Buying a single-serve coffeemaker? Count the cost of the pods

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Single-serve coffeemakers are one of the hottest gifts of the season so there's a good chance that you or someone you know will give one or get one. These so-called pod machines are certainly convenient but the cost of replenishing the pods varies from one type of machine to another and some types have very limited coffee options. Although some coffeemakers accept more than one type of pod, most of those in our tests did not. So before you buy a single-serve coffeemaker or plug in the one you received, here's a primer on the different types of pods and what they cost over time.

Another consideration when buying a single-serve machine is how quickly it dispenses the first and subsequent cups. You can find that out by checking the results of our coffeemaker tests. The sample prices below are estimated per-pod before shipping and sales tax. "Brands using" is from among the single-serve models we've tested.

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL) capsules
Brands using: CBTL.
Price: About 70¢ each.
Selection: About 32 varieties.
Bottom line: These pods don't come cheap, but the selection might be enough. And the CBTL machine we've tested was fairly convenient to use.

Flavia Fresh Packs
Brands using: Flavia.
Price: 55¢ to 80¢.
Selection: About 24 varieties.
Bottom line: You could do worse in both price and selection. The Flavia we've tested is a mid-pack performer.

K-Cup packs
Brands using: Breville, Cuisinart, Keurig, Mr. Coffee.
Price: 56¢ to 76¢.
Selection: More than 250 varieties.
Bottom line: The greatest selection. What's more, prices could come down (and the number of sellers go up) now that Keurig's patent has run out.

Nescafé Dolce Gusto capsules
Brands using: DeLonghi Nescafé.
Price: 60¢.
Selection: 15 varieties.
Bottom line: The selection isn't as good as you'll find elsewhere, but machines of this brand have tended to do well in our tests.

Senseo
Brands using: Bunn, Hamilton Beach, Smart Café, TRU
Price: $1.56 to $2.25, though other soft-pod brands can cost less than 40¢.
Selection: Seven varieties.
Bottom line: Because of the soft, teabag-like form factor, any soft pod can fit in a machine made for Senseo, and both prices and selection are significantly better among non-Senseo soft pods.

Tassimo T-Disc capsules
Brands using: Bosch.
Price: 63¢ to $1.50.
Selection: More than 60.
Bottom line: While the selection is large, you can get more convenient machines than the Bosch models in our Ratings. Note that the prices might be deceptive; some varieties make servings as large as 12 ounces.

Verismo
Brands using: Starbucks
Price: 82¢ to $1.62.
Selection: Currently limited to a handful of varieties you'll see at Starbucks.
Bottom line: If you're a Starbucks fan, you might be okay with the selection, though keep in mind each pod makes less than 8 ounces—not the 16-ounce Grande you may be used to.
Extra tip: CBTL pods seem to fit in these, too.

Vue packs
Brands using: Keurig.
Price: 62¢ to 87¢.
Selection: Almost 60 varieties as of this date.
Bottom line: This newer Keurig brand (as with another called Rivo) isn't part of the original K-Cup patent, so don't expect prices to come down anytime soon. Still, if you like the selection and the cost is okay, enjoy.

Before you hit those last shopping venues, read our buying advice for coffeemakers, which includes a video on how we test, and check out our latest coffeemaker Ratings for drip and single-serve machines.


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