Are single cup coffee makers worth it? What is the true cost?

By | October 13, 2020

Think about all the times you have tossed out half a pot of coffee, spent ages cleaning the coffee maker (and that’s if it hasn’t thrown a tantrum as mine did last week!), and thrown water all over your nice new outfit, to boot! So we ask, “Are single cup coffee makers worth it?”

Single cup coffee makers

By User:MarkBuckawickiOwn work, CC0, Link

PurelyCoffeeBeans knows the benefit of having your single cup coffee maker is that single serve coffee makers allow you to brew your favorite beverage one cup at a time. It’s also fuss free, and there’s practically no tidy up after.

This is a wonderful idea for busy professionals on the way out to work in the morning, and especially so if you like the idea of making a great cup of fresh coffee with no mess or cleanup afterwards.

What will I learn? Table of Contents

I. Better End Results

Traditional drip machines with their always on hotplates tend to make the brew a tad bitter (if you leave the maker on) or cold (if you turn it off). You can’t seem to win, … or can you?

Single cup coffee makers offer the convenience of making just the right amount of coffee, espresso, lattes (and whatever other drink your machine can make!) each and every time.

You can easily avoid wasting money and throwing away an unfinished pot when you purchase a single serve machine. Not to mention the time saved cleaning up, time that’s better spent on your family or professional life!

II. Are single cup coffee makers worth it?

Money Spent: Money Saved? Some may say that the single serve, k cup or pod type of coffee is fairly pricey, but in reality you will be saving money because you will only be making one cup at a time.

Single cup coffee makers will brew up a great cup of coffee, tea, espresso or even a latte in a moment’s notice, with little or no clean up involved (except the cup!).

But there are so many varieties of machines, drinks, and price points, it’s hard to know…

III. Which type of single cup coffee maker is the best?

To answer that question, let’s explore the different features that are common on most single cup machines.

One of the most asked questions is:

“What is the difference between Tdiscs, kcups and coffee pods?”

The Tassimo system uses a TDisc, which is slightly wider and flatter than the K-cup from Keurig. The K cup is more like one of those single creamer containers and it has a thin, foil lid, which is punctured by the coffee maker at the time of brewing your coffee.

The Tassimo home brewing system uses T discs, sold through Tassimo. And kcups are exclusive to Keurig, some times referred to as kcups or K-cup which is proprietary to the Keurig brand of single cup coffee makers.

It’s a fact that pods are a more eco-friendly version of a single serving of coffee, designed for the single cup coffee makers.

Pods consist of ground coffee, or tea, sandwiched between the filter paper. Many brands including Bunn, Senso and Krups use coffee pods and most are interchangeable with each other, as long as you check the grams per serving per pod.

a. Interchangeable pods or discs

Check to see if the single serve coffee machine you are considering can use other brands of pods or discs. Know that some pods will not fit some brewers.

Ideally, the machine will include a refillable pod maker for your use, so that you need not be concerned about this.

It’s never a good idea to be locked into one type of pod, so leaving your options open is a real benefit for you.

b. Refillable pods

These are really cool, and very practical! Some single cup coffee makers include a refillable pod maker with the unit. Others offer a coffee pod maker for sale separately.

When you are able to use a refillable pod container you can select exactly which coffee, or even tea, you want to brew every time, and have complete control over the flavor and the strength of your coffee.

c. Alternatives to coffee pods

An alternative to using either T discs or Kcups is the one cup drip coffee makers that are readily available. These simple and very basic machines can use either paper or permanent filters.

They do take a bit longer to brew your cup, and you will not find the features that other single serve machines offer, such as the flexibility to brew an espresso.

The best of all features is found in the Jura coffee maker that has a built-in grinder. This complete coffee center will brew up a single cup of coffee, an espresso, and even froth your milk for you with one button control without using any pods, kcups or Tdiscs, because you are able to add your own fresh beans directly into the hopper.

d. Brewing time

Most machines will brew your single cup of coffee in short order. Some are faster than others, but that is really a negligible difference. All of the one cup coffee makers will serve up a fresh, hot brew much faster than their whole pot cousins, with the exception of the one cup drip coffee makers.

e. Water reservoir size

Having a larger water reservoir will save time if you brew several cups at a time. The better one cup units have removable water containers, which are a really nice benefit. This will save having to fetch a separate pitcher to pour your water from into the coffee maker.

If you only make a couple cups a day, a larger reservoir isn’t really a concern, and you will have the option of choosing a smaller, more compact machine.

And did you know that several of the best single cup coffee brewers will alert you with a gentle beep when the water supply is low? This means you never have to worry about the machine running dry.

f. Filtration and water filters

If you are not using filtered or bottled water for brewing your coffee, consider a coffee maker that has a water filtration system included. The taste of the finished cup of coffee depends upon the water you use to brew it, so always use the best water available.

g. Cup size

The simpler single serve coffee makers will provide a great cup of coffee, but cannot be adjusted to make a larger or smaller portion.

Most of us brew the same size cup every time.?But, it can be a real blessing if your single cup coffee maker is flexible enough to make a larger cup for your travel mug …?Or even smaller portions for when you would like to entertain.

Some of the newer single cup coffee makers that accommodate a travel mug can easily accommodate a smaller mug, too.

h. Environmentally friendly

It is no secret that these k cup or pod machines use more packaging then regular drip coffee makers do. Producing more waste that eventually goes into our overflowing landfills. Many manufactures utilize eco-friendly packaging, but you will loose some shelf life with their products.

It’s always best to choose to use eco-friendly/organic materials whenever possible. The ultimate eco-friendly alternative to using kcup pods or coffee T discs are the refillable options that are available on many standard to more full-featured one cup coffee brewers.

These are also known as a coffee pod maker, some of the manufacturers include one with their machines, and others offer them for sale separately. Keurig calls their refillable pod “My K-cup”.

i. Programmable features

If you like to control the strength of your coffee, look for a coffee maker that allows you to dial in just how strong or how light you prefer your cup of coffee. The better machines offer programmability for several different users, which is nice if your spouse enjoys a stronger brew than you prefer. So, with one push of a button you can enjoy your favorite coffee or tea just exactly the way you like it … and so can the other users in your household.

Along those same thoughts are being able to control the temperature of your coffee. Some like it really hot, and yet other people may prefer a not-so-hot cup of coffee.

For safety reasons, consider a single serve coffee machine with an auto shut off feature.

IV. Do these single cup brewers deliver the promise of a better cup of coffee?

It’s said that you cannot reinvent the wheel … but I must say that the coffee I have tasted from these single cup coffee makers has out shined the traditional automatic drip coffee makers.

#1 – Can you make espresso using a Keurig single cup coffee maker?
by Brad from USA


By User:MarkBuckawickiOwn work, CC0, Link

Hi, I have a Keurig Single Cup Coffee Maker that I love. I saw an article that you can also make espresso with this machine. Please tell me how? I do have the v70 unit so I can adjust the temp. What temp should it be?

Thank you


At PurelyCoffeeBeans, I’ve answered lots of questions over the years. You’ll find the questions and their answers scattered throughout the site! I’m always open to more questions, if you’re frustrated or curious, or you want to review a coffee, why don’t you drop me a line!

This week we welcome…!


Hi Brad,

The simple answer is that espresso pods are available, and you will find that these Kcups have more coffee packed inside, so that you get that rich, creamy espresso flavor from your Keurig machine. So yes, Keurig single cup coffee maker can do it!

For a “truer” espresso from your Keurig single cup coffee maker, I would recommend getting really good espresso beans from your local roaster, grinding them to an espresso fineness, and using the Keurig My K-Cup Reusable Coffee Filter to brew an espresso shot in your Keurig.

Note, the you will need to have a Keurig model that has an adjustable temperature, as espresso brews at a slightly higher temperature, and greater pressure than drip coffee.

Pack the My Kcup really full, and tamp it down so that there are no cracks or crevices int he grinds, otherwise you will get a runny mess.

It’s not perfect, and certainly not what a coffee aficionado would consider true espresso, but we work with what we have sometimes, and are grateful for good tasting coffee!

For the temperate, just be certain that you have not adjusted the internal temperature down before you brew your espresso.

Your Keurig Platinum was factory set to a brew temperature of 192°, which is the maximum that your Keurig brewer will go.

Additionally, if you have elected to use the energy saving mode, you will need to turn on your Keurig for a minimum of 3 minutes to warm up your Keurig.

Keurig recommends running a small cup cleansing-brew prior to brewing, which will warm your cup for the espresso, and the unit will be warmed up, too.

Let us know how it goes, OK?


Betty & Chris

#2 – Which single cup coffee maker should I buy?
The Keurig or Nespresso? Why?
Seriously asking from Quora


Dear Seriously Asking

The Keurig or Nespresso single cup coffee makers are both terrible coffee makers, making low quality coffee that is often out of date, over-roasted, and small in volume. I realize that convenience is a factor for many people, but I’d prefer to have a drinkable cup of coffee than the muck these machines turn out. And as a side benefit of NOT buying either machine, your coffee will be a) cheaper b) better tasting c) and environmentally friendly, because you turn great coffee beans into wonderful coffee with simple tools.

More Processing Means More Expense

For a larger cup, you invariably have to use two caps to get 15g of coffee which is not close to the golden ratio for coffee for a standard mug of 350 ml. Buying the cheapest Starbucks coffee by the 350g bag and getting 20g of coffee for your morning cuppa costs 39c (from Walmart) vs. single Keurig cap for 63c. For Keurig you may need two or even three caps to get a similarly strong cup of coffee, so that is running between $1.26 and $1.89 per cup!

The Nespresso is similarly priced for similar brands from $0.60c to over $1 per cap (CAP, not cup). For a $1.5 ~ $2 cup of their non-fresh coffee, you might as well just go to the nearest convenience store or coffee shop. But by buying coffee recently roasted from a specialist, you will find it marginally more expensive than Starbucks or Peets at the supermarket, but I promise you the taste will be much much better for a price that is cheaper than the Keurig or Nespresso.

Single Cups Make Single Small Cups and Big Garbage

Many people claim that there is no waste coffee when you use a single cup machine like these. Well, that’s not exactly true: you end up with a small dose of coffee, that you have to throw away because of the inconvenience of recycling them. You also throw a ton of aluminum and plastic into the trash. Lastly, with reusable filters, the only waste that comes out of simple drip coffee maker/french press/etc is the waste coffee grounds and any extra coffee that isn’t drunk (though you could pop that in the fridge and make ice coffee).

In conclusion, I will never really understand why these machines are so popular unless people are comparing the results to brands like Nescafe, Folgers or Maxwell House coffee. Then of course, if you are drinking Nescafe or Folgers or Maxwell House, then you really have problems to worry about…

So save your money, buy a simpler coffee maker, and invest in decent coffee beans, you will NEVER regret it.

For more information on coffee makers and grinders.

Best Wishes

#3 – Are single cup coffee makers worth it?
Find out the real Single Cup Coffee Maker cost of your daily cuppa

PurelyCoffeeBeans wonders if you have a single serve coffee maker? Do you know how much the single cup coffee maker costs on a daily basis? If you do, you will already know about how much the capsules you need cost? If you don’t, then you should keep reading…

Simply, you will be astonished how much they cost to run, as I was when I started to work out the costs. There’s a bit of math involved, but you can easily do it on a calculator or a phone app.

single cup coffee maker cost New York Times Screenshot

I typically buy one bag or two bags of coffee from Starbucks (or the equivalent); so I’ll use that as an example for this post.

Starbucks House Blend 1-lb bag (or 454g) @ $11.95


Now when I make coffee, I tend to use a lot more coffee than average; I’ll use about 15g per cup of water. That means that on average, I will be able to make 30 cups in a bag; granted I make several cups at a time for family or friends. In other words, that single cup coffee maker cost is quite high, costing me $0.40c per cup for 7-8oz serving of black coffee. And it is nicely made, better than you’ll ever get in-store.

You could of course choose to make your coffee with about 10~12g of coffee grounds. Many people do. Other reasons I like to make my own: I can choose whatever coffee I like to put in my coffee maker; and I can grind it how I like for better flavor. Starbucks prices @ Amazon are a little higher it seems. But don’t be seduced by the Starbucks capsules for Keurig.

Nespresso Capsules (30 or 50 count)

So if I want to make 30~45 cups of coffee, I’d be looking to purchase a pack of pods: Nespresso Full and Balanced Roma Capsules, 30 Count. Currently that runs to $29.95 on Amazon. The other choice is to buy a 50 pack of capsules with a price point around $40.99.

For more information, you can check the price of

Per capsule we’d be looking at around $0.82~$1.00 per capsule. Now these yield a drink of around 5oz (or a little more for Lungo) of coffee. In other words, I’d be tempted to make it a double (yes, my choice!). And I’d still not have a pound of coffee! (50×5=250g)

It’s clear that Nespresso have mastered the art of buying, packaging, and selling overpriced coffee in an attractive and convenient package. It’s also clear that Nespresso coffee isn’t cheap.

Save your money & buy great coffee

I’m not taking aim at Nespresso particularly, but all one cup coffee makers pretend that they are ‘cheaper’ because you don’t throw away unused coffee.

At 10g per cup, I could make 45 cups of coffee from Starbucks beans, then I could make another 45 cups on a second bag and throw the whole lot away. I would still have change to buy another bag of coffee after that; and I could then use the remaining $5 to buy a trenta iced coffee, not forgetting a $1 tip for the barista.

At 15g per cup, I could make 30 cups per bag, then I could still buy one more bag to make 30 more cups of strong coffee; and buy a decent iced coffee (with a tip).

Do your own math! Decide if you want to substitute stale/expensive/limited choice/small-sized cup of coffee for a mug of freshly ground coffee/$29/a few minutes of your time/a little rinsing! I know which I’d choose.

If you want to work out the cost per 1/2lb or 1lb of the capsules you buy, the formula is straightforward:

( Weight (in grams ) / grams per capsule ) x price per capsule = price per 1lb

*note I use 450g as functionally equivalent to 1lb. Most capsule weights are given in grams. If you have to weigh the coffee capsule yourself, use the dry coffee (not after it’s used). Nespresso is 5g; other systems may have as much as 7g.

For example: ( 450 / 5g )  = 90 capsules x $0.80 per capsule = $72.00 per pound of coffee equivalent.

Don’t let the flashy one cup coffee maker sales teams dictate your coffee! BTW, when I checked the sample used in the New York Times article, I noted that the single cup coffee maker cost is considerably more expensive even on Amazon. Check out the best prices for Nespresso Capsulles below…


$51 Per Pound: The Deceptive Cost of Single-Serve Coffee — The New York Times | The Kitchn.

#4 – Are single cup coffee maker cups worth it – environmentally? PurelyCoffeeBeans says no!

Many companies, from Green Mountain Coffee to Starbucks, are now offering consumers coffee pods but PurelyCoffeeBeans wonders: Are coffee pods environmentally friendly? But PurelyCoffeeBeans is now taking a stand against coffee pods.


By User:MarkBuckawickiOwn work, CC0, Link

As readers, you’re probably wondering why I’m taking this stand. Let me tell you four simple reasons:

1. Terrible Coffee

I’ve yet to have or really enjoy a decent cup of coffee from any of the machines I’ve tried. The portion of coffee in the Nespresso pods is a meager 7g, which is way below the golden ratio recommended by most coffee professionals.

The coffee is not fresh. It just can’t be. Think about it, check out the expiry date then figure out how long it can be kept for. Ground coffee starts to go stale immediately after grinding, no matter what gas you put in those little pods. If you get a chance, try the Starbucks Verismo pods and then compare them with the real thing brewed by Starbucks. They are NOT the same quality.

2. Hot Water Over Plastic

The health side of plastic in your single cup coffee maker is not well-understood, but think about it. Plastics are creeping into the food chain in many different ways. The coffee oils are still stored in the grounds, why wouldn’t they absorb the chemicals that are made in the capsule? NPR noted that the chemicals mimic the human estrogen and occurs in more than 70% of plastics.

Now run hot water over the plastic, and you will leach even more chemicals as the plastic is heated to the same temperature as the water, and that is despite many cups being labeled BPA-free. So if you want to expose yourself to this, be my guest. But I’ll not be drinking it with you.

3. Cost of Use

Lastly, while many people are prepared to pay for the convenience, you have to do the math to realize how expensive single cup brewers actually are, even when you choose to buy the biggest box for the discount.

7.1g of coffee at 50 cents per cup. That means that 1lb of coffee would be $31.98. Now I don’t know about you but drinking that much mediocre coffee (64 cups) would turn me off coffee for good. What you don’t know is that for $32, you can buy some pretty decent coffee for that price and select from single estate origins, Arabica coffee or Kenyan coffee…

Of course, you won’t get 64 cups out of your 1lb of coffee, because NOBODY uses so little coffee for a cup! You’ll probably use about 14g of coffee, so you’ll only get about 32 cups out of the bag. But what a difference! It will be enjoyable.

4. Save the Planet

When you buy a bag of coffee, you will either get a paper bag or a foil bag. It’s simple in structure, easily recycled, esp. if it’s paper. But if you buy the capsules, you’ll be throwing away 64 mixed plastic/foil capsules with coffee inside; these can’t be recycled because the plastic/foil/coffee can’t be separated by machine.

Can you imagine how much plastic or aluminium will get thrown in the landfill? The statistics are shocking. But with a regular brewer, the coffee grounds can be composted, there is no foil or plastic. And if you use paper filters, these can be burned cheaply, composted or recycled.

So please. Do not buy a single cup brewer: they waste the coffee, your money and the planet. There is simply no reason to be this wasteful of our precious resources. Do not be tempted to believe that coffee pods are environmentally friendly! They’re not!

Further Single Cup Coffee Maker Reading

Your Coffee Pods Dirty Secret

Looking for new equipment, check out the coffee makers, coffee grinders, and bean roasters page.

Signature of PurelyCoffeeBeans in calligraphic brush style

Author: Kenneth

My name is Kenneth from PurelyCoffeeBeans, and I love coffee; so I’m on a quest to find, buy, and even consume the best coffee brands and beans in the world. Then I plan to make the best coffee drinks I can! I will happily share my results with you, too! I hope you can join me here on or on my mailing list!