Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Now I need a cup of coffee! A sentence that is probably often used. That's exactly what it's there for: the coffee machine. The small coffee maker is particularly popular because of its space-saving size and ease of use.

For you, we want to bring some clarity into the jungle of diversity in the area of small coffee machines. We have taken a closer look at the different models, from capsule machines to portafilter machines, and compared them directly. With our small coffee machine test 2021 we would like to help you find out which model is best suited for you and your needs.




Summary

  • Small coffee makers have a practical size and thus find a suitable place in every household.
  • There are several different models. We will take a closer look at the filter coffee maker, capsule machine, coffee pod machine, coffee maker with grinder and the portafilter machine together.
  • In the different versions and price ranges, there is something for every frahling lover. Whether for travellers in a camper van, in a student dormitory or simply in your own four walls.

The Best Small Coffee Maker: Our Picks

Small coffee maker: buying and evaluation criteria

Now it's time to compare the different models directly. We have chosen different criteria to make the comparison as easy as possible:

So that you know exactly what is important, we describe these criteria in more detail below.

Size

The size varies considerably between the individual models. There are no standard sizes in the sense of small coffee machines. Capsule and filter coffee machines, as well as those with a grinder, take up the most space in a direct comparison.

The best thing to do is to think about where you would like to place the coffee machine beforehand. Simply measure how much space you have and use your own dimensions as a guide.

You can calculate with approximately 30x20x30 cm. Of course, there are also versions that are more space-saving or even slightly larger than this size. As I said, this varies greatly depending on the type of coffee machine.

Weight

In the colourful world of small coffee makers, you will not only find a wide variety of shapes, but the weight is also very variable. The front-runners are the machines with grinder and portafilter, which are in the top range at up to 4.6 kilograms.

Depending on your needs, you will also find something suitable in the mid-range. Capsule and pad machines weigh around 2 kilograms. The lightest are the filter coffee machines, which are available from 1 kilogram.

Water tank capacity

Small coffee machines are characterised by their compactness. Consequently, the water tank is also of rather small capacity. There are several variations, from 300 ml to 1.7 litres, depending on your preferences and the model. The decisive factor for you is how often you want to fill the tank and how much coffee you drink per day.

If you calculate that a normal cup is about 200 ml, you can get between 1.5 and 8.5 cups from a full water tank.

Material

When it comes to materials, manufacturers are relatively unanimous. All machines are made of a combination of plastic and stainless steel. If the coffee machine has an extra jug, this is usually made of glass or is available as a thermos jug. So you can't go wrong.

Performance

Last but not least, let's talk about performance. Why is it important at all?

The wattage provides information about "how fast" and "how hot".

On the one hand, how quickly the machine heats up, and on the other hand, how hot the water in the machine gets. If the wattage is very low, the water may not be heated strongly enough. Furthermore, the higher the wattage, the higher the power consumption.

Most small coffee makers are in the 1000 watt range. However, there is a bit of leeway between just under 1000 and 1700 watts. If you are deciding between two models, it is certainly not a mistake to choose the one with the higher wattage.

Small coffee maker: frequently asked questions and answers

If you still have a question or two floating around in your head, we have summarised some important ones for you below. In the next section, you'll find out everything you need to know about small coffee makers.

Who is a small coffee maker suitable for?

A small coffee maker is basically suitable for everyone. It doesn't matter if you are a coffee lover or if you don't like to drink coffee yourself but want to be prepared for visitors. Since it doesn't take up much space, it can also be easily stored away when needed.

Kleine Kaffeemaschine-1

Whether you are a fragrant coffee lover or a more sporadic coffee drinker, the small coffee maker has something to offer everyone.
(Image source: Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash)

For a one-person household, smaller models are definitely an advantage. In the variant with an outlet for one cup and that all to yourself. Maybe add the extra feature of a timer? Then your small coffee maker will welcome you into the day in the morning.

Small coffee maker for singles?

Don't forget the coffee-loving campers among us. A small coffee maker for the journey is practically a must. Perfectly suited for minimal space and certainly a great support on long journeys. There are also extra models with a connection for the cigarette lighter.

Another excellent combination, after all, is studying and caffeine. However, the wallet is usually not too bulging at this stage of life. That's why a small coffee machine like this is perfect for households with a smaller budget and a love of the black gold.

What types of small coffee makers are there?

If you decide to buy a small coffee maker, there are a few different models to choose from. From the capsule to the portafilter machine and many variations in between. Here you will find an overview in which we have summarised the most important advantages and disadvantages:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Filter coffee machine Inexpensive, easy to prepare, large amount of coffee at once Coffee taste sometimes not satisfactory
Capsule machine Easy to use, convenient to prepare, inexpensive to buy, uncomplicated to clean Price-intensive compared to coffee beans or powder, produces a lot of waste due to the capsules
Coffee pod machine Inexpensive to buy, environmentally friendly due to filter paper cover, convenient to prepare, easy to clean Coffee loses aroma more quickly, less flavourful, only small quantities at a time
Coffee machine with grinder low purchase cost, easy to use, little waste, large quantity of coffee volume depends on grinder, no crema, quality decreases if coffee is left to stand for a long time
Professional espresso machine probably the best espresso, intense flavour with perfect crema, grinder and brewing temperature of individually adjustable higher purchase cost, more complex handling, special cleaning of the brewing head, few beverage options

The filter coffee maker is one of the cheapest small coffee makers in our comparison. You get a large amount of coffee per brew without having to down each cup individually. Unfortunately, it can't necessarily keep up in terms of taste. If you prefer an intense coffee taste and a silky crema, we recommend investing a little more and choosing a small coffee machine with a portafilter.

The simple operation is particularly convincing with capsule and pad machines. However, the former produce a relatively large amount of waste due to the plastic or aluminium capsules. Most manufacturers produce pods from degradable filters, which makes them environmentally friendly, but they also lose their aroma more quickly.

How much does a small coffee maker cost?

The price range is extremely variable depending on the machine. It depends very much on the model and the features. The lowest price ranges start at around 20 euros and go all the way up to luxury versions with top-of-the-range models at around 400 euros. If you do not attach particular importance to a specific brand or model, you will find absolutely satisfactory and durable small coffee machines in the lower mid-range around 50 to 80 euros.

Type Price range
Filter coffee machine approx. 25 to 100 euros
Capsule machines approx. 30 to 130 euros
Pad machines approx. 23 to 80 euros
Coffee machines with grinder approx. 58 to 170 euros
Coffee machines with portafilter approx. 34 to 400 euros

Pad machines are the cheapest in our comparison. Not every coffee company produces pods, which could be the reason for the lower price. Capsule machines are very popular because they are inexpensive and practical to use.

Kleine Kaffeemaschine-2

A small coffee machine with a portafilter makes the perfect espresso for you.
(Image source: Becca Tapert / Unsplash)

For true espresso lovers, the Italian original in the form of the portafilter machine is particularly attractive. Depending on the attachment, you can brew 1 to 2 cups at a time. The price range for this model is the widest, from around 35 to 400 euros.

What are the alternatives to a small coffee maker?

Should your small coffee maker let you down for some bitter reason, there are still alternatives on how you can still get your longed-for cup of coffee.

To make sure you're on the safe side in an emergency, we've put together a few good tips for you below.

Alternative Instructions
Coffee directly into the cup If you do not have any aids such as filters or alternatives at home, you can simply pour the ground coffee into the cup according to the desired strength and pour hot water directly onto it. Try your hand at it, but 2 to 3 spoonfuls should be enough. Then (very important) let it brew without stirring. Otherwise the coffee could become bitter, and we want to avoid that. After 3 to 5 minutes of brewing time, simply break through the upper layer of coffee grounds with a spoon and then the whole thing will settle on the bottom by itself. Et voilà: Your coffee is ready.
Filter and hot water If you have filters for coffee or tea at home, these are perfect as aids. Simply fill the filter as usual and pour it directly into the cup. Now pour the hot water on top and let it brew for a few minutes. Then remove the filter and enjoy your coffee.
Espresso maker The espresso maker is a great alternative. It can be divided in the middle and the lower part is filled with water. It also contains a sieve into which the coffee powder is poured. Now place the whole thing on the cooker and wait until the water starts to boil. Once this is the case, the water is transported upwards through the sieve due to the pressure and the hot coffee comes out of the upper part of the cooker. Your freshly brewed coffee is ready to enjoy.
French Press The French Press has become increasingly popular in recent years. The coffee is simply poured directly into the container with the hot water. Now all you have to do is put the lid on and let it brew for a few minutes. As the name suggests, the press plunger is then pressed down and the coffee grounds are transported downwards. What remains is the finished coffee.

As you now know, there are one or two alternatives. But the most convenient and quickest is still the coffee machine itself. You can use the time it takes to make your coffee for something else or simply sit back and let it do the work for you.

How do I descale a small coffee maker?

There are several ways to descale. Some machine manufacturers offer their own descaling agent. But there is also a tried and tested miracle cure for limescale in the household cupboard: Vinegar. How the descaling process works varies from machine to machine. Therefore, we will shortly explain what you should pay particular attention to.

  1. Activate descaling mode: Capsule, pad and coffee machines with portafilter usually have their own descaling mode. It is best to read the operating instructions to find out how to activate it.
  2. Cleaning procedure: Then fill either the descaling agent or alternatively some vinegar essence in a ratio of 1:4 with water into the water tank. Ordinary vinegar also decalcifies quite well. Dilute the vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio, then run the whole process once or twice, depending on the mode.
  3. Rinse: In some cases, you may need to run a tank of clean water through the pipes to remove any residue from the cleaning agent used.

The procedure for filter coffee machines is very similar. Fill the water tank with diluted vinegar, vinegar essence or descaling agent, place the filter in the container to catch any limescale residue and then run the filter through once. Then repeat the process with clean water and your machine will be limescale-free again.

Conclusion

Small coffee machines not only save space, they also leave nothing to be desired for the fragrant coffee lover. Depending on your needs, there is a suitable model for you. In the different versions you will find capsule machines, filter coffee machines, pad machines, coffee machines with grinders and also portafilter machines.

Small filter coffee machines are characterised by the large amount of coffee they can brew and are therefore ideal if you need a lot of coffee. Portafilter machines only portion the coffee in the form of an espresso and are therefore a must, especially for pure coffee connoisseurs. Capsule and pad machines are convincing because they are easy to use and quick to prepare. Once you have found a suitable model for you, you only need to consider how much the small coffee machine is worth to you. Then nothing will stand in the way of your coffee enjoyment.

Image source: Suzi/ 123rf.com

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