Best Drip Coffee Makers in 2018

As with all coffee-related purchases, finding the best coffee maker comes down to lifestyle, preference, and personal taste. We suggest something simple for beginners and something more durable for the experienced coffee enthusiasts. That being said, here are some of the best drip coffee makers out on the market.

What to Look for in a Coffee Maker

The most important things to consider before purchasing a coffee maker are how often you are going to brew coffee and how much time and money you are willing to spend to get a better tasting cup. The biggest differences in price will come down to these two factors: durability and design.

Consider how many cups of coffee you want to make each day and how easy your machine will be to clean. Most machines come in 4-cup, 10-cup, 12-cup, or 14-cup capacity and require regular maintenance to function properly.

Look to see which parts are removable; machines that allow you to remove the entire water dispensing apparatus are much easier to maintain. Something as simple as a lid that is not removable can create a frustrating hassle.

What Makes a Good Coffee Maker

Like all coffee brewing methods, better coffee results from an even distribution of water over the coffee grounds and a controlled brewing temperature.

Here are the most common differences in drip coffee makers:

  • Hot Plate vs. Thermal Carafe— A hot plate sits under a glass carafe and keeps your coffee warm, but can actually heat it a little too much and create a bitter taste. A thermal carafe is insulated, much like a thermos. It is usually made from stainless steel and is designed to keep coffee warm without consuming too much energy.
  • Size—There is no need to invest in a machine that makes 10 full cups if you are the only one drinking coffee and you know you'll only need four cups at a time. Also, consider how much counter space you realistically have for a coffee maker.
  • Programming Auto-Start—This is my favorite feature with drip machines: auto-start allows you to set the machine to start brewing at a certain time in the morning so you wake up to freshly brewed coffee.
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    Mid-Brew Pause—This feature allows you to remove the carafe before the pot is fully done brewing. This can be useful for households with multiple coffee drinkers or for those of us who are impatient to get our first cup of coffee in the morning.
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    Auto Shut-Off—This is the most important safety feature on drip coffee machines and it prevents fire hazards.
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    Warranty— If you are investing in a higher-end coffee maker, think about checking to see if the product has a warranty, especially if you have children or pets that are likely to damage a machine sitting out on the counter.
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    Water Filter—Built-in water filters are mostly going to affect taste, not performance.
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    Reusable Filters vs. Paper Filters—Some machines come with a reusable filter, usually made out of stainless steel in a fine mesh. Paper filters are more common but harmful to the environment.

Get the Most out of Your Coffee Maker

Because of the simplicity of a drip coffee maker, three components will most affect how your cup of coffee tastes: quality of beans and grounds, consistency of heating, and even extraction.

Drip brewing impairs the taste of coffee beans slightly, which is why it is not a favorite amongst baristas. For this reason, we don't recommend using your absolute highest quality coffee beans. Stick to a fresh medium roast for the best result. Use medium grounds for flat-bottomed filters and medium to fine grounds for cone-shaped filters.

Higher-end machines will likely advertise their heating components and may even list specific heating temperature capabilities. SCAA standards look for machines that reach 197.6°F within the first minute and never exceed 204.8°F. There is no way to control for this using a drip machine, so only coffee makers that are SCAA approved are guaranteed to meet this standard.

Extraction depends partially on you: if your coffee is ground too fine, extraction will be slow and yield bitter coffee. If your grounds are too big, extraction will be fast and yield weak coffee. However, the method of dispersing water over coffee grounds differs by machine.

Machines with a single "arm" that drip water over grounds in a line are less likely to evenly extract coffee compared to those with a shower head that distribute water evenly.

Some machines will even have a "pre-infusion" option that drips water over the grounds before brewing to allow them to bloom.

If you are curious, watch this video to see how drip coffee makers work...

Best Drip Coffee Makers in 2018

The best product for you depends on how you want your coffee to taste, how often you will be brewing, and how much you are willing to invest in a good machine. Here’s a look at our favorite coffee makers in 2018.

Moccamaster KBG 741 10-Cup

This sturdy machine uses copper heating elements for precise temperature and a glass carafe to collect your coffee. It is not particularly fancy but is designed to be durable and long-lasting so may be a good investment for anyone wanting high-quality coffee even after a lot of use. Full review here.

PROS

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    Brews 10 cups of coffee in six minutes
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    Auto-shut off activates when there is no more water in the reservoir
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    Made with BPA/BPS/BPF-free plastics
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    Hot plate shuts off after 100 minutes
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    Comes with a five-year warranty from an Authorized Retailer and replaceable parts from Technivorm, making this a safe investment
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    Simple but high-quality design will yield a great tasting cup of coffee
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    Water reservoir is large and transparent so it's easy to see how much water is left

CONS

  • Glass carafe and hot plate might unnecessarily heat the coffee, producing a bitter taste
  • Fewer programming options available (However, my mother views that as a 'Pro'!)
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    On the expensive side for many buyers
Oxo On Barista Brain 9-Cup Coffee Maker

The Barista Brain actually brews SCAA-certified coffee by using a microprocessor-controlled brew process and thermal heating control. That is a fancy way of saying this machine does its best to replicate a pour over brewing method, including using a pre-infusion to bloom the coffee grounds. Check out of full review here.

PROS

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    Shower head design runs water evenly over coffee grounds to improve extraction and create a better flavor profile
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    LED display keeps track of how fresh the coffee is and lets you know immediately when it's done brewing
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    Brews coffee based on the amount of water you put in the reservoir and the number of cups you select, which gives you a more accurate ratio
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    Short brewing time and insulated, steel carafe
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    Optional single-serve capacity
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    24-hour timer for auto-start in the morning

CONS

  • Carafe is not particularly high-grade and won't keep coffee hot for more than a couple of hours
  • There is no brew pausing, so if you remove the carafe before the machine is done brewing, coffee will drip out

You will be paying for the endless number of programmable options with the Coffee Bar. There are six different brew sizes and five different types of brews, complete with an iced coffee option, a milk frother, and a recipe book. Full review can be found here.

PROS

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    Ability to select the exact amount you want to brew directly into your cup or mug
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    Includes both thermal heating carafe and an iced coffee pitcher to brew over ice
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    Programmed auto-timer for brewing in the morning
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    Lots of extra equipment and attachments but it all folds in nicely for storage
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    Shower head and pause function brew like a pour over
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    "Clean" button partially self-cleans the machine

CONS

  • No auto-shut off but drip lever pauses brewing
  • Fairly tall machine that could be problematic if you have limited counter space
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    Carafe will only stay warm for a little over an hour
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    Have to check the included guide to know what measure of coffee grounds to use for each customized cup size
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    Single-serving option is not compatible with pods
Bonavita BV1900TS 8-Cup Coffee Brewer

Unlike most of the machines listed here, this brewer uses a flat head filter to brew SCAA-certified coffee. This is quite the feat for a coffee maker that is small, efficient, and fairly basic, and a good option for anyone preferring great drip coffee over customizable features. Read more.

PROS

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    Small and compact for a thermal carafe
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    Basic operating system starts and stops with just one switch
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    Optional pre-infusion to bloom the coffee grounds
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    Made with BPA-free plastic
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    Carafe, shower head, and filter are all removable and dishwasher-safe so they are easy to clean
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    Water reservoir is large and easy to read clearly

CONS

  • Cups are measured as 5oz instead of the traditional 6oz which might require some getting used to
  • Seems particularly prone to breaking down without regular cleaning
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    Carafe lid must be removed completely for brewing and filter basket simply sits on top, leaving a gap between the filtered grounds and the water dispenser
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    Pre-infusion setting can be difficult to figure out since there is no separate button for it
Zojirushi EC-YGC120 Fresh Brew Plus 12-Cup Coffee Maker

If you like your coffee iced rather than hot, this machine is a good option. Though it will brew both ways just fine, this coffee maker stands out with its many available settings to get iced coffee just right.

PROS

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    Ability to turn "off" warm setting in order to brew iced coffee
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    Iced coffee setting has different water level input to account for diluting
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    Four different temperature settings keep coffee as hot or cool as you want
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    Auto-start timer option
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    LED display with a "Clean" notification when the machine is ready for maintenance

CONS

  • Iced coffee will only brew half of the total capacity (six cups)
  • Alert beeping is quite loud
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    Unit is tall, though not excessively wide
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    Some issues with overflowing if the basket and drip are not perfectly aligned
BUNN BT Velocity Brew 10-Cup Thermal Carafe

This machine is designed to have a powerfully quick brewing time, but it operates a little differently than standard machines so there will be a slight learning curve. Instead of being switched "on" and "off," this machine keeps the water tank heated 24/7 so it is always ready to brew.

PROS

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    Brew time is incredibly fast; full 10-cup pot should take three minutes
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    Made of high-quality stainless steel for durability
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    Shower head dripping mechanism for better-tasting coffee
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    "Vacation" switch keeps power usage low when you are not actively brewing coffee

CONS

  • Stainless steel water tank is high-quality but means you cannot see how much water is inside
  • Uses a lot of electricity to keep running
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    Water frequently overflows the grounds
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    Has a burning plastic smell at first
Hamilton Beach BrewStation Summit 12-Cup Coffee Maker (48464)

This machine has a unique enclosed brewing system. There is a pressure bar that you press to dispense the amount of coffee you want at one time, much like what you'd find with a soda fountain machine or water dispenser in a refrigerator.

PROS

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    Enclosed system keeps your coffee hot and fresh until you're ready to pour it
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    Pressure dispenser prevents coffee drip spills that are common with a regular machine
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    Options to brew bold, regular, iced coffee, or small batches​​​​
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    All programmable options are at the front of the machine with a single LED screen that displays your settings
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    Removable tank helps make cleaning process easier
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    Auto-shut off

CONS

  • Coffee can get extremely hot, being a potential safety hazard near curious children
  • Will require a little experimentation to find what settings produce the taste you want
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    Takes a little longer to brew
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    Limited space under dispenser won't fit large travel mugs

This simple coffee maker allows you a considerable amount of customization at a budget-friendly price. However, if you know you will be brewing coffee every day, consider investing in a more durable option.

PROS

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    Has an optional water filter that uses charcoal pods to create better-tasting coffee
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    Fairly simple interface is easy to use
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    Ability to set carafe temperature to low, medium, and high
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    Includes reusable gold-tone filter so you can avoid paper filters
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    Auto-start timer and programmable auto-off

CONS

  • Reservoir lid does not open very wide, making it harder to refill​​​​
  • Gives off a lot of steam (not a good idea to brew under or near cabinets)
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    Like other machines at this price point, performance will suffer if you forget regular maintenance
Hamilton Beach 49980A Single Serve Coffee Brewer and Full Pot Coffee Maker

This is another simple machine that covers all of the basics at a lower price point. This is potentially a great machine for one or two coffee drinker homes because of its convenient single-serve brewing option designed to make it easier to brew straight into a travel mug.

PROS

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    Single-brewing option has an entirely separate brewing station on the side of the machine and adjusts to fit different-sized cups and mugs
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    Has two separate water tanks for carafe and single-brew station
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    Option to brew bold or regular coffee
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    Auto shut-off after two hours and 24-hour programmable timer
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    Compatible with pods

CONS

  • Glass carafe side does not have a reusable filter so you'll have to use paper
  • Power cord is short
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    Not designed to be a long-lasting machine
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    Water tanks are difficult to read

Conclusion

While there are several other coffee machines listed here that offer more options and features, our pick for the best drip coffee maker is the Oxo On Barista Brain 9-Cup Coffee Maker. We like this one because it produces SCAA-certified coffee without needing much adjusting from you.

Systems like the Ninja Coffee Bar or Hamilton Beach BrewStation are more customizable but will require experimentation, whereas the Barista Brain will be intuitive to operate from first use.

While we like the Moccamaster, Barista Brain will give you the same high-quality coffee without as much financial investment.
The Bonavita and BUNN BT Velocity Brew will give you solid cups of coffee, but won't be as durable or easy to use as the Barista Brain.

Whatever you pick, we hope this list has been helpful and you enjoy your next coffee maker!


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