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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 rely on a pod coffee maker to get 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 Keurig has said it plans to make all its pods recyclable by the end of the year.
Below we cover the five best K-Cup coffee makers from our tests, featuring models by Cuisinart, Keurig, Mixpresso, and Touch. All of them use K-Cup coffee pods, and one of them doubles as a drip machine that can use loose grounds, too. CR members can click on each model name for more detailed ratings and reviews.
Cuisinart Coffee Center SS-15
CR’s take: For the Keurig K-Cup faithful, the Cuisinart Coffee Center SS-15 offers a zippy brew time. This pod machine also doubles as a 12-cup drip coffee maker and features auto-shutoff, a height-adjustable drip tray, a built-in water filter, and a removable reservoir. In terms of performance, it earns an Excellent rating for first-cup speed, with great temperature consistency and cup-size consistency, and has easy-to-use controls. In our drip tests, this Cuisinart is an all-around impressive performer, even receiving a Very Good rating for convenience.
Cuisinart Premium Single-Serve Brewer SS-10
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-Elite K90
CR’s take: The Keurig K-Elite K90 is the best Keurig-branded pod brewer in our ratings. Its first-cup speed is a little slow and its brewing range could be better, but this Keurig makes up for these shortcomings with an Excellent rating for convenience and great temperature and size consistency. It packs plenty of features, too, including programming, auto-shutoff, an iced-coffee brewing mode, a removable reservoir, and a height-adjustable drip tray.
Mixpresso Single Cup K4GRY00
CR’s take: You might not recognize this brand, but the Mixpresso Single Cup K4GRY00 offers superb performance in almost every one of our lab tests. In fact, the only exceptions are taste (a common problem with even the best pod machines in our ratings) and brewing range, receiving just a Good rating in that test because you can’t easily change the strength of your brew. As for features, this Mixpresso is also a bit bare-bones, giving you only auto-shutoff, a removable water reservoir, and a height-adjustable drip tray.
Touch Brewer T214B
CR’s take: The Touch Brewer T214B is a little slow when it comes to the first cup of the morning, but it makes up for it with speedier repeat cups, earning a Very Good rating in that test. Our testers also found it brews cups that are very consistent in both size and temperature. The only real downside to this model is that it doesn’t offer as many features as competitors. You’ll only get auto-shutoff, a height-adjustable drip tray, and a removable water reservoir. But if you prefer simplicity, this Touch pod machine won’t disappoint.
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