So, there’s barely enough room in your cubicle for you, a desk, a chair, a phone, and a monitor, and you’re spending $400 a month on espresso from the coffee shop on the corner. At this rate, you’re never going to be able to save up for that vacation you have been planning all year.
What you need is a two-cup (one mug) single-serve coffee maker. These compact devices allow you to brew a single or double cup and allow you to do so on the go.
In this article, we will look at the 7 best 1 to 2 cup coffee makers on the market now, their features, and their prices so that you can choose the perfect one for you.
The problem is the market is saturated. Not only have the specialty brands and big-name kitchen appliance manufacturers staked a claim, but now even the power tool companies have got in on the act, making a comprehensive breakdown of everything available virtually impossible what with many suppliers offering more than one kind of small coffee maker.
Here are the most popular options:
- The coffee machine has a boiler to heat up the water, temperature controls, a water tank that holds enough water to make either two cups or one large mug, and a pump with enough pressure to produce espresso-quality coffee.
- The moka pot/percolator has an element in its base that heats up the water, forcing it up a pipe to a filter containing ground coffee. Once the water has passed through the grounds, it goes back up the pipe and the process is repeated, double-brewing the coffee.
- The drip coffee maker is the type most people are familiar with. It works on the same principle as the percolator except, instead of recycling the water, it uses the force of gravity to pass water straight through the filter into a carafe.
- The pour-over coffee maker is a drip coffee maker without a boiler. It consists of a carafe with a conical filter attached to its neck. The filter is filled with coffee, then water boiled in a kettle is poured into the filter. Gravity does the rest.
- The French press coffee maker is a glass jar with a filter on a plunger attached to the lid. Coffee grounds and water boiled in a kettle are mixed in the jar and allowed to stand for a couple of minutes. The lid is screwed on and the plunger is slowly depressed, trapping the grounds and pushing them down to the bottom of the jar. The filtered coffee is decanted into a cup or mug.
Now that we understand the different types of coffee makers, let’s compare what’s on offer.
1 to 2 Cup Coffee Makers Toe-to-Toe
1. Elite Gourmet EHC111A
Although it is widely described as a percolator, the Elite Gourmet is in fact a drip coffee maker. It retails for aounrd %24
- Smart, attractive, compact, and well-designed.
- It can brew either tea leaves, ground coffee, or coffee pods.
- It has a 60-second brew time.
- Its reusable, removable filter saves you the expense of buying paper filters.
- Auto-shutoff: when it has finished brewing, it switches itself off.
- Reheat functionality: after brewing put the mug back on the base, press a button, a blue light comes on and the temperature of your coffee is maintained for 30 minutes.
- Thermal reset: if its internal temperature gets too high, it switches itself off.
- Comes with a stainless steel 14oz mug that can be used as either a carafe or a drinking vessel.
- Doesn’t work with k-cups.
Watch a video demonstration of the Elite Gourmet here.
2. Keurig K-Mini
Keurig makes a range of single-serve coffee makers. This one sells for around $70.
- Extremely compact.
- Quaint, friendly design.
- Easy to clean.
- Minimal maintenance.
- A storage compartment for the power cord.
- Takes reusable filters from other brands as well as the ones supplied.
- A removable drip tray with enough capacity to accommodate any accidental overflow.
- Auto-shutoff a minute and a half after brewing.
- The water reservoir empties into an internal compartment before heating, making it slower than other single-serve coffee makers, so it might not be a good fit if you’re inclined to be impatient.
- A bit noisier than its K-Express cousin.
- It doesn’t take ground coffee, tea leaves, or coffee pods, only k-cups.
- There have been some reports of leaking, but this might be a result of mishandling.
Watch a review and demonstration of the K-Mini from Meem Reviews here.
3. ADIRchef Mini Travel
ADIRchef, a subsidiary of kitchen appliance manufacturer Alpine Industries, is a specialty brand that makes coffee makers both large and small. This particular model retails for about $30.
- Uses ground coffee.
- Your coffee comes out piping hot.
- The filter is reusable.
- Compact and lightweight.
- The wait time for a brew is about 5 minutes.
- There is such a thing as too lightweight. Even a single-serve coffee maker designed for travel purposes should be sturdy enough not to tip over if someone brushes up against it. Either that or it should have little rubber feet to stop it from slipping and sliding on smooth surfaces.
- The travel mug is plastic so you’ll probably want to replace it with something more substantial.
- The build is a bit flimsy. Again, any appliance designed for travel purposes has to be strong enough to resist shocks and undue pressure. I’m not sure that this coffee maker would survive the kind of weight it might be subjected to by, say, airport baggage handlers.
Please note: There has been some blowback regarding the fit of the filter. That criticism is out-of-date. Filters now fit perfectly.
4. Black & Decker CM618 Single Serve
It goes without saying that nothing’s more satisfying when you’re halfway through a DIY project than a steaming hot mug of joe. Now, for around $25, you can add a single-serve coffee maker to your list of power tools.
- Removable filter basket with a reusable filter.
- Automatic shutoff when brewing is complete.
- Thermal reset to forestall overheating.
- The power chord is frustratingly short.
- A plastic travel mug.
5. Sboly 2-in-1 Single Serve
- Versatile: it takes coffee capsules, pods, & ground coffee.
- Metal filter.
- This unit comes equipped with a small pressure pump that forces more of the fats from the coffee, improving its flavor and mouthfeel just like its big espresso machine counterparts.
- A 2-minute brew time.
- A self-cleaning function. Pour in 2 parts water and 1 part white vinegar, and hold down the two buttons on the side for 3 seconds to start the cleaning process.
- A good rule of thumb where coffee makers are concerned is, the more parts a unit has, the more there is to go wrong. This is another reason why regular maintenance is essential.
6. Famiworths Single Serve
This is a drip machine with great specs that doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it deserves. It retails for around $60.
- 3-minute brew time.
- Takes K-cups, tea, and ground coffee.
- Stainless steel and plastic build.
- A self-cleaning function.
- Can’t take coffee capsules or refillable K-cups.
7. Makita DCM501Z Single Serve
In the grand tradition of keeping the best for last, here’s another coffee machine like the Black and Decker that’s made by a power tools company, with one crucial difference: this one is battery-powered.
Now that’s what I call forward-thinking: both anticipating a need, then fulfilling it.
Apart from the obvious – camping and hunting trips – there’s another context for which the Makita is perfectly placed: now you can have a coffee maker in your car!
Yes! At last! No more having to stop or even slow down. Coffee any time you want it. Right there at your fingertips.
- Boil-dry protection.
- An 8-min brew time.
- So totally cool.
- Only one. You had better be a contractor who already uses Makita 12 & 18V lithium-ion batteries and chargers because they are not included.
While the coffee maker itself costs in the vicinity of $140, the right kind of lithium-ion battery is about $15, and a charger between $25 and $30.
Watch a very entertaining review of the Makita coffee maker here.
Single-Serve Coffee Maker Roundup
|Make & Model||Capacity||Brew Time||Weight||Size||Safety Features||Standout features||Build & Finish|
|Elite Gourmet EHC111A
|14oz||60 seconds||2.18lbs||9.69”H x 6.88”D x 5.11”W||Auto-shutoff & thermal reset||Reheat option||Smart, attractive, well-designed|
|Keurig K-Mini||12oz||2 minutes||4.6lbs||4.5″D x 11.3″W x 12.1″H||Auto-shutoff||Drip tray accommodates accidental overflow||Extremely compact, detailed finish|
|AdirChef Mini Travel||15oz||5 minutes||1.3lbs||5.1″D x 6.7″W x 10.1″H||Automatic Shutoff||Makes super-hot coffee||Looks nice; fine for a road trip, not a hunting trip.|
|Black & Decker CM618 Single Serve||16oz||Upwards of 5 minutes||2.2lbs||5.47″D x 6.14″W x 9.41″H||Automatic Shutoff||Attractive but fairly generic style-wise with a plastic and stainless steel finish|
|Sboly Single Serve||12oz||2 minutes||4.8lbs||8.6″D x 5.5″W x 12″H||Automatic Shutoff||A pressure pump for improved flavor; makes super-hot coffee||Smart, clean build with nice detailing|
|Famiworths Single Serve||14oz||3 minutes||2.6lbs||5″D x 9″W x 12″H||Automatic Shutoff||Makes super-hot coffee (170°F)||Stainless steel; bold clean lines|
|Makita DCM501Z||5oz x 3||5 minutes||3lbs||7.8″D x 11.18″W x 10.32″H||Boil-dry protection||Battery-powered||Looks like a power tool battery charger|
How to Upgrade your Coffee Maker for Free
Pre-infusion: Before switching on and starting the brewing process, pour a little boiling water into the filter. Not much, just enough to get the ground coffee wet. This loosens up the fat molecules that give coffee its flavor and mouthfeel, preparing the grounds for infusion.
When you start the brewing process, the water loses some of its heat passing through the coffee maker. The higher the initial temperature, the better the infusion. To jump-start, the brew, fill the reservoir with boiling water instead of cold water.
The old truism ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure really applies here. Don’t wait for something to go wrong and then try to fix it.
Scaling is a problem that affects all but the most basic coffee makers. High temperatures excite the minerals in the brewing water, causing them to separate from the water and attach themselves to surfaces, forming a thin, rock-hard layer on the inside of tubes and components.
The longer it stays there, the harder it gets and the harder it is to remove. Not only will it get harder, but over time it will get thicker and thicker until the coffee maker stops producing coffee or breaks down altogether.
Once a week, clean your coffee maker, then run a 2:1 mixture of hot water and white vinegar through the system. Do this twice.
It’s important to flush the system thoroughly so that nothing gets a chance to accumulate. Once a fortnight, use some of the descaling and cleaning solutions that came with it. Do this even with coffee makers that say that you only need to clean them once a month or every two months.
A Word or Two About Ground Coffee, Coffee Pods, Coffee Capsules, and K-Cups
Coffee pods (also called coffee pads) look like teabags with coffee inside. The little paper bag itself is porous and doubles as a filter.
Soft pods are used to make drip coffee, hard pods are used to make espresso. If you tried to use a soft pod to make espresso, the little paper bag would split open.
Coffee capsules are aerated plastic cups filled with ground coffee and sealed with aluminum foil. The coffee maker breaks the seal and squirts boiling water into the coffee. The holes in the plastic serve as a filter.
A K-cup is the brand name of a proprietary coffee pod made by Keurig.
Of the two, coffee pods make the better coffee. Paper is a better filter than plastic. Better extraction means improved flavor and stronger aroma.
If a coffee capsule won’t fit in your coffee maker, nothing is preventing you from breaking it open, dumping the contents into your filter, and brewing it up.
The same goes for pods. You might have to experiment a bit to get the right amount, and the end result might not be as flavourful, but it will still be pretty good and more than satisfactory.
Is coffee good for you?
The simple answer is yes. Studies come and go, they take precedence, then get superseded, but all agree that 2-5 cups a day contributes to a decreased likelihood of diabetes, heart disease, liver cancer, Parkinsons, and depression.
But some people say coffee is bad for you?
Coffee contains caffeine. As a stimulant, caffeine can cause your blood pressure to go up and your heart to beat faster. These side effects only become hazardous to your health (in particular, that of your heart) when coffee is combined with other, more toxic stimulants.