Best single-serve coffee brewers

Looking for the best value in single-serve coffee makers? We review the most popular models to find the best of the brews.



From the February/March 2012 issue of the magazine.


UPDATE: There has been a recall on certain Tassimo products since this article originally appeared in MoneySense magazine. Bosch Tassimo T46s with date codes beginning with FD and within the range of FD 8806 through 9109 are among the products being called back for safety reasons. Please visit for more information.


Addicted to the coffee at your local boutique brew house? Chances are your wallet’s thinner than you might like it to be. Splurge for a cup every day and you could be looking at a $700 expense by the end of the year.

Why not substitute this expensive habit with a single-serve coffee maker? Pop a coffee pod into the device, press the button, and within a minute or three you have a freshly brewed cup for a fraction of the cost.

There are numerous single-serve brewers on the market and, of course, they’re not created equal. Although designed to do the same thing, their bells and whistles vary considerably. Less-expensive models generally have smaller water reservoirs, for example, and they lack features such as auto shut-off, multiple serving sizes, and electronic displays. Top-of-the-line models have adjustable temperature control, manual brew strength settings, and programmable clock-timers.

But that doesn’t mean the most expensive machine is the best value—especially if you calculate the ongoing cost of the coffee pods.

Here’s our review of four popular models to get you started on finding the right price-feature combo. We’ll leave the final taste testing up to you.

Bosch Tassimo T46 ($120)

Despite a price well below some of the others we considered, the T46’s feature list is quite long, including auto shut-off, auto-clean, and manual brew strength. What’s more, it’s the only single server we looked at that produces specialty coffees such as cappuccino right out of the nozzle.

It’s true that Tassimo doesn’t provide as large a menu as its rivals: there are 25 varieties of Tassimo T Discs, compared with 200 kinds of Keurig K-Cups. But the ability to make a fast latte offsets that drawback for would-be baristas. T Discs are also less expensive than K-Cups ($0.49 versus $0.72), making the Tassimo’s year-long cost assessment the lowest of the group.

Keurig Elite Brewing System ($120)

The Elite is the same price as the T46 and it has one substantial advantage: using an adapter, coffee aficionados can brew blends that are not on the K-Cups list. So for people who have a favourite blend from the local coffee roaster, the Keurig may be the best choice.

While the Elite offers two mug sizes, it’s still relatively low on features. And while the machine is inexpensive, its yearly costs add up: of the 200 pods the Columbian pod costs $0.72.

Bunn My Cafe ($150)

The Bunn is practically feature-less, save for the “pulse” setting, which the manufacturer says lets users make the beverage stronger than normal. It lacks the array of choices offered by Keurig, and with its high price ($150 for the machine, $0.55 per pod), My Cafe presents one of the poorer value-for-money options.

Cuisinart SS700 ($170)

The SS700 has all of the bells and whistles, including an LCD display and multiple serving sizes. It also boasts a giant 2.4-litre water reservoir—and a giant price to match: it’s the costliest of our group. Developed in conjunction with Keurig, it takes K-Cups, and so it offers the widest coffee selection. But the price puts it in a different class, and given customer complaints that the machine isn’t built to last, it’s something of a disappointment.

Verdict: Of the four coffee systems we researched, it’s the low-priced Tassimo that wins.

Click image to enlarge:

9 comments on “Best single-serve coffee brewers

  1. I have a Philips Senseo that is absolutely amazing! Unfortunately they are not widely marketed in Canada, but I managed to find one online and we have a grocery store nearby that supplies the coffee "pods."


  2. Keurig K-Cups… go on sale all the time. just paid $8.99/box of 18. Offer was instore or online – free shipping over $20 @ Big Box store (F.S.). Every once in a while, they will put them on sale @ buy one get one free .


  3. but you ever think of all the garbage you are creating for one cup of coffee?


  4. Attn: Stefan
    Good article except you may want to look closer into, especially the tassimo machine. I would not recommend this single brewer to anyone, the company is going through serious, possibly fatal issues. If you don't believe me, check out their Facebook page, it's just comment after comment, hundreds of comments from angry customers, of how poorly they have handled their recall, lack of customer service, misleading advertising, and just plain aweful marketing. They have gone months without offering their most popular products, with no word as to when they will offer them again, and on top of it, already have a class action lawsuit filed against them claiming that they were still advertising Starbucks being one of their available products, after they were aware that they would be breaking their partnership with Starbucks. Many do not expect Tassimo to survive this debacle.


  5. You'd want the least hassle when you're making coffee just for one. I get most of my coffee beans online, so that's another concern put out of the way. I'd love to try out all these coffee makers before getting one for myself though.


  6. Walmart had the Keurig B60 (fairly deluxe model) on sale recently for $78, after $10 mail in rebate. It works fine and we like using the Ekocups to make our own brew for about 5 cents a cup instead of 65 cents per k-cup! It makes tea very well, too.


  7. If I had unlimited funds I would go with the Nespresso Citiz (with milk frother). It seems to be the best. As of now I have Verismo and I think it's pretty good.


  8. I had a manual single cup drip coffee maker which was wonderful – no k-cups etc needed at all.
    The only problem is that it wore out after thirty years of near-daily use.
    And now I cannot seem to find another one.


  9. Keurig , is the way to go. No complaints after 4 years.


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