Single Cup Coffee Maker Review
When it comes to the single cup coffee makers, there’s really only two major players, Keurig and Tassimo (or Bosch) coffee makers. There are a few others available, but these two dominate the scene as of this writing, with Keurig leading with a much larger market share than any other. We’ll look at why that’s happening and whether that means it’s the better machine. Starbucks now has their own single cup coffee maker called the Verismo, which is being promoted in the department stores as well as your local Starbucks. There’s also options from Nestle’s (Nespresso), Mr. Coffee, Breville, Krups, Cuisinart and more.
We’re going to look at the two biggest and compare the pros and cons with each. It’s not that I don’t like the other makers, it’s just that the market share for them, as well as the coffee availabiliy, is very limited. Most people will gravitate to one of the top two. But, I’d love to have your feedback in the comments, if you think there’s another I shouldn’t have left out.
High Pressure or Low Pressure
Most people don’t realize the distinct difference between the Keurig and Tassimo, even in the function of each. The Tassimo, along with Starbucks Verissmo and Nestles Nespresso, are high pressure single-cup coffee makers. That means they work more like an espresso maker, using high temperature and pressure water to extract the flavor of the ground coffee beans. The Keurig is more like your standard drip coffee maker, simply running hot water over the coffee grounds. If you were to cut a Keurig K-Cup in half, top to bottom, you’d see it looks just like a miniature coffee filter. Nothing terribly fancy. The high pressure systems are more rigid and able to withstand the pressure the system generates.
The Power of a Barcode
When you look at the top of a Tassimo T-Disc, you’ll see a little bar code printed on each one. This is a very important distinction from the Keurig K-Cups. It tells the coffee maker 1) How much water to run through the system, 2) What temperature to make the water and 3) How much pressure to use. All three of these items work to give you a distinctly different brewing technique for each style of hot beverage.
Liquid or Powder
When your local coffeehouse makes a frothy latte or cappuccino they take real whole milk and heat and froth it using a steaming system built into the machine. This not only heats the milk to the right temperature it injects air into it to create the foamy and frothy texture you love. Tassimo uses the barcode system to tell the machine to run steam, not water through the real milk T-Disc, leaving you with the same frothy topping on their speciality drinks. With a Keurig system, the K-Cap is filled with powdered milk and because it doesn’t have a barcode to distinquish between a K-Cup with coffee or one with milk powder, it simply runs the same water, same temperature and same low pressure through the K-Cup. This will give your coffee the cream it needs but it won’t have the froth you love having from the local coffeehouse.
Choices, Choices, Choices
When my wife and I walk into our local Bed, Bath and Beyond, we are always impressed with the massive selection of coffees and teas available in the Keurig K-Cups. There are walls and shelves covered in every flavor you could imagine, along with brands we love such as Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Tully’s and just about everybody else. When we turn to see what’s available in the Tassimo T-Discs, it’s kind of embarrassing. No real brands we know and love (most of them are European brand names) and not as many flavors. This is actually what brought on the debate in our house about what’s a better single-cup coffee maker. My wife loves Starbucks, who used to be available only in the Tassimo T-Discs, but made an exclusive deal with Keurig in 2011. If you’re looking for a specific brand or a huge variety, the K-Cup is going to win hands down (for now).
What Should You Choose?
It’s fairly apparent, I’m sure, I have a bias towards the Tassimo single-cup coffee makers because I believe it’s a better machine, with a better cup design, producing a better tasting cup of coffee. If you love coffeehouse specialty drinks like lattes and cappuccinos you’re not going to find a better way to make than, other than doing it the old fashioned way with an espresso maker and milk frothing wand. The Chai Latte my Tassimo puts out is rich, creamy and on par with anything I can get at a retail store. Even the chocolate milk available is rich and creamy, using 1 T-disc for the chocolate syrup and another to deliver the milk. My kids love them!
If you’re the type of person who’s been happy with a drip coffee maker and you’re considering replacing it with a single-cup machine, the Keurig may be perfect for you. If you rarely change the brand or flavor of your coffee and you aren’t impressed with speciality drinks you’ll be very happy with a Keurig. I use one everyday at the office because it’s best for these types of situations where you have a few selections and all anyone really wants is a regular cup of coffee. The K-Cups also tend to be a bit more cost effective because of the simple design. The Tassimo T-Discs take a bit more to manufacture which contributes to the cost. But, it’s not much. Here’s a good example from Amazon.com:
Starbucks Pikes Place K-Cup: $0.69 per cup
Gevalia Dark Breakfast Blend T-Disc: $0.92 per cup
I chose the Tassimo and I’m extremely happy with it. I drink about 2 cups of coffee each morning, so the cost difference it very small and I also enjoy having a Chai Latte once-in-a-while in the afternoon, which I don’t think I could duplicate on a Keurig. The Tassimo is also an excellent option if you love to entertain and want to give your guests something more than a standard cup of coffee after dinner.
Both are available at great prices through Amazon.com: