Straight to the Level
Imagine it or not, brewing one cup of espresso at a time is controversial amongst espresso professionals. “If the brewing methodology isn’t tailor-made to deal with that quantity of espresso, you don’t get fairly the mattress depth that you simply want and channeling goes to be a possible subject,” says Jaymie Lao, who has spent greater than a decade in specialty espresso training. Her ideas echo my very own considerations. Primarily, in case your mattress depth of espresso isn’t deep sufficient, water has a better time flowing inconsistently by the espresso grounds, extracting good and dangerous flavors all of sudden. Which means that even our favourite pourover brewers should not fairly fitted to brewing eight to 10 ounces at a time. Lao likes to brew nearer to 12 ounces at a time, simply barely bigger than the common espresso mug, and even including simply 5 grams of espresso to the mattress depth could make a giant distinction. “The upper it’s, the extra you possibly can observe the evenness of the espresso mattress and ensure it’s degree.”
Nevertheless, different espresso professionals wish to go small. “I just about solely brew one cup at a time,” mentioned Umeko Motoyoshi, proprietor of umeshiso.com. “I wish to brew tiny cups of espresso as a result of they’re cute, and I additionally wish to brew an quantity that I can take pleasure in in a short time. If I brew a big batch then typically it may get chilly and I’m not capable of take pleasure in all of it the best way to the top.” I reached out to Motoyoshi for this piece as a result of they have been the primary individual I noticed demonstrating the Fellow Prismo Attachment. “I like to brew with the Prismo attachment for the Aeropress. I’ve a distinct relationship to brewing a single cup of espresso as a result of I’m making it simply for me, or simply for you, and it feels extra particular to me, and I pay nearer consideration to the brewing.”
With the professionals of brewing a single cup in thoughts, I got down to discover one of the best guide espresso maker that may brew 8 to 10 ounces of espresso at a time, compiling a listing of brewers that use pourover, immersion, and even pressurized brew processes. When trying to find one of the best single-serve espresso makers, I deliberately ignored the Keurig and different pod-based espresso machines. Except for being costly and creating extra waste than brewing your personal espresso, some of these machines are designed for comfort over high quality, leading to skinny, bitter, and watery espresso—it doesn’t matter what model of Ok-Cup or pod you buy. (Editor’s be aware: Nespresso machines are one other matter and we’ll have a evaluate printed on them quickly.) I additionally didn’t embody any espresso makers, as these have been lined of their personal evaluate.
The Winners, at a Look
The Greatest Single-Cup Brewer: Kalita Wave 155 Dripper
I cherished the Kalita Wave 155 Dripper for lots of the similar causes its larger sibling gained our pourover brewers testing: the brewer’s easy flat-bottom design together with the scale of the filter mattress make it completely fitted to brewing a single cup at a time. It may be paired with these filters and the Kalita 300-G server, for those who don’t wish to brew straight into your mug.
The Greatest Single-Cup Brewer If You Prefer to Tinker: Aeropress with Fellow Prismo Attachment
Whereas the Aeropress is a superb brewer by itself, the Prismo attachment’s strain actuated valve permits for much more management and customization. With a rubber stopper that stays closed till you press it, the Prismo permits the Aeropress to behave as a full immersion brew methodology. As a result of the bottom of the Prismo is wider than most pourover brewers, we advocate the Fellow Mighty Small Glass Carafe to verify there’s sufficient clearance for the brewer.
- Brewing Check: Every brewer was examined with an 8-ounce brew to evaluate mattress depth, temperature stability, and brew time.
- Every brew used 15 grams of espresso and used 250 grams water complete.
- Brew water was heated to 210ºF in an temperature-control electrical kettle after which instantly used to begin every brew cycle.
- Pourover brewers had a 45-second bloom, and water was added in 25-50 gram pulses each 10-15 seconds.
- Immersion brewers had all of the water added without delay, and have been stirred for 10 seconds on the one-minute mark and allowed to steep 5 minutes.
- The Aeropress was brewed inverted, and handled like an immersion-style brew with a two-minute, 45-second steep time.
- The Prismo attachment was handled like an immersion model brew with a two-minute, 45-second time
- Temperature Stability Check: Every brewer was examined for temperature stability all through the brew cycle.
- Two waterproof probes from a Thermocouple have been inserted within the espresso mattress earlier than brewing began.
- The thermocouple recorded the temperature curve during the whole brew time.
- Every brewer had its temperature assessed on the highest peak and warmth loss was recorded throughout the whole brew cycle.
- Style Checks: Every brewer was then dialed in to provide one of the best tasting espresso.
- Primarily based on a number of brewing take a look at, every brewer was assigned a customized brew ratio, grind dimension, and brew time to mirror the recipe that yielded one of the best outcomes.
- Every recipe was then adjusted to provide one of the best tasting espresso every brewer was able to making.
- Usability and Cleanup Checks: Every brewer was assessed in usability and design.
- Brewers have been evaluated on ease of use, choosing up, filter attachment, deal with consolation, and different tactile evaluations.
- Brewers have been evaluated on how straightforward they have been to scrub, together with discarding of spent grounds and removing of espresso oils and residues.
What We Discovered
Small Brews Lacked Thermal Mass
Throughout the board, these single-cup espresso brewers misplaced plenty of warmth through the brew cycle. One of many principal benefits of an computerized drip espresso maker is a closed brew basket and a boiler delivering water straight into the espresso mattress. Once I examined pourover units, the full-sized units couldn’t fairly match the temperature stability of an computerized drip brewer…and single-cup brewers fared even worse.
The best zone for espresso brewing is between 195-205ºF, and nearly each single-cup brewer dropped beneath 190ºF earlier than the brew cycle was completed, probably leaving the espresso poorly extracted. It’s because bigger portions of espresso in a filter comprise extra mass, and so do bigger portions of brew water: when brewing with solely 15 grams of espresso and 250 grams of water, it was troublesome for the espresso mattress to carry onto warmth.
Mattress Depth Mattered
It’s not a shock that one of the best brewer on this evaluate has probably the most slender brew base. The Kalita Wave’s base was solely 5 centimeters vast, whereas the Pure Over (one of many poorer performers) had a 10-centimeter diameter. With a narrower base, the small dose of espresso was capable of create a deeper mattress depth, which inspired extra even saturation, higher move restriction, and extra constant extraction general. As compared, the vast base of the Pure Over meant that espresso in the direction of the sting of the brew mattress dried out considerably sooner than espresso on the backside of the filter disc, making all of it however inconceivable to brew constantly at smaller volumes.
Precision Was Key
Shrinking all the way down to a single-cup brew places a microscope on the entire brewing course of. In the event you’re off by a gram or two of espresso when brewing 60 grams of espresso and one-liter of water, the general ratio of espresso to water stays kind of intact. However for those who’re off by a gram when your required dose is 15 grams of espresso? Your brew ratio is massively disrupted.
The usual brew ratio for brewing is a 1:16.667 ratio of espresso to water: 1000g of water divided by 60 grams of espresso. Add a gram, and your ratio shifts to a 1:16.39 ratio. Add a gram to a 15-gram dose, and your 1:16.667 ratio drops to 1:15.625. Now, this appears finicky, however these ratios do matter! The decrease the ratio of espresso to water, the stronger the brew will get, and the more durable it turns into to extract the sweeter flavors you’re in search of. When brewing within the 8- to 10-ounce vary, an additional espresso bean or two falling within the grinder, or an errant pour that provides a half-ounce of quantity to your brew can throw the entire thing off. Because of this, when brewing single-serve quantities, it’s essential to weigh every part in grams, even for those who’re used to imperial measurements.
Extra Espresso Made a Large Distinction
In our dialog, Lao highlighted the truth that 5 grams of espresso may make a big impact in making a extra secure brew setting and occasional mattress depth. Not one of the brewers actually produced a stellar espresso at an 8-ounce quantity, so within the second spherical of testing, I pushed the overall brew quantity as near 10 ounces as I may, at all times brewing into the identical mug to verify it was by no means too full. With this bigger quantity, I discovered brew instances have been extra constant, and the brews themselves ended up tastier with a extra balanced sweetness and physique. On the finish of the testing cycle, it’s laborious to advocate anybody attempt brewing eight ounces of espresso—ever.
The Standards: What We Search for in a Single-Serve Espresso Brewer
The very best single-serve brewers have been easy in design, straightforward to scrub, had comfy handles, and easily brewed nice espresso in small volumes. They held onto brew temperature higher than their rivals, and have been extra forgiving through the brewing course of. A slender base was additionally key to a well-functioning single-serve brewer: it encourage deeper espresso mattress depth which in flip promotes a extra even, higher tasting extraction from the espresso.
The Greatest Single-Cup Brewer: Kalita Wave 155 Dripper
What we appreciated:The Kalita Wave 155 simply merely brewed great-tasting espresso. With a flat-bottom design, the espresso was evenly distributed throughout the filter base which allowed the espresso to be saturated evenly through the pouring course of. With such a slender diameter, it was straightforward to take care of a espresso mattress depth that allowed for even and constant extraction, brew after brew. The quick top of the brewer’s partitions additionally made it straightforward for the spout of the kettle to get nearer to the espresso mattress, selling larger brew temperatures. I additionally actually appreciated that the brewer may feasibly brew as much as 14 ounces of espresso, making it a extra versatile brewer general. Because the principal physique of the brewer is glass, the Kalita Wave 155 was straightforward to rinse off and wipe clear, with no espresso oils or residues left hanging on. With a base vast sufficient to relaxation simply on prime of most mugs or glass servers, the Kalita Wave 155 is a utilitarian brewer.
What we didn’t like: Whereas the glass model is cheaper than the chrome steel model, it additionally felt considerably extra fragile. The plastic base helped defend the glass backside of the brewer from dense, stone counter tops, however the base additionally felt low cost to the contact when in comparison with the brewer’s strong metal cousin. The deal with on the glass model was rounded, which brought about it to rotate barely when picked up.
- Supplies: Glass and plastic
- Weight: 4 ounces
- Floor Diameter: 5 centimeters
- Base Diameter: 11 centimeters
- Variety of items: 2
- Appropriate with: Kalita Glass 300-G Server
The Greatest Single-Cup Brewer If You Prefer to Tinker: Aeropress with Fellow Prismo Attachment
What we appreciated: With the pressurized rubber worth on the attachment’s base and a micromesh steel filter, the Prismo transforms the upright Aeropress right into a full immersion chamber that lets espresso steep for so long as you’d like earlier than urgent the espresso by the filter itself. The Aeropress with Prismo attachment truly brewed my favourite tasting cup out of the entire fashions — it simply took some tinkering, and was not as repeatable because the Kalita Wave 155.
The Aeropress itself has an enormous following as a result of its compact nature and the numerous methods to brew with it. (There’s even a yearly competitors to see who can develop one of the best tasting espresso with an Aeropress, and customized recipes are extremely inspired.) One subject with the Aeropress, nonetheless, is that when brewing proper facet up, espresso tends to trickle by the filter as a result of, properly, gravity. That is fairly widespread when blooming any pourover brewer, however for the reason that brewer solely permits a lot brew water for use at one time, most individuals discover one of the best outcomes by inverting the brewer and turning it into an immersion chamber, with the stopper precariously holding the brewing espresso at bay. With the Prismo attachment, you possibly can obtain the identical full immersion chamber with out the fragile and harmful flip methodology.
My favourite factor in regards to the Prismo is really how far more customization it provides to the Aeropress. My greatest tasting recipe with it used a barely larger dose of espresso, which fits immersion brew strategies, and a full 4-minute steep time earlier than urgent down. Oh, and yet one more secret: though the Prismo comes with a built-in steel filter, I added two of the usual Aeropress paper filters, which offered extra resistance through the urgent interval and helped filter out any lingering espresso grit. It’s the proper arrange for the espresso fan that likes to tinker.
What we didn’t like: The Aeropress with Prismo attachment’s largest strengths are additionally its largest weaknesses: to get one of the best espresso, you have to tinker. With a whole lot of various methods to arrange a recipe, it may be troublesome choosing which brewing bits and items you wish to add into your personal customized brew information. It will also be tough to correctly seat a paper filter, if you wish to go that route, and with a brewer that comes aside into 4 separate items, there are only a lot of transferring elements to maintain clear. Talking of cleanup: puck removing from an Aeropress could be messy at instances, as you need to unscrew the filter cap and press the grounds out. In the event you’re fortunate, they’re totally compacted, however typically the grounds are unfastened and might spill throughout. Because the physique of the Aeropress and Prismo are each plastic, they’ll have a tendency to select up extra espresso oils and residues over time and would require deeper cleansing. And, lastly, this setup additionally requires you to purchase two separate brewing units.
Key Specs (Collectively)
- Supplies: Plastic, rubber, steel
- Weight: 8 ounces
- Floor Diameter: 6 centimeters
- Base Diameter: 9.5 centimeters
- Size: 17 centimeters
- Variety of items: 2
- Aeropress: The Aeropress is a superb brewer with a lot of enjoyable methods to brew however cup high quality and value is tough to match towards an Aeropress with a Prismo attachment. It carried out admirably at brewing small quantities of espresso, however had some temperature stability points and required some tough maneuvers.
- OXO Brew Single-Serve Pourover Espresso Maker: The OXO Brew featured an auto-drip water tank designed to make pour-over extra novice pleasant, with measurements built-in. The difficulty is that water begins dripping by instantly, so for those who’re making an attempt so as to add precisely eight ounces to the reservoir, you doubtless have seen not less than two ounces drip by already. The brewer relies off of the Melita cone form, so the espresso mattress can unfold out vast alongside the underside journey, however the auto-drip dispersion holes solely let water drip in a slender circle, leaving the perimeters of the espresso mattress excessive and dry as compared.
- Espro Journey Press: Designed to be a French press on the go, the Espro journey press brewed some tasty espresso. The principle subject, nonetheless, is the effectiveness of its twin wall vacuum development. Whereas it held the best brew temperature out of all the only -cup brewers examined, it additionally held that temperature in what was now designed to be a ingesting vessel. Until you want a extra compact French press for journey or tenting, it’s doubtless you’d have a greater expertise with a normal sized french press, because it must be decanted in any case.
- Pure Over: Sadly, the Pure Over suffers from a large design flaw: with such a large and flat backside that tapers to a slender exit glass filter, the Pure Over creates an especially shallow mattress depth with a showerhead lid that’s half the scale of the bottom. This results in an especially uneven saturation of the espresso and ensures channeling. The design of the brewer was simply so flawed that I didn’t even transfer it to the second spherical of testing. On prime of that, the brewer has a glass on prime of glass on prime of glass development, and even included a ceramic coaster, which is all simply begging for elements to chip and crack towards one another. Plus, it was a ache to attempt to dump the espresso grounds and the straight handles on the pour over and mug have been awkward to carry.
What about Keurig or different Ok-Cup and pod espresso machines?
Single-pod machines are typically very wasteful, however at their core, they’re simply not good at making good-tasting espresso. Nice drip espresso requires a regular ratio of espresso to water, a medium to mediu- superb grind, water temperatures between 195-205ºF, and a sustained brew time of round three to 4 minutes. Pod machines cheat these brew specs all within the title of comfort: there’s not sufficient espresso within the pods for the quantity of water getting used, so the espresso can be floor extra-fine, the machines will use boiling water to create strain, and the brew instances are compelled too quick. The tip result’s often weak, bitter, and the strategy makes it inconceivable the match the standard of a freshly brewed espresso.
Can my drip espresso maker be used to make a single cup?
Some trendy drip espresso makers have a single cup setting, but it surely’s not often what that modifications in regards to the brew cycle. On the finish of the day, the filter basket dimension on a drip espresso maker is designed for bigger brews, so it could doubtless be troublesome to realize the appropriate mattress depth of espresso for a single cup on these machines. One choice could be the OXO 8-cup espresso brewer, which truly encompasses a smaller basket insert for brewing smaller volumes, although this basket is across the similar dimension because the Kalita 185 brewer, and higher designed for a minimal brew of 16 ounces.
How a lot espresso ought to I take advantage of when making a single-cup pourover?
The usual ratio for espresso to water is 60 grams per liter of water, or 1:16.667 — meaning you need to begin with one half espresso and about sixteen elements water. That may very well be one ounce of espresso and sixteen ounces of water, however measurements are far more correct in grams when brewing smaller quantities. It’s additionally really useful to weight espresso out on a scale, after which place your entire pourover brew rig on the dimensions afterwards. This fashion, if you add water to the filter, you possibly can measure precisely how a lot water you might be including to the grounds. An 8-ounce cup of espresso ought to use 15 grams of espresso and 250 grams of water added to it.