Most coffee brewers are one-trick ponies. You could technically use them for things like tea and instant soup (and you’ll see people doing so on the internet), but once you use it for coffee that flavor will linger, and they’re best used for their intended purpose.
For those looking for more versatility, a dual coffee maker expands your brewing options and can be particularly helpful in small kitchens. Let’s take a look at some of the best models on the market.
The Keurig K-Café is one of the most versatile single-cup brewers on the market. It can brew any K-Cup as drip coffee or as a condensed shot to use in drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. The built-in automatic frother can make steamed milk as well as hot or cold foam, giving you tons of options when it comes to drink recipes.
This is a user-friendly brewer, too. The water reservoir comes off for mess-free filling and the well-labeled button interface is easy to learn how to use. We also appreciate the clean-up ease. The milk frother can be washed in the dishwasher, while the descaling alert indicator takes the guesswork out of machine maintenance.
The all-in-one design of the Breville The Barista makes it a convenient, space-saving way to prepare delicious espresso drinks at home. Since it has a conical burr grinder built right into the machine, it grinds and doses the coffee for you, with the same precise grind adjustment you’d expect from a professional espresso grinder. An automatic tamper and easy to read front pressure gauge give you all the tools you need to brew balanced, delicious espresso.
The only thing that’s not automatic on the Breville The Barista is the steam wand. You’ll need the right steaming technique to get that perfect microfoam texture. The steam wand is professional quality, fully-articulated with a manual control knob just like you’d find on a commercial espresso machine but with one helpful addition: it has a plastic handle so you can adjust it during steaming without burning your fingers.
The Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer is the best choice for those who need both single-cup and full-carafe brewing. Both sides use ground coffee, not pods, so you don’t have to choose between taste and convenience. They also share a brew strength selector, giving you more ways to customize your coffee’s flavor.
Some convenience features of the Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer are limited to the full-pot side, like the pre-programmable delayed brew setting and the keep-warm hot plate. Having said that, the single-cup size brews quickly (2-3 minutes on average), so you won’t have to wait long for your brew to finish.
The Cuisinart SS-15P1 integrates two brewing methods into one streamlined brewer. On the full-carafe side, it’s an automatic drip brewer with an included gold-tone filter that maximizes flavor while minimizing waste. The single-serve side can brew 6, 8, or 10-ounce cups using either K-Cups or ground coffee with the included reusable filter cup.
Unlike other dual-brewers, the Cuisinart SS-15P1 uses separate water reservoirs for the two sides. The fixed carafe reservoir is brew-through, while the removable single-serve reservoir can last up to 5 brews between fillings. Integrated water filtration preserves the coffee’s flavor and limits scale build-up in the lines, so it’s lower-maintenance than other brewers, too.
The FlexBrew from Hamilton Beach is a sophisticated and versatile dual brewer. You can use K-Cups on the single-serve side but you don’t have to, thanks to the included reusable brew basket. Its adjustable cup rest also doubles as a storage area for extra pods or the brew basket when you’re not using it.
The carafe side of the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew has the same robust convenient features. Pause and pour capability lets you serve mid-cycle without making a mess and it can be programmed to start brewing up to 24 hours in advance. It comes with everything you need to brew, including a glass carafe and a permanent gold-tone filter.
The Cuisinart CHW-12P1 takes a slightly different approach to side-by-side brewing. It pairs a 12-cup drip brewer with a hot water system for making tea, hot chocolate, or food like instant oatmeal. Since the two systems are completely separate, you can use them at the same time and you’ll never have to worry about coffee flavor making its way into your tea or soup.
The Cuisinart CHW-12P1 can brew up to 12 cups per batch, with a small batch setting to maintain the brew flavor when you’re just making coffee for one or two people. Its integrated water filtration and included gold-tone filter produce full-bodied, rich coffee with no added flavors.
The K-Duo from Keurig is one of the most compact side-by-side brewers on the market. Partially this is thanks to its shared reservoir, greatly reducing the overall footprint of the coffee maker. It offers the same versatility as other side-by-side brewers, with 8 brew sizes ranging from 6 ounces to 12 cups and the option to brew from K-Cups or regular ground coffee.
One consistent advantage of Keurig brewers is the simplicity of their controls. It’s easy to change the brew strength or size, and the reservoir is removable for less mess when you’re filling it. Since you can also program the brew to start up to a day in advance, it’s a great way to streamline your morning routine.
If you’re looking for the smartest dual brewer, the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System is a strong contender. Its Auto-iQ system senses whether you’re using the coffee or tea basket and automatically adjust the brew parameters to match, giving you the same great flavor no matter what drink you’re making.
Along with drip coffee and tea, this Ninja brewer has settings for iced coffee and a “specialty” setting that brews a condensed shot for lattes or cappuccinos. The fold-away milk frother makes steamed milk and hot or cold foam and is simple to operate. This means you can even make an iced chai or matcha latte, so it’s basically like having a café on your kitchen counter.
For office break-rooms, community centers, or even parties at your home, one pot of coffee isn’t always enough for everyone. The CucinaPro Double Coffee Brewer has two independent 12-cup drip brewers that can be used separately or at the same time. You can use this to serve both decaf and regular, or brew up a fresh pot while you’re keeping that last cup warm in the other.
The CucinaPro Double Coffee Brewer has simple on/off operation, with reservoir viewing windows right on the front of the machine. The spring-out baskets are easy to take out to fill or clean and it comes with 2 reusable filters, no paper filters required.
De’Longhi is a leading name in home espresso machines and their La Specialista makes it easy for anyone to make café-style drinks. The smart tamping station and built-in grinder take care of the prep work for brewing the shot. You don’t need barista training for the steaming, either, with an advanced latte system that perfectly textures the milk and creates rich, creamy froth.
The De’Longhi La Specialista uses separate heating systems for the steam wand and group head with active temperature control on both. This means you can use them at the same time for faster drink prep, especially since its fast-heating system is ready to brew within 1 second of turning on the machine. The built-in hot water spout is separate from the brewer so you can use it for tea or other drinks without adding coffee flavor.
Here’s another option for those who need dual full-carafe brewing. Its two independent brewers can operate independently or simultaneously, for up to 24 cups in less than 10 minutes. The front-facing reservoir window and one-switch brew make filling and using it a breeze, too.
The Kitchen Selectives Drip Coffee Maker is an excellent choice if you need to brew a lot of coffee quickly. It brews two full pots in less time than some brewers take to make one, and includes convenient features like a pause and serve function and automatic shutoff.
The drip side of the Cuisinart SS-20 is a convenient way to full pots of coffee, with an insulated carafe that keeps it hot until you drink it. It’s programmable, too, with a self-cleaning function and an audible ready alert.
On the single-serve side, you’ll get a fast-brewing single-cup system that’s compatible with K-Cup pods or ground coffee, using the included filter cup. Three cup sizes give you a choice of coffee strengths, similar to the “Bold” setting on the carafe side.
Also called two-way coffee makers or two-in-one machines, these brewers can make two different types of beverage simultaneously. Technically, any espresso maker with a steam wand and hot water spout can be considered a dual brewer. More often, though, the term is used to refer to machines that have two individual coffee brewers.
Dual coffee makers use the same internal mechanisms as other machines of that brewing style. The best models are basically two independent machines built into the same housing, with separate heating elements and water reservoirs. This allows both sides to operate simultaneously. Cheaper units may use shared components for both sides, so you can only use one or the other at any given time.
The most common type of side-by-side brewer integrates a drip brewer with a single-serve K-Cup or pod machine. Other models have a single brewing area that can be switched from one brewing method to another, or comes with dedicated components for tea brewing.
Since dual coffee makers is a catch-all term, there’s a lot of variety in the dual brewer market. You’ll want to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting when you’re comparing models.
The main reason to buy a dual coffee maker is to expand your drink-making capability. This is mostly useful for places where there are a lot of people with different tastes, whether that’s a large household or the break room in an office.
Even for single folks, though, there are perks to having a two-way coffee maker. They give you the best of both appliances. When you’re in a hurry, you can use the single-serve side to quickly brew into your travel mug. When you’re having friends over, or just want to linger over a full pot of coffee, the drip side comes in handy.
Another reason you may want a dual brewer is to satisfy picky tastes. If you like coffee but your partner drinks tea, a dual brewer can keep both of you happy. The same is true in mixed caffeine-and-decaf households. With a two-way brewer, you can both make your ideal drink at the same time, with no crossover of flavors.
As you can see, the reason for buying a dual brewer is often based mostly on your personal circumstances. It’s not necessarily going to be the best purchase for every household, and you can still achieve the same thing with two separate machines if you’d prefer. A dual brewer is often simply the most compact and convenient way to get that versatility.
There are some consistent perks of a dual coffee maker, including:
We’ve mentioned there are a lot of different dual brewers out there—so how do you know which one is the best for you? Here are some key factors to consider.
This is the first thing you should look at when you’re comparing brewers. Generally, dual-brewers are either based around an espresso maker or an auto-drip machine as their core components. Espresso-based machines are typically more expensive and bulkier, so for most a drip-based machine is the way you want to go.
While drip-based dual brewers won’t brew true espresso, they can produce a concentrated shot that mimics the flavor closely enough for drinks like lattes or Americanos. This makes them a good affordable alternative to an espresso maker at home.
Most drip machines will brew 10 to 12 cups in a full carafe. Some dual brewers give you two carafes, doubling their capacity. Conversely, espresso machines and single-serve brewers make drinks by the cup. Decide how much coffee you’ll be brewing on a regular basis to determine what capacity range you’re looking for.
Materials and Durability
Most coffee machines use a combination of plastic, aluminum, and stainless steel. The quality of these components and what materials are used in what areas affect the overall lifespan of the machine, and can impact the flavor, too. Some people notice faint metallic notes from coffee makers that use aluminum heating elements, for example, so that’s something you’ll want to avoid if you have a sensitive palate.
While the materials used for the machine itself are the most important factor, the carafe can also make a difference. Glass carafes are cheaper to make but don’t retain heat well and are easy to break. Thermal carafes are made of dual-layered stainless steel. This keeps coffee hot without the need for a warming plate, along with being shatter-proof and overall more durable than glass designs.
Customization and Control
Features like strength control, programmable temperature, and other customizable parameters give you more options to tailor the brew to your tastes. These are great options to have if you’re particular about your coffee, though they’re usually only found on high-end machines—in other words, you’ll need a bigger budget to get them, so it might not be worth the money if you don’t care so much about being able to control the brew parameters.
Ease of Use
Automatic machines as a rule are very easy to operate, especially compared to manual brewing methods. The simpler the controls, the faster they are to navigate. This becomes more important the more features you add. The extent of the customization options is a factor here, too—the more options you have, the more complicated the interface will be by necessity.
Something else that can be helpful here is pre-programming capability. This can let you set things up the night before and set the brew to start in the morning, speeding up your morning routine.
A milk frother is a necessary tool if you want to make drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. Espresso machines come with a steam wand by default, but you’ll also find these on many other styles of dual-brewer.
Automatic milk frothers are the easiest type to use because they do the work of steaming for you. You’ll get better microfoam from a manual steam wand, though, as well as more control to make the exact kind of froth you want. If you want to experiment with latte art, a manual frother is what you want.
Not necessarily. Some dual-brewers integrate both brewing methods into one spout, giving users the option to toggle between them. This style of dual brewer is usually no more bulky than your average automatic drip machine.
Just like any appliance, some dual brewers are more compact than others. If space is a concern, look for a model that makes the most of the room it takes up. Features like the fold-away milk frother on the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewing System can make the unit more compact for storage and moving. Many of the dual brewers we’ve reviewed here aren’t significantly larger than other coffee makers with a similar capacity.
Compared to single-purpose brewers, yes. If you’re looking for a portable coffee maker or the one that has the smallest counter space footprint, a dual brewer probably isn’t the best choice for you.
On the other hand, a dual brewer can do more than a compact single-serve coffee maker, so it’s not entirely fair to compare the two. Instead, compare the dual brewer’s space needs to those of all the appliances you’d need to do the same things.
An espresso machine with a built-in grinder can ultimately be a space-saver since you’ll only need the one device. The same goes for many single-cup and drip dual brewers—they’re larger than other drip machines, but save room compared to having two different coffee makers.
Physical space isn’t the only consideration, either. Outlet space can be just as much of a consideration. The power load of a dual brewer is higher than a single brewer, but all of that power goes through a single plug. This is another benefit of two-way coffee brewers in many kitchens, leaving you more spots on the power strip for other appliances.
Single-cup coffee makers have two main advantages: they’re compact and they brew quickly. They’re perfect if you need a coffee maker that can fit on the corner of your office desk, or one you can throw in your suitcase when you’re traveling.
Most single-cup brewers are also compatible with some kind of coffee pod, which cuts down on mess—another advantage for non-kitchen spaces. Of course, this adds some disadvantages, too. Pod coffee doesn’t taste as good as grounds and disposable pods are very wasteful, especially if you’re using them as your primary brewing method.
That leads us to the main advantage of dual-cup brewers: they give you more customization options and are generally capable of producing a better-tasting cup of coffee than your average single-serve brewer.
Keep in mind a lot of this comes down to the particular machine. There are high-end single-serve machines that brew a cup to satisfy any coffee snob. Similarly, a poorly-made dual-brewer can make a lot of different things, but you won’t necessarily want to drink any of them.
As a general rule, though, if you’re more concerned with portability and convenience, a single-serve brewer is the best bet. For versatility and taste, dual-cup brewers are the winners.
Benefits of Using a Coffee Maker with an Integrated Grinder
11 Best Dual Coffee Makers – Quickest Way to Brew a Lot of Coffee
Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Coffee Maker