A fresh cup of coffee tastes better than one that has been warming in the carafe for an hour, or one that is slowly going stale in an insulated cup. That’s why many people buy single serve coffee makers. Every cup is made fresh and tastes its best.
Some people go for pod machines like Nespresso or Keurig, but pod coffee can’t match freshly ground for taste. And the pods themselves produce waste, despite increased efforts by their manufacturers to provide recycling options.
If you’re looking for a single serve coffee maker without pods, you’re sure to find one that will suit your needs among the five great choices we cover in this article. But if you’re looking for a quick answer, then let’s get right to it:
Best single serve coffee makers without pods
We’ll explain why these are our top choices in a moment. But first, here’s a quick look at all five brewers that made our shortlist:
What is a single serve coffee maker?
A single serve coffee maker is a machine or device that makes one cup of coffee at a time or often one large mug at a time. These makers allow for each cup of coffee to be brewed fresh on the spot.
Different types of single serve coffee makers
Single serve coffee makers without pods might sound like a very narrow specific category, but in fact there is a wide variety of brewing devices and styles available within that category. The big difference between them is whether or not they use electricity.
Many coffee machines use electricity. Drip machines are the classic home models familiar to most people. They are easy to use but do not make the best coffee. They may drip into a thermos rather than over a hot plate. This avoids the scorching that a burner can give to coffee.
Then there are automatic and semi-automatic espresso machines, designed to deliver espresso and foam for making fancy specialty coffee drinks.
Other devices use only gravity or person-power to brew coffee. These cordless wonders can be used anywhere you have a supply of hot water. Press machines such as the 21st-century invention AeroPress or the old-school French press would be included among these. These devices steep the grounds in water then use a press and filter to separate the grounds from the coffee. Other devices work with gravity alone to make pour-over coffee, and these include the Melitta, Chemex and Hario V60.
Finally, there are machines that make unique brews. The moka pot brews with steam and pressure. The Vietnamese coffee maker combines pour-over and press features. And, of course, the harried and hurried have their pod and K-cup makers.
The top 5 single serve coffee makers without pods
Technivorm Moccamaster Cup-One
The Technivorm Moccamaster Cup-One is the best single serve drip coffee maker. Consider it the iPhone of coffee makers: It comes with a high price tag but is easy to use and works great every time.
This sleek, silver or black machine is durable, energy-efficient, and has a small countertop footprint. Press one button, and the machine does the rest, making coffee in four minutes. It even allows for a little time to let the coffee bloom.
However, the Technivorm is among the most expensive coffee makers. They are a company committed to quality. You can learn more about them and their other Moccamaster brewers from our earlier post.
- Consistently great coffee
- Easy to use
- No customization
The AeroPress is the best manual single serve coffee maker with no pods. It makes great coffee anywhere and anytime. It takes a couple of steps but it’s well worth the time spent. After being guided through making your first cup, the process is simple, and it is very difficult to mess up.
The AeroPress always makes a high-quality coffee with a smooth flavor. With a smaller grind size, it can brew in one minute (which is the fastest we have found). The maker is durable and easy to take with you, even camping or to other rough places. Clean-up is easy and you can choose between metal or paper filters.
- Great tasting coffee
- Takes a bit of fiddling
Hario V60 is the coffee connoisseur’s choice. This simple device sits on top of your cup. Inside, it has grooves to channel the coffee in the best way. The ideal cup of coffee requires pouring the water into those grooves in a circle, taking about three minutes with a slow pour. But you can still make an excellent cup by simply pouring the water over the top. Through this and other choices you can control the flavor of your coffee. Additionally, the plastic model is the most affordable of all our top choices.
- Control over taste
- Simple and easy to clean
- Very inexpensive
- Techniques to master
- Takes time to learn and use
Hamilton Beach "The Scoop"
Hamilton Beach is the coffee maker for the masses. The Scoop is easy and inexpensive. It brews directly into a 14-ounce stainless steel mug in 2.5 minutes. This sturdy drip coffee maker combines its filter with a scoop and its carafe with a mug, minimizing moving parts that need to be cleaned. It gives you two choices for coffee flavor: regular or bold. Most people like bold.
- Simple and durable
- Mesh filter lets grit through and using a paper one can cause clogs
- Only two tastes, and both are drip coffee
Ninja Coffee Bar Single Serve System
The Ninja Coffee Bar is tops for espresso drinks. It makes espresso in different strengths and also froths milk, so you can create different hot and cold specialty beverages. It makes a good cup of regular coffee among its four custom brew settings. This system is long-lasting but does require occasional cleaning. It comes with a permanent filter but can use paper filters instead, if you prefer.
- Easy to use
- Complex machine may require some maintenance
What to look for in a single serve coffee maker with no pods
Type of coffee
When buying your single cup coffee maker, your first decision is what kind of coffee you prefer. Espresso has its own type of maker. If you love basic Italian coffee, get a moka pot. If you say “just coffee,” then most others will work.
Taste is the key factor when purchasing a coffee maker. Those who just want caffeine will find a standard drip model most familiar and convenient. Those with stronger preferences can go to a coffee shop and see if they can try coffees from different makers made with the same beans. Each one will have different smoothness, brightness, bitterness, and other flavors.
The person who wants to be in full control of coffee flavor should get the Hario V60. This simple device allows you to pour for different strengths and tastes. If you want consistently good coffee, go for the AeroPress or the Technivorm Moccamaster Cup-One.
How much do you want to be involved in the coffee-making process? If you like the ritual, then a Hario V60 or another top-of-cup drip device will allow you to engage in every step of the process. Many of us want a simpler, more convenient coffee. An AeroPress offers a pared-down hands-on experience. Hamilton Beach offers familiarity. With the Technivorm Moccamaster, you can give full control to the machine by pressing one button.
A good paper filter will keep most grit out of your cup. But you must keep buying them and throwing them away. There are wonderful eco-minded metal mesh filters, but all of these let some level of grit into your coffee.
How much time do you want to spend cleaning the machine after each use and overall? The non-electric models (AeroPress and Hario V60) require you only to toss the grounds, rinse, and go—unless you are using a metal filter, which take more cleaning. Each of the electric models has you also cleaning the pot and grounds, but internal parts may need occasional cleaning as well. The Ninja Coffee Bar also has a frother to clean and a couple more moving parts.
Are you taking your coffee maker with you? To the office? Or camping? Both the AeroPress and Hario V60 are easily portable. Electric systems are larger and more fragile. However the Hamilton Beach is a pretty sturdy little machine and can make it to the office and back. (I would probably buy one for each of the two locations.)
Once you’ve considered your preferences for taste, type of coffee, convenience, filtration, clean-up and portability, take another look at the pros and cons for each of our five brewers. This should give you a good idea about which of the five will work best for you. While we love both the Cup-One and the AeroPress, we recognize that your needs may be different and encourage you to explore the other pod-free single serve coffee makers on our list.