Reviews

The Cuisinart Barista Bar Works With K-Cups, Nespresso Pods, and Ground Coffee for All Your Coffee-Making Desires

There’s no need to choose one type of coffee maker over another or crowd your countertop with appliances, thanks to Cuisinart’s Barista Bar.
Tony Carrick Avatar
The Cuisinart Coffee Center Barista Bar 4-in-1 Coffeemaker on a kitchen counter
Photo: Tony Carrick for Bob Vila

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The Cuisinart Barista Bar is an ambitious machine that aims to eliminate the need to choose between traditional coffee maker, Keurig, Nespresso, and espresso maker by giving you all of those options in one machine. I tested the Barista Bar over several weeks to see if this coffee maker is truly the jack-of-all-trades it says it is—or just a master of none.

My testing began with setting up the machine, and I continued to use it for more than a week brewing traditional coffee, Nespresso pods, and Keurig K-Cups, along with a few lattes and cappuccinos for good measure. After testing the Barista Bar over a series of weeks, I found that it largely lives up to its billing, making it an excellent option for those who like coffee in various forms.

Cuisinart Coffee Center Barista Bar 4-in-1 Coffeemaker: At a Glance

The Cuisinart Coffee Center Barista Bar 4-in-1 Coffeemaker open to show a coffee pod before brewing
Photo: Tony Carrick for Bob Vila

Rating: 9/10

PROS

  • Works with Keurig K-Cups, Nespresso pods, and ground coffee
  • Comes with a built-in steam wand to froth milk for barista-style beverages
  • Intuitive controls make controlling all of the machine’s functions easy

CONS

  • Steam wand doesn’t allow for much clearance underneath it
  • Costs twice as much as other dual coffee makers

Get the Cuisinart Coffee Center Barista Bar 4-in-1 Coffeemaker at:

What is the Cuisinart Coffee Center Barista Bar 4-in-1 Coffemaker?

Cuisinart’s Coffee Center Barista Bar is a traditional drip coffee maker and single-serve machine with a few notable extra features. The drip-brewing side is capable of making up to 12 cups of coffee and has options for changing strength or pausing the brew, so you can grab a cup without having to wait for a full pot to finish. You can also set a timer to start the coffee maker in the morning and adjust the auto shutoff for the carafe warmer.

The single-serve side works with both K-Cups and Nespresso pods and can also dispense plain hot water for tea and even hot cereal. You can also make single-shot and double-shot sizes of espresso from grounds using a special filter that fits inside the K-Cup holder. A steam wand attached to the single-serve side froths milk for making lattes, cappuccinos, and other specialty drinks.

Both the single-serve and carafe side have built-in charcoal filters that remove sediment, chlorine, and other contaminants from water that can sully the flavor of your coffee.

A person putting a coffee pod into the Cuisinart Coffee Center Barista Bar 4-in-1 Coffeemaker
Photo: Tony Carrick for Bob Vila

Is the Cuisinart Coffee Center Barista Bar difficult to set up and use?

As with most coffee makers, Cuisinart’s Barista Bar requires you to run water through both the coffee side and single-serve side of the machine for a couple of cycles to remove any residue from manufacturing before putting the coffee maker into service.

Both the single-serve and drip-coffee sides of the Barista Bar are easy to operate. Using the coffee maker side is very similar to using any standard coffee maker: fill the reservoir, add coffee grinds to the filter, select the desired strength, and push the brew button.

Flip up the top of the single-serve side and you’ll find a spot for K-Cups and a smaller holder for Nespresso pods. You can also remove the K-Cup brew basket and add a single-serve espresso filter with grounds of your choice.

The wealth of options for brewing on the single-serve side could make using the machine difficult. But the Cuisinart boasts a single knob and LED display, letting you cycle through a host of size options and steam wand controls with ease. Size options include a single shot or double shot of espresso and pod serving sizes of 6, 8, or 10 ounces. There are also options for dispensing hot water and operating the frothing wand.

I like the inclusion of a milk frother for making cappuccinos and espressos, but I had some difficulty using it. Since the wand is so long, there is only about 4 inches of clearance between the end and the surface of the countertop, which means you can only fit a small cup of milk underneath it.

Is the Cuisinart Barista Bar well designed?

You’d be hard pressed to find a multifunction coffee maker that can do as much as the Cuisinart can. It brews 12 cups of coffee, two different sizes of espresso, works with K-Cups and Nespresso pods, and can froth milk for cappuccinos and lattes to boot. What’s more, it manages to perform all of those functions well.

That said, the Cuisinart does occupy more countertop space than your standard coffee maker and even other dual coffee makers. However, if you take into account all of the coffee machines it replaces (Nespresso, Keurig, coffee maker, latte), it’s actually quite compact.

Cuisinart makes attractive appliances, and this model is no different. It features a stainless steel finish, giving it a higher-end look than your basic black plastic coffee maker.

I also like the fact that the Barista Bar separates its two main functions. Both sides have their own dispensers, which means you needn’t move the carafe of coffee out of the way if you’re craving a Nespresso.

There are other less obvious design features that I also like. A built-in charcoal filter removes chlorine, sediment, and other impurities that can taint the flavor of your coffee. There’s also a sensor that prevents you from brewing when the reservoir is empty, which could damage the machine. An indicator on the control panel lets you know when it’s time to refill the reservoir.

A person pouring a cup of coffee from the Cuisinart Coffee Center Barista Bar 4-in-1 Coffeemaker
Photo: Tony Carrick for Bob Vila

How does the Cuisinart Barista Bar perform?

All the functions that the Cuisinart Barista Bar offers wouldn’t amount to much if it didn’t make a decent cup of coffee. Fortunately, the Cuisinart does. I used the Cuisinart for several weeks, exploring all of its different functions and features.

The drip-brewed coffee I made with the Barista Bar was rich in flavor. As I like a strong cup of coffee, I particularly like the settings that allowed me to go with a bolder flavor.

I’ve owned and used both Keurig and Nespresso machines, so I’m familiar with both. I found the coffee from the Barista Bar’s single-serve side to be very comparable in taste and quality with coffee from Keurig and Nespresso machines.

The Barista Bar won’t replace higher-end traditional espresso machines for those who prefer to make specialty coffee drinks, but for those of us who appreciate convenience, it’s a great alternative. I liked being able to make a Nespresso with the press of a button, then top it off with a layer of steamed milk from the steam wand. There was no need to mess with grinding beans to a certain consistency or press grounds. I was able to make a small latte in about 2 minutes; you can’t beat that for an easy mid-workday pick-me-up.

Is the Cuisinart Barista Bar worth the money?

While the Cuisinart Barista Bar’s $300 price tag places it among the more expensive dual- function coffee machines on the market, it’s important to note that it actually does more than most of those models. With the Barista Bar, you can brew drip coffee, make a quick single via Keurig K-Cups or Nespresso pods, dispense hot water for tea, and even froth milk for cappuccinos and espressos. Purchasing separate machines to fulfill each of those duties would certainly cost hundreds of dollars more.

Plus, there are other nice additional features that add to value, including charcoal filters that help improve the flavor of the coffee by removing contaminants from the water, brew strength controls, and a low-water sensor.

Someone frothing milk using the Cuisinart Coffee Center Barista Bar 4-in-1 Coffeemaker
Photo: Tony Carrick for Bob Vila

Is Cuisinart Barista Bar right for you?

Whether you should spring for the Cuisinart Barista Bar is really a question of what your coffee- drinking preferences are. If you like to brew a full pot of coffee but also appreciate the ability to make a quick single cup via a K-Cup when you’re on the go, enjoy an afternoon Nespresso, and occasionally indulge in a specialty latte or cappuccino, then the Barista Bar is the perfect machine for you.

While it’s more expensive than other dual coffee makers, it’s certainly cheaper than buying individual machines to meet all those demands. You also won’t be crowding your kitchen countertop with multiple coffee-making appliances.

That said, if you don’t plan on using all the Barista Bar’s functions, then it may not make sense to invest in it. There are other dual coffee makers that cost a lot less money and work with Nespresso pods or Keurig K-Cups, allowing you to make single-serving drinks.

Where to Buy the Cuisinart Coffee Center Barista Bar 4-in-1 Coffeemaker

Get the Cuisinart Coffee Center Barista Bar 4-in-1 Coffeemaker at:

Meet the Tester

Tony Carrick is a freelance writer specializing in home improvement, landscaping, technology, home security, and design. His articles have been featured on such sites as Popular Mechanics, Futurism, Field & Stream, 360 Reviews by U.S. News & World Report, Domino, and more. In addition to testing coffee makers, Tony has conducted rigorous product testing on everything from power tools to home security systems to backyard grills. With each review, his goal is to help readers determine whether a product meets their needs and if it is or isn’t worth its price tag.

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Tony Carrick

Contributing Writer

Tony Carrick is a freelance writer who has contributed to BobVila.com since 2020. He writes how-to articles and product reviews in the areas of lawn and garden, home maintenance, home improvement, auto maintenance, housewares, and technology.

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