Best Pod Coffee Makers of 2021

Our experts round up the most convenient single-serve machines

A cup of coffee from one of the best pod coffee makers.
Photo: Brian Finke
When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn affiliate commissions. 100% of the fees we collect are used to support our nonprofit mission. Learn more.

A pod coffee maker is a quick way to get your morning going. Switch on the machine, add fresh water, pop in a pod, and press start. In a minute or two, you have a piping hot cup of joe.

Just don’t expect it to taste terrific.

Most pod machines that Consumer Reports has tested brew coffee of similar quality—that is, coffee that’s just okay. None of the nearly 40 single-serve coffee makers in our ratings earns better than a rating of Good for taste, and according to our expert taste tester, that’s because of the quality of coffee in the pods themselves. (If you have higher standards for your coffee, we suggest a top-performing drip brewer instead.)

Because pod machines are about convenience, speed, and consistency, these are the qualities our testers focus on. We time brew speed for the all-important first cup and those that follow, note the temperature, record cup-size consistency, and evaluate convenience (operation and cleaning).

“When you’re shopping for a new pod coffee maker, you’ll also want to consider the type of coffee pods you want to use,” says Ginny Lui, who oversees CR’s coffee maker testing. “Keurig K-Cups offer a much greater variety of blends and coffee brands compared to Illy IperEspresso or Nespresso.”

Below, we review the best pod brewer for each major type of coffee pod, including Illy IperEspresso, Keurig K-Cups, Nespresso OriginalLine and VertuoLine, and Senseo—plus, our best budget pick. CR members can click on each model name for more detailed ratings and reviews. To see other highly rated models, check our complete pod coffee maker ratings.

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of K-Cups and capsules, see our guide to recycling coffee pods.

Best Budget Pod Brewer
Chefman InstaCoffee
Chefman InstaCoffee

    Chefman InstaCoffee

    CR's take: The Chefman InstaCoffee earns a CR Best Buy designation thanks to its impressive performance and $40 price. This little K-Cup brewer outperforms $200 machines, with stellar ratings in all our tests, including an Excellent rating for first-cup speed. You won't get many features at this price, though. This Chefman's only features are an auto-shutoff and the ability to brew from either K-Cups or loose grounds.

    Best Illy IperEspresso Brewer
    Illy Y3.2 Espresso/Coffee Machine 60296
    Illy Y3.2 Espresso/Coffee Machine...

      Illy Y3.2 Espresso/Coffee Machine...

      CR’s take: If you love Illy’s Italian coffee and prefer Illy IperEspresso capsules, the Illy Y3.2 Espresso/Coffee Machine 60296 is the brewer for you. In addition to its ability to brew coffee and espresso, this machine features a removable water reservoir, a brew-temperature adjustment, a height-adjustable drip tray, and auto-shutoff. It receives a rating of Excellent for repeat-cup speed (how quickly it can brew a second cup) in our tests, with superb temperature consistency as well.

      Best Keurig K-Cup Brewer
      Cuisinart Premium Single-Serve Brewer SS-10
      Cuisinart Premium Single-Serve...

        Cuisinart Premium Single-Serve...

        CR’s take: It turns out the best Keurig K-Cup brewer isn't made by Keurig. That honor goes to 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.

        Best Nespresso OriginalLine Brewer
        Nespresso  Pixie Espresso Maker in Aluminum EN125S
        Nespresso  Pixie Espresso Maker in...

          Nespresso  Pixie Espresso Maker in...

          CR’s take: If you’re looking for a Nespresso pod coffee maker that uses OriginalLine capsules, check out the Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker in Aluminum EN125S. It earns high marks for first-cup speed, repeat-cup speed, and cup-size consistency. And it earns a rating of Very Good for brewing range, which means you have plenty of control over the strength of your brew. The Pixie has a removable water reservoir, a height-adjustable drip tray, and an adjustable brew temperature feature. It’s simple to use, and it can also brew three types of coffee—lungo (an Italian coffee), espresso, and ristretto (a more concentrated espresso)—depending on the capsules you buy.

          Best Nespresso VertuoLine Brewer
          Nespresso VertuoLine Evoluo Deluxe
          Nespresso VertuoLine Evoluo Deluxe

            Nespresso VertuoLine Evoluo Deluxe

            CR’s take: Prefer Nespresso’s VertuoLine capsules over the OriginalLine? The Nespresso VertuoLine Evoluo Deluxe is the best VertuoLine model in our tests. It offers a superb brewing range as well as solid first-cup speed and cup-size consistency. And Nespresso machines earn a rating of Excellent for owner satisfaction in our surveys. In terms of features, this machine offers a removable water reservoir, a height-adjustable drip tray, and an auto-shutoff function. And the Evoluo Deluxe can brew both coffee and espresso, depending on the VertuoLine capsules you use.

            Best Senseo Brewer
            Senseo Original XL Single Serve HD7810
            Senseo Original XL Single...

              Senseo Original XL Single...

              CR’s take: If you prefer Senseo coffee pads (yep, the brand calls them pads, not pods), consider the Senseo Original XL Single Serve HD7810. This machine brews small espressolike beverages and can even brew two cups at once. This Philips performs decently in our tests, but its strengths are its repeat cup speed and size consistency, with an Excellent rating for the former. In other words, it's a solid pod machine if you have multiple coffee-drinkers in the house. It has a removable water reservoir and an auto-shutoff function.

              Single-serve coffee makers Rated
              Access Ratings
              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).