Coffee Grinder + Brewer: Good, Bad, Indifferent
November 27, 2016 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Is a coffee maker with built-in grinder a good idea? What brands/models are best?

We have a coffee grinder and we have a drip coffee maker. My wife does the grinding and most of the brewing. She has complained about the way static electricity distributes fresh-ground coffee articles to undesired places, e.g. the counter top and her clothing. She expressed openness to receiving a grind and brew type machine for Christmas.

But are they neater? Are they less fuss? Is the coffee better?
posted by SemiSalt to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I had a Cuisinart Grind and Brew model similar to this one and I hated it with a passion. The grinding mechanism was constantly gummed up and the grains clogged the filter nearly every second day, resulting in coffee and grounds all over my counter.

When I look at this picture, I see that the bean grinder area is now on top of the machine, as opposed to off to the side, as mine was. Not sure if this makes a difference, but I'd suggest having a really good look at the online reviews and taking anything that complains about clogging very seriously.
posted by rpfields at 10:25 AM on November 27, 2016

The last time I looked at this sort of thing, I decided that I wanted two separate items so they could be replaced independently in case of failure.

What sort of coffee grinder do you have? I use a burr grinder. It has a small hopper for beans, selection dials for grind and for amount of coffee and a hopper to collect the ground beans. I haven't had problems with static.
posted by TORunner at 10:27 AM on November 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm on my second burr grinder with the same coffeemaker. I would get two different machines.

I feel your wife's static electricity pain. Flyaway grinds and cling-on dust are worse with drier beans, and less with oilier beans, ime. Maybe she could try different beans?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 10:33 AM on November 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'm on my second burr grinder with the same coffeemaker. I would get two different machines.

Ditto. Second grinder, second coffee maker, both failed at separate times, a few years apart.
posted by bonehead at 10:42 AM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

nthing to get two separate machines. IME, grinders eventually fail, but coffee makers, depending on brand, seem to last a long time. If I were in your position, I would just read all the reviews and make the best choice that way. I haven't tried any of the really expensive grinders/coffee makers, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

If you are interested, The Sweethome wrote an article about the best coffee grinders. That article also talks about why grinders are important and what the features actually mean - it could be helpful for you. They also have an article about the best coffee makers. And then they also have an article about the best cheap coffee makers. I generally trust their reviews. Good luck!
posted by FireFountain at 10:56 AM on November 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

I had one; if I set it up on a timer to brew the next morning, the humidity from the water would saturate the grinder parts, and the grinder produced a thick slurry that gummed up the works.

We were living in a coastal area, so if you're somewhere particularly dry it may work better- but it definitely made it a month before getting thrown out at our house.
posted by jenkinsEar at 10:59 AM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

n'thing the "two machines" crowd; bean-to-cup machines just have more stuff to go (expensively) wrong.

If your partner is annoyed by static electricity, and your grinder has a removable coffee receptacle, I find that covering any openings on it and giving it a sharp knock against a work surface after grinding gets rid of most of the tendency for the grounds to fly everywhere. Also, only grind as much as you need - less coffee to go everywhere and it'll make better coffee.
posted by parm at 11:16 AM on November 27, 2016

We have a Melitta Mill and Brew, which is no longer made and I'm not sure all of the comments are applicable to other brands, but it is not a purchase I would make again, for the following reasons:

(1) The grinding mechanism died before the coffee maker mechanism (I think it was about 3-4 years old at that point), so for the past couple of years we've had to grind beans in a separate grinder anyhow.
(2) The built-in filter is difficult to clean, but because it is a special design you can't just go buy a new one like you could with a regular coffee maker and reusable filter. Maybe if you washed it in the dishwasher every time you used it the oils wouldn't build up, but aint nobody got time for that.
(3) I personally prefer paper filtered coffee over metal filtered, but that's a matter of personal preference. The taste is different, though.
posted by drlith at 11:19 AM on November 27, 2016

I have a grind and brew. I drink coffee every day, I've had the same CuisineArt 10 cup model for 5 years, I think? Works fine. Bit loud, but so's every coffee grinder. Been perfectly happy with it. It is definitely neater that the seperate grind, since there's no decanting of the grounds from one place to another.

To be fair, I don't usually use the timer feature, so I don't have any experience with filling it the night before. I do wash the basket and grinder between uses --- they will get gunked up if you don't rinse out the old grounds before putting in new beans, plus I worry about the build-up affecting the flavor.
posted by Diablevert at 11:36 AM on November 27, 2016

My parents had a grind and brew when I was in high school and we all loved it, never had any problems with the timer feature. One thing we didn't like was that you did have to wash all the components every day, I don't know if newer models have fewer fiddly pieces, but it was a bunch of plastic parts we had to clean out, this was 15 years ago.
posted by SoftRain at 11:43 AM on November 27, 2016

Two machines recommended, says this two-time grind-and-brew veteran!
posted by jgirl at 11:51 AM on November 27, 2016

I have written extensively and lovingly about my grind and brew (but it may be a bit different from the type you are discussing.) Anyway, mine is about to go get serviced because it needs a professional clean due to mold. So. Ya know. There's that.

I definitely drink less hot coffee now that the machine is out of commission. I drink loads of cold brew instead.
posted by jbenben at 11:53 AM on November 27, 2016

I have no problems with static in my Baratza Encore grinder, but my parents' cheaper machine has a lot of static. So this may be something you can solve by upgrading your grinder alone.
posted by wyzewoman at 12:10 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just nthing the grinder - my capresso infinity has 90% less static than the cheapo pseudo-burr Black & Decker it replaces. Just much slower spinning - and way quieter to boot.
posted by ftm at 12:30 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

My wife used to work in a kitchen store and we we always testing things. We tried several combo units any even the most expensive ones with the integral burr grinders were more trouble than they saved. Certainly no improvement over having a separate grinder. In fact, we usually just ended up using a stand alone grinder for these units.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:40 PM on November 27, 2016

Seconding what rpfields and others said above. My Cuisinart Grind and Brew was a bear to keep clean. So I quit using it for grinding and now use it only for brewing. Recommend separate devices.
posted by JimN2TAW at 2:49 PM on November 27, 2016

What's your budget/do you have one? I'm in the two devices camp myself and just manage the static from the grounds. But I was just staying with family who have a very fancy Jura machine from Switzerland that grinds and brews and cleans itself and makes some really fine coffee with no fuss at all. They are huge and expensive but otherwise clean and good.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 5:08 PM on November 27, 2016

Someone with too much disposable income bought a high end home Jura for my office break room about a decade ago. That thing has probably brewed 10,000 cups of coffee and is only now starting to really die.
posted by rockindata at 5:20 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Meaning that, if you really spend enough money on one, grind and brew can work, but the cuisinart ones are more trouble than they are worth.
posted by rockindata at 5:21 PM on November 27, 2016

The newest version of the Cuisinart Grind and Brew is so much less fiddly to clean! Firstly, it has a burr grinder now, and you only need to clean it (basically poke it with the included brush) every seven or so uses. It also has a hopper so you don't have to add beans every use. You just need to clean the grinds basket and rinse out the pot between uses. The thermal carafe is nothing short of magic. The mister has poured a hot cup o' joe 12 hours after brewing. I loved the quality of the coffee produced by our previous G&B, but hated cleaning it. The new one also lets you set the strength of your coffee. We keep it on medium, but the mister switches it to strong when the kid and I are away.
posted by Ruki at 7:41 PM on November 27, 2016

Thanks for all the info.

The answers by Ruki and others have me wondering if you can tell the newer Cuisinart models from the older ones based on model number.
posted by SemiSalt at 2:13 PM on November 30, 2016

I'd suggest a personal MeMail to Ruki unless you've already done so.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:16 PM on November 30, 2016

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