If you’re becoming more and more interested in making the best coffee at home, you might have run into a common issue. Your kitchen is overflowing with equipment. That’s understandable since making coffee the right way is an involved process. From a manual or electric grinder to blitz your beans to a scale to weigh them on, from a timer to a gooseneck kettle, the list goes on. Increasingly, manufacturers are plugging this gap by producing multipurpose coffee equipment.
We looked recently at coffee makers with built-in grinders and today we’ll be scoping out dual-brew coffee makers. What are these dual-brew systems, then? Also known as two-way coffee makers, you’ll typically get a choice of two brewing methods although some machines offer even more.
Our Top Picks for Dual Brew Coffee Makers
|Products & Features||Image & Price|
Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Our #1 Pick
Ninja Hot & Cold Brewed System with Auto-iQ Also Great
DeLonghi Espresso and Drip Coffee Machine
Espresso and Coffee: AICOOK Espresso and Coffee Machine
- The 13 Best Drip Coffee Makers
- The 17 Best Single Serve Coffee Makers
- The 10 Best Keurig Coffee Makers
Things You Should Consider
Focus on the following areas and you should find your buying decision is a cinch:
- Types of Coffee
- Pods or Freshly Ground Coffee?
- Ease of Use
Types of Coffee
Think closely first about the way you like your coffee. If you’re a committed espresso fan, many dual-brew machines come packing all the pressure you need for those short shots. Are you quite happy with a pot of drip coffee? If so, most two-way coffee makers deliver.
How about creamy espresso-based drinks? Some machines come with integrated frothers allowing you to build out latte, cappuccino, and macchiato. All that counts here is finding a machine that has everything you need and nothing you don’t. We’ve included a broad array of machines so you should find something that takes your fancy.
Pods or Freshly Ground Coffee?
The bulk of the best dual-brew machines allow you to make single-serve coffee. This slashes wastage while speeding the procedure up substantially. How do you want to make that single-serve, though? If you don’t drink too much coffee, you might be happy with the idea of using K-Cup pods or capsules. If so, you’ll enjoy remarkable convenience, zero waste, and piping hot coffee in less than a minute.
For serious coffee drinkers, the cost of these pods soon escalates. It’s easy to find yourself dropping ten bucks a day on K-Cup pods which is less than ideal. Instead, opt for machine that pack reusable filters and let you use freshly ground coffee. You’ll not only have a wider choice along with guaranteed access to your favorite roast, you’ll save money in the long haul, too.
Ease of Use
Ease of use should be central to your buying decision. If you encounter any negative press about machines that are awkward to use, give them a swerve. It’s a buyer’s market and you don’t need to compromise.
If you end up with a machine that’s a pain to use or involves an inappropriate amount of waiting time, it’s likely to gather dust. The best dual-brew coffee makers give you push-button ease along with the inbuilt kicker of making up a large pot that you can keep warm for hours. Don’t sell yourself short with a troublesome machine.
Many dual-brew machines come with the choice of a 10-cup or 12-cup carafe. Think about the maximum capacity you’ll need but don’t buy larger than you’ll use.
You should also think about the capacity of the water reservoir. If you have a single-serve machine with a tiny tank, you’ll endlessly be refilling it. This in many ways destroys the convenience of a single-serve machine. We’d suggest tanks of 40oz and upward make most sense.
Last but not least, think about the size of the machine itself. If you’re buying a multipurpose machine as a space-saving exercise, it defeats the object if you end up with a huge machine eating up the whole kitchen counter. Strike that delicate balance between sufficient capacity and a footprint compact enough for your needs and the size of your kitchen.
Reviews of 8 Best Dual Brew Coffee Makers
1. Our #1 Pick: Hamilton Beach FlexBrew
Our overall favorite 2-way coffee maker is the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew. Priced keenly and built to stand up to daily use, what else makes this dual-brew coffee maker stand out? Opt for K-Cup pods if you want the simplicity of single-serve. When you need to make a larger batch, brew up a full 12 cups of the other side of the FlexBrew. This brews into the glass carafe supplied. The heating plate ensures you don’t need to down the whole pot in an instant. Programmable, come downstairs in the morning or home after work to freshly brewed coffee. What more can you ask for? If it’s single-serve you’re after, you’ll have coffee in your cup in minutes flat.
2. Also Great: Ninja Hot & Cold Brewed System with Auto-iQ
The classic Ninja Hot & Cold Brewed System comes with Auto-iQ but what is that? In plain English, the machine automatically optimizes settings reducing user input to an absolute minimum. Brew up a broad variety of drinks with the Ninja. You can even use bagged or loose tea leaves if you fancy a break from coffee. A key selling point of the Ninja is the way it helps you make delicious cold brew in just 10 minutes. This brewing method typically requires 24 hours of waiting for the concentrate to fully infuse. Get the same results in less time with the Ninja.
3. Cuisinart SS-20
The first of a pair of Cuisinart dual-brew coffee machines, the SS-20 punches above its weight. The single-serve side of the machine delivers speed and efficiency without forcing you to use K-Cup pods. Instead, you get the proprietary HomeBarista filter saving your wallet and the environment. Beyond this, you can also use your favorite roast rather than being limited to a choice of capsules. The highly insulated thermal carafe lets you make 10 cups at a time. There’s also a 12-cup variant if you need even bigger batches. The machine accommodates travel mugs along with taller recipe glasses so you have all bases covered and a great deal of flexibility.
4. Keurig K-Duo
Another entry from Keurig, a company with a near-stranglehold on the single-serve space. One side of this machine lets you use the K-Cup pods you know and love. Get gourmet coffee at the press of a button with no waste. How about when you’re entertaining or you want more coffee? Well, the glass carafe lets you brew a whole pot so you’ve got all boxes ticked. Fully programmable through 24 hours, you can enjoy coffee on demand without needing to wait around.
You can also use a reusable filter with this machine which pegs running costs. If you only drink the occasional cup of coffee, the cost of pods is negligible. If, on the other hand, you’re nailing multiple cups a day, the expense soon starts to mount. Get exactly what you want every time with the K-Duo.
5. Cuisinart CHW-12
The second Cuisinart on our list is another two-way coffee maker allowing you to brew up a whole carafe of freshly brewed coffee or to use hot water on demand to create other drinks. Since the carafe makes 12 cups, this machine is a neat fit for anyone who drinks large quantities of coffee. With a 54-ounce water tank, you won’t be constantly scurrying to the faucet and the carafe temperature control lets you keep your leftover coffee warm to the precise level you prefer. Completely automatic and ideal for beginners, this is a solid multipurpose coffee maker coming in at a reasonable price point.
6. Keurig K-Cafe
Keurig dominate the single-serve coffee space and the iconic K-Café continues to fly off the shelves. What makes it stand out, though? On the one side, you get the option of using K-Cup pods for great coffee at the push of a button in less than a minute. You can also press a reusable filter into commission to cut costs. You’ll need to buy this separately. You can also choose to rack up an entire carafe of drip coffee so you have something for everyone however they like their coffee. If you’re looking for a machine offering you the best of both worlds, the K-Café deserves a place on any shortlist of the best two-way coffee makers.
7. DeLonghi Espresso and Drip Coffee Machine
DeLonghi make some powerful coffee machines that are a delight to use and built to stay the distance. How about this espresso/drip combo? Well, it’s another home run from DeLonghi. 15 bars of pressure provide all you need for mouth-watering espresso. That gets things off to a strong start. Since espresso is hardly an all-day drink, take advantage of the drip side of the machine to brew yourself up a larger batch of less intense coffee. You can program the machine with ease through 24 hours. While the DeLonghi is certainly not cheap, if you invest in this machine, you’re highly unlikely to complain about value for money.
8. Espresso and Coffee: AICOOK Espresso and Coffee Machine
We’ll round out with something slightly different. Here at La Mano, we typically stick with recognized brands with just cause: they produce the best equipment. That said, we’re always prepared to give houseroom to newcomers and the AICOOK espresso and coffee machine is a solid 2-way brewer well worth your consideration. Whether you prefer short, stiff shots of espresso or creamy lattes and cappuccinos, there’s no need to compromise. Despite pretty powerful performance, this unit won’t eat up too much precious kitchen real estate.
What is a dual-brew coffee maker?
To qualify as a dual-brew or 2-way coffee maker, the machine needs to present you with a choice of brewing methods. Some machines allow you to make espresso along with longer, creamier coffees. Others give you the choice between using single-serve capsules or freshly ground coffee to make a whole carafe. Essentially, you’re getting a multipurpose appliance which is great news for your wallet while taking up less space in the kitchen.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of using K-Cup pods?
The core benefit of K-Cup pods is the absolute ease of use. Fill the water tank, insert a capsule and you’ll have great coffee in less than a minute. There’s no messy clean-up and no waste. Keurig offers a huge choice of hundreds of roasts. On the flipside, the cost of K-Cup pods mounts, especially if you’re a heavy coffee drinker. Made from non-recyclable plastic, the cost to the environment is also ruinious. Why not take advantage of these benefits without suffering the drawbacks? To do so, just invest in a dual-brew coffee maker.
Is a stainless steel thermal carafe or a glass carafe best?
Thermal carafes have better insulating properties and will keep your coffee warm for hours independently. Stainless steel is also rugged, easy to clean and resistant to damage. A glass carafe, on the other hand, is much cheaper. These carafes are kept warm on the coffee machine’s heating plate. Glass is obviously fragile so you’ll need to operate with care.
Are all dual-brew coffee makers bulky?
Absolutely not. You generally end up with a larger machine since you have so much functionality baked in. That said, we have included today plenty of compact machines ideal if you live in an apartment or you have a crowded kitchen.
Are Two-way coffee makers expensive?
Surprisingly, these dual-purpose machines come in quite reasonably priced. As with any coffee machine, there’s a fairly broad band of prices depending on what you’re looking for. You can easily get away with spending less than a couple hundred bucks for a first-class dual-brew coffee machine.
Whenever you’re looking to buy any type of coffee equipment, you should always take the time before steaming in to analyze your needs. Think about how you and your family like your coffee. Do you also enjoy tea, hot chocolate, and infusions? If so, you can find plenty of machine offering hot water on demand. If you’re an espresso-fiend, you have plenty of options there, too. By targeting two of your favorite brewing methods in a single machine, you can free up valuable space in the kitchen while saving money at the same time.