Top single-serve coffeemakers

Consumer Reports

DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Circolo
One of the hottest trends in small appliances is single-serve coffeemakers. Not only can you make everyone their own special blend of coffee but the perky machines come in interesting shapes and bright colors so they look good on your counter too.

Of the two dozen tested by Consumer Reports, three made our list of top-picks and a few others deserve honorable mention including the new entry from Starbucks. Here are our top five.

MORE AT COnsumer Reports

DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Circolo, $150, recommended.

Why we like it: This recommended DeLonghi single-serve coffeemaker uses a manual joystick-like control for quick filling of the first and subsequent cups, which makes for quick servings if you're in a hurry. The unit can also supply unheated water for cold drinks, and you can position the drip tray to one of three levels for varied cup sizes. In addition, it maintained temperatures consistently across multiple cups and allowed flexibility in adjusting brew strength.

Drawbacks: On the minus side, this model requires so-called "flavor capsules" available only from the company, and you can use only one at a time no matter how large a serving you want. And because of the joystick control, cup-size consistency can be a challenge. Also, you must turn off dispensing manually.
Type of pod: Uses Nescafé-brand capsules.
Total score: 75

(See also: Refrigerator features that are worth it)

Smart Café My Invento

Smart Café My Invento, $120, recommended.

Why we like it: Flexibility of which beverage packets you can use is one of the Smart Café pod coffeemaker's main attractions and one of the reasons we recommended it. The manufacturer sells pods, but Senseo pods—available from numerous sellers—work as well. You can also use two pods at once for a larger or stronger serving, or to brew two servings at once. The reservoir is removable for filling and cleaning.

Drawbacks: Two caveats—the first cup took longer than we expected, and most other single-serve models brewed at a more consistent temperature.
Type of pod: Uses Senseo-like pods.
Total score: 72

DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo EDG200T

DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo EDG200T, $100, recommended.

Why we like it: This recommended DeLonghi Nescafé single-serve coffeemaker shares some features with other tested models of the same brand, down to the convenient operation and consistent temperatures. The penguin-shaped unit, however, costs less. We found it fairly easy to use, refill, and clean, and it delivered both the first and subsequent cups with little delay. The unit maintained temperatures consistently across multiple cups and allowed flexibility in adjusting brew strength.

Drawbacks: On the minus side, the DeLonghi's joystick-like lever for delivering hot or cold water made size consistency an issue. It holds less water than other DeLonghi units. And, like other DeLonghi Nescafé models, it requires so-called "flavor capsules" (only 16 in all) available only from the company. In addition, you must turn off dispensing manually.
Type of pod: Uses Nescafé-brand capsules.
Total score: 72

DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Creativa Plus

DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Creativa Plus, $200

Why we like it: This pricey single-serve coffeemaker from DeLonghi looks less like a coffeemaker than it does some alien creature, but this model is more friend than foe. We found it fairly easy to use, refill, and clean, and it delivered both the first and subsequent cups with little delay. This model allowed much flexibility in adjusting brew strength and dispensed consistently the same amount of coffee across multiple cups.

Drawbacks: On the minus side, the DeLonghi did not maintain temperatures consistently from cup to cup, and it requires so-called "flavor capsules" (only 16 in all) available only from the company.
Type of pod: Uses Nescafé-brand capsules.
Total score: 70

Starbucks Verismo 580

Starbucks Verismo 580, $200

Why we like it: If you're a die-hard fan of both Starbucks and the single-serve coffee experience, you can appreciate this model—though other models offer more selection and convenience for less. First-cup delivery was speedy as was the second, even accounting for the unit's recommendation to run a rinse cycle before each cup. And each cup was of uniform size. It also maintained temperatures consistently across multiple cups.

Drawbacks: Where the Starbucks falls short, though, is in its limited options for varying the strength of what you brew. The selection of Starbucks capsules is also so far limited to eight. And it requires extra space above the machine to insert and remove pods.
Type of pod: Uses Verisimo pods.
Total score: 62

Copyright © 2006-2013 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

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