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6 Best Pod Coffee Makers in 2021: Capsule Machines for Quick Brews

Let’s be honest: nothing trumps the speed and practicality that the best pod coffee makers can guarantee, especially when time isn’t a luxury in the morning!

Allowing you to enjoy a hassle-free, one-button brew, a capsule machine could be exactly what’s missing from your countertop (and in your life).

They’re not all the same, though!

Instead of missing out on the right features and capsules with a rushed purchase, check out our buying guide & pod coffee maker reviews to find the perfect machine for your needs.

Nespresso Vertuo - Best Pick

Breville BNV220BLK1BUC1 Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine, Black
  • 5 drink sizes
  • Patented extraction technology
  • Recyclable pods

Keurig K-Classic - Runner Up

Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker, Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer, 6 to 10 Oz. Brew Sizes, Black
  • One of the best Keurig pod coffee makers
  • 3 drink sizes
  • Brews into travel mugs, too

Nespresso Inissia - Also Great

Nespresso Inissia Original Espresso Machine by Breville, Red
  • Brews espressos or lungos
  • Adjustable drink sizes
  • Award-winning design

Pod Coffee Maker Buying Guide: from Drip to Espresso & Reusable Options

pod coffee makers

Because we want to help you find the right coffee maker for your habits, we thought we’d start with the basics.

Is a pod coffee maker the right choice for you?

Before we go any further, let’s just make sure that you’re actually in the right place (1).

“Capsule coffee machine manufacturers put the coffee in a sealed aluminum or plastic capsule in advance, then filling it with nitrogen to ensure freshness, so the users can finish the brewing process simply by putting the capsule in the capsule coffee machine.” Industry Today

This means that you get a single-serve experience. If that’s all you’re after, keep reading.

However, if you think that you could also do with large carafes of joe every once in a while, consider dual-use coffee makers that include both a dripper and a single-serve side.

Type of coffee pods: Nespresso capsules, K-Cups, and more

The words ‘pods’, ‘coffee capsules’ and ‘K-Cups’ are often used interchangeably, but they don’t always mean the same thing.

That’s why, to find the best pod coffee maker for your habits and preferences, it’s important to understand which type of coffee pods you should look for first:

  • As the name suggests, Nespresso capsules are famous for their focus on espresso and they’re only compatible with this brand’s brewers. Some models (not all of them!) allow you to brew them in larger quantities to mimic drip coffee;

  • K-Cups are Keurig’s proprietary pods, although many coffee makers are now designed to be compatible with them. While they’re traditionally used for drip coffee, you can also find them in different flavors, like cappuccino or caramel.

PRO TIP: if you’re opting for a pod coffee maker that relies on Keurig’s capsules, grab yourself the very best K-Cups for your next brew!

  • Other pod coffee makers involve more generic drip-style coffee capsules from other brands. If you choose one of those, make sure you check whether or not they’re compatible with your favorite type.

Think green!

If you love the idea of owning a pod coffee maker but are put off by the impact of their non-recyclable plastic, don’t worry: you have a few options to make up for it!

For example, Nespresso capsules are actually recyclable since they’re made of aluminum (2).

“Nespresso want recycling capsules to be easy so we offer 3 ways to recycle.” Nespresso 

You can either drop them off at their boutiques, at some collection points, or even arrange a complimentary collection service.

Sadly, K-Cups aren’t recyclable but there’s a ground-breaking solution that will allow you to enjoy a guilt-free cup and save money: Keurig’s reusable K-Cup. You simply use it to scoop up your fresh grounds and brew them like you would a pod.

Several Keurig models are now compatible with it, including one of those that we mention in our pod coffee maker reviews.

Best Pod Coffee Maker of 2021 for a Quick Cup of Joe [Top 6 Reviews]

Let’s start with a (coffee) capsule-sized overview:

Amazon Product
Nespresso Vertuo
  • 5 brew sizes, from small espresso to larger drip
  • Centrifusion technology for superior flavors
  • Heats up in less than 20 seconds
View on Amazon
Amazon Product
Keurig K-Classic
  • 3 brew sizes
  • Less than 1 minute
  • Compatible with Keurig’s reusable K-Cup filter
View on Amazon
Amazon Product
Nespresso Inissia
  • Espressos & lungos in adjustable sizes
  • Small on the countertop
  • Winner of the Red Dot Design Award
View on Amazon
Amazon Product
Nespresso Essenza
  • Most compact Nespresso model
  • Ready in 30 seconds
  • Available with a separate milk frother
View on Amazon
Amazon Product
Keurig K155
  • 4 brew sizes
  • Programmable features
  • Customizable experience
View on Amazon
Amazon Product
CHULUX Single Serve
  • Affordable but practical & reliable
  • Compact model
  • Compatible with both K-Cups & reusable filters
View on Amazon

What does all this mean for you? Find out in our pod coffee maker reviews!

Breville BNV220BLK1BUC1 Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine, Black

FEATURES

Pod type: Nespresso capsules
Drinks: Alto Coffee (14 oz), Coffee (8 oz), Gran Lungo (5 oz), Double Espresso (2.7 oz) and Espresso (1.35 oz)

Best for: those who can’t choose between espressos and larger coffee drinks

There are several great Nespresso coffee makers to choose from, but we have a soft spot for their Vertuo line and especially for this staple model.

Relying on Centrifusion (Nespresso’s patented extraction technology), this machine gets its proprietary Vertuo capsules to spin up to 7,000 times per minute to extract more flavors and produce the perfect crema. 

This smart system can also recognize each coffee blend, so it’ll automatically adjust its brewing parameters to make the most of its unique characteristics.

This Nespresso pod coffee maker is also the best choice for those who can’t decide between espresso and drip-style coffee. With 5 drink sizes, you certainly won’t get bored!

Thanks to its pre-heating time ranging between only 15 and 20 seconds, you also won’t need to wait to enjoy your first coffee of the day.

Read more about it in our Nespresso Vertuo review.

Bottom line: A reliable pod coffee maker that brings the world of espresso and drip coffee together.


2. Keurig K-Classic - Also Great

Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker, Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer, 6 to 10 Oz. Brew Sizes, Black

FEATURES

Pod type: K-Cups or reusable filter (sold separately)
Drinks: drip (6, 8, 10 oz)

Best for: busy professionals

A popular choice among those who prefer traditional drip-style coffee, the K-Classic is one of the best Keurig models and single-serve coffee makers in general.

It lets you brew in 3 different sizes and it takes less than a minute to heat up and brew the coffee. 

By removing its drip-tray, you can even brew directly into your travel mug to enjoy it on your way to work.

This Keurig model relies on a large 48 oz reservoir, meaning that you could potentially go the entire week without worrying about refilling it.

As you can discover in our Keurig K-Classic review, other handy features for time-poor coffee lovers are the auto-off and automatic descaling.

Bottom line: Whether you want to brew with pods or Keurig’s reusable filter, this capsule machine will save you precious time in the morning.


3. Nespresso Inissia - Best for Espresso

Nespresso Inissia Original Espresso Machine by Breville, Red

FEATURES

Pod type: Nespresso capsules
Drinks: Espresso (1.35 oz) and Lungo (5 oz)

Best for: those who need a stronger espresso shot and like experimenting with it

This Nespresso pod coffee maker focuses on one thing but doing it exceptionally well: brewing espresso. Simple.

Offering you 2 drink sizes (a 1.35 oz espresso or a 5 oz lungo), it also lets you customize them so that you can find the perfect brew for your palate.

Another reason why this pod coffee maker stood out for us is its award-winning design: compact and available in different stylish finishes, this model will undoubtedly catch everyone’s attention (3) . 

“A consistent reduction to essentials in the Inissia results in a high degree of user-friendliness and small dimensions, making it well suited for small kitchens.” Red Dot Design Award

Intrigued? Check out our Nespresso Inissia review.

Bottom line: If you want an Italian-style shot but aren’t ready for a traditional espresso machine, this is your best option.


4. Nespresso Essenza - Most Compact

Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine, Pack of 1, Black

FEATURES

Pod type: Nespresso capsules
Drinks: Espresso (1.35 oz.) and Lungo (5 oz.) 

Best for: the smallest countertops

If space is one of your main concerns, we’ve got you covered: only 4.3” wide and lightweight enough to be considered portable, the Essenza is the smallest ever Nespresso model!

As for coffee, you can still rely on Nespresso’s high-quality 19 bar system to make adjustable espressos and lungos.

This machine is ready in less than 30 seconds and will switch off automatically if you haven’t used it for 9 minutes, so it’ll really streamline your morning routine.

You can purchase it on its own or upgrade your coffee experience even further by choosing the Aeroccino bundle. 

From lattes to cappuccinos, this separate milk frother will get you coffee shop-style drinks for a fraction of the price.

Bottom line: Compact, quick, reliable. As the name suggests, the Essenza really boils it down to the essence of a practical espresso experience.


5. Keurig K155 - Best for the Office

Keurig K155 Office Pro Commercial Coffee Maker, Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer, Silver,Extra Large 90 oz. Water Reservoir

FEATURES

Pod type: K-Cups
Drinks: drip (4, 6, 8, 10 oz)

Best for: offices or large households with different coffee preferences

While some people prefer brewing a large pot for everyone, not all family members or colleagues have their coffee clock synchronized!

This Keurig pod coffee maker is a practical choice to avoid waste while still leaving plenty of options for everyone’s taste.

It includes 4 different brew sizes and, if you opt for flavored K-Cups, you can use it for other drinks like hot cocoa and tea.

Because it has a huge 90 oz water reservoir, you’ll be able to brew between 10 and 20 cups before having to refill it.

Another reason why this pod coffee maker is particularly useful in an office is its programmability: thanks to the user-friendly LCD screen and interface, you can program it to turn on and off to suit your usual work schedule.

Bottom line: From programmable features to different drink sizes, this pod coffee maker can match everyone’s needs.


CHULUX Single Serve Coffee Maker Brewer for Single Cup Capsule with 12 Ounce Reservoir,Black

FEATURES

Pod type: K-Cups, most coffee capsules (not Nespresso) and reusable filters
Drinks: drip (5-12 oz)

Best for: a budget-friendly choice

Not all pod coffee makers are either Nespresso or Keurig models! 

If you want to save some money by opting for a lesser-known brand, avoid disappointment and stick to this reliable Chulux brewer.

Less than 5” wide, it’s compact and portable but, most importantly, easy to operate and versatile.

In fact, it’s compatible with most coffee pods and refillable filters. 

As well as relying on a one-touch operation, it even shuts off automatically once you’ve finished brewing.

Bottom line: A humble coffee maker that doesn’t tie you to a specific brand’s pods.


FAQs

1. What is the best pod coffee maker to buy?

The best pod coffee maker to buy is the Nespresso Vertuo if you’re mainly interested in espresso-style drinks or the Keurig K-Classic for a traditional cup of drip coffee.

2. Are coffee pod machines worth it?

Coffee pod machines are absolutely worth it if you usually drink only one cup of coffee and haven’t got time to use manual drippers. After all, why waste more coffee by brewing an entire carafe if you’re not going to drink it?!

However, keep in mind that coffee pods are more expensive than buying beans or grounds. A cheaper way to use coffee pod machines is to invest in a separate reusable filter and scoop up fresh grounds instead.

3. Does Nespresso make stronger coffee than Keurig?

Nespresso makes coffee that tastes stronger than Keurig’s and is more concentrated, meaning that it has more caffeine per oz. 

However, because K-Cups are used to brew larger cups, they actually contain more coffee and, therefore, more caffeine. 

To give you an idea, a Nespresso capsule contains 5-6 g, whereas a K-Cup has 8-12.

4. Which is better: Nespresso or Keurig?

Nespresso and Keurig aren’t one better than the other because they’re very different pod coffee makers: the former focuses on espresso, the latter on drip coffee. 

If you need help choosing, check our Nespresso vs Keurig comparison.


References:

1. (n.d.). (2019, March 22). Global Capsule Coffee Makers Industry Analysis 2019, Market Growth, Trends, Opportunities Forecast To 2024. Retrieved from https://industrytoday.co.uk/electrical/global-capsule-coffee-makers-industry-analysis-2019--market-growth--trends--opportunities-forecast-to-2024 

2. (n.d.). Recycling. Retrieved from https://www.nespresso.com/uk/en/recycling 

3. (n.d.). Coffee Maker Nespresso Inissia. Retrieved from https://www.red-dot.org/project/nespresso-inissia-31289

Avatar for Giada Nizzoli

Born in Italy but currently brewing from the UK, Giada is a highly-caffeinated coffee expert with a soft spot for espressos. She worked in cafés for years and has recently fallen in love with the practical Kalita Wave (just don’t tell her Italian moka pot!).

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