Single Cup vs. Pot Brewing Coffee Machines

Lately a new type of coffee brewing machine has been introduced into to marketplace known as the single cup brewing system. This new type of machine has found its way into the homes of consumers’ and is one of the latest trends in the coffee marketplace. While these machines are building up in popularity, there is some confusion as to whether or not they are actually a better, more efficient purchase than the traditional pot brewing systems. Are single cup machines like Keurig and Tassimo really as innovative and convenient as they seem? Read on to find out

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12-Cup Brewing

This traditional style of drip coffee brewers take a longer time to brew, depending on how many cups you are planning to make. A typical machine requires that you grind coffee beans, measure them, place them in a filter and wait for the hot water to drip through to make a fresh pot of coffee. The more cups you plan on making, the longer it will take. While this is a relatively simple procedure, you can purchase gourmet, high-end equipment that requires a more complicated method to create a unique kind of coffee like the JURA Impressa Z5 Chrome. Almost every department store stocks a range of coffee machines from low to high end. This is a very positive trait because you can choose a machine that fits specifically to your needs. If you want an easy to use machine or would prefer to learn a more complex way to make a cup of coffee, it’s completely up to you and available to you almost anywhere. Another advantage that the 12-cup brewing systems have is that you can use any sort of coffee bean that you want. You are only limited by how far you are willing to go to find your perfect coffee beans. On the other hand, 12-cup brewing can be very tedious. Having to measure out the loose coffee grounds and deal with filters full of wets grounds that make messes on your countertop is something that most people would rather do without. There’s also the issue of keeping your coffee pot clean and waiting for the coffee to slowly drip through the filter, which can be excruciating early in the morning.

Single Cup Brewing

This newer kind of coffee machine is designed to brew one cup of coffee at a time instead of an entire pot like the traditional 12-cup systems.  They use something called a pod that holds enough coffee, tea, or hot chocolate for a single serving. These kinds of machines work much faster because the water is pressurized to create a faster drip process. In other words a cup of coffee can be made in a matter of seconds. To clean up you just throw away the pod and you’re ready to go. No more coffee grounds on the counter or big, awkward pots to clean. Another advantage to these machines is that you can buy a large variety of different kinds of coffee beans so you don’t have to worry about pleasing everybody. On the other hand, you are much more limited in what kinds of coffees and teas are available to your specific machine. Each single cup machine only works with their products (e.g. the Keurig will only brew with K-Cups). This severely limits what sort of coffee you want to brew. Another drawback is the expense. Typically, brewing a 12 cup pot of gourmet coffee costs between $1.25-$2.15 (or 10-18 cents per cup) whereas the single cup machines cost 58 cents per cup (Davids, 2005). This is quite a drastic and expensive difference. Finally, single cup systems create a lot more waste than the traditional brewing machines. The pods used in the single cup machines are not recyclable or reusable, which means you’d be going through up to 3-4 pods a day.

So What Do I Use?

When it comes down to it, you have to decide how much inconvenience you’re willing to deal with to get a caffeine fix, how much money you’re willing to spend, and how often you drink coffee. In my opinion, I would recommend the single cup machines for small offices or small families where coffee is not a staple item but a treat enjoyed every once in a while. If you’re an avid coffee drinker I would not recommend these new types of machines, but I would advise you to follow the more traditional route, as you have more say in what kind of coffee you want and it's much cheaper. Your wallet will thank me.

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Davids, K. Coffee Review :: The World's Leading Coffee Buying Guide. Coffee Review - The World's Leading Coffee Guide. Retrieved August 31, 2012, from

Single Cup Coffee vs 12 Cup Brewing. Miss Ellie's Coffee. Retrieved August 31, 2012, from