Are you in search of the best drip coffee maker for your home or office? With so many models to choose from, each with its own specs, features and price point, picking the best one can be quite a task.
“Best”, after all, is such a subjective term and it’s one that hinges on your own unique needs. So before heading to the online store to select your spanking new brewer, it’s a good idea to define what those needs are.
Defining the Coffee Lifestyle
- Perhaps you need a model that brews up fast in the morning so you can get that vital first cup to kick-start your day.
- Or maybe you need a high-capacity model that can brew up a giant carafe. Very handy for large families or for those occasions when your neighbors drop round.
- Then again, you may have a passion for lattes and other milky brews. In that case you’d be tempted by a model with built in frother.
- Other factors you have to consider include programmability. Modern coffee makers come with a range of options to do everything from brewing your favorite drink automatically to clicking on in the future with your coffee ready. But do you really need them?
- And ultimately, of course, there’s the all-important matter of price. It doesn’t matter how fabulous the coffee maker is if it’s not in your budget.
Best Coffee Maker: How to Choose
If you’re still struggling to identify that dream coffee brewer, don’t fret. We’ve assembled all the information you need to make an informed buying decision right here in one handy guide.
Below, we outline the types of coffee maker available so you know your options. Then we list all those key features you need to look for in your best brewer. After that, we list the best choices for various situations and people. Finally we review the cream of the crop – the best coffee makers currently on the market.
Ultimately owning and using a coffee maker is a lifestyle choice. Several factors have to be balanced – price, convenience, versatility and so on.
In our comprehensive best coffee maker report, we show you what makes these wonderful devices tick and most importantly, help you decide which is the right model for you.
Coffee Maker Buyer Guide
Types of Coffee Maker
Essentially they come in two main types – drip or filter coffee makers, and espresso coffee makers.
Filter coffee makers work by boiling up water and dripping it over ground coffee held in a permanent or paper filter. The resulting brew then flows down into a carafe or cup placed below.
Another type of filtered coffee brewer uses a prepackaged capsule or pod, a sealed container holding the right amount of coffee. You insert the pod into a compartment in the coffee maker. The device then processes the pod by piercing it and forcing hot water through it to release the brew into a cup underneath.
Drip coffee makers are by far the most popular type for home use.
Espresso brewers use hot water at high pressure to bring out that rich espresso with its distinctive crema. This process is responsible for that characteristic hissing sound you hear in coffee shops. However these types are not so commonly used at home except by true aficionados.
In this guide, we’ll be covering drip coffee makers. We’ll start by looking at the various types:
One Cup Coffee Makers
Also known as single serve coffee makers, these are the talk of the town right now owing to their speed and convenience. So useful are they that many coffee buffs snag one to complement their regular brewer. That way they can pop in a pod and be sipping a quality cup of joe in seconds, and also create more elaborate brews when they have more time. Read our best single serve coffee maker guide and reviews for the full story about these handy devices.
Hybrid Coffee Makers
Also known as multi-use coffee makers, these combine the functionality of one cup brewers and full-sized types all in one neat device. Generally a push button option allows the user to brew up one cup or a whole carafe depending on his desire. Many hybrid models are also ideal for making tea or just boiling water.
Regular Coffee Makers
These are the workhorses that grace most of our kitchens. Capable of brewing a dozen or more cups at a time, they accept any kind of ground coffee. They’re ideal for families or for the coffee drinker who needs more than one cup in the morning.
Most people opt for a drip coffee maker with some automated functions. These brewers are easy to use, extremely versatile, very affordable and can handle any type of ground coffee.
These regular drip coffee makers come in a vast range of styles, capacities, and functionalities so you need to choose carefully. To help you, here are the key questions you should pose when scouting for your dream home coffee brewer.
Key Questions to Ask on Best Drip Coffee Maker
What Type of Coffee Does It Take?
At the end of the day, it’s all about the coffee, so you need to pick a brewer that can handle your favorite brand and type.
Coffee is sold in three main formats – ground coffee, pods/capsules, and beans. For most people their choice is determined by convenience and taste.
Ground coffee just needs to be spooned into the filter while pods just slip into the machine. These are supremely convenient options.
However, for some coffee mavens, freshly ground coffee is the only way to go. If you want the very freshest taste, you can either have your beans ground in the store or take them home and grind them yourself. Unless you’re happy to run to the store everyday to buy the freshly ground product, you might want to invest in a grinder.
Yet another option is to buy a ‘bean to cup’ coffee maker which has the grinder built in. This is also a nice way to save space. A regular blender, which you probably already own, can grind coffee just fine, through purists might disagree.
One factor to consider is the availability of your chosen type of coffee. Any supermarket will stock a vast range of beans and ready ground coffee. They’ll also probably offer a selection of pre-packed options such as the K-Cup made for Keurig and compatible devices. Get a brewer that handle these types of coffee and you’ll never run short.
But certain pods, usually premium items such as those for Nespresso machine, are available only from special outlets and online. If you’re investing in one of these coffee makers, be sure to establish your supply chain or you might wake up to a coffee-less morning. However you can get refillable pods that you can fill with your own ground coffee. This way you get the best of both worlds.
What Functionality Does It Offer?
If you like things old school, you’d probably love a French press. Also known as a press pot or coffee press, the whole system consists of a jar, filter and plunger. Just add coffee, pour in hot water, and after a minutes, depress the plunger to squeeze out the brew. These are great for those who like a hands on approach to coffee making.
At the other end of the scale are cutting edge devices in which microprocessors control everything from temperature to timing and adjust the strength of the brew automatically depending on the volume of serving chosen.
How Programmable is It?
Today’s coffee brewers take maximum advantage of digital technology to control and optimize the brewing procedure. The result is a perfect cup of joe with minimal input from you, the user.
Processors can control all aspects of the brewing process. They can ensure the water temperature is exactly right for the volume of water being brewed and the chosen strength of the brew;
Many pod type coffee makers read information from bar codes on the pods to determine the optimal brewing process
Many modern coffee makers offer push-button choice of regular and bold brews. Some such as the Ninja Coffee Bar Glass Carafe System (CF092) with Cookbook and Tumbler offer a staggering range of choices.
Does It Offer the Features I Need?
You can acquire appliances that churn up genuine coffeehouse creations but that’s overkill for most consumers. Or you could invest in a sleek device from Nespresso. Just pop in a cap, push in a button and get a rich brew in under a minute. At the other end of the spectrum, the can get a basic model which needs everything to be done by hand.
Nice Features to Have
These can be lifted out and taken to the sink for filling. It’s far more convenient than trying to fill the coffee maker up with a jug. Transparency also is useful because you can keep a constant eye on the water level. Some models come with lines to show the water level and grips to help maneuverer the tank safely.
This purifies the water before use. This way it both helps with taste and reduces the need to de-calcify your unit. Its value depends on the quality of the water in your area but it’s certainly a handy feature.
Also desirable is an auto shutoff feature which turns off the power after a certain time. After all you don’t wants to rush out in the morning leaving the hot plate on all day.
Reviews For The 11 Top Rated Coffee Makers 2017
For buyers with special needs and conditions, we’ve included some brief guides to finding the ideal brewer for their particular situation with links to the detailed reviews below.
Cuisinart DCC-3200 – Rated #1
Fashioned from tough and stylish stainless steel, the Cuisinart DCC-3200’s snug footprint ensures it fits into the most compact kitchen. Yet despite its neat dimensions, the unit is packed with innovative features that make it a cinch to brew up a fine cup of java. For example you can:
- Choose between regular and bold brews at the flick of a switch.
- Use the Multi-Serve Dial to easily select various sizes – cup, travel mug, half carafe or carafe.
- Set it up to brew 24 hours in advance so your coffee is waiting for you anytime.
- Scan the back-lit LCD and know when it’s time to decalcify the unit.
- Adjust the keep-warm temperature control to suit your preferences.
- Push a button to keep the hotplate on for four more hours.
It’s a speedy performer brewing up a full carafe of coffee in just five minutes. If you just can’t wait that long, just use the Brew Pause™ feature. It lets you pour out a cup before the cycle has completed.
Another neat feature is the drip free spout that avoids those annoying splatters that can happen when serving.
The programming options are comprehensive without being confusing with the help of clear push buttons that light up when pressed. One nice touch is the ability to prepare one or many cups at a time as required.
The taste is uniformly excellent as the system automatically optimizes brew strength settings based on your chosen volume. And with a reservoir capacity of 72 ounces, the Cuisinart DCC-3200 14-Cup Perfect Temp Coffeemaker should satisfy your caffeine needs throughout the day. However the reservoir is non-removable.
Another plus for this unit is that users enthused it brewed up coffee that was genuinely hot and stayed so in the glass thermal carafe.
Verdict: A stylish, high capacity, and easy to use brewer from a top-of-the-line manufacturer. Especially suited to those who like they coffee piping hot. Replete with handy features that make brewing and serving coffee a joy.
Moccamaster KBG 741 with Glass Carafe – Editor’s Choice
A dedicated coffee brewer manufacturer, Moccamaster focuses on reliable, durable and energy efficient products. With the KBG 741 10-Cup Coffee Brewer, the company has hit the mark on all counts. Here are a few of the exciting features:
- Can brew up a full 10-cup carafe of coffee in just six minutes.
- Features a glass reservoir so you can always keep a keen eye on the water level
- Takes all kinds of ground coffee, no need to hunt down proprietary pods or capsules.
- Comprises removable parts for cleaning and ease of maintenance.
- Features a pulse action system that moistens the coffee grains before brewing for more efficient flavor extraction.
- Warming plate cycles on and off to avoid burning coffee and to save money.
One of only two coffeemakers certified by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCAA), the Moccamaster KBG 741 10-Cup Coffee Brewer features a 40 ounce reservoir, just enough to brew up 10 four-ounce cups.
Please be aware this is not the most compact coffee maker on the market so make sure you have enough space in your kitchen.
Verdict: Though one of the pricier brewers in this line up, its capacity, power and dedicated features make it a good buy for those who really love their coffee and have enough room to house the appliance.
Striking in design, and offering a stunning range of brewing features, the Ninja Coffee Bar Glass Carafe System (comes with cookbook and tumbler) is just the appliance for the creative type who loves to prepare his own signature beverages. A hybrid brewer, it can serve up everything from a single cup of espresso to a dazzling range of hot and cold drinks. Here’s a look at its key features:
- Built-in frother whips up milk to a delightful microfoam to make sublime lattes and other milky drinks.
- A range of six brew sizes lets you brew up everything from a pod-free single serve to a full carafe to treat your friends and family.
- Custom brew settings enable the effortless preparation of classic, rich, and iced brews along with special concoctions such as Cafe Forte.
- Comes with two insulated carafes, one to keep hot drinks piping, and another to keep iced drinks chilled and fresh.
- Features an auto timer setting and a 2-hour auto shut-off.
Along with the range of these unique accessories, this Ninja Coffee Bar Glass Carafe System incorporates the proprietary Advanced Thermal Flavor Extraction technology which ensures the last drop of flavor is drawn out of the coffee grounds. It works by dripping hot water over the grounds first to saturate them and spread them evenly around in the filter. With an average brewing cycle of just over six minutes, it’s also quite a speedy process. The clear plastic water reservoir is removable and holds 54 ounces.
Verdict: The Ninja Coffee Bar Glass Carafe System (CF092) with Cookbook and Tumbler is a veritable artist’s palette of a coffee maker which will keep coffee buffs happily engrossed in preparing rare brews for ours.
With a clean and modern look, the On Barista Brain 9 Cup Coffee Maker from OXO brings push-button simplicity to the brewing of coffee using pour-over methods as found in premier coffee shops. It’s also blessed with a slew of features that can transform you into an expert barista. For example:
- The one-cup option lets you brew up one cup whenever you want a quick shot.
- The 24-hour start timer allows you to program your coffee brewing well in advance.
- Sophisticated controls ensures the water is always at the optimal temperature needed for perfect brewing.
- The rainmaker shower head guarantees uniform dispersion of water for full-flavor coffee making.
The OXO On Barista Brain’s salient feature is the chip-guided cycle that mimics the pour-over brewing system found in high-end coffee shops. Factor in the rigorous temperature control and you have all you need for a perfect cup of joe.
These sophisticated features are controlled by a single dial while an intuitive LCD screen lets you know exactly what’s going on. For instance, it indicates the time elapsed since the coffee was brewed. Useful if you want to know if the coffee is still fresh. It’s a speedy unit, too, brewing up a one-liter carafe in less that seven minutes.
The OXO On Barista Brain features a conical basket that takes disposable or permanent filters. This way you can use any ground coffee. The transparent reservoir holds 48 ounces of water and has clear markings that show the water level.
Verdict: A sophisticated brewer from OXO for those who really want the best in home coffee making.
- Crafted from stainless steel for style and durability.
- Comes with a metal carafe to ensure your coffee is always agreeably hot.
- Features a flat-bottomed filter basket for optimum saturation of coffee and the fullest flavor brews.
- Offers a push-button pre-infusion mode (bloom) that degasses your ground coffee before brewing begins.
- Contains no moving parts so more reliable and easy to clean.
The Bonavita BV1900TS’s reservoir holds 40 ounces of water which is enough for eight generous 5-ounce cups. The reservoir is fixed so you’ll need to fill it with a jug of water. For flexibility, the power cord can be positioned to leave the bottom of the unit via front, back or sides.
Verdict: All in all, the Bonavita BV1900TS 8-Cup Carafe Coffee Brewer is a coffee brewer designed for ease of use and minimum of fuss. However, a small minority of users moaned the coffee wasn’t warm enough.
BUNN BXB Velocity Brew – Great for Fast Morning Brew
As you can guess, speed is the name of the game for BUNN BXB Velocity Brew 10-Cup Home Coffee Brewer. As the water is kept constantly hot in the unit’s tank, it can brew up 4-10 cups of coffee in a stunning three minutes. Other than its zippy performance, the unit has a number of other attractive features:
- The Pour-O-Matic Drip Free Glass Decanter ensures pouring without mishap.
- Unique spray head optimally delivers hot water for a consistent rich flavored brew.
- Sleek and stylish black and stainless finish will grace any kitchen.
- It can take permanent and reusable filters to brew any kind of ground coffee.
- Simple to operate without complex controls.
However the BUNN BXB Velocity Brew 10-Cup Home Coffee Brewer does suffer from a few drawbacks, mainly involving a lack of automation. There’s no timer to allow brewing at a set time in advance, and no auto switch off. This means the onus is always on the user to ensure the device is powered down. It’s also one of the pricier models in this collection.
Verdict: Great brewer if you need to make coffee fast e.g. in a business setting. Accepts all kinds of coffee and brews it to perfection. However the lack of an automatic switch will be off-putting to some.
Hamilton Beach (48464) Brewstation – People on a Budget
It works by dispensing the coffee directly into your cup without need of a carafe.
The coffee is kept warm in an interior tank under the filter. Just press you cup against the dispenser to fill it up with coffee that’s always hot. The Hamilton Beach 48464 Programmable Coffee Machine has some desirable characteristics:
- It features a button positioned on the front left of the device to let you conveniently choose your desired number of cups.
- It offers a push button way to choose regular, bold, or iced coffee.
- Its nifty auto shutoff and programming timer features put you in control of your day.
- It has no hotplate which means a cooler kitchen.
- It has no carafe and thus no spillage when pouring the coffee out.
The Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Coffee Maker takes standard filters, either permanent or disposable. Thus it handles any kind of ground coffee.
Verdict: Versatile device which delivers hot and finely brewed coffee right to your cup. Users who miss using a carafe can buy their own though there’s no hotplate to keep it warm.
Mr. Coffee BVMC-EL1 Cafe Latte – For Latte Lovers
Milky coffee fans will love this latte maker from Mr. Coffee. A simple one-touch procedure simultaneously brews up the espresso and froths the milk to render a delicious creamy brew. Armed with this model, you can be your own barista and brew up everything from simple lattes to exotic milky brews. Here are its features in a nutshell:
- Generous 24-ounce capacity is enough for two hefty 16 ounce lattes.
- Comes with recipe book with tips to brew up exotic coffee and hot chocolate drinks.
- Automatic latte cycle ensures perfect results every time in just five minutes.
- Easy to clean, just rub it down with a damp cloth.
- Speedy in function brewing up sumptuous lattes in just five minutes.
The Mr. Coffee BVMC-EL1 takes regular drip coffee maker filters and can handle any kind of ground coffee such as Starbuck beans for a smooth brew or espresso beans for a bold one. Users were pleased with the heat of the coffee though devoted latte aficionados quibbled that the device technically produced a cafe au lait and not a latte.
Verdict: The Mr. Coffee BVMC-EL1 Cafe Latte is a great solution for those who love lattes but hate the fuss involved in separately brewing the coffee and frothing the milk. However lacks programming and automatic timer and shutdown features.
- Comes with a charcoal water purifier to deliver better-tasting coffee.
- Features a removable water reservoir that holds 23 ounces, enough to brew up five cups between refills.
- Cone filter basked lies within the glass carafe to save space and reduce dripping.
- Takes all kinds of ground coffee.
- Comes in a range of vibrant colors to liven up any kitchen.
Unfortunately, the Zojirushi EC-DAC50 lacks an auto-shutoff mechanism. But the on/off button is prominent at the bottom of the appliance. The built in water filter is a nice touch and is slated to last around two years before needing replacement.
Verdict: Neat in form and a solid performer without bells and whistles such as programmable functions. Sadly lacks an auto-shutoff.
If you love your coffee to be completely free of any acid taste, the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker is for you. It prepares hot or cold beverages that have a fresh, non-bitter flavor. Here are some of its special features:
- A compact footprint makes it easy to fit in any kitchen.
- Uses its proprietary Perforated Rainmaker system to ensure even and optimal water distribution for perfect flavor extraction.
- Comes with a removable ultra-fine, mesh filter of stainless steel and can also use paper filters.
- Auto switch stops filtration if carafe is removed.
- Attractive smoked-plastic tower finish.
The OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker employs a cold-brew system in which coffee grounds never come into contact with hot water. The result is a smoother flavor without the bitter acidity that sometimes mars the product of other brewing methods. However, the process does take a long time as the grounds need to be soaked in cold water for up to 24 hours to produce the brew. This means that coffee preparation takes careful planning.
Verdict: A great unit if your love low acid coffee. But be prepared to plan carefully or wait a long time for your brew. Also it needs very finely ground coffee to deliver the best results.
Braun BrewSense KF7150BK – Best for Small Kitchens
Distinguished by its sleek form and attractive two-tone design, the Braun BrewSense KF7150BK 12-cup drip brewer comes with a bevy of unique features to ensure you get a great cup of coffee every time with maximum convenience. Along with a host of nifty features it:
- Features a strength control function to let you brew each carafe just as you desire.
- Incorporates Braun’s proprietary PureFlavor system to extract the full essence of each coffee bean.
- Comes with a sophisticated timer lets you set the brewing time up to 24 hours in advance.
- Offers a sealed carafe to hold in the flavor and minimize dripping.
- Features a fully enclosed carafe resulting in a sleek and compact footprint
Along with these high-end features, the Braun BrewSense 12-Cup Drip Coffee Maker KF7150BK also offers the push-button versatility to brew as much coffee as you need. It’s fast, too. A smaller ‘short pot’ of 1-4 cups takes under five minutes to brew. Plus you can pour a cup before the brew cycle completes.
This automatic drip coffee maker comes with a gold tone perma cone-type filter to handle any type of ground coffee. It also takes paper filters.
Another rare and innovative touch is that the hot plate takes three settings – low, medium and high. An auto shut off mechanism ensures you never leave the appliance on accidentally.
Verdict: The Braun BrewSense KF7150BK packs an innovative array of features into one streamlined package that’s endowed with push button simplicity for ease of use.
Although I have tried to simplify the features, pros and cons of the 11 top drip coffee makers above, I believe many of you might still be overwhelmed by the information. So let’s do a summary again and hopefully it will really help you to make a quick and good purchasing decision.
Braun BrewSense KF7150BK – If your kitchen is of modest dimensions but you refuse to compromise when it comes to your coffee, fear not, you’re well served. Most one cup coffee makers are compact enough. As for regular coffee makers, the Braun BrewSense 12-Cup Drip Coffee Maker KF7150BK is cunningly engineered to combine a 12 cup output with a snug footprint.
Mr. Coffee BVMC-EL1 – If you love your coffee rich and milky but want a fuss-free way to brew it, the answer’s simple. Just get hold of the Cafe Latte. Just push a button and a delightfully blended latte will be in your hand within minutes.
Cuisinart DCC-3200 – When the guests retire for coffee after dinner, you want to make sure everyone gets a steaming cup to complement that wonderful meal. For that you need a coffee maker with a big reservoir and carafe. Check out the Cuisinart DCC-3200 Perfect Temp 14-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker. It can brew up to 14 cups which should be ideal for any event outside the White House.
BUNN BXB Velocity Brew – If you’re the type who likes to get going fast in the mornings, you need a coffee maker that doesn’t dawdle. Check out the BUNN BXB Velocity Brew 10-Cup Home Coffee Brewer for a machine that can brew up a whole carafe in around three minutes.
Hamilton Beach (48464) – Just because you’re counting the pennies doesn’t mean you have to forgo you daily cups of java. You can find supremely functional brewers at great prices, especially if you shop online at amazon.com. Check out the Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Coffee Maker (48464). Rich in features and very affordable, it takes any kind of coffee.
Other Useful Sources:
- Research and interviews on high-end coffee machines by The Sweet Home
- Home Grounds’ tips on choosing brewers
- Highlight of different coffee brewers by Best Products
- In-depth comparisons by Top Ten Reviews