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For many students heading back to college this fall, back-to-school shopping includes a coffeemaker for the dorm room. These top coffeemaker picks all feature important features for the student who may not have access to a full kitchen but wants access to great coffee without having to head out to the coffee shop. The list includes single serve coffeemakers, one cup coffeemakers and inexpensive coffeemakers, and takes into account factors that are important for any coffee lover living in a studio, single room or dorm room.
Single Serve Coffeemakers
Single serve coffeemakers may be the single best thing that’s ever been invented for the dorm room coffee lover. Our criteria for choosing the best single serve coffee systems for the dorm room included ease of operation, quality of coffee, coffee choices and simplicity of cleanup.
Keurig Elite B40 K-cup Brewer
While Keurig makes a Mini brewer for less than $100, we’d rather have the Keurig Elite, the company’s entry level single cup coffeemaker for one reason – it has a 48 ounce water tank while the Mini requires you to add water each time you brew a cup of coffee. With the Keurig Elite, you fill the water tank in the morning, turn it on and you can make up to eight cups of coffee before you have to refill the tank. The Keurig Mini lists for $89.99 while the Keurig Elite B40 coffeemaker lists for $119.99, and we think the $30 difference is a worthwhile investment for the added convenience of having a refillable water tank. The water tank is removable, so you don’t have to drag the whole coffeemaker out to the kitchen when you need to add water.
Besides that convenience, the Keurig gets the vote as best dorm room coffeemaker because it scores high in ease of use, coffee selection and simplicity of cleanup and maintenance. Making coffee with the Keurig B40 Elite is as simple as lifting the top, popping a K-cup into place, closing the top and pressing a button. You’ll have hot coffee in your cup in less than a minute. Cleanup is just as easy. Lift the top, take the cup out and drop it into your wastebasket. There’s no coffee grounds to mess with or to mess up your dorm room, just a little plastic cup to toss out. Finally, Keurig offers the widest selection of coffees of all the single-serve coffeemakers on the market. You get to choose from a huge variety of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters blends, as well as Timothy’s, Gloria Jean’s, Paul Newman’s Own and, starting this fall, Starbucks coffees in K-cups for Keurig coffeemakers. If you invest in a My K-cup coffeemaker accessory, you can even pack your own K-cups for the Keurig with any coffee you want to drink. The cleanup is a little more complicated, but you get even more variety.
Tassimo Bosch T20 Coffee Brewing System
Tassimo is Keurig’s bigget rival in the single serve coffeemaker market. The T20 is Tassimo’s entry level coffee brewer with a $99.99 list price. Tassimo uses proprietary T-discs in its system rather than K-cups and many people think the coffee tastes better. Until recently, the Tassimo’s biggest advantage over the Keurig was that Tassimo had an exclusive contract with Starbucks, but that’s just changed, as we noted above. Using the Tassimo T20 is simple — fill up the tank once, as with the Keurig B40, and when you’re ready for coffee, open the top, pop in a T-disc, close the top and press a button. You’ll have coffee in less than 2 minutes — unless you want a latte or cappuccino. In that case, you can pop in a milk T-disc first to heat and froth the milk, then remove the milk T-disc, replace it with the coffee T-disc and make your coffee. If you want frothed milk for cappuccino with your Keurig coffeemaker, you’ll need a separate milk frother. Disposal and cleanup is just as easy as it is with the Keurig. The major difference — and the reason we put Keurig up in front of the Tassimo — is that Tassimo’s coffee selection is much more limited than Keurig’s. In addition, you can almost always find Keurig K-cups in supermarkets and at Walmart’s, while Tassimo T-discs are far less easily available.
Senseo Coffee Machine
At $69.99, the Senseo Coffee Machine is the least expensive of the top three single serve coffeemakers. It’s also the most distinctive in appearance, if looks are really important to you. The Senseo has a 48 ounce removable water tank, and uses Senseo coffee pods, which look like ESE coffee pods but aren’t compatible with ESE coffeemakers. The pods are simply ground coffee encased in filter paper, which allows the coffee to go stale much more quickly than either the K-cups or T-discs do. To use the Senseo, you open the top, fit in a pod, close the top and press a button. Cleanup is messier than with either the Keurig or the Tassimo – you have a dripping coffee pod to remove from the machine and have to wipe out the pod container. The Senseo also has the smallest selection of coffee of the three. You can usually find Senseo pods at your local supermarket, though, making availability easier. The biggest plus for the Senseo coffeemaker is the fact that it’s the only one of the single serve coffeemakers that delivers coffee with real crema, so if that’s important to you, this is the one you want. You can also fill two espresso cups at once with the Senseo, thanks to its double spout.