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The 7 Best Single-Serve Coffee Makers

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Not everyone wants a full pot of coffee every day. In my household, for example, I’m the only coffee drinker, so I used to try to only make one or two cups at a time in an ancient drip machine I inherited from college. But after too many mornings wasting a half-full carafe, I decided to invest in a single-serve device. If you’re in the same position, I spoke with fellow food editors, serious coffee people, and chefs to find a whole range of solutions you can read about below, from individual-size French presses to pour-overs to pod machines that use recyclable capsules.

What we’re looking for


A major concern with single-serve coffee makers is the amount of waste they produce, particularly with pod machines — those containers can really add up, especially if you use them daily or multiple times a day. However, many models now come with reusable, compostable, or recyclable options. Here, we’ve noted what kind of waste each coffee maker produces and, where applicable, whether the maker has a specific program to deal with it.


How much counter space you’ll have to devote to a coffee setup is an important consideration: Do you sacrifice a precious amount of real estate or opt for a maker you can easily tuck away on a shelf or in a drawer? To give you a better sense of how our picks might fit in your kitchen, we’ve included the dimensions of each.


Coffee makers can range from under $20 to hundreds of dollars; luckily, single-serve coffee makers often fall on the more affordable end. We’ve denoted a price range via dollar sign, with $ meaning $1–30, $$ meaning $40–60, and $$$ meaning $60 and over.

Best overall single-serve coffee maker

Waste: Coffee grounds | Size: 6.6” x 7.5”x 4.2” | Price: $

When you’re looking to make a small amount of coffee regularly, four of our experts agree: A French press is the way to go. It’s an easy, inexpensive, consistent method; it produces very little waste; and you only need two pieces of equipment aside from the coffee itself: a French press and a kettle to boil water. Of the many options out there, our panelists’ favorite model is the Bodum Chambord.

“I use a Bodum French press to make nearly all my coffee,” says Food & Wine food editor Kelsey Youngman. “It’s not difficult to store, and it’s easy to use” by pouring hot water over ground coffee, letting it brew, then lowering the plunger. Like Youngman, Kierin Baldwin, chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, pairs her Bodum with a grinder so she can purchase whole beans (though it works with pre-ground if that’s your style). “I use my Bodum every morning,” she says. “I put on the water when I’m in the shower. It’s perfect.” You can choose from several sizes, including a 12-ounce version, though you can make a small amount of coffee in a larger French press by adjusting the water and grounds.

Besides the Bodum’s versatility, Strategist senior editor Jen Trolio appreciates how durable and unfussy it is. “It’s nice that it doesn’t need paper filters, which is one less thing to buy and dispose of,” she says, “and whenever we use it we put most of the parts in the dishwasher once we clean out the grounds.” Replacement filter mesh and carafes are available to buy separately, though in the 15 years Trolio has owned her Bodum, she says she’s only had to swap out the glass twice. In fact, the glass carafe was a big selling point for Strategist managing editor Kelsie Schrader, who once tried a cheaper plastic version that cracked under high heat.

Best (less expensive) single-serve coffee maker

Waste: Coffee grounds | Size: 4” x 3” x 4” | Price: $

Former Strategist writer Nikita Richardson is a Moka Pot evangelist — so much so that she influenced me to buy my own after watching her make her daily cup of coffee on Instagram for years. In 2020, she wrote a whole piece extolling its virtues — from the joy of the ritual of making coffee with it to its ease of use — and stands by this recommendation today. “This little appliance takes the guesswork out of making a quality cup — and, in my opinion, it tastes far better than the stuff a standard coffee maker produces,” she says. “It also makes stronger coffee than a Chemex or similar pour-over setup by using steam to push hot water through the coffee grounds with one to two bars of pressure.” It’s also compact enough to easily tuck away, even in a small apartment, and at $20, it’s nearly half as expensive as the Bodum above.

Best pour-over single-serve coffee maker

Waste: Coffee grounds and filters  | Size: 5”x 8.5” | Price: $$

If you prefer more control over your brew and don’t mind exercising some patience, the best way to make a small amount of pour-over is with this Chemex, says Oset Babür-Winter, digital drinks editor of Food & Wine, who registered for one when she got married and uses it every day. Babür-Winter loves that you can make as much or as little coffee as you want in the Chemex, and that the pour-over itself is aesthetically pleasing with a nice-looking wooden collar. The Chemex also comes in ten- and three-cup versions if you’re looking for more or less capacity. It does require filters, but if you don’t want to deal with paper, there’s also the option to purchase a reusable metal one.

Best drip single-serve coffee maker

Waste: Coffee grounds and filters | Size: 6.7” x 8.35” x 8.67” | Price: $$

For those who prefer a drip machine, this Hamilton Beach coffee maker was named the best-rated single-serve coffee maker in a previous version of this story, thanks to its more than 18,000 positive reviews on Amazon. This pick is a drip setup but only produces eight to 14 ounces of coffee at a time, allowing you to brew into a regular cup or directly into a travel mug. This means you can make coffee as you go during the day, rather than leaving it in a big pot to get cold and stale. The machine also got bonus points for how easy it is to clean with a little rubbing alcohol — one reviewer estimates that “in less than 60 seconds you can remove, clean, and replace the three pieces that make the dispensing area.” Another buyer loves the Hamilton Beach so much that they’ve purchased three: for their workplace, second home, and son. “I’ve even given them away as gifts,” they write.

Best single-serve coffee and espresso maker

Waste: Coffee grounds and filters | Size: 4.5” x 4.75” x 11.75” | Price: $$

The Aeropress comes recommended by Baldwin for when you want the option of coffee or espresso. “You can easily make yourself an Americano or a latte, or just a tasty cup of coffee,” she says. “And if you’re sensitive to the acidity in coffee that comes from brewing in a French press, it’s an excellent option.”

The Aeropress also has the advantage of being highly portable, since it’s made of food-safe plastic and silicone, and even comes with a handy tote bag. Michael Phillips, Blue Bottle’s director of global engagement and education, also gives the Aeropress his stamp of approval for that reason. “The AeroPress is a good option for travel brewing,” Phillips says. “My personal kit includes a digital scale and thermos to pour the water with, but once you are familiar with the method you can still brew a decent cup by eye. They are also nearly indestructible with their only drawback being they produce eight ounces of coffee maximum per brew.”

Best pod machine single-serve coffee maker

Waste: Recyclable pods | Size: 3.3” x 8” x 12.9” | Price: $$$

Chef and James Beard–nominated food writer Kiki Aranita swears by her Nespresso and even keeps one beside her bed so she can have a cup of coffee first thing when she wakes up. She’s used it for a decade, and despite trying all kinds of coffee paraphernalia and an updated, fancier Nespresso, the Essenza Mini is the pod machine she keeps going back to because it delivers consistently excellent espresso without having to deal with the expense and finickiness of a full-size counter model. “It’s my longest-running and most used coffee machine,” Aranita says. The aforementioned updated Nespresso comes with a milk frother, but Aranita says she uses it far less frequently as the frother has to be kept in the fridge, which adds an extra step. “I prefer my Fred Flinstones Nespresso,” she said. “It takes up so much less room.”

The downside is the single-use pods, but Nespresso offers a recycling program. So as long as you’re willing to pop an envelope in the mail on occasion, it’s less of a waste producer than many other pod machines.

Best compact single-serve coffee maker

Waste: K-cup pods | Size: 13.78” x 7.48” x 11.42” | Price: $$$

In a previous version of this story, the Mueller was named the best compact single-serve coffee maker. As the product name suggests, it uses a pod system that takes up less counter space than a Keurig while still having a generous capacity for a single-serve machine. “I get about four decent size cups of coffee out of it before having to refill, which is very easy to fill up,” one Amazon reviewer writes. Other buyers say they prefer the Mueller over the Keurig for its quality and function. “It’s less expensive, doesn’t take up as much room, and not nearly as noisy as the ‘leading brand,’” another customer writes. The machine also comes with a two-year warranty.

Some more single-serve coffee machines (and coffees) we've written about

Our experts

Kiki Aranita, chef and James Beard–nominated food writer
Oset Babür-Winter, digital drinks editor at Food & Wine
Kierin Baldwin, chef-instructor at Institute of Culinary Education
• Michael Phillips, global director of education and engagement at Blue Bottle
Jen Trolio, Strategist senior editor
Kelsey Youngman, food editor at Food & Wine

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The 7 Best Single-Serve Coffee Makers