It won't matter how rich, expensive or high quality your coffee beans are, they won't produce the best flavor if the grinding isn't right. There is more than one type of grinder on the market and when evaluating grind and brew coffee makers, you will want to pay careful attention to the grinder.
The Grinding Side of Coffee Making
Some grinders come with blades and some have burr type grinders. The general consensus among coffee growers is that the burr type is best. The blades tend to cut the coffee in a way that doesn't release the best flavor. On the other hand, burrs will gently chop the beans into a well ground consistency that will enhance the beans flavor. The objective here is a fine, consistent grind.
The other side of the combination grind and brew coffee makers is the brewing component. This will consist of a water reservoir, a filter, and the cup or pot area to catch the hot coffee. Brewers come with a thermostat to heat water to the perfect temperature. Filer areas can hold a filter designed to hold enough grounds to make a full pot or have single serving filters. The most important part of the brewing side of things to consider is how well the water is filtered as well as the coffee. If tap water is used and contains minerals, there must be a water filtration system to avoid having chemicals or minerals change the taste of the coffee. You could, of course, use filtered water, but in combination units, convenience is the goal.
Putting the Two Together
Combination units have taken the best grinders and best brewers and put them conveniently together. Many combo units have timers so you can program them to grind and brew just minutes before you are ready to enjoy the coffee. This freshly ground and brewed coffee can be waiting for you and begin the process as you sleep. You will wake up to the aroma and flavors that will help you start your day just right.
There are various sizes and styles of combination coffee makers. Depending on the recipe (Espresso, Latte, etc) or if you plan to make more single-cup drinks than pots, will help you decide on the model that suits your needs.
In addition to comparing features, you will want to compare your personal needs to the machines abilities. For example, the super automatic Espresso maker or Cappuccino Makers are designed for the busiest people. They go from stone cold to a freshly brewed cup of coffee in a matter of minutes. There is also a cleanup time to factor in. With super automatic styles, there is no clean up so you can save even more time with these models.
The basic formula for the perfect and freshest brew then is, to begin with the beans. Select a flavor from around the world that appeals to you. Next, make sure you retain that flavor by grinding it with a burr style grinder (not usually found at your local grocery store) to ensure the texture is just right for brewing. Then brew with pure water and a good filter that won't change the flavor. Grind and brew coffee makers with all of these features will do the job. The rest of the features, such as timers, automatic cleaning, etc. will just be the foam on your latte!