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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.


            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.

                      1. I'm single and I make coffee every morning in my single cup press pot ("French press"). It's magnificent! You can make a really rich cup without using an exorbitant amount of beans. You seriously should try it.

                        3 Replies
                          1. re: zin1953

                            Agreed +1. I'm not even a hardcore coffee lover, and the Keurig machine we have at work makes undrinkable coffee, no matter which of the blends is used. I can't imagine how any machine which uses mass-produced, pre-packaged single serving coffee 'pods' or whatever could produce a decent cup of coffee. Get a $15 french press and a coffee grinder (burr-type if you can afford it, blade-type ones are another $10-$15), and find a place in your area to buy freshly-roasted coffee beans.

                            1. re: Buckethead

                              INVEST IN A GRINDER! Absolutely. Coffee is very volatile, and begins to lose freshness the moment the beans are roasted, let alone ground -- no matter how they are packaged. I cannot imagine any "pod" ever producing a good cup of coffee; certainly I've never had one.

                              I should probably point out that, in addition to my "prosumer" espresso machine (home use; commercially capable), I have two French Presses -- one large, one small. I use the large one when company comes over -- and the small one when I want to linger over a great cup of black coffee, rather than savor the rich (albeit brief) flavor of an espresso.

                        1. Heh, I even saw a press/travel mug the other day in a store, which maybe solves part of the problem if this is a wake up coffee for the road situation.

                          Still, some people don't like coffee made using the press method, and there's more cleanup than a single-serve machine. It's much cheaper, though, and most coffee aficionados would consider it a far better cup of coffee.

                          There's a whole lot of personal preference and convenience and budget wrapped up in this decision. A series of trade offs. You have to decide whether the convenience is paramount and such a convenient device makes an acceptable cup of coffee given that, or if you really like certain ways of making "better" coffee and want it to taste more like those, in which case single-serve gadgets are likely not for you.

                          1. Depends on what you mean when you say "coffee lover." Does that mean you love to drink coffee - any coffeee, or that you might think of yourself as a coffee conoisseur/snob?

                            They certainly make "real" coffee. In fact because the process of forcing water under pressure through the grounds is more closely related to espresso than drip brewing, you could even make the argument that it's more "real" than drip coffee.

                            Single-serve coffee machines focus on convenience over quality. You will get better results than using a drip coffee maker, especially if you do not grind beans yourself.

                            Coffee "snobs" (here used in a non-offensive way to refer to people who have higher expectations about coffee) generally dislike these machines. You have little control over the brewing process, no control over the roasting process, no control over the freshness of the pods, and no control over the amount of coffee packed in a pod.

                            But people who are less picky about their coffee seem to like them.

                            Personally I have a Senseo. I did a lot of research and had settled on the Melitta One:One, which was cheaper but seemed to be regarded as a good entry-level single-serve machine, but then I spotted a Senseo 50% off at the supermarket so I grabbed that. I avoided machines that had "proprietary" brewing mechanisms such as Keurig and Tassimo. They may be better, but I don't want to be locked into getting coffee from a single, potentially expensive vendor.

                            The Senseo-branded coffee is OK. Nothing spectacular, but you can use other pods in the machine. In another chowhound thread, the proprieter of a site that sells 3rd party pods (I believe it was bettercoffee.com) mentioned that Target's Archer Farms pods are one of the better pods you can buy in a retail store, and the French Roast pods that I tried are indeed much better than the Senseo Dark Roast pods. They are also individually wrapped so presumably will retain freshness better. And of course there are the pods being sold at bettercoffee.com and other sites. There are also refillable pods and methods for making your own pods, but frankly these defeat the primary purpose of single-serve coffee machines, which is convenience.

                            I am really really happy with the Senseo, but I am not a pick about coffee as long as it's not BAD coffee. I love walking downstairs in the mornign and getting coffee at the touch of a button. I will actually make myself a cup of decaf in the evening because I can do it quickly and easily. If decent and convenient coffee is your focus, you will likely enjoy these machines. If GREAT coffee is your focus and convenience is not a deciding factor, look elsewhere. French presses, moki pots and Aeropress are cheaper and provide you with much more control over the beans and brewing process.

                            I haven't tried tea. The Senseo didn't come with any tea pods and I am a bit of a tea snob. Unless a reputable vendor like Adagio, Teavana or the Republic made the pods, they probably would not be worth buying.

                            1. I love the Tassimo. I consider myself a bit of a coffee snob as I was educated for many years in the coffee biz. The coffee brewed from the Tassimo is really not bad. You have to experiment for yourself to see which ones you like best. There are many, and seem to be adding all the time. I love the Voluptuoso which is a smaller brew, somewhere in between an espresso and a cup of american coffee. The espresso is also great with a beautiful crema on top. You can also make teas, cappucino/lattes, and hot chocolates.
                              IMO way better than instant.
                              The steamed milk/foam pods aren't fantastic, but the are so quick, super simple, and require zero cleanup.
                              The main drawback for me is the waste. I wish the plastic pods were at least recylable.
                              You can get pod refills online, at Bed bath and beyond, and even Target.
                              I think they send you 6 or so packages with your purchase of the machine.
                              Let us know whatcha got!

                              1. Get a French press and a grinder, and you'll be able to make some of the best coffee you've ever tasted. The press is cheap, easy to clean, and virtually indestructable.

                                1. I got a Senseo as a gift. I have no other basis of comparison, but the coffee (using Senseo pods which also came with the gift) tastes so much better than the coffee my Mr. Coffee makes, that what I use now.

                                  1. I have a Senseo. Used it twice. It's in the garage. You want it?

                                    I consider myself a coffee lover too. We may have different defnitions of what that means to us. However, I will say that regardless of their stated intent, whomever uses the word "snob" ALWAYS uses it as a perjorative. Otherwise they'd simply choose another word.

                                    I have an Aeropress. I use it mostly for traveling in conjunction with a handmill grinder. It's good coffee. But it is not as simple to clean and dry as has been written. Especially if you reuse the filters (still waiting for the metal ones to come out).

                                    I also have two grinders (whirly blade & burr) , a variety of press pots, a Moka pot and a Technivorm Moccamaster. If you like drip, there's no other way to go than the Techivorm, other than perhaps a Chemex or Hario vac pot (if you can find one) .

                                    If your love for coffee includes flavored coffees, then the pod is something to consider. Personally I deplore flavored coffees. And pods for regular coffee are lacking in dimension. K-cups are far better, IMO, especially if you can regularly find the ones put out by Green Mountain.

                                    But if you want to actually experience nuances of a variety of better quality coffees, invest in a good grinder, get an Aeropress or Chemex or Moccamaster or something, anything, other than a pod system.

                                    If nothing else, think of the farmers breaking their backs for low pay in order to pick and process your beans. They'd much prefer you drank it freshly ground and at the proper temperatures as it is meant to be brewed. Justice for the beans, please!

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Panini Guy

                                      I respectfully disagree about the AeroPress clean-up. It takes me about one minute in total. Perhaps, your problem stems from using it while traveling, you may not have optimal conditions while traveling.

                                      I don't understand reusing the paper filters. I tried it once, and quickly determined that it wasn't worth the effort. (for me)


                                      1. re: redchile

                                        It would never occur to me to reuse the filters with much of a time lapse, but if I'm making more than one cup at a time, sure, I'll rinse it off.

                                        I don't understand the aversion to the paper filters. They cost a penny apiece and they're tiny and biodegradable. A thousand of them involve less paper than a single copy of the East Bay Express.

                                        1. re: redchile

                                          I didn't suggest it was "hard" to clean an press pot, but it's a different routine than for cleaning up after drip. I always seem to get straggler grounds on the Aeropress... annoying like stray beach sand. Then I have to make room for the components to dry... it's just different.

                                          Far as reusing the filters - I don't bring the lot with me when traveling. I'd lose 'em. So I just stick one or two in the unit depending on length of the trip, wash and rotate accordingly. If Mr. Adler hadn't suggested it was worth doing, I probably wouldn't... so it's his fault ;-)

                                        2. re: Panini Guy

                                          "However, I will say that regardless of their stated intent, whomever uses the word "snob" ALWAYS uses it as a perjorative. Otherwise they'd simply choose another word."

                                          Nothing more concisely describes a person with unusually high personal standards for one thing or another. You may choose to ignore my stated intent if you please - seems like choosing to be offended regardless of actual intent is a social norm these days anyway. But I'm still a tea snob and I'm OK with that.

                                          1. re: Panini Guy

                                            I adore the coffee from my chemex (and it's such a handsome bit of design), but gawd I wish it didn't take so darn long.

                                          2. Have you considered a pour over cone and an electric kettle? Much better than any pod I've ever had.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: cali2ia

                                              That's a great suggestion. I think those get lost in the midst of all of the various single cup machines available now. One of the places in San Francisco that seems to be very well liked in terms of its coffee, Blue Bottle, uses these to brew fresh cups of coffee to order. you can get a small permanent gold-tone filter that will fit in one, as well, if you like those.

                                              1. re: ccbweb

                                                The Aero Press is a life changer!!! So simple, inexpensive, and easy to clean...I just used it 5 minutes ago and I love it!!

                                                1. re: ccbweb

                                                  Blue Bottle's is based upon the BrewBar™ that was developed about 20+ years ago by the Santa Cruz [California] Coffee Roasting Co. Stainless steel mesh counter, capable of holding six Melita-type plastic filters and paper cones . . . each and every cup of coffee is made-to-order, as is -- of course -- each espresso, cappucino, latte and cup o'tea.

                                              2. okay...a couple of weeks later, after my original post, I have now officially converted to the ways of the wonderful Aero Press. AMAZING coffee. Inexpensive. Extremely quick cleanup. I went on a quest, and actually tried Senseo, Keurig, french press (which I'd had before, but had to do a side by side...) The over the cup drip cone is also good, and is a nice backup/travel option. Here are a few of my very unscientific findings:

                                                Senseo--some of the coffee was good, some undrinkable, totally depending on the brand of pod purchased, of course. The store brands were undrinkable. I didn't even like the Green Mountain ones all that much, which surprised me. The best pods, hands down, were Wolfgang Puck's, only available online. Surprisingly good. The machine's footprint is ridiculously large, but in all fairness, from start to finish, it is even quicker than instant coffee. And, having a crema of sort on top is a nice touch,

                                                Tassimo--same big footprint, same quick speed, seems to have a wider selection of coffes and teas available. It seems perfect for office type situations where you have lots of people who all want something different, and you don't want a lot of cleanup. Hats off to my mechanic, who has one of these in his waiting room!!

                                                French press--A good option sometimes, but for me, the grit left behind in the coffee kind of gets to me. Plus, the mess of cleaning it up, plus the time it takes...in theory, it's a good option, but in reality, I would always find the press dirty in the sink the next morning, and use something else.

                                                But thanks to all who recommended the aero press--I absolutely love this thing.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. Breville makes a great single serve coffee maker. I recommend it, with the caveat that I haven't yet located a decent "k cup" for it - who knows how old the coffee in those little plastic cups is, but it always tastes weak, thin, and nasty to me. A friend made a cup of Tully's brand extra bold Kona coffee for me, using a k cup, but I wasn't able to replicate the tastiness of that particular one at home. What I did have success with was taking freshly ground coffee - the coffee of my choice - and using the mini reusable filter cup that comes with the machine; now that was a tasty cup of fast coffee!

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Capybara30

                                                    Try the Coffee People Donut Shop or Jet Fuel. Both are very good with a lot of body.

                                                    1. re: ferret

                                                      I have the Keurig for almost 8 yrs, on the second machine about 2-3 yrs ago, like it very much for coffee, hot choc, and recently brewed iced teas - fill the cup with ice and brew a cup very nice.......have a french press also like it the best for coffee, especially when you can find the beans and the roast of your choice- but honestly haven't used it much since the world of keurig,,,,,,,also like the old style perkalator with glass top bubbler-we both think that is the best coffee----we are very happy with the keurig coffee selections and others options with it - we order the k cups on line only----many place to get them.

                                                  2. I got a Keurig for work in an attempt to cut out my daily coffee runs to the local nautically-themed national chain that will remain nameless; it certainly isn't 'coffeehouse' coffee, but it's certainly better than the slightly caffeinated brown water they brew in my faculty break room. I also appreciate, as someone who left Oregon for a job in Ohio, that you can get Coffee People coffee pods; the Black Tiger isn't QUITE what it was in the Northwest, but a welcome enough reminder!

                                                    1. Just returned from trip to rustic spa in Mexico and decided to pack a travel coffee maker for next time--coffee was weaker than I like AND not ready until 8AM. Intrigued by AeroPress but no burner in cottage so it needs to be electric, and I don't really want to carry two pots. Any suggestions?

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: 3catsnh

                                                        Get yourself something like this:

                                                        I have one that's big enough that my AeroPress fit's inside along with a litle baggie of ground coffee. Fit's nicely into my suitcase.

                                                      2. I really love my Keurig. It makes very good coffee, far better than anything you could get from a drip maker. What's nice is that the coffee always tastes fresh. I think because of the seal on the k-cup. I dunno. All I know is that we love it. We used to grind our own coffee every morning, but it still didn't taste as fresh as each k-cup does.

                                                        1. Can you get Nespresso in the US? IME it's the best of the single serve machines; I don't rate the Tassimo or the Senseo. If I preferred espresso or lattes I'd definitely buy a Nespresso. I enjoy my coffee but I drink coffee for the pleasure, not for the performance of measuring out beans, grinding, tamping, waiting for machine to come up to temperature and brewing. I don't have time for that every day!

                                                          However I mainly use my French press although electric kettles are ubiquitous here so they're quick and easy to use (no waiting around or watching a kettle on the stove). Clean up is easy - rinse out grounds for compost, chuck pot in dishwasher.

                                                          We have an Aeropress which we bring camping with us - people rave about it but it's not so good I dig it out of our camping set up when we get home.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: serah

                                                            Yes you can get Nespresso in the States - there are Nespresso cafés/shops in Manhattan (I can't speak for other cities) and the machines are sold at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Bloomingdale's & Macy*s (& surely others). Pods can be purchased on-line or at their store. We love the coffee (there are about 15 flavors) and think it's much better than Senseo or Keurig (never tried Tassimo). And for those who live near a Nespresso shop, you can recycle your empty pods by turning them in to Nespresso.

                                                          2. All those pod coffee makers claim to create less waste, but that's just wrong. They may waste less coffee (since users of other types of coffee makers sometimes overestimate the number of cups they will actually drink), but they certainly waste plastic and lots of it! Please coonsider the environment as you purchase your next coffeemaker.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: intripa

                                                              What's your low waste single user coffee method?

                                                              1. re: intripa

                                                                Heck a lot more environmental than buying coffee from coffee shops.

                                                                1. re: intripa

                                                                  Senseo has filter pouches (no plastic cups) and you can buy a reusable mesh one too.