Senseo Supreme Coffeemaker is single serve system that lets you savor a fresh cup of quality coffee at the touch of button.  Featuring an interactive LDC display screen and an adjustable spout, consumers can personalize their cup of coffee based on size and strength preference.  Each perfectly-brewed cup is topped off with a rich and frothy layer, fulfilling the coffee shop experience in the comfort of your home without the mess and hassle of handling coffee grounds.

What Consumer Reports says:

The Senseo Original scored excellent ratings in repeat speed, temperature  and size consistency; very good in convenience; good in first cup speed; and fair in brewing range.

The Senseo Supreme scored excellent ratings in repeat speed and size consistency, and very good ratings in convenience, temperature, first cup speed and brewing range.

The Senseo is one of the only machines that lets you brew more than one pod at once if you want a stronger cup, says Markovich. Typically with pod coffee makers, the larger the cup of coffee, the weaker the brew, but the Senseo gives you the ability to have a large, strong cup of coffee. Also, we really saw great temperature consistency for repeat cups.