There is a special joy in walking downstairs, knowing that you’ve got a pot of freshly brewed coffee waiting for you. And almost nothing is greater than a coffee beverage that you’ve carefully customized to match your exact palate. Smart coffee makers do this and more using nothing more than an app on your phone.
Keep reading to find out which smart coffee makers will be a smart addition to your kitchen.
How to choose the right smart coffee maker
Before we begin diving into what to look for in a smart coffee maker, let’s define our terms.
The term “smart” originally comes from the acronym “Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology”
For the purpose of this article, only devices that offer wireless connectivity and a mobile app-based interface will be considered “smart” devices (1).
The addition of WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity to coffee makers tends not to impact the quality of the coffee produced. Rather, connectivity is all about convenience. Depending on the manufacturer and type of coffee maker, convenience can take several forms: ease of customization, scheduling, maintenance, and ordering. We do, however, have other top picks for you to consider, if smart isn’t what you’re after.
Sleek interfaces are classic and timeless, but they present a problem for those who want endless customization of their coffee beverages. It’s a challenging line to walk, minimizing buttons and knobs while still allowing the user to decide how they would like their coffee to taste.
Mobile apps can allow a happy medium to be found, permitting users to customize their beverages as they see fit, while simultaneously allowing the machine to be blissfully simple to use. Some of the apps are themselves works of art, while others are more utilitarian.
Smart coffee makers are bringing this scheduling functionality to a wide array of coffee makers and are improving on the rudimentary scheduling technology of yesteryear. Some of the smart coffee makers featured here have the ability to schedule different brew times for each day of the week.
Some advanced smart coffee makers can use GPS-based location services to determine when you are nearby and brew coffee to be ready when you arrive.
Smart coffee makers have the ability to tell the user when maintenance is required. Some apps even allow you to run the descaling or cleaning programs directly from the application, instead of requiring you to remember which combination of button presses puts the machine into the correct mode.
A common feature found in many of the smart coffee maker apps is online ordering. Depending on the model this can run the gamut from water filters and descaling fluid to paper filters, to green coffee beans. Some companies offer automatic ordering, while others require you to manually place each order.
There are other things you need to consider when purchasing a smart coffee maker. These include:
Type of Coffee Brewed
The market for smart coffee makers primarily focuses on drip coffee and espresso. However, within these two options, you have a plethora of choices: ground coffee only, whole bean, K-cup, Nespresso pod, and Illy iperEspresso capsules.
DRM: Locked into using a single brand
Some pod-based machines lock you into using a single brand, ensuring compliance by checking for RFID tags or special barcodes.
Some, like the Illy Y5, lock you into their style of pod simply by being too low volume for generic offerings to exist. The practice of DRM in coffee is waning after consumer push-back (2).
Internet of Things Security Concerns
Anything connected to the internet can be hacked and put to use for nefarious purposes. Appliances with internet connectivity tend not to be updated regularly by their users and are frequently compromised (3).
IoT devices are notoriously insecure and this claim can be backed up with a laundry list of examples.
Devices that connect via Bluetooth are extremely unlikely to be hacked – most of the risk is present with a WiFi connection. The risks are relatively minimal, although botnets have been known to utilize IoT devices to launch denial of service attacks (4). High wattage IOT devices like air conditioners, heaters (including the heaters in coffee makers) are suspected culprits in cyber attacks that have disrupted power systems (5).
The 4 Best Smart Coffee Makers in 2020
1. Behmor Connected – Pour-over Perfection
Type of Coffee Brewed: Pour-over style drip coffee
- Brewed with: Ground coffee
- Water Capacity: 1.2 liters / 40 ounces
- App Abilities: Customize temperature and pre-infusion. Remote and scheduled brewing.
- App Availability: Google Play Store, Apple App Store, and Amazon Alexa
- App Connectivity: WiFi (only 2.4Ghz networks)
- Dimensions: 39.4cm Height x 22.9cm Diameter / 15.5” H x 9” D
The Behmor Connected is as near to perfection as smart coffee makers get. The Connected coffee maker, like the Behmor Brazen Plus which it is built on, is one of the few coffee makers certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). This means that you can count on the machine to be able to consistently deliver great coffee.
SCAA certification requires that coffee makers pass 9 tests that assess everything from brew temperature to “solubles concentration.”
While the Brazen Plus uses an LCD window and an array of buttons, the Connected only presents two buttons to the user. Used without the app interface the Connected’s two buttons allow it to function like a very nice drip coffee machine – very nice, although perhaps not special. If drip coffee is your thing, you might want to check out our reviews of the best drip coffee makers of 2020. With the Brazen Plus, however, once you open the app the machine transforms from a drip coffee maker into an automated pour-over machine.
The user can specify water temperature in 1-degree increments (Fahrenheit) as well as set pre-infusion time (also known as ‘bloom”) based on the freshness and type of bean being brewed.
Blooming allows CO2 to off-gas from the grounds, allowing a more complete extraction. Fresh coffee beans release more CO2 than older beans.
The app also allows users to schedule a brew time for later, although the use of this setting requires that the brew chamber and water tank be filled in advance. The Behmor comes with a double-walled stainless steel carafe, ensuring that your coffee will stay hot even if you hit snooze on your alarm!
Best Suited For: If you love pour-over coffee but want it to be as easy as using a drip machine, then the Behmor Connected will be a great choice.
- SCAA certified brewer
- Easy to fill water tank
- Double-walled stainless steel carafe
- Simple to use app
- Minimum brew size is 30 ounces
2. Smarter Coffee Maker 2nd Gen – Most connected coffee maker
Type of Coffee Brewed: Drip coffee
- Brewed with: Whole or ground beans
- Water Capacity: 1.5 Liters / 52 ounces
- App Abilities: Scheduled brewing; GPS-based automated brewing; volume and strength customization; notifications
- App Availability: Google Play Store, Apple App Store, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, IFTTT
- Connectivity: WiFi (802.11 b/g/n)
- Dimensions: 36.5cm W x 47.5cm H x 25cm D / 14.5” W x 18.75” H x 10” D
The Smarter Coffee Maker 2nd Gen is a drip coffee maker with a built-in burr grinder and tons of connectivity. Beyond the Android and iOS apps, it also is compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and IFTTT.
[IFTTT] automations are accomplished via applets — which are sort of like macros that connect multiple apps to run automated tasks.
IFTTT is a powerful tool that allows your smart devices to work together. For example, you can have your coffee maker have your smart lights flash or change colors when your coffee has finished brewing (6). Even if you aren’t using IFTTT, the apps allow you to schedule brewing, check water level, and set brew volume and strength.
The carafe is glass and sits atop a heater which promises 40 minutes of warmth. We find that these heaters tend to scorch coffee, so this feature is a little disappointing compared to insulated carafes.
- Wide range of connectivity
- Built in burr grinder
- Multiple faceplates to match your decor
3. Nespresso Expert – Nespresso pods, now with temperature control!
Type of Coffee Brewed: Espresso
- Brewed with: Nespresso Pods
- Water Capacity: 1.1 liters / 37 ounces
- App Abilities: Notifications; Maintenance programs; Schedule next brew; Remote start; Programmable brew sizes; ordering
- App Availability: Google Play Store & Apple App Store
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Dimensions: 38cm W x 29cm H x 22.3cm D / 15”W x 11.3”H x 8.8”D
The Nespresso Expert offers single-serve pod-based espresso brewing with some additional app functionality. As pod-based machines go, this one is relatively unique in that it has temperature control in addition to the standard volume control. Users can select from four sizes, each of which can be programmed to their liking.
The app itself doesn’t expand tremendously on the functionality, offering notifications like low water level or full pod drawer. You are also able to schedule your next brew, but you’ll have to ensure that you’ve put in a pod, and of course with pods, you are only going to get a single serving.
Some versions of this include a separate milk frother that is capable of both foaming and heating the milk. Some users report that the frother has a lifespan of 6-9 months before failing, so consider looking elsewhere if your goal is to have milk-based espresso drinks.
Best suited for: If you are a Nespresso pod user and want greater temperature control and app-based notifications, the Nespresso Expert is a good choice.
- Simple interface
- Shallow footprint
- App is not available in all regions
- Minimal customization
4. Hamilton Beach FlexBrew WiFi-Connected Single Serve Coffee Maker – Automatic Reordering
Type of Coffee Brewed: Coffee
- Brewed with: Ground coffee and K-cups
- Water Capacity: 1.2 liter / 40 ounce
- App Abilities: Automatic reordering of coffee and water filters
- App Availability: Google Play Store & Apple App Store
- Connectivity: WiFi
- Dimensions: 38cm W x 29cm H x 22.3cm D / 15”W x 11.3”H x 8.8”D
Here at Home Grounds we typically don’t “do” K-cups. They are convenient and ubiquitous but those two adjectives don’t have any relation to flavor or experience. However, for some people single-serve convenience is king. The Hamilton Beach FlexBrew brews both K-cups and ground coffee, allowing you to embrace the ease of K-cups and the quality of freshly ground coffee.
If you choose the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew, be aware that your customization options are limited. When brewing from ground coffee you can choose between 3 brew sizes and 2 strengths. If you are brewing from a K-cup you are limited to just 2 brew sizes and strengths.
We are able to call this device “Smart” in that it has an app. However, the app is only for reordering coffee (K-cups in particular) and the water tank’s carbon filter.
Best suited for: The Hamilton Beach FlexBrew is a good choice if you want an easy to use machine that keeps itself stocked on K-cups, but still can brew coffee from freshly ground beans.
- All removable parts are dishwasher safe
- Automatically reorders coffee and filters
- App is solely for reordering coffee and water filters
Other Coffee Makers to Consider
As well as the smart brewers we’ve featured above, there are some other very interesting machines that are worth thinking about.
Gourmia GCMW4750 WIFI Coffee Maker
This pour-over/drip coffee maker has a built-in grinder…but unfortunately, that grinder is a blade grinder. While freshly ground coffee is almost always better than the alternatives, blade grinders are the one exception to this rule. Look at the Behmor Connect or the Smarter Coffee 2nd Gen instead.
The Bonaverde Berlin is a fascinating concept. You order green coffee beans from the company, and then the machine will roast, grind, and brew you a pot of coffee. While this takes freshly ground coffee to new levels, the results seem to be mediocre at best. Reviewers report weak coffee and hardware problems.
If you want to roast your own beans take a look at our list of the best home coffee roasters.
Mr. Coffee WeMo WiFi Enabled Coffee Maker
The Mr. Coffee WeMo Wifi Enabled Coffee Maker has been discontinued. This device offered drip coffee with app-based scheduling and remote brewing capabilities. Consider the Behmor Connected or the Smarter Coffee 2nd gen as alternatives.
The Illy Y5 is a compact, single-serve, pod brewer that offers a small amount of app-based functionality and temperature control. Unfortunately, the units seem to suffer from defective capacitive buttons which routinely fail. Until the reliability improves this unit can’t be recommended.
The Verdict: What is the Best Smart Coffee Maker?
It is not always clear that adding “smart” to a particular device makes it better…sometimes it is just additional complexity without adding much value.
However, the Behmoor Connected distinguishes itself from other smart coffee makers with its SCAA-certification. You know you’ll get a quality brew every time with the Behmoor Connected.
If you already own a coffee maker that you love, it may be possible to retrofit smart technology. Several companies including Wemo, Leviton, Sylvania, and TP-Link sell plugs that allow for WiFi-based scheduling. This sort of plug will only work with very simple drip coffee makers; most high-end coffee makers require that you interact with the machine directly in order to start a brew.
No, you do not need a smart coffee maker to make the best coffee. Smart technology primarily adds convenience through scheduling and customization. However, even the most heavily customizable smart coffee machine offers only a fraction of the customization that a manual machine allows.
Unfortunately, yes, there is a possibility that app support will be dropped. Occasionally, companies drop support for their smart appliance’s apps. In one example of this, Nest bought the smart hub company Revolv and dropped support for the app and the hardware. Ultimately, the Internet of Things is still relatively young and there are no long-term guarantees (7).
- Malik, Y. (2017, November 5). Smart, Connected and IoT Based Devices. What’s The Difference? https://medium.com/all-technology-feeds/smart-connected-and-iot-based-devices-whats-the-difference-36fc1bdc36b2
- Barrett, B. (2017, June 3). Keurig’s My K-Cup Retreat Shows We Can Beat DRM. https://www.wired.com/2015/05/keurig-k-cup-drm/
- Quinn, S. (2019, February 25). Your Smart Coffee Maker is Brewing Up Trouble. https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/other-blogs/mcafee-labs/your-smart-coffee-maker-is-brewing-up-trouble/
- Fruhlinger, J. (2018, March 9). The Mirai botnet explained: How IoT devices almost brought down the internet. https://www.csoonline.com/article/3258748/the-mirai-botnet-explained-how-teen-scammers-and-cctv-cameras-almost-brought-down-the-internet.html
- Puri, D. (2019, January 3). Did IoT cyberattacks cause NY power transformers to explode? https://www.networkworld.com/article/3330646/did-iot-cyberattacks-cause-ny-power-transformers-to-explode.html
- Ifttt. (n.d.). Blink your Hue lights when your coffee is ready. https://ifttt.com/applets/LKRaWFfs-blink-your-hue-lights-when-your-coffee-is-ready
- Warren, C. (2016, April 5). What Nest’s product shutdown says about the Internet of Things. https://mashable.com/2016/04/04/revolv-smart-home-shutdown/