Speciality coffee meets the single-serve process in this incredibly useful machine. It's smart, speedy, easy to clean, and - most importantly - makes strong coffee. It's perfect for small homes and filter coffee enthusiasts.
Makes delicious coffee
Easy to clean
No warming plate
Only makes single servings
No milk frothing functions
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Attention all single-serve and filter coffee drinkers: Cuisinart has just changed the coffee game. With an integrated grinder, easy to use filter baskets, and compact design, this mini but mighty machine will brew the best filter coffee you’ve ever had.
Rather than the simple warming plate and pot duo, Cuisinart has redesigned filter coffee, borrowing from traditional single-serve K-Cup models. With re-usable pods, you can use freshly ground coffee in a pod-like machine. The results are flawless and full of flavor.
I’m a trained barista and I’ve tried some of the best coffee makers on the market, but this still seriously impressed me. It has the flavors of speciality coffee with the convenience of single-serve models.
|Dimensions||11 x 7.3 x 12.7 inches|
|Beverage sizes||4, 8, 10, 12 oz|
|Water reservoir||48 oz|
|Bean hopper capacity||3.5 oz|
There’s very little to say about the unboxing process, which is unusual. Cuisinart’s Grind and Brew was packaged in cardboard with a little bit of flexible plastic around the machine parts. In an ideal world, all the packaging would be recyclable, but this is better than most.
On the countertop, it looks like a smart machine. There are lots of clean lines, with gentle curved edges, suitable for modern homes without being too ‘of the moment’ that it would end up looking dated in a few years. It's low enough to clear any countertop and fit easily into small kitchens.
Overall, I liked the design. The body is made from plastic, but it doesn’t feel overly cheap thanks to the stainless steel and glass touches across the machine.
Who would it suit?
I have to stop myself short of recommending this to every and any filter coffee or single-serve drinker, because the flavors are fantastic. Aesthetically and logistically this would suit a range of homes, including ones which are short on space.
If anything, I think this is better for smaller households, because it doesn’t fill like a traditional filter carafe. The single serve capsules will only make one coffee at a time. In big households, you could end up with a coffee maker queue. It also doesn’t have a warming plate or any presets, so if you like to just hop in and out of coffee, coming back for more later, you’ll find the Cuisinart lacking. However, I’m being picky because it’s my job. If I made this purchase, I would be extremely pleased with myself.
What is it like to use?
The whole set up process was delightful, mainly because I didn’t need to do a thing. I filled the water reservoir and clicked the reservoir neatly into place. The bean hopper can take about 3.5 oz of whole coffee beans, which is enough for about six to eight cups of coffee, matching the water capacity, so you can refresh both at the same time.
Aside from sliding the drip tray into place and plugging the machine in, there was little else to do. On a quick side note, if you’re struggling to to find both pods, Cuisinart sometimes places one in the storage on the left hand side of the machine. Once you know about this it’s incredibly useful, but it’s baffling if you don’t and you think you’re a pod short. If were to be extremely pedantic, it would be useful to have handles on the water reservoir, but this isn't a deal-breaker.
Test 1: Grinder
To get started, I placed my pod under the grinder and clicked the bean button, which is a straightforward process. The machine automatically stops when the grinding is done. Giving the pod a quick shake, I was impressed. The conical grinder had made some consistent grind sizes and hadn’t heated up the beans too much, all good indicators that my coffee would be delicious.
There aren’t many adjustable features, so you won’t be able to change the grind size or quantity, which is frustrating if you care about customisable coffee. However, most people will be grateful that Cuisinart has covered the basics already.
Test 2: Espresso
The first coffee test I was an espresso. I’m using the term espresso loosely, because this is more the size of a small cup of coffee - 4 oz.
The control panel on the top of the machine shows an espresso icon. For all short people (me included) you may have to stand up straight, because if you have high countertops, seeing everything is a stretch. However, once you have a pod full of coffee grounds, you only have to press a button.
Optimistically, I placed a small espresso cup under the brew head, which is relatively high up. This did result in a fair amount of splashing and my 4 oz cup nearly overflowed. Had I chosen a bigger cup, I have a feeling the splashing could have been significantly reduced.
The flavour of this small coffee was good. Three of our experts tried the - extremely hot - cup of coffee and agreed that it was strong, intense, and the best filter coffee we had ever tasted. It was a little on the acidic side for me, but still delicious.
Test 3: Long coffee
The other settings will brew a 8 oz and 12 oz cup of coffee. These are just like the small cup, still strong, but increasingly less punchy. Even the largest cup was still stronger than the average cup of filter coffee. It’s surprising that the grinds don’t adjust depending on how big your cup of coffee will be, especially given how well extracted the flavours are, but I’m very pleased with it. You’ll be glad that there was no splashing when pouring the larger sizes.
Cleaning, storage, and maintenance
I expected the pod style baskets to be fiddly to clean, but they were really easy. The old grinds are very dry, so can be scooped into the food waste. The basket is easy to rinse clean and dry quickly. It's great knowing that these aren't single-use, not only for your wallet, but for the environment too. As I mentioned earlier, there are two easy places to store these pods so that you don’t lose them in a drawer or cupboard.
Cleaning wise, the machine is low maintenance. When filled with beans and water, it will make about 8 coffees. I would suggest cleaning out the grinder and reservoir once you’ve made eight coffees to prevent any build up. Usefully, the base of the grinder detaches, giving you access to the burrs. Cuisinart provides a useful little brush to ensure you clear out any old grinds too.
How does it rate online?
As a relatively new launch, this doesn’t have many reviews online. However, the ones that I found all loved it. In fact, it was hard to find any criticisms. People enjoyed this artisanal take on single-serve coffee makers and couldn't fault the flavors at all. This was often reviewed by people who had gifted or been gifted the Cuisinart - it's obviously a 'treat yourself' purchase which is very well received. If you're looing for inspiration, look no further.
I did find a couple of comments about cup consistency, but this variation is only slight, so if you don't fill your coffee to the top, you'll be fine. It is worth noting again that the espresso is larger than 2 oz – a standard size – so you'll need cups that are bigger than average.
How does it compare?
There aren’t many filter coffee makers quite like this, so it’s tricky to make a direct comparison. If it pitched it against our favorite drip machine, the OXO Brew, there are many ways in which the Cuisinart is better. The coffee itself tastes richer and fresher, so if you want a quality cup of filter coffee, the Cuisinart is a winner. It’s also easier to clean and, personally, I prefer the aesthetics. It’s quicker to make a cup of coffee, without many compromises on flavour, another big tick for many coffee drinkers.
As an innovation on other drip machines, this does miss a few classical features. The OXO will brew enough for multiple cups of coffee and will keep your brew warm for hours, a feature which the Cuisinart lacks. It also has more customisable features when it comes to strength; the Cuisinart is a little prescriptive here.
Compared to single-serve coffee makers, this has lots of appealing features. The re-usable pods mean that you can use freshly ground coffee, achieving a much fuller taste. They also save you on waste and an ongoing cost of re-buying pods. Our top pick for single-serve espresso machines is the Nespresso Vertuo Next, which is smaller than the Cuisinart. Nespresso also provides some fun and unusual pod flavors, like cold brew watermelon. The whacky flavors could be persuasive for some, but speciality coffee is better than any pod coffee.
At $150, the Cuisinart is a similar price, if not a little cheaper than the Nespresso. Neither machine with a milk frother, even though some Nespresso pods are well-suited to lattes and cappuccinos (note that there are some Nespresso models like the Latissima which come with exceptional milk frothing capabilities). Overall, I would still opt for the Cuisinart, even though Nespresso dominate the single-serve market.
Should you buy it?
If you’re a filter coffee drinker, looking for a speciality spin on your coffee, Cuisinart is the best investment you’ll make. The coffee quality is excellent and it’s really easy to use too. It's shaken Nespresso's dominance in the single-serve world, but if you like frothy, milky coffees, you might want another option.
How we test
At Homes & Gardens, we take our coffee tests seriously. Laura, a trained barista, took this to our test kitchen where she spent the day using all of the functions multiple times. She made notes on every select of the Cuisinart and has also tested lots of the other filter coffee makers that we recommend. If you’d like to know more about the process, we detailed every part of the process on our how we test coffee makers page.
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Laura is our eCommerce editor. As a fully qualified barista, she's our expert in all things coffee and has tested over thirty of the best coffee makers on the market. She has also interviewed Q-Graders and world-leading experts in the coffee industry, so has an intimate knowledge of all things coffee. Before joining Homes & Gardens, she studied English at Oxford University. Whilst studying, she trained as a master perfumer and worked in the luxury fragrance industry for five years. Her collection of home fragrance is extensive and she's met and interviewed five of the world's finest perfumers (also known as 'noses'). As a result of this expansive fragrance knowledge, she always puts quality and style over quantity and fads. Laura looks for products which have been designed simply and with thoughtful finishes.
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