The coffee community grows by the day, and so does appreciation for good coffee. In recent years, it’s been clear that more and more coffee lovers have begun to appreciate freshly ground coffee, which has been shown to taste better than pre-ground coffee.
Around the 1990s, companies started manufacturing home grinders, which let people grind coffee right in their homes.
But more recently, we’ve been seeing a revolution in the way we think about grinding coffee: why own a separate machine, when your coffee maker can actually grind coffee? Yes, coffee makers with incorporated grinders are now a reality and they are quickly becoming one of the most valued types of coffee machines out there for their ability to make ultra-fresh coffee.
So in this article, we’re going to be reviewing ten of the best grind and brew coffee makers. We’ll also have a guide on how to choose the one that’s best for you along with some other tips.
- Top Choices
- The 10 Best Grind and Brew Coffee Makers
- How to Choose the Best Grind and Brew Coffee Maker
- Semi Automatic VS Super Automatic
- Pro and Cons of a Grind and Brew Coffee Maker
Best for single-serve and design
Tchibo Automatic Coffee Machine
Best for lattes and other milk beverages
Best for drip coffee
Breville Grind Control Coffee Maker
The 10 Best Grind and Brew Coffee Makers
Breville Barista Express
Breville is always a good choice – I am a big fan of them for their PID feature, which digitally controls the water of the temperature alongside different points of the machine to ensure that, when it comes into contact with the grounds, it is at the exact ideal temperature. Not one degree more nor less.
All in all, the Barista Express is a fantastic semi-automatic espresso maker. Its integrated grinder is quite fast and promises to have your coffee ready in under one minute. The grinder itself is very precise and is rated among the best ones by customer reviews, which is important to know.
The best feature is undoubtedly its steam wand, the highest quality you can get. This wand is incredibly powerful and lets you achieve microfoam with very little effort. You can make luscious, amazing steamed milk and foam to take your drinks to the next level.
De’Longhi La Specialista
A delightful mix between semi and super-automatic, the La Specialista takes care of tamping with its Smart Tamping Station, which will forever erase all worries of getting the tamping right: thanks to this feature, you will get it perfect. Every time.
A great thing about the La Specialista is that it gets going right away. From the moment you turn it on, it can start grinding coffee on the spot. And since coffee lovers are impatient creatures, this is a very important feature for us. The sooner we drink our coffee, the less chance of going crazy in the morning.
La Specialista, which I’ve used before, is the coffee maker that achieves one of the most mind-blowingly perfect textures for its milk. Making lattes and particularly flat whites is an absolute joy thanks to its latte system. If you are a latte lover, you just can’t miss it.
Breville BDC650BSS Grind Control Coffee Maker
Breville is one of my favorite brands, but it isn’t the one I go to when I’m looking for a drip coffee machine like this one. But the Grind Control is obviously special, as it has an incorporated grinder.
My first impression was that it looks like an obvious Breville. The design, the exterior; everything points out to Breville as the culprit. Upon closer inspection, I realized that this is no ordinary drip coffee maker, but a complex, sophisticated coffee maker that promises above-average coffee.
Attaching a grinder to drip coffee machines was a great idea, but it’s obviously not anything new by now. This grinder, though, can be adjusted and has more settings than other coffee makers of this kind, making it immediately better.
As for the rest – it really is more or less what you’d expect for a coffee maker like this in this price range. High quality, but nothing too flashy. It’s the grinder that really makes the difference and helps this machine stand out from all the others like it.
Atomi Smart Coffee Maker
Smart is coming to your coffee: you can now start grinding and brewing from your smartphone. And it’s not a Bluetooth-enabled app (which, frankly, aren’t any good) but the coffee machine is actually connected to the WiFi. So as long as you have internet, you can control your coffee maker from wherever.
Atomi isn’t really a brand that has a lot of ground in the US, but hopefully, that’ll change with this coffee maker. It’s a really good coffee maker that can easily compete in terms of quality with big brands like De’Longhi.
The key aspect here is that it’s smart. Having an app for your coffee maker is just a whole different experience. And although the app itself isn’t the best one I’ve seen (Nespresso did it better), it’s also not by far the worst one. It’s easy to use, it’s well designed and quite pretty.
And because it’s smart and connected to your phone you can activate using your voice via Alexa or other types of voice-activated assistants. It’s a type of immersion that I’ve never seen before, and I am completely in love with it.
Cuisinart always makes its way into my lists because Cuisinart coffee makers are… wholesome. There’s no other word for it.
Cuisinart delivers an okay quality while being incredibly affordable. Not to mention, the materials of the machine are top grade and Cuisinart coffee makers (and kitchen appliances in general) are some of the most durable and trustworthy out there.
For all its affordability, this coffee maker has a big downside: it’s got a blade grinder. Blade grinders are okay but they’re the opposite of good quality. So, while it will be fresh, don’t expect consistency or the same quality as a burr grinder – it just can’t get there.
Achieving a unique look is vastly important when it comes to coffee makers. We want something that has personality, something unique. A buy that we are proud of.
This Krups coffee maker does exactly that: it creates a unique look that, unlike with many others, you don’t feel like you’ve already seen it a thousand times. It’s an elegant combination of colors that really makes it stand out and become almost the centerpiece of your kitchen.
As for the coffee itself, the Krups delivers above-average coffee. For drip coffee lovers, I would go as far as to say that this coffee maker is one of the most unique and best on the market right now – it has a borderline revolutionary design and the coffee quality is top-notch.
It comes with a handful of useful tools (like a cleaning brush and a coffee scoop) and almost all the parts in contact with coffee can be disassembled and washed in the dishwasher. Less work, more coffee!
One of the best super-automatic machines out there, and I’ll tell you why: many of these sorts of machines are, for one reason or another, really big. Big machines are inconvenient in all sorts of ways: they are harder to clean, they take up a lot more space, and they are really heavy – making it very hard to transport them from one place to another.
But the ECAM? Not at all. It is compact, small, and quite sophisticated. It even manages to have a milk system -the LatteCream System- which goes right next to the coffee spout, a feature that I’ve seen many bigger machines lack. So, right from the start, this coffee maker checks all the right boxes for me.
The LatteCrema System is one of the best out there. The milk is kept in a separate container and does not come into contact with any parts of the ECAM. That means no mess, nothing to clean after. And if you’ve had similar machines, you know that milk can go rancid really quickly and it demands constant cleaning.
Phillips 3200 Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
Similarly to the ECAM, this Phillips super-automatic coffee maker is also one of my all-time favorites. It’s rather small and does everything with relative ease.
The touch screen makes things incredibly simple. It’s a very high-quality touch screen that doesn’t feel old or outdated like others I’ve seen. It offers four selections, each accompanied by an image: espresso, lungo, Americano, and hot water.
The strongest feature here has got to be Phillips’ AquaClean system, which automatically filters water and gets rid of pesky minerals that might otherwise cause buildups and, most importantly, a noticeable decrease in your coffee’s quality. So not only does it save you the trouble of having to descale your machine every couple of months: it allows you to brew coffee as good as the first time, the whole time.
It comes with different strength settings optimized for aroma, which is a step further than other brands go and makes for very aromatic coffee.
Capresso 488.05 Team Pro Plus
Capresso has been on my radar for a long time now. They’ve always been a strong competition, but rarely are anyone’s first choice. With this coffee maker, though, that changes.
They’ve delivered a surprisingly high-quality drip coffee maker with a very powerful grinder (that is also removable to some extent!) that really enhances the quality of your coffee to a point where it seriously competes with some of the best similar machines on the market – even significantly pricier ones.
Plus, it offers unheard-of settings, like a special oily bean setting that allows you to enjoy the full flavor of oily beans – not to mention it avoids a lot of the mess that comes with these types of beans.
Tchibo Automatic Coffee Machine
Coming across the Tchibo has been a real eye-opener for me. I’m usually the type of coffee lover that sticks to what he knows – the brands that I know. And I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem: we tend to trust what we know over things that are unfamiliar to us.
I decided to give the Tchibo a shot after being hooked by its unique look. And well, I was delighted by how good of a machine the Tchibo is.
It has an intuitive LED panel which you operate via touchscreen, too, and it’s one of the most fun to use I’ve seen in a while. It feels smooth, elegant, almost futuristic, despite not being full touchscreen like others. The combination runs smoother and feels much more pleasing.
It is a single-serve machine, which is uncommon, as not many such machines have an integrated grinder. The grinder is fast, powerful. Out of all machines on the list, the Tchibo is the fastest one by far: you have your coffee ready to drink in a matter of seconds.
How to Choose the Best Grind and Brew Coffee Maker
Espresso or Drip
The obvious consideration here is whether you’re an espresso lover or you’re more a fan of black coffee. Espresso has its advantages -you can make other drinks, like lattes and cappuccinos, with it- and so does black coffee. But beyond that, there’s also a question of size and price.
Drip coffee machines require much less machinery, and are therefore simpler, smaller, cheaper machines. It seems to me as a massive upgrade to be able to grind the coffee using a drip machine, which is usually considered to be a lower class than espresso machines. Yet, we see a lot of drip machines with high-spec grinders which seriously enhance the taste of your coffee.
In terms of taste, there is little we can do with regular drip machines. But a grinder, with its many grind settings -not to mention the freshness- can do wonders for black coffee. I promise you, you’ll taste the difference immediately. And you’ll never go back!
Espresso machines definitely benefit from a grinder, too. Some would say it’s almost a shame to have a good espresso machine but be lacking a good grinder. Well, now you can have both in one. Never make a bad cup of espresso again.
In all of these machines, you’ll find a burr grinder, which is the proper grinder for coffee. You might see blade grinders advertised sometimes for grinding coffee, but they are not the type of grinder you should use. Blade grinders are inconsistent and downright bad for grinding coffee.
Despite being a convenient option, I highly advise against using blade grinders for coffee. They are unreliable and produce a very uneven grind.
The second most important thing to take into account is the number of steps your grinder has. The minimum acceptable would be 6, which is about as low as grinders can go. A more agreeable number of steps would be either 12 or 15 – the more settings you have, the more you can play around with the flavor and strength of your coffee.
A very important aspect of a coffee machine. In many coffee machines, strength control will mean a longer steeping time and similar steps to increase coffee extraction and thus produce a much stronger coffee. In grind-and-brew machines, however, this will mean also varying the grind size to achieve different levels of extraction.
While in some others a strength setting isn’t as important, grind-and-brew coffee machines should always have this type of setting. Ideally, more than one such type of setting. Around three different strength settings would be the perfect scenario.
Even if your machine doesn’t have an explicit strength feature, do remember that you can play around with the strength of your coffee by changing the settings on your grinder. So don’t dismay and get to grinding!
Some machines may or may not have displays. There are, in general terms, two types of display: digital and touch. Digital displays are rather outdated and do very little. Displays are usually there to be a visual aid, but these outdated, small displays can at times obscure more than they enlighten. Not all of them are bad, mind you; some displays are elegantly done and can be a great aid. But, in general, it tends to be the case that they’re not very helpful at all.
LED displays are a little better and have a certain aesthetic that really fits the whole thing. Then there are touch screens, which are more and more present in coffee machines and are without a doubt one of the best ways to go. They have high resolution, can display beautiful images, and are very easy to use. If possible, go for one of these – but keep in mind that machines with touch screens are usually quite expensive.
If you’re going for a drip machine, then you’re going to want to pay really close attention to the type of carafe that comes with the coffee maker. You’ve got to think about a coffee maker’s carafe not as a separate entity, not as an extra, but a key part of the whole thing: a good carafe can easily make a good experience as well as ruin it.
What makes a good carafe? The materials. If they’re glass, you want them to be double-walled, which means they are more insulated and can keep your coffee hot for longer. Not to mention, they are much sturdier. If you can’t find them double-walled, then go for a borosilicate glass type, which is the same material used for the Chemex: very sturdy, very durable.
If you don’t see any of those words in the description of a glass carafe, chances are it’s a low-quality one. It will let your coffee go cold in a matter of a few minutes, it can overheat and burn your coffee if you’re not careful and, worst of all, it will break easily. They’re simply not worth it.
Then we’ve got stainless steel carafes. These are probably the best ones out there: they are completely insulated and work much like a thermos, keeping your coffee piping hot for hours on end. And, because they’re steel, they are super durable and are also made largely of recycled material. Do beware, however, some stainless steel carafes aren’t double-walled and can be a little lower in quality. But as a general rule, stainless steel carafes are much better in every aspect.
Bean Hopper Volume
The bean hopper is the whole bean container part of the grinder. It determines how many beans your grinder can hold at one time, as well as how much coffee you can grind in one go. Usually, and particularly in the case of grind-and-brew machines, bean hopper size means very little.
With these machines, you’re better off using the exact amount of beans you need for each coffee. In virtually every case, filling the hopper up to the brim will allow you to make coffee all day without worrying about running out.
Do try not to overdo it so that beans don’t stay in the hopper overnight or, even worse, over the course of several days. This severely impacts the quality of your coffee.
Programmability is a vague term thrown around a lot by sellers. It englobes things that we’ve already discussed, like strength and grinder settings. But programmability also means things like being able to program the machine to turn on at a certain time – many coffee makers allow you to program them to start brewing in the morning before you even wake up, so you can wake up to freshly brewed coffee.
That’s one thing. There are also other ways to program your machine. Some machines, for example, let you program certain coffee options so that they have more or less coffee. Customize them, in other words. This is a big plus for coffee lovers – we’re all about customized coffee.
So, in short, look for as much programmability as possible. Coffee makers are evolving rapidly and the one area that seems to be rapid progress is this one. We will soon be able to program all coffee makers from the comfort of our smartphones.
Size matters. Take into account your situation: do you live alone? If so, a bigger machine that has a 2L water tank is way, way too much for you. You’ll never use it the way it was intended to – and a water tank that’s never empty can also be a problem.
Most of all, it’s about space. Coffee lovers have to be very mindful of counter space. We have many different types of brewers, not just coffee machines. If you live alone, chances are you have a small kitchen. A big machine can easily take up most of your limited counter space.
On the other hand, if you live in a household with three or more people, don’t even think about getting a smaller machine just because it’s cheaper. You’ll more than definitely regret it: no matter how advanced machines can look, a small water tank means that after three or four cups, there’s a big wait time before you can get brewing again. Gives morning traffic a whole new meaning.
Semi Automatic VS Super Automatic
Before getting into which one is better, let’s define these two terms.
Semi-automatics are essentially the common ones. The ones most people perceive as “coffee machines”. These do a lot of things for you, but because they’re still “semi”, you need to put in some of the work. This work would be grinding the beans, pouring the ground coffee in the portafilter, tamping the grounds, then placing the portafilter in the spout. And afterward, detaching and cleaning the portafilter.
It’s a lot of work, and that’s not even talking about the steam wand which requires more care and cleaning with each use.
Super-automatic coffee makers, however, remove all of these steps. There’s no need to have a portafilter because the machine calculates the exact dose, pours it, and tamps it all by itself. It cleans itself and it can even froth milk to perfection without you lifting a single finger – that is the real definition of super-automatic.
Of course, just because a machine is super automatic doesn’t mean it’s instantly better. There’s still a lot of room for experimentation that you can’t get, and that’s why semi-automatic machines are still the favorite machines for coffee shops, baristas, and so on.
But look out! Super-automatic machines are getting better every single day, and more often I see these machines with very handy programmability settings that allow you to control dose, temperature, and other interesting settings like those. Maybe in the near future, semi-automatic will become a relic, just like analog machines once did.
Although, since we’re on the topic, analog espresso makers have seen somewhat of a resurgence lately. A good example would be the Aeropress or the Flair espresso maker, which are basically analog espresso makers that don’t rely on electricity.
Pro and Cons of a Grind and Brew Coffee Maker
- Fresher coffee
- No mess that comes with grinding coffee eg. loose coffee grounds
- Cheaper to buy whole bean coffee than pre-ground!
- More options to choose from
- They make a lot of noise (because of the grinder)
- They are quite expensive
- Takes a little longer to brew coffee
- Harder to clean
How to Clean the Coffee Maker
Depending on the coffee maker you own, your cleaning routine will be different, which is why you really have to take a little time to at least read the part of the manual which explains which parts of your coffee maker to clean and how to clean them.
Regardless, buying a coffee maker means you should also buy some cleaning equipment. Descaling tablets are an absolute must and cost no more than ten dollars per bottle, which will last a long time.
Aside from that, you need two types of brushes: a brush with hard bristles, which are invaluable to get rid of all the muck that forms on the outer parts of the machine. Every once in a while, to protect the integrity of your coffee’s flavor, you need to get in there and scrub.
Second: a soft bristle brush. Soft bristles allow you to get to places you otherwise couldn’t and get particles out of small places. This is particularly helpful for machines with grinders, as you probably will find that small pieces of coffee beans get stuck here and there. And coffee, over time, goes rancid.
The market is full of great machines, all of them very visually appealing and all of them with a long list of what looks, at first sight, incredible features. It can be a little dizzying at first – especially if you aren’t very knowledgeable on the subject.
This article, however, provided you with the fundamental knowledge about coffee makers that are going to be your base for buying not just a grind-and-brew coffee maker, but all sorts of different coffee equipment.
The key lesson here is to buy a machine that fits you and your lifestyle. It’s not about the coffee maker you want, it’s about the one that you need based on your lifestyle and tastes.
With that in mind, good luck. We don’t always make a perfect choice, but even then the most important thing is to learn as much as we can about our coffee maker so we can use it the best way possible and get the best coffee out of it.
Learn more about the types of coffee that you can make at home!
Marcelo is a filmmaker and passionate barista on the side. He spends his free time cooking up new and exciting recipes – and drinking too much coffee in the process.