Entry Level: Single Serve Espresso Makers

If you’re looking at the entry level machines, perhaps you just want the better coffee than you currently get when you sit down for breakfast? There are a few good options in the sub $250 price bracket, and the vast majority of the machines in this category are CAPSULE or POD single serve coffee makers.

So, what is a pod single serve machine? Basically, you insert a little capsule or pod into the machine, press a button and “Hey presto!” beautiful coffee in an instant! Is it going to be the nicest coffee you’ve ever had? Well. It’s going to be a lot closer to barista quality than instant granules…

The joy of capsule/pod single serve coffee makers is that they are easy to use, require little cleaning and produce good quality coffee. There are ways to get more out of your pods though, for instance you can buy reusable/refillable pods. Which you can fill with your own blend if you want to progress past the standard flavours. This can also be a cheaper option in the long run.

For those who want the facts fast, at this end of the range I would go for the Gourmia GCM7000. I would go for this because it comes in at a fantastic price. RRP $200, currently retailing for A LOT CHEAPER (!) on Amazon. It’s programmable, so when you have a chance you can play around with the temperature and flow settings, to get your (!) perfect pour. It’s got a beautifully sleek design, after all it helps that it will look good in any kitchen, you don’t want some eyesore.

But, the absolute cherry on the cake? It takes ALL MAJOR PODS! That means if you want a Keurig coffee, you can have it. Need Nespresso? You can have it. You can shop around all the pods, try whatever you fancy, and find your absolute favourite. I would suggest some high quality reusable coffee pods though, if you really want to maximise the experience, as there are loads of great coffees out there.

The Gourmia GCM7000, reusable pods, and some Columbian dark roast beens (if you like your coffee strong) of perhaps Kona Espresso Roast (if you like a smoother taste), and a basic coffee been grinder shouldn’t set you back more than $250 total!


Nespresso, for my money, are the big boys in decent single serve machines. They have been around forever, know what they are doing, and how to do it well. There products are well styled and do as they say on the tin, i.e. MAKE GREAT ESPRESSO SIMPLY!

So, this is one of their newer offers: The Nespresso Essenza. Falling between the Pixie and Inissia in terms of price point, coming in at an RRP of $150, with the Pixie costing $167 and the Inissia around $110… I mean the question should be is this model actually needed? Maybe that isn’t the point…

See the Pixie has been around a while, a long while. I first reviewed it in 2015, and it is a great machine with fantastic qualities. So, could it be that the Essenza is the long-term replacement for the Nespresso Pixie?

It comes in a couple of designs, one a pyramidal shape, and one rectangular. It’s totally up to your own taste, but for me the rectangular shape looks more modern, and doesn’t waste as much space so is perfect for a smaller kitchen, or as a realator might say… Cosy.

What are the benefits of this machine? Well, as Nespresso go to great lengths to point out, it is their smallest machine to date. It’s also made by the behemoth of the kitchen: Breville, so you know it’s got the quality to last. Also it takes 25 seconds to warm up, and will switch to power saving mode after 3 minutes, and turn off in 9 minutes, just in case you’re a forgetful type. Finally, a water tank of just over 20 Oz’s means there is enough to get a few lungos (3.72 Oz) out of it, but without risking using stale water. Downsides? Is 20 Oz of water going to be enough for you?!?!


Keurig have a big share of the market, the problem for me though… They aren’t as good at espresso machines as Nespresso. In fact for me the coffee is not much better than a drip coffee maker… And you can pick a very good one of those for not much more money. For me Keurig has a bit of an identity crisis. However, having said that, I can’t complete this article without including one, purely because the above is my opinion, whereas Keurig keeps proving that they do have a market.

The Keurig K575 is possibly their best single serve coffee maker. What makes it good? Two water filters operate to clean the water prior to entering the boiler, meaning you will end up with a much tastier coffee. It’s also got a large, and very easy to use display (and menu). Now for the catch 22… It has an 80 Oz water tank…

The question this brings to me is this: If you have two water filters, why have an 80 Oz water tank? That’s like having an Evian bottle, filled with 1-week old tap water. Yes, this machine has the filters, but if you aren’t going to use this every day, and you sure as hell aren’t going to empty any unused water…. So that means you are likely to use stale water! Yes, the filter does a job to counter this, but with what taste? I don’t think it is a good one. So, for me… I’m ruling this one out.


Cuisinart is one of the mid-tier manufacturers when it comes to single serve coffee makers. Well known, with a good reputation, Cuisinart makes some good machines. The Cuisinart SS-5 benefits from sleek design, incorporates a sensibly sized 40 Oz water tank, and comes in at the extremely attractive price of a shade under $80… What other machines can you get that cheap? It is K-cup compatible, there is also a “Home Barista” cup that you can fill yourself. So, what are its downsides?

Well, that is the interesting bit! It doesn’t have too many in number… But they are important! The Home Barista Cup DOES NOT come as standard with the machine. Expect to spend around $30 for an official one! Pricey in my opinion, but as it is K-cup compatible you can get that down. The main issue though? The numerous tales of leaking machines, weak coffee and low temperature coffee. To me that is unforgiveable. Yes, it is less than $100, but you can buy a decent mokka pot, where for a little more effort you get great coffee, for a fraction of that… It seems Cuisinart may have taken the low cost route in production, and it looks like if that is the case it has backfired and left a lot of customers unhappy.

Gourmia GCM6500 REVIEW

So, let’s talk about Gourmia… They haven’t been in the market as long as some of the others, but they are definitely lining up to take a share of the market. Smart prices, beautiful designs, and, a great Unique Selling Point… They can use all the major pods/capsules. The Gourmia GCM6500 is my pick here. With an RRP of $130, and currently retailing on Amazon for around $100. It’s a well-kept secret.

Why do I like it? Well, as I say, it’s major U.S.P. is that it accepts all major pods/capsules, so you can shop around to find your favorite flavours at the perfect price. Not just that, but what makes this machine stand out from the Nespresso and Keurig is that it will also take fresh ground coffee! The possibilities are limitless with this machine. The water tank, at a fraction over 35 Oz’s is a sensible size. Not so big you will have water standing in it for ages, and not too small to cater for dinner for two.

A sleek Italian design and engineering, combined with decent build quality make this single serve espresso maker a snip that won’t take up too much space on the counter. That is why it is my BEST BUY! Couple it with the Bodum Bistro Coffee Grinder, throw some coffee beans into your basket, and you can get the whole package for under $200….