Grinding the beans right before you brew is the best way to guarantee your coffee tastes fresh. Single-serve grind and brew coffee makers take care of that step for you.
That’s not just more convenient, but also cuts down on mess and saves space on your counter. Sound like something you want in your kitchen? There are models out there to fit every home and lifestyle, so you won’t have to look long before you find one that works for you. Let’s dig in!
The Casara Single Serve Coffee Maker comes with everything you need for a delicious cup, including a travel mug and a reusable filter. It’s ideal for office workers because you can program it to brew and have your coffee waiting in the morning. You can even keep it right on your desk at work because it’s so compact and easy to use.
The Breville Grind Control Coffee Maker is one of the most versatile options on the list. Brew single cups quickly before work, or make a whole pot when you have friends over—this machine can do it all. Adjustable grind level and brew strength let you customize your coffee to suit your tastes. Convenience features like the programmable auto-start are helpful, too.
Mr. Coffee has a reputation for making quality consumer goods at a great value. This coffee maker lives up to that by including a travel mug and dishwasher-safe reusable filter. It’s versatile, too, with an adjustable drip tray and the option to brew from either whole beans or pre-ground coffee. We also appreciate that many of the components are dishwasher safe, making clean-up a snap.
The Krups Personal Café looks more like a small automatic drip machine than a single-cup brewer. That’s because it does both with the same speed and ease. You can brew up to 4 cups at one time on this compact brewer. We also like that the grinder is powerful enough to use with any beans, even oily dark roasts, without getting clogged.
Here’s another option that’s excellent for both single-cup brewing and entertaining. The Cuisinart Thermal Grind & Brew has an advanced grinder system that ensures the grinds all reach the brew basket, giving you a consistently rich, flavorful cup of coffee. It has a large bean hopper to match its 10-cup capacity, with brew pause and programmability for maximum convenience.
For compact versatility, you can’t beat the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew. Its narrow 6-inch profile fits into small spaces without a problem, but it’s still tall enough to brew straight into tall travel mugs. It brews quickly, too, with an energy-efficient heating system that won’t waste power. If you’d rather brew from K-Cups, that’s an option, too. This versatility makes it perfect for offices, where you sometimes don’t want the hassle and mess of ground coffee.
The Barsetto Coffee Maker is loaded with convenience features to suit any modern kitchen, including a programmable timer and a carafe warmer with auto-shutoff. You’ll be especially impressed by the conical burr grinder, which produces a consistent grind size and has 5 adjustment levels to suit any kind of coffee. The included permanent filter reduces waste and has a dust cover to keep the ground coffee in the filter, limiting messes and clogs in the machine.
This compact coffee maker from Best Choice Products is ideal when you want to brew up one or two cups. You can customize the strength of your brew with the adjustable grinder, or use your own pre-ground coffee if you prefer. It heats quickly, too, and brews at around 200°F for full flavor extraction.
Our favorite thing about this XBKPLO Automatic Coffeemaker is its unique design. The retro look is reminiscent of an old-school appliance and would make a fun addition to your kitchen or office décor. The unique design also makes it easier to clean than other models, since you can pull out the filter and grind basket easily. It brews delicious coffee, too, with a 2-level grinder for adjusting the brew strength.
The small footprint of the Viante Mini Coffee Maker is great for tiny homes, RVs, or anywhere else you don’t have a lot of space. It’s shorter than many single-serve coffee makers, which makes it easier to fill both the bean hopper and the water tank.
Single-cup coffee makers can brew one cup of coffee at a time. Many can even brew straight into a travel mug, which is a convenient time-saver during your morning routine. Others have carafes, similar to a drip machine, and can brew larger batches as well as single cups.
Many single-serve coffee makers use a pod or cup brewing system. While pods are convenient, they won’t give you the same aromatic brew as freshly ground coffee beans.
Adding a grinder to the coffee maker lets you enjoy convenient features like programmable brew start and one-touch brewing without sacrificing flavor.
There are two main styles of grinder you’ll see in single-serve coffee makers: blade grinders and burr grinders.
Blade grinders use a spinning blade to chop coffee beans into smaller pieces. The longer you run the grinder, the smaller the pieces will be on average. This is a functional way to grind coffee but it’s almost impossible to get a consistent grind.
Beans closer to the blades are ground to dust, while those further away stay in larger pieces. Grinds at different sizes extract at different rates, and that can give you a cup that’s sour or bitter.
Rather than chopping the beans, burr grinders crush them between two revolving surfaces, called burrs. The space between the burrs determines the size of the grind, allowing you to make more precise adjustments than you can with a blade grinder. You’ll also get better grind size consistency, and ultimately a better-tasting cup of coffee.
In a stand-alone burr grinder, you want to have a range of size adjustment options. In a single-serve machine, this is less necessary. You’ll mostly want this feature if you brew a lot of very dark roasts. Oils from dark-roasted coffee can get stuck between the burs, and increasing the grind size can help avoid this.
If you have a blade grinder, the material isn’t much of a concern. Most use steel blades for strength and durability, but as long as it’s sharp enough to cut coffee beans, it doesn’t matter much beyond that.
With burr grinders, you’ll see two materials in common use: steel or ceramic. Ceramic grinders stand up better to repeated wear and hold their edge longer, meaning you don’t have to replace them as frequently. They also don’t generate as much heat, maintaining the flavor and mouthfeel of the coffee.
Steel grinders are more common, largely because they’re more affordable to make. Their main advantage is impact resistance. If you travel with your machine, a steel grinder is better, since ceramic grinders can crack or chip from impacts. Heat generation can be an issue with steel burrs, though. This strips away the oils from the beans, leading to gunky build-up on the burrs and a less flavorful cup of joe.
The reason you need to grind coffee before you brew it is that grinding increases the surface area. As the size of the coffee particles gets smaller, the total surface area goes up. This means more places for the water to interact with the coffee and faster extraction of the flavor compounds.
Brewing a balanced cup of coffee is all about controlling the rate of extraction so you get all the flavors you want and none of the ones you don’t. There are a lot of factors at play but as a general rule of thumb the longer the water will be in contact with the grounds, the coarser the grind level should be.
You can taste if the coffee beans are over- or under-extracted. Under-extracted coffee will taste thin or weak and tastes overly bright and sour. Over-extracted coffee is bitter and dark with an unpleasant lingering aftertaste.
If you taste any of these notes in your coffee, try adjusting your grind slightly. Different beans and roasts have different densities, so there’s no one perfect grind level for any brewing method. Experimenting with the grind level can give you a taste of how important grind size is for coffee flavor.
The Difference Between a Burr Grinder & Blade Grinder
Ceramic vs. Stainless Steel Coffee Grinders: What’s the Difference?
Pros & Cons of Having a Built-In Grinder
What’s in a Burr?