Our experts round up the most convenient single-serve machines
By Daniel Wroclawski
A pod coffee maker is a quick way to get your morning going. Switch on the machine, add fresh water, pop in a pod, and press start. In a minute or two, you have a piping hot cup of joe.
Just don’t expect it to taste terrific.
Most pod machines that Consumer Reports has tested brew coffee of similar quality—that is, coffee that’s just okay. None of the 30-plus single-serve coffee makers in our ratings earns a rating better than Good for taste. According to our expert taste tester, that’s because of the quality of coffee in the pods themselves. (If you have higher standards for your coffee, we suggest a top-performing drip brewer instead.)
Because pod machines are about convenience, speed, and consistency, these are the qualities our testers focus on. We time brew speed for the all-important first cup and those that follow, note the temperature, record cup-size consistency, and evaluate convenience (operation and cleaning).
“When you’re shopping for a new pod coffee maker, you’ll also want to consider the type of coffee pods you want to use,” says Ginny Lui, who oversees CR’s coffee maker testing. “Keurig K-Cups offer a much greater variety of blends and coffee brands compared to Nespresso.”
Below, we review the best pod brewer for each major type of coffee pod, including Keurig K-Cups, Nespresso OriginalLine, and Nespresso VertuoLine, plus give you our best budget pick and our top-rated combination coffee maker (a machine that brews pods and other types of coffee). CR members can click on each model name for more detailed ratings and reviews.
Best Budget Pod Brewer
CR’s take: The Chefman InstaCoffee offers impressive performance at a low price. This little K-Cup brewer outperforms $200 machines, with stellar ratings in all of our tests, including an Excellent rating for first-cup speed and temperature consistency. You won’t get many bells and whistles at this price, though. This coffee maker’s only features are an auto-shutoff and the ability to brew from either K-Cups or loose grounds.
Best Keurig K-Cup Brewer
Cuisinart Premium Single-Serve Brewer SS-10
CR’s take: It turns out the best Keurig K-Cup brewer isn’t made by Keurig. That honor goes to the Cuisinart Premium Single-Serve Brewer SS-10, which receives a convenience rating of Excellent and offers great cup-size and temperature consistency. This machine also packs a ton of features, including an auto-shutoff function, a removable water reservoir, a height-adjustable drip tray, a built-in water filter, and programming.
Best Nespresso OriginalLine Brewer
Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker in Aluminum EN125S
CR’s take: If you’re looking for a Nespresso pod coffee maker that uses OriginalLine capsules, check out the Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker in Aluminum EN125S. It earns top marks for first-cup speed, repeat-cup speed, and cup-size consistency. It also receives a rating of Very Good for brewing range, which means you have plenty of control over the strength of your coffee. This model has a removable water reservoir, a height-adjustable drip tray, auto-shutoff, and an adjustable brew temperature feature. It’s simple to use, and it can also brew three types of coffee—lungo (an Italian coffee), espresso, and ristretto (a more concentrated espresso)—depending on the capsules you buy.
Best Nespresso VertuoLine Brewer
CR’s take: Prefer Nespresso’s VertuoLine capsules over the OriginalLine? The Nespresso VertuoPlus offers a superb brewing range as well as solid first-cup speed and temperature consistency. In terms of features, this machine comes equipped with a removable water reservoir, a height-adjustable drip tray, and an auto-shutoff function. And Nespresso pod coffee makers earn Excellent ratings for owner satisfaction and reliability in our member surveys.
Best Combination Brewer
Nespresso by DeLonghi Lattissima One Espresso Maker EN500BW/W
CR’s take: If you’re looking for a more versatile coffee maker that delivers great performance, the Nespresso by DeLonghi Lattissima One Espresso Maker EN500BW/W fits the bill. Using Nespresso OriginalLine capsules, this machine can brew coffee and espresso, as well as lattes and cappuccinos using a built-in milk frother and tank that dispenses milk foam right into your cup. It receives Excellent ratings for brewing speed and size consistency in our lab tests. Plus, Nespresso pod machines as a group garner Excellent ratings for owner satisfaction and reliability in CR’s member surveys.
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