Types of Single Serve Coffee MachinesThere are various types of single serve brewers and they're not the same when it comes to what they can brew. It's best to confirm before you buy to be sure that it can make the type of coffee or tea you like. If you're an espresso lover - you may want one that only brews this type of coffee or you may prefer a variety of creamy lattes and gourmet coffee. Single serve brewers differ substantially in price, so let the type of coffees/teas/hot chocolate available be your first buying consideration, because function is limited or enhanced by the supply and variety of pods, K-Cups or capsules you can get for it.
Operating CostsA single serve brewer means you need a supply of either pods, capsules or K-Cups at an approximate cost of $.30 to $.50 per cup. You can save buying bulk but you're locked in to that specific type of capsule. Find a source of supply and make sure you like the types of coffees/teas it can brew, before deciding on a model. Be prepared to pay more for a single server, they tend to cost more up-front than regular coffee makers and the cost of buying capsules can add up quickly. Though consumption can vary, an estimate of how many cups of coffee/tea you drink can give you an idea of on-going costs for budget purposes.
Capacity & Cup SelectionsWhile some single serve brewers will brew only one size of cup, some models offer more flexibility with several options and this can be very handy. A 10 to 12 oz brew size is best for a travel mug (if the machine design allows for tall cups), while those who love espresso may want a 4 to 5 oz cup size. Consider how many persons will be using the brewer and whether the cup options are suitable for everyone. Brew strength can be adjusted by selecting a different cup option and this is a nice feature. Water reservoir size may not be a consideration for some, but for two or three adults, a larger tank means less filling.
Power & PerformancePower affects performance as well as brewing temperature and speed. Generally, 1200 - 1500 watts is good - the higher is best. Brewing noise may also be a consideration for some - look for a quiet feature, though you should expect some operating noise. Programmable clock and brew temperature features can be very convenient and where some brewers keep an internal water tank heated and ready to brew, an on/off setting is preferred for energy savings if you'll be away a few days or for sleep mode. These coffee machines only need a few minutes to be ready to brew. Also look for durability features and ease of maintenance.
Brewer Ease of UseSome single serve machines are more user-friendly than others, but generally capsule, pod or K-cup brewers require little effort if any. The guesswork has been replaced with a single serve pellet and the brewer does the rest with the result being a perfect cup of gourmet coffee or tea. These brewers are big on convenience, saving time and making clean-up as quick and painless as possible. Do look at the water reservoir, it should remove easily for filling and read the product manual to learn about scale removal and regular maintenance along with special features you may not have noticed.
Function & FeaturesMost single serve machines will brew coffee only, while some can also brew teas and/or iced beverages such as the Keurig B70. If you're hooked on lattes and cappuccinos, you may prefer a pod-style of brewer such as Senseo or if espresso is your passion, a Nespresso may be the better choice. That's why reviewing the coffees, teas or hot chocolates available for the brewer is a must. The varieties are constantly expanding. Cup height access is also very important - a brewer that allows enough height to accommodate tall cups/glasses is better. Some models have removable drip trays that extend the height.
Physical Size ConsiderationsWhile some kitchens can accommodate any size of coffee maker, others have limited counter space and appliances are juggled as needed. To operate properly, a single serve brewer should be placed on a secure, stable counter or platform, preferably within easy access to water for refilling. Consider the height of the area where you want to place your new brewer. There's usually about 17" between a kitchen counter and upper cabinets and that's usually adequate for most brewers. Some models are tall with a wide footprint and that might be a buying consideration. You'll use it more if you can keep it handy on the counter.
A single serve gourmet coffee brewer is ideal for an office setting - there's less clean-up and it's quick to brew. Staff will also love the gourmet blend varieties and not having to run out to the nearest coffee shop for their fix. A home brewer may be suitable for a couple of people but for a larger office staff, a commercial unit is a must if you want it to last. A brewer with several cup size options is more suitable as is one that also brews teas and hot chocolates. A good on-hand supply and variety of capsules is a must. Other things to consider: Water reservoir size and room to accommodate a travel mug.