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It's Time To Rethink Coffee Makers With Built-In Grinders
Written by: Garrett Oden
Rise and grind!
We can all agree that there’s nothing better first thing in the morning than freshly ground and brewed coffee. The tantalizing aroma of just ground coffee wafting through the house is enough to wake even the soundest of sleepers.
And, as much as we’d all love to expertly craft our cup of coffee every morning, that’s just not realistic. Some mornings we need our coffee brewed instantly with the touch of a button.
With the thought of convenience in mind, you’ve likely considered buying a coffee maker with a built-in grinder. With a single button, you can grind and brew your coffee, kick back, and wait for the coffee to be ready.
Sorry to disappoint, but coffee makers with built-in grinders ultimately cause more headaches—and bad coffee—than convenience!
Don’t worry though. In this guide, we’ll show you the right way to grind and brew convenient coffee first thing in the morning.
By the end, you’ll know:
- The pros and cons of using a coffee maker with a built-in grinder
- 3 reasons why a separate coffee grinder is always best (+ which type of grinder to buy!)
- How to get the #1 rated coffee grinder for free
By the end, we’re confident you’ll never want to consider a built-in grinder again—and that’s a really good thing!
The Pros & Cons of Using Coffee Makers with Built-In Grinders
Pros Of Built-In Grinders:
When it comes to using a coffee maker with a built-in grinder, the only advantage is convenience.
On mornings where you’ve put our shirt on backward and managed to spill toothpaste on your pants, having an all-in-one coffee maker ensures that you get your piping hot, caffeine-loaded bean juice fast!
But that convenience comes at a cost…
Cons Of Built-In Grinders:
Limited Grind Settings
When it comes to making exceptional coffee overflowing with flavor, three main factors that affect your final cup:
- Coffee bean quality (We’re BIG fans of specialty coffee)
- Water quality
- Grind size
Accurately adjusting your grind size can transform a coffee from overpowering and bitter to smooth and sweet. This is why it’s important to use a separate coffee grinder with intricate grind settings.
Coffee makers with built-in grinders typically offer very few grind sizes. And, these settings tend to be drastic leaps from fine to medium to coarse, rather than offering all of the grind sizes in between.
On some coffee makers, these grind controls are masked as “strength” or “cup” settings. This means you can only control the amount of coffee grounds, not the grind size!
With these limitations, you’ll find yourself playing Goldilocks trying to find that just right grind size using a handful of unhelpful settings. Ultimately, you’ll become frustrated with the lack of grind options and wind up with bland tasting coffee. Yuck!
Repairs = No Coffee!
Coffee makers are machines. And, over time, machines break down!
Fortunately, most coffee brands allow customers to send their coffee gear to the manufacturer for repairs. However, when you choose to use an all-in-one coffee maker, the entire machine is out of commission when one part breaks.
Let’s say a motor in the built-in grinder breaks. Guess what? Your brewer is now out of commission too.
That means no coffee.
No. Coffee. That’s not an option!
By using a separate grinder, you can still grind your beans fresh and enjoy the convenience of an automatic drip brewer. The only difference is that you’re using two machines to get the job done!
And, if your grinder needs to go out for repairs, you can still brew coffee in the drip brewer without a problem and vice versa.
Lack of Portability
From kitchen remodeling projects to camping in the woods, there are several reasons to need a portable coffee grinder. And guess what?
Coffee makers with built-in grinders are far from portable. No one wants to carry around a giant automatic coffee maker when they need coffee on-the-go!
Having a separate coffee grinder means you can have specialty coffee wherever you want, from hotel rooms and traveling to outdoor adventures.
There’s only one problem with specialty coffee: once you get hooked, you’re stuck for life!
Plenty of home coffee brewers find themselves quickly infatuated with specialty coffee and all of the fun and flavor that comes along with it. As a result, you’ll likely find yourself searching for ways to upgrade your at-home coffee gear and hone in your brewing skills.
For those who use a coffee maker with built-in grinders, this means you have to upgrade everything.
You now have to purchase a grinder AND a coffee maker. Depending on your gear of choice, this can mean shelling out some serious dough.
But if you already use a separate grinder, you can upgrade one piece of coffee equipment at a time. Start by switching from a drip coffee maker to a pour over set. Or, upgrade your grinder from a blade to a burr grinder. The choice is yours!
Hefty Price Tag
When you purchase an all-in-one coffee maker, you’re paying for the cost of the grinder—without the benefits.
For example, a Cuisinart 12-Cup Automatic Coffeemaker with a Built-in Grinder retails for around $400+. While this coffee maker does use burr grinders, there are no grind size settings!
For that same price, you can buy a Specialty Coffee Association-certified automatic brewer AND a separate coffee grinder with a multitude of grind size settings and additional features.
With such limited features and only convenience as a benefit, these coffee brewers are not worth their retail price!
3 Convincing Reasons Why Using a Separate Coffee Grinder is Always Best
At this point, you can understand why using separate coffee grinders always produces a more flavorful and tasty brew.
But, we’ve got three more critical reasons to share!
1. Complete Control Over Your Coffee
Coffee is such a versatile drink.
From the bean to the grind setting to the brew method, we can manipulate our brew to produce magical natural flavors and attributes!
Some coffee drinkers love the rich, smooth, and chocolatey taste of coffees from Central and South America, while others prefer the crisp, adventurous, and fruity coffees found in East Africa.
Each of these coffees requires a different grind setting and brew method to pull out those flavors we love so much.
This isn’t possible when you use coffee makers with built-in grinders.
By using a separate coffee grinder, you gain complete control over the final cup. Grind finer to rid your cup of bitterness, grind coarser to coax out fruity flavors; the choice is yours!
Alt: perfect coffee grind size
2. Easier Clean-Up
You don’t want old grinds from a bright, citric coffee ending up in a nutty morning coffee blend. This is why cleaning your grinder regularly is part of the home coffee routine.
Coffee makers with built-in grinders are not easy to clean. The clunky grinder parts do not come off simply and as a result, grinds get stuck in the hopper, burrs, and brew bed.
These lingering grinds ultimately affect every brew made from there on out!
Having a separate grinder ensures that nothing affects the brew method. You can clean your grinder without fear of messing up the next batch of coffee.
3. You’ll Save Money!
Remember, coffee makers with built-in grinders come with a hefty price tag.
Yet, these inflated prices don’t equate to quality grinders or coffee.
You can use that same amount of money to invest in a high-quality, long-lasting grinder as well as the brewing method of your choice.
For instance, if we were to purchase the Baratza Encore electric burr grinder, a Hario v60 pour over dripper, and a gooseneck kettle, the total would equal approximately $200-$225.
That’s half of what a coffee maker with a built-in grinder costs!
And, we’re about to show you how to get a FREE grinder and save even more money.
So, Which Coffee Grinder Should You Buy?
There are several types of stand-alone coffee grinders on the market.
However, we recommend purchasing either a manual or electric burr grinder.
Due to their mechanical design, these grinders offer a wealth of grind settings that allow you to perfectly dial in each coffee recipe with ease.
And, they’re far more affordable than most coffee makers with a built-in grinder.
Grind freshly roasted specialty coffee before brewing without the limitations of a built-in grinder!