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If the pandemic has made it difficult to maintain your Starbucks habit, a single serve coffee maker could be exactly what you need to start making delicious, coffee-shop-worthy brews at home. And if you’re looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous Keurig-style coffee machine, you’ll want to consider the Clio Single Serve Coffee Brewer (Buy on Amazon, $129).
Way back in April, when Covid-19 restrictions were first keeping us at home, our family was lucky enough to receive one of these machines, and in the months since, we’ve become slightly obsessed with it. Even my boyfriend, who loves brewing a pot of supermarket grounds in his trusty old four-cup capacity Mr. Coffee machine, loves it. And not just because it saves him the trouble of going through his usual ritual of pouring himself a cup, then emptying the rest into a travel mug so he can lovingly prepare a pot of decaf for me, the anxiety-sufferer who can’t handle the real stuff but still savors the ritual (and the aroma!) of my morning cup of coffee.
Though I was initially reluctant to cede more kitchen counter real estate to yet another appliance — I’d have to find another spot for my Instant Pot Duo (Buy on Walmart, $79) and electric kettle — the thought of being able to press a button and brew myself a cup of fresh, hot coffee, made from high-quality beans whenever I wanted sounded like the next-best thing to ordering my usual venti decaf Americano from the Starbucks mobile app and finding it waiting for me when I breezed into the store.
As soon as we unwrapped our shiny new coffeemaker (ours is white, but it’s also available in red), my family of caffeine fiends got excited. “It’s heavy!” said my oldest daughter, lugging it over to set it next to our Mr. Coffee, which was looking quite sad in comparison. Indeed, this is a sturdy machine with plenty of heft. Once you place it on your counter, it’s not going to easily scoot around or tip over.
“Look — we got a whole box of pods!” said my younger one, showing me boxes of four different brews: Rise and Shine, a mild roast with hints of citrus; Smooth Sailing, a medium roast with notes of chocolate and hazelnut; Peak Power, a dark roast featuring toasted caramel and dark chocolate; and Evening Delight, a light decaf blend with hazelnut and light chocolate notes. (Clio’s black tea, “English Tea Time,” is currently sold out, so we didn’t get to try that one.)
After a few minutes of confusion over the instructions (which one is the cleaning pod, and where does it go?), we quickly had our Clio up and running. I thought it seemed noisier than your typical single serve coffee maker, with a deep vibration ringing through the kitchen as it spat out a frothy, delicious-smelling stream of dark liquid, but my family didn’t think it sounded much different than the Keurig in our Air BnB last summer.
The coffee, though — this coffee! It came out with a perfect top layer of crema, smelled like heaven, and tasted rich and nutty. At least, I thought so. The person in my family who is happy to drink Chock Full o’ Nuts and Folgers, and who puts Sweet & Low in his coffee, thought it was “a little watery.” (I may only drink decaf, but I drink it black.) He also, however, immediately ordered more pods (Buy on Amazon, $25 for 30 or $40 for 60), and has not touched our old Mr. Coffee machine since the Clio arrived.
What do I love most about the Clio? First, the taste. Unlike some more popular single-serve coffee systems, the Clio uses high-pressure brewing, which extracts more flavor from the beans. I love that, at less than $1 per cup, it’s (relatively) affordable. I also love that the Clio collects your used coffee pods in a container underneath the brewing mechanism, so you don’t have to take out the old one every time you brew a new cup. It’s a small thing, but it saves me a step when making multiple cups — and these days, anything that makes life easier, even the littlest bit, is welcome.
My only complaint is that the pods all look the same, so if you accidentally take out a few Rise and Shines and a few Evening Delights and put them on the counter together, there’s no way to tell which is which. Maybe Clio will solve that one soon (before anyone mixes them up and has a sleepless night).
When summer comes, I’m looking forward to brewing a cup of espresso with the Clio, pouring it over ice, and adding a splash of almond milk for an afternoon treat. In the meantime, if anyone is in the market for a four-cup Mr. Coffee machine, ours will be in a giveaway box on the curb.