If you’re in a rush and just want to find out what the best grind and brew coffee maker is, then we recommend the KRUPS Grind and Brew Auto-Start Coffee Maker as the best one.
As convenient as pod-based coffee makers are, there’s no substitute for enjoying a cup of coffee that’s been freshly brewed from your own favourite beans.
When I found myself wanting more control over my coffee, I had to start working out what would be the best grind and brew coffee maker for me.
There are loads to choose from, but the best of them let you fine-tune the grinding details, then take over and automatically prepare the drink according to the strength you want.
In terms of convenience and quality, they really are the best of both worlds. There’s quite a lot to think about when choosing this kind of machine though, so I’ve condensed everything I know into one in-depth guide.
In this article, I’m going to review the following grind and brew coffee makers:
- KRUPS Grind and Brew Auto-Start Coffee Maker
- Cuisinart DGB-800 Burr Grind & Brew Coffeemaker
- Barsetto Grind and Brew Coffee Maker
- Breville BES870XL Express Espresso Machine
- Black + Decker CM5000B 12-Cup Mill and Brew
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Before we move onto the individual machines, here are some important things to consider when finding the right grind and brew coffee maker for you.
Why grind in the first place?
The simple fact is that coffee beans start losing their flavour as soon as they’re ground.
By taking care of this process yourself from bean to cup, you can be confident that every single serving contains the most flavourful coffee the bean’s capable of.
Burr or blade – which is best?
The grinder in your coffee maker will be either a burr or a blade grinder.
Blade grinders are typically a little cheaper, and spin the coffee beans to crush them.
Burr grinders, on the other hand, have a spinning disc which grinds the coffee against a stationary one. It’s a slower process, and you often pay a little more for your machine as well.
Here’s the thing though.
Although blade grinders cost less, the resulting coffee isn’t as fine as you’ll get from a burr grinder. Consistency with blades is also an issue, which means your coffee’s a little different every time.
Many also believe that the extra heat generated by a blade grinder has a negative effect on the quality of the coffee as well.
Given all this, it won’t surprise you to learn that I recommend a burr grinder if it’s at all possible!
When you’re buying a grind and brew machine so you can enjoy richer, fresher coffee, it just makes sense to me.
Separate or built-in grinder?
Couldn’t you just buy a separate grinder to use with your existing machine?
Absolutely, and if you’re happy with your current coffee maker that’s certainly an option.
If you buy a top of the line coffee grinder separately, it’ll likely do a superior job compared to your combined grind and brew machine.
It’ll also likely be quieter than your machine, and easier to clean too. You can more easily move the separate grinder to the bin and shake it out before giving it a thorough clean.
It’s worth keeping in mind though that any all-in-one appliance you buy is going to sacrifice something, somewhere down the line.
My take on this is that if you need the convenience, you need it. At this level, it’s really not that big a compromise when it comes to the end result.
Is ceramic or steel better?
If you didn’t think it was possible for coffee-making to be controversial, you haven’t been around here long enough!
There’s some debate among coffee connoisseurs about the best material for coffee grinders.
There are two options here: ceramic or steel.
Steel grinders are sharper out of the box, but a ceramic grinder will keep that sharpness for a longer period of time. It’s also argued that ceramic grinders generate less heat, which improves the flavour.
On the flip side, ceramic grinders can be damaged if they hit any impurities in your beans (which is not uncommon).
This kind of consideration is at the hard business-end of coffee making, and shouldn’t be a major influence in choosing a machine at this level.
It’s worth knowing about in case you have the choice though!
Drip Brewing vs Espresso
If you want a regular cup of coffee, then drip brewers make more coffee at once. They’re also a bit easier to look after over the long-term, and they often cost less than espresso machines.
Espresso machines definitely have their advantages though.
If you’re trying to make a latte or a cappuccino, it’s near-impossible to get a strong enough shot out of a drip coffee maker.
An espresso maker, on the other hand, is perfect for this job. Keep in mind though that you’ll pay a little more for this luxury. Have a look at our guide to the best latte machines if this is of particular interest to you.
Really this just comes down to your personal circumstances, and how you intend to use your grind and brew machine.
Glass or stainless steel carafe?
You’ve typically got a choice of using either a glass (more commonly) or a stainless steel carafe with your machine.
While some prefer the aesthetics of a glass carafe, they’re designed to sit on the hot plate after brewing.
That keeps your coffee nice and warm, but the problem with this is that the brew will stew over time which affects the flavour.
On the plus side, you can just set your coffee brewing once in the morning and then enjoy an occasional cup throughout the day.
If you go for a more industrial-looking thermal carafe, they’re usually made of stainless steel.
These more naturally keep the heat of the coffee, ensuring the next cups taste as good as the first.
If you’re popping it down on the table for guests to enjoy at their leisure, thermal carafes are a really good choice.
There’s one more factor to consider though.
Anyone in the market for a grind and brew coffee maker likely has convenience at the front of their mind.
The thing is, I’ve yet to come across a thermal carafe that doesn’t suffer from going in the dishwasher.
You don’t have that problem with a glass carafe though, so if you want to avoid a bigger clean-up job then glass is the way to go.
What else to look out for?
Here are some other final features to consider before settling on a machine:
Dimensions: This sounds obvious, but check the location of the machine carefully before buying! Leave enough space around the coffee maker for general use and cleaning.
Filters: There’s no point brewing freshly ground coffee if the water quality is poor. The better the water you use, the better the brew you’ll get. Some machines come with a permanent filter, while others use replaceable filters. These will cost you more money over time.
Functionality: Check the feature list of each coffee machine carefully and make sure it’s got everything you need. Likewise, don’t pay for functions you’re unlikely to use now or in the future. Ask yourself also if you really need all the extra stuff that comes in the box – you’re paying for it after all!
Capacity: This probably goes without saying, but do make sure the grind and brew coffee maker you settle on actually makes enough coffee at a time. How much will you need on an average day, and will you need more for occasional entertainment?
Grind and Brew Coffee Maker Reviews
Krupp’s flagship grind and brew machine is a very popular machine and its high user ratings are well deserved.
The conical burr grinder produces consistently great coffee, and you can fine tune the grinding to one of five settings. That’s very handy if you want to switch from coarse to fine grounds.
This maker’s designed to produce up to ten cups of coffee, and I think you should find that more than enough for general entertaining.
Even better, you can actually pause the machine mid-brew to grap a quick cup. You’ll appreciate that if you want to set up a big brew for the morning, but get your first caffeine fix as soon as it’s ready.
If you just want to make a smaller brew, you can set the machine for anywhere between two and ten cups. Sometimes I just need a quick blast of high quality coffee, rather than a whole carafe’s worth, so I find this very useful.
As for the brew strength, you can choose from a mild, medium or strong setting. Combine that with one of the smaller brew sizes and you’ll be able to cater for quite a few different tastes. I like my coffee much, much stronger than my wife does, for example.
If you want a quick start in the morning, you can set the machine up the night before, and the coffee stays warm in the glass carafe for around two hours. That’s not too bad, and you don’t want the stuff stewing throughout the day anyway.
This KRUPS machine has a removable gold tone filter included out of the box, which will dramatically improve the coffee flavour. Just give it an occasional wash and it’ll serve you well for a long time.
As for using the machine, I think it’s pretty easy to get around all of the options. There are a handful of buttons for setting brew sizes and strengths, and it’s all relayed very clearly on the digital touchscreen.
- Produces incredible coffee!
- Extremely easy to clean and care for.
- Simple to set up while offering plenty of settings to suit everyone.
- A slickly-designed machine that looks more expensive than it is.
- Many owners have had years of service from this durable coffee machine.
- Glass carafe isn’t ideal for making big batches for one drinker.
- Grinding is a little loud, but this goes with the territory with these machines.
- You need to move the grinder a little while grounding to ensure consistency.
- Expect a little experimentation until you get your brew settings just right.
The DGB-800 is another machine that comes with a glass carafe, but it has a slightly larger capacity than the KRUPS machine at 12 cups. Whether that’s a big enough difference will come down to your own personal circumstances.
It also makes use of a burr grinder, which will help you achieve that vital grind consistency. The Auto Rinse feature ensures all the grounds actually go into the brewing basket, so you’re not losing any of your beans in the brew.
You can store up to half a pound of coffee in the bean hopper, which comes with a sealed lid too. That’ll keep it fresh until it’s ready to be ground, and as I mentioned earlier it’s so important to minimise the loss of flavour from bean to cup.
As for the brewing strengths available, the DGB-800 has three: regular, bold and extra-bold. I like being able to adjust the strength to suit the time of day (as I get older, I find I really can’t handle strong coffee from the late afternoon onwards).
You’re not stuck with brewing 12 cups of coffee here, as you can tweak the grind to make between four and 12 cups. You want a bit of flexibility with these machines, and I think that’s probably enough to suit most families.
If, like me, you have some favourite pre-ground coffees, you can actually deactivate the grinder altogether and go straight to the brewing. Whichever way you go there’s a gold tone filter included, as well as a charcoal water filter to assist with purity.
All the settings are super simple to enter. There are a handful of buttons, and the input’s clear to read on the digital screen. You can also set up an advanced brew and have the machine shut down after a certain period of time.
- If you have favourite pre-ground coffee, you can easily keep using it.
- Air-tight bean hopper keeps your coffee fresh until it’s needed.
- Higher cup capacity than many other machines of this type
- Very deep flavours – not merely rich.
- One of the loudest grinders – and it lasts a good 30 seconds!
- Cleaning is relatively complex, with many different sections to remove and wash.
- “Easy Pour” carafe can actually pour rather…poorly in my opinion.
- Display screen is a little on the small side, which may be a problem if you have poor eyesight.
Although you might not recognise the brand, the Barsetto Grind and Brew Coffee Maker has carved out a deserved spot in this round-up.
The burr grinder is very adjustable depending on how fine or coarse you’d like your coffee grounds. In fact, there are 18 grind sizes to choose from in total! You can tweak each of those further, which is great if you want really fine control over your brewing.
This is another glass-carafe coffee maker, and Barsetto reckons the plate’s good for keeping your coffee warm for an hour or two. That’s probably about as long as you want to leave it.
The maximum capacity is ten cups, although there is a five cup edition of the machine as well if you’re drinking strictly solo. Just be aware that if you opt for this model you’re going to struggle when the guests come around.
As for extra functions it’s a pretty standard machine. There’s an Auto Off setting so the thing doesn’t stew for hours and you can programme the machine to start at a time that suits.
If you want to grab a quick coffee before the whole lot’s finished, there’s a pause function too which gives you 30 seconds to fill a cup.
This is another machine that comes with a gold filter, and the whole assembly comes apart quite easily for cleaning.
- The hopper on top is pretty generous and is good for three to four large brews.
- We’ve heard reports of great customer service from this company.
- Relatively compact, although a little taller than other machines. Watch the space!
- No need to keep buying disposable filters.
- Quieter grinding than many other machines.
- Brewing temperature could be a little higher for me.
- The controls are a little quirky and will take a while to get used to. No option to change from 24 hour clock.
- Realistically you’ve only got around one hour to enjoy the coffee before it starts going tepid.
- Sometimes fails to grind all the beans, which is wasteful.
- Rear water reservoir can be a bit of a pain to get to. You also have to add the right amount of water to match your programme!
This is where things start getting serious, and the Breville BES870XL is a comparatively advanced semi-automatic coffee machine.
It comes highly recommended if you want total control over the brewing process. If you are a true budding barista though, there’s a lot to like here.
For a start, you have access to a dedicated milk wand that you can use to make micro foam. With this you’re able to make super smooth lattes (perhaps with some latte art?) although it will take you a bit of practise to master the process.
A dial helps you set the grind size first, and the conical burr grinder creates just the right amount of coffee for your serving.
As for brewing, the coffee from the BES870XL is truly delicious. There’s some clever Breville tech in here that controls the temperature throughout the brewing process as well. This is about as good as things get.
It’s important to remember though that this is an espresso machine. You’re not going to be brewing up big batches of coffee, but if you want to knock your guest’s socks off – or you’re own – with a stellar cup of coffee then this is the way to go.
It’s also surprisingly small for the quality it provides, and I don’t think you’d struggle to find a spot for this in your kitchen. Once you’ve got some experience with the machine you should be able to get a cup going in just a minute or two.
Have no doubt that you’ll pay a premium for this kind of quality though. The good news is that you at least get everything you need to make the most of this machine out of the box.
It’s tremendous fun to use, the coffee’s fantastic, but just be prepared to put in a bit of effort to get the most out of it.
- Mind-blowingly good coffee, made exactly the way you want it.
- Includes all the accessories you’ll need to cook up the perfect espresso and care for the machine.
- Frother produces incredibly smooth micro foamed milk.
- Manual is comprehensive, but make sure you read it carefully before diving in.
- Automatic cleaning cycle helps keep the head clean.
- It makes great coffee, but you’ll be making it one cup at a time.
- Be prepared to practise if you want to truly master this machine.
- Although small for what it offers, you still need a good 34 inches of width space free on your countertop.
- No water level sensor, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on the reservoir.
- Although stylishly designed, some of the upper and lower elements are made of plastic.
If you’re a typical coffee drinker then you’ll be pleased to know we’re back on far simpler ground with the Black + Decker CM5000B. This is about as barebones as things get.
You can use beans or pre-ground coffee to get your brew going – just remember to turn off the grinding option first.
There are also a handful of different brew settings, depending on whether you want a regular or a strong drink. The buttons are simple to use, the display screen is clear enough and you can programme it to brew in advance.
As with many of the other machines in this review, the supplied carafe is made out of glass and is therefore dishwasher-proof.
If you’re serving a group of guests then the CM5000B can brew up to 12 cups at a time. Black + Decker suggests a cup serving of 5oz though, which is a little on the small side. Something to keep in mind.
I’m really not a big fan of how the thing looks though. The construction is very plastic-y, and inside I don’t think things are much better to be honest.
Unlike the other machines in this round-up, the grinder is blade-based. It just won’t produce the same kind of consistency you want from a machine, and I think you’ll end up a little frustrated in the long run.
Still, if you’re only using the machine occasionally and you’re working to a strict budget, then it delivers as an entry-level grind and brew maker. Just know its limitations before diving in.
- A “good enough” solution for those of you working to a strict budget.
- Flexible as you can use pre-ground or whole beans.
- Very easy to clean after each use.
- Quite a short power cord, so make sure you have a power outlet very near the machine.
- Water reservoir indicator is hard to see on the side of the machine. Why isn’t it on the front?
- If you grind your coffee too fine, the powder can get clogged up in the grinding mesh.
- Capacity is a little misleading. You’ll get closer to six 8oz cups from this machine.
- You’ll need to run the machine through a few times to get rid of the plastic taste.
If you need a grind and brew coffee maker that combines convenience with outstanding freshly-brewed coffee then the KRUPS Grind and Brew Coffee Maker is our top pick.
The burr grinder’s multiple settings ensure you get exactly the cup of coffee you want, and the gold filter ensures a tremendous brew every time. Another feature that makes this the top choice is how easy it is to scale up from smaller personal servings to keeping friends caffeinated.
It looks great in the kitchen too, and we know many people have had years of service from it.