Alex has never been professionally involved into the world of coffee, however he knows much more than any average barista. Being an avid coffee lover, Alex is constantly searching for new tips, tools, and techniques to make his morning cup of java even more perfect.
Mary has been dealing with coffee almost all her life long: in her teenage years, she worked as a barista in a number of well-known coffeehouses, later developing her knowledge and skills while studying at the university as well. Several years after graduation, she managed to open her own small coffee bar.
Last updated: February 25, 2021
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Let’s face it – your time in college can be the most exhausting period of your life. The bad news is that the cafeteria coffee isn’t always available to wake you up. Well, that’s when the best coffee maker for college comes in handy. If you’re a college student, choosing an affordable, compact, yet high-quality coffee maker is essential.
We’ve reviewed the top college coffee makers on the market, with the AdirChef Grab N’ Go Personal Coffee Maker being our Editor’s Choice. Apart from being versatile, durable, and portable, this premium-quality coffee maker also comes with basically everything you need. This means you don’t need to incur extra expenses on accessories, which is good news. With that said, it’s important to note that the four other products we included are also of the highest quality, as you will soon find out in our reviews.
To ensure that we chose only the best products, we thought about some factors. The capacity of a coffee maker determines the number of people it can serve, so we considered that. We also looked at the type of coffee that each model is designed for and considered the dimensions of each model, as we all know space is an issue for college students. To make this guide is as detailed as possible, we’ve included a comparison table, a product-review section, and a buying guide.
Affordability and high quality are two words you rarely find in the same sentence, except if you’re talking about the AdirChef Grab N’ Go Personal Coffee Maker. Little wonder then that it’s our Editor’s Choice. This coffee maker is bound to give you a lot for your money, but you’ve got to be careful while handling it as it may not be as durable as some more expensive models, due to plastic parts in its construction. Apart from being very cheap, this machine is also compact and easy to use.
Despite its compact and lightweight nature, it’s an attractive unit that’s capable of producing coffees up to 15 ounces. Impressively, it comes with a small travel mug, which will fit into most drink vessels and cup holders. This is perfect for people who like taking a cup of coffee with them on their way to work, run errands or drop the kids off at school. And you can select from six colorways, which means there is always something to match every kitchen or dorm.
Being an eco-friendly coffee maker, it comes with a permanent filter that renders usage less difficult and a lot cleaner while you will also be doing your bit for the environment. However, being a small coffee maker that’s only ideal for college students, you can’t definitely expect this machine to perform on the same level with the best coffee makers. It comes with everything you need – a travel mug, lid, holding basket, and internal filter.
Being an improvement on the Cuisinart DCC-3200, the Cuisinart DCC-3400 Coffee Maker is an exceptional coffee maker that comes with advanced features. First of all, it uses a thermal carafe rather than glass. The carafe is double-walled, which keeps coffee hot for four hours without affecting its taste. The unit also features a window at the side, which allows you to monitor the water level. Furthermore, if a power loss occurs within 60 seconds, the unit is capable of recalling settings and continuing brewing as though nothing happened.
Also, it features a brew pause that enables you to sneak some coffee while brewing. In terms of quality, the unit makes a rather decent cup of coffee. You can enable this via brew strength settings that allows you to select between bold and regular coffee. You can achieve a bold cup of coffee by slowing the brewing process down, therefore extending extraction. For a regular cup of coffee, the opposite is true. On top of this, the Cuisinart DCC-3400 Coffee Maker maintains an ideal temperature of 200 degrees all through the process.
Impurities like chlorine could affect your coffee’s taste, which is why the manufacturers have included a charcoal filter to remove them. Apart from that, there is also a permanent gold tone filter that holds the coffee’s oil, helping to add flavor. Of course, you can replace the permanent filter with paper ones if you prefer your coffee to be less oily. The only drawback with this model is that its brewing temperature isn’t adjustable.
While the DeLonghi EN85B Coffee Maker is not our Editor’s Pick, you will be hard pressed to see anyone arguing against its quality. Apart from being ideal for college students, it’s also a great choice for home brewers. Basically, it’s perfect for anyone that wants a single-serve product that is able to produce strong and flavorful espresso. Amazingly, it provides 16 Nespresso capsules for you to try the different flavors out.
Furthermore, this is a programmable coffee maker, which makes it as advanced as it looks. Its water capacity is only suitable for one person, which is the primary reason why we think it’s ideal for a college student in the first place. The container has a five to six cups brewing strength, which means it will not allow any capsule to go un-brewed. The machine itself comes with an outstanding energy-saving feature. The feature makes it consume less energy after three minutes and automatically shuts it off after nine minutes of idleness.
When it comes to the design, the DeLonghi EN85B is very compact, but its compactness doesn’t make it any less efficient. Furthermore, you can choose from two cup sizes – Lungo or standard espresso. Plus that, its 19-bar pressure system is renowned for heating up water in less than 30 seconds, which gives you the accurate flavor, temperature, and brew. Although it’s only compatible with Nespresso pods, we don’t think that should be a deal breaker.
What we liked:
Single-serve for ease of use
Comes with programmable features
Automatically turns off the machine to save energy
The Mr. Coffee Simple Brew Coffee Maker is probably the latest model in terms of technology, that’s despite being one of the cheapest models on the market. You can pre-program it to turn on and brew your coffee so that it’s piping hot and brewed fully just when you want, probably when you arrive from work or when you wake up in the morning. The unit comes with a control panel, which features an LCD display that makes it very easy to use the coffee maker.
Furthermore, the unit has a delayed brew feature, which will automatically pause the device while you lift off the carafe to dispense a cup of coffee. While this unit is automatic, there are still some things you have to do manually, like adding water and coffee grounds. There is also a clear indicator on the side of the unit which allows you to see the water level while pouring it. For proper cleaning and easy filter replacement, the filter basket can be easily removed.
Since the capacity is just four cups, this coffee maker won’t be suitable for large parties. However, it’s a perfect coffee maker for a small dorm room, which is why we recommended it for college students. It comes in a compact size, which means it doesn’t take up much space. In terms of usability, rest assured that this device is very easy to use. That’s even easy to know from the series of pre-programming features it’s equipped with.
Generally, it’s such an excellent product that’s certain to last you for a while. Just handle it with care as the components are of rather cheap quality.
You don’t need anyone to tell you that the Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker was strictly designed for compactness – you will realize as soon as you look at it. It measures just five inches wide, which means that it can fit in small backpacks and countertops. If portability is your major desire in a coffee maker, then you can never go wrong with this one. Being a portable unit, its water tank can only take one cup, but it has four various cup size options to choose from.
Furthermore, it comes with a removable drip tray, which helps you to use it with a travel mug that measures up to seven inches in height. Unlike other machines from Keurig, this one lets you tuck the cord at the back neatly. Not only does it give the countertop of your kitchen a clean and nice look, but it also aids compact storage. What’s more, the Keurig Mini comes with an auto shut-off feature, which makes the unit automatically turn off when it’s 90 seconds after you’ve used it.
This Keurig coffee maker is compatible with ground coffee, which makes it quite different from the other models from the company that can only brew using K-Cup Pods. You just need the universal K-Cup reusable filter. As for the drawbacks, we have a couple to mention. First of all, the reservoir isn’t removable, which will compromise easy cleaning. Apart from that, the unit doesn’t have a reminder or descale feature, which shows that it’s some way behind the advanced models.
What we liked:
Slim design for small spaces
Four cup sizes
Travel mug compatible
Auto shuts off after 90 seconds
What could be better:
The reservoir isn’t removable
It doesn’t have a reminder or descale feature
Things to Consider
Like we mentioned in the introduction, this article doesn’t just contain product reviews, but everything you will need during your shopping for the best coffee maker for a college student. With that in mind, we’ve included some handy tips in this section to help aid your decision making.
Features to consider while choosing a coffee maker for college
First of all, there are some factors you must keep at the back of your mind if you’re going to buy the ideal coffee maker for your needs. Some of them include:
Which coffee it requires
There is an extensive range of coffee makers on the market and the primary different often lies in the sorts of coffee they are capable of brewing. This is exactly why you have to know what is available for each model. Keurig, Tassimo, and Nespresso are some of the most popular models. Therefore, look at the types of coffee that each model can work with before buying to ensure they include your favorite coffee types.
Some models are single scoop, which means that you can utilize them with normal ground coffee or feature pods, K-cups, or capsules. The type you get will depend considerably on the beverages you’re intending to brew, since some models have cups or pods available for tea and coffee and hot chocolate as well.
Water tank size
This feature is always an important factor to take into consideration, especially if you want a unit that is capable of brewing multiple cups one right after the other without needing to refill the water tank at all times.
Cup size options
While a perfect coffee maker for college is not supposed to brew many cups at once, it often allows for a choice of different cup sizes. If you prefer drinking espresso, you might require only a model that can brew four to five ounces. On the flip side, if you want a bit more coffee at a time, then you should consider a unit that is capable of brewing up to twelve ounces, such as the Keurig K-Mini.
If you don’t have a filter, it’s likely that the water with which you’re making your coffee is not clean enough, which affects the flavor negatively. This is not enough reason to fear though as some models often come with an inbuilt water filter that improves your cup of coffee.
Remember that a model with a water filter comes with the increased expense and effort of changing the filter, so you may need to ensure you really want them.
Do you need a carafe? If yes, which one?
If you are keen on brewing wonderful coffee every day, then you need a coffee maker with a carafe. Meanwhile, you may be stuck between choosing either a glass carafe or a thermal carafe. While a glass carafe tends to be less expensive, the hot place often heats the coffee more, which in-turn over extracts the oil and causes the coffee to be bitter. In addition, the warming plate needs to be turned on constantly to remain hot, which is energy-consuming.
A thermal carafe, on the other hand, keeps your coffee at optimum temperature of 195 to 205 degrees for one to two hours. Some people believe that this helps maintain a better flavor. Also, it helps saves some energy. However, you need to keep in mind that thermal carafes are more expensive than their glass counterparts.
Since this article is aimed at college students and parents who have kids in the college, then size is an important consideration, considering space is likely to be an important factor. This means that you must choose a compact-sized model, to maximize the limited space in your dorm.
The better the warranty that backs the product, the less extra expenses you’re likely to incur. While an unlimited warranty sounds like a great choice, it’s always great to choose a product with a lifetime warranty, especially if you’re on a budget. With the three-year warranty it comes with, the Cuisinart DCC-3400 is the best model on this list in terms of warranty.
Modern coffee makers usually come with an endless number of special features. Such features can range from multiple color options to an adjustable stand to an auto shut-off feature. If you lack the mental faculties to work a complex French press in the morning, you may benefit from a coffee maker that will automatically manage itself with little to no effort from you.
How to clean your coffee maker after each use
Use a damp cloth to wipe the inside of the chamber to remove dust, loose grounds, or other debris. If you detect grime in any corner, use a brush to scrub it. For confined spaces, use a little grout brush.
Fill the water chamber of your coffee maker midway with white vinegar. Fill the rest with water.
Now put a paper filter in the filter basket to catch any loosened debris like hard water deposits.
Brew half of the vinegar/water mixture and then turn off your machine. Allow the vinegar mix to soak in your machine for an hour at least – a full hour could be better if you have the time.
Turn your machine back on, then let it complete brewing the remainder of the vinegar mix.
To rinse the system now, replace the paper filter, replenish the water chamber, and allow the full cycle to run.
To get rid of any remaining vinegar taste or scent, we recommend rinsing a second time.
Scrub the inner part of the carafe thoroughly with some dish soap and warm water. If there’re markings on its external part, you will want to avoid using an abrasive material on it. Use a dishcloth or sponge instead.
Wipe the outside of your machine down to eliminate oils and dust that usually accumulate over time.
If you notice calcium or limescale deposits that do not budge when wiping out the reservoir, use a descaling or cleaning product made especially for coffee makers.
While single-serve coffee makers don’t produce extremely loud noise, there is particular noise, which is sufficient to cause some distractions when you’re working or reading. If noise is something you can’t live with, check the model with an inbuilt noise reduction system, as they are usually the least generators of noise.
If you are a forgetful person who has a tendency of forgetting to shut your machine off, then we advise you to find a model with an auto shut-off feature like the Keurig K-Mini.
Striking a perfect equilibrium between affordability and high quality, the AdirChef Grab N’ Go Personal Coffee Maker is the best product on our list. Moreover, without compromising on its quality, this unit is compact and lightweight, which highlights why we chose it as the best coffee maker for college.
The Cuisinart DCC-3400 is another noteworthy unit. It doesn’t only have the largest water capacity on our list, it also has the longest warranty period. It even speaks volume about the quality of the product.
Taking the third spot is the DeLonghi EN85B, which is a product from one of the most reputable manufacturers in this niche. Even though it’s a single-cup machine, it comes with programmable features to rival its multiple-cups rivals. Not only that, it’s renowned for its super-fast operation, which is especially perfect for college students.