Cuisinart single serve coffee maker problems and troubleshooting tips

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While generally a nice little machine that gives you a decent cup of coffee quickly, your Cuisinart single serve coffee maker may malfunction from time to time (no coffee maker is faultless anyway).

This guide explains the most common Cuisinart single serve coffee maker problems and how you should troubleshoot each issue:

Let’s dive in:

Cuisinart single serve coffee maker problems and troubleshooting tips

Brewer does not have power

  • Plug brewer into an independent outlet.
  • Make sure the brewer is securely plugged in.
  • Plug into a different outlet.
  • Reset your home’s circuit breaker.
  • Confirm the power has been turned on and the On/Off and brew buttons illuminated

Cuisinart single serve coffee maker won’t brew

  • Turn off and un-plug the brewer for approximately 30 seconds (or more.) When you plug it back in, ensure you have turned its power back on.
  • If the “add water” indicator is illuminated, check to make sure the water reservoir is properly filled. If not, add at least 11 oz. of water.
  • Make sure the brew head is fully closed.
  • The piercing needle and/or exit needle may be clogged because of coffee grounds- you should clean it with a paper clip (or a similar tool).

How to clean exit needle:

  1. Remove the capsule holder.
  2. Remove the funnel (from capsule holder)
  3. Next, insert your paper clip into the exit needle and loosen the clog while pushing it out.

How to clean the Piercing Needle

The piercing needle-located inside the brewing chamber- can likewise be cleaned by inserting paper clip to help loosen the clog so you can push it out.


Coffee tastes bad all of a sudden

If your coffee starts to taste like chlorine (or has a burnt or plastic taste), it may be due to water quality. Try to use filtered or bottled water and see if the bad taste will disappear.

The other option is replacing your Cuisinart Charcoal Water Filter.

Tip: To enjoy the best taste, stick to the best ingredients- fresh, high-quality beans/ground coffee and single serve capsules of only the highest quality.

Cuisinart single serve coffee maker brews half cup

If it has begun to brew a partial cup, try the following remedies:

  • Turn the brewer off and then unplug it for 30 seconds (or more). You then plug it back in and proceed to turn its power back on.
  • Clean the piercing needle (and/or the exit needle) as described previously.
  • Clean its brewing chamber.
  • De-scale the brewer – buildup of scale or calcium deposits could be hindering your brewer’s performance

How to descale Cuisinart single serve coffee maker


Before de-scaling, be sure to remove the unit’s charcoal water filter.


Cuisinart single serve coffee maker cleaning Step-by-step

First Vinegar Rinse

  1. Fill the water reservoir with 26 oz. of water and 13 oz. of the white vinegar.
  2. Place your ceramic mug/container onto the drip tray.
  3. Press and hold the Power and 6oz. buttons (for 2 seconds) to trigger the de-scale function.
  4. Discard contents of the mug into a sink.
  5. Repeat until the ADD WATER light lights up/comes on. Remember that all the LED lights will come on when you have completed de-scaling.
  6. Discard remaining diluted vinegar (if any) into sink.

Fresh Water Rinse

Repeat Step 1 above three times but using fresh water instead of vinegar. This cleans the brewer’s plumbing and removes any remaining vinegar taste.

That’s all! Your brewer is now primed for normal use.

Tip: For optimal brewer performance, de-scale it every 3-6 months. Also, de-scale it if you notice all the lights flashing in sequence when you turn it on- calcium deposits can accumulate faster.

Cuisinart single serve coffee maker flashing lights

As mentioned, if all the lights are flashing (in sequence) after turning on unit, you should de-scale the brewer.

Cuisinart single serve coffee maker suddenly making weak coffee

If your coffee suddenly begins to make watery or coffee that is not strong enough, try these corrective steps:

  • Brew a smaller size cup OR
  • Try an extra-bold capsule- It may improve the coffee quality because of the 30% extra ground coffee (in the portion pack).

Cuisinart single serve coffee maker problems and troubleshooting tips for issues specific to particular single serve models (Cuisinart SS-10, Cuisinart SS-15, and more)


Cuisinart SS 10 problems

Cuisinart SS 10 wont turn on

If your cuisinart single serve coffee maker SS-10 wont turn on, it could be because it doesn’t have power even though it is plugged in.

What to do:

  • Plug the coffeemaker into a new independent outlet (or at least a different outlet).
  • Make sure it has been securely plugged in.
  • Reset the circuit breaker.
  • Confirm that power has been actually turned on and that the LCD is illuminating.


Cuisinart SS-10 add water error (but reservoir is, in fact, full)

This typically occurs when the reservoir is not properly fitted in place on your unit.

The solution is simple: Check if the reservoir is correctly in place and adjust it as necessary to make sure it’s positioned the right way.

Quick Note: Just an FYI, the “add water” error can be caused by the small float magnet in the tank that gets water logged and won’t rise up when the water is added and activate the switch on the machine. The solution is typically to glue it in the up position and that should solve the problem.


Cuisinart SS-10 open head error

If It’s saying “OPEN HEAD” even when you have a k-cup inside there, try to do a factory re-set- simply  unplug it for one-two hours then try to see if it can now be programmed without problems.


Cuisinart SS 15 single serve problems

Cuisinart SS 15 blinking lights / Cuisinart SS-15 lights flashing

Descaling is probably needed. Follow the previous steps to descale the unit.

Cuisinart SS 15 series leaking water from bottom / Cuisinart SS 15 leaking water from bottom

If you notice your cuisinart SS 15 single serve leaking from the bottom, it may mean that the unit’s silicone rubber waterhose(s) has become faulty over time (the hoses may even be cracked).

If this is the case, a replacement is usually needed.

For Cuisinart SS-15 leaking water from bottom issue, try the following repair procedure:

Tools needed:

Torx #10 security screwdriver

Other Requirements:

Replacement hose (you will cut to fit).  You can buy this– ensure it’s the same opaque red, high-temperature silicone rubber hosing semi-soft 3/8″ ID, 5/8″ OD used in the coffeemaker before ordering.

You can purchase about one foot of the rubber tubing.

Step-by-step hose replacement process:

  • Unplug the SS 15 coffee maker then turn it up-side down.
  • Remove the unit’s base plate (use the Torx #10 security screwdriver to remove the torx screws fastening the base plate).
  • Once the base plate is off, you’ll notice the red rubber hoses attaching to aluminum tubes (they are normally attached using two metal spring clamps). To remove the clamps, press the edges together (with your fingers).
  • With the clamps removed, the hose detaches effortlessly from metal tubing (your hose’s other end seats into the plastic nipple located at the base of its water tank).
  • Before tossing the hose out, remove the small backflow protection device (it’s a tiny plastic cage having an “X” design) that comes inserted into the hoses- you can get it out by putting your screwdriver through one end then pushing it out via the other end.

Word of caution: Be careful with the little ball – it can easily bounce off and get away.

  • Now cut your new hose to length and proceed to insert the small backflow protector right into the hose (at the appropriate position, as it was in your old tube).
  • Pinch the spring clamps back into position the correct way to fasten the hose onto the metal tubing then push the hose’s other end onto the nipple on the water tank.

That’s all! Bye, bye, leaks!


Cuisinart SS 15 clean light stays on

If the CLEAN light is still illuminating after one cleaning cycle, repeat the cleaning process once more with a fresh mixture of water and vinegar (follow the instructions in your Cuisinart SS 15 manual).

If no luck, try to unplug the coffee maker for about 20 minutes (or a bit longer).

You should then plug it back in after 20 minutes- the self clean light may now have gone off.


Cuisinart SS 15 single serve not working

The most common cause of this problem is the machine failing to receive power because of damaged power cord.

The problem can also be a result of some loose connection especially where the chord connects to the coffee maker.



How to clean cuisinart 12 cup coffee maker & single serve brewer


Final thoughts

A great place to begin your troubleshooting is your owner’s manual.

There’s a summarized troubleshooting section where you can find potential solutions for the most common cuisinart single serve coffee maker problems.

Needless to say, you may need to contact the company’s Consumer Service – call 1-800-726-0190 – if none of the remedies outlined here solves your issue.


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20 thoughts on “Cuisinart single serve coffee maker problems and troubleshooting tips”

  1. My Cuisinart SS-10 displays DESCALE and OPEN HEAD continuously, but does not display the Cup Size graphic. It will not start, or run at all. The resevoir is full and the cup holder is in place. What not?

    • Open the lid and use a hair dryer on high on the switch for a minute. Repeat several time after waiting a few minutes to ensure the plastic has cooled down. The switch is located in the latch notch (looks like a “c” to the right of the k cup holder).

  2. Cuisinart SS-10, grounds in coffee cup. I do not use K-Cups but use “Reusable Coffee Pods” Determined gasket/seal or whatever it may be called missing (apparently when cleaning came off). Called company and had no replacement part or solution other than take to small appliance repair. Evaluated issue and searched for solution and found: 3/8 Beveled Washer (5/8″O.D.) works well and seals the top of the reusable POD. Repaired for small fractions of taking to appliance repair.

  3. The puncture needle has either broken or disappeared, leaving the small funnel to make the hole for brewing – what a mess. No idea what happened to it.

  4. Can I just say that for $199.00 you shouldn’t have to troubleshoot the coffee maker! I’m so ready to just throw my out the door it’s not even funny. Every time I make a single cup, the grounds go all over the place and it’s not easy to clean them up inside the coffee maker. It shouldn’t be doing this and unfortunately, Best Buy can’t help me out – I need to contact Cuisinart directly. I doubt very much that they will replace it and don’t really know that I want another one!

    • I had that problem also, found out I had reinstalled the k-cup holder backwards. The arrow should point to the back of the reservoir.

    • Mine is doing the same thing. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I clean it and push a paper clip in the upper and lower puncture needles. Also I’m Careful to have the arrow pointing to the back and firmly push the pod in place before closing the lid. Very frustrating !

      • It isn’t the coffeemaker. It is the pods. I have had the same problem but only with specific brands. One was a Safeway Signature decaf “k-cup” and the other was Angelino’s (?) “k-cup” that was a purchase on-line. The Costco k-cups have never given me a problem with overflow nor many other brands like Starbucks, Peets, any Keurig brand. Think it has to do with the grind and the fill of the cups not to spec.

  5. Just an FYI, the “add water” error can be caused by the small float magnet in the tank that gets water logged and won’t rise up when the water is added and activate the switch on the machine. My solution was to glue it in the up position and that solved the problem.

  6. My single serve side of my Cuisinart ss-15 does not work. The brew side of the machine does light up. I have unplugged and plugged the machine and still no lights around the cup size.

  7. In brewing the 1 cup at a time, the water level does adequately fill the coffee cup with coffee . Less than the ounces for size of coffee cup

    • I just had same issue start, can’t find a video I saw but there is a cross hatch at bottom of reservoir. When you pull out the reservoir you will see it at unit base, I turned it clockwise and counter clockwise several times and now the unit seems to be dispensing right amount of coffee.

  8. Cuisinart series 20. Did all the cleaning. Vinegar, needles etc. Clear water still comes out bottom of k-cup part and goes everywhere. What is causing this overflow? Cracked line maybe?

  9. My SS-15P1 gurgles & sputters when you press the start button & then shuts off. If I could guess? It sounds like something is clogged? It’s only a year old. 2nd one that broke at the 1-yr mark. Otherwise I like coffee maker but replacing 2nd one after just a year might make me look at another brand for durability.


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