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Updated for 2022
Single-serve coffee makers are all the rage and make up a large portion of American households. So if you’re a single-serve lover, or want to know if single-serve machines are for you, keep reading, because today we’re going over the best single-serve coffee makers and brands so that you can decide which brands and machines are best for you and your needs.
The fastest-growing espresso machine on the market, Nespresso is the crown jewel of the Nestle empire. Nespresso single-serve machines are very consistent and have a unique brewing system that ensures a thick layer of crema. Boasting 16 standard flavors, and a seasonal flavor or two as well, the Nespresso brand is bound to have a flavor for you.
Recent Nespresso updates to the Whole Latte Love catalog that are worth checking out include the Essenza Mini, Essenza Plus, Expert, Gran Lattissima, Inissia, Lattissima One and both the Vertuo and Vertuo Next line.
With prices ranging from more than $600 to less than $150, there’s bound to be a machine that fits your budget.
While Nespresso machines do offer a robust number of features, there are a couple of cons worth noting. First, you can only get the cartridges from Nespresso.
While this isn’t an inherently bad thing, as Nespresso has some valid reasons for choosing this distribution path, it can be frustrating at times. If you subscribe to the capsule service and run out of coffee a few days early, you’ll be stuck waiting for the next delivery. You won’t have the option of running down to the local supermarket to grab a box of capsules.
Second, after the D290 was discontinued, none of the Nespresso single-serve machines have built-in steam wands. For milk-based drinks, you’ll need to buy a separate unit like the Aeroccino or a combo pack that contains both the machine with Aeroccino.
The only other drawback is that Nespresso capsules are some of the most expensive on the market. Each capsule costs around 70 to 80 cents. But for the consistency, and the flavor that you get from each shot, you’ll know why they charge what they do.
As for Breville, the Whole Latte Love offers the Creatista Plus. Available in Salted Liquorice, Royal Champagne and stainless steel color options, the Creatista Plus offers a versatile solution to single-serve home espresso and latte art via seven pre-programmed milk drink recipes and uses Nespresso OriginalLine espresso capsules.
Each drink is fully customizable for temperature, milk texture, as well as volume. Eight milk texture levels, 11 milk temperature settings and adjustable volumes for milk drinks, ristretto, espresso and lungo volumes are available.
illy is fairly unique in that it doesn’t make its own machines, preferring to concentrate on producing coffee. illy iperEspresso cartridges are all consistent and designed to brew espresso. If you like illy coffee, these capsules are the only way to get a single-serve experience outside of packing your own Keurig My K-Cup.
IperEspresso capsules are available in Medium, Scuro and Decaf versions as well as the recently added Lungo, which is designed to pull a longer shot. To use iperEspresso capsules, you’ll have to have a Francis Francis X1, X7, or the new Gaggia for illy machine.
Some companies have opted for other brands to build machines for their proprietary systems. The Gaggia for illy Plus uses the iperEspresso capsules. Secondary manufactured machines like these offer unique features that are different from the original company’s machines.
For example, the Gaggia for illy is a powerhouse, with a Pannarello wand and a simpler set up, laid out more like a super-automatic. The simpler design eliminates the portafilter that the Francis Francis machines use, making one less piece to lose, or that you have to clean.
Not a true single serve, but just as versatile and easy to clean up, ESE pods offer an extra option for those seeking the benefits of a single-serve system. Most semi-auto espresso machines offer a different basket or adapter to their machines that make them pod capable.
There are more ESE pod flavors/roasts available than all of the single-serve capsules and cartridges discussed above. Many roasters offer ESE pods, which come individually wrapped and ready to brew.
Pods usually cost as low as 40 cents each and you can find them at most supermarket stores. They are just as easy to clean as a capsule or cartridge, with a simple flick the pod out of the portafilter and into your garbage once you’re done brewing. You could even send spent pods to your compost pile since they are biodegradable.
In conclusion, the arguments for single-serve espresso machines on a whole is clear. Cleanup is easier than any other type of machine and these systems provide consistency of shots with minimal fuss. If you have any questions about single-serve systems, feel free to call us in the sales department; we can also help you pick the one that is best for your needs.
We have reviewed some of the top single-serve coffee makers from notable brands over the years. Some of our favorites include the Gaggia for illy Plus and the Nespresso Citiz and Aeroccino Plus. For even more options, you can always browse through our collection of single-serve coffee makers or speak with our in-house experts about which machine is best for you.