Has anyone tried cup at a time coffeemakers?
February 24, 2004 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone had any experience with these new coffeemakers that only brew one cup at a time? It seems like a good idea but I was wondering if the concept outstripped the reality.
posted by jeremias to Food & Drink (19 answers total)
If you are talking about the Senseo then I can recommend them. Great coffee, although it is a bit more expensive than normal filter coffee.
posted by sebas at 6:58 AM on February 24, 2004

We have the Keurig here at work, and I love it. They recently added a home version, which I can't vouch for. It's more expensive than standard machines (and I'm sure they really get you with the actual coffee) but it's very convenient. It makes a very decent cup of coffee, although the coffee comes pre-ground and pre-packaged. So if you're a real connoisseur, it's probably not for you.
posted by jpoulos at 7:06 AM on February 24, 2004

if you need just one decent cup of coffee each day, consider the toddy cold process maker.

brews an entire pound of coffee into superconcentrated coffee that you dilute to taste with hot water (or hot milk, or cold milk, if you like your coffee iced, or whisky, if you like your coffee irish). store the concentrate in the fridge. it's low acid, too!

it really brings out the complexity of the coffee bean.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:30 AM on February 24, 2004

I have been using my Black & Decker Brew'n'Go for years. I love it!

Prior to that I had been successfully using a normal coffee maker to make only a cup or two at a time. I would fill whichever cup I would be drinking from with as much water as I wanted and pour that into the well. That way I always got just the right amount. A couple teaspoons of grounds, and let 'er rip.

I like the Brew'n'Go more though, because it takes up less space, the filter is nylon mesh (iow permanent), and I can run the filter and the basket it sits in through the dishwasher.

Well, worth the investment once you consider the TCO for that daily cup or two from Starbucks. Hell, even using that Blue Hawaiian Mountain (or whatever) is cheaper than hitting Starbucks every day. Get yourself a coffee grinder (a must-have for any pothead) and you are set!
posted by mischief at 7:57 AM on February 24, 2004

You could always get a small french press. I'll never go back to drip now.
posted by tr33hggr at 8:11 AM on February 24, 2004

Response by poster: Yeah, jpoulos, that's the one I've seen. I just end up wasting so much coffee at home, making 4 cups when all I really want is one. Plus I always end up cleaning coffee grounds and crap off my counter.

But it looks like you have to purchase the coffee online, can't just go into a store and buy it. Seems like the cheap razor, expensive razor blade scenario . . .
posted by jeremias at 8:29 AM on February 24, 2004

Except that the press has a relatively large amount of prep/clean-up time. But I agree, the press is the best method of making coffee.

To answer the questing above, it's really a matter of convenience vs. quality. Talk to people around you and find out how much you really know about coffee. Can you tell the difference between origins and roasts? Do you even care? The more you enjoy a fantastic cup of coffee, the more time and money spent into creating that cup. These automatic pellet machines seem incredibly convenient and efficient, but I assure you that great coffee does not come out of a pod.

When discussing home use especially, it's all a matter of taste.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:33 AM on February 24, 2004

The Senseo linked above looked interesting... Until I followed the links to Amazon! Apparently, a four pack of coffee "pods" costs $16.00 - and you need two of them to brew a single mug of coffee?! Please tell me that's not how the packaging works...
posted by JollyWanker at 8:54 AM on February 24, 2004

re: the Keurig

we had it for a trial in our office and we had to pass on it because of the low water pressure in our building - the brew just wasn't strong enough for the regular coffee drinkers in our office. and also those little cups that contain the coffee grounds are not recyclable.

Don't know if either of those issues are a problem for you.
posted by Julnyes at 9:29 AM on February 24, 2004

we had to pass on it because of the low water pressure in our building - the brew just wasn't strong enough for the regular coffee drinkers in our office

Wouldn't low water pressure actually make stronger coffee, because the water goes through the grounds more slowly?

The Keurig in my office has a "custom brew" button that stops the brewing midway through, so you can use multiple K-Cups to get a stronger cup. Not sure if the home version has this.

If this home version catches on, I foresee an epidemic of people going home with briefcases full of K-Cups...
posted by staggernation at 9:45 AM on February 24, 2004

We have a Keurig in our office and I do like the coffee and how there's no clean-up, measuring, etc. It's a lazy person's dream, but I'm too lazy to look into buying one for home. Plus, my nutty dad mentioned something about how running boiling water through the plastic k-cups (the little individual coffee containers) is going to give me cancer, so I've been debating cutting back.

I got so sick of making coffee at home that I just switched to tea for everyday drinking, which supposedly is better for you anyway. Teabags are already single-serving ready. I think some cheapo coffee company makes coffee versions of tea-bags which might work out depending on how finicky you are.
posted by catfood at 9:46 AM on February 24, 2004

The cold process brewing deal looked interesting, so I googled around, and found a guy who claims that you can take three quarters of a pound of coffee and combine it with decent water in a 2 liter soda bottle. Leave it in the fridge for a couple of days, shaking every few hours/when you remember.

The claimed result is cold brew coffee extract, an ounce of which combined with milk/water makes a cup of coffee.

Can't verify accuracy 'til I try it, which will be this weekend. If it works, beats the bejezzus out of the Keurig. $16 for two cups of coffee?
posted by mojohand at 9:59 AM on February 24, 2004

We tested out the Keurig a few years ago at work, and it was great. But we ended up not going with it because it was (apparently) expensive.

Oddly enough, I happened upon a public demonstration of the Melitta One-to-One, with samples. Good coffee, but not insanely great.

I've never tried the cold coffee extract that mojohand talks about, but I'd be suspicious. So much of coffee's flavor comes from the aromatics that (I believe) come from brewing...so I'd guess that those would be gone or at least greatly diminished in coffee made by this method.

I'd second tr33hggr's suggestion to get a small French press. Either that, or a coffeemaker that brews into a thermal carafe so you can brew a pot at a time and still have it taste good for a few hours.
posted by Vidiot at 10:21 AM on February 24, 2004


i haven't noticed a lack of flavor in the cold process coffee and it's certainly very aromatic while it steeps. it's considerably less acid (so you're right that something isn't coming out in the cold process, but i haven't noticed a degradation of flavor) and doesn't brew up the bitter roasts as well as the more full bodied.

overall, i prefer french press, but for work, the cold process is fabulous because there's no mess and all i need at the office is the fridge & hot water tank.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:45 AM on February 24, 2004

Um...maybe I'm missing something here, but if all you want is to make a single cup of coffee at a time, why not just use a Melitta single-cup filter cone? They're cheap (cone + 40 filters comes to under $5.00), they're very widely available, and they make a damn fine cup of coffee (assuming, as with any brewing system, that you use good beans, freshly ground). A little messier than a self-contained electric coffeemaker, I'll grant, but still wonderfully simple and straightforward.
posted by Kat Allison at 11:20 AM on February 24, 2004

I second the motion on the single cup filter cone. I use one everyday. We also use a French press (mostly when we need to make coffee for after dinner and mostly, oddly enough, when we are in France) but the cone-paper filter combo makes as good cup a or better. I think Cook's Illustrated recently tested methods of making American style coffee and the Melitta cone came out on top. The equipment even transports easily -- how cool is that. Just add hot water. I can't say anything about it being messy as I find clean-up to be a snap: take out the grounds-filled filter, rinse the cone and when you're done there is no machine left cluttering the counter. (Ideally, you have an electric kettle but a pan on the stove works fine for heating the water. :-) And Kat is right on the ingredients issue: like most things, it helps to start with tasty bits.
posted by Dick Paris at 11:40 AM on February 24, 2004

Response by poster: Weird, i stumbled into a whole coffee sub-culture I knew nothing about. This site Aboutcoffee.net tells me that these single serving machines are getting more popular. Will "coffee pods" be entering the OED in 5 years?
posted by jeremias at 12:36 PM on February 24, 2004

JollyWanker - if you click the product photo, you'll see that that box is 18 packets (9 cups) which must mean that amazon is selling four of those boxes for $16, or less than 50 cents a cup. ($0.44) which is not bad.

We have a K-Cup based machine at work, it produces a decent cup of coffee, and its convient, but nothing to write home about.
posted by Davidicus at 6:15 PM on February 24, 2004

The cold process brewing deal looked interesting, so I googled around, and found a guy who claims that you can take three quarters of a pound of coffee and combine it with decent water in a 2 liter soda bottle.

Yes, that should work just fine for toddy. The container doesn't matter. Put coffee & H20 together in aprox 1#-1 gallon ratio and allow to sit overnight (minimum 12, max 24 hrs); strain. If you like, experiment with grind (fine to course), setting time and amounts of coffee/water till you get the toddy you want. Mega-caffeine.

Then combine the toddy with milk or soy milk (cream is optional) and chocolate syrup for a better "cafe mocha" than you'll ever get with espresso.
posted by Shane at 6:25 PM on February 24, 2004

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