Mind and Body

The Best Single Cup Coffee Makers

That morning cup of coffee is necessary... but you only need one cup

Unsplash / Zachary Newton

Language before coffee is impossible. The same goes for thinking, doing, and being: Coffee first.

And that means you need to make your coffee at home. Otherwise, you have to dress, drive, or walk—maybe even speak and apply hair product—before the delicious nectar that is created when roasted beans from the coffee plant are carefully ground and steeped—precisely—in pure, hot water has touched your lips and brain.

It’s just one cup. You don’t need an entire pot of the stuff. But it makes all the difference in the world if you have it.

A single-cup coffee maker is what you need. But the marketplace is lousy with these things. And it’s difficult to know which one will make great coffee and which exists only to irritate precaffeinated you.

We found six for you to consider. Each is best in its own way.

The Best Pod Option For Regular Coffee: Illy 60296 y3.2 Espresso and Coffee Machine

Illy 60296 y3.2 Espresso and Coffee MachineAmazon

Pod coffee makers are tempting. There is no ground coffee to deal with. You pop a tidy little pod into the machine, add water, and push a button. It’s very Star Trek, and super convenient.

It has some real downsides, though. The biggest is that the coffee isn’t great. The next is the unconscionable waste created by all those pods.

If you want to go this route, though, and like Illy espresso, this Illy 60296 y3.2 Espresso and Coffee Machine is Consumer Reports pick. It makes a good cup of coffee. Though, as CR points out, none of this type of coffee maker makes a great cup of coffee. You have to use the Illy brand of pods, but those are available on Amazon so that’s not a big deal. (And Amazon reviewers love this coffee!)

This option makes both espresso and coffee, but we think it’s better for drip-style coffee.

The Best Pod Option For Espresso: Nespresso EN125S Original Espresso Machine by De’Longhi

Nespresso EN125S Original Espresso Machine by De'LonghiAmazon

Another pod machine, the Nespresso EN125S Original Espresso Machine by De’Longhi is the pick of Consumer Reports for the best machine that uses Nespresso’s Original pods. It’s the line Williams Sonoma sells in it’s stores. Amazon reviewers love it. And it’s our pick for the best pod espresso machine. It makes a very good cup of espresso very quickly. It can also make a larger cup, but this is not the cheapest way to get your home brew, if you like a pour-over coffee. If espresso is your jam, though, and you don’t want to buy a huge, expensive espresso machine, this thing has you covered. It’s easy to move, too, so you could bring it to your parents’ for the weekend.

Nespresso EN125S Original Espresso Machine by De'Longhi

Nespresso EN125S Original Espresso Machine by De'Longhi

The Best Budget Option: Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper

Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee DripperAmazon

If, when you say “best,” you mean the most delicious cup of pour-over coffee, made from bespoke coffee beans of your own choosing, you are speaking our language. If your morning coffee is a ritual you look forward to, not a hurried beverage you want to get to as quickly as possible, we are right there with you. If you are also on a budget, this Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper is the best coffee maker for you.

Yes, you have to boil the water first. (We recommend this little inexpensive Bodum water kettle for that but you can also go with something exquisite, like this one that’s designed for making pour-over coffee.) Yes, you have to grind the coffee. (Get a burr grinder!) And yes, you have to stop everything for a few minutes and slowly pour a stream of hot water over your beans, until you have a cup of sublime coffee.

This is well worth the effort. Why not live your best life, even if you have to get up five minutes earlier?

The Best For Design Nerds: Chemex Glass Handle

Chemex Glass Handle, Pour-over CoffeemakerAmazon

If pour-over coffee is your jam but you want an object in your kitchen that is a thing of beauty, a piece of culture, a design element that says you take coffee seriously, a little ceramic thing that sits on a mug (above) is not going to cut it. In that case, add this beautiful Chemex to your counter.

All the same water-boiling, taking the time to smell the coffee beans, and stopping for a minute to for the ritual of coffee applies here. But the object itself is also beautiful. The traditional Chemex pour-over brewer is a cult favorite. This one, though, has a handle, which makes it easier to use—and it’s small, making only three cups.

The Best High-Tech Option: Technivorm Moccamaster 69212 Coffee Brewer

Technivorm Moccamaster 69212 Coffee BrewerAmazon

If you are quite serious about wanting the best pour-over coffee and you don’t want to do the pouring yourself, the Technivorm Moccamaster is it.

This is a machine you buy once and have forever, unlike all those cheaper machines that seem to die after a couple of years, putting you back in the market for a new machine.

There is an entire line of these beautiful, precise, pour-over coffee machines. This Technivorm Moccamaster 69212 Coffee Brewer is the one-cup model.

Fantastic coffee, as if you poured it yourself. But all you do is load the water and coffee and hit a button. That gives you seven minutes (that’s exactly how long it takes to make a perfect cup) to take a shower or get dressed.

The Best Space-Saving Option: Hamilton Beach The Scoop Single Serve Coffee Maker

Hamilton Beach The Scoop Single Serve Coffee MakerAmazon

You don’t buy into the zen of coffee making? But you don’t want pods—not even the reusable ones. You want drip coffee, made from your own beans. And you want that cup of coffee, ready, in your to-go cup when you leave the house. This Hamilton Beach The Scoop Single Serve Coffee Maker gets high ratings from over ten thousand people on Amazon.

It’s affordable, looks cool, and won’t take up too much room on your counter. Because, hey, sometimes that’s what your life needs! We don’t judge.