Are you partial to a short shot of espresso in the morning? If so, the cost of hitting Starbucks or your local coffee shop several times a week soon starts to mount. One way to avoid this is by investing in an espresso machine. Many people are put off by the idea of making their own espresso since they don’t want to tangle with a semi-automatic machine, but there is an alternative.

Instead, you should consider getting a single-serve pod espresso machine. Though you’ll sacrifice some control over the brewing process, if you’re primarily concerned with speed and convenience, single-serve machines are the ideal solution. In this article, we’ve included a list of the best machines.

Our Top 10 Picks for Single-Serve Pod Espresso Machines

#1 Pick
Our Score 9.4 Out of 10
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Our Score 9.0 Out of 10
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Our Score 8.5 Out of 10
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Our Score 8.2 Out of 10
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Our Score 7.6 Out of 10
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Our Score 7.1 Out of 10
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Our Score 6.8 Out of 10
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Our Score 6.3 Out of 10
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Our Score 5.7 Out of 10
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Our Score 5.2 Out of 10
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What Is a Single-Serve Pod Espresso Machine?

A single-serve coffee machine delivers just enough coffee for one serving. While many of these capsule-based machines make regular coffee, you can also find plenty capable of delivering espresso, too. Using these machines couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is fill up the water reservoir, and then insert a capsule. Press a button and the machine does the rest.

Now, espresso purists might insist that single-serve machines deliver poor results, but we have to disagree. A great single-serve pod espresso machine gives consistent results in very little time. When you’re investing in any type of coffee maker, all that counts is whether or not it gives you what you want. If speed and ease of use are uppermost in your priorities, you can’t go wrong with a single-serve machine. You won’t be faced with any messy clean-up, either.

Pod Espresso Machine vs. Regular Espresso Machine

When you’re looking to bring the coffee shop home, you need to start by asking yourself whether you should invest in a pod espresso machine or whether a regular espresso maker might be a better fit. How much effort you’re willing to put in to brewing your coffee should dictate your decision.

Pod espresso machines exemplify ease of use. Fill up the water tank, pop in a pod and hit the button. In seconds, you’ll have great espresso. Where as a pod-based coffee machine uses hot water and a coarse grind, pod-based espresso machines call for a finer grind and shoot boiling water at speed through tightly-packed grinds. When you start using a regular espresso machine, you’ll need to be prepared for a learning curve.

If you choose to sidestep pod-based machines in favor of a regular espresso machine, think about how much effort you’re prepared to put in. Manual machines are hard work. On the other hand, a fully-automatic machine does pretty much everything for you. Super-automatics usually incorporate a grinder so you’ll get bean-to-cup espresso. Somewhere in between, a semi-automatic machine calls for a little user input in return for full flexibility over the brewing method.

The significant downside to a pod-based espresso machine is the lack of control. Fo many people, push-button simplicity is the key selling point of these machines. For others, it signifies a fixed delivery that might not be ideal. Think about what appeals to you most, speed or control. Before we look at the range of drinks you can make beyond simple espresso, we’ll break down the pros and cons of single-serve machines more generally.

What are the Benefits of Single-Serve Machines?

  • Ease of Use
  • Speed of Operation
  • No Clean-Up and Little Maintenance
  • Wide Choice of Drinks at Your Disposal
  • Reasonably Inexpensive
  • Cuts Down on Wastage
  • Consistency: Coffee Is Always Fresh

Ease of Use

The primary draw of single-serve machines is their push-button simplicity. While functionality and interfaces differ, all single-serve machines are incredibly user-friendly. If you have elderly relatives living with you, you’ll find it no problem to show them how to use your single-serve. These machines are very safe to use as well as straightforward.

Speed of Operation

Tied closely to ease of use, you’ll get great tasting coffee in a hurry with these machines. Most single-serve machines harness Thermoblock heating systems, so you’ll have coffee in your cup in less than a minute. For many people with hectic schedules, being able to hit a button and enjoy espresso on demand is reason enough to invest in one of these machines.

No Clean-Up and Little Maintenance

While more traditional brewing methods have their many advantages, they’re also messy. Using a single-serve machine, you’ll have nothing to clean up when you’re done. Used pods collect in a chamber which you empty every few times you use the machine. Aside from occasional descaling, there’s nothing to worry about by the way of upkeep either.

Wide Choice of Drinks at Your Disposal

Make sure you check out the range of pods available before committing to purchase. The Nespresso pods are collected in Grand Crus, and you can choose from the OriginalLine or VertuoLine collections, depending on which type of machine you have. You’ll be able to choose from a range of espresso in varying intensity, along with a choice of other brewed coffee if your machine permits.

Reasonably Inexpensive

If you compare the cost of a pod-based espresso machine to a semi-automatic or super-automatic, pod machines come in at a much lower price-point. The only thing to concern yourself with is the ongoing cost of pods when set against the cost of buying fresh coffee in bulk for alternative brewing methods like using a regular espresso machine.

Cuts Down on Wastage

Since you’ll only be making a single cup of coffee, you can kiss goodbye to those half-filled carafes of coffee past its best and thrown down the sink. The on-demand nature of pod-based machines allows you to make espresso quickly.

Consistency: Coffee Is Always Fresh

While you won’t be able to control the brewing process, the flipside of this is enjoying consistent espresso each and every time. The machine will never misfire and pour a poor shot. Sealed within the capsules, the coffee also stays fresh because it’s not exposed until the moment of brewing.

What Are the Drawbacks of Single-Serve Machines?

  • Cost of Pods Can Be Prohibitive
  • Damaging to the Environment
  • You Might Not Find Your Favorite Blend
  • No Control Over the Brewing Process

Cost of Pods Can Be Prohibitive

If you only drink a very occasional espresso, you might find the cost of pods for your machine to be reasonable. If, on the other hand, your whole family drinks espresso heavily, the cost of those pods can spiral out of control. As a rule, you’ll get far more economy if you use a regular espresso machines and buy bricks of coffee by the half-pound.

Damaging to The Environment

Another trade-off when you’re using single-serve pods is the impact they have on the environment. While many manufacturers are doing what they can to mitigate this, there’s one fact you can’t avoid. Using single-serve pods is responsible for a great deal of plastic, and the pods are not always easy to recycle. For many people, this will not form such a large part of their buying decision. If you’re concerned about the environmental footprint of single-serve coffee, we’d advise you check out some of our reviews of regular espresso machines to avoid this.

You Might Not Find Your Favorite Blend

Although you can typically find a wide range of coffee for your pod machine, there’s every chance you won’t find your favorite blend. Make sure you scope out the capsules on offer that are compatible with the machine you’re considering. You should make certain you have the coffee you want at your disposal before committing to purchase.

No Control Over the Brewing Process

Single-serve machines offer little flexibility. For some people that’s an advantage, and for others it’s a drawback. Many people don’t want the hassle involved with a method like pour-over, and single-serve machines present themselves as a convenient alternative.

Can These Machines Brew Cappuccino and Latte?

Most of the machines we look at today can make more than a short shot of espresso. Many single-serve coffee makers come with a detachable or foldable drip tray designed to accommodate taller travel mugs. With most of these machines, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of drink sizes to suit.

Onboard milk frothers give you the ability to use your espresso as the base for other specialty coffees. Many of the machines below give you this option. You’ll often have the opportunity to choose the machine only or to add a frother into a bundled deal. With some machines, you’ll be able to choose pre-programmed longer drinks when you’re not in the mood for a short shot of espresso.

How Much Money Should I Expect to Spend?

You can expect pod espresso machines to vary quite widely in price. At the lower end of the scale hovering around the $100 mark, you can expect pretty lightweight machines with a lot of plastic on display. Machines like this are not built for heavy, sustained use. Overall lifespan is also normally quite poor. As they say, you get what you pay for.

Step things up to the $150 to $200 price band and you can expect enhanced functionality. Many of these machines give you the freedom to make more than just espresso. If you step things up beyond that price point, you’ll be getting the best technology that single-serve has to offer from the market leaders.

The Top 10 Single-Serve Pod Espresso Machine Reviews

Breville Nespresso Espresso Machine

Our Score 9.7 out of 10
Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus Coffee Espresso Machine, 1, Stainless Steel
Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus Coffee Espresso Machine, 1, Stainless Steel amazon.com Check price

SINGLE SERVE COFFEE AND ESPRESSO MACHINE: The Nespresso Creatista Plus offers freshly brewed coffee as well as delicious authentic espresso. The Creatista plus can turn into your personal latte mak...

Nespresso has a range of licensing deals allowing selected manufacturers, like Breville, to produce branded versions of their classic Nespresso machines. This compact stainless steel gem gives you the freedom to make espresso, latte, or cappuccino, thanks to the onboard milk frother. Choose from ristretto, espresso, or lungo so that everyone in the family has their morning coffee just the way they like it. For single-serve efficiency and a range of drinks to choose from, this is one of the most adaptable and powerful capsule-based machines up for grabs. Road test one of these gems and you’ll never look back.

Pros
  • Striking stainless steel finish
  • Frother for longer, milkier drinks
  • Heats up in seconds flat
  • Push-button simplicity for all your coffee needs
Cons
  • Water could be heated more
  • Acquired taste of capsule coffee

Bottom Line: For a flexible and powerful pod-driven espresso machine from industry giants, Breville meets Nespresso head on to deliver in fine style.

DeLonghi America Lattissima Pro Espresso Machine with Milk Frother

Our Score 9.1 out of 10
Nespresso Lattissima Pro Original Espresso Machine with Milk Frother by De'Longhi, 10.8inch Length x 7.6inch Width x 13inch Height, Silver
Nespresso Lattissima Pro Original Espresso Machine with Milk Frother by De'Longhi, 10.8inch Length x 7.6inch Width x 13inch Height, Silver amazon.com Check price

It's all about the foam: The De’Longhi Automatic Cappuccino System creates perfectly layered espresso beverages, with dense, rich, long-lasting foam in every cup from start to finish.
Nespresso cap...

Espresso is a great way to start the day but it certainly isn’t an all-day drink. Enjoy longer layered espresso drinks, too. This machine accepts Nespresso capsules giving you a great deal of choice at a reasonable price point.

Pros
  • Ample pressure for great espresso
  • Integrated cappuccino system for wider choice of beverages
  • Thermoblock heating system speeds up cold starts
Cons
  • Pretty costly compared to the opposition

Bottom Line: For delicious espresso rounded out with the added ability to make creamy coffees, the Lattissima Pro is built to stay the distance and capable of making top-tier coffee at the push of a button.

Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker

Our Score 8.9 out of 10
Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker, Electric Titan (Discontinued Model)
Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker, Electric Titan (Discontinued Model) amazon.com Check price

Easy insertion and ejection of capsules. Compact Brewing Unit Technology
Thermoblock heating element - Fast preheating time: 30 seconds
Folding drip tray accommodates tall recipe glasses - Automati...

Another Nespresso classic, this time the Pixie. Small but perfectly formed, you get little variety with this machine but it gets the primary job done well. If you want a longer coffee, roll with a lungo. That, though, is the extent of the choice you’ll get here. There’s no integrated milk frother so avoid this machine if you’re not a committed espresso fiend.

Pros
  • Compact footprint perfect for small kitchens
  • Rapid preheating in 30 seconds flat
  • Accommodates larger travel mugs
  • Huge choice of Nespresso capsules
Cons
  • This model is now discontinued
  • Limited to espresso and lungo

Bottom Line: If you need a slimline machine for a cramped kitchen and you love espresso above all else, the Nespresso Pixie remains a wise choice even if it’s been discontinued.

DeLonghi Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Maker

Our Score 8.5 out of 10
DeLonghi Essenza Mini Original Espresso Machine by De'Longhi, Red
DeLonghi Essenza Mini Original Espresso Machine by De'Longhi, Red amazon.com Check price

Performance: create a barista-style coffee or Espresso drinks every time, thanks to our one-touch operation and extraction system which delivers up to 19 bars of pressure.
Size: discover the newest...

Another magnificent partnership between DeLonghi and Nespresso, the Essenza Mini is perfect if you have a small, cramped kitchen but you don’t want to compromise on the quality of coffee you drink. Choose from an espresso or lungo to get your day started the right way. All you’ll need to do is top up the water tank and slide in a Nespresso capsule. Essenza Mini does all the hard yards for you and there’s no messy clean-up either.

Pros
  • Exceptional price/performance ratio
  • DeLonghi’s smallest single-serve unit
  • Make espresso or lungo at the push of a button
  • Capsule welcome kit included
Cons
  • Feels relatively brittle
  • A few complaints about lifespan

Bottom Line: If you want a super-compact espresso machine from a highly reputable brand, the Essenza Mini sits in a class of its own.

Nespresso by DeLonghi VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Machine

Our Score 8.2 out of 10
Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Maker by De'Longhi, Grey
Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Maker by De'Longhi, Grey amazon.com Check price

VERSATILE AUTOMATIC COFFEE MAKER: Brew different single serve coffee cup sizes; espresso (1.35 oz), double espresso (2.7 oz), gran lungo (5 oz), coffee (7.7 oz) and alto (14 oz). Pour over ice to c...

Another partnership between DeLonghi and Nespresso, this agile coffee maker gives you the option of drink sizes from a 1.35oz espresso through to a whopping 14oz alto. This machine allows you to drink coffee or espresso so it’s ideal for all-day use. All you need to do is pop in a pod and you’re good to go. You won’t need to keep scurrying over to refill the water tank either. At 60oz, you’ll have enough water to caffeinate the whole family.

Pros
  • Enjoy either coffee or espresso using Nespresso VertuoLine capsules
  • Wide variety of drink sizes
  • Oversized 60oz water tank
  • Drink your coffee hot or over ice
  • Multiple configurations available
Cons
  • A few reported complaints about leaking

Bottom Line: For one of the most flexible and powerful espresso machines using pods, this DeLonghi iteration of the VertuoLine is a must.

Nespresso by DeLonghi Original Espresso Maker

Our Score 7.9 out of 10
Nespresso EN267BAE Original Espresso Machine Bundle with Aeroccino Milk Frother by De'Longhi, 9.3 x 14.6 x 10.9 inches, Black
Nespresso EN267BAE Original Espresso Machine Bundle with Aeroccino Milk Frother by De'Longhi, 9.3 x 14.6 x 10.9 inches, Black amazon.com Check price

High performance: The 19 bar pump system offers barista-style single-serve coffee or Espresso every time, perfectly extracting the delicate flavor of each Espresso Original Coffee capsule. The inpu...

If you can’t get enough of the ease single-serve coffee machines deliver, this Nespresso and DeLonghi beauty is well worth popping on your shortlist. While the water tank could be larger, in return you get a machine small enough for even small kitchens and cramped counters. Quick to heat up and capable of powering itself down after 9 minutes of inactivity, you’ll get capsule-based convenience at a price you’ll love. Beyond this, you should spend far less in Starbucks once you’ve got a Nespresso machine in the kitchen.

Pros
  • Super-swift heat-up and auto shut-off
  • Drink your coffee hot or over ice
  • Aeroccino milk frother thrown in
  • Squat, slimline profile
  • Folding drip tray accommodates taller and travel mugs
  • Nespresso capsules included
Cons
  • 34oz water reservoir could be improved

Bottom Line: If you want a small and lightweight espresso solution from a highly reputable brand, the Original Espresso Maker is a modern classic from a pair of powerful manufacturers.

Nespresso by DeLonghi Coffee and Espresso Machine Bundle

Our Score 7.4 out of 10
Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine Bundle with Aeroccino Milk Frother by De'Longhi, Black
Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine Bundle with Aeroccino Milk Frother by De'Longhi, Black amazon.com Check price

VERSATILE AUTOMATIC COFFEE MAKER: Brew different single serve coffee cup sizes; espresso (1.35 oz), double espresso (2.7 oz), gran lungo (5 oz), coffee (7.7 oz) and alto (14 oz). Pour over ice to c...

This bundle gives you the tools to make espresso or longer coffees thanks to the highly capable milk frother. You’ll also get a choice of all staple drink sizes and you can even enjoy your favorite capsule coffee over ice with this pocket-friendly machine.

Pros
  • Choose from an array of drink sizes hot or cold
  • Generous water reservoir and used capsule container to streamline operation
  • Welcome pack of pods chucked in
Cons
  • Rather too much plastic for our liking

Bottom Line: This iteration of the classic coffee and espresso machine brings the best of DeLonghi and Nespresso together. Compact yet deceptively powerful, who says you can’t get espresso at the push of a button?

Nespresso by DeLonghi Lattissima Plus Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

Our Score 7.1 out of 10
Nespresso Lattissima Plus Espresso and Cappuccino Machine Capsule System, 19 Bar, Silver
Nespresso Lattissima Plus Espresso and Cappuccino Machine Capsule System, 19 Bar, Silver amazon.com Check price

Removable dip tray is present
Included Components: Espresso Machine

Another meeting of Nespresso and DeLonghi with the hard-hitting Lattissima Plus. As with most of the stronger machines we highlight today, you’ll get the best of both worlds with espresso or coffee as you prefer. Choose from 3 milk and 2 coffee choices on the easily navigable interface. This is a machine perfect for the whole family even if you have wildly differing tastes in coffee.

Pros
  • Elegant aesthetics
  • Easy to use and a cinch to clean
  • Choose from espresso or brewed coffee
  • Exceptional overall value
Cons
  • Customer care could be better

Bottom Line: If you’ve been looking for a versatile machine equally comfortable with espresso and regular coffee all at the push of a button, you can’t go wrong with the Lattissima Plus.

Nespresso VertuoLine Coffee and Espresso Maker

Our Score 6.7 out of 10
Nespresso VertuoLine Coffee and Espresso Maker with Aeroccino Plus Milk Frother, Black (Discontinued Model)
Nespresso VertuoLine Coffee and Espresso Maker with Aeroccino Plus Milk Frother, Black (Discontinued Model) amazon.com Check price

Includes Aeroccino Plus milk frother: rapid one touch preparation of hot or cold milk froth; Items sold separately valued at 398
New revolutionary Centrifusion technology to gently brew both Coffee...

Although this espresso maker has now been discontinued, it still makes a valid choice currently available at an attractive price-point. The frother thrown in gives you the chance to make longer and creamier coffees when you don’t feel like a short shot. Note this model will only accept VertuoLine capsules so make sure you don’t opt for the OriginalLine pods as they don’t fit.

Pros
  • Centrifusion technology allows you to make either espresso or coffee at with push-button ease
  • Shotgun heating time and auto shut-off for your peace of mind
Cons
  • This model is now discontinued
  • Not compatible with OriginalLine capsules

Bottom Line: Another adaptable espresso machine giving you the chance to create longer coffees from the dominant force in the single-serve space.

Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker

Our Score 6.4 out of 10
Nespresso D40-US-BK-NE Inissia Espresso Maker, Black (Discontinued Model)
Nespresso D40-US-BK-NE Inissia Espresso Maker, Black (Discontinued Model) amazon.com Check price

BARISTA GRADE: Nespresso Inissia by Breville offers an impeccable single serve coffee or espresso cup every time, thanks to its automatic operation and patented extraction system which delivers up ...

If you’re interested in a Nespresso machine, it’s always worth investigating the discontinued lines. The Inissia is no longer in production but this means you can bag an incredible bargain. Simplicity rules here. Punch one of the programmable buttons and you’ll have your morning espresso or afternoon lungo in well under a minute.

Pros
  • Commanding design with black-on-black
  • Now available at a steep discount
  • Hit a button for espresso or lungo on tap
Cons
  • Another discontinued model
  • Small water reservoir at 24oz

Bottom Line: Despite no longer being produced, the Inissia remains a solid bet if you’re looking for both espresso and regular coffee in a single pod-based machine.

Conclusion

Stick with any of the options we outline today, and you’re in safe hands. Single-serve machines are by no means your only option if you want great espresso at home. Whether you want the ease of a fully-automatic machine, or you’re prepared for the learning curve with a semi-automatic, you should choose in line with your preferences.