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Sometimes you need a quick cup of coffee on your way out the door, but other times you need a full carafe to get you through a long day of working from home. In an ideal world, every coffee lover would have both single-cup options and a full carafe at the ready. Your coffee needs can change day-to-day and even by the hour, and your coffee maker needs to be able to keep up.
Enter dual coffee makers, the ideal option for those of us that need versatility without having multiple coffee machines cluttering up our kitchens. But finding the best dual coffee maker is hard. There are dozens of options out there, differing in features, size, design, and even whether they make single-cup coffee or espresso. That’s where we come in, with this handy guide to the best combination coffee makers.
Why Buy a Dual Coffee Maker?
Sometimes you need a full pot of coffee. For me, that occurs every morning at 9 AM. But sometimes you only need a single cup. If it’s late enough in the day and your coffee pot is empty, you don’t want to make a whole pot. you’d much rather make a single cup to get you through the next hour. With a dual coffee maker, you have both of those options.
If you have a family of caffeine junkies and a single decaf drinker (or the other way around), there is no better way to keep everyone happy than with a dual coffee maker. Likewise, if you have one person that lives on a different schedule than everyone else — waking earlier or drinking coffee later — a dual coffee maker helps to ensure that everyone has their coffee without the difficulty or waste of making single cups for everyone.
When you live alone, a single cup coffee maker is incredibly convenient. Well, it is unless you drink a whole pot like I do. But sometimes you want to have guests over. Or maybe you just have a plumber fixing your sink and you want to be a good host. In those cases, being able to make a pot of coffee is important. With a dual coffee maker, you have all of those cases covered.
Dual coffee makers often have the ability to make more varied beverages than carafe-only machines. In some cases, they even take K-cups or other pods from popular single-serve machine brands.
The Downsides of a Dual Coffee Maker
I would be willing to bet that you don’t have much counter space to waste in your kitchen. I know I don’t! Having the ability to make both a carafe and a single cup of coffee almost always takes up more counter space, especially with the side-by-side models. There are some models (including one or two below) that are made with a slimmer design, so you may be able to find one that fits on your counter.
Price tends to be another downside. Not surprisingly, the additional versatility of a two-way coffee maker comes with a higher average price tag. Some of these options may not break the bank, but a machine that only makes a single size of coffee will almost always be cheaper. Then again, a dual coffee maker is cheaper than buying both a single-serve machine and a carafe machine.
The Best Dual Coffee Makers
Best overall: Cuisinart SS-20 Coffee Center
The SS-20 is a side-by-side model with four total size options:
- Full carafe (10 cups)
- 6-oz cup
- 8-oz cup
- 10-oz cup
You can use it with standard coffee grounds, but it is also compatible with Kuerig’s k-cup pods or other single-cup pods. The 40-oz removable reservoir saves you from having to cart water around for every single cup.
The drip tray is removable for easy cleaning. This also allows you to make room for your larger travel mugs.
The stainless steel thermal carafe is sturdier than a glass carafe and will keep your coffee warm longer.
The SS-20 is programmable, so you can set a brew time up to 24 hours in advance. The brew pause feature is great for those without the patience to wait for that first cup. There are is also a brew strength control, which is a definite must when you are working with k-cup pods.
Budget pick: Hamilton Beach 49976 FlexBrew Trio Coffee Maker
The Hamilton Beach FlexBrew is another side-by-side model, but this one sports a 12-cup glass coffee pot. As with the SS-20, you can use ground coffee, K-cups, or other coffee pods with this model.
The cup rest looks like it leaves a tiny space for your mug, and it does. However, it’s removable for larger mugs or travel mugs.
This coffee maker is fully programmable and has a 2-hour stay-warm feature, and AutoPause & Pour which lets you get your first cup before the brewing is fully over. That’s a great feature because the brewing speed is a bit slower on this model.
You’ll find two water reservoirs on this model, one for single cup brewing and one for a carafe.
Probably the best part here is the cost. It’s hard to imagine finding one of the best dual coffee makers at this low of a price, but here it is.
Best for variety: Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System
If you want more options, Ninja has you covered. This system is the replacement for the famous Ninja coffee bar, and they’ve only improved it since then.
To start with, you’ll have the following 6 brew sizes to choose from, so you’ll always be able to make exactly the right amount of coffee. The fold-away cup platform makes it easy to switch between brew sizes.
- XL Cup
- Travel Mug
- XL Multi-Serve
- Half Carafe
- Full Carafe
Next, add in these 5 brew styles, letting you brew all kinds of coffee beverages or just a plain black pot of coffee.
- Classic coffee
- Rich coffee
- Iced coffee
- Cold Brew coffee
- Specialty coffee
The built-in frother makes it easy to add a delicious burst of hot or cold milk to all your favorite caffeinated drinks. The water tank on this one is decently large at 50 oz, enough to save you a few trips to the sink.
The smart features on this system are definitely a nice touch. The basket recognizes whether you are using the tea or coffee option and displays the appropriate options automatically.
The scoop helps you accurately measure the right amount of coffee grounds and then hides away inside the machine until you need it again. Between space-saving features like that and the fact that this isn’t a side-by-side model, the Ninja also takes up less counter space than most other options on this list.
(For more info on how the Ninja Hot And Cold Brewed system compares to other variety-heavy coffee machines, check out our comparison of Ninja vs. Nespresso.)
Compact and simple: Keurig K-Duo Plus Coffee Maker
This is one of the few great options for a dual coffee maker that isn’t a side-by-side model. That makes it less convenient for sure, but it also takes up less space. At 14.19” H x 8.2” W x 11.7” D, it is 2 inches narrower than anything else on this list. The movable water reservoir makes it even easier to find a way to fit this model in your available counter space. However, the added height means that it may not fit under some low cabinets.
Beyond size, the biggest thing the K-Duo has going for it is the simplicity of using pods. It works with any K-cup and most other brands of pods. If you want to brew grounds, the K-Duo can also do that for either single cups or a whole carafe. Speaking of a carafe, the one that comes with this model is a 12-cup stainless-steel thermal carafe, so your coffee will stay warm for longer.
There are an astounding 8 total brew size options with this one.
- 6 oz cup
- 8 oz cup
- 10 oz cup
- 12 oz cup
- 6 cup carafe
- 8 cup carafe
- 10 cup carafe
- 12 cup carafe
This Keurig lets you program your coffee to brew up to 24 hours in advance. The pause-and-serve option is great for the impatient amongst us who just need that first cup as quickly as possible. The brew strength option is a must-have when dealing with K-cups that, by default, produce weak coffee.
For espresso lovers: De’Longhi BCO430 Combination Pump Espresso and 10-Cup Drip Coffee Machine with Frothing Wand
This one is different from the others on the list. Instead of offering side-be-side options for single-cup coffee and coffee carafes, it allows you to brew espresso beside your carafe of drip coffee.
If you want to make lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, or just a shot of espresso — but you also need that pot of coffee — this is the machine you should have. De’Longhi is a brand that espresso lovers know they can trust, and this machine is no different.
It brews espresso at 15 bars of pressure, a whole six bars over the recommended minimum — ensuring a robust brew every time. If you like frothed milk in your espresso drinks (or in your coffee!), the built-in milk frother is a huge bonus.
Even the carafe side of this machine is inspired by the high standards of the company. The active carbon filter will improve the quality of your hot water, an underappreciated way of improving the overall brew. The water reservoir itself is removable for easy cleaning.
This is certainly not the smallest machine on the list. However, if you need to tuck your coffee maker under a low counter, there is one other huge advantage here: everything is front-loading. You can access the water and the grounds without having to worry about clearance above the machine.
This machine has a 24-hour advance brew option and a pause feature for those that need to grab a quick cup before the pot is done. Basically, it has everything you’d expect from a programmable coffee machine that also serves espresso.
There is no single best coffee machine for everyone. If you need the versatility of being able to brew a single cup of coffee or a whole pot, the above options are all excellent ones. Each of these best dual coffee makers serves a slightly different type of coffee lover — from espresso aficionados to those that just need to save counter space. I’m sure you’ll find one that is perfect for you.
Looking for more options? All the above coffee makers are drip machines. If you aren’t sure what that means or whether you really want a drip machine, our comparison of percolator vs. drip coffee makers is a great place to go.