Best Small Coffee Maker: Our Favorite Portable Coffee Maker Today
Small coffee machines are a great addition to any kitchen, especially if you like to indulge in a warm cup o' joe every morning. Even if you are a coffee enthusiast, not everyone needs a large, fancy machine to prepare their favorite beverage, there are many compact designs that'll help cut down on the clutter.
At A Glance: Our Top 5 Picks for Coffee Makers
If you just want a simple morning brew without all the bells and whistles, a small coffee maker may be the best option for you. If you want the greatest experience, we recommend checking out our review on the best coffee machines. With the guide below, you'll learn how to discern what qualities make an ideal coffee maker versus a not-so-great one. Let's get started!
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Best Small Coffee Makers
Now that you know precisely what to look for, you can home in on what qualities comprise the best small coffee maker for you. Here are the top five best small coffee makers on the market to give you an idea of what a top-notch brewer should be.
1. Bonavita 5-Cup Thermal Coffee Brewer
Overall Quality: 5/5 stars
Price: 3.5/5 stars
The first entry on our list is the Bonavita 5-cup coffee brewer, deemed Best Overall. You can rest assured that this appliance will provide the perfect brew and last for years to come, thanks to its stainless steel composition.
You can streamline the process of brewing your daily cup o' joe with the one-touch operation, allowing you to heat up to five cups of water straight into the stainless steel carafe in one go. It only takes about six minutes, the perfect window of time for you to get freshened up for breakfast or to head out the door.
Plus, you won't even have to backtrack to check whether you left the device on or not. The Bonavita coffee maker features an automatic shut-off system, greatly reducing the potential for hazardous heat-related problems.
This Bonavita coffee maker also features a pre-infusion mode. The mode mimics that of a pour-over coffee-making method, giving the grounds time to bloom before the showerhead continues pouring hot water. Every cup is heated to the optimal brewing temperature, between 195-205°F, to ensure it's as tasty as possible.
After your purchase, you can set this coffee maker anywhere in your home without taking up too much space. It stands at only 12.3" x 6.2" x 10.6" (L x W x H).
- Stainless-steel carafe with BPA-free plastic lid
- Showerhead design is ideal for balanced flavor in small batches
- Streamlined control with One-Touch brew and automatic shut-off
2. BLACK+DECKER 5-Cup Coffeemaker
Overall Quality: 3.5/5 stars
Price: 5/5 stars
The BLACK+DECKER 5-cup coffee makers are easily one of the best quality brewers you can get on a tight budget. Adding to its economic prowess is the permanent grounds filter. You won't be burdened by the continuous replacement of paper filters, as this model features a built-in component to replace them. Plus, it's easy to clean.
It's also the perfect design for busy bees who must head out of the house to work. The "Sneak-a-Cup" function allows you to quickly pause the flow of coffee to snag a cup before you run out the door to drive or grab your seat on public transportation. You'll never have to worry about waiting for the slowpoke fountain to fill the carafe ever again!
This coffee maker is best suited for compact living spaces like dorm rooms or even small cubicles. It weighs a mere 1.79 lbs and measures only 7.25" x 8.2" x 10.75". You'll hardly even notice it's there!
- Pours five 5 oz. cups
- Includes a built-in, permanent grounds filter
- Sneak-a-Cup feature helps you get your coffee more quickly
3. Keurig K-Mini Plus
Overall Quality: 4.5/5 stars
Price: 3.5/5 stars
Having a single-serve coffee maker can come in handy when you live alone or if people will use the device infrequently. Plus, this design is all about saving space. The appliance itself measures only 11.3" x 4.5" x 12.1", so you can fit it nicely on a bookshelf, a desk, or another small surface.
(Still, be aware that this small Keurig coffee maker is rather heavy for its size, weighing a bit more than six pounds.)
It also features a built-in storage system for the K-cups, freeing up space in your home or office for other necessities. To keep the area around these coffee makers clean, Keurig integrated a drip tray to catch any accidental spills. If your cup's too tall to fit on top of the drip tray, don't worry. It's removable, so you can pop it out of the way to fill a thermal or another vessel.
When your coffee is ready and you no longer need the Keurig, it will automatically turn off within 90 seconds. Even if you forgot to turn it off in a morning frenzy, it wouldn't burn up while you're gone.
- Integrated storage compartment for nine K-cups
- Can accommodate mugs up to 7"-tall coffee cups
- Automatic shut-off after 90 seconds of idling
4. Nespresso Inissia
Overall Quality: 4.5/5 stars
Price: 3.5/5 stars
The Nespresso Inissia espresso maker is ideal for those who need a bit of an extra jolt in to keep them going throughout the day. Espresso has an impressive 64 mg of caffeine per ounce, making it one of the most potent types of coffee drinks. So, anyone who needs a one-time energy boost would do well to choose this design.
This barista-grade espresso maker prepares espresso servings in a jiffy. In only 25 seconds, you'll have nine fresh single-serve cups of concentrated caffeine to wake you up. Need different serving sizes between all the espresso shots? Not a problem! Two programmable buttons - "Espresso" (1.35 oz) and "Lungo" (5 oz) enable you to adjust the cup size to your liking.
Additionally, you don't always have to drink your espresso hot. This machine can serve up an iced brew for pouring over refreshing beverages. To spruce your cup up even more, use the Aeroccino 3-milk frother for the perfect finish on a cappuccino or latte. Once you're all done, the coffee maker will shut itself down after nine minutes automatically.
It's a moderately sized espresso maker, measuring 20" x 7.99" x 12.87" with 8.4 lbs in weight. It'd make a great addition in any home kitchen or office space where folks need a little pick-me-up now and then.
- Adjustable cup sizes including "Espresso" (1.35 oz) and "Lungo" (5 oz)
- Makes nine servings of espresso in only 25 seconds
- Features an integrated milk frother for cappuccinos and lattes
5. Cuisinart DCC-450BK 4-Cup
Overall Quality: 4/5 stars
Price: 4/5 stars
This Cuisinart drip coffee maker is all about practicality. It does its job, and it does it well - although, truthfully, it does leave a bit to be desired regarding aesthetics. Still, this coffee machine is just right for an individual who wants multiple cups throughout the day or a couple, each of whom may only need a single refill, if that much.
It makes four cups of coffee in the stainless steel carafe, ready for you in no time. Cuisinart designed the carafe with eager coffee drinkers' safety in mind, evident in the knuckle guard and dripless pour spout, ideal for clean pouring and preventing burns.
If you and anyone else are in a rush to school or work before the carafe is full, you don't have to worry about missing out on the energy boost. The coffee machine offers a brew-pause feature to let you sneak in a cup o' joe the moment you need it. When you're ready to go, simply head out the door, and the drip coffee maker will power itself down after 30 minutes of idle time.
This drip coffee maker doesn't take up much room with a modest 10" x 8" x 5.25" footprint. Plus, it only weighs 3.25 lbs, so it's easy to move whenever you want to rearrange your space.
- Automatic shut-off after 30 minutes of no use
- Brew-pause feature lets you sneak in a cup of coffee, even before the carafe is filled
- Stainless-steel composition is resistant to corrosion and highly durable
Small Coffee Maker Buying Guide
It's worth it to spend a bit of time researching coffee machines' key characteristics before you commit to a purchase. After all, these appliances are an investment, so you want to make sure it meets your needs precisely. Here are some of the major points to assess before selecting your coffee maker.
Standard and Bonus Features
Some coffee drinkers can handle the simplicity of a straightforward coffee maker with an on switch and limited options. However, others prefer an appliance with a little more pizazz, such as a drip coffee maker, to program to different settings.
Additional features and controls, such as timed on and off settings, pre-infuse mode, and more, can enhance your ability to make a personalized brew, even without a barista's help. Some of the most important coffee maker elements to look out for include those listed below.
Temperature of the Brew
Do you prefer your coffee cold or hot in the morning? We believe that each is equally tasty and refreshing; however, scientists report that hot coffee has higher antioxidant activity than the alternative. Many drip coffee makers can do both with a "brew over ice," "cold brew," or similar mode.
Cup or Carafe
A "carafe" is the pot that comes with a coffee maker. These are ideal for serving multiple cups for small groups of people (or a very tired individual!), which is why you'll often see them in office settings or family kitchens. If you only need one or a few servings, a machine that pours into a cup instead would be suitable.
Number of Servings
This refers to how many cups of coffee the machine can pour at once. Most models will either serve one to two cups of coffee simultaneously, or will be a standard 4 cup coffee maker. A small coffee machine is more likely only to serve one at a time. This works just fine if only one or two people want a drink in the morning.
Sometimes just the idea of having to make your own cup of coffee in the morning is exhausting. If you're often groggy when you wake up, it's best to invest in a coffee machine that can independently switch on before your alarm and get a brew going for you at the crack of dawn.
In the same vein, you might also want to ensure that your coffee maker has an automatic shut-off setting. This would ensure that you don't accidentally leave an extreme heat hazard in your house if you forgot to turn the machine off before heading out.
These self-shut-offs vary in the amount of time it takes to trigger. Some will power down in less than ten minutes, while others take up to half an hour. Consider whether you have children or pets that might get into trouble with an unattended coffeemaker to decide which time works best for you.
Since you're looking for a small coffee machine, it's best to pay close attention to its exact measurements before you make a purchase. Think about where you want to put it: in the corner of a dorm room, on a kitchen countertop, etc. Make sure it fits that space neatly without overburdening the surface or storage space.
These are some of the primary standard features to keep an eye out for when you're deciding which coffee maker will work best for you. However, there are many more you may want to evaluate, depending on how you like your brew.
For example, imagine that you like homemade cappuccinos and lattes. In this case, you might want to invest in a coffee machine with a built-in milk frother and steamer. Do you prefer to buy whole beans instead of grounds? If so, your ideal coffee maker should have a built-in grinder. Think about how you like your cup o' joe to determine which features are must-haves.
Portable Coffee Maker Materials
The material and design of a coffee maker can greatly impact its quality, performance, and longevity. Of all these factors, you'll want to pay the most attention to the machine's material, as this influences all the other listed components of the overall quality. The most common materials used to make a coffee maker include:
- Stainless steel: This is an excellent choice that strikes a great balance between affordability and quality. Stainless steel is highly durable and resistant to corrosion, making it a worthy investment. The only drawback is that it has a lower conductivity than many alternatives.
- Aluminum: If you're going for a lightweight, low-cost single-serve or all-in-one coffee machine, you'll most likely be looking at aluminum appliances. Although it's one of the most economical material choices for a coffee maker, it has the best conductivity next to copper. It's also highly resistant to corrosion, so it'll last you a long time.
- Plastic: Whenever you're buying plastic appliances for making food or beverages, make sure it's BPA-free. BPA, or bisphenol A, is a chemical used in the manufacture of plastic and resin products that can negatively impact the brain, prostate gland, and more. BPA-free plastic can be an excellent option for people prioritizing cost over all else.
Additional Materials for All-in-One Coffee Makers
Now, here's where you must consider one more key property: whether your coffee maker should be able to make espresso, too. If so, you might want specialized materials for the boiler on your "all-in-one" model. In addition to aluminum or stainless steel, your machine might be made of the following materials:
- Copper: This is one of the most common metals for making espresso machine boilers. It's quite possibly the best material for conducting and retaining optimal heat, ensuring your cappuccinos, espresso shots, and more will come out perfectly. As a bonus, copper also has antimicrobial properties, boosting the machine's safety for use.
- Brass: This is a more budget-friendly option compared to copper. Yet, it'll still get you a great cup of coffee. Brass is known for its excellent resilience in high heat settings. Although its thermal conductivity falls short of aluminum and copper, it outperforms stainless steel.
- Nickel: You won't find a boiler with only nickel as the boiler material. Instead, it'll be another metal that's nickel-plated. When added to brass, for example, nickel enhances the boiler's resistance to corrosion. This extends the machine's lifespan and eliminates the possibility of chemicals leaching into the water from the boiler.
It's best to set a budget before you advance too far into buying a coffee maker. Of course, it's not bad to peruse through your options after determining what type of coffee you'll be making and the specific features you want.
This will give you a feel for what's on the market and help you set realistic expectations on how much you might be spending. Note that your budget will be determined by the types of features you want on your coffee maker. The more bells and whistles you want, like a milk frother or temperature control settings, the higher the price will be.
To obtain a high-quality coffee maker, you will most likely have to invest a pretty penny. Even if you're financially prepared, shopping for these appliances can be tricky. The prices range so widely that it's difficult to pinpoint what your ultimate payment might be.
Since there are so many material and design alternatives, small coffee makers can cost as little as $10 for a pour-over appliance up to $300 for more specialized machines. If you are going the small route, such as with a 5 cup coffee maker, you should be able to stay within a pretty minimal budget.
K-Cup vs. Coffee Grounds
Some small coffee makers are only compatible with K-cups or other pods, while others are compatible with paper filters and coffee grounds exclusively. This may not seem like too important a feature, but there is a pretty significant difference between the two.
Brewing With A Keurig
First, let's address the elephant in the room. Keurig cups (or K-cups) are a topic of ongoing controversy. It's no secret that they impose a much heavier burden on the environment than bare coffee grounds. In fact, estimates say that in 2013 alone, enough of these little plastic coffee capsules were sold that if they were placed side-by-side, they'd circle Earth 10.5 times.
They're made of a type of composite plastic that is not recyclable in most areas. However, even areas that accept this material for recycling programs probably wouldn't take K-cups because of their small size.
With all this in mind, a Keurig-style coffee maker may not be a good option in the long run. However, if you're wise about your purchasing choices and opt for reusable alternatives for the plastic capsules, you can make that design work.
Ground Coffee Brewing
On the other hand, coffee grounds offer a lot in the way of sustainability and taste. For one, you can use your coffee grounds to make compost along without adding to overflowing landfills with plastic and aluminum containers.
This is not to say that uncontained grounds are perfect. There are drawbacks associated with this alternative. For instance, not everyone knows how to measure their coffee per cup. Without a pre-measured serving, you may end up accidentally drinking way too much caffeine. Further, scooping and measuring grounds can be tedious if you're rushing off to work with a thermal cup.
Overall, there are a wide variety of coffee makers on the market that are available to you. Even those that are on the cheaper end of things can still offer high-quality brews to get your day started off right.
Having a list of features along with a budget while shopping for a coffee maker is a good way to get the best product. So, feel free to return to this guide as you're shopping around to ensure you get the perfect machine for your coffee-drinking preferences and available storage space.
Once you've got your dream machine, head over to Black Ink Coffee's specialty collection for high-quality beans and grounds to break in your new appliance.