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Updated Jan 5, 2023 6:12 PM
The best pod coffee makers combine quality, speed, and convenience. While traditional drip and grinding machines deliver great taste, they require lots of time and effort. In addition, drip coffee makers are harder to use for small quantities and leave your kitchen with the smell of old excess coffee burning on the bottom of the pot. Enter the solution to your problem: pod coffee makers.
With fast brew times that offer near-instant access to fresh, hot coffee, it’s no wonder coffee pod makers have become so popular in the home and office. Erase any memories of old single-serve coffee machines in break rooms of yesteryear. Today, the best pod coffee makers deliver taste, quality, and freshness in no time flat, one steaming mug at a time.
How we selected the best pod coffee makers
We reviewed the latest pod coffee makers, from top reputable brands known for quality products. The brands we reviewed include Illy (three models), Nespresso (three models), Lavazza (two models), Keurig (five models), and Nescafe Dolce Gusto (two models) for a total comparison of 15 different machines from five brands. Selections were determined with research from each company’s website. We also compared customer reviews as posted online, to determine overall satisfaction and potential issues.
- Dimensions: How much space does this product take up in your home or office? We looked for models that hit the sweet spot between being large enough to create a great cup of Joe while also not overwhelming your kitchen.
- Materials: Is this machine made to deliver cup after cup of delicious coffee? The material a machine is constructed with can have massive effects on quality and longevity.
- Speed: How fast does this machine brew, and how much time do you have to put into every cup? Modern pod coffee makers can be as effortless as one touch.
- Brew options: Pod coffee machines can feature many different brew options that result in lots of great coffee drinks, not just black espresso.
- Maintenance: A good pod coffee machine does require maintenance, and the best pod coffee machines for the home will help you along the way.
The Best Pod Coffee Makers: Reviews and Recommendations
Best pod coffee maker with frother: Nespresso Vertuo Plus Deluxe Coffee and Espresso Maker by De’Longhi
Why it made the cut: Our pick for the best pod coffee maker with a frother, the Vertuo Plus Deluxe package brews well-rated coffee and espressos. It includes a Nespresso Aeroccino milk frother, which can quietly froth hot or cold milks in seconds.
- Water capacity: 60-ounces
- Dimensions: 9.8-inch W x 13.3-inch D x 12.7-inch H
- Brew sizes: 5- and 7.7-ounces, as well as single and double espresso
- Centrifusion brewing process provides excellent flavor extraction
- Moveable water tank makes this flexible for use in more spaces
- Scans the barcode of capsule to adjust for specific brew
- This machine only uses Nespresso pods, which can be pricey
This coffee and espresso pod coffee maker delivers a fast and efficient brew system that utilizes the brand’s custom pods. Nespresso pods communicate brew instructions to the machine via barcodes. With a large assortment of pods to choose from, you can’t beat this machine’s versatility, and its one-button touch operation makes brewing seamless.
The pod coffee maker offers an extra large, 60-ounce water tank (more than double the size of some machines). Additional features include automatic shut off after inactivity, adjustable water tank placement, and a 15-second heat up time. In the updated version of this line, the Vertuo Plus pods use a more eco-friendly aluminum. If you’re worried about single use plastic consumption, the company offers direct recycling through their service with pre-paid UPS bags.
Best carafe and pod coffee maker: Keurig K-Duo Plus Coffee Maker
Why it made the cut: The combination of single-serving pods and drip brewing makes this a one stop shop for your coffee needs. The Keurig K-Duo Plus Coffee Maker works with both licensed K-Cups, along with alternate the best K-cup style pods.
- Water capacity: 60-ounces
- Dimensions: 8.2-inch W x 11.7-inch D x 14.19-inch H
- Brew sizes: This machine can brew single sizes 6, 8, 10, or 12 ounces as well as a 6, 8, 10, or 12 cups of drip coffee
- Works with both licensed K-Cups as well as alternate k-cup style pods
- Swivel water tank allows you to decide where it’s placed
- Thermal carafe allows you to keep your pot of coffee hot for a longer time
- No water filtration kit apparatus
This Keurig coffee maker offers both the brand’s pod brewing experience as well as a larger classic drip coffee carafe integration. The larger carafe uses thermal construction to retain heat and holds up to 12 cups of coffee. A reusable mesh coffee filter replaces the need for paper filters when using this machine’s drip function. To access the single serve feature, simply remove the carafe and place your cup beneath the head.
The machine’s swivel compatible water tank lets users place it just about anywhere in the home. The drip auto-brew is programmable up to 24 hours in advance, meaning you can set it to brew a carafe the night before. Altogether, this machine offers unrivaled flexibility as a competent drip coffee pot and a state-of-the-art pod coffee maker.
Best mini pod coffee maker: Illy Y3.3 Espresso and Coffee Machine
Why it made the cut: At less than four inches wide, this is a great space-saving pod coffee maker that will slide under cabinets and won’t take up too much of your counter space.
- Water capacity: 25.4-ounces
- Dimensions: 3.94-inch W x 11.73-inch D x 10-inch H
- Brew sizes: Can adjust to fit most cup sizes
- About half the width of other pod machines
- One-touch design
- Can choose between espresso or drip coffee
This mini pod coffee maker offers both espresso and drip coffee, and it has an adjustable shelf to accommodate large coffee mugs or smaller espresso cups. Illy uses an innovative iperEspresso capsule system, which delivers a patented two-stage process. This extra stage distinguishes it from the rest, creating full-bodied espresso as well as a long lasting crema.
Different capsules are used for drip coffee and espresso, but the machine does require Illy brand pods. It is possible to recycle the Illy pods.
This machine does require some maintenance. Descaling is required approximately every two months (depending on use) to ensure optimal flavor and functioning. The machine will automatically inform you with flashing lights when this process is required. Steps are included in the manual.
Best pod espresso machine: Lavazza BLUE Classy Mini Single Serve Espresso Coffee
Why it made the cut: This famous Italian brand delivers consistent espresso drinks with their Lavazza capsules. The Lavazza espresso machine uses easy to load capsules and has a convenient automatic ejection drawer.
- Water capacity: 23-ounces
- Dimensions: 5.3-inch W x 10.2-inch D x 13.4-inch H
- Brew sizes: Adjustable height to fit multiple cup sizes
- Uses a standby eco mode when not in use
- Starts up within 28 seconds
- Holds 23 ounces of water
- Only uses Lavazza capsules
This pod coffee maker offers two sizes of espressos with the use of their own capsule (pod) system. Compatible with both BLUE and Expert capsules, this machine is manufactured and produced by the family-owned Lavazza company, which has been blending coffee for over 120 years.
The machine’s transparent water tank can be removed from the unit for easy filling and cleaning. The base of the cup holder can be raised or lowered depending on the size of your mug. This pod coffee maker is designed with a drawer that can hold up to five used capsules.
Best for Nespresso pods and K-Cups: Instant Pod 3-in-1 Espresso, K-Cup Pod, and Ground Coffee Maker
Why it made the cut: You don’t have to take a side when choosing a pod coffee maker—this one from Instant Pot is compatible with K-Cups, Nespresso pods, and good ol’ grounds.
- Water capacity: 68 oz.
- Dimensions: 7-inch D x 13-inch W x 14-inch H
- Brew sizes: 2-12 oz.
- Adjustable brew strength
- Works with K-Cups, Nespresso pods, and grounds
- Large reservoir
- Buttons are on top of the machine and could be a hassle to reach if you have low-hanging cabinets
“K-Cup vs. Nespresso” has become the new “Coke vs. Pepsi.” Like all debates, there’s always an option to meet somewhere in the middle. The Instant Pod makes that possible thanks to its compatibility with K-Cups, Nespresso pods, and your own grounds—the machine comes with a reusable pod to brew your favorite beans from the coffee shop. You can adjust the brew strength and choose from six total brew sizes: 8, 10, and 12 oz for K-Cups; and 2, 4, and 6 oz. for Orginal Nespresso pods (the Vertuo pods aren’t compatible with this machine). It fits a 7-inch tall mug, meaning you won’t have to surrender to a smaller mug, and a 68 oz. removable water reservoir means you can brew plenty of cups before refilling.
Best pod coffee machine for the office: NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto Majesto
Why it made the cut: This is the perfect pod coffee machine for the office. It offers professional-grade pressure, an optional accessory water tank that allows it to be directly plumbed to a water line, and plenty of flavor options.
- Water capacity: 60-ounces
- Dimensions: 14.2-inch W x 13.4-inch D x 14.2-inch H
- Brew sizes: Adjustable
- Easy to navigate with a colorful touchscreen
- Can connect to water line
- Hot or cold drink options
- Only works with coffee pods designed for the Nescafe Dolce Gusto line of machines
This stylish, futuristic design is the largest pod coffee machine offered by the professional-grade Nescafe Dolce Gusto line. The machine offers both a 60-ounce water tank and an attached line that plumbs directly to a water hook-up. The colorful icon touchscreen is easy and intuitive to use. The machine connects to Wi-Fi.
This machine does require special coffee pods that are designed for use with Nescafe Dolce Gusto machines. The Majesto uses a “Smart Capsule” technology which helps seal the freshness of the coffee.
This is one of the best pod coffee makers that gives you choices. Options include 15 different programmed beverages, including lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, and specialty coffees. Iced coffee options are also built in. In addition, the Majesto offers six custom sizes to fit any caliber coffee cup.
Things to consider before buying the best pod coffee makers
Be sure to consider the overall dimensions of your machine as sizes vary with pod coffee makers. Don’t overlook the height of the machine if you plan on keeping this under a cabinet on your counter.
Consider what you need, because extra brewing options can add to the price of your machine. Some pod coffee machines will only brew espresso or drip coffee, while other models will do both and more, such as frothing milk or brewing cold coffee.
Ease of maintenance
Not all machines are created equal when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. You want to look for machines that can be periodically cleaned, as well as materials and designs that are resistant to build up from everyday use. Sometimes, having fewer parts means the machine is easier to clean and maintain. Self-cleaning options can be a truly useful perk.
Consider how quickly the pod coffee maker is able to brew its first cup, and then its second. Pod coffee machines should save you time, so look for faster heating as well as consistent maintenance of water temperature.
Q: How much does a pod coffee machine cost?
Pod coffee machines range in price from $40 to upwards of $500. At the low end of this range are small, simple one-cup machines offered by lesser known brands. The high end of this range delivers heavy-duty, commercial grade pod coffee makers. Most typical home pod coffee makers can cost between $100 and $200.
Q: Are pod coffee makers worth it?
Pod coffee machines are worth it for single serving sizes and convenience. While the cost per cup of coffee from a pod machine is more expensive than that of a drip machine, it certainly comes to less than you would pay at a coffee shop. In response to pressure from environmental groups, many coffee pods are now recyclable, but be sure to check up on how, as it’s not always as simple as tossing it into the recycle bin.
Q: Does the quality of a coffee maker matter?
The quality of a coffee maker does matter when you’re looking for the fastest, best tasting brew. The best coffee makers will heat water consistently, which is an essential part of brewing the best coffee. Quality parts hold up to cleaning and many years of use, saving you money in the long run.
Q: How do I choose a coffee maker?
Choosing a coffee maker doesn’t have to be a complicated process. The most important consideration is your purpose. If you’ll only be making single serve coffee, get a pod coffee machine. Before you make your selection, consider brand reputation, advanced features, pod recyclability, overall size, and brewing speed.
With so many pod coffee makers on the market, consider what features you’ll need and use. Do you just want espresso, or are you looking for optimum flexibility? Do you want a machine that only uses premium branded pods, or do you want the option to branch out? Finally, double check product dimensions to make sure that you’ve got the best pod coffee maker for your home or office.