Coffee machines for capsules and ground coffee

In recent years, with the popularization of modern capsule systems (whether hard or soft), hybrid coffee machines have also increased, capable of making espresso like a lifetime, but which also admit the use of single-dose capsules. And there are more and more users behind them, of course.

Capsule coffee machines are usually associated with the hard capsule format (Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, etc.), but there are many other alternatives that we will learn about in this report. One of the most practical is coffee machines for ground and single-dose coffee.

Coffee machines for capsules and ground coffee usually cost the same as a standard espresso machine, and sometimes even the user does not know that he is buying a coffee maker with this option.

A good espresso machine that is compatible with single-dose coffee machines allows you to enjoy the advantages of both systems: the purity, flavour and closeness of traditional espresso coffee, or the cleanliness and speed of using a single-dose machine with your coffee ready.

They are ideal if you have several coffee drinkers in your house and each one has different tastes. However, whenever possible, accompany your espresso machine with a good coffee grinder and avoid pre-milling.

NOTE: Among the machines that support single-dose and ground coffee are many (not all) of the famous multi-capsule coffee makers.

How do ground coffee and capsule coffee makers work?

Compatibility with ESE single-dose machines is a straightforward concept. All you have to do is place a single-dose pod in the filters or ladles, in addition to being able to serve ground coffee. All you need is for the filter to be the right size (you know that single-dose pods, whether pads or ESE type, have different diameters).

Sometimes the coffee maker itself does not announce or include among its features the possibility of using single-dose in its filters. However, you can try placing a single dose on the filter, and it will work correctly. Sometimes it’s a matter of ingenuity.

Once you’ve placed the single dose, the coffee maker works in precisely the same way as with ground coffee. You have to adjust the filter in the group, tighten it, and activate the hot water injection. When the extraction is complete, instead of collecting the coffee grounds, remove the pod (it will be very wet and hot) and throw it away.

In this video, you can see it much more clearly:

What types of coffee machines for ground coffee and single-dose are there?

We can define two subsets of these hybrid coffee makers, for espresso and single-dose—those with a set of two filters and those with three filters.

In the espresso machines with two filters, there is a smaller ladle that serves to prepare an espresso (a single dose of coffee) and a deeper ladle for two cups or double espresso (two doses of coffee). Both have the same diameter, of course, but differ in-depth and in the amount of coffee, they can hold.

In a single-dose coffee machine, the second filter has a double use: it can be used for double espressos or for placing single doses. It is the most common system, but not the only one.

There are other hybrid coffee machines, which have a set of 3 filters. In this case, each of the pots has a single-use: there is a filter for single espressos, another for double espressos, and a third filter that is used with the individual doses.

An excellent example of an espresso machine with three filters is the Orbegozo EX-6000:

The Best Coffee Makers for Single Dose and Ground Coffee

The following are, in our opinion, some of the most exciting machines for ground and single-dose coffee on the market. Either because of their price, or because of their overall quality as coffee machines, or because they have a series of additional attributes and features. This ranking does not follow any particular order.

Logically, we could have included many more single-dose coffee machines, but the idea was to make a strict and accessible selection. If you have any other input, please do not hesitate to contact us or tell us in a comment!

Delonghi ECP35

We start our list with one of the latest Delonghi models in the manual express segment. The ECP35 coffee maker has a 1.1-litre capacity, stainless steel boiler and two independent thermostats. As far as espresso and single-dose coffee machines are concerned, the Delonghi Dedica model is another market leader.

The metal finishes give it a plus in terms of durability. It has a set of three filters: the one that admits single-dose bags will not have to be mixed with the ground coffee.

Oster Prima Latte

A true classic that, in addition to serving to prepare cappuccinos and specialities with milk foam, is also compatible with ESE single-dose. The Oster coffee machine has a massive tank with a capacity of 1.5 litres, and the milk tank holds 300 millilitres. In this case, it has two filters, and the single-dose machines can be used in the larger one.

Cecotec Cumbia Capricciosa

Cumbia Capricciosa, the most interesting thing about this machine is that it uses a coffee dispenser similar to a capsule coffee machine. There are no filters or filter holders. This allows us to use ground coffee or ESE single-dose coffee interchangeably, without having to change parts.

It is also a super-compact and small coffee machine, with a capacity of only 0.6 litres.

Delonghi Dedica EC-685

It is the second Delonghi model we included in this ranking, but it’s such a complete, accessible and best-selling coffee maker that we couldn’t leave it out. It has everything, including a beautiful steel design and a second ladle that serves both double and single servings of coffee. The Delonghi EC685 is a classic among the classics.

Sencor SCE 2000

Although it doesn’t look like it, one of the cheapest coffee machines on the market is also a coffee maker for single doses and ground coffee. It is the case with this Sencor coffee maker, which is very small, has a low capacity and a low price (of course) but manages to be extremely practical. On top of that, it allows you to use both ground and single-dose coffee in its only filter. It is the single coffee maker in this ranking that has only one ladle. And if you’re looking for cheap single-dose coffee makers, this one is practically unbeatable.

Ascaso Dream Up

And we went from one end to the other. If the previous Sencor coffee machine is one of the most modest on the market, this impressive Ascaso Dream coffee machine plays in another division. We are not going to reveal all its virtues here because you can read the review we have done on our web. Besides, it would take centuries and is not the object of this list.

What we are going to tell you is that the Ascaso Dream Up coffee machine comes with a set of no less than five different filters. It has two pressurized and two unpressurized (in both cases, it is a small and a big filter). And, besides, a fifth filter specifically for use with single-dose.

Lelit PL42

All Lelit espresso machines enjoy high prestige and fame in the sector. And they deserve it. This time we have chosen the Lelit PL42 model, which, although it is not the most advanced of the range, has an exciting quality-price ratio (all the coffee machines of this firm are very high range) and allows, like the rest, to use both ground coffee and single-dose in its pots. It includes a set of three filters, 57 mm in diameter. Only one of them is suitable for single-dose use. The other two are for ground coffee.

Illy X1

And we had to close our collection with one of the most versatile coffee machines on the market—a real reference in the field of coffee machines that can be used for everything. The Illy X1 has three different versions. The most advanced of them, called Illy X1 Ground, allows you to use up to three different coffee formats: Illy Iperespresso capsules, ground coffee and single-dose. No words!

Why buy a single-dose coffee maker?

Contrary to the opinion of many traditional fans who despise the consumption of single-dose coffee capsules. At, we want to provide you with a complete and objective guide as to why it is a good idea to buy a single-dose coffee maker. What the main details and aspects are that you should take into account before buying it if it’s a coffee maker that’s compatible with both single-dose and ground coffee (so you have all the options).

Remember that all coffee makers of all brands have advantages and disadvantages and that there is no such thing as a perfect machine. You have to evaluate all the options carefully and choose the one that best suits you.

  • To begin with, one of the main advantages of using a single-dose machine is that the result of the coffee will always be the same. The drinks are prepared mechanically and always following the same process. Forget about worrying about “how my coffee comes out”: it will always come out perfect.
  • In our opinion, another fundamental reason for choosing a single-dose machine is that we can instantly enjoy not only great coffees but also chocolates, teas, cappuccinos and a multitude of other drinks that would not be available from a conventional coffee machine. The variety of drinks is enormous in some cases.
  • We can also forget about cleaning: forget about dregs, filters, etc. Capsule coffee machines hardly need any maintenance, and some models even automatically eject the capsule into an external tank.

What do you think? Have you decided yet? If these arguments convince you, or you’ve already made up your mind, the next step is to find out what you should look at before choosing your pod machine.

Guide to buying single-serve machines: what should I look out for?

The first thing is the capsules. Before you cloud your mind with models, prices, features and extras, one thing should be clear to you: all coffee makers from one brand work with the same capsules. It means that the drinks you will enjoy are precisely the same in the more expensive models or the cheaper models.

Each brand of capsule coffee maker has its capsules. However, some of them are compatible, so before buying any coffee maker, you should make sure that you like the taste and quality of the coffee or drinks of that brand—Nescafé, Nestlé, Marcilla, etc.

If you opt for a single dose arm, then bear in mind that these are ESE single doses or soft drinks. Not hard single-dose, as mentioned above.

Another critical difference between the brands is that while Senseo or Nespresso only prepare coffee (with a wide variety, that’s true), Tassimo and Dolce Gusto offer a more extensive range of drinks: chocolates, teas, soft drinks, etc. Keep this in mind, especially if you have people at home who don’t like coffee very much.

And last but not least, the price. That great workhorse. Single-dose capsules don’t come cheap. Each coffee can cost you between 20 and 30 cents, which is twice as much for drinks that require two capsules (like many Dolce Gusto drinks). There are several considerations when evaluating prices (and here, we will stick only to the official capsules of each brand, not to the compatible ones). Nespresso is by far the most expensive brand, and you should add that you can only buy them in their stores or online.

It means that if there is no physical Nespresso store in your city, you will have to order the capsules online with the consequent increase in shipping costs. The rest, on the other hand, is cheaper and can be found in almost any supermarket. Senseo’s single-dose capsules are usually the most affordable, while Tassimo’s T-Discs are not compatible in the market, and in the long run, they are also expensive.

The manufacturer

Well, in this aspect, the truth is that there are no significant differences, but you should know in advance that Senseo’s coffee makers are made by Philips, and Tassimo’s are made by Bosch. Nespresso and Dolce Gusto coffee makers are manufactured by both Krups and DeLonghi, with no differences between their models beyond some aesthetic variation in a particular case (such as the Nespresso Pixie).

In our opinion, this is not a determining factor when deciding on your purchase, but it is always good to know.

The pressure and power of the coffee machine

Here the Nespresso wins, with 19 bars of power and are different from the rest in this data. But all the brands have enough power to make coffee and espressos at the right point, so strength is not an essential element when deciding which model to buy, as is the case with traditional coffee makers, for example.

The design

It is where the criteria and aesthetic taste of each buyer come into play. In general, Dolce Gusto coffee machines are more modern and casual, while Senseo or Tassimo offer coffee machines with, so to speak, “more of an appliance look”. Nespresso, for its part, has a very peculiar style in all its single-serve coffee makers and is characterized by exquisite and attractive designs, soberer than those of Dolce Gusto and conserving that distinguished and elitist air that imprints the whole brand.

With a few exceptions in the older models, almost all the coffee machines offer a wide variety of colours to choose from, from the most classic (black, grey) to the most daring (red, blue, or brighter colours).

And finally, and in our opinion, this is an important detail that is often overlooked; you should look at the dimensions of the coffee maker and make sure that you have enough room in your kitchen to put it in. Sometimes these single-serve machines are more significant than they look in the pictures, and nowadays, it’s not like we have a lot of space in our kitchens.

Which coffee maker should I buy?

In short, if you want a hard single-dose, you must make sure that the capsules of the brand you choose are to your liking, that you can easily buy them and that they fit into your pocket. It is a much more critical investment in the long run than what you will initially spend on the coffee maker.

Once you have decided on this, dive into the extras or new features of each coffee maker to find those that may be most useful to you; remember that there is no such thing as a perfect coffee maker.

If you want a coffee maker that can be used for both single servings and ground coffee, then most models will be armchair coffee makers. Some universal capsule coffee makers also support the option of using hard capsules (Nespresso or Dolce Gusto) and ground coffee, using different adapters in each case.

Finally, if among these parameters, you also find a model that you like and that fits well in your kitchen, you’ve got it made! Check also this article: Which coffee machine should I buy?