In recent years, the world of single-serve pod brewers has become increasingly more competitive and complex. So it can be difficult to navigate your options, especially if you’re straying form the American flock and going for something that isn’t a Keurig. But don’t worry, that’s what we’re for!
Today, we’re taking a look at the Cuisinart SS-10, a popular alternative to the lower- to mid-range Keurig products. We will cover our favorite and least favorite elements of this machine, directly compare it to some of its biggest competitors, and more. Read on for all the Tea on this coffee.
Why Buy a Single-Serve Brewer?
Single-serve brewers are a mixed bag of pros and cons. They’re fairly controversial among the coffee community as some love them for their convenience and others denounce them for their lack of attention to quality.
So who should actually be considering a single serve brewer like the Cuisinart SS-10 and who should be looking elsewhere?
If your primary concerns include convenience, speed, and upfront costs, single serve brewers could be a good option. They generally heat up and brew fairly quickly, so if you have a rushed morning routine, a brewer like this could easily keep up with you.
Additionally, most of these machines don’t get as hot as other drip brewers, so it takes less time for your coffee to reach drinking temperature. Thus, they’re perfect for morning commuters who want to sip on the road.
On the other hand, if you care about things like customizability, flavor profile, and long-term costs, other brewing methods might be a better choice for you. If you’re using the pods, recurring costs can far outweigh the reduced upfront cost over time. Also, the quick and dirty style of extraction leaves something to be desired in the taste department.
Also, this is probably a no-brainer, but single-serve machines don’t work well for households with more than one or two coffee drinkers.
Cuisinart SS-10 Review
They’ve been under management of the Conair Corporation since 1989, effectively allowing them to maintain both quality and name-recognition.
As for this specific machine, let’s look into some of the pros and cons of it:
Things we like
- Fast heat up is great for busy mornings
- Brews with both single-use pods (K-Cup) & ground coffee
- 5 brew size options gives an impressive amount of versatility
- The 72 ounce water reservoir allows for plenty of brews between refills
Room for improvement
- Rather large for a single serve brewer (11.03 x 9.33 x 12.13 inches)
- A little too much plastic in the build
- Puncturing mechanism for coffee pods makes a bit of a mess inside the machine
- Temperature seems to be inconsistent from machine to machine
Features to Note
The SS-10 has 5 brew size settings: 4, 6, 8, 10, & 12 oz, which should be sufficient for most single-serve seekers. In fact, that’s more programmability than we see from a lot of other brewers of this. class.
As far as what you can brew with it, you have a good number of options there as well. The Cuisinart website claims that the machine is compatible with “any brand of single cup pod,” which is a little misleading. It actually means it’s compatible with any Keurig compatible pods, meaning pods that are sold from a variety of brands using the K-Cup design.
So, you won’t be able to buy pods designed for Illy or Nespresso machines (or other single brewer brands). Nonetheless, this still gives you a good bit of variety to choose from, as there are a lot third-party pod sellers, like Maud’s, to choose from.
Lastly, the machine comes with the HomeBarista™ Reusable Filter Cup, which you can use for both coffee grounds and loose tea. So for those of you who prefer fresh coffee or a low-waste lifestyle, this is a great option to use.
Display and Controls
Moving on to how you brew the coffee and generally control the machine, you’ll find a nice, backlit blue LCD display. From here you can access the different settings we mentioned a minute ago as well as a 24-hour clock.
Additionally, this machine is “fully-programmable” meaning you can adjust the temperature control to a point and use an auto-on feature. There is also an auto-off feature that activates after 30 minutes of inactivity.
The vast majority of this machine is made with BPA free plastic with very little stainless steel or other material components. Essentially that means that the lifespan will likely be a bit shorter than other comparable options.
However, there don’t seem to be many customer complaints about a plastic-y taste, which is an issue with other majority-plastic products like this one. So that’s a plus!
There’s no crying over these features! Actually, we’re pretty impressed with the attention to detail on how the water is handled with this machine.
Let’s start with the water used for brewing. It’s stored in a removable 72-ounce water. reservoir, which is pretty massive for a single-serve brewer. The water from that reservoir is then filtered through a charcoal water filter to ensure that your brew has the best chance for a quality taste possible.
Additionally, the SS-10 has a hot water button that lets you brew tea, hot cocoa, and instant soup on demand. That’s a pretty handy feature to have in your kitchen and saves you some microwaving time!
Finally, there is a rinse feature that instantly cleans the inside of the brew chamber after brewing. This helps with the upkeep of this machine and is especially helpful in mitigating the issue with the puncturing mechanism making a mess.
The manufacturer warranty on this machine is a 3-Year limited warranty. In addition to that, you can purchase the machine from other sellers, like Amazon, with a 1-year extended warranty.
To wrap up we’re going to look at the other “extra” features on this machine. Unfortunately, there aren’t really many, which just means that this is a pretty basic machine. There is a removable drip tray for travel mugs, but that’s a standard feature nowadays, especially for something with 5 different brew size options.
However, one notable “extra” feature is the ability to adjust the brewing temperature from the LCD screen. It is preset to brew on the “XHOT” setting, but if you prefer something closer to drinking temperature if you like to just guzzle your coffee, you can lower it to “HOT.”
Things to Consider
One of the nice things about this machine is the price point. It keeps things simple and has similar functionality to other single serve brewers at this price point (sometimes more).
Price tends to be a big pro overall with single-serve brewers, usually coming in under $200. That places them (the SS-10 included) in a range above some drip brewers but still mostly competitive and below most specialty brewers. So, in some cases you are getting some pretty good bang for your buck.
With this machine, you don’t get a ton of extra functionality. But you do get the options of both ground coffee and pod brewing along with the ability to adjust temperature and brew size. So we’re not mad at the price tag.
With the accessible price point does come some compromise as far as material and build goes. As we mentioned above, most of this machine is made of plastic. That means you can’t expect this machine to last quite as long as other ones that have some stainless steel components.
That said, this is still a pretty durable machine. So with proper upkeep the SS-10 will definitely work well and long enough to make your investment worthwhile.
Moving on to what is undoubtedly the most important part of a coffee machine for many of you: the taste. On that front, this machine is a tad hit and miss.
If you are using ground coffee, you can actually get a pretty nice, strong brew, especially if the beans you’re using are fresh. In that case, the taste is about the same as what you could achieve with any other drip brewer in this price range.
However, we were pretty underwhelmed by the pod brewing. The flavor tends to be a little lackluster in that department. That said, this issue isn’t entirely uncommon with pod brewers in general.
Nonetheless, if you don’t mind the slightly weaker taste the pods are a convenient option to have. And if you weren’t planning on using pods anyway, then you really don’t have anything to worry about in the taste department.
As we mentioned above, this machine measures 11.03″ x 9.33″ x 12.13″. Many users complain that this is rather large for a single-serve machine considering drip brewers with larger carafes often have more modest footprints than this one.
But, like with the taste issues, we really can’t bring all of the negative judgement on this particular machine. It is actually relatively similar to the other single brewers in its class like the Keurig’s K-Select, K-Classic, and K-Elite.
Nonetheless, there are some very slim single brewer options out there if you’re working with precious little counter space. So if that’s you, we suggest exploring those options instead as this one isn’t really going to do much for your real estate dilemma.
Compared to Keurig
One of the most common questions that gets asked about this machine is how it stacks up against single-serve powerhouse, Keurig. It takes a lot to sway people from their go-to’s especially when they’re pretty good products. Just look at how many people sitting around your coffee shop have iPhones in their hands.
So here’s a quick look at how this machine compares to a few of Keurig’s most popular models.
Across the board, you can expect these Keurig machines to have indicator lights for cleaning/descaling, which is a notably missing feature from the SS-10. However, the SS-10 does come with the HomeBarista™ Reusable Filter Cup, but the My K-Cup Universal Reusable Coffee Filter is sold separately.
Side Note: If you are interested in looking at other single-serve options for the sake of comparison, you can check out Nespresso’s lineup here.
SS-10 vs K-Classic
- Quick brew times
- Removable drip trays to allow for varied mug sizes
- Auto-off feature
- SS-10 has more brew options, K-Classic has 6, 10, and 12 ounce options
- K-Classic has a smaller water reservoir (48 ounces)
- SS-10 has a smaller footprint than the Classic (9.8 x 13.3 x 13 inches)
Between these two machines we’d probably go with the SS-10. The price jump is minimal but you get a more compact machine with better brewing options and a much larger water reservoir.
SS-10 vs K-Select
- Removable drip trays to allow for varied mug sizes
- Quick brew times
- Typically the same price point
- Keurig has 6, 8, 10, & 12 ounce brew options, but SS-10 has 4, 6, 8, 10, & 12 oz
- K-Select has a strong brew option
- Smaller 52 ounce water reservoir on the Keurig
If choosing between the SS-10 and K-Select, we’d probably recommend the SS-10. The strong brew option on the Keurig doesn’t really make too much of a difference considering the temperature and size control that’s available with the Cuisinart machine. Also, the smaller reservoir hinders the Keurig machine.
SS-10 vs K-Elite
- Brew size options (4, 6, 8, 10, 12 ounce)
- Removable drip trays to allow for varied mug sizes
- Has ability to brew tea, hot cocoa, and coffee
- K-Elite has a Strong Brew button for a bolder flavor (helps it stand out from other pod-brewers taste-wise)
- Keurig option has a slightly (3 ounce) larger water reservoir
- K- Elite has Quiet Brew Technology to minimize brewing noise
- Keurig can also handle specify and iced beverages
- Keurig machine is more expensive
This comparison gets a little more difficult to call a winner. The Keurig option is certainly more expensive, but for many the quieter brewing and potential for specialty beverages like iced coffee are big enough pros to go for it.
However, others will note the similarities in brew size options and water reservoirs and decide that the SS-10 is the better deal, despite the lesser customizability. So, this one really comes down to your personal needs more than anything else.
If you’re not interested in using k-cups or would just prefer something a bit more Utilitarian, the AdirChef single-serve coffee maker is definitely worth checking out.
Single-serve drip brewers of this style tend to trade in programmability for price. So if your brewing needs are pretty simple, this is a great option to save some money. This particular model is very popular
Like the SS-10, this machine has a permanent filter to reduce cost and waste. It has a 15-ounce capacity and comes with a stainless steel travel mug.
Another plus about this machine is that it’s small and portable, so if you do a lot of traveling the AdirChef could be you new best companion. It’s even dishwasher safe to add to the convenience of it all.
For a complete list of our favorite single-serve drip brewers of this style, head on over to this article.
Cuisinart is a well-known, reliable company that you can trust to produce quality products. As far as single-serve brewers go, this machine stands up pretty well to the competition, especially if you aren’t looking for a ton of bells and whistles.
So if you are sold on a single-server, this is definitely an option worth considering, especially because you can use your own grounds without having to make an extra purchase.