In recent years, with the popularisation of capsule systems (hard or soft), there has also been a proliferation of hybrid coffee machines capable of preparing espresso-like all life, but which also admit the use of single-dose coffee. And, of course, more and more users are behind them.
Single-dose coffee machines are usually associated with the hard capsule format (Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, etc.), but there are many other alternatives, which we will explain in this report. One of the most practical is coffee machines for ground coffee and single-dose coffee.
NOTE: Single-serve and ground coffee machines include many (but not all) of the popular multi-capsule coffee machines.
Single-serve and ground coffee machines usually cost the same as a normal espresso machine. Sometimes, the user is not even aware that he is buying a coffee machine with this option.
A good espresso machine compatible with single-dose coffee 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 the coffee already prepared. They are ideal if there are several coffee drinkers in your household and each one has different tastes. However, whenever possible, use a good coffee grinder with your single-dose espresso machine and avoid pre-ground coffee.
We’ll go into more detail on each model later, but for now, here is our selection of versatile coffee machines:
- 1 How do single-dose and ground coffee machines work?
- 2 What types of coffee machines for ground coffee and single-dose are there?
- 3 The best coffee machines for single dose and ground coffee
- 4 Why buy a single-serve coffee machine?
- 5 Guide to buying coffee machines with pods: what should I look out for?
- 6 Which single-serve coffee machine should I buy?
How do single-dose and ground coffee machines work?
ESE single-dose compatibility is a simple concept. It is enough that in the handle filters, in addition to being able to serve ground coffee, a single-dose bag can be placed. All you need is for the filter to have the right size (you know that single-dose capsules, whether pads or ESE type, have different diameters).
Sometimes the coffee machine itself does not advertise or include among its features the possibility of using single-dose filters. However, you can try placing a single dose on the filter and work correctly. Sometimes it’s a question of ingenuity.
Once the single dose is in place, the coffee maker works the same as with ground coffee. You must adjust the filter in the group, tighten it, and activate the hot water injection. When the extraction is finished, instead of collecting the coffee grounds, it will be enough to remove the single dose (it will be very wet and hot) and throw it in the garbage.
In this video, you will be able to see it much more evident:
What types of coffee machines for ground coffee and single-dose are there?
We can define two subsets of these hybrid coffee machines, for espresso coffee and single-dose coffee — those that have a set of two filters and those that have three filters.
In espresso machines with two filters, there is a smaller handle filter for making an espresso (a single dose of coffee) and a deeper handle filter for two cups or double espresso (two doses of coffee). Both have the same diameter, as is natural, but differ in-depth and the amount of coffee they can hold.
In a single-dose compatible coffee machine, the second filter has a double use: it can be used for double espressos or to place 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 handle filters has a single-use: there is a filter for single espressos, another for double espressos, and a third filter that is used with single doses.
A good example of an espresso machine with three filters is the Solac New Squissitta Intelligent:
The best coffee machines for single dose and ground coffee
The following are, in our opinion, some of the most exciting single-dose and ground coffee machines on the market. Either because of their price, their overall quality as coffee machines, or because they have a series of new attributes and features. This ranking does not follow any order.
Logically, we could have included many more, but the idea was to make a strict and accessible selection. If you have any other contributions, do not hesitate to contact us or tell us in a comment!
We begin our list with one of the most recent Delonghi models in the manual express segment. The ECP35 coffee maker has a 1.1-litre capacity, a stainless-steel boiler and two independent thermostats. When it comes to espresso and single-serve coffee machines, the Delonghi Dedica is another market leader.
The metallic finishes give the piece a plus of category and durability. It has a set of three filters: the one that admits single-dose bags does not have to be mixed with ground coffee.
Oster Prima Latte
An authentic classic that, besides serving to prepare cappuccinos and specialities with milk foam, is also compatible with the ESE single dose. The Oster coffee maker has a substantial 1.5-litre capacity tank, and the milk tank holds 300 millilitres. In this case, it has two filters, and we can use a single dose in the largest size.
Cecotec Cumbia Capricciosa
Cecotec 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.
Solac New Squissitta Intelligent
The most recent launch of Solac is a real successful coffee maker. The New Squissita Intelligent improves on all its predecessors but retains all the new functions that the rest of the coffee machines in the range had. Among them, of course, is single-dose compatibility. The tank is 1.2 litres in size, and best of all, it includes three filters: one for normal espressos, a larger one for double espressos, and a third filter for single-dose capsules.
Delonghi Dedica EC-685
I’s is the second model of Delonghi that we include in this ranking, but it is such a complete coffee machine, so popular and sold that we couldn’t leave it out. It has everything, including a beautiful steel design and a second handle filter that can be used for a double dose of coffee as well as for single-dose coffees. The Delonghi EC685 is a classic among the classics.
Sencor SCE 2000
Although it may not seem like it, one of the cheapest coffee machines on the market is also a single-dose and ground coffee machine. That is the case of this Sencor coffee maker, minimal, low capacity, low price (of course) but gets it to be enormously practical and allows you to use both ground coffee and a single dose in its only filter. It is the only coffee maker in this ranking that has only one handle filter.
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 shell all its virtues here, because for that you can read the review we have done on our website. Also, 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 pressurised and two unpressurised (in both cases, it’s a small filter and a big one). And, besides, a fifth specific filter to use with a single dose.
All Lelit espresso machines enjoy high prestige and fame in the sector. And they have it well deserved. On this occasion, we have chosen the Lelit PL42 model, which, although it is not the most advanced in the range, has an exciting quality-price ratio (all the coffeemakers of this company are of a wide variety) and allows, just like the rest, to use both ground coffee and single-dose coffee in their ladles. It includes a set of three filters, 57 mm in diameter. Only one of them can be used as a single dose. The other two are for ground coffee.
And we had to close our collection with one of the most versatile coffee machines on the market. An accurate reference in the field of all-purpose coffee machines. 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 pods. Without words!
Why buy a single-serve coffee machine?
Against the current opinion of many traditional fanatics who despise the consumption of single-serve coffee pods, from Coffeemaker.top, we want to give you a complete and objective guide about why it is a good idea to buy a single-serve coffee machine, and what are the main details and aspects that you should take into account before buying one especially if it is a coffee machine compatible with both pods and ground coffee (so you have all the options).
Remember that all coffee machines 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 suits you best.
- To begin with, one of the main advantages of using a single-serve coffee machine is that the coffee result 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 be perfect.
- In our opinion, another of the fundamental reasons for choosing a single-dose machine is that we can enjoy not only great coffees instantly, but also chocolates, teas, cappuccinos and a multitude of drinks that would not be available with a conventional coffee machine. The variety of drinks is enormous in some cases.
- We can also forget about cleaning: forget about coffee grounds, filters… 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 made up your mind? If these arguments have convinced you, or if you have already made up your mind, the next step is to find out what you should look out for before choosing your pod machine.
Guide to buying coffee machines with pods: what should I look out for?
The first thing to look out for is the pods. Before you start to cloud your mind with models, prices, functions and extras, you need to be clear about one thing: all coffee machines of a given brand work with the same capsules. In other words, the beverages you will enjoy are the same in the more expensive or cheaper models.
Each brand of capsule coffee machine has its own capsules, although some accept compatible capsules. So before buying any coffee machine, you should make sure you like the taste and quality of the coffee or beverages of that brand. Nescafé, Nestlé, Marcilla, and so on.
If you opt for a single-serve compatible arm, bear in mind that these are ESE or soft pods. Not hard pods like the ones mentioned above.
Another important difference between the brands is that while Senseo or Nespresso only brew coffee (with a wide variety, that’s true), Tassimo and Dolce Gusto offer you a wider variety 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 big battle horse. Single-serve pods are not cheap. Each coffee can cost between 20 and 30 cents, doubled for drinks that require two pods (like many Dolce Gusto pods). When evaluating prices, there are several considerations (and here we will stick only to the official capsules of each brand, not the compatible ones): Nespresso is by far the most expensive brand, and to this, you must add that you can only buy them in their shops or online.
This means that if there is no physical Nespresso shop in your city, you will have to order the capsules online, with the consequent increase in shipping costs. The rest, on the other hand, are cheaper and can be found in almost any supermarket. Senseo single-dose pods are usually the cheapest, while Tassimo T-Discs have no compatible pods on the market and are also expensive in the long run.
Well, there are no major differences here, but you should be aware that Senseo coffee machines are made by Philips, and Tassimo coffee machines are made by Bosch. Nespresso and Dolce Gusto coffee machines are made by Krups and DeLonghi, with no differences between their models beyond some aesthetic variation in some specific cases (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 strength of the coffee machine
Nespresso wins here, with 19 bars of power, and stands out from the rest in this respect. But all brands have enough power to brew coffees and espressos at just the right strength, so strength is not a key element in deciding which model to buy, as is the case with traditional coffee machines, for example.
This is where the aesthetic criteria and taste of each buyer come into play. In general, Dolce Gusto coffee machines have more modern and casual lines, while Senseo or Tassimo offer machines with, so to speak, “more of an appliance look”. Nespresso, for its part, has a very peculiar style in all its single-dose coffee machines and is characterised by exquisite and attractive designs, soberer than those of Dolce Gusto, while retaining that distinguished and elitist air that characterises the entire 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).
And finally, and in our opinion, this is an important detail that is often overlooked; you should pay attention to the dimensions of the coffee machine and make sure that you will have enough room in your kitchen to place it. Sometimes these single-serve coffee machines are bigger than they look in the photos, and nowadays, we are not exactly short of space in our kitchens.
Which single-serve coffee machine should I buy?
In short, if you want hard pods, you should make sure that the capsules of the brand you choose are to your liking, that you can buy them easily and that they suit your budget. This is a much more important investment in the long run than what you will initially spend on the coffee machine.
Once you have decided this, look through the extras or new features of each coffee maker to find the ones that will be most useful to you, because remember that there is no such thing as a perfect coffee maker.
If you want a coffee machine that can be used for single-serve and ground coffee, most models will be a boom coffee machine. There are some universal capsule coffee machines that 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 looks good in your kitchen, you’ve got it made!