Single Cup Coffee Makers FAQ
This is our page which answers many common questions. If you need additional clarification on anything here the “Terms Defined” guide takes this list one step further.
P.S. Yes, that’s our cat in the left image who crawled into the cupboard on his own volition making for a perfect Smartphone moment 🙂
Q: What exactly is a single cup coffee maker, by definition?
A: A coffee maker that, as its name insinuates is made to brew one cup of coffee at a time. They are also known by the terms “single serve” “single brew”, and sometimes a “one cup” or “K cup coffee maker”.Most have a clear reservoir in the back that holds water on standby and capacity may vary from machine to machine.
There is an inner chamber or compartment with which the K-cup is placed. The chamber contains an entry and exit needle that pierces the K-cup prior to brewing. The “K cup” is a trademark of the most well-known brand of these types of machines, Keurig, who is credited with the design.
Q. Do you have to use K-Cups only?
A: No, that’s the beauty of these coffeemakers – some of them are designed to accommodate soft pods, which are more like tea bag sachets (only round) and some will easily take on either one of these coffee delivery products. In other words, sometimes you can get the best of both worlds! The Bunn MCU My Cafe, for example, will let you use either of these products, or switch to traditional loose grounds if the mood strikes!
There are even a few models available that will let you have the traditional drip-brew experience too, in addition – the Hamilton Beach 2-Way is a great example of this kind of convenience.
Q: Are single brew machines expensive?
A: I guess it would depend on your definition of expensive. Like most kitchen appliances, they come in a price range and almost certainly there are models that will not set you back much. In other words, many are affordable.
Commercial brewers tend to be a little steeper in price. Manufacturers provide different UL listings for the commercial/office brewers than those made strictly for home use. It is best to stick with the correct type of brewer for the majority of your use, if problems should arise, it could void the warranty if you are using an office model in your personal domicile or vice versa.
Q: What is your version of how to use these machines if you are a total newbie?
A: Pretty much a similar process to your usual way. You would first fill the reservoir with clean water. Place your intended drinking cup into the space above the drip tray. If your cup is a little taller, you may need to remove the drip tray temporarily (they are meant to do so.) Select a new K-cup and open the front of your machine, by pushing up the lever, in which it’ll open up to reveal a small compartment.
Drop the K-cup into the compartment. Do NOT try to puncture it as the entry and exit needles contained within are made to do this when you push down. Release the lever. When you see the “ready” signal on the front of the machine, next you select your desired strength of brew and size of cup being used. You should then see the word ”Brewing” in action next to the indicator light.
This may take about a minute to a minute and a half at most. When it slows between final drips then your coffee is done brewing!
Q: Are these for just “basic” coffee? What if I want to try something more unique and exotic?
A: Then you have stumbled upon a goldmine! Whether you like stronger roasts, mocha, vanilla, or even pumpkin spice, you are well covered. You can find sampler packs of K-cups and sometimes the machines themselves include a sampler pack as well.
Also, if tea is more your cup of tea, you can also check out the amazing selection of various teas packed into K-cup form that run the gamut from chai to Earl Grey. There is also hot cocoas, and as of late 2015 a K-cup soup product entered the marketplace as well!
Q: Are these machines energy efficient? Do they use a lot of power?
A: Single serve coffee makers are made with conservation in mind, ranging from the greatest peak of power during brewing mode (about 1500 watts) and when in idle mode closer to 60 watts. Many models are equipped with an energy saving auto shutoff function that creates peace of mind as well as conserving of energy.
From what I have read, the greatest energy expenditure is from the time when a brewer is preheating from a cold start. More info can be found in this article. It is debatable whether or not powering down your brewer after every use saves energy.
Q: Do I need to clean my machine periodically? What is the best way to do so?
A: The standard of maintenance is periodic descaling-a time set aside to run a brew cycle using white vinegar and then water if needed so there will not be an acidic aftertaste. This step is important as with frequent or prolonged use hard water buildup can interfere with normal functioning.
Q: Which of these machines is right for me? It seems that there are so many out there and so little time!
A: No problem! Choice overload is very normal and can be easily abated by the right guidance and information. While I do make every attempt to provide excellent information via reviews and articles, please be sure that the merchant you click through to is featuring the product as advertised.
Our Comparison Chart can help you navigate the various models available on the market and discover the best choice with greater ease as the different price ranges and types are grouped together.
Q: Are you a distributor of single cup coffee makers yourself?
A: No, and we are not sponsored by the companies themselves. I created this site as a resource guide with the end goal of providing the most helpful, up to date and reliable information on different models via my research so that consumers are well-equipped to go into shopping with discernment and judiciousness.
Why single-cup coffee makers in general? Are they better than traditional “pot” models?
We have nothing against the traditional “drip” model – it’s got its advantages too. I have one, and still enjoy using it. Think about your lifestyle overall – Are you the only coffee drinker in your household- or one of many? Does it irk you if you end up making a full pot but only making a dent in it, meaning you have to pour the leftover down the drain (which means $$$ too, since coffee in itself tends to eat into our budgets!)
Do you entertain guests often, who tend to have varying tastes in their preferred beverage? (e.g., some like decaf, others Colombian brew, etc.) Being able to pop into a different K-cup pod for the different guests is a great alternative to one whole pot of just one kind.
All these are good considerations for you and your lifestyle.
Are these fancy single cuppers going to put me in the poorhouse?
I guess it would depend on your idea of a poor house 😁 But in all honesty, many (with a few exceptions) are reasonably priced….and there are some occasions when you can get a better price than the standard MSRP.
The price ranges below can help you better to gauge the best coffee maker for your budget:
As a general rule of thumb – it is mainly the models intended for commercial use (such as in a restaurant or hotel lounge) that are in the >$300 range as well as a few models that produce more “specialty” type beverages.
I understand that’s not all though…you may have concerns about the costs of the K-cups themselves, especially when looked at in a monthly or yearly perspective…There are ways to have your coffee and drink it too while saving some “green” in the process!