The image of the pod-based, single-serve coffee maker has long been in need of a makeover. The genre, which was pioneered by and still largely dominated by Keurig, has long been seen as one of convenience, rather than caffeinated enjoyment. For the most part, nobody likes the coffee they get from a Keurig. It’s just easy, fast, and reliably gives you your caffeine fix while requiring the least amount of effort as possible.
But what if single-serve coffee was not just better, but actually good?
That’s the concept behind the Bruvi, a new pod-based, single-serve coffee maker developed over four years by a pair of coffee industry veterans. Bruvi debuted late in 2022, and made a lot of big promises about how it was going to change the single-serve coffee experience. The brand claimed to make a coffee house-grade cup of coffee. It claimed to be able to handle espresso and cold brew just as easily as regular coffee. It said its proprietary B-Pods are more sustainable and better for the environment than the competition. (Bruvi promised a lot.)
So to see if the machine could actually live up to its lofty claims, I spent a couple of months testing a Bruvi brewer.
What 's Good About the Bruvi
It Actually Makes Good Coffee
Of all the bold statements made by Bruvi (and I’ll get to them all), arguably the most important among coffee drinkers is the claim that the coffee produced by the Bruvi is actually good. Well, I’m here to tell you: it is. Quite good, in fact. This is not the watery, sad liquid you’re accustomed to getting from your office break room. The Bruvi actually makes a flavorful, robust and satisfying cup of joe.
Bruvi only partners with roasters who produce their coffee sustainably and ethically, and it’s all meant to be premium stuff like you’d find in your neighborhood cafe. (In other words, don’t expect to see a Dunkin’ B-Pod anytime soon.) Bruvi’s B-Pods also contain about 40 percent more coffee than your typical K-Cup, and the machine saturates them with 20 streams of water for more even extraction.
That all sounds great, but in practice, I just want my coffee to taste good. And Bruvi’s does. I experimented with five different flavors of B-Pods: two light roasts (one from Ethiopia, the other from Colombia), a medium-roast blend from Guatemala and Colombia, a medium-dark roast blend from Colombia and Honduras and an espresso from the same region. All coffees state their origin and tasting notes on the pods themselves, lending a premium feel to the experience.
Every coffee I tried was good to very good. The light roasts were plenty flavorful, and distinct from one another, with the Colombian being smooth and chocolatey and the Ethiopian being bright and tart. The medium roast tasted like what you might get from a “house blend” at a local coffee shop. The espresso was strong and bitter, and tasted like an espresso. And my favorite, the medium-dark roast, was brash and bold, the type of coffee that’ll put some hair on your chest (figuratively).
Is the coffee Bruvi makes as good as what I make in my Chemex using freshly ground beans? No, but it’s a lot closer than you’d expect — and a hell of a lot easier and faster to make.
It’s Fun and Convenient to Use
One thing about the Bruvi that I didn't expect was just how fun it is to use. The machine features a large touchscreen control panel that comes to life only when it's time to make coffee. Drop a B-Pod into the machine, and the Bruvi instantly scans it, changing the screen to reflect the available options for your cup. In other words, you can't accidentally make espresso from a regular coffee pod; the machine is smart enough to tell the coffees apart.
From there, you make your selections, and it's such a simple joy playing around with the different options on the screen.
When opting for regular hot coffee, my most frequent choice, I liked to go with the options for "Low Acid" (hey, I'm in my mid-30s, I get heartburn), "Stronger" and the largest 12 oz size to fill my East Fork Pottery Mug right up to the brim. Other options for regular hot coffee pods include "Hotter," which I found pretty unnecessary since coffee comes out piping hot without it (also, you can't select both "Hotter" and "Low Acid" at the same time), along with four sizes from 6–12 oz.
Dropping in a regular coffee pod will give you the option of making it hot, iced or cold brew (Bruvi claims to make the first pod-based machine capable of making cold brew coffee), while an espresso pod will give you the options for a shot (single, double or triple) or an Americano. Regardless of what you choose, it will come to you pretty quickly — usually in about a minute, though the cold brew option takes closer to five minutes. When your coffee is done, the Bruvi plays a fun little chime. It also sends a notification to your phone if you set up the machine's WiFi and link it to the app.
The app will also keep track of the coffees you brewed, and you can even schedule your brews ahead of time. Just drop in your B-Pod beforehand and make sure there's a mug in place to catch the coffee, then make your selections for your brew on your phone and schedule it. Since the Bruvi is so quick and easy to use, the scheduling feature isn't all that necessary, but I did test it to make sure it works. (It did, flawlessly.)
A big knock against other single-serve coffee machines is their environmental irresponsibility, with pods made from single-use plastic that are difficult or impossible to recycle. For Bruvi's proprietary "Guilt Free Toss" B-Pods, you simply throw them away when done, with no need to ever open them. Bruvi adds a food-safe bio-enzyme to the cups that allows them to degrade in a few years rather than a few hundred, in an organic process that leaves behind no microplastics. You kind of have to take Bruvi's word on this a bit, but it did feel good (if a bit weird at first) to simply toss the spent pods in the trash and then not think about them anymore.
It Looks Damn Good on a Counter
The Bruvi doesn't look like any coffee machine, let alone a pod-based one. It just looks like some clean, tech-y, mystery appliance, and it's beautiful. It's sleek and white with light wood accents and a large black touchscreen that displays monochromatic icons in bright white. Its appearance certainly adds to the premium feel of the machine, and it will definitely elevate the look of any kitchen. Let me put it this way: if your office break room has a Bruvi on the counter, then your company is doing all right.
What's Not Ideal About the Bruvi
If there is one flaw in the design, it's where the B-Pods are stored. Unlike with a Keurig, you don't remove a pod from the top of the machine once you've used it. Instead, you lift the lid and the spent pod automatically falls back into an inner storage bin that can hold up to six pods (confession: I once managed to get seven pods in mine). Once it's full, you simply dump it in the trash and rinse/wipe it out. It actually works wonderfully, and I like the design overall.
However, there is a window on the front of this bin that sits directly behind where your mug goes. Through it, you can see your B-Pods piling up, giving the machine a less-tidy look than when the bin is empty. If they filled in the window, I'd have zero issues with this design.
Worse than this minor quibble is the amount of backsplash that occurs with the device. The Bruvi makes quite a mess when brewing a cup of coffee — especially when the coffee has to travel a long ways, like for an espresso shot. I grew accustomed to having to wipe down the area around it after every brew to prevent coffee stains from taking over my kitchen, and even resorted to storing a cutting board next to the machine to protect my white kitchen wall (thank goodness Material makes some gorgeous cutting boards).
Your Options Are Very Limited (For Now)
As I mentioned previously, I tried out five different coffees for my Bruvi: two from Mulholland Roasters and three from Wonderland Coffee. I liked all of them, but as far as I can tell, both are roasters that you'll only find at Bruvi (neither has any web presence outside of there). Bruvi lists some other roasters as partners on their website, like Equator Coffee and Muertos Coffee Co., but all of these other brands are still listed as "coming soon" to the machine. Also "coming soon" are B-Pods for making matcha lattes and infused coffees, which are two selections on the brewer that currently have no use with the available B-Pods. Plus, unlike some other single-serve coffee machines, the Bruvi only works with its own pods.
I would love to see more cult-favorite roasters from around the country, like Brooklyn's Partners or L.A.'s Go Get 'Em Tiger, along with other styles of B-Pods (no tea B-Pods are available, despite the machine having a tea setting) that fully make use of the Bruvi's capabilities. Admittedly, I'm an early adopter, but at the moment I don't think Bruvi's limited B-Pod offerings — there are 11 as of this writing, all from Mulholland or Wonderland — fulfill the promise of a complete cafe experience at home.
It’s Not Quite As Versatile As It Claims
In addition to making regular coffee, Bruvi also says it can pull a true espresso shot and whip up a real cold brew. In my testing, I found that that's only partly true. While the Bruvi will give you a 2 oz. double shot of something that mostly smells, tastes and looks like espresso, you shouldn't expect it to be comparable to a shot from a real espresso machine. The Bruvi does boast a 15-bar pressure pump like you'll find on many at-home espresso machines, something just isn't quite right with the shots, as they have very little crema.
The cold brew process is similar. Here, the pressure pump again comes into play to try and speed up the process, and the cold brew is made using a mix of lukewarm water and cold water that extracts the flavors more slowly than Bruvi's other brews, like the iced coffee setting, which uses hot and cold water. Still, the entire cold brew process takes around just five minutes.
So while the coffee is technically cold-brewed in that no heat is used in the process, it simply isn't brewing for long enough to create the bold, strong flavors I'm used to getting from cold brew at a cafe that's been stewing for many hours. The cold brew setting also tops out at 8 oz., and I'd like to see double that amount. To be fair, Bruvi does have a cold brew-specific B-Pod in the works that may yield better results, but as part of the dreaded "coming soon" crew, it's unclear when I'll be able to try it.
Still, even with these shortcomings, it's remarkable that a machine that can churn out really good cups of hot coffee can make espresso and cold brew at all. Even if they're a little less creamy (in the case of the espresso) or a little too weak (when it comes to the cold brew), I still will make them from time to time when I'm in the mood for those styles of coffee, and I'm very happy that my pretty countertop machine gives me that option.
The Alternatives to the Bruvi
The Bruvi is on a bit of an island in terms of what it can do. There's no single-serve coffee maker out there that's capable of making so many different styles of drinks, let alone doing so while also being a sustainable and good-looking smart device. But, all of that functionality comes at a price, as the Bruvi — bundled with 20 B-Pods and a water filter for its tank — retails for $398, though it can sometimes be found on sale.
If you're looking for a cheaper single-serve coffee maker with smart features and way more options when it comes to coffee brands, and you're less picky about how your coffee tastes, then the $230 Kuerig K-Supreme Plus Smart is an option. If you want pod-based espresso and coffee options, then something from Nespresso's Vertuo line of machines should do the trick for around the same price.
The Bruvi: The Verdict
So, does Bruvi live up to the considerable hype it set for itself? Mostly, yeah, it does. The machine really makes a great cup of coffee — far better than any single-serve option I've tried. Disposing of the machine's pods is a truly easy and guilt-free experience, and it makes the idea of rinsing out a recyclable pod or struggling to clean out a refillable one after each use seem quaint. The variety of coffee styles is also impressive, and while the espresso and cold brew options aren't up to the same level of quality as Bruvi's regular coffee, they're still pretty remarkable considering the speed and ease with which they're prepared.
Sure, the machine could be a little less messy, and a lot more B-Pod options are desperately needed. But overall, Bruvi really did make the single-serve coffee experience better in almost every measurable way. Now, it's up to the rest of the market to catch up.
Editor’s Note: After publishing, Bruvi reached out to inform us that the drip tray can be adjusted to a taller height to reduce the splashing when brewing in a smaller mug or cup. It can also be removed entirely to accommodate large travel mugs.