Coffee machines that take pods and ground coffee: the best of both worlds

Hybrid coffee machines that use both pods and ground coffee are the ultimate in versatility – but should you buy one?

Coffee pod machines have become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks to their convenience and ease of use. But many people still prefer the taste of ground coffee, or want to use their favourite coffee beans.  

If you’re looking for a coffee machine that gives you the best of both worlds, you’ll want one that takes pods and ground coffee. These options offer the convenience of pod machines with the flexibility to use your own ground coffee. 

Mature couple drinking coffee to illustrate coffee machines that take pods and ground coffeeCredit: Shutterstock/Wavebreakmedia

How do hybrid coffee machines work?

It’s all about the filters

In a regular espresso machine, you brew by forcing water near boiling point through compressed ground coffee and a filter. With these new hybrid machines, you’re able to change the filter depending on what kind of coffee you want to drink. 

If you want to use a pod, the filter pierces the capsules to make a straightforward cup of coffee while for an espresso, you can tamp the grounds into a filter the traditional way.  

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What is tamping? Tamping is the act of compressing the ground coffee in the filter of an espresso machine. This is done to create a uniform puck of coffee that will extract evenly when hot water is forced through it.

The amount of pressure used to tamp the coffee is important. Too much pressure can create a dense puck that will slow down the extraction, resulting in a sour shot. Too little pressure can create a loose puck that will allow the water to flow too quickly, resulting in a weak shot. 

There are several different tools that can be used for tamping, including a wooden, metal or silicone tamper. 

As well as the Nespresso pods, many hybrid machines also take ESE pods. ESE – Easy Serve Espresso – pods are a bit like a teabag in that they contain ground coffee within a bag and produce a single-serve espresso. 

Some hybrid machines will also come with milk frothers or have the option of multiple brew sizes, giving you even more choice.

The pros of coffee bean and pod machines

They’re more versatile

More than just one type of coffee

The key feature of pod/ground coffee machines is their hybrid functionality. They usually have different filter holders to allow you to use various types of coffee in the machine, whether that’s in a capsule or ground, tampered coffee, perfect for an espresso. 

“A coffee machine that accepts both capsules and ground coffee offers the best of both worlds, and is perfect for coffee lovers seeking convenience as well as versatility,” says Debbie Main-McIvor, marketing manager at Dualit, which has a hybrid coffee maker in its range. 

“Capsules provide quick and easy brewing while ground coffee allows for personalised flavours and the freedom to experiment with different types of coffee. They are also ideal for those who like to host, as it caters for all coffee preferences – from lattes to cappuccinos and espressos.” 

Close up shot of Coffee pods, ground coffee and ESE pods to illustrate a feature on Coffee machines that take pods and ground coffeeCredit: Shutterstock/Ralf Geithe

This design allows you effortlessly to switch between the two options according to preference, mood, or time constraints. Whether you’re seeking a quick cup on a busy weekday or savouring a leisurely brew on a lazy Sunday, the hybrid machine has you covered.  

It also saves on kitchen worktop space. Take it from someone who has a pod machine and a traditional filter drip coffee maker – while it’s great to have a choice, neither machine is small and each takes up a lot of valuable workspace.

Just how you like it 

Personalisation is another perk of the hybrid coffee experience. While coffee pods are great for convenience, they may not always produce the perfect cup.

If you want to brew coffee like a barista, the ground coffee element allows you to customise settings, including the brew strength, so you can tailor the taste to your liking.  

While you can’t personalise the hybrid models as much as the more expensive espresso machines that allow you to change water temperature and quantity of water used, you can still enjoy experimenting with different blends. You can also grind your own beans to use in these machines, adding to the taste difference. 

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A more sustainable way to enjoy pods 

The advent of hybrid coffee machines also addresses some of the environmental concerns associated with single-use coffee pods. Many models are compatible with eco-friendly coffee pods made from recyclable or biodegradable materials, reducing plastic waste and promoting sustainability.  

Biodegradable coffee pods lined up in a row on a table to illustrate the pros and cons of a coffee pod subscriptionCredit: Shutterstock/Lois GoBe

The cons of coffee bean and pod machines

They’re a rare find

Expensive and hard to find 

While there are brands that produce coffee machines that take pods and ground coffee, they are pretty elusive. When you do get your mitts on one, you’ll be forking out anything from £150 upwards for a decent quality brand.  

That’s not to say you can’t get one for under that price, but chances are it will be an unknown brand so there’s no knowing if it will perform well or last a decent length of time.  

Can’t grind your beans 

Sadly, there are no machines on the market yet that take pods and grind beans to make coffee, but you can buy a coffee grinder to get creating your own brew. Our head tester and in-house coffee expert Philip Sowels recommends buying a hand grinder.  

“Their slow rotational speed produces a more consistent grind, especially for coarser settings, and they’re small enough to take on holiday (especially as you don’t need a power source),” he says.

Featured product

Timemore C2 Manual Coffee Grinder Espresso

RRP: £49.50

Timemore C2 Manual Coffee Grinder Espresso

Ongoing cost 

As with any type of coffee machine that takes pods, you also have the ongoing cost of the pods to consider. A coffee pod subscription may make this more affordable. 

Shop dual function coffee machines

Time to get brewing

Dualit 3-in-1 Coffee Machine on a counter with cups of coffee around itCredit: Dualit

Dualit 3-in-1 Coffee Machine

The Dualit 3-in-1 Coffee Machine has a range of functions for preparing a wide coffee menu. It offers the choice of using ground coffee, coffee capsules or ESE pods.

A 15 bar pump ensures the perfect crema every time, whilst the ultra-fast heater delivers boiling water on demand. It also has a built-in milk frother to make drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes much easier. Oh, and you can also make a cup of tea.

Featured product

Dualit 3-in-1 Coffee Machine

RRP: £199.99

Dualit 3-in-1 Coffee Machine
Lakeland 3-in-1 Espresso Maker with a cup of coffeeCredit: Lakeland

Lakeland 3-in-1 Espresso Maker 

This multi-brew system allows you to choose between using ground coffee, ESE pods, and NX and Nespresso capsules. It has a 20 bar pressure pump to extract the best possible flavour from your coffee and also has a steam wand, which gives you perfect frothy milk for a real barista-style brew.

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Lakeland 3-in-1 Espresso Maker

RRP: £159.99

Lakeland 3-in-1 Espresso Maker

Under pressure: Most baristas recommend a coffee machine with a nine bar pressure pump. However, most hybrid home coffee machines have a higher pressure – presumably to make the coffee pods work more effectively.

Fear not, though, if you’re worried that the pressure will give you a bitter brew. At nine bars, it typically takes between 25–30 seconds to pull a shot of espresso. So in short, for less pressure you’ll need more time and for more pressure it’ll take less time. 

However, it seems most domestic machines, even if they do advertise a higher pressure, will be nine bars by the time you pull the shot, as the pressure is lower by the time it gets to the brew head.  

Kotlie 4-in-1 Coffee MachineCredit: Amazon

Kotlie 4-in-1 Coffee Machine

While Nespresso pods seem to be the choice for most coffee makers, this hybrid coffee machine also takes the larger Dolce Gusto pods and the ESE bags, as well as ground coffee. It guarantees you fresh coffee in 30 seconds and the price isn’t bad either. However, it doesn’t come with a milk frother so if you want to avoid milky coffee is your bag, you may be better off choosing another model.

Featured product

Kotlie 4-in-1 Coffee Machine

RRP: £139.99

Kotlie 4-in-1 Coffee Machine
Credit: Illy

Illy X1 Anniversary 

Proving that practicality can also be a thing of beauty is this dual coffee machine from Illy – the perfect finishing touch for any luxe coffee station.

Designed by renowned architect and industrial designer, Luca Trazzi, this machine not only uses ground coffee but also ESE pods. It has a milk frother wand, 15 bar pressure pump and automatically descales. It comes at a cost, though – with prices starting at £572.

Featured product

Illy X1 Anniversary

RRP: £ 572.00

Illy X1 Anniversary
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Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her

Updated:

Jayne is the Senior Editor at Saga Exceptional. She cut her online journalism teeth 24 years ago in an era when a dialling tone and slow page load were standard. During this time, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing TVs as she is interviewing TV stars. A diverse career has seen Jayne launch websites for popular magazines, collaborate with top brands, write regularly for major publications including Woman&Home, Yahoo! and The Daily Telegraph, create a podcast, and also write a tech column for Women’s Own.

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