The 5 Best Single-Serve Coffee Makers Without Pods

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by Margeaux Baulch Klein and Carina Finn
Originally Published: 

Whether you’re looking to use your own grounds or you're searching for more ways to improve your eco-friendly habits, the best single-serve coffee makers without pods make it just as easy to brew one cup on demand, directly into the mug of your choosing (no pot necessary). The right machine for you will come down to your counter space, how much coffee you drink every day, and whether you want the flexibility to brew more than just drip coffee.

To find the best capsule-less machine for you, consider the following:

  • Machine size: Single-serve makers are already inherently scaled-down versions of full-sized coffee makers, however, if you're lacking room for another appliance (or plan to use yours on an office desk), an extra-compact machine with a slim profile will be your best bet. Just remember that the more streamlined the design, the more scaled back the features.
  • Cup size: While 8 ounces is considered the standard size of a cup of coffee, machines with multiple brew sizes and strength settings will allow you to dictate how much you brew and what style of coffee you get. That said, you'll still want to pay attention to the clearance height under the spout to ensure your favorite mug, especially a travel-size one, will fit. To make it even easier for you, some models come bundled with compatible mugs.
  • Advanced features: If you're willing to shell out a little extra, you can not only find programmable machines but also ones that go above and beyond the norm with options for rich espresso-style concentrates or frothed milk.
  • Filters: Going sans K-Cups means you'll still need to use a filter. A paper filter makes cleanup between cups fast and easy, but a reusable mesh filter results in less waste and will cost you less over time.

Now that you've got the scoop on how to choose the best pod-free single-cup coffee maker, you'll find a list of some of the most highly rated machines on Amazon below.

1. The Overall Best Single-Serve Coffee Maker

  • Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.6 x 13.5 inches (length x width x height)
  • Brew size: 8 or 14 ounces

Boasting more than 10,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, this Hamilton Beach scoop single-serve coffee maker is one of the most popular options among caffeine aficionados. Fans love its impressively fast brewing speed (a mere 90 seconds for an 8-ounce cup), compact footprint, and streamlined stainless steel exterior. To boot, there’s an optional "bold" setting for stronger-tasting coffee. To capitalize on safety, this machine also features an automatic shut-off function and a spill-resistant, removable drip tray. It doesn't come with a mug, but according to Amazon users, mugs up to 7.25 inches tall can fit properly under the spout.

Instead of requiring paper filters, the machine comes accompanied by a washable mesh filter basket that doubles as a scoop for lots of convenience. Just dip the filter into the ground coffee and place directly into the coffee maker.

Helpful review: “The coffee blew me AWAY! It was so smooth and absolutely perfect. Even the temperature of the coffee was hotter than I'd ever had with the big Kuerig. It's faster than our old unit too. Oh yes, the stainless steel looks lovely and it takes up very little counter space.”

2. The Most Affordable Single-Serve Coffee Maker

  • Dimensions: 11.3 x 9.3 x 13 inches (length x width x height)
  • Brew size: up to 16 ounces in one cycle

If you can do without fancy extras, this budget-friendly Black + Decker single-serve coffee maker might be for you. The machine makes a single cup at the press of a button — simply scoop the grounds into the paperless, removable filter basket, add your desired amount of water, and press the power button. In just a few minutes, the coffee maker will brew a hot cup of joe directly into the included dishwasher-safe 16-ounce travel mug. Keep in mind that there are no programmable settings (hence the affordable price), but for safety, the device will automatically shut off after brewing. According to Amazon reviewers, there are only about 7 inches of clearance space for a mug under the spout, so most larger mugs should fit.

Note: For even less money, you could also get the much more compact 8-ounce size version.

Helpful review: “Exactly what I needed! Brews a perfect mug of coffee from regular grounds. [...] Once water and grounds are in place, this is literally the easiest coffee ever - one button! Press it, the light turns on, and the light turns off when it's done. So easy!”

3. The Most Versatile

  • Dimensions: 12 x 8.8 x 15 inches (length x width x height)
  • Brew size: Concentrated for espresso (4 ounces), single-cup (9.5 ounces), XL cup (11.5 ounces), travel mug (14 ounces), XL multi-serve mug (18 ounces), half-carafe (25 ounces), or full-carafe (50 ounces).

With an impressive 4.7-star overall rating after 12,000 reviews, this Ninja specialty coffee maker understands that you may want just a single cup on some days, while, on others, you might prefer an extra-large one or even a full carafe. Luckily, this machine gives you options, so you can make as much coffee as you'd like without any waste (a removable mesh filter is included). The machine also offers customization modes — select the "bold" setting for an extra-strong brew or the "over ice" setting for chilled, refreshing drinks. For even more convenience, the built-in clock allows you to program your brew start time, so your cup of joe will be ready by the time you roll out of bed, and you can also use the handy "clean" setting to descale it.

For specialty drinks, like cappuccinos or lattes, there’s a "concentrated" 4-ounce espresso-style setting, as well as a built-in, fold-away frother that transforms hot or cold milk into light, fluffy foam. The device doesn't come with any glassware for single-serve pours, but you can fit any type of mug up to 7.5 inches tall under the spout. When making full pots, however, there is a 10-cup glass carafe included in the box (or you can choose to upgrade to the thermal carafe version). Size-wise, it's taller than all of the other choices on this list, so you'll also want to consider your counter-to-cabinet clearance before adding this one to your cart.

Helpful review: "This coffee maker allows you to adjust brew settings (time the water is in contact with the grind) and can brew in different amounts. It also has a wire mesh filter so you don't create trash with every cup. The milk foamer is a solid bonus. I absolutely love this coffee maker. I've only had mine for a few months so I can't speak to longevity but if the other Ninja products are representative, I expect this to last for a long time.”

4. The Most Stylish

  • Dimensions: 10.3 x 6.5x 11.8 inches (length x width x height)
  • Brew sizes: 10 ounces

For a coffee maker that will look more like a modern piece of art on your counter, the Technivorm Moccamaster has a polished silver exterior, and is "worth every penny," according to Amazon reviewers. A cult-favorite among coffee aficionados, this handmade, on-demand coffee maker boasts rapid water-heating, automatic shut-off after the reservoir is empty, and a five-year warranty. The flexible design allows you to remove the cupholder to accommodate any mug up to 4.75 inches tall, and the included scoop lets you add just the right amount of grounds.

Note: Unlike other picks on this list, this one does require the use of paper filters, but to get you started, you'll get a box of 80 #1 white paper filters with your purchase.

Helpful review: “I ran a cup of empty through to clean it out and then made some nice coffee from a local roaster. Oh yum, heaven. Every cup after that has been great, better than any of the pour overs I had attempted before on the Kalita and Beehouse. And they are consistent and the same every time. [...] Best coffee making gadget I have ever bought. I wish I had never tried all the other things and saved the money to buy this instead out right.”

5. The One That's Also Compatible With K-Cups

  • Dimensions: 5.1 x 8.7 x 10.2 inches (width x height x depth)
  • Brew size: up to 10 ounces in one cycle

With over 2,000 perfect five-star reviews, Amazon users are enthused by the value of this single-serve coffee maker. Not only is it one of the most compact personal coffee makers on this list, but it also lets you dictate how you want your joe delivered: Use the reusable filter to make drip coffee, or insert your favorite pod for mornings when you're short on time. This machine also has a removable drip tray, and an automatic shut-off function to enhance safety. It doesn't come with any mugs, but per the brand, it can accommodate coffee cups that are up to 5.3 inches tall with the drip tray removed.

Helpful review: “I’m the only one that drinks coffee in the house. I went on Amazon and found this little brewer for $50. It’s like the ones in hotel rooms. No big chamber or inner workings to get moldy. Easy to clean and got 5 stars on Amazon. Honestly it’s the best and strongest cup of coffee I’ve ever had from a single serve brewer. I love that it also came with a little filter cup for your own coffee too. Very easy.”

6. A Popular Option That Comes With A Tumbler

  • Dimensions: 6.7 x 5.1 x 10.1 inches (length x width x height)
  • Brew size: up to 15 ounces in one cycle

Amazon reviewers love this single-serve coffee maker, which has earned more than 7,000 perfect five-star ratings. It comes with a dishwasher-safe, BPA-free travel mug with an insulating silicone band to guard your hands. Plus, as well as basic black, the machine comes in a few different colors, like blue, green, and ruby red. The machine itself is small enough for even tiny kitchens, and comes with a permanent filter basket that you can use with your favorite ground coffee. It also has a handy automatic shutoff feature.

A helpful review: “This is a neat little one cup coffee maker with a substantial insulated travel mug. It begins the flow through of hot water very rapidly and it produces a good cup of coffee. [...] it is well made, doesn't take much counter space, makes good coffee fast, and the travel mug is very good.”

7. A 2-In-1 Machine That Can Brew Full Pots & Single Cups

  • Dimensions: 11.4 x 12.2 x 13.7 inches (length x width x height)
  • Brew size: up to 14 ounces in on the single-serve side, or a 12-cup carafe

On the hunt for a more versatile approach to your morning coffee routine? This machine from Hamilton Beach is a great pick that’s earned more than 17,000 five-star ratings. It can brew both full pots and single cups of coffee, and is compatible with ground coffee as well as most K-Cups and pods — in other words, you’ve got options. You can also adjust the brew strength and program your coffee to brew at a scheduled time, which is super helpful on busy mornings. Each side of the machine has its own water reservoir, and both are easy to refill when they run low. There’s also a keep-warm feature on the carafe side, so your coffee will stay piping for up to four hours before automatically shutting off.

A helpful review: “Love the dual use of this pot! We are a family of coffee drinkers, so this pot is great for us. We all have coffee in the morning, so we make a full carafe that’s preset to brew. When we want an afternoon cup, we can make a pod. It fabulous! Both processes, pot and pod, work great.”

8. An Automatic Moka Pot That Comes With A Milk Frother

For lattes, cappuccinos, and very strong coffee that would make an Italian train station barista proud, you’d do well with this this automated moka pot. It offers the adaptability of classic moka pot-style coffee, which can be prepared in so many variations, and the elegance of an espresso machine without the fuss or bulk. It’s a breeze to use, doesn’t require a stovetop, and it comes with a high-quality milk frother as an added bonus, which fans say also makes a “good cup of hot chocolate.”

A helpful review: “It does what it is made for a cup of expresso not a giant cup of coffee. The milk frother is a great way to make those coffee house drinks and makes a really good cup of hot chocolate. It does not take up much counter space, I love it.”

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