Thursday, February 09, 2006

Melitta one:one Coffeemaker

Having wondered about single-serving pod coffeemakers for quite some time, it was pleasant surprise when I received Melitta’s one:one coffeemaker as a gift. I hadn’t heard of the brand beforehand, but I’ve discovered that this coffeemaker uses a pod brewing system to brew a single serving of either coffee or with an included attachment, a cup of tea.

Most of the single-serve, pod brewing systems follow the same idea – a small pod containing enough coffee for a cup (or in the case of the one:one machine, four cups), is placed in the machine and through high temperature and pressure, the coffee is quickly brewed that should provide a richer and stronger cup of coffee than you’d get from a standard coffeemaker.

In my experiences, that’s been mostly true – though the pod brewing system does have limitations that you won’t find on a standard coffeemaker and for some, that might make the difference between deciding on a coffeemaker like the Melitta one:one or a more standard coffeemaker.

Coffeemaker Basics

There’s not much to the one:one coffeemaker. Basically there are only three major parts that someone setting it up needs to worry about. There’s the water reservoir, the basket for the coffee pod and the spout where the brewed coffee leaves the basket. You’ll also find a removable drip pan at the bottom that will catch any drippage you might have after you brew a cup of coffee (there will be a little bit – I generally wait a bit before I remove the cup).

When you first open up the box for the one:one, you’ll find that the machine comes ready to brew coffee. It also comes with a handy ‘quick-start’ guide and a more in-depth instruction book. I’d suggest reading both before you start, since at first after just reading the quick-start guide, I was a bit confused on exactly how to brew myself a cup of coffee. It wasn’t until I sat down and took a few minutes to read the entire instruction book that I figured out exactly how everything worked.

Like I said, the coffeemaker comes set up to brew coffee – though before you start, you need to ‘prime’ the machine. All you have to do is fill up the reservoir (which holds enough water for four 8-ounce cups of coffee) and let the pump draw through the water without a pod in the machine.

Once you’ve got the machine primed, all you have to do to brew a cup of coffee is insert a pod into the basket at the top of the machine. It’s reached by opening up the top, which exposes the basket. The pod is placed snugly in the basket and then you close the top down. Then you turn on the machine, after which it takes about a minute for the machine to warm up enough water for your cup of coffee and then you choose either the standard 8-ounce cup of coffee or the ‘European’ 5-ounce cup of coffee, which is slightly stronger because less water is being pressed through the pod but you get the same amount of coffee.

Each pod can brew four cups of coffee, but the pod cannot be left in the machine and coffee brewed later – the four cups have to be brewed in fairly quick succession, otherwise the quality of the coffee goes downhill very quickly.

I was honestly surprised at the quality of the coffee when I had my first cup. I hadn’t expected much, thinking the pod system was something of a gimmick to get people to buy new coffeemakers. I was wrong though, because while it’s not the best coffee I’ve ever had, it was far from the worst coffee I’ve ever had. The coffee comes out steaming hot and the flavor is rich and bold in every cup. What I like the best about the one:one is the fact that each cup of coffee comes out in the same way. Unlike standard coffeemakers, when you’re brewing with the pod – there are fewer variables and the quality of every cup of coffee is a lot more standardized.

The one:one comes with a sampler of several different coffee pods including their mild, standard and bold brews, a decaffeinated coffee, hazelnut and french vanilla coffees. I found I liked the standard brew (Arabica medium roast) the best – the mild (Columbian light roast) was too mild for my tastes and the bold (dark roast) could knock your socks off.

I received the one:one as a gift, but it retails for $49. That’s more than a standard coffeemaker, but less than the more specialized ones and definitely less than most of the other single-serving, pod-type coffeemakers.

Basic Downfall

The pods for the one:one have been specialized for this machine, which to me is one of its biggest downfalls. At least in my area, I’ve been unable to find these pods in my local grocery stores and therefore I have to order them directly from Melitta ($5 for 18 pods).

I have tried the generic pods that are available in the grocery stores and advertised to fit “pod coffeemakers,” and while they do work, they don’t provide the same quality coffee that the pods from Melitta do. I think it’s because Melitta’s pods fit very snugly into the basket, while the generic pods don’t seem to fit as tightly. I’d imagine that because of this, the generic pods aren’t brewing as strongly as the Melitta pods do because water is running around the edges of the pods instead of right through the pod.


I’m far from being a coffee snob, but I can appreciate a good cup of coffee and I do like the coffee that comes from the one:one coffeemaker. It’s strong and bold and the best part is that every cup, every time you brew it is like that. The pod brewing system gives you a certain level of predictability that just isn’t there with a standard coffeemaker.

Besides generic pods not really working that well in the one:one, my second biggest complaint about the machine is the fact that it brews only 8-ounces at a time. An 8-ounce cup is about half the size of a standard coffee mug and is about a half to a third of a standard travel mug. If you’re using the one:one to brew coffee to take on the road with you in the morning – you’ll need to brew a cup of coffee, pour it into your travel mug and then brew a second cup and pour it into your mug. That can be a pain in the butt and can take a while if you’re in a hurry (each cup takes about a minute to brew, between waiting for the water to warm up and then for the actual brewing to take place).

I broke down and ordered my first new batch of the Melitta pods – I do like the convenience of the ‘on call’ brewing that the pod system offers and even though I’ve got to brew two cups each morning on my way out, it is easier to fill the water reservoir the night before and throw in a pod – then it is to set up the standard coffeemaker each night. Plus afterwards there’s a whole lot less clean up. All you do is take out the pod, wipe down the machine and it’s clean.

Even at $5 a pop for every 18 pods, that’s still cheaper than stopping at Dunkin Donuts every morning – roughly 27 cents a cup versus $1.50 a cup. While I realize that cost ratio is even better with a standard coffeemaker, with the one:one, you’re paying for the added convenience of a single, no mess brewed cup of coffee pretty much on call.

There will be times when the one:one just isn’t practical – like for parties and such. For that, I’ll drag out my standard coffeemaker – but for the occasional cup here and there and my morning coffee, the Melitta one:one does what I need it to do.

Final Thoughts

While I’m not happy that the generic pods available in my grocery store don’t work as well in the Melitta one:one coffeemaker, I have enjoyed it and I’ve even ordered extra pods directly from Melitta to get the best coffee possible from the machine.

Overall the one:one is a very convenient, simple to use, and fast way to get yourself a single cup of coffee. There are a few missteps, like the small size of a single cup of coffee, but overall if you like coffee and you’re looking for something that makes brewing that coffee as simple as possible, it’s worth taking a look at the Melitta one:one coffeemaker.

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