Mornings can be rough, especially during workdays. Sometimes you barely have time to take a shower and prepare an acceptable breakfast, much less manually prepare your daily fix of coffee. If you want a convenient and quick way to get your caffeine boost, then get a pod coffee maker. In this guide, we’ll help you shop for the best pod coffee makers on the market and explain the ins and outs of such machines and the things you need to consider when shopping.
Mixpresso Coffee Maker
Compatible with K-Cups, this budget pod coffee maker can use three K-Cup sizes: 6 oz, 8 oz, and 10 oz, the most common sizes on the market. It has a powerful heating component, allowing it to heat up fast and brew coffee in less than a minute. It’s easy to clean, comes with a straightforward interface, and has an auto-off function, which triggers if the machine’s been idle for two hours.
A K-Cup compatible single-serve coffee maker, the SS-10 includes a three-button LCD interface with a programmable clock. You can use the interface to set the cup size and the brew temperature as well as configure the auto-off function. Below the backlit screen is a set of buttons, each with a specific function. One is for starting the brewing process; one is for simply pouring out hot water for tea, cocoa, or even soup; and one is for the auto-rinse cleaning feature. Perhaps the best thing about the SS-10 is that it comes with a reusable filter cup, allowing you to use your own ground coffee.
The K-Classic brews coffee in less than one minute, which means it can cook up your caffeine fix before you can even start frying eggs for breakfast. It has a set of buttons at the top of the frame, with separate buttons for the cup sizes, and has an auto-off feature that triggers after two hours of inactivity. Aside from brewing coffee, this K-Cup coffee maker can also dispense hot water, giving you quick access to hot water for your tea, milk, or cocoa.
Available in black or red, the Y3.2 automatically ejects used capsules, with the onboard capsule drawer capable of holding up to seven capsules. The capsules are made of recyclable plastic, but since the capsules can’t be disassembled by conventional means, consumers can’t recycle them on their own.
Bunn My Café MCU
This versatile coffee maker from Bunn has a removable cup tray and can accommodate different cup sizes, with the max being a 14 oz mug. Considering everything it brings to the table, including its hassle-free operation, it’s amazing the My Café MCU is available for less than $150. If you want an all-around coffee maker, this is the product for you.
Starbucks Verismo System
This pod coffee maker is easy to use and brews quickly, with a series of buttons next to the capsule loading area. It has a nice all-black finish, which allows it to stand out in your kitchen. Starbucks coffee is on the expensive end. Everyone knows that. Sadly, the same thing can be said about the Verismo capsules, so you might want to limit your daily coffee intake. In terms of overall quality, this pod machine is not on the same level as most of the other products on this list, so we only recommend it to huge fans of Starbucks blends.
Nespresso Inissia by Breville
A single-serve coffee maker with a fast brewing time, this Breville product comes with a milk frother, making it an ideal pod machine for cappuccino and latte enthusiasts. It has an adjustable cup bay and can accommodate both regular-sized cups as well as tall mugs. Unlike most other pod machines, this Nespresso coffee maker has an automatic shutdown feature that triggers after just nine minutes of inactivity. So by the time you get off the shower, it’s already powered down, with an espresso ready to give your body its much-needed boost.
Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo by De’Longhi
Compatible with Nespresso Vertuo capsules, this pod coffee maker has a well-built frame with a small footprint, so it won’t get in the way of your other small appliances on the kitchen counter. It has an adjustable cup rest and an energy saving mode and comes with a box of capsules. Pod coffee makers with a built-in compartment for used capsules are often limited and can only hold less than 10 used capsules. This De’Longhi pod machine can hold more than 10, with the max capacity depending on the capsule sizes. If you prefer Nespresso capsules but don’t like the Original blends, get this Vertuo pod machine.
The K575’s water reservoir isn’t the only thing impressive about it. It has a touchscreen interface that allows you to adjust the temperature and set the auto-off function, among other things. Aside from the usual K-Cup sizes (4-12 oz), it can also fill up a carafe using K-Carafe pods. The removable cup rest allows it to accommodate different cup and mug sizes, including a tall travel mug.
With a brew time of less than one minute, you can always count on the K575 for a quick cup of coffee. In case you need a break from all the caffeine, you can also use it as a hot water dispenser to cook up other hot beverages. If you’re willing to spend over $150 on a pod coffee maker, this Keurig pod machine is definitely one of the products you should seriously consider.
Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio 2 by De’Longhi
The Genio 2 is compatible with Nescafe’s coffee capsules. It has a 45 oz water reservoir and is even faster than Breville’s Nespresso Inissia in regard to the auto-off trigger time: its auto-off function triggers if the machine’s been idle for five minutes. It fills up different cup sizes and can also be used for cold beverages. It has a simple switch near the power button, allowing you to easily go from a hot drink to a cold one, but only if you have the compatible Nescafe capsules.
Pod Coffee Makers 101
A pod coffee maker is a compact apparatus used to quickly brew coffee. It comes with an easily refillable water tank and a heating component and uses coffee pods or coffee capsules, small enclosed items containing ground coffee. A single pod or capsule is loaded into the coffee maker. When activated, the machine draws water from the reservoir, heats it up, and then mixes it with the loaded pod or capsule in high pressure, brewing the coffee and forcing it through a spout that leads directly to your waiting mug.
The pod coffee maker punctures the loaded pod or capsule during the process, creating an opening at the top for the water to enter and an opening at the bottom for the coffee to come out. Although it seems rather complicated on paper, the entire process is very simple and only takes one minute or less.
Coffee pods and coffee capsules are actually two different things, although many companies use them interchangeably. A coffee pod is similar to a tea bag and don’t require high pressure to extract the ground coffee encased in the fragile container. A coffee capsule is a small ground coffee container usually made of plastic and aluminum.
A coffee capsule is what most people immediately think of when “coffee pod” is mentioned and is the actual product used in most pod coffee makers, despite what the name says. Just to be clear, this guide is about capsule coffee makers, but we’ll give you a heads-up if a specific product can also use real coffee pods.
Pros and Cons of Pod Coffee Makers
With a capsule machine, you don’t have to manually grind coffee beans, boil water, measure portions, and adjust the taste. Just load the capsule, activate the machine, and wait for the coffee to drop into your eagerly waiting cup. A capsule machine is extremely easy to use and can brew coffee in a quick and reliable manner, and the produced coffee’s quality is consistent, too.
While a pod coffee maker is a great tool that can speed up your morning routine, it does come with a few downsides. Since a pod machine usually works with just a specific brand of capsules, you have a limited set of flavors to choose from, which is one of the main reasons serious coffee connoisseurs stay away from such machines.
In addition, a pod coffee maker can be expensive to use. Although there are products under $100 that you can check out, the really good ones rarely drop below that figure. What’s really going to run up your expenses are the capsules. Some brands can be costly, which is actually a good thing for the environment as it limits your use of the capsules. (Let’s go back on that point later.)
Coffee capsules, however, are not known for producing the best-tasting coffee, so don’t get your hopes up too high. At best, the coffee’s quality is average or acceptable. If you care a lot about your coffee’s taste, then a pod coffee maker is not for you. But if you don’t care about the taste as long as you get your caffeine boost, then you won’t have issues with a pod machine-produced cup of joe, especially if you regularly drink instant coffee as well.
The most significant drawback of pod machines is that they are not environment-friendly. As mentioned, coffee capsules are made of plastic and aluminum. Some companies use recyclable materials for the capsule components. But since separating the plastic and aluminum parts of such a small item is not possible via normal means, a lot of people don’t bother recycling them.
There are ways to make your usage of pod machines relatively more eco-friendly, the most obvious of which is to limit your daily coffee intake. The fewer capsules you consume on a weekly basis, the better. It may not seem like much of a contribution from your standpoint but it helps, especially when a lot of people are doing the same thing.
Pod Coffee Makers Buyer’s Guide
With dozens of options on the market, shopping for the best pod coffee makers can be as difficult as getting off the bed on a Monday morning. You need to consider several factors when narrowing down your choices and eventually deciding which machine is worthy to sit on your kitchen counter. Consider the following aspects first before you punch in your card details:
Get the coffee maker that can use your chosen brand of capsules. Pod coffee makers are known for their proprietary nature, which limits your coffee choices. When the manufacturer says the product is only compatible with K-Cups, then that product can only use K-Cups, period. If you want to switch to Nespresso capsules because you want to try a different blend, then you’ll have to buy a pod machine built specifically for that product line.
Choose a product that doesn’t take ages to heat up and brew coffee, and by “ages,” we mean more than five minutes. After all, a pod coffee maker’s main selling point is convenience and being able to quickly brew coffee. Most pod machines on the market can produce a cup of coffee in less than a minute, though, so your chances of ending up with a slow-brewing coffee maker are slim unless you’re not paying attention to the specs and customer feedback.
When it comes to the cup capacity or cup size, pod coffee makers offer multiple options. Some products can fill cups rated for 6 oz, 8 oz, and 10 oz, while others can pour out up to 12 oz or 14 oz of coffee in one go. If you’re buying a coffee maker specifically for large gatherings, check if the product is capable of filling large containers.
Mug Rest / Cup Tray
While most pod machines can accommodate cups of different shapes and sizes under the spout, some are less generous. Imagine buying a top-class pod coffee maker and then finding out your favorite mug, the one you never leave behind when going on a road trip, doesn’t fit into the tray. Catastrophic, we know. So make sure the product you’re considering can accommodate your beloved mug or cup.
Water Tank Capacity
The smaller the water tank, the more frequent you need to refill it. Go for a pod coffee maker best suited to your situation. If you live alone and don’t drink an alarming amount of coffee in the morning, a small pod machine should be good enough for you. If you live with other people who similarly refuse to go to work without a caffeine boost, a pod machine with a more generous water reservoir is ideal.
In your zombie-like morning state, the last thing you’ll want is to operate a complicated machine just to get your daily dose of caffeine. Get a coffee maker with a simple user interface, one that allows you to easily brew a coffee and adjust the temperature and the cup size, among other options. No need to shoot for a fancy machine with a touch-based interface.
A pod coffee maker needs proper maintenance just like other machines. If you don’t clean it regularly, you’ll end up drinking a coffee that makes you feel disgusted rather than revitalized. Consider a pod machine you can easily clean and maintain.