Best K-Cup Coffee Makers

For those who value convenience over taste

A CR tester inserts a Keurig K-Cup pod into a K-Cup coffee maker.
Photo: Brian Finke
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If you’re the kind of person who quickly grabs a cup of coffee as you rush through your morning routine, you might like the convenience of a pod coffee maker, which can get you your caffeine fix fast.

No brand of pod coffee maker is more ubiquitous than Keurig, which accounts for 38 percent of all single-serve and drip coffee makers owned by CR members, according to our 2018 coffee maker survey. The whole category of single-serve brewers is often referred to by the “K-Cup” moniker, even when the appliances are made by other brands.

Despite Keurig’s popularity, our tests show that the best K-Cup coffee makers usually aren’t made by Keurig. In fact, of the top five K-Cup brewers in our ratings, only one model is made by Keurig.

“Keurig models don’t perform as well as other pod machines in our tests,” says Ginny Lui, CR’s test engineer for coffee makers. “They tend to take longer to brew the first and second cups of coffee.”

Keep in mind that pod coffee makers, whether they use K-Cup pods or others, don’t yield the best-tasting brew. In fact, the highest rating CR’s expert coffee taste tester awards any pod machine in our ratings is Good, which is merely middle of the road. Then there’s the environmental cost of the pods themselves. Billions have ended up in landfills over the years, though as of last year, all of Keurig’s pods are recyclable.

Below we cover the five best K-Cup coffee makers from our tests, featuring models from Brim, Chefman, Crux, Cuisinart, and Keurig. All of them use K-Cup coffee pods, and three double as drip machines that can use loose grounds, too. CR members can click on each model name for more detailed ratings and reviews.

For more top-performing pod machines that use Keurig K-Cups, check our complete coffee maker ratings. If you need help choosing the right brewer, start with our coffee maker buying guide

Best K-Cup Coffee Makers
Brim Triple Brew 12-cup 50017
Brim Triple Brew 12-cup 50017

    Brim Triple Brew 12-cup 50017

    CR’s take: The Brim Triple Brew 12-cup 50017 doubles as both a K-Cup coffee maker and a drip coffee maker, so we ran it through both our pod coffee maker tests and drip coffee maker tests. It performs quite well in both sets of tests, with an Excellent rating for first-cup speed when brewing from pods and a Very Good rating for carafe handling. Its features include auto-shutoff, a permanent filter, a height-adjustable drip tray, and programming.

    Chefman InstaCoffee
    Chefman InstaCoffee

      Chefman InstaCoffee

      CR’s take: The Chefman InstaCoffee earns a CR Best Buy designation, thanks to its impressive performance and low price. This little K-Cup brewer outperforms $200 machines, with stellar ratings in all our tests, including an Excellent score for first-cup speed. You won’t get many features at this price, though. This Chefman’s only features are auto-shutoff and the ability to brew from either K-Cups or loose grounds.

      Crux 14813 Triple Infusion Brew
      Crux 14813 Triple Infusion Brew

        Crux 14813 Triple Infusion Brew

        CR’s take: The Crux 14813 Triple Infusion Brew pulls double-duty as both a K-Cup brewer and a drip coffee maker with a glass carafe. Naturally, we had to run it through both our drip coffee maker tests and our pod coffee maker tests. It performs well in both sets of tests, receiving a Very Good rating for brew performance in our drip tests and an Excellent rating for first-cup speed our pod tests. It packs plenty of features, too, including programming, auto-shutoff, a permanent filter, and a height-adjustable drip tray.

        Cuisinart Premium Single-Serve Brewer SS-10
        Cuisinart Premium Single-Serve...

          Cuisinart Premium Single-Serve...

          CR’s take: One of the best Keurig K-Cup brewers is the Cuisinart Premium Single-Serve Brewer SS-10, which receives a convenience rating of Excellent and offers great cup-size and temperature consistency. This machine also packs a ton of features, including an auto-shutoff function, a removable water reservoir, a height-adjustable drip tray, a built-in water filter, and programming.

          Keurig K-Duo Plus 5200
          Keurig K-Duo Plus 5200

            Keurig K-Duo Plus 5200

            CR’s take: The Keurig K-Duo Plus 5200 is a bit unusual in that it can be used as either a pod coffee maker or a drip coffee maker with its included thermal carafe. Unlike the Brim and Crux models on this list though, which are each essentially two coffee makers fused together, this Keurig only has one brewing chamber and mechanism. That means you can’t brew both a cup of coffee from a pod and a carafe of coffee at the same time. This Keurig performs much better in our pod tests than our drip tests. For example, it earns an Excellent rating for convenience in the former but a Very Good score for convenience in the latter. Its features include a removable water reservoir, a height-adjustable drip tray, programming, auto-shutoff, a permanent filter, and brew-strength control.

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            Daniel Wroclawski

            I'm obsessed with smart home tech and channel my obsession into new stories for Consumer Reports. When I'm not writing about products, I spend time either outside hiking and skiing or up in the air in small airplanes. For my latest obsessions, follow me on Facebook and Twitter (@danwroc).