Dual coffee makers are an absolute godsend for those of us who need to switch between single-serving and carafe brewing throughout the day.
In this in-depth buying guide I’ll help you pick the best machine for your own circumstances.
I’ve started with a general buying guide to help you understand the options. After that I’ve taken a deeper dive into some of the most popular options you might like to consider.
(If you want to explore more of my coffee content, take a look at the home brewing guide I have on the site!)
- Buying Guide
- Should you buy a glass or a thermal carafe?
- Do you want to use K-Cups?
- To grind, or not to grind?
- The size of the water reservoir
- Can you program it?
- Do you want to interrupt the brew?
- A long warranty means a long life
- How big is too big?
- Do you want to tweak the brewing strength?
- Dual (2 Way) Coffee Maker Reviews
- 1. Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Coffee Maker
- 2. Cuisinart SS-20 Coffee Center
- 3. Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System (CP307)
- 4. Cuisinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus
- 5. De’Longhi BCO430 Combination Brewer
Before we look at some of the most popular makers of this type, here are some important things to think about when reviewing them yourself.
Should you buy a glass or a thermal carafe?
This is one of the most important questions you’ll need to think about before buying your coffee maker.
You can expect a thermal carafe to keep your coffee warm for a few hours at a drinkable temperature. The nature of their internal design means they tend to hold less coffee though.
The alternative is to choose a glass carafe. These commonly have a greater capacity, but they’re designed to remain heated on a warming plate for a longer period of time.
That means the coffee continues to brew at a low temperature, which will affect the taste the longer it’s left on the plate.
Do you want to use K-Cups?
Some dual coffee makers allow to use K-Cups alongside pre-ground coffee.
These coffee pods provide you with hundreds of different flavors to try out, but the cost of them does add up over time. By their very nature they’re not great for the environment either.
Still, if you know you’re going to want to sample them from time to time, it’s worth looking for a machine that at least provides this flexibility.
To grind, or not to grind?
None of the most popular dual coffee makers include a built-in grinder.
If you’re determined to have your coffee as fresh as it can possibly be, you’ll need to invest in a dedicated grinder.
I would recommend choosing a burr over a blade grinder if you go down this route. You’ll get much more consistent coffee grinds as a result.
The size of the water reservoir
Another factor to consider is the size of the water reservoir. You’ll need to work out how much coffee you’re drinking in a day, and get a water tank to match consumption.
In all cases, make sure it detaches from the machine easily enough so you can take it out for a quick refill.
Can you program it?
If you want to set up your first brew before you go to bed, look for a machine that has this kind of functionality.
Many of the most popular appliances let you program the machine up to 24 hours in advance.
I’m also a big fan of coffee makers that have an auto shut-off feature. That’ll save on your power bills whenever it’s not actually in use, and it’s better for the environment as well.
Do you want to interrupt the brew?
Even if you’re preparing an entire carafe’s worth of coffee for the whole household, you might want to sneak a quick cup in before the process has finished.
If that’s the case, it’s useful to choose a machine that has some kind of “pause brew” function built in.
This will let you pull the carafe out of the machine temporarily and pour a quick cup. The machine will automatically detect you’ve done this, and avoid brewing coffee onto your countertop!
A long warranty means a long life
Machine warranties vary hugely between different manufacturers. It’s quite easy to find coffee makers that have a three year warranty though.
This is always a good sign that the manufacturer’s produced a high-quality appliance. They don’t want to handle any more returns than they have to, after all.
Personally I’m trying to reduce the number of appliances I get through as much as I can, but of course we all have to work within our own budgets.
How big is too big?
Coffee maker design has come a long way in recent years, and many of these machines look very stylish.
How much space do you really want it to take up in your kitchen or office though?
Work out where you’re likely to situate the machine. After that, allow a bit of extra space around the official dimensions to make it easy to get at the various components.
Do you want to tweak the brewing strength?
Certain dual coffee makers feature extra settings that let you choose from a milder or a stronger brew.
This is useful if members of your household have very different tastes. You yourself might want a zingier start to your day, but calm things down a little as the day wears on.
It’s always good to have these extra options.
Dual (2 Way) Coffee Maker Reviews
Those are some of the most important things to consider when shopping around for a two way coffee maker.
In the next section I’m going to take a closer look at some of the most popular options with this category.
Hamilton Beach’s dual brew coffee maker offers a few different brewing options.
You can make a single cup using either ground coffee or with Keruig K-Cups. Those coffee pods are handy when you want a decent cup of coffee delivered very quickly.
If you’re using grounds you can expect around a three minute wait for the brew to complete. That’s not too bad in the grand scheme of things.
If you’re looking for faster than that, you’ll need a machine that heats the water continuously. That of course means higher power bills.
Alternatively you have the option of brewing pre-ground coffee into a 10-cup carafe. That’ll do for when everyone in the house needs a decent cup of coffee, or when you have guests visiting.
You can actually grab a cup from a half-finished brew as well. The machine will automatically pause if you remove the carafe from the main machine housing.
The FlexBrew has a programmable timer as well, so you can set up your first brew of the day the night before. It also has an auto-shut off feature built in, so you don’t have to worry about the machine heating away in the background unattended.
If you want your next coffee to be a little stronger than usual, you can also choose a Bold brew setting, which will give the drink a little more punch.
There are actually a few different versions of the Hamilton Flex Brew coffee maker on the market.
For a start, you can choose whether to opt for a glass or a thermal carafe.
The third and final edition comes with a glass carafe and a permanent filter, which will save you a little bit of cash in the long run.
Dimensions: 13.6 x 14.5 x 15.1 inches
- The coffee brewed is very hot (possible too hot for some though).
- Separate water reservoirs for K-Cup and ground coffee brewing.
- Accommodates travel mugs well.
- Produces better K-Cup coffee than many Keurig machines!
- Very easy to see how much water is left in the reservoirs.
- Quite a large footprint, so check the amount of space you have carefully before buying.
- K-Cup brewing can create a few drips once the process has finished.
- Button labels are reported to fade and wipe away quite quickly.
- You need to add the right amount of water for each K-Cup brew.
- Some owners report the warming plate for the glass carafe isn’t very effective.
Cuisinart’s SS-20 double coffee maker produces single coffee servings in either 6, 8 or 10 oz sizes. That gives you a little bit of flexibility in both the size and strength of your brews.
This is another dual coffee maker with K-Cup support, so you can get a super-fast cup of coffee inside you whenever you’re in a rush.
Additionally, Cuisinart actually includes a separate filter out of the box. This lets you continue using pre-ground coffee for smaller servings. That’s nice if you’ve got some favorite blends you want to continue using.
As for programming options, you can set a carafe’s worth of coffee up the night before, which is great for a thirsty household! There’s also a Bold brew setting which will create a stronger brew when you need it.
The SS-20 will also perform a self-cleaning cycle periodically, which will help keep it in good working order for longer. With a young family I don’t have a lot of time to spend on these things, but I like my appliances to last a long time.
There are two editions of the Cuisinart SS-20 to choose from.
The first features a thermal carafe designed for brewing 10 cups of coffee. The second, glass edition is designed to hold around 12 cups.
Dimensions: 10.75 x 10.8 x 14.5 inches
- Glass carafe warming plate temperature can be adjusted.
- A very durable machine with a lot of happy long-term owners.
- Packs a lot of functionality into a machine that’s very simple to use.
- Brushed stainless steel construction means the machine looks great and lasts a long time.
- Pretty quick coffee brewing.
- When you’re not using a taller mug, the K-Cup dispenser can splash a little.
- A few fiddly elements, such as lining up the single-serve basket.
- Water reservoir opening is quite small when it comes to refilling.
- The LED display is extremely bright – enough to illuminate a room!
Ninja’s Hot and Cold Brew System has just the one compartment for delivering both types of brews. It’s still quite a bulky machine compared to some of the others.
I recommend checking the dimension specs at the bottom of this section carefully before settling on this one.
As the name suggests, this machine is also capable of producing a kind of rough take on cold brew coffee.
Over the space of around 15 minutes it’ll brew the coffee over ice to create a smoother drink. It won’t beat the quality of the usual overnight process, but it’s a nice option to have.
The machine’s also great at making tea, which is useful if you have different tastes in your household. I personally can’t stomach the taste of it, but my wife’s a big fan so it puts two very different functions into one machine.
You get quite a few more brewing options with the Ninja machine as well, including a milk frother for very basic foaming.
There are five brew settings in total: Classic, Rich, Over Ice, Cold Brew or Specialty. This latter setting is designed to create a richer-tasting drink that you might want to add a little foamed milk to, for example.
There are six brew sizes as well, letting you fill the thermal carafe fully or partially, a travel mug, or just the one cup. It’s pretty flexible in this regard, and is good for those of you who need a lot of versatility all round.
Dimensions: 11.81 x 10.01 x 15 inches
- A huge amount of flexibility when it comes to coffee drink options.
- Milk frother lets you create very basic foams for drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.
- Makes a pretty mean cup of tea along with the coffee.
- A quiet machine, which makes it ideal for small office spaces.
- Works best with distilled water, and never well-water in particular.
- No K-Cup compatibility at all.
- Some owners have reported poor performance from the thermal carafe.
- If you’re likely to drink a lot of cold brew coffee, the machine doesn’t quite deliver on quality.
The second Cuisinart machine to feature in our pick of the best dual coffee makers is the tried and tested CHW-12. It’s a particularly good option for those of you working to a stricter budget.
The machine is available with either a 10-cup thermal carafe or a 12-cup glass carafe. There’s also a nice red edition which will be great if you’ve got a colorful kitchen and want your appliances to add a finishing touch.
This a comparatively simple machine but it gets the job done well enough.
Handily, if you go for the glass carafe option, the warming plate has a number of temperature settings to choose from.
That will help you minimize the effects of stewing the coffee too long. Just make sure you pick the right setting to fit the consumption time you expect.
As for programming the machine you can set it up in advance, and it’ll also shut down automatically after a period of inactivity. Like the SS-20 it’ll also perform a self-cleaning cycle to keep itself in good working order.
Unlike the Ninja machine there are no dedicated tea-brewing options, but you do get access to a hot water dispenser. A separate lever is included for this, and it’s an easy enough method for making things like tea or hot chocolate.
Dimensions: 10.25 x 9.5 x 14.3 inches
- Brews hot coffee at just the right temperature – around 180-185F.
- Hot water dispenser is easy to use and gets heated up quickly.
- 12 cup carafe is a generous size and really does make that many cups!
- Pour spout is well designed and makes no mess.
- Reusable filter is a nice inclusion out of the box, and will save a little cash.
- Rather a loud machine compared to the others in this round-up.
- Some owners have reported issues with leaking over time.
- It’s not impossible that coffee elements can make their way into the hot water dispenser.
- Water reservoir can be a little tricky to fill.
- Warming plate has been known to rust over time.
Finally, we have the De’Longhi BCO430. This one’s designed for those of you who want a somewhat more authentic not to mention manual espresso experience.
There’s a dedicated 15-bar pump for making that. Fill the portafilter, tamp it down and then insert into one side of the machine to make a single-cup specialty drink.
There’s even a manual frothing wand for preparing the milk for your lattes and cappuccinos!
To make a carafe’s worth of coffee you simply add your grounds to the other side of the machine and then let the machine do the hard work. The BCO430 comes with a glass carafe that holds around 10 cups of coffee.
A 24 hour digital timer is built into the machine. There’s also an optional auto-off setting if you want to stop it from draining power while it’s not in active use.
If you want to grab a quick cup halfway through, the BCO430 will also automatically pause the brew so you don’t end up making a mess.
I think in all honesty this one tries to do a little too much at once, without doing any one thing spectacularly well. Still, it’s a very different machine to the others I’ve included in this round-up and so it’s worth taking a look at.
Dimensions: 14.5 x 11 x 12.8 inches
- A proper espresso machine!
- Milk steamer allows you to create the foam texture you want.
- A great looking, sleekly designed two way coffee maker.
- Lattes from this machine are decent.
- You can’t just fire and forget with this one. You’ll need to go more hands-on.
- Many feel the espresso produced is too weak to justify the extra effort.
- Another machine with labels that wear off rather quickly.
- Some owners have reported leaks occurring quite early on in the machine’s life.
- Espresso and milk options take some time to heat up.
All these machines have their situational strengths and weaknesses. My personal top pick though is the Cuisinart SS-20.
It pretty much ticks all the boxes I want for a machine of this type. It has the most serving sizes of the machines I’ve looked at, and the self-clean cycle is great for longevity. You also have the option to tweak the brew strength as you see fit.
It’s just a very flexible coffee maker that does everything you want it to very well. Top that off with a 3 year warranty and you’ve a machine that will likely provide you with many years of great service.