There’s something pleasurable about taking all the steps to brew a perfect cup of coffee, but there’s also something nice about doing as little as possible to get your caffeine fix when you’re having a busy enough morning as it is. Single-serve coffee makers produce one cup of java with little fanfare or effort and have been popular for a long time, but there’s enough competition out there that you might not know what to get.


Nespresso’s Vertuo line offers not only the speedy espresso option of the brand’s classic machines, but different size options that allow you to make full cups of coffee. In fact, thanks to my Nespresso Next ($128.50), I’m drinking one right now, but any of the machines in this range are great choices; your pick depends on the footprint size you want on your counter. What I love about Nespresso machines is how fast they work: My Keurig takes considerably longer to heat up the water from its tank and turn that into a cup of coffee, but the Nespresso pumps out a full serving in a little over a minute.


If Nespresso offers fancier options, Keurig offers variety. I have a K-Mini ($89.99) with a tiny footprint that gives me six- or 12-ounce brews on demand with no frills. Other, slightly more expensive options, offer temperature controls, strength controls, iced coffee settings, heating plates, and more, depending on what you need—but most are priced no higher than $199.99. It takes longer to heat up than the Nespresso, but in general, offers more features.


If you’re not sure you want to spend a lot on this endeavor yet, consider a Famiworths mini coffee maker ($37.99), which uses the same K-Cups as a Keurig and even has cup size options. It’s a great introductory single-serve maker because you can get the hang of using the pods and getting quick cups without shelling out major money first.


The Moccamaster Cup-One ($250) is a sustainable option if you’re not sold on using disposable, single-serve pods. It is a brewer that serves up one cup at a time, so you get the convenience of not having to have a whole pot of coffee just sitting there all day, but don’t have to feel bad about wasting plastic. “Use 18-19g of coffee for a 10oz cup, grind it medium, and you should get a cup as tasty as most single-serve pour-overs,” says Maciej Kasperowicz, director of coffee at Trade Coffee and one of 400 certified Q graders—or trained coffee evaluators—in the world.


Kasperowicz also recommends the Aeropress ($39.95) for anyone open to doing a little manual (but fun!) work to get a single cup. It brews coffee by infusing it into water within the main plastic tube. You push a second tube in to move the coffee through a filter cap. “The AeroPress is really versatile. You can make a really strong, almost espresso-like cup. You can make something that tastes like regular drip coffee. It can look a little intimidating, but the internet is full of easy recipes to make your Aeropress taste great,” he says.

Making the most of your single-serve coffee maker

To get the best experience from your single-serve coffee maker, you might need to buy a little more stuff.

I’ve used reusable K-Cups to brew regular old coffee grounds for years. These are easy to find (Amazon sells a two-pack for $5.75) and are a sustainable alternative to using and throwing away a bunch of single-use pods. Those single-use pods also take up a lot of space. If you use those, consider a holder, like this drawer from DecoBrothers that holds Nespresso Vertuo pods ($28.77) or this spinning rack for K-Cups ($13.89).