January / 2012
GADGETS & GIZMOS

A cup at a time

What's hot in coffee makers: single servings

As the decades roll by, the image of the family coffeepot continues to evolve´┐Żfrom the stovetop percolator to ever-fancier drip machines (with timers and self-grinders and pots you can slide out for a quick pour mid-brew) to French presses and espresso machines.

Now, make room for the single-cup coffee maker.

It´┐Żs simple. Pour in the water, drop in a packet of coffee, and presto! A steaming cup of fresh coffee ready in about a minute.

These coffee makers are becoming increasingly popular, even for households with more than one coffee drinker, and for personal use at work. While it may seem counterintuitive to brew coffee one cup at a time, folks who use them say they work well for:
´┐Ż Households in which people get up at different times;
´┐Ż People who drink coffee through the day and don´┐Żt want to reheat the morning´┐Żs leftovers;
´┐Ż Workplaces where inevitably only the dregs of the shared pot seem to be left.




SMART SHOPPER
The costs of convenience
With speed and convenience comes a price. Most single-cup coffee makers will cost more per cup than a drip pot´┐Żalthough they are less expensive than stopping by the local coffee shop once or twice a day.

Before buying, also take a look at the range of coffees that are sold for a particular machine. Some require a particular type of coffee packet´┐Żso make sure before purchasing to be comfortable with the selection and price of coffee packs available for that particular machine.

Not surprisingly, some clever devices for making your own coffee packs have also emerged on the market, for those wanting to cut costs a little further.



BEST PRACTICES
Hot chocolate in your travel mug?
The basic premise of a single-cup coffee maker is no-mess simplicity. While drip coffee makers use coffee that´┐Żs poured into filters, single-cup models use prepackaged coffee´┐Żenough coffee for just one cup, packaged into pods or disks or small K-cups for the popular Keurig coffee makers.

When the coffee´┐Żs done brewing, you just lift the lid and toss the used package into the trash´┐Żleaving no pot or filter to wash.

Each cup uses a new coffee packet´┐Żso one person can have decaf, the next one extra-bold, and the next a flavored coffee, as tastes differ. Some models offer a range of sizes´┐Żmaking enough coffee for a smaller cup, a medium mug, or a big travel mug.

Some machines will also make tea or even hot chocolate.