To carafe, or not to carafe? In all honesty, that’s rarely the question, but if you want to get your caffeine shot by the cup, without the potential waste of a carafe, you need a machine that can give you that convenience without compromising on taste.
You need the best coffee maker in the world without a carafe. Which is no easy thing to find.
That’s why we exist – we’ve drunk a lot of coffee, from a lot of machines, just to narrow down the list and make your decisions easier.
In a hurry? Here’s our top pick.
- 7 Best Coffee Maker Without CarafeSaved To Drive
- Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker, Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer, 6 to 10 Oz.
- Hamilton Beach (47950) Coffee Maker with 12 Cup Capacity
- BLACK+DECKER Brew ’N’ Go Coffeemaker
- Cuisinart SS-10P1 Premium Single-Serve Coffeemaker
- Ninja 10-Cup Specialty Coffee Maker
- Cuisinart DCC-3000 Coffee-on-Demand 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker
- Mr. Coffee BVMC-ZH1B Power Serve 12-Cup Coffeemaker
- Buyer’s Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
7 Best Coffee Maker Without CarafeSaved To Drive
Keurig was once an undisputed master when it came to the single-serve carafe-free coffee-making game.
Spoiler alert – it’s at the top of our list, so it’s pretty much still the undisputed master at that game. That it has a lot more competition these days is undeniable. That it still outperforms them is the mark of a manufacturer keen to evolve.
The K-Classic is also known as the K-50, and it’s the flagship of the company’s business, and with this beast in your kitchen, you’re less than a minute away from some of the best wake-up juice you’re going to find.
Hangovers? Mondays? Meetings with the client from hell? You need coffee and you need it both fast and worth the drinking. That’s when the K-50 comes significantly into its own.
One of the great joys about the Keurig is that it comes with a festival of buttons and lights, which is what you need before you’ve had your coffee.
Trying to make coffee with no water? There’s a warning light for that. Inside of your coffee maker look like a squelchy planet from Star Wars? There’s a light to warn you to descale it. Need a light to tell you when it’s heating? No problem.
Need an auto-off function because you shouldn’t be trusted to operate machinery before you’ve had your first coffee of the day? It’s here. Three cup size options let you choose how much coffee you need to face the fresh hell of the day? Right here, no waiting, marked with easily punchable icons.
You have a 3-feet long cord and a detachable drip tray so you have kitchen flexibility, but the cup size buttons really understand you – they’re bright enough to guide to a pre-coffee choice, but quiet enough to stop you wanting to smash them with hammers, even on an early-starting Monday.
Really, it’s the gentleness of the soul of the uncaffeinated workaday superhero that puts the K-50 out in front of its rivals. The funky color schemes, gorgeous design and flexibility on brew size are all just extra shots of joy. Choose from a 6oz, 8oz, or big Monday 10oz cup of rapidly made, steaming, tasty, never too bitter coffee.
Keurig was ahead of the game when the whole carafe-free coffee machine game got started. The K-50 is a cogent argument that it’s still the best and gentlest carafe-free coffee maker on the block.
- You can choose at the press of a button whether it’s a 6oz, 8oz, or 10oz morning.
- A full 48oz water reservoir means the refills can keep on coming, without the coffee getting cold and sour.
- Caring warning lights make coffee processing and machine care easy even for the caffeine-impoverished.
- The downside of the K-cup model is that the cups don’t biodegrade, so technically they’re a planet-killer
Even if you go with the 6oz option – and really, who out there, when they really need coffee in a hurry, goes for the 6oz option? – the Keurig will get you 8 cups of Monday coffee before you’re refilling the water reservoir.
It’s almost like Hamilton Beach knows that as it struts into the marketplace with its sexy 12-cup model.
Gauntlet thrown down. Rap battle won. Mic well and truly dropped.
If you put your ear to your coffee cup, right about now, you can hear the head honchos at Keurig cursing the Hamilton Beach people.
The Hamilton Beach 47950, also known in a frat-boy twist as the Brewstation is by no means a one-trick 12-cup pony, either.
In fact, it takes the battle all the way to Keurig here, with an internal heater to keep your coffee warm for up to 4 hours. It lets you select your brew strength (regular or bold – though it doesn’t come with a Dorothy Parker “What fresh hell is this?” strength, which feels like an oversight). Where it even scores over the Keurig is in its acknowledgement that summer is a thing. Want iced coffee? Easy – select the iced coffee setting.
With the same sort of “Seriously, I’m growing an ecosystem in here” descaling reminder warning and an easy-clean breakdown, there’s a lot that the Hamilton Beach brings to your rapid-pulsed caffeine party.
Where the Keurig wins out in our list is in its feeling of fresh-made versus kept-warm coffee. There are plenty of caffeine purists who will argue that if you’re just going to keep coffee warm for 4 hours, you might as well have a carafe. The Hamilton Beach definitely delivers for those who need a lot of coffee over a prolonged Zoom meeting, but it’s beaten on our list by the insta-fresh taste of the Keurig.
- 12 cups of coffee, on demand, no waiting
- An iced coffee option raises the Brewstation’s game
- Sensible warning lights and an easy-clean build
- Keeping coffee warm over hours feels carafe-adjacent
We need you to come down the scale with us to consider the Brew ’N’ Go. Small, but beautifully practical is what Black+Decker is aiming for here – there’s no water reservoir and only a 15oz coffee container, so you won’t be getting cup after cup out of the Brew ’N’ Go. Where it earns its cool point though is in the fact that it comes with a travel mug, and dispenses directly into it. Hence the name. You brew. You go. You caffeinate on the way to wherever your world needs you to be.
It also gains some early morning points by the utterly idiot-proof simplicity of its operation. One button. Press button. Light goes on. When light goes off, take coffee and go.
That simplicity, matched with the concept of brewing a single cup to go, carves the Brew ’N’ Go out a place in the market. It brews well too, giving you a decent cup of coffee. But beware – compared to the fast brew of the first two machines on our list – the Brew ’N’ Go takes 3-4 minutes to deliver you a single cup.
- Small capacity and light weight means the Brew ’N’ Go is highly portable
- The included travel mug means the machine lives up to its name
- The simplicity of the machine is pre-caffeination idiot-proof
- Slow brewing for a single cup
The Cuisinart SS10 takes a cue from the Keurig, in that it brews pretty much to order, but like the Brew ’N’ Go, it delivers just a single cup at a time. There’s a lot to like about that combination – no coffee wastage, no change of the coffee going sour and stale, and less energy use when you brew cup by cup.
Additionally, the Cuisinart is compatible with K-cups, stealing a little ground from under the feet of Keurig. If you decide you just need extra hot water – tea, anyone? – the Cuisinart will dispense that at the press of a button too.
The Cuisinart has more to recommend it – including the widest range of cup sizes, from 4oz all the way up to 12oz. The water tank on the Cuisinart holds a huge 72oz of water, meaning minimal refilling, and – right up there with the Keurig, you can get a cup of coffee in your hand and in your system in under a minute of brew time.
Two brew temperatures – hot and extra-hot – mean you can brew with milk or cream in mind, or go hot for immediately drinkable black coffee. There are a lot worse coffee makers out there than the Cuisinart, and there’s quite an argument to be made that it should be higher on our list. The only real detraction here is the one cup at a time element.
- No waste of coffee and no souring over time
- Rapid brewing means you can have coffee quickly
- Five brew cup sizes, from 4oz to 12oz
- Hot water on demand
- Two heat settings, to brew for dairy or black coffee
- You can only brew one cup at a time
The Ninja 10-cup is technically a cheat on this list – it does have a carafe of sorts, but it’s a small one, so it sneaks under the wire. Besides, technically it works just as well without the carafe, so it’s a good cheat.
The Ninja includes a handy fold-away milk frother for more fancy coffee options like cappuccinos and lattes that also folds away. That’s the unique selling point of the Ninja, and to be hair, it says as much right up front – this is the machine you need if you want coffee shop options right at home. Where most coffeemakers on our list have a digital pause button, the Ninja has a manual drip-stop slider.
That gives you a more subtle control over the brew, and you can make classic coffees, rich coffees, and even coffees over ice with this fancy 10-cupper. You get four coffee styles and a handy six sizes out of the Ninja, with a 2.5-feet cord, meaning you have a little more versatility in what you do and where you do it.
- The Ninja comes with its own milk frother, giving you access to specialty coffee options
- Gives you the scope to make ten cups at a time without refilling
- Four coffee styles and six sizes delivers versatility for your coffeemaking dollar
- Unlike most coffeemakers, it vents some steam while brewing, so beware of where you place it
The second Cuisinart on our list is often the standout Cuisinart whenever people make lists of great carafe-free coffeemakers. 12 cups at a time is enough to take on the Hamilton Beach people. To get that whole diner ‘instant refill’ vibe, just put your cup under the nozzle and press the button. Class.
One of the things that usually places this coffeemaker much, much higher on people’s lists is the ‘stay fresh’ setting. One of the big issues with multiple-cup coffeemakers is that the coffee could be sitting around for hours, getting sour and losing that just-made taste. Enter Cuisinart, with a device that tells you how ‘old’ your coffee is.
Joyfully, in the Cuisinart DCC 3000, you can brew your coffee with or without traditional paper filters, as it has a permanent gold-tone filter installed.
All in all, it’s a highly competent carafe-free coffeemaker that gives you decent coffee and instant refills.
- The stay-fresh setting lets you know how old your coffee is
- 12 cups is at least enough to make it to your first Monday morning meeting
- You can cut down on your use of paper filters, due to a permanent filter in the machine
- The coffee gauge can regularly stop working
There’s a certain culmination energy about the catchily-named BVMC-ZH1B coffeemaker. In the first place, the BVMC series is Mr Coffee’s most successful series of coffeemakers to date. And of the BVMC series, the ZH1B is the best carafe-free model. So you get a best of the best vibe here.
On the chunkier side both of the range and of the competition, the ZH1B has plenty of advantages. The 12-cup potential is undoubtedly among the first of them. Secondly, you can use the ZH1B with one hand, just by pushing the cup up against the drip button.
While it might seem like nothing, it’s a helpful gesture on those existential dread Mondays when only coffee will get you out of the miasma of despair and let you face other human beings again.
That said, for those especially harsh days, you can programme the ZH1B up to 24 hours in advance, as it has both auto-on and auto-off functions. A handy coffee-view window lets you know when you’re getting low on life essence, just like a computer game, and you can also pause your brew at your own convenience.
One slightly unfriendly aspect is that while other machines have lights to indicate when your coffee is brewed, Mr Coffee raises its voice with an alarm when your brew is ready to be drunk. We don’t have exact figures, but probably more than one Mr Coffee has sustained damage by beeping inconsiderately at an undercaffeinated human on the wrong morning.
- You can use this coffeemaker single-handed on sleepy mornings
- You can program it to brew up to 24 hours in advance
- Your coffee will still be warm for the next two hours
- The beeping alarm to say your brew is finished is enough to encourage violence against an inanimate object
If you’re buying a carafe-free coffeemaker, keep the following points in mind.
Cup at a time or show me the coffee!
There are two main styles of carafe-free coffeemaker. One that makes individual cups of coffee on demand, and one that makes usually up to 12 cups and stores them, dispensing them as needed. Choose your style and direct your search.
From simple lights to tell you when your brew is done to multiple heat settings, brew strengths, fold-away milk frothers and the like – you can find a range of add-on technology in carafe-free coffeemakers. Choose which of these add-ons will actually enhance your coffee-drinking life, and pay for those, rather than others that will simply sit there, forever unused.
On the go or sit still
There are units that are more portable and units that must not stray from the nearest wall socket. Decide if you prefer one over the other, or can legitimately use both kinds to get your caffeine needs met.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why would you want a coffeemaker without a carafe?
Sometimes, carafes represent only wasted coffee. This is a crime against nature and should never be tolerated, much less encouraged.
2. Which is best, multiple-cup or one-cup coffeemakers?
That depends on the situation, and whether you can justify a multiple-cup coffeemaker. Most of them can keep your coffee warm for between 2-4 hours. Do you regularly have a 12-cups-in-4-hours kind of day? If so, the multiple-cup option is your better way to go. If you would struggle to finish – or at least, to enjoy – that much coffee in such a short space of time, you’re fine going with the one-cup option.
3. Are carafe-free coffeemakers difficult to clean?
Usually, they’re easier than carafe-style versions, because their coffee storage units usually either fit in dishwashers, or at least are easier to reach inside to scrub clean than carafes are.