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Stuck between buying a regular drip brewer or a single serve machine? We get it. Many individual coffee lovers and caffeinated households need their brewers to do more than one thing. That’s why we’re taking a look at Dual Coffee Makers.
Dual coffee makers are a prime example of the ingenuity within the coffee brewing industry. They’re built specifically to accommodate a variety of unique household brewing needs, and are the perfect solution for many java fanatics.
Read on for our top picks for the best dual coffee makers (also known as two-way brewers) as well as some tips on finding which one is best suited for your needs.
Why Buy a Dual Coffee Maker?
Dual coffee machines or two-way coffee makers are a unique type of brewing tool that allows you brew both full carafes and single servings. That makes them perfect for households that frequently have different brew-capacity needs.
This type of brewer is also a great option if you have an early riser among mostly slow-risers. That way, the first person up doesn’t have to brew an entire carafe that will be stale, burnt, or cold by the time everyone else wakes up.
Or, if you just usually brew for one but frequently have guests for breakfast, this type of brewer could be for you. Essentially, a dual brewer gives you a kind of brew capacity flexibility and versatility that tends to be absent from other drip brewers.
Plus, investing in a dual coffee brewers cuts down on the amount of kit you need to buy to accomplish your brewing needs.
Best Dual Coffee Makers
Hamilton Beach 49976 FlexBrew Coffee Maker
The FlexBrew is one of if not the most popular dual coffee makers available right now–and with good reason. This brewer is user-friendly with a 12-cup coffee pot and a single brew side ready to serve no matter how much coffee you need.
Both sides have see-through chambers so you know exactly what you’re working with. Plus the machine comes with. a variety. of attachments, and you can brew with either fresh grounds or coffee pods.
It’s a little slower and bulkier than other options, but it makes up for it in convenience. Also, if you pay just a little extra, you can get a model with a permanent filter. So, the only real bummer is that it’s made with a glass carafe rather than a thermal one.
Ninja Hot and Cold Coffee Maker (CP307)
Next up, we have another very well-loved coffee machine, and this time it’s from Ninja. This model differs from the others we looked at in that it doesn’t actually look like a dual coffee maker because it doesn’t have two separate sides.
However, it does have the functionality of a dual coffee maker. It has 6 different brew sizes (cup, cup XL, travel mug, travel mug XL, half carafe, and full carafe) and 5 different brew styles (classic, rich, over ice, cold brew, and specialty). So, this is easily the most versatile machine on this list.
Plus, it thankfully comes with a 10-cup thermal carafe, so no need to fear burnt-tasting coffee if you don’t immediately drink the carafe. Just to top it off, this machine also comes with a frothing wand, special basket filter for tea, and a recipe book.
Cuisinart SS-20 Coffee Maker
On the single serve side of things, the Cuisinart SS-20 has 3 serving size options, is K-Cup compatible, includes the Cuisinart HomeBarista Reusable Filter Cup, and features a removable drip tray.
As for the Carafe side, this model has a 10 cup thermal carafe with a stainless steel handle. It’s fully automatic with a 24 hour brew start, self-clean, ready alert, and brew strength control.
While the single serve side has a charcoal filter for the water, this side has a gold tone coffee filter for the coffee itself. Plus, it has a brew pause in case you want to get in there before the carafe is done brewing.
They also have a glass carafe option with a 12 cup brew capacity.
De’Longhi BCO430 Combination Brewer
Here’s something a little different for our line up. Instead of having the usual single serve side, this De’Longhi brewer actually has an espresso option plus a milk frothing wand. De’Longhi is a well-known, trusted espresso machine brand, so you can count on some pretty great brews on both sides.
It has a 15 bar pump to power the espresso side, and the opposite side has a 10-cup drip brewing carafe. The result is a unique dual brewer that is a sensible solution for those who are interested in dabbling in espresso drinks but aren’t ready to invest in a full blown espresso machine (or give up their drip brewer).
However, do keep in mind that at this price, you aren’t going to get the most spectacular, durable espresso or drip machine. Nevertheless, it is definitely the best of its kind and does make pretty good tasting brews on both sides, so it’s definitely worth a try if you’re wanting to dabble.
Hamilton Beach 49980A Coffee Maker
Another Hamilton Beach coffee maker needs to be discussed here: the 49980A Two-Way brewer. Like the FlkexBrew it has a 12 cup glass carafe and a 2-strength adjustment feature. However, while the FlexBrew is compatible with K-Cups, this model can only be used with loose grounds or soft pods.
Nevertheless, with that being the only notable difference between them and this machine being about half the price of the FlexBrew, it’s really not that big of a deal. Plus, most people who care about coffee prefer to use loose grounds over K-Cups anyway.
Overall, it’s well made and easy to use. While, again, it would be better with a thermal carafe, the single serve option does eliminate a lot of the issues that come with glass carafes anyway.
Cuisinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus Two-Way Coffee Maker
Returning to Cuisinart, let’s take a look at he CHW-12 Coffee Plus. If you only care about coffee, don’t bother reading this one. But if you also like to get your caffeine kick from tea, it might be worth a look.
The CHW-12 is another 12-cup glass carafe option with the standard auto-pause and removable drip tray. However, what sets it apart as a dual brewer is that the single serve side doesn’t actually brew coffee– it’s just a hot water dispenser.
Now, for coffee-only fanatics, that is a huge let down. However, for people who love tea, cocoa, or oatmeal/grits it’s actually a really cool, handy feature to have in your kitchen. So, since you’ll see this machine a lot when researching dual coffee makers and because it is rather unique, we figured we should still give you the down-low on it.
Things to Consider
First and foremost, you need to look at the brewing options that your dual coffee maker is offering. Because the main purpose of buying one is for the sake of consolidating multiple machines into one, more versatile one. But if it isn’t versatile enough to do all the things you need it to, then it’s not worth it.
Some of the machines we’ve recommended are pretty simple, with just one or two strength options to accompany their two-way brewing. That’s perfectly fine if size variation is the main thing you’re looking for.
However, if you need a machine that can also handle tea, brews espresso, offers specialty drinks, etc., you’ll have to take that into consideration, especially with your budget.
Similarly, just like the brewing options, you obviously need to take into account the size options a particular machine offers. Some machines only have carafe and single serve, which is perfectly fine for some.
On the other hand, some of the machines, such as the one from Ninja, have much more versatility when it comes to size options.
Also, there are coffee machines out there that can brew a certain number of cups into a carafe, just not directly into your travel mug or coffee cup. So if that’s all you’re looking for and you don’t care much about speed, that route is also worth exploring.
In addition to the potential versatility, many people opt for dual coffee makers in hopes of saving counter space. Unfortunately, some two-way machines can be pretty hefty, so their base area or height might end up being as much or more of an issue than two separate machines.
Here are the measurements for the machines we’ve reviewed here:
- Hamilton Beach FlexBrew: 11.4 x 12.2 x 13.7 inches
- Ninja Hot and Cold: 11.8 x 10 x 15 inches
- Cuisinart SS-20: 10.8 x 10.8 x 14.5 inches
- DeLonghi BCO430: 14.5 x 11 x 12.8 inches
- Hamilton Beach 49980A: 10.6 x 12.2 x 13.7 inches
- Cuisinart CHW-12: 10.2 x 9.5 x 14.3 inches
So the two machines (both Cuisinart) that take up the least counter surface area are also two of the tallest models. They’re closely followed by the taller, slightly larger Ninja machine. On the other hand, the remaining three models (two from Hamilton Beach plus the De’Longhi machine) are under 14 inches tall but take up more counter space.
Thus, you need to make sure you take into account both your surface area and under-cabinet space before purchasing a machine.
Thermal vs Glass Carafe
We’ve mentioned a couple times in this article that we prefer thermal carafes over glass ones, so let’s take a second to explain why.
The purpose of a coffee carafe is not only to store your brewed coffee but also to keep it warm. Glass carafes do this by pairing with a hot plate, which adds in heat over time to the coffee. This is perfectly fine if you and/or your housemates will finish the carafe pretty quickly. However, it can lead to burnt-tasting coffee if left on for more than about 30 minutes (more or less depending on the machine).
On the other hand, thermal carafes are designed to keep the heat from leaving your coffee in the first place. So while you coffee may not be piping hot if you leave it out and sip on it for two hours, it should still be acceptably warm. Plus, it’ll taste significantly better than coffee left on a hot plate for a similar amount of time.
Oddly enough though, many dual coffee makers only come with glass carafe options. That’s because the single-serve option reduces the importance of this issue. If you’re only brewing for one, you don’t have to use the whole carafe. And if you’re brewing for a crew, you’ll likely use the whole carafe before the spoiling becomes an issue.
Thus, by building dual-coffee machines with glass carafes, companies are able to save you and themselves a bit of money while still offering a quality product.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you clean a dual coffee maker?
When it comes to cleaning your dual brew coffee maker, you are going to follow the same process as you would to clean any drip brewer. The main difference is that you’ll have to run the descaling routine on both sides. Thankfully, most dual brewers allow you to run both sides at once, so you win’t be significantly increasing the amount of time cleaning takes.
To descale the inside of the machine, put 1 part white vinegar for every 2 parts cold water into the water reservoir and run a cycle with this mixture. Once the cycle is complete, turn the machine off for a few minutes to let the vinegar do its thing. Then, empty and clean the reservoirs and run 2 or 3 just-water cycles to rinse everything out.
For the surface of your machine, a slightly damp wash cloth or paper towel should do perfectly fine. Baskets, pots/carafes, ad cups should be cleaned each time you use the machine. But you only need to descale once a month and wipe-down the outside whenever you deem fit.
What’s the difference between K-Cups, Soft Pods, and Loose Grounds?
K-cups are the style of coffee pods used with Keurig products, though they are available from other third-party sellers like Maud’s and are obviously compatible with non-Keurig machines. Soft pods are disk-shaped pads that have ground coffee wrapped in filter paper; they are not associated with ay particular brand.
Lastly, loose grounds are just regular grounds that you’d use with any other drip brewer.
A couple of the machines we’ve looked at offer the option to use K-cups and loose grounds. Others, only allow soft pods and loose grounds (such as the Hamilton Beach 49980A) or no pods at all (such as the Ninja).
This is an important factor to consider because it affects how convenient your brewing experience will be. Machines that accept pods can streamline your brewing process. However, coffee brewed from pods is of a lower quality than coffee you have freshly ground.
But, if your morning routine doesn’t allow for a fresh grind, and you will be using pre-ground anyway, the option to use pods could save you a bit of time and energy.
Are there dual coffee makers with grinders?
The answer to this one is a little tricky. Technically, yes. There are coffee makers that can do both single-serve and full-pot brewing that also have built-in grinders. However, the only ones we’ve come across are similar to the Ninja in that they don’t really look like dual coffee makers.
We’ve included the Ninja because its versatility impressed us; however, the options out there for built-ins with dual brewers are pretty sparse. The only one we’ve come across that may be worth looking into is this model from Breville.
However, for the nearly $300 price tag, the customer feedback is still rather mixed for us to me able to confidently recommend it. So, it seems like the technology for a 3-in-1 grinder, single serve, and carafe combo might still need some development before we come across a truly spectacular model.
Until then, you can still get a quality grinder separately in addition to whichever dual coffee maker you land on without breaking the bank.
Whether you’re looking to cut down on the amount of kitchenalia spread across your counter or just seeking some versatility in your kitchen, a dual coffee maker could be the perfect brewing tool for you.
We’ve looked at everything from the basic carafe-and-cup brewers to ultra-feature packed brewers that can go from a plain-Jane carafe of Joe to tea and specialty coffee. So we have no doubt that you should be able to find the dual brewer for you.
Keep in mind to measure your space and take special note of exactly what you expect as far as coffee, brewing, and size options.
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