Senseo Coffeemaker
The Senseo is not for the coffee connoisseur but a fast, convenient, and easy-to-clean single-serve coffee machine for those who just want a good cup of coffee.



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KRISTINE ECKMANN is a freelance writer and coffeeholic living in New York City. She hails from Seattle, where people really know coffee.



September 2005
Updated February 2007

Appliance Review / Kitchenwares / Appliances

Senseo Coffee Maker

A Slick and Easy Single-Serve Coffee Machine



CAPSULE REPORT: A quick and easy way to get a cup of coffee in 60 seconds flat, it’s our new favorite kitchen appliance. For the first year, we lamented that we couldn’t get better coffee. For the second year (February 2007 update), we’ve been enjoying superior coffee pods from third-party suppliers like Cool Beans.


When the lightweight Senseo coffee maker arrived, some of the staff at THE NIBBLE eyed it suspiciously. “Not everyone likes modern art,” opined one. (Perhaps if we had been sent a black or white model instead of bright blue, no art criticism would have been levied.) “Is this for coffee or espresso?” asked another. (Fair question, as the design resembles a conventional espresso machine.) “It brews coffee in just a minute?” another questioned unbelievingly. “Do we have to buy pods?” chimed the Greek chorus? (Yes, and that’s the most cumbersome aspect of using the Senseo, from Philips.

If you are commitment phobic and don’t like being locked in, Senseo may not be for you. But if you’re ready to dive in to a full-fledged relationship with your coffee maker—you won’t be alone, eight million people worldwide already have—this machine is a speedy, reliable and trustworthy companion. Its smooth surface and hip design won’t embarrass your Sub-Zero fridge or Viking range, either. Call it kitchen counter candy, if you don’t want to call it modern art.

Simple & Quick

Many people would agree that the worst part of brewing a cup of coffee is cleaning up after the grounds. Senseo avoids this mess by using packaged pods. The user can choose to make one or two cups of coffee by choosing between a shallow one pod holder or a deeper two pod holder.

This system is ideal for anyone who enjoys a brewing a basic cup of coffee without any fuss. The machine itself is almost foolproof. Anyone—even children or people with a limited range of motion—can operate it. The various components detach easily and rinse clean with water. A freshly brewed cup takes less than a minute.

This is not a coffee connoisseur’s machine. You are limited to pods branded by the manufacturer and some other brands. Unlike with espresso pods, the finer beans sought by aficionados are not yet available for this system—although this may change with increasing market penetration of the Senseo.

Senseo pods
Pod Holder
Pod Holder
Senseo Froth
That’s not milk—it’s Senseo’s natural crema.

That being said, the pods that are available make a perfectly fine cup of coffee—as good as you’d get at the average restaurant—and we’ve been happily drinking it and serving it to guests—who like it—for a month.

Taste Test: The Coffee Pods

After a thorough tasting of all the Senseo blends—made in Belgium by Douwe Egberts, a Dutch coffee roaster founded in 1753—we found that the best choices were the unflavored coffees. The mild, medium, dark and decaffeinated roasts delivered as expected, and were equally tasty. Unfortunately, the recently introduced (Spring 2005) line of International Flavored coffees does not measure up as well. Paris, a vanilla-flavored blend, and Vienna, a hazelnut-laced brew, were lightly flavored; drinkable but nothing special compared to other flavored coffees. Killarney, which held the promise of Irish cream, definitely fell below par. We didn’t taste the compatible pods made by Folgers, Maxwell House, Melitta and Millstone; but through experimentation you may find your perfect brew.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 2007: Since our initial review, Senseo has added a variety of blends: Brazil, Colombia and Sumatra, and a Cappuccino flavor. The Cappuccino just doesn’t work: both coffee and milk are included in the same pod, and if anyone has had success in making anything that resembles cappuccino, we’d like to hear from you. However, we have discovered two companies that make excellent coffee pods: Cool Beans and Java One. Read our review of these coffee pods for the Senseo and other single-serve machines.

Part of the Senseo’s charm lies in the froth called crema (photo above) that tops each cup of coffee, as you’d expect with an espresso but never with a regular cup of coffee. Senseo uses a mild-pressure brewing process, and the crema is formed when the coffee passes through the frothing chamber—an added bonus not provided by standard machines.

Aside from a limited choice in gourmet coffee pods, the main drawback the Senseo system is that a standard mug doesn’t fit under the spout. Evidently, mugs are not popular in Europe, since nothing larger than an eight-ounce can be used. You can make two eight-ounce cups at once; but if you like to drink your coffee from a large mug, you’ll have to pour the coffee from the standard cups into the mug (i.e., this system isn’t for you). This system also isn’t for big coffee-drinking families or voluminous drinkers who chain-drink cup after cup, unless money is no object; because it it will end up costing you five times as much for coffee. On the other hand, the neatness factor may be worth it to you, as well as the convenience of letting everyone choose his or her preferred blend (caf/decaf, flavored/unflavored).

The summary on Senseo:
  • Simple to operate, with the neatest clean-up imaginable (the pod is almost dry when finished and it doesn’t drip like other pod systems we’ve tried).
  • The fastest way on earth to get a basic good, brewed cup of coffee.
  • Takes up less counter space than other coffee makers.
  • Great for home, small office, or dorm.

And it’s a combination of efficient and cute. You’ve just got to like it.



Available at retail at mass merchandisers, department stores, specialty retailers and grocery chains nationwide.

Click on links above to purchase online. Or, visit Read our review of other pods for the Senseo.

Vienna Decaf
Dark Roast Decaffeinated
Paris Vienna
Paris Vienna


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