A single-serve espresso machine makes it quick and easy to brew your own espresso at home every morning. They’re one of the fastest and best coffee makers you can buy. And since they have a small footprint, they can fit on almost any kitchen counter and contain a brewing process that requires minimal effort from you. All you need are pods or capsules, and the machine does the rest.
While some single serve espresso machines are relatively simple, others may have features like an internal milk frother or an articulated arm, which gives you more variety and customization options for your espresso beverages. They also have removable water tanks and milk reservoirs to make the beverages you want. Nearly all of them have a sleek design that looks great in your kitchen.
Keep reading our buying guide to learn more about what makes single serve espresso machines so great.
Top Single Serve Espresso Machines
#1 DeLonghi Nespresso Essenza EN85B 20-Oz Coffee Maker
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: With 19 bars of pressure, this coffee maker delivers barista-quality beverages. It boasts two buttons for customizing cup size and features a powerful 1150W heating element.
- Powerful 1150W heater
- Two programmable buttons
- Compatible with Nespresso capsules
- Doesn’t support ground coffee
- Occasional frothing problems
The DeLonghi Nespresso Essenza EN85B 20-oz coffee maker has a high-pressure pump with a maximum pressure of 19 bars, delivering high-quality espresso. It boasts a 1150W heating element that supports fast boiling. With two programmable buttons, this machine enables brewing into a wide variety of single-serve cup sizes. It is suitable for making coffee for breakfast and travel mugs. However, this machine doesn’t have a built-in basket for ground coffee.
This coffee machine supports two different cup sizes and has a great interface that allows selecting the size easily for convenience. With three different color variants available, this machine meets the needs of different people. It is compatible with coffee capsules, brewing high-quality coffee without leaving annoying residues. With a compact design, this coffee maker easily fits under cabinets. It boasts an energy-saving eco mode that automatically switches off the machine after 9 minutes of inactivity.
#2 NESCAFE Dolce Gusto Genio 2 45-Oz Coffee Maker
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: With a hermetically sealed system, this coffee maker prevents humidity and oxygen from damaging the interior components. The device has a small footprint and boasts a sleek stainless steel finish.
- Incredibly easy to operate
- Very small footprint
- Hermetically sealed design
- Doesn’t support K-cups
Coffee capsule enthusiasts should consider the NESCAFE Dolce Gusto Genio 2 45-oz coffee maker. This machine supports single-cup brewing, delivering just the right dose of espresso for breakfast or travel cups. It has a small footprint, so it doesn’t take up a lot of kitchen counter space. A high-quality control panel with an LED display allows users to enter and monitor settings with ease. However, this coffee machine doesn’t support K-cups.
This coffee machine uses 15 bars of pressure to facilitate optimum extraction and fast brewing. It is hermetically sealed to prevent environmental parameters such as oxygen and moisture from damaging the interior parts of the coffee machine. This coffee maker has a stainless steel finish and metal base that enable easy cleanup. A large 45-oz water reservoir enables brewing of several couples without the need for refilling. The coffee machine has a powerful 1460W heating element for fast boiling.
#3 Bella BLA13683 Coffee Maker
Award: BEST WITH A MANUAL FROTHER
WHY WE LIKE IT: This coffee machine has a manual frother system with a user-friendly lever to enable customizing the frothing process. It comes with a graduated jar and boasts a knob for making cappuccino, macchiato, and latte.
- Simple controls
- Manual frothing system
- Super-fast heating
- Frothing requires physical exertion
- Relatively slow
- Limited customization
Users who desire to manually control the frothing process will be pleased with the design of the Bella BLA13683 coffee maker. This machine comes with a glass decanter with markings for easy measuring. With a permanent filter basket, this system offers excellent extraction and easy maintenance. It makes everything from lattes and americanos to cappuccinos and macchiatos. A manual dial enables changing settings with ease. However, this system requires physical exertion.
A steam-pressurized safety cup prevents accidental leaks. This device has a detachable filter basket and a removable drip tray to facilitate easy cleanup. We like the manual frothing lever on this system, which enables users to customize the frothing process. It uses a 750W element to heat up water fast. Users can control the size of the cup by pouring out just enough water for the cup in the reservoir. The decanter on this coffee maker has an easy-pour spout for simple serving.
#4 Mr. Coffee ECM160-RB Coffee Maker
Award: BEST FOR GROUND COFFEE
WHY WE LIKE IT: A stunning stainless steel finish on this coffee maker adds visual interest to any space. This device comes with a glass carafe that accommodates up to 4 shots, and a manual pump makes creamy froth.
- Exquisite stainless steel design
- Included glass carafe
- Manual frother
- Low-pressure system
- Fixed tank
This Mr. Coffee ECM160-RB coffee maker uses a mix of high-tech functions and manual controls to provide an excellent brewing experience. It has a steam heat feature that delivers rich espresso. Equipped with a manual frothing arm, this system allows users to generate creamy froth to top off cappuccinos and lattes. A removable and washable drip tray collects dripping coffee, preventing messes. However, this system only manages about 3 bars of pressure, so it’s not as great with espresso as other machines.
An easy pour glass carafe with volume markings supports making up to 4 cups of espresso. This decanter is equipped with a handy stay-cool handle for hassle-free serving. The coffee machine has a stainless steel finish that will blend in with other kitchen appliances and provides an easy-to-clean outer surface. It has an interface that’s compatible with various 50mm tampers and comes with a measuring scoop for ground coffee. A powerful steaming system on this device facilitates fast extraction.
#5 Breville BES870BSXL Coffee Maker
Award: BEST WITH COFFEE GRINDER
WHY WE LIKE IT: This coffee maker comes with an integrated grinder, converting coffee beans to hot beverages in minutes. It supports customizing the grinding size, pressure, filter, and shot.
- Gorgeous design
- Integrated grinder
- Pressure, texture, and filter controls
The Breville BES870BSXL coffee maker is a barista-quality espresso machine with plenty of advanced functions. This coffee maker comes with an integrated grinder, turning coffee beans into flavorful espresso in minutes. It has a low-pressure pre-infusion system that slowly increases the pressure to unlock flavors and maximize extraction. A manual frothing wand allows users to add foam for artful lattes. However, this machine is bulky and may not be suitable for small kitchens.
With a very high-quality control panel that features controls for the grinding texture and shot, this system enables precise customization. It also allows users to control the pressure and switch between a single and double filter. The machine has a self-cleaning function for eliminating debris after brewing. It has a metallic drip tray for simple clean-up. A Thermo coil heating system provides super-fast heating, generating espresso in under 1 minute.
#6 Staresso SP-200 2.7-Oz Coffee Maker
Award: BEST COMPACT
WHY WE LIKE IT: Featuring a compact design the size of a mineral water bottle, this device is easy to transport and store. It supports both capsules and grounds, offering versatility.
- Remarkably compact design
- Supports capsules and ground coffee
- Stainless steel reservoir
- Not ideal for families
Individuals with small kitchens should consider the Staresso SP-200 2.7-oz coffee maker. This machine has a frother, making espresso with milk foam, so users can deliver their favorite beverages on the go. It has a manual frothing system, enabling customization. This machine is compatible with various coffee capsules, allowing convenient brewing. It also supports brewing ground coffee, offering versatile functionality. However, this model is too small for normal home use.
A portable design reminiscent of a mineral water bottle and a low noise rating make this device a good choice for travel and dorm rooms. It has a 15-bar pressure valve for advanced extraction. With a stainless steel inner tank, this device provides durability. It’s made of food-grade parts that offer safety. Anti-skid pads on the outside of the serving cup holder provide stability. This coffee machine is easy to clean, supporting hassle-free maintenance.
Beginner’s Guide to Single Serve Espresso Machines
What is a Single Serve Espresso Machine
A single-serve espresso machine can deliver precise espresso extraction from a capsule or pod. These machines are meant to brew espresso quickly without the need for all the prep work, like grinding, measuring, or tamping. They include removable water tanks and frequently have frothing arms to make cappuccinos or lattes.
Some single-serve espresso machines also have a milk reservoir that enables them to steam milk internally and dispense a specialty beverage without any work on your part. They’re quick and easy to use, making it convenient to get your favorite drinks at home.
Single Serve Espresso Machines vs Standard Espresso Machines
A single-serve espresso machine takes a pod or capsule full of grounds and brews a shot of espresso quickly, with minimal effort from the user. They can also steam milk internally to dispense an already-made cappuccino or latte without you having to do it on your own. Some have frothing arms as well, which gives you a bit more control over your foam.
A standard espresso machine requires that you do all of the prep yourself, from grinding your beans to measuring and tamping the grounds. Some also need you to time the shot on your own, while others can do it for you with just the push of a button. While manual espresso machines give you complete control over your shot, they require a bit of experience to use. A super-automatic machine will do everything for you from beginning to end.
Standard espresso machines may have additional features like internal frothers or articulated frothing arms, but they don’t take single-serve pods or capsules, which means there’s a bit more effort required to brew your espresso.
How a Single Serve Espresso Machine Works
These machines are relatively easy to operate. Simply fill the removable water tank and insert a pod. With the push of a button, the machine will do everything else for you. It draws the water in and heats it in the boiler. Then it injects the hot water into the pod and dispenses espresso. If the machine includes additional functions, it may also dispense specialty beverages like cappuccinos or lattes.
If the machine has a milk reservoir, it will draw milk into the mechanism and steam it for you before depositing it on top of your espresso shot. These machines generally only have one boiler and one group head, so you can’t perform multiple tasks simultaneously, but they are intended to work quickly with minimal effort.
Why should you buy a Single Serve Espresso Machine?
A single-serve espresso machine is a convenient appliance to have in your home kitchen. If you don’t already have one, it’s an excellent companion to your single-serve coffee maker without pods. If you have one, you may want to consider upgrading for more features. Alternatively, if you’re interested, you’ll want to know how a pod coffee maker works.
Is a Single Serve Espresso Maker Worth Buying?
- They’re convenient: These machines have a relatively small footprint and can make a shot of espresso very quickly. You don’t have to grind, measure, or tamp, so it takes minimal time to prepare the shot, meaning you can put forth minimal effort for the coffee you want every morning. Some even come with features that will steam milk for you and dispense a specialty beverage.
- They’re easy to use: With a pod and the push of a button, you’ll get a shot of espresso or the specialty beverage you want. The only maintenance you need to worry about is making sure the milk and water reservoirs are full.
- They’re affordable: Compared to other espresso machines, a single-serve espresso maker is pretty affordable. Semi-automatic espresso makers, automatic, and super-automatic espresso machines can cost thousands, while a single-serve espresso machine may only cost hundreds.
Why a Single Serve Espresso Maker May Not Be For You
- They don’t allow for a lot of customization: Because the machine takes a pod or capsule, you’re limited to the type of espresso that comes in these pods. You can’t grind your favorite beans, and these machines make it difficult to control all of the different aspects of espresso that make it exactly how you like it. You can’t time the shot, and you can’t control the bars of pressure. If you’d like more control over your cup of coffee, you may want to read more about the best siphon coffee maker.
- Pods can be cost-prohibitive: In general, espresso beans or prepackaged grounds cost less than pods. The cost of purchasing these pods or capsules will add up over time, which means it may be more cost-effective to buy a more expensive machine to save money on pre-ground coffee.
- They’re not good for the environment: Most of the coffee pods and capsules that single-serve espresso machines use are not recyclable or compostable. You have to throw them away, which means you’re cluttering up a landfill somewhere with your leftover espresso. For the environmentally conscious, this isn’t the best solution.
How Long Will a Single Serve Espresso Machine Last?
With proper maintenance, a single-serve espresso machine can last 5-10 years. They may be easy to use, but they’re also built with quality, which means that if you clean them and use them properly, they will last for quite a long time. It also depends on how often you use it. It may not last as long with heavy use, but with occasional use, it will last longer.
The main problem with single-serve coffee machines is that the place where you put the pod tends to break. This is usually due to incorrectly placing the pod in the device or using an incompatible pod. Always be sure that the coffee pod you’re using is made for your coffee maker and that you’re inserting it the right way.
How to Choose a Single Serve Espresso Machine
There are a few things to consider when purchasing a single-serve espresso machine. You’ll want to think about the size of the water reservoir, your brewing options, and the speed, followed by any additional features you may need.
Single Serve Espresso Machine Key Factors
1. How big should the water reservoir be?
You need to think about how often you’ll use your single-serve espresso machine. If you have a large household with multiple espresso drinkers, you may need a larger reservoir, so you don’t have to refill it as often. Also, look to see if the water tank is removable or has handles, making it easier to refill. The design of every machine is different.
If it’s permanently attached to the machine, look for large openings that reduce the risk of spilling when refilling it. If yours doesn’t have a water tank at all, that means you’ll have to measure your required amount of water before every brew, which can save counter space but make the process more time-consuming.
2. What kind of brewing options should I look for?
This depends on what kind of espresso you want. If you’re looking for a simple shot of espresso, you may not need a lot of additional brewing options. A one-touch button operation that will brew your shot is enough. However, if you like specialty beverages like flat whites, cappuccinos, lattes, and other fun coffee drinks, you may need more.
You can purchase single-serve espresso machines that allow you to steam your own milk for these types of beverages. This gives you more control over how you like your morning coffee, but it will take more time and practice to master. You may want to invest in a machine that has an internal frother so you can make these advanced beverages with just the push of a button.
3. How fast should my single serve espresso machine be?
The primary advantage of a single-serve espresso machine is that it’s faster than other types of machines. You don’t have to grind your own beans or tamp the grounds. You also don’t have to worry about timing your own shot. It can boil water and brew a shot of espresso in just minutes.
However, every machine is different. Some can brew a shot from start to finish in under a minute, while others may take up to 3 minutes. It just depends on how the machine works, and if speed is essential to you, you’ll want to dive into the specifications of each device before making a purchase.
4. Should I consider any other functions?
You should always look into the full functions of your single-serve espresso machine. Beyond just espresso, it may be able to customize a wide range of beverages for you. You should also consider self-cleaning cycles that make it easier for you to maintain the machine. You can also consider a built-in water filter if you’re concerned about the consistency of your water source.