If you just need one cuppa in the morning and nothing else, keep the countertop neat with a single-serve coffee maker. But, coffee lovers know that not any machine will do. All brews can supercharge you, whether hot or cold; it's the different brewing methods that will determine the best coffee maker for you.
Rasam Adabi, a Dubai-based seasoned barista, and head of training and quality control at Coffee Market Innovations CMI Coffee, Abu Dhabi, breaks down each brewing method by pros and cons. We also get expert tips on ideal water temperatures and maintenance.
What are the different types of single-serve coffee makers?
When we think of single-serve, the likes of pod-compatible Nespresso machines come to mind. Less thought of are French press, espresso, drip coffee and pour-over coffee makers. Each cup brewed in these machines will offer a distinct flavour from the others, so it's up to you to prioritise time, budget or taste.
- Espresso: "These can come with a milk frother, a PID (Proportional, Integral, Derivative) controller to set your desired temperature and a built-in grinder. There are fully automatic espresso machines in the market, but the results won't be as rich as a semi-automatic or manual espresso makers," said Adabi. Be prepared to spend some time to load the machine before every use.
- French press: With this coffee maker, you don't need a plug - just your coffee grounds and some hot water will do. "But, it doesn't contain a paper filter, so grounds can sometimes end up in your cup," Adabi added. It's, perhaps, the easiest and most affordable way of securing your morning's caffeine fuel.
- Pour-over or drip coffee: A drip coffee maker is for those who like their cup strong. "It gives you more coarse flavours, and the coffee is strong as well, since the contact time is longer," he explained.
- Coffee pod: Capsules offer a variety of flavours found at your local cafe, from French vanilla to caramel. Still, the full burst and depth of coffee flavour will be absent with these machines, says Adabi.
A few takeaways to note: If you're looking to unlock the full potential of your coffee beans, invest in an espresso machine. However, every cup made with this full-featured unit will ultimately taste different. To get the same cup every morning, you may be better off with a French press.
"French press or the immersion method is more consistent than drip coffee and espresso machines. For example, when using a V60 drip device, the water is poured with gravity - you're extracting horizontally and vertically, so your hand might increase the extraction rate, leaving you with stronger flavours in your coffee that you may not want," explained Adabi.
What is the best brewing temperature?
Some machines set the temperature for you, whereas manual methods let you brew a more personalised cup. Coffee doesn't have to be piping hot to taste the best. The secret to the right temperature lies in your coffee beans.
The rule is simple - if the beans are dark roast or have a dark brown, near-black colour, then they've been in contact with heat the most, hence a cooler brewing temperature of 88 degrees Celsius is going to be ideal.
Adabi says that a light roast bean contains more flavour, but to unlock these compounds, we need a higher water temperature of 96 degrees Celsius. A medium roast sits somewhere in the middle, from 90 to 94 degrees Celsius.
Hot, mineral-rich water can leave limescale behind, so regular upkeep is important to prolong the life of your coffee maker. "It's better to use food-grade chemicals to wash your devices. A brew clean from any brand will do, and a 500g box can last you for up to six months," advised Adabi.
Below, we've selected the best-reviewed coffee makers for single servings from Amazon, where kitchen appliances are currently discounted. You can also get free, fast delivery with a Prime subscription.
1. Best Espresso Machine: Breville BES870 Barista Express Espresso Machine
- Nine-bar extraction
- Steam wand creates the perfect microfoam
- Built-in grinder with 16 settings
- Heats water to 93 degrees Celsius every time
The Breville Barista Express is perfect for those who know their way around coffee or are willing to sit through tutorials. It's a full-featured, all-in-one espresso machine, with a built-in grinder that has 16 settings, a nine-bar extraction process, PID temperature control at 93 degrees Celsius and a powerful steam wand for latte drinks. As complicated as it may seem, the unit has straightforward controls for the number of shots you want in your coffee. It's kitted out with a descaler, filter baskets, cleaning accessories, a milk jug and so much more - everything a barista at home would need. Reviewers attest to sipping on creamy espressos every morning and have found it to be a cost-effective option in the long run.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh192.50 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh137 and two years for Dh194.
2. Best French Press: Bialetti 6860 Preziosa French Press Coffee Maker
- Decently sized press for a cup
- Washes easily
- Made of glass and stainless steel
- Filters out coffee residue, say reviews
- Glass container should be handled with care, say reviews
Adabi says that a cup from a French press is ready in just four minutes, which is why the immersion method could be suitable for busy folks. In this 350ml coffee press by Bialetti, you can make a large mug of coffee or three small cups. It's constructed from clear borosilicate glass with a stainless steel support. You only need ground coffee, hot water and an eye on the clock to get a rich cup. Our coffee expert shares his own quick recipe: "After adding the coffee, I pour a bit of water and let it bloom for 30 seconds to remove the bad flavours of the roast. Then, I add the rest of the water, stir and plunge. Don't let it sit for too long." Reviewers love that the oils and richness of the grounds are able to pass through the plunger, unlike with paper filters. It's also great for tea infusions.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh12 and two years for Dh17.
3. Best Pour-Over Coffee Maker: Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper
- Hands-on approach to coffee brewing
- Handmade Japanese ceramics
- Spiral design for deeper extraction
- Brews light or strong
- Needs filters
The art of extraction by hand gifts coffee lovers the satisfaction of a custom brew. With a pour-over device, you can prepare coffee directly in your favourite mug, and what better brewer than the Hario V60? It features unique spiral edges to allow for a paced extraction, and a large hole at the bottom lets you pour water through the grounds quickly for a lighter flavour or slower for a rich taste. This is a handmade Japanese ceramic dripper, so the material is excellent at retaining a set temperature throughout the process. There's no heavy machinery to haul about nor any tumbler to wash - it's the ideal space-saving solution. You will need a paper or metal filter for this dripper, however.
Warranty: Amazon offers a two-year extended warranty for Dh9.
4. Best Drip Coffee Machine: Russell Hobbs 22630 Brew and Go Filter Coffee Machine
- 24-hour programmable timer
- Makes a single serving into any cup
- Comes with a stainless steel travel mug
- Uses coffee grounds or filter pods
- Travel mug can be leaky
Your best option for grab-and-go before work is the Russell Hobbs Brew and Go filter coffee machine. Add fresh grounds or soft filter pods into the unit's permanent coffee filter, and place the included 400ml stainless steel travel mug under the dripper. The adjustable drip tray also fits standard-sized cups. Plus, you can set it up before bed and have the brew ready by the time you're up, thanks to the 24-hour timer. As you can imagine, the coffee maker is an instant hit among early risers in the reviews. They also add that it doesn't take up much space on the shelf. The only qualm is that the travel mug must be kept upright to avoid leaks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh18 and two years for Dh25.
5. Best Space-Saving: Nescafe Dolce Gusto Mini Me Coffee Machine
- Easy capsule system
- Lightweight appliance at 2.5kg
- 800ml water tank
- Makes hot and cold coffee
- Can be noisy
The Nescafe Dolce Gusto Mini Me coffee machine gets straight to the point - pop in your capsule of the day, select cup size and off you go. The machine is fitted with a sizeable 800ml water tank, so you can even come back for seconds. Despite weighing just 2.5kg, the Mini Me is fully capable of preparing all coffees, hot chocolates, teas and cold beverages, like iced cappuccino. With the 15-bar extraction system, you're presented with a rich, foamy crema every time. Reviewers compare the end result to popular coffee chains, calling it 'Starbucks at home'. Make sure you're all set with the right capsules from Nescafe, whether you're into flat whites or espresso macchiatos.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh23 and two years for Dh33.
6. Best Capsule Coffee Machine: Nespresso Inissia Black Coffee Machine
- Water heats up in 25 seconds
- 700ml water capacity
- Two buttons for lungo and espresso cups
- Slim and lightweight at 2.4kg
- Comes with capsules
- Can be noisy
We can't not talk about Nespresso, the wonder single-serve machine that's synonymous with capsule coffee makers. Its Inissia D40 unit brews espresso and lungo cups with two buttons, using a 19-bar pump. The 700ml water tank heats up in just 25 seconds, and it's completely removable for easy refilling. Much like our Mini Me option, this coffee maker is even lighter at 2.4kg, fitting in the smallest spaces with a slim 12cm-wide profile. Your delivery arrives with 14 capsules inside the box, ready for a trial brewing. Buyers mostly pick it up for their office space and busy work corners, where they're prepared to sacrifice the taste of fresh grounds for pods to save time.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh29 and two years for Dh41.
7. Best Cold Brew Maker: OXO Brew Compact Cold Brew Coffee Maker
- Prepares concentrate for cold coffee
- Stainless steel filter
- Rainmaker device drips water evenly
- Cork stopper helps with storage
- Easy to use
- Uses a lot of coffee beans
Cold coffee lovers should want a concentrate in the refrigerator that can be readily mixed with water, milk, syrups and a handful of ice cubes. OXO's compact cold brew maker prepares a week's worth of concentrate in a borosilicate glass carafe, which keeps the coffee fresh with a cork stopper. Fill the brewer with your coffee grounds and upend it onto the carafe. The rainmaker will evenly distribute water over the grounds for a slow dripping brew. It's not the quickest method, but you do get multiple single-serve cups out of it at a time. Reviewers are happy about the stainless steel filter and the nesting storage that saves counter space. It does use a lot of coffee beans since it prepares a concentrate, users caution. Check out more cold brew makers here.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh12 and two years for Dh17.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.