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Five great dorm room coffee makers and how they work

Updated on July 28, 2012

Can college students live without coffee? Some may say no, others may say yes, with soda and energy drinks, but chances are that most of them looking for a coffee maker for the dorm room right now.

There are lots of coffee makers, coffee machines and other ingenious devices that can be used to brew the magic potion but some of them are better then others when used in a college dorm room.

What makes a great dorm room coffee maker?

A dorm room coffee maker

  • is easy to use
  • has just the right size pot
  • it makes the coffee just as you want it
  • brews a fresh cup for your friends
  • makes you a cup late at night for studying
  • it save you space
  • is easy to clean
  • gets you through the college years

Questions to ask before buying a coffee maker for dorm room

Questions to ask before buying a coffee maker for dorm room

All coffee makers can make coffee but not all of them a fitted for a dorm room. Before buying one ask yourself several questions:

  • How much coffee do you drink? Do you make just one cup and drink it in your dorm? Do you make one to go or do you have more than one coffee during the day? Would then make sense to look for how much coffee can a coffee maker brew at one time without giving up on quality?

  • Do you like a fresh cup every time or are you ok to drink coffee that has been brewed several hour before consumption? Do you like a particular coffee or do you like to have a new flavor every time? Would be better to go with a single cup coffee maker versus the traditional 4, 6, or 8, even 12 cup?

  • Do you have friends coming over for a ....late night study? Do they drink coffee? Or are you a night owl that study late at night? Maybe you should choose a coffee maker that starts itself and has an automatic shut off timer so you don't have to worry about it.

  • What do you prefer: the convenience of a fast coffee or the luxury of a good one? Would you go with a drip that shuts off or would you choose to make that coffee in a press, French or else, or a cold brew system?

  • And last, but, maybe, first question to ask yourself, is how much space do you have on your dorm? Can the coffee maker stay on the counter or needs to be stored away after every use? What kind of source of energy do you have access to heat the water? Is there a kitchen or just a countertop on your dorm room for a coffee maker? Or maybe you have a roommate that is bringing one as well.

aeropress latte
aeropress latte | Source

Types of coffee makers to choose for dorm room

Press coffee maker
A press works by immersing the coffee grounds in hot water. There is the French press, which is most known, or the Aeropress, the younger sister. The difference between them is the position of the coffee grounds in the pot: at the top for the French press and on the bottom, for the AeroPress.

Pros: this is a cheap coffee maker and virtually unbreakable. The French press comes with a metal filter that you never have to replace. The AeroPress comes with a metal or paper filter that can last very long as well.

Both make a very good coffee. You have control over the water temperature, which can result in less acidic coffee. Considering their size, they are a good fit for a college dorm room.

Cons: you have to use plenty of coffee so it is not a money saver. Both devices require a thorough cleaning. They do not make a lot of coffee so it is not recommended to the heavy coffee drinkers.

coffee on the go
coffee on the go | Source

Dispenser-like coffee maker

This type of coffee maker can brew coffee and store it in an internal pot until you are ready to drink it, having a dispenser that let you fill your cup as much or as less as you want.

There is also a water heater system , with dispenser, that you can use for any kind of hot beverages including soups and teas. this last one will only make coffee if it pour the water over coffee grounds. Or if you use instant coffee.
Pros: it is very easy to use, all you have to do is to fill the water tank, fill the coffee filter with grounds, and push a button. You can control the strength of your drink by adding or subtracting ground coffee.

Cons: you may need to spend some money in paper filters, which it is said that are the best for coffee. Also, these type of devices, especially the very cheap ones, tend to break or stop working frequently and, sometimes, when you need them the most.

It works for college dorm room because is small and relatively cheap.

The typical drip coffee maker

There is nothing more convenient than a regular drip coffee maker, with automatic on and off timer. The drip system works by heating water and, when hot, drop it over coffee grounds that are held on a filter over a pot. The pot also rests on a hot plate so the coffee is staying warm longer.

Pros: It can make up to 12 cups of coffee, if you need it. It is convenient, just pour water, fill the filter with coffee, and set the brewing time. Cleaning is also easy, but for time to time you are prompted to do a descaling.

Cons: if you are not a heavy coffee drinker, but an occasional one, then making a lots of coffee at one time doesn't make sense. Another reason why this coffee maker may not be for your dorm room is that it takes a lot of space in the counter and cannot be stored easily.

One cup coffee maker

This coffee machine works by forcing hot water through a certain amount of coffee, enough for just one cup, and dispense the beverage right into the mug of your choice. The best coffee maker that falls in this category is the Keurig One Cup coffee maker, but there are some other brands that are doing the same thing. The coffee is already pre measured and packaged in a K-cup or a pod.

Pros: it makes a fresh coffee every time, and there are lots of flavours to choose from. It is very easy to clean and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. You can even use your own coffee grounds, packed in a My K- cup , which is a special coffee holder that can be used in the machine.

Cons: it is not a space saver. This coffee maker is rather bulky and may take a lot of space on your dorm room. Also, if you like a strong coffee this machine is not for you. it can make an ok cup, a long Americano but that’s it. One cup coffee makers, or single serve coffee machines are pretty expensive but they tend to come with at least one year warranty.

cold brew system
cold brew system | Source

Cold Brew System

These are the main coffee maker system out there. There are others too, not so popular, either because are made for speciality coffee like espresso or because require a lot of work. There is one though that I would recommend considering: Toddy Cold-Brew System, which can provide you with your daily cup even with no source of heat. It works by immersing the coffee grounds in cold water and let them sit for a day before drink it. Toddy is mainly used by people that have stomach problems after drinking coffee.

Pros: it is said that coffee extracted this way is healthier. The whole system can be stored and put away very easily. Doesn’t use any source of energy, so it is a green product.

Cons: you have to plan for it otherwise you won’t have your cup of coffee when you need it. Also, it has to be thoroughly cleaned to make sure all residues and oils are washed off before the next use.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      One other good factor to consider for dorm rooms -- how much noise does the coffeemaker make.

    • cameciob profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Marlene, it is said that if one has stomach problems because the high acidity in coffee then cold brew may be the answer...I never had it myself though there were many times when, because the lack of heating sources I had to put the grounds in a cup and let it set for a while.

      Thank you for your nice comment.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      6 years ago from USA

      My first cup of coffee was when I went away to college and had to stay up for to study for an exam. Not only did the coffee do its job, but I discovered I really like coffee. I drank it black for many years, but now I enjoy it with a little cream and sugar. I have never heard of the cold brew system. I have to admit that if I had to get my coffee that way, I might miss out on a few cups for not planning in advance. This is a very nice review of the various coffee makers for the dorm room.


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