The Best Smart Coffee Makers | Tech News
A Smarter Way to Start the Day
If you’re like me, you need coffee in your system in order to function in the morning. The problem is, the times you need coffee the most are the times you’re the least capable of operating appliances. Or maybe you’re just not able to make a cup that tastes as good as your local coffee shop. No matter the issue, it would be great if you could just summon the perfect cup using your phone, so that it’s waiting for you when you walk into the kitchen.
The good news is, you can. Smart coffee makers have been around for a few years, and while they still haven’t eclipsed non-connected coffee makers in popularity, they offer much more control and convenience than convential models. We’ve included the best we’ve tested here, but it’s important to understand exactly what type of machine you want before buying.
What Makes a Coffee Maker Smart?
Smart coffee makers are generally just coffee makers that can wirelessly connect to your phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and be controlled by an app. They don’t always stop there, though. We’ve seen several interesting twists that add other unexpected features. The Illy Y5 Iperespresso and Philips Saeco GranBarista Avanti make espresso-based drinks as well as regular coffee, for instance. And the Bonaverde Berlin scans pods filled with unroasted beans and actually roasts them on the spot before grinding and brewing.
These coffee makers vary wildly in price, with relatively simple drip brewers designed to make a pot of coffee at a time priced under $300, and the Philips GranBarista with its myriad drink options and built-in milk steamer tipping the scales around $2,000. More expensive coffee makers tend to offer more options or unique features.
Best Drip Coffee Makers vs. Best Pod Coffee Brewers
Most smart coffee makers work like any other drip coffee maker with a filter basket. You grind your beans or buy pre-ground beans, put them in a filter in the basket, and let the machine take it from there. That isn’t always the case, though.
While Keurig doesn’t offer any smart (network-connected or app-controlled) coffee makers, Illy’s Iperespresso system uses similar-but-smaller Illy pods to brew coffee, and even offers a subscription service. The catch is that you can’t use your own beans.
The Bonaverde Berlin is more unique, requiring an RFID tag on Bonaverde pods (which double as filters) filled with green coffee beans to trigger the roasting, grinding, and brewing process.
Smart Home Integration
All of the coffee makers included in this roundup are networked in some form, either to the internet via Wi-Fi or over Bluetooth directly to your smartphone. Most of them have their own apps for customizing your brew settings and scheduling brew times. The Bonaverde Berlin is the outlier; it’s networked, but instead of an app to control it, you use a Facebook Messenger bot to start brews if you don’t want to use the RFID tags on the pods.
The second-gen Smarter Coffee is the smartest machine we’ve seen on this front, as it supports different home automation and voice assistant features instead of just relying on a dedicated app. It works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to let you start brews through your Amazon Echo or Google Home, and can be configured with IFTTT recipes so that it starts brewing automatically when you come home, for instance, or when you send a text message from your phone.
Can You Taste the Difference?
Coffee from smart coffee makers generally tastes the same as coffee made by standard models using the same beans. After all, coffee makers use the same processes whether they’re triggered by an app or not. That said, you can certainly get superior coffee from more expensive and complex devices, or with better beans.
We were impressed by the Bonaverde Berlin’s coffee thanks to its fresh roasting process, as well as by the Philips Saeco GranBarista Avanti, as it’s loaded with components that can precisely brew different coffee drinks with custom settings. Many smart coffee makers let you customize different factors like temperature and brew time, so you can get the exact cup you want.
Check out our individual reviews for the best smart coffee makers we’ve tested that are currently available (Mr. Coffee had a Wemo-enabled coffee maker that supported home automation systems, but it’s been discontinued). New smart models are coming out fairly often these days, so check back soon for the latest and greatest.
And for more connected kitchen gadgets, check out our roundup of The Best Smart Kitchen Appliances.