The new hype in the home coffee brewing is the combination coffee espresso machine. If you’ve ever been mesmerized by the motions of your barista behind the counter while you waited on your latte, you’re not alone. There is a certain meditative quality to espresso drinks: brew the espresso, steam the milk, pour the espresso, pour the milk, wipe off the steam wand, flush the wand, repeat. Baristas are passionate for a reason. Coffee is a lifestyle. Now, you don’t have to fill out an application to your local coffee shop to experience the bliss of being a barista. You can enjoy the process in your own home with a combination coffee maker/espresso machine.
What is a Combination Coffee Espresso Machine?
A coffee and espresso maker combo is a machine that allows you to brew both espresso and your favorite drip coffee in one place. These machines come in various different designs. Some have steam wands, some brew simultaneously coffee and pull shots, some are compact, and some can brew up to 10 cups of coffee. Anything all-in-one is a win, generally. The espresso and coffee maker combo takes up less space than multiple machines, and they allow you to play barista in the comfort of your own home. At the end of the day, it’s all about convenience.
Why Do You Need One?
Well, as we just mentioned, a combo maker will eliminate the need for multiple machines, therefore clearing up precious counter space in your kitchen. If you love coffee and espresso drinks, this machine allows you to create coffee masterpieces at home. You’ll save money since you won’t be running to the café before work every morning, and you’ll be able to tailor your beverage to your tastes. Not that your barista doesn’t already do a good job at that! Although these machines are typically a little bit pricey, they end up paying for themselves, especially if you’re partial to more expensive coffee shops like Starbucks.
Nespresso GCC1-US-BK-NE VertuoLine
Nespresso takes an original approach to the coffee and espresso combo. Their GCC1-US-BK-NE VertuoLine Evoluo Deluxe is a capsule-based system, and it only has one brewer. The machine has an intelligence module that scans the capsule, and it adjusts the brewing parameters accordingly.
I love the idea, and I am partial to this brewer because the brewed coffee tastes like an espresso. If you, however, like the classic taste of standard drip American coffee, it might not be for you.
Because of the way Nespresso approached the brewing, having a single brewer for both coffee and espresso makes this model very compact. Besides fitting into a smaller kitchen space, it looks amazing, with its futuristic design.
Delonghi BCO264B Cafe Nero Combo Maker
The BCO 264B features a pump for its espresso brewing needs. This means it can brew a real espresso. The traditional drip coffee brewing module also makes great coffee, the unit is calibrated perfectly.
The unit can be programmed, and you can adjust brewing strength and temperature. You can pre-program your drip coffee maker to start brewing in the morning.
A nice thing is that Café Nero can use both coffee grounds and espresso pods. The adjustable steam wand allows you to froth milk for delicious latte and cappuccino creations.
The unit comes with a basic tamper, a goldtone permanent filter, and a glass carafe. The built-in chlorine filter makes this unit even more attractive for the prospective buyer. Nothing is worse than coffee brewed with bad water.
How to Choose a Machine
When choosing a machine, consider these questions:
How serious are you about your brew?
If you will only drink high-quality coffee and are a stickler for flavor, you’re probably going to want to opt for a top-of-the-line design, whereas a more laid-back coffee drinker might be comfortable with something a little more humble.
Do you love cappuccinos and lattes?
If you love milky, frothy coffee beverages, there are designs that include steam wands that would allow you to create them just like they do at your favorite café. Because, sure, you could just heat milk up on the stove, but you wouldn’t get the same frothy consistency as you would if you steamed it. So, it’s a good thing to have.
What’s your budget?
Coffee/espresso machines range in price, from about $100-$300. The best machines fall in the $200+ range, but if you’re willing to sacrifice a few features, the machines in the $100 range are functional.
Another option, if you’re low on cash but desperate to brew quality coffee in your home, is to opt for a manual machine, like the Aeropress. It might require a little more work, but it makes a great cup. It doesn’t give you a real espresso, nor does it brew classic drip coffee, but the coffee is amazing, and the unit is really cheap.
How much space do you have?
Your counter space should be a deciding factor when choosing the right combination coffee/espresso machine. If you’re lucky enough to have ample space in your kitchen, you need not worry about this one. But if things are a little tight, there are compact options that would function better in your space.
Real Espresso vs Strong Drip Coffee
If you need real espresso, and great drip coffee, a combo is the way to go. If you are flexible and the taste is not the most important factor, because your drinks will be drenched in milk anyway, then a smart coffee maker such as the Ninja would be a great choice.
DeLonghi BC0330T Drip Coffee and Espresso Machine Combo
Another competitor in the combo coffee makers niche is DeLonghi BC0330T. This machine includes a swivel jet milk frother for lattes and cappuccinos, a 24-hour timer, and a brew pause function so you can grab your cup before it’s done brewing if you’re in a hurry.
The permanent gold tone filter that comes with the machine is a great way to save you money down the road. For coffee lovers who like it, the permanent filters can give more body to your cup, and more flavor. If you like a cleaner cup, you can still use paper filters.
The espresso machine part is a steam-powered machine, which delivers decent shots for making lattes. If you are an espresso connoisseur, this machine is not for you.
A nice feature is the water filtration system which reduces chlorine and other impurities.
The patented “Flavor Savor” brewing system ensures fully saturation of the coffee grounds for a complete extraction.
The Best Coffee Espresso Combo Machine
Want more help deciding which machine to choose? Consider these:
- Generally, these combos are not renowned for reliability, but if you are lucky, you can get one to serve you for years.
- If you need real espresso, go with the more expensive models, that have a pump driven espresso maker, those are the real deal.
- Nespresso is a good balance between coffee and espresso, and it only has one brewer. The drip coffee though, although delicious, is not your typical American coffee. It’s a more flavourful cup, that resembles espresso.
So, there you have it: all you need to know about combination coffee/espresso machines. What do you think? What is your choice?
Ninja Coffee Bar Auto-iQ
Ninja Coffee Bar does not make real espresso like the other machines in our list, but for the average coffee drinker, the multitude of brewing styles is more than enough.
Because it lacks a pump, it cannot pull espresso shots, but there are a few innovations that allow the Ninja coffee maker to brew a variety of coffee beverages:
- Drip coffee
- Strong brew, (espresso style)
- Over Ice
The built-in frother allows the home barista to make lattes and cappuccinos for an even wider selection.
The most important thing about Ninja is its reliability. All of the espresso-drip combination machines suffer from this perspective, because of the complexity. You have two separate machines in one. Ninja is a bit more complex than your average drip coffee machine, however, nothing like a real combo machine.
Espressione Coffee and Espresso Maker
The Espressione Combination Coffee Espresso System is another great alternative.
This machine boasts commercial-quality espresso and features a steaming wand for frothing milk. The unit also has several programmable options with an easy-to-use interface. The 15 bar pump ensures you get a real espresso from the machine, and not a watered down version, like with steam espresso machines.
It can brew up to ten cups of coffee at once, and you can adjust the cup size and program the time you want it to start brewing. You can use it with regular ground coffee or with E.S.E. espresso coffee pods.