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Best Single Serve Coffee Maker (No Pods)

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Last updated: December 7, 2023

This is my roundup of the best single-serve coffee makers without pods.

I own a single-serve drip coffee maker – the Sage Precision Brewer and spent a whole day researching these types of machines online to put together this review.

I will only be covering machines that primarily make filter coffee (rather than espresso) and can make a 10 oz coffee without a pod (K cup, reusable pod or Nespresso capsule). 

Machines that can brew with both pods and coffee grounds are still eligible for this roundup.

Let’s get started.

Top Picks

  • Preset serving sizes
  • Four strength settings
  • Can make iced coffee
  • Compact and durable
  • Two strength settings
  • Excellent value for money

I’d also recommend avoiding the PowerXL Grind and Co single-serve

coffee maker for reasons that I’ll explain a little later on.

Best Overall: Ninja CM401 Specialty Coffee Maker

Best Overall

The Ninja CM401’s temperature control, automatic dosing and strength settings means you can make an excellent single portion of coffee with very little effort.

Quality of Coffee

The Ninja CM401 can make very good coffee by single-serve coffee maker standards.

Its combination of automatic water dosing and a serving scoop with very clear measurements means that you will always get your coffee-to-water ratio right when using this machine.

The machine brews at the ideal temperature of 195-205 Fahrenheit and holds this temperature consistently throughout the entire brewing process. 

This means that your coffee is properly extracted into your brewing water, creating a complex flavor and well-bodied coffee.

The machine also gives you four strength settings. From what I have read online its “rich” setting creates a particularly tasty coffee by lengthening the brewing time to two minutes.

Quality of Coffee Rating: 8/10

Ease of Use and Cleaning

The machine is about as easy to use and clean as a podless machine can get.

It has a 60 oz reservoir and has preset serving sizes for your water. 

The water tank and ground coffee port are removable and can be easily cleaned in the sink. 

These parts are not dishwasher friendly, however (but no single-serve coffee machine components are).

The machine has a drip valve so it will not make a mess after brewing. 

Many cheaper machines lack this and need a wipe-down after every coffee that you make.

Ease of Use and Cleaning Rating: 10/10

Design and Build Quality

The machine is really smartly designed to be as compact and easy to use as possible despite its large number of features.

All the removable parts slot in and out of the machine easily so you aren’t at risk of breaking the machine by having to force these parts in and out of it.

The only weak point of the machine is its pump.

There are several complaints online of the machine’s pump deteriorating over time and as a result its serving sizes getting smaller and smaller.

I do suspect that many of these complaints come from users of the machine who has not bothered to descale it, however

Design and Build Quality Rating: 7/10

Value For Money

The Ninja CM401 is one of the more expensive podless single-serve machines out there.

I think that its quality does make it worth the money, especially if you will make full use of its features and brew larger cups of coffee as well as single portions.

Value For Money Rating: 7/10

Pros & Cons

Ninja CM401 Specialty Coffee Maker Pros

SCAA approved meaning that it keeps your water temperature constant during brewing.

Very easy to use, even by single-serve standards.

Has four strength settings.

Has an iced coffee mode.

Can make serving sizes of up to 60 oz if you want to.

Ninja CM401 Specialty Coffee Maker Cons

It pump has a tendency to deteriorate over time.

It has a lot of features that you won’t use if you only ever make single servings of coffee.

Cheapest that I Can Recommend & Best for Limited Countertop Space: Hamilton Beach 49979 FlexBrew

Cheapest that I can Recommend
Hamilton Beach 49979 FlexBrew

The Hamilton Beach 49979 FlexBrew does the basics well and should last you a long time considering its cost.

Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/03/2024 08:51 am GMT

Quality of Coffee

The machine makes decent, but not amazing coffee.

Its coffee is certainly better than what you could make with a K cup, however.

It brews coffee very similarly to a Keurig machine. The reason why its coffee is significantly better than K-cup coffee is that it can hold about twice as much coffee in its filter basket as you get in a K-cup.

This allows you to make fuller-bodied coffee than you can with a K cup, avoiding the “watery” complaint that is always levelled at pod brewing.

The machine’s coffee quality is inferior to the other two machines featured here, largely because its consistency of brewing temperature is very poor.

Quality of Coffee Rating: 6/10

Ease of Use and Cleaning

The machine is easy to use but is a bit of a pain to clean due to its lack of a removable water tank.

The machine allows you to fairly easily dose up water because its water tank is very well marked with measurements. 

Cheaper machines often have translucent water tanks with barely visible markings but the FlexBrew has very clear markings.

The brew basket is removable and filled really easily. It is made of metal mesh so you have no need for paper filters. It is also dishwasher safe making it incredibly easy to clean if you have a dishwasher.

Its lack of a removable water tank makes this part of the machine a pain to clean, you need to turn the machine around and sponge clean a tight space to do it. The water tank gets really grimy if you do not clean it.

Ease of Use and Cleaning: 7/10

Design and Build Quality

The machine has a cheap internal build which negatively impacts the quality of coffee that it can produce. Its exterior is sturdy however and should at least last a long time.

The lowest quality part of the machine is its heating element. This is the reason why it cannot make as good a quality cup of coffee as the other machines featured here.

The machine has an external build quality with the machine being unlikely to leak or have its coffee port break.

Design and Build Quality Rating: 6/10

Value For Money

This is quite simply the cheapest single-serve machine that is reliable enough to stand the test of time.

It is much cheaper than a Keurig machine and makes better coffee than it. You can find out more about how these two lines compare in my article on Keurig K Duo vs Hamilton Beach Flexbrew.

All in all the Hamilton Beach 49979 FlexBrew offers excellent value for money.

Value For Money Rating: 9/10

Pros & Cons

Hamilton Beach 49979 FlexBrew Pros

Makes much better coffee than K-cup machines.

It has two strength settings meaning that you have some control over your coffee’s flavor.

Its water tank is well marked with measurement lines making it easy to dose out water.

It offers Excellent value for money.

Hamilton Beach 49979 FlexBrew Cons

It does not brew at the ideal temperature for coffee so the coffee it makes isn’t amazing.

Its water tank is hard to clean as it is not removable.

Best That Money Can Buy: Technivorm Moccamaster One Cup Coffee Maker

Best Money Can Buy

The Technivorm Moccamaster One Cup Coffee Maker’s long brewing time means that it makes the best-tasting coffee of any single-cup coffee maker.

Quality of Coffee

The Technivorm Moccamaster makes the best quality coffee of all single-serve coffee makers.

The main reason for this is that the machine has a tiny hole that your final coffee has to run through after it has passed through the bed of coffee.

This lengthens the brewing time to around 3 minutes. This is about 3 times as long as most single-serve coffee makers (and Keurig machines).

This longer brewing time leads to greater levels of extraction, resulting in a much more complexly flavored drink.

The machine is also SCAA certified meaning that it brews at the ideal temperature of 195-205 Fahrenheit. This further enables good extraction.

Quality of Coffee Rating: 9/10

Ease of Use and Cleaning

The machine is pretty easy to use. Just load it up with coffee and water, and press brew. Its lack of a removable water tank means that this part of the machine is a pain to clean, however.

It does not have preset serving sizes, but rather just brews with all the water you put in its water tank. 

This water tank has very clear measurements so you can easily brew with the correct amount of water.

The machine’s water tank is sadly not removable. This makes it a pain to clean as you need to sponge clean this tiny water tank while it is still attached to the machine. 

It’s far easier to instead be able to remove the clean and rinse it out in the sink. You cannot do that with this machine.

All other parts of the machine that come into direct contact with coffee and/or water are removable, however, so can be easily rinsed in the sink.

Ease of Use and Cleaning Rating: 8/10

Design and Build Quality

The machine has excellent internal build quality. I can find basically no reports of it succumbing to technical issues with its pump or heating system online

Although the machine does use some plastic in its exterior, it uses far less plastic than almost any other single-serve machine.

In short, the Technivorm Moccamaster One Cup’s design and build quality are excellent.

Value For Money

The machine is not great value for money.

While it makes the best single serving of coffee out of all these machines, you can buy machines with far more functionality (such as the aforementioned Ninja CM401) for far less money.

Despite its quality, the Moccamaster does seem very pricey for something that can only make a single serving of coffee and nothing else.

Value For Money Rating: 4/10

Pros & Cons

Technivorm Moccamaster One Cup Coffee Maker Pros

It makes the best coffee of all single-serve coffee makers.

Its high build quality means that it should last you a very long time before deteriorating.

It has an iconic retro look.

Technivorm Moccamaster One Cup Coffee Maker Cons

It is very expensive for a single serve coffee maker (that can be replaced by a V60).

It is very expensive for a single-serve coffee maker (that can be replaced by a V60).

One to Avoid: PowerXL Grind and Go

The PowerXL Grind and Co might seem a good purchase at first because it is very cheap and has a built-in grinder.

This means you can have the benefits of using freshly ground coffee without having to have a separate grinder.

But trust me, a machine with a built-in grinder at this price will have terrible build quality. Its cost is lower than a low-quality standalone grinder. 

To try and make a grind and brew machine at this price is just a bad idea, to begin with. I see no way that this type of machine at this price can be anything other than terrible.

What Factors to Look Out For When Buying a Single-Serve Coffee Maker Without Pods?

Here are the key points that determine whether a single-serve coffee maker without pods is worth buying or not.


A single-serve coffee maker can essentially be replaced by inexpensive, manual coffee makers like a French Press or V60.

While a coffee machine does give you a bit more convenience over these manual options, the fact that you can get similar results with a device that costs less than $30 means that it’s not worth forking out big money for a single-serve coffee maker.

The value-for-money sweet spot for a single-serve coffee maker without pods is between $50 and $180.

Anything less than $50 and your machine will likely be poorly built and liable to breaking down. 

Any more than $180 and you are probably paying a premium for extraneous features that do not contribute to the core functioning of the machine.

Ease of Use and Cleaning

A single-serve coffee maker should allow you to make your coffee without too much fiddling around beforehand or cleanup afterwards.

A single-serve coffee maker’s ease of use hinges around four factors:

  • Whether they have a removable water tank
  • Whether they come with a measuring scoop
  • Whether they dose out water automatically
  • Whether they have a drip valve

Removable Water Tank

Removable water tanks make your machine far easier to clean because you can wash its water tank directly in the sink (most water tanks are plastic and therefore not dishwasher safe).

Even though they only hold water, water tanks get grimy quickly and therefore need to be scrubbed regularly. This is far easier when it can be removed from the machine.

Measuring Scoop

Since you are working with such small quantities of ground coffee and water, you want to measure out each of these accurately.

Your machine should therefore come with a measuring scoop that helps you to do this.

If you do not have this then you’re either going to be eyeballing (never ideal) or have to weigh out your ground coffee separately which significantly adds to the amount of work it takes to make your coffee.

Automatic Water Dosing

You want a machine that does your water automatically so you do not need to measure out water individually for every coffee that you make.

Machines that do not dose out water automatically should at least have clear measurements on their water tank so individual dosing is made as easy as possible.

Drip Valve

A drip valve means your machine won’t drip coffee after you have removed your mug.

If your machine does not have a drip valve then you will either be emptying the drip tray regularly or will have to wipe down your machine after every coffee that you make.

The table below shows whether the three machines featured in this article have these ease of use affecting features that I listed above:

Ninja CM401Hamilton Beach 49979Techivorm Moccamaster
Removable water tankYesNoNo
Measuring scoopYesNoNo
Automatic water dosingYesNoNo
Clear measurement on the water tankYesYesYes
Drip valveYesNoYes

Quality of Coffee

The quality of coffee that your single-serve coffee maker can produce is dependent on two factors:

  • The machine’s brewing speed
  • The machine’s brewing temperature 

I’ll now cash out how these two factors affect coffee quality in a bit more detail.

Brewing Speed

Generally speaking, a longer brewing time means a better-tasting coffee.

This is because your water needs time in direct contact with your coffee grounds to extract the flavor-containing compounds out of the grounds.

Coffee that is brewed too quickly will therefore taste flat and bland – you might as well be using a K cup if you want that.

Single-serve coffee makers brew your coffee in between 45 and 270 seconds. The closer to 180 seconds, the better.

Additionally, some machines allow you to control brewing speed through having “strength” settings.

Brewing Temperature

While almost all machines can reach the ideal coffee brewing temperature of 195-205 Fahrenheit, many machines only get to this temperature by the end of the brewing process.

This means that your machine may well be brewing below the ideal temperature for the majority of the brew. 

This again will result in a bland-tasting drink.

Instead, you want a machine that keeps a consistent temperature throughout your brew.

Keeping a consistent, ideal temperature throughout brewing is the main criteria that a coffee machine needs for Speciality Coffee Association of America (SCAA) certification. 

If a machine is not SCAA certified then it’s safe to assume that it does not keep a consistent brewing temperature.

The table below shows the brewing temperature, strength settings, and temperature consistency of the three machines featured in this article.

Ninja CM401Hamilton Beach 49979Techivorm Moccamaster
Brew time100-180 seconds60-80 seconds270 seconds
Strength settings321
Consistent brewing temperatureYesNoYes

Build Quality

The external build quality of basically all single-serve coffee makers is pretty poor. 

The outside of the machine doesn’t need to be exposed to much stress, nor does it need to protect delicate parts, so manufacturers (correctly) compromise on quality in this area to save you money.

As a result, the exterior of all of these machines will be made out of plastic.

The two parts of the machine that matter, as far as build quality is concerned, is its pump and its heating element.

The manufacturers of these machines are not very transparent about the technology behind their pump and heating element.

I, therefore, trawled through online reviews of the three featured machines to find if there were repeated complaints about the machine either losing pump pressure or its ability to heat water deteriorating over time.

You can find a table of my findings below:

Ninja CM401Hamilton Beach 49979Techivorm Moccamaster
Complaints of the machine losing pump pressureYesYesNo
Complaints of the machine losing heating powerNoNoNo

Final Verdict

The best single-serve coffee maker without pods is the Ninja CM401 Specialty Coffee Maker.

It is by far the easiest of these types of machines to use and can make consistently good coffee thanks to its ability to maintain a constant temperature throughout the brewing process.

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