For most people, using a coffee maker is an everyday occurrence. The thought of waking up to face the long day ahead without an added caffeine-fuelled kick can be a scary prospect. Luckily, there’s never been a better time to buy a quality coffee maker.
There are many different types of coffee makers out there, too, but our guide will focus on traditional drip coffee makers. We also haven’t included Keurigs (specialized single-serve machines) in this guide because we maintain you can make a single cup of coffee with a regular coffee maker.
A traditional drip coffee maker works by dripping boiling water over ground coffee. Effectively, the water filters through and falls into a pot. It may surprise some readers to know that this method actually has more caffeine in it than a shot of espresso (strong black coffee).
For our top picks, we looked at everything from the ease of use to the brewing temperature. Read on to learn more about what to look for in a coffee maker.
Our Top Picks: Summary
- Best Overall: Cuisinart DCC-3200 14-Cup Coffee Maker
- Best Budget: BLACK+DECKER 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker
- Best Splurge: Technivorm Moccamaster KBT Coffee Brewer
- Best Taste: Bonavita One-Touch Coffee Maker
In terms of its options, price, and the praise it receives from customers, it’s one of the best out there.
Why we Picked It
Our best overall coffee maker is the Cuisinart DCC-3200. In terms of its options, price, and the praise it receives from customers, it’s one of the best out there.
It offers a sizeable 14-cup glass carafe, which is ideal for when large groups of people come round to visit. We see a range of features, such as 24-hour programmability, a self-cleaning function, and an auto-shutoff assistant, too.
The auto-shutoff feature is excellent for people who find themselves either in a rush or for those who just forget to turn their coffee makers off.
One of the most critical aspects of coffee machines comes down to their ease of use. We’ve all looked at certain coffee machines with a sense of bewilderment. Luckily, the Cuisinart provides an easy-to-use control panel, which is clear and straightforward to understand.
There’s also a backlit LCD to aid you, and a brew strength control allows you to select regular or bold coffee flavor at the touch of a button. You can even drink a cup of coffee before the brewing cycle has finished!
It’s a beautiful-looking machine with a stainless steel style that you can be proud of showing off. The Cuisinart comes with a limited 3-year warranty.
Keep in Mind
Some people have mentioned the coffee tasting of plastic in the first few days. It’s worth mentioning that most have said this quickly disappears, and a thorough wash can help.
In a Nutshell
- 14-cup glass carafe
- Auto-shutoff feature
- Easy-to-use control panel
It comes with a host of features, so you can wake up to a fresh pot of coffee every morning.
Why we Picked It
Our best budget coffee maker is the BLACK+DECKER. Currently available for under $30 (and it’s often on sale), it’s a coffee maker that offers a lot for that price.
It comes with a host of features, such as QuickTouch Programming, that allow you to easily program the 24-hour auto-brew function so you can wake up to a fresh pot of coffee every morning.
On top of that are digital controls with rubberized buttons for excellent ease of use. You can control brew time and extra programming options with a few touches—you can even temporarily stop the flow of coffee to pour your first cup even before brewing ends.
It offers an auto-shutoff feature after two hours of use to give you some peace of mind, certainly if it’s something you frequently forget to do.
The large capacity 12-cup carafe is sure to keep family and friends happy for a long time to come too. The BLACK+DECKER comes with a two-year limited warranty.
Keep in Mind
Some customers have complained that the coffee produced with the machine is strong.
In a Nutshell
- 12-cup carafe
- QuickTouch Programming
- 24-hour auto-brew function
If you feel like you want to splurge on the best of the best, then the Technivorm Moccamaster is the choice for you.
Why we Picked It
If you feel like you want to splurge on the best of the best, then the Technivorm Moccamaster is the choice for you. It’s more than just a stunningly-attractive design.
The Moccamaster will brew a full 10 cups of coffee in 4-6 minutes. It features a manual-adjust, drip-stop brew basket (better control over how fast coffee flows) with a stainless steel thermal carafe, which helps to keep the coffee heated for longer. A travel lid comes with the package, too.
On top of that, the carafe is funnel lipped to allow for easy pouring, there’s a wide mouth that couldn’t be easier to pour water into, and it even has clearly labeled water markings on it. Even better: due to the large and removable parts in the Technivorm coffee maker, it’s easy enough to clean the machine via hand.
If that wasn’t enough, it comes with a leading 5-year manufacturer’s warranty too. It’s certainly a premium pick!
Keep in Mind
This coffee maker does take up quite a bit of counter space, so just keep that in mind if you’re short on space.
In a Nutshell
- 5-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Funnel-lipped carafe
- Manual adjust brew basket
It’s our top pick for the coffee maker that brews an almost enviable taste.
Why we Picked It
Some coffee lovers seek to find the very best taste they can, and that’s where the Bonavita comes in. It’s our top pick for the coffee maker that brews an almost enviable taste.
The Bonavita will brew 8 cups of coffee in its stainless steel thermal carafe and features an optional pre-infusion mode that steeps roasted ground coffee to allow degassing before brewing. In other words, it should allow for a better taste for you and your guests. It’s a coffee maker that mimics a pour-over brewing method instead of a more traditional drip-style.
It comes with a flat-bottomed filter basket and showerhead that allow for artisan levels of saturation and extraction. There’s also a one-touch brew operation with an auto-off function, which we always like to see—there’s a chance you could forget to turn it off after all.
The Bonavita is compact and stylish and will easily fit on most counters, too. It’s also certified by the Specialty Coffee Association and comes with a two-year limited warranty. What’s not to like?
Keep in Mind
It’s not programmable, so, you won’t be able to brew coffee in advance.
In a Nutshell
- Premium coffee at a fair price
- Stainless steel thermal carafe
- One-touch brew operation
How We Chose the Best Coffee Makers
Choosing the best coffee maker involved looking at multiple different factors, from the brewing temperature and brewing speed to the ease of use and price. We also looked at customer reviews before making our final decisions. After considering all of the most critical factors, we then came to our final picks (which you can see above).
We’ve detailed everything we look at below to give you a better understanding of our independent process:
When we look at temperature, we focus on coffee makers that can brew to the correct number. According to the Specialty Coffee Association, the coffee maker must be able to reach 92°C (or 200℉) within the first minute at the point the water contacts the coffee grounds. A coffee maker that doesn’t meet this will not make our top picks as it can affect the overall quality and taste of the brew.
We look for coffee makers that are fast enough to be convenient when you’re in a rush in the morning—you can’t be waiting around for a long time. With that said, we also look for coffee makers that are slow enough to brew an excellent tasting coffee. If the machine brews too quickly, then the overall taste of the coffee can be impaired. It’s about finding a machine that offers a fundamental balance between the two.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is all about how natural it is for people to use the coffee maker in their daily lives. Nobody wants to deal with additional fuss and stress. We look for coffee makers that have good programmability with a variety of options, from basic cups to specialty drinks. Features can include anything from an automatic pre-infusion cycle to a timer so you can plan ahead—in other words, we look at features that make a real difference in your life.
We also look for coffee makers that are easy to clean and maintain, as this can significantly affect the daily running of them. There are coffee makers out there that can require significant effort to maintain a quality brew. However, the best of the best will make it quick and straightforward, so you don’t have to fret.
As with almost everything we buy to help live more enjoyable lives, coffee makers are evaluated based on their price, performance, and durability. Of course, one usually comes at some cost to the other. Still, the best coffee makers will strike as perfect balance as they can between affordability, excellent performance, and robust durability. These options do exist, and we’ve picked them for you.
The internet has allowed customers to leave reviews of products with ease. That said, we ensure we look at a wide range of reviews to get a consensus on a given coffee maker. We carefully weigh everything we read and then make a final decision on whether the coffee maker deserved a spot on our top picks. Only the very best make the grade.
What to Consider When Choosing a Coffee Maker
Picking a coffee maker can be a tougher decision to make than you might have first thought. Everything from the programmability to the carafe type and size needs to be considered, along with special features and even the warranty.
We’re aware it’s a hard choice to make; that’s why we’ve detailed everything you need to consider before you dive in below:
The first thing you need to consider when you purchase a coffee maker is its programmability. For example, some machines will allow you to program them to brew coffee up to 24 hours in advance, so you can have it nicely waiting for you when you wake up. Others allow you to program the desired strength of the coffee, the amount it makes, and even offer an auto-pause feature so you can grab your coffee before it’s finished brewing. Think carefully about what you desire the most when it comes to programmability.
Firstly, to clear up any confusion, when we talk about carafe, we mean the container or pot that holds the coffee inside it. There are two main types of carafe: glass and thermal. Glass carafes use a hot plate to keep the coffee warm, which is useful for keeping it hot for shorter periods. That said, leaving it on the hotplate for too long will spoil the brew.
On the other hand, thermal carafes (normally stainless steel) keep the coffee warm via their insulation. They don’t sit on a hotplate either, so the coffee will stay fresh for longer. It probably won’t, however, be as hot as if it was on a hotplate.
In other words, if you want coffee to stay fresh for longer than you want a thermal carafe. For shorter periods, a glass one is a better option. It all comes down to personal preference and what you need in your life.
There are both single-serve and carafe servings when we talk about coffee makers. It all comes down to whether you’re brewing coffee for yourself or multiple people. You’ll want a larger carafe for frequent group meetings, but probably a smaller one for yourself or if you’re in a couple. The average carafe size for coffee makers fills around 10 cups and up to about 14 cups in larger models.
We’ve listed the common price ranges for coffee makers and what you can expect from each below:
- $20-$50: You can buy a good and simple coffee machine in this range if you research carefully. You can expect a small machine that should be easy to clean. Just be aware that you’ll have to use the coffee quickly as the carafes in these models don’t tend to retain heat for long. A solid choice for those who want the no-frills approach that gets the job done.
- $60-$100: In this range, you can expect to find some great quality coffee makers. These would be ideal in a kitchen or even a small office where multiple people need to get their brew on. They tend to come with a reliable hotplate so that the coffee will last longer.
- $100-$200: This may be a lot to pay for a coffee maker, depending on what you want. That said, these machines are for coffee fans that usually want a specific brew, and they don’t tend to disappoint. You can expect a machine that is very fast and easier to use with lots of special options like pre-infusion cycles (soaking the ground coffee before brewing).
- $200-$300+: These coffee makers are for diehard fans who are looking for the best money can buy. These are the machines that you splurge on, and they should feature everything you could possibly desire, although they might not be necessary, depending on your preference. Expect sleek designs, thermal carafes, fast and efficient boiling, and more.
Of course, shoppers need to balance their own needs with their available budgets. If you just need a hot cup of coffee every day, then you might prefer to opt for something that isn’t expensive. That said, some say you can’t put a price on the perfect coffee, so if that’s you, then aim for something pricier.
Coffee makers can come with special features, such as built-in coffee grinders, touchpads, and multiple programmable extras. Some of these may be essential for you, and others may not be. It’s important to consider what you need the most in your coffee maker. Always remember that special features do drive up the price, although that may be little worry to those that are desperate for extras like a built-in grinder!
Coffee makers tend to come with warranties of around two years, although a single year is also common. Clearly, you want to pick a coffee maker that is durable and can stand consistent use over time. A warranty should cover you if your coffee maker breaks down before it should.
How to Care for Your Coffee Maker
Using your coffee maker correctly and following some general best practices can prolong its lifespan, and ultimately, can lead to better-tasting coffee too. Below we’ve listed some best practices so that you can get the most from your brewer:
- Wash after each use and let it dry: You should wash your coffee machine after each time you use it. Doing so will make the cleaning process easier down the line. Be sure to let it dry after you’ve washed it too.
- Clean regularly (about monthly) with vinegar and water solution: You should clean your coffee maker regularly—ideally around once a month—with vinegar and water solution. This regular clean will prolong its lifespan, make it easier to wash, and should ensure you get the best possible coffee every time.
- Replace damaged pieces (carafes, filters): It’s essential to monitor your coffee maker over time. If you notice parts of it have become damaged, then you need to replace them as soon as possible. Damaged pieces of a coffee maker can include damaged carafes and broken filters. Check carefully.
- Use the right grind for the model: Whether it’s fine, coarse, medium-coarse, or just medium, you need to use the right coffee grind for your model. For traditional drip coffee makers, you ideally want a fine or medium grind, although this does depend on the filter your coffee maker uses.
What are the Different Types of Coffee Makers?
While this guide focuses on traditional drip coffee makers, there are, of course, a variety of ways to make coffee. In fact, you may even find the total number of different ways to be overwhelming. It mostly comes down to your personal preference. You might simply want a cup of coffee, or, on the other hand, you may seek the perfect brew.
Here are the different types of coffee makers, along with some of the key pros and cons of each:
- Drip Coffee Makers: As we’ve discussed in the guide so far, drip coffee makers are a good choice if you’re looking for a machine that quite simply makes coffee. You can usually program these machines to brew coffee even the night before. They can make a lot of coffee for large groups too. Some people think the coffee they produce is inferior to other methods, and they can be hard to clean.
- French Press Coffee Makers: French press coffee makers extract coffee by immersing grounds. They then filter the coffee with a sieve and plunger. Fans of the french press enjoy their full-bodied brew and simple-to-use design, and you can control the brew time and coffee strength too. They require more effort than some people like, and you have to monitor the process carefully.
- Pour-Over Coffee Makers: You can control the temperature and flow with these coffee makers, and they certainly have their fans. The whole process is less of a rush and more of a mindful pour. You pour the hot water over the coffee grounds in the funnel system. Some believe they produce the ultimate coffee and like the added control. Others might not have the required time in the morning.
- Cold Brew Coffee Makers: Essentially, we’re talking about brewing coffee with cold water. The process steeps ground coffee in cold water overnight and is mostly a hands-off experience. They tend to produce a less acidic brew, and fans of these love the potent concentrate they yield. That said, it can be tricky to create the exact brew you want.
- Espresso Machines: Espresso machines are considered a luxury. You’re able to customize the brew strength and size to exactly the amount you want. They offer a simple-to-use design and are all about removing fuss and hassle from the process. The leading machines can set you back $8,000, although other, more basic models can come in at $100.
- Stovetop Coffee Makers: These are small and inexpensive coffee makers popular in Italy. They work by using steam pressure to force hot water from a bottom chamber up through coffee grounds. Some people love the intense and complex coffee they produce, although it’s worth noting the time and effort involved.
For everything else coffee, you can check out our other guides here:
- The Best Pour Over Coffee Makers
- The Best Coffee Grinders
- The Best Cold Brew Coffee Makers
- The Best Gifts for Coffee Lovers