If you’re looking for the simplest and most reliable K-cup coffee maker on the market, one that doesn’t take up a lot of space and doesn’t do all the fancy things that most people don’t even care about then read on.
I can help you find the best unit that does the job well for the best price possible because I’ve actually purchased and used each of the tiny k-cup coffee makers featured on this page.
I even made a full comparison video where I briefly reviewed them side-by-side just to make it easier on you. That video is lower on this page if you want to scroll down.
To start off I want to let you know right up front that the best option of them all is easily the Mixpresso single serve coffee maker because it brews good coffee, it doesn’t take long to heat up, it feels like it will last for years to come, it is easy to clean, and it costs very little.
You can see pricing for the Mixpresso with this Amazon affiliate link.
To be clear however I don’t think the Mixpresso is the best k-cup coffee maker made, just the best small inexpensive unit. Click through to see my list of best Keurigs this year.
If you are able to pay a little bit more than the bare minimum then I think you should absolutely opt for the Keurig K-Mini Plus over the Mixpresso. It’s not too much more expensive, it’s easier to clean, and makes better coffee, and it is the machine I would use daily if it weren’t my job to try new equipment all the time!
You can find my recommended places to buy the K-Mini Plus here.
Before we look at the rest of the options let’s talk a bit about me.
If you are unfamiliar with me then you should know that I’m a bit of a coffee snob although I’m not that bad. I do love good coffee and I do love making the best coffee possible most of the time but in many situations it’s best to just make a quick cup from a single serve coffee maker using a K-cup.
They are just easy.
Here on the site I’ve reviewed a lot of coffee products – this is something I enjoy – so this was a fun experiment and didn’t cost too much money for me to complete.
Before we get into the reviews I’ll give you a list of all the small K-cup coffee makers I purchased in no particular order.
The Smallest Keurigs
I bought the two Keurig Minis, the K-Mini Basic and the K-Mini Plus.
I figured these would be nearly identical but worth a head-to-head comparison nevertheless. You can see my dedicated K-Mini & K-Mini Plus comparison here.
Keurig also makes the K-Compact, K-Express, and K-Slim but I don’t consider any of these to be particularly small. You can see my comparison of those entry level Keurigs here.
The Cheapest K-Cup Coffee Makers
I also paid for the two cheapest k-cup machines I could find on Amazon, the Chefman Instabrew and the basic Chulux K-Cup coffee maker.
These also happened to be some of the entry-level machines that had the most Amazon verified reviews too since most people are usually looking to buy the lowest cost items they can find apparently.
For what it’s worth the Chulux is a very small coffee maker, smallest one on this list in fact. It would be hard to use a travel mug under it as opposed to the Instabrew or K-Mini, both of which are a bit taller.
Best Selling Small K-Cup Machines (Non-Keurig)
I then purchased a Mixpresso and the Hamilton Beach Flexbrew 49974 because they were some of the smallest k-cup coffee makers I could find and because they didn’t cost very much.
I actually liked both of these a lot. The Mixpresso is my #1 recommendation for anyone looking for a well made yet tiny k-cup coffee machine and the Flexbrew is a great alternative if you don’t need something tiny. It’s easy to pour water into and is very affordable.
The Flexbrew even has a “fancy” version for a little bit more money. The only difference is that the fancy model offers a “strong brew” setting much like the Keurigs.
You can see more k-cup coffee makers with a “strong button” here if you are interested.
If you don’t know exactly how that setting works then see this post for a full description: How The Strong Button Works On Keurig-Style Machines
A Few Other Single Serve Brewers That I Either Didn’t Like or I Couldn’t Find
Finally I went out and bought a few more machines that looked to be good options at first but once I used them for a while I couldn’t find any good reason to ever recommend them.
I bought the Sboly single serve k-cup brewer because it had really great reviews over on Amazon but I ended up not liking it because it took over six minutes to get a cup of coffee from it after I hit the brew button! That’s roughly three times as long as the other machines. In fact a while after I purchased the Sboly Amazon stopped selling it so that should say something.
Sure the coffee tasted fine but that is way to long for a basic k-cup brewing machine.
I also picked up a super inexpensive Farbeware k-cup coffee maker from Walmart, one that is not sold on Amazon, and it was terrible! Not because it was slow or made bad coffee, but because it leaked constantly.
I ended up trying to figure out why it was leaking and never could find the problem. After brewing for a while with it on a towel I finally gave up and stuck it in the garage with all the other k-cup coffee makers I’ve reviewed.
The only small k-cup machine I also wanted to try out for review but didn’t buy was the Bunn MCU which doesn’t look like it’s being produced any more. Right now it’s available on eBay and some fringe outlet shops online but major retails don’t seem to have them in stock any more which is a shame because I was really interested in owning one.
I frequently get asked about Cuisinart machines too but didn’t include them in this comparison because they aren’t exactly small. You can see this piece I put together separately if you are interested: Cuisinart vs Keurig.
The following posts are also more for your own knowledge if you care:
► I Recommend Biodegradable & Compostable K-Cups
► Do Keurig Machines Make Good Coffee + How To Make It Taste Better
Why I’m Reviewing These Small K-Cup Machines
You should know that I chose these units for review mostly due to:
- their small size,
- followed next by their low price points and
- the make/model popularity of their brand.
Of all the units I’ve reviewed the Keurig K-Mini Plus was the most expensive unit I bought while the Chefman Instabrew was the cheapest.
I could have bought roughly three Instabrews for the price of one K-Mini Plus!
I bought all models in September 2019 and paid less than $100 for them all. Only the two Keurig units were priced above $50 although some of the other cheap units had “fancier” versions available that were priced slightly above the $50 mark.
Also, a few of these models were purchased in physical stores locally because I was able to get them on sale for less than Amazon’s pricing.
Fun Fact – In many cases Amazon isn’t the cheapest place to get things. Check your local stores and buy when they have sales; you’ll usually save a bit at the expense of convenience.
Let’s get started with the reviews beginning with my video review which I’ve embedded below.
UPDATE Fall 2021 – The Mixpresso is still my favorite small k-cup coffee maker. You can price it out yourself through this Amazon affiliate link.
The Smallest K-Cup Brewers Compared
Of all the brewers I looked at for this project the smallest brewer by height was the Chulux. It was only 9.06 inches tall meaning it was easy to fit under the lowest of cabinets or even inside cabinets on the shelf for storage purposes.
As a side note the Mixpresso is only 9.1 inches tall coming in at a close second while the Keurig is nearly three inches taller standing 12.1 inches high.
For lateral counter-space the skinniest model was the Chefman Instabrew at only 4.25 inches in width followed closely by the Chulux which was only 4.3 inches wide. In comparison the Keurig K-Mini & K-Mini Plus machines were 4.5 inch wide while the Mixpresso machine came in at a still super skinny 4.7 inches in width.
Of the smallest units available the Chulux is easily your best bet however the model that is built to the best standards for durability is probably the Keurig K-Mini (basic model) as it has the best quality internal components like the pump and heating element and the simplest design.
If pure size isn’t that important for you then definitely check out the Flexbrew, which was the widest and tallest of all six entry-level brewers I tried measuring 13.35 inches high and 6.5 inches wide. These are still small numbers and for the price you probably won’t get better usability. The Flexbrew is the easiest machine in this list to clean and maintain for me by far.
Based on general pricing and size considerations however I’d recommend most everyone get a Chulux. If however you want extra features like Bold settings or better casing then the K-Mini Plus is probably worth it. It’s still tiny and will work better than the others for a longer time due to quality enhancements.
Here are a few Amazon affiliate links to these brewers for your convenience:
► K-Mini (Basic Version)
As a side-note the K-Slim and K-Mini Plus are a pinch larger and more expensive but still good options to consider. See this post where I’ve compared the K-Slim and the K-Mini (Plus) side-by-side.
More Thoughts On These Travel Friendly K-Cup Coffee Makers
This machine is the best of all the small k-cup coffee makers. It is very compact making it perfect for travel or for storing away in a cabinet when not in use. In fact it’s just slightly bigger than the smallest k-cup machine I’ve ever held in hand. Not only do you get a very small unit when you buy this you also get a machine that brews very hot although still I measure coffee from this consistently either on par with or about a single degree under the Keurig K-Mini, and you get a machine that brews at a reasonable speed. The total time to get a cup of coffee from it is around 3-min 12-seconds and your water to coffee grind contact time is a long 1:06, longer than all the other machines on this list which allows it to make coffee that actually tastes good. This tiny machine is relatively easy to add water to despite it’s small size and the water reservoir even comes with a removable filter that can be cleaned. It doesn’t come with a grounds basket but that isn’t a reason to not buy it IMO. Considering this machine is one of the lowest priced machines on the market it is my favorite small k-cup machine perfect for travel or for small spaces. I wouldn’t ever regret purchasing one of these for myself or for anyone else I cared about.
Much of what I said about the Mixpresso unit applies to this entry level Chulux unit as well except that this machine is slightly smaller, making it the smallest on this list, and it’s a bit harder to add water to without spilling it all over the place. It brews a couple degrees cooler than the Mixpresso and gives you a bit quicker brew with less water-to-grind contact time. All of this results in coffee that tastes fine but not quite as good. This is one of the cheapest k-cup coffee makers you’ll find anywhere and it doesn’t give you the taste of cheap plastic in your cup so it’s an excellent value and worth buying if size is your biggest concern. In fact this is the machine I’d probably be most likely to take with me on a business trip or on a vacation because it’s going to make decent coffee for me reliably and it doesn’t feel like it will break while in transit. The k-cup compartment has a locking mechanism too which is unique to this unit and I actually like it. It is another reason why this is best of them all for travel.
3. Keurig K-Mini
Makes the hottest coffee of this bunch and can brew fresh grind with third-party reusable k-cups or Keurig’s universal My K-Cup. Lower needle can be removed for cleaning but not the upper and the water reservoir isn’t removable for cleaning although it’s big enough to get water into easily from a coffee mug.
4. Keurig K15 Mini
Easiest of these machines to fill with water because the single serve reservoir is wide and low. Can’t easily clean the reservoir however so it’s still a bit annoying especially because this machine is the most expensive of the 7 machines I purchased. It will also take reusable k-cups if purchased separately and it brews almost as hot as any other option I’ve experimented with. Again however, the upper needle can’t be removed for cleaning which is a feature most Keurig’s lack.
5. Sboly Single Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker
This is one of the best selling entry level k-cup machines on Amazon and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. It is cheaper than the entry level Keurig machines but it’s not even close to the cheapest units for sale in the category. It brews at a very low temperature and it takes a very long time to get a single cup of coffee from it. When I use it I consistently get a cup of low temperature coffee from it in just over 7-minutes! Not only is it low temp and slow the coffee that it makes always tastes a bit like cheap plastic although not quite as bad as the Chefman which I’ve summarized below. Like many of the non-Keurig cheap coffee makers this machine comes with a reusable grounds basket making it a better deal but the speed and low brew temp are deal breakers for me because there are smaller units that brew better coffee faster that also don’t cost as much on this list such as the Chulux and Mixpresso which I’d buy over this unit any day of the week.
6. Hamilton Beach Single Serve Flexbrew
This is the largest “small” k-cup coffee maker on this list however with size comes ease of use. It’s very easy to fill with water and clean with the exception of the water reservoir which can’t be accessed. The upper needle, lower needle and lower funnel can be removed for deep cleaning and the machine comes with a grind basket for you to use your own grind. It brews coffee only slightly cooler than the K-Mini Plus and is a great low cost alternative to Keurig however I have had one of these units fail on me after about 9-months so it may not be as durable which is reflected in it’s lower price tag.
7. Chefman Instabrew
True to it’s name the Instabrew is indeed the fasted of these coffee makers to brew a cup of coffee and it takes up a tiny amount of counter space however this is where the perks end. The coffee maker brews coffee at a much lower temp than the Keurig machines and the cheap materials used always makes the coffee taste a bit like plastic. The low temp causes poor flavor extraction and the end result is really terrible tasting coffee. This machine does come with a fresh grounds basket and can brew up to 14oz and with it’s low price it’s certainly disposable; if you were to forget it at a hotel while traveling it wouldn’t be that big of a deal but there are still better travel friendly k-cup coffee makers and some of them even cost less.
Which One is Best?
Of the models reviewed I would easily say the Keurig K-Mini Plus is the best due to build quality and extra features like brew strength selectors, a removable water reservoir, spent pod storage, casing upgrades, and power cord management.
The Keurig model also heats and pumps water with the most power – 1470 watts. The Chulux and Mixpresso models only use 800 while Hamilton Beach and Chefman use only 1000 watts.
In short the components that make these coffee makers work are bigger and stronger with Keurig and they should last longer too.
This unit can easily be found for well less than $100 both online and in physical stores if you shop around but I still think you can get more value for your money by staying away from the Keurig brand altogether.
Chulux for instance has a slightly upgraded model that only costs a fraction more than their base model. The upgraded model is ever so slightly wider and taller but it uses better casing and components giving it a better more durable look and feel.
If you want the extra brew strength selector you can get it by modeling up in the Hamilton Beach line of Flexbrew machines. Flexbrew model number 49979 still costs almost half that of the K-Mini Plus and although it’s slightly larger it offers you regular strength and strong brew options.
What’s the Best K-Cup Coffee Maker for the Money (Best Value)
Chulux basically is my pick for smallest entry level k-cup brewer and the K-Mini Plus is probably the best of all the small machines but as for value I would have to say the Chefman is probably the best value of them all because it’s so affordable and gets the job done well enough.
I see no issues with leakage or pumps going out prematurely which sometimes happens on cheaper models but if it does quit on you it’s not a big financial loss at all.
For those that really do want some basic upgrades than I think the Flexbrew with Brew Strength Options is you next best value. It is still very low cost compared to the Keurigs and it is only slightly more expensive than the base unit Flexbrew unit.
Looking for specific brewer comparisons or dedicated reviews?
I’ve looked very closely at these six small k-cup brewers and in this article I’ve given you a good overview of the things that will matter to most people but I still have a lot more to say about them.
Which one’s hold the biggest or tallest mugs? Which one is the easiest to clean? Which one is the quietest? Which brews coffee the fastest? What’s the difference between one model over another model?
Below I’ve linked to a handful of articles that directly compare and review these machines and answer these questions and others.
Learn More About Keurig & K-Cup Coffee Through These Supporting Articles
► Difference Between K-Compact, K-Classic, and K-Select
► Keurig K-Duo vs K-Duo Plus vs K-Duo Essentials
► How To Unclog A Keurig & Fix Common Problems
► K-Mini vs K-Compact
► K-Express vs K-Mini
► Difference Between The K-Supreme Plus & K-Supreme Plus SMART
► K-Elite vs K-Select
► K-Elite vs K-Supreme
► Keurig K-Café vs Nespresso Vertuo Plus
► Keurig K-Supreme Plus SMART Review
► K-Café vs K-Latté