Ambiano Single Serve Coffee Maker

Ambiano Single Serve Coffee Maker

Special thanks to Jon, who likes coffee more than we do, for help with this review.

One of the great sensations of the coffee-drinking world the last few years has been the Keurig, a device that turns little plastic containers (K-Cups, or what Keurig more formally calls “K-Cup Pods”) into single-serve beverages. Keurigs are most famous for making coffee, but the devices can also make other drinks, including tea and hot chocolate. What they lack in the pure joy of a French press, they make up for with speed and efficiency, and they are increasingly common in offices and break rooms as the go-to device for an easy cup of joe.

At the time of this post, Keurig brand machines retail from $65 for the so-so Keurig K-Mini, to the $200+ Keurig Office Pro. Combine that with the cost of the K-Cups themselves, and Keurig life can start to add up, convenience or not.

Aldi is in the business of making things cheaper, so it’s not a surprise that the grocer has entered the Keurig fray by selling its own K-Cups for coffee and, on occasion, hot cocoa. Still, we were more than a little surprised to see Aldi trot out an actual Keurig-style machine. Could Aldi really duplicate the Keurig experience at a fraction of the cost?

Ambiano Single Serve Coffee Maker

The Ambiano Single Serve Coffee Maker, an Aldi Special Buy (ALDI Find), retailed at the time of this post for $19.99. The price alone deserves notice, as it is less than a third of the cost of the cheapest Keurig we’ve seen short of some insane Black Friday sale, if that.

Among the features:

  • Is compatible with “standard cups” (i.e. K-Cups) or can use grounds with a removable brew basket
  • Comes with a reusable filter for ground coffee
  • Has multiple brew buttons for 10 oz. or 15 oz. brew sizes
  • Comes with an adjustable cup rest and can brew directly into a cup or travel mug
  • Comes with a removable cup rest and cup rest plate
  • Has a water level indicator
  • Does not require filtered water
  • Backed by a 3-year warranty

The package includes:

  • The main unit, which includes the reservoir
  • A brew basket
  • A pod holder for K-Cups
  • A reusable filter for coffee grounds
  • A base plate that can be put in two different positions
Ambiano Single Serve Coffee Maker

The reusable filter, pod holder, and brew basket. (Click to enlarge.)

Setup isn’t hard, although it does take a few minutes. The instructions advise gently cleaning the unit first (with warnings not to submerge the unit in water), then filling up the reservoir and running the unit a few times without any coffee to clear out any contaminants. After doing that, the unit should be ready to go.

The unit takes a couple of minutes to heat the water up first, with the power button flashing until the water reaches the necessary temperature. At that point, you can insert a K-Cup into the pod holder (which has a small probe to poke a hole in the bottom of the K-Cup) or put coffee grounds into the filter, then press the desired amount button.

How It Compares To a Keurig

The Ambiano is a lot cheaper than even a cheap Keurig, so you sort of expect that it’s not going to perform quite like a Keurig. Still, it’s good to know exactly what the limitations are. And there are some.

One is your options for drink sizes: 10 ounces or 15 ounces. A Keurig, by contrast, usually offers smaller amounts, so if you’re looking for a small mug of coffee, you’ll have to manually stop the Ambiano, which is a hassle.

Another consideration is speed. The 10-ounce cup takes about 2 minutes to make, while the 15-ounce cup takes about 3 minutes. From our conversations with Keurig owners, this is longer than the 1-2 minutes the Keurig takes, not including the water-heating time on the front end with the Ambiano. The Aldi machine is still faster than a coffee pot, but it’s not as fast as your typical Keurig.

A third limitation is the reservoir. While it has some positives (more on this in a second), it is not detachable, so you have to pour water into the whole unit rather than pulling it out and putting it under the sink.

Ambiano Single Serve Coffee Maker

The (fully attached) reservoir. (Click to enlarge.)

A fourth consideration — and this is minor — is that the base was a bit finicky to get on quite right. Once we did it, it was fine, but you have to be careful that you’ve got it set correctly.

Ambiano Single Serve Coffee Maker

The base in the upper position. (Click to enlarge.)

Ambiano Single Serve Coffee Maker

The base in the lower position. (Click to enlarge.)

All that said, the Aldi machine does compare favorably to the Keurig in a couple of ways. For one thing, it runs about as quiet as Keurigs we’ve seen, which is nice. Another is the way K-Cups go in: it’s not exactly the same as a Keurig, but it works well enough. And the fact that it runs on tap water is also a plus, with instructions in the manual on how to decalcify the device if you need to. Yet another positive is how it’s large enough for most travel mugs.

Most importantly, the Ambiano produces a good cup of coffee. It’s plenty hot — a bit hotter than our tester’s drip maker — and the coffee is as strong as you would expect it to be. You can make a decent cup using any K-Cup, but but you can also make an very good cup using the filter and your own coffee grounds.

One more note: it doesn’t just make coffee. You can make, say, tea using a tea K-Cup, but you can also serve up a nice single-serve cup of tea by pouring two tea bags — you’ll need two because of the way it steeps — into the filter.

The Verdict:

It’s not a Keurig, but the Ambiano Single Serve Coffee Maker is a decent imitation of one, especially for the $20 price tag. It’s not as fast as a Keurig and it does lack some of the bells and whistles, but if you’re looking for a device that can turn a K-Cup into a hot cup in a reasonably fast period of time, this is an interesting option. The three-year warranty is a nice bonus.

Also, our reviewer thought the Aldi K-Cups themselves were solid, too … but that’s a story for another day.


About Joshua

Joshua writes about a variety of topics, including video games, parenting, and, of course, Aldi. He's also a science fiction novelist. You can learn more about him at www.joshuaajohnston.com.

33 Comments

  1. having difficulty trying to remove brew basket, don’t want to break tabs…….help? ambiano model cm-202

  2. Most of the negative reviews of non-Keurig wannabe single-serve coffee makers (and even some cheaper Keurigs) say that the machine died/began leaking/otherwise malfunctioned/etc within a few months or even weeks. I would love to hear some updates about how well your Ambiano is performing a couple of months from now. I love Aldi but I don’t want to buy something that will go into the trash in six months.

    • Our tester is curious about this, too. We’ll be keeping you posted … and I have a feeling that if there are mass failures, we’ll probably see more comments pop up here, too. The three year warranty does add a little peace of mind.

  3. I received mine as a gift-I have no receipt-the pod holder cup is missing. the box was unopened. can I order the cup

    • Double check to make sure it wasn’t nestled in with the brew basket and filter. In the absence of that, call the number on the box.

      • I called the number on the box because my machine was missing the pod holder cup and so far no one has returned my call I’ll call them once more and then I’ll see if I can return it without the receipt because it was a gift .

      • Well, I finally heard back from the company and it seems my machine was missing part #9 the k-cup holder. It was not in the unopened package. Spoke to a very nice representative named Leslie who helped me determine this. They are sending me a replacement part # 9. So if you have a problem and need help call the # on the box 1 888 367-7373. I will let you know how it works out after I receive the part.

  4. Thank you for a timely post! I saw the in the Aldi ad and immediately wondered how good it would be. I’ll be buying one because of your review.

  5. I bought one of these yesterday and absolutely love it. So much that I put away our regular coffee maker. I would make a pot and most of the time 3/4 of the pot would go to waste. This is perfect and produces great cups of coffee. I use Folger’s ground coffee in the basket because I’m not paying $15 to $34 for K-cups. I asked the Aldi cashier if any have been returned and she stated no. I shop there all the time so they pretty much know who I am, so I take what they say as truth. Totally worth the $19.99 price tag.

  6. How do you use k cup I put in moth ways and nothing happens

    • I received my Ambiano brand new unopened box and the cup to hold the coffee pods is not in there I called the number on the box and they have not return my call so possibly you’re missing the k cup holder like mine is. Waste of $. Mine was a gift I don’t have the receipt and aldis won’t take it back

    • Kim, there should be a pod holder that has a silver metal spike in it. If you push the K-Cup down into the pod the spike should puncture it.

  7. Really like Aldi so when I saw the single serve coffee maker for $19.99, I decided to give it a try. Took a bit of time to figure out the setup but got a good first cup of piping hot coffee. Checking the website, I was pleased to find your review. Thank you. Why does the power light keep blinking when it’s not being used? Pushing the power light just starts all the lights blinking.

  8. I bought one last weekend, and it makes a nice hot cup of coffee, but after a couple uses it started putting out too much water. Overflowing my cups. I used a measuring cup and it is putting out 13 oz. for the 10 oz. button and overflowing my 2 cup measuring cup on the 15 oz. button. I took it back and exchanged it for another one. which is doing the same thing. Is there a way to adjust the amount of water it puts out?

  9. I put a travel mug A tall one instead of a regular coffee mug and let her rip and then I just pour from the travel mug into the regular mug so that’s one way to avoid Your problem

  10. Thanks for your review. In my opinion I think the Ambiano is more comparable to a non Keurig machine. More like a stripped down Mr Coffee or Hamilton Beach or even an off brand machine. The selling point to me is the reservoir. Usually for a machine like this you don’t get the reservoir; it will only hold enough to make one cup. The major drawback of this machine to me is that it sputters a lot of water and coffee out while brewing. I’m not sure I’m keeping it yet!

  11. I bought one the other day,and been using it for a few days it seems to work well as of now. Am very happy with it. And the price piont was what made me try it. So far so good.

  12. Has anyone had good success with your own grounds in the reusable filter cup? I have tried twice, but both times it sprays the grounds towards the back and dumps grounds into the coffee cup. It was a mess to clean up both times. It seems like there should be a top or lid on the reusable filter to keep the high pressure of the hot water from splashing the grounds back up and out. Is there another step in the brewing process to prevent this from happening?

    • I use my own coffee and have had no issues. I do know the filter is big,so i use about half the filter to make coffe and works fine. Hope this helps you.

    • I have had my ambiano for a little over 6 months. Ii was thrilled with the way it worked, was mostly using pods in it, but also used grounds and filter. All of a sudden over the last month it’s been dumping grounds. I found especially when I use Starbucks k-cups the foil comes loose on 1 edge, and makes a mess. I’m also finding that using more than 2 tablespoons of ground coffee in the filter means grounds end up in the cup. I’m not happy with the mess I’m having to clean up almost every time I make coffee now.

  13. Do they sell replacement k cup attachment?, seemed to have lost it.

  14. You may not have lost the k cup holder /because that is part nine and my brand new Ambuano in a sealed box did not have the K cup holder in it /i called the number on the box I was told they would send me the part that was 10 days ago I’m still waiting call the number on the box tell them it’s missing and hope for the best

  15. Can you buy a n ambiano single serve kcup coffee maker in mi. Yet. I was in fla. and they were on sale , wish I would have picked one up

  16. Love it! After my 3rd Keurig quit, I brought out the old percolator. Makes good coffee but a hassle to clean. Then I saw the $20 Ambiano at Aldi’s. I asked the cashier how many had been returned and she said none. So I bought one. Works great! Much more compact than the Keurig! Pods work perfectly. Tried loose grounds this morning and works great. I put 4 Tbl spoons of coffee in the filter basket and was able to get two 10 oz cups out of it. (Actually 3 cups, but the third cup was a little weak.) Not as fast as a Keurig, but hey, use that time to top off the reservoir and you’ll not even notice!

    • you’re one of the lucky ones. mine was missing the pod cup holder, I called the company-supposed to send me one-still waiting. using the ground coffee filter function. works ok.

  17. Bought one of these for my wife’s classroom. Lasted all of two days before someone threw out the plastic piece that the K-cups go into, apparently not realizing it’s part of the machine. It requires some effort to remove the spent k-cup from the plastic holder. The manufacturer (W-K) wasn’t responsive to email inquiries to order the replacement part, so I bought another machine and returned the one with the missing piece.

    Bought another for my office while I was there. That machine appears to have had a defective thermostat. When set up according to the instructions, it consistently filled the K-cup with boiling water, causing the plastic cups to unseat from the needle drain, whereupon the K-cup would flood with boiling hot water and burst the lid open, shooting hot coffee grounds out the front of the machine.

    We have an actual Keurig at home, which still works flawlessly after several years, and is far more common nvenient to use. I’d seen enough, and returned it for a refund.

  18. OMG!!! I bought this for my mom who needs something very simple. he fell in love with this coffee maker and so did I. ALDI’s has the best prices on food and products. I am mad I didn’t purchase one for myself. This is a must buy for your home or office. I give it a 10!!!

  19. 10 oz is way too much for a lone senior, who is limited to a 7 oz cup at breakfast. Does anybody know what control the dosage? Is there any way to modify whatever (pot, resistance,etc), for an electronics savvy engineer? Warranty voided,of course!
    That is besides filling the tank every day with 7 oz water, which is below the minimum specified.

  20. Can you tell me where I can find replacement parts?? The part where the coffee pod in accidentally got thrown out. HELP

  21. What kind of pods do I have to use on the manchine? I bought the Keurig coffee pods but it won’t work on them !

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