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single serve coffee--who's the best? Senseo, Keurig,Tassimo?

Ok--as a single gal and a coffee lover, I'm ready to make the switch to one of the single serve beverage makers out there. But, I'm not sure which one will give me the best brew. Do they make "real" coffee, or are they really just instant coffee and tea dressed up? Please help!

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  1. I tried one of the Melitta models and found it to be just awful. Honestly, I think i'd have preferred instant coffee. The tea options might have been ok, but I couldn't find any flavors (ie, plain) that I liked before I'd had it with the thing and got rid of it.

    I think I'd be more tempted to look at one of the low-end-ish espresso pod makers and develop a taste for americanos. I am interested to hear if there are other models out there that people think do a good job on a single serving of regular coffee. Clearly, I didn't spend a ton of money on the one I got so it may have just been a get what you pay for situation.

    8 Replies
    1. re: ccbweb

      I'm sold on the AeroPress. It's a mechanical, not electric device, but it's a snap to use, and the clean-up is easy too.

      I bought myself a Senseo for Christmas, last December, and used it regularly for a couple of months. I found the coffee it made was anywhere from undrinkable (flavored) to just okay for the medium and dark roast pods.

      A big gripe I have with the Senseo,, is the limitation of the available pods. With the AeroPress you can use any coffee you like.

      There are some variables with the AeroPress. You pick the coffee, the grind, the water temperature, and the pressing time. That may sound complicated, but it's not. With a little experimentation, you'll find a "sweet-spot" regarding these variables.

      The AeroPress costs only $30, so it's not a big financial commitment. I believe the Keurig andd Tassimo both retail for more than $100 each.

      If the OP is curious, there was a thread regarding the AeroPress here recently. A search on "AeroPress" will reveal the results.

      1. re: redchile

        Redchile- I'm thinking of taking an aeropress, one of those little ceramic camping grinders, and a bag of some nice beans next time I trave (assuming it's usually not a problem finding boiling water)l- what sort of grind does the aeropress require?

        1. re: John Manzo

          Here you go. Just scroll down to Alan Adlers post and you will get all the info you need.

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/37639...

            1. re: John Manzo

              I'm not a coffee connoisseur by any means. But, I do like one good cup of coffee, once in a while. The AeroPress has filled that desire very well.

              I use a fine grind, probably similar to an espresso grind. I've used several different types of beans, some Starbuck's, and various Trader Joe's brands. They have all worked well.

              I make Americanos. I heat about 10 ounces of water in the microwave. I use only about half the water to stir and plunge. While I'm stirring and plunging, I heat the other half of the coffee for another 30-40 seconds, the length of the brewing time. I then pour the 2nd half of the water into the brewed coffee to make an Americano. I like my coffee hot. This method has worked well for me.

              1. re: John Manzo

                You can use practically any grind, your brew time may vary depending. I pack my AeroPress on trips and even that dreck stuff they give you in the hotel room tastes a little better using the AeroPress.

              2. re: redchile

                The aeropress is awesome....used it five minutes ago!!

                1. re: redchile

                  Love the Aeropress. The Americano I get out of it might be the smoothest cup of coffee I've ever had. It's also easier to clean and, since it's plastic and rubber instead of glass and metal, it's much less fragile. It comes with 350 tiny reusable (paper? tyvek?) filters and refills are dirt cheap.

              3. I've tried Senseo (just horrible) and Keurig (only slightly better). Haven't had Tassimo.

                I would look seriously at (in random order): 1) the Aero-Press, 2) a small French Press, OR 3) look at something like a Gaggia Classic espresso machine -- it is easy to use, and can not only make espresso and cappucinos, but you can easily make Americanos, too.

                1. The coffee drinker in our house loves her Keurig, and we have used it for tea as well. They have also finally come out with a hot chocolate in the cups, but it is far from authentic since there's no hint of milk in it (unlike Tassimo, which can actually use milk discs to make hot chocolate as well as lattes, etc.) The coffee and tea are certainly "real", as real as made from any drip machine. The coffee inside the K-cups presumably isn't as fresh as if you just ground it, but the way they seal them probably makes them better than most other storage methods of already-ground coffee.

                  Keurig still has a number of coffee partners making cups, despite now being 100% owned subsidiary of Green Mountain Coffee. In addition to them you can get Timothy's, Coffee People, Diedrich, Tully's and now Caribou, in addition to one or two I probably forgot.

                  Not everyone likes this, though. It really depends upon where your coffee tastes go. If you like espresso-type drinks, the Keurig is pointless. If you tend towards drip coffee, the Keurig could be up your alley. They are expensive (compared to Senseo and the rest of the pod brewers), so if you can try it out somewhere, that could be helpful. They carry them in Costco now, and sometimes Costco runs demos of them (at least they did a while ago one time we were there). The multiple brew sizes are useful; we have the mid-range model that has 3 sizes.

                  The Keurig has an (optional) attachment that lets you use your own coffee as well. We had a recent experience with this that was fairly mediocre, but some experimenting with the grind, amount, etc. may yield better results. Some of the pod machines can allow you to do this as well, at least with a third-party gadget. I don't believe Tassimo yet has this functionality. Part of its (Tassimo) gimmick is that everything is barcoded so that you only ever need to press one button.

                  With no cup of coffee/tea in the Keurig, you can dispense plain hot water in single servings, useful occasionally for some other things we do. I think the Keurig and Tassimo have slightly less cleanup to deal with than the pod machines, but that benefit may be marginal.

                  It's more of a convenience than anything. It's not likely to come out cheaper than other brewing methods, and it's probably not going to come out "better" than even some less expensive drip machines (although here it starts to get more subjective; people in my office for example are perfectly happy brewing in cheap machines from 3lb cans of Maxwell House! Others are not happy without a drink that has some espresso in it somewhere.) But it can make things much more convenient in the hectic morning for a price that's fairly reasonable, certainly much cheaper than buying cups out even at cheap places.

                  Some info here could be interesting reading: http://www.singleservecoffee.com/ They like to test new coffees and machines and keep up with the news in that area.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: CrazyOne

                    So. I prefer dark, black, drip coffee (or a good black americano).

                    I can't speak to all these brands in relation to each other, but I can say we have the Keuring at work, and I can say in terms of its mechanics and engineering, it's extremely functional and reliable. The coffee it makes truly depends, though, on the quality and brand of the K-cup (their name for the pods) you buy. We use Timothy's, and the only drinkable flavor is the San Lorenzo Dark -- which is, I might add, very drinkable. I like it quite a bit, though not as much as freshly-ground french press coffee. I wish to all things holy that my work would switch to Diedrichs or Caribou, since both are respectable coffee roasters/sellers, and I have liked their fresh products in the past. I imagine that their take on the pods would be far superior to Timothy's, and as CrazyOne says, the way the grounds are vaccum-sealed in the K-cups means that pretty good coffee stays good once packaged.

                    Of course, the whole pod-coffee thing does give me significant pause due to the immense amounts of waste produced by all those plastic and foil pods. Which is why I bought myself a nice stainless steel electric kettle for my office, and more often than not, I simply make a pot french-press. Didn't know about the AeroPress, though. I may have to add that to the repertoire.

                  2. I've had Keurig and Tassimo and wasn't impressed with either. They are much better than instant coffee, though. Keep in mind that they have a large footprint and take up as much room, if not more, than a regular coffee maker. I can make a single cup in my coffee maker just as easily and it's much better and cheaper than a pod. The french press is also great for one cup.

                    1. I have a Tassimo at my office. Honestly I found it to be the best of the worst. I dont' think any of these machines make great coffee but I work in a very small office and am the only coffee drinker. I bought it for the convenience of being able to have a few cups of coffee throughout the morning, not having ot make a whole pot, and not having the coffee sit on a burner between cup and no real clean up.

                      For home use I definitely wouldn't bother(we use a french press at home on the weekends for morning coffee). When I was single I used a Bialetti for morning coffee but admittedly like my coffee strong.