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 offering a bit more of that coveted ability to customize the brew for the experienced coffee enthusiasts.
Whatever category you fall in, one of these will surely fit the bill and earn a primo location on your kitchen counter. Before we get into the specifics of individual models, let’s talk about what you as an individual should consider while on the search for the perfect coffee maker.
Everyone’s different, especially when it comes to our relationship with waking up in the morning. You’ll want to determine how much effort you want to put into making your brew, how often as well as how many people are coffee drinkers in your particular abode, and how much money you want to you want to invest in your purchase.
If you’re what society calls a “morning person” and really appreciate a good quality brew, it’s worth taking a look at other methods on the market. Pour over and French Press are the sort of methods you’ll find in speciality hipster coffee shops and there’s a good reason for that—they can really highlight the finer notes and complexities in finer beans. Those perks come with more hands-on effort and mental acuity before the sun has even fully written.
To be entirely honest, as much as a good mug of pour over is top notch, during the average weekday, it’s hard to beat the combination of ease and quality from a good machine.
Keurig is a household name, and at this point, it's probably one of the first names that popped in your head. The allure of a single-serve coffee machine is strong, but unless you value time and convenience over the ability to make a delicious hand-crafted cup of coffee, resist the urge. Keurig is all about simplicity, and single-serve machines just aren’t going to provide you with a quality cup. Also, Keurigs require the use of k-cups, which contain pre-measured, pre-ground coffee beans. Pre-ground coffee loses its freshness quickly, so there’s no way to tell when the beans were packaged in those little plastic cylinders.
Drip coffee makers are really where a great and easy morning brew intersect. The biggest differences in price will come down to the ability to customize the brew. Basically, it’s the difference between tapping a single button to get your coffee versus setting a pot to delay a strong brew until 6 am.
Consider how many cups of coffee you want to make each day. Most machines come in 4-cup, 10-cup, 12-cup, or 14-cup capacity and require a little bit of 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.
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 some of the features you can keep an eye out for when scrutinizing models:
When using 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.
Since we brought it up first, we’ll chat about grounds first. You’ll want to get whole beans and use a conical burr grinder, as we’ve chatted about before, and you’ll likely want to stick to about a medium grind. Fiddle around a bit and try a brew with medium-fine all the way up to a medium-coarse to find just the right extraction for you.
Now, that’s the part of extraction you can control. Keep in mind the general correlation for extraction: if the grinds are too coarse it’s under-extracting and it’ll be sour; if the grinds are too fine it’ll over-extract and be bitter. There’s an entire science to coffee grind size.
The other half is going to be up to the 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’re curious, watch this video to see how drip coffee makers work…
Optimal heating components will reach a 197.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but won’t exceed 204.8 degrees Fahrenheit—this is the primo slice of temperature for brewing coffee. There is no way to control temperature on a drip machine, but one of the ways you can guarantee the machine you purchase follows these golden rules for coffee brewing is to find models that are approved by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), the people who speak for the beans worldwide.
Everyone’s needs are different—for some people, the simpler the better, while others want to retain the ease while still getting to customize what they can. Let’s take a look at some of the top drip coffee models on the market and get you the perfect set up for your kitchen!
The Technivorm Moccamaster 59616 KBG Coffee Brewer is a sturdy machine that uses copper heating elements for precise temperature and a glass carafe to collect your coffee. It’s on the pricier end of the scale, but it does all of the hard work for you.
SCA-certified, you know that it’s brewing your beans with tender, loving care. Once your carafe is full, you can choose whether you want the hot plate at 175 degrees or 185 degrees Fahrenheit depending on your preferences. If you can’t wait to have a cup, all you have to do to pause the brew and snag a pour is pull the carafe out. The Moccamaster will start again when you replace it.
Technivorm may not be a household name, but it’s definitely worthy of praise. Handmade in the Netherlands, these machines come with a 5-year limited warranty on the durable, recyclable parts and this energy-efficient machine has even earned the Seal of Approval from the European Coffee Brewing Center. Full review here.
Another great SCA-certified model, the Barista Brain by OXO actually brews 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 rainmaker shower head and a pre-infusion to bloom the coffee grounds.
The LED interface features a freshness indicator and the single dial on the front allows you to program the number of cups, as well as a 24-hour start timer.
OXO has been specializing in kitchen and housewares since its California debut in 1990, where Sam Farber introduced more comfortable kitchen utensils for people like his wife, who suffered from arthritis. Today, OXO has brought their easy-to-use philosophy to other areas of kitchen life like the Brain Barista. Check out of our full review here.
After Ninja debuted it’s well-received Ninja Coffee Bar, they stepped up their game and created two new coffee makers. The new model we especially like is the Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker.
A simple dial mechanism lets you choose from six different brew sizes (Single Cup, XL Cup, Travel Mug size, XL Multi-Serve, Half Carafe, and Full Carafe) and four different brew types (Classic, Rich, Over Ice, and Specialty). We’re particularly impressed with the super-rich specialty coffee concentrate option, which really brings out the flavor in more high-end coffee beans.
Ninja’s Specialty Coffee Brewer is also quieter than the Ninja Coffee Bar, which is Ninja’s older model that we reviewed here. Ninja includes a high-quality reusable filter and they even added a frothing arm that swings out from the left side of the machine. Despite our initial reservations about the quality of the frother, we discovered that it's actually just as good (if not better) than most other hand-held milk frothers.
You can opt to get this model with either a glass carafe or thermal carafe. The thermal is a bit more expensive, but your coffee will stay hotter for longer. We opted for the glass carafe, but that’s because we don’t leave coffee sitting around for a long time.
Aesthetically, this coffee maker is very modern and has a sleek, efficient look to it, but it’s quite tall, which is good to keep in mind if you have low cabinets. This may be problematic if you have limited counter space with low cabinets. Although we always recommend weighing your beans, Ninja provides a pre-measured scoop for ease and convenience.
The only thing we would’ve liked to see different is how Ninja recommends the coffee-to-water ratio. If you typical weigh your beans pre-ground, you’ll know what we’re talking about. The coffee maker comes with a scoop, and when Ninja recommends the coffee-to-water ratio for each brew size, they base their measurements on the number of scoops of ground coffee. I like to measure out exactly 18 grams of whole bean coffee when brewing a single cup, so figuring out the scoop/pre-ground measuring took me by surprise. However, by the second or third cup, you should be fine measuring any way you want.
Note: Ninja® was kind enough to send us a complimentary product but all opinions expressed are our own.
Unlike most of the machines listed here, the Bonavita BV1900TS brewer uses a flat head filter and large showerhead design to reach optimal saturation of the beans. There’s even an optional pre-infusion mode (which is definitely recommended) that mimics the action Barista’s take to let coffee bloom.
This attention to detail, the precise 1500-watt heater that keeps the brewing temp between 198 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit, and the unique pre-infusion mode gave this the seal of approval from the Specialty Coffee Association.
Zojirushi has been around since 1918 and creating products inspired by everyday life. They provide a variety of kitchen products, including the Fresh Brew plus, which is a great option if you like your brew iced as much as you like it hot.
Using the Japanese method, the glass carafe, which can handle 12 cups of warm coffee and six cups of cold, has a special insert to put ice. Once brewed, it’s flash frozen as it drips into the carafe. There’s no need to worry about diluting with this beaut, though, because the machine adjusts based on the iced coffee water measure lines!
BUNN has been a player in the coffee industry for quite a while now. Founded more than 170 years ago in Springfield, IL, BUNN is still owned by the BUNN family. The BT Velocity Brew Coffee maker is another unique model in their lineup—rather than being on or off, this machine constantly keeps the water tank heated.
On top of being ready whenever you want, it brews up to 10 cups in only 3 minutes. Now that’s what I call “on demand.” To keep your coffee comfortably warmed, the Velocity boasts a dual wall, vacuum-insulated thermal carafe that holds heat for 2 hours.
Affordable and quality typically meet very well in the Hamilton Beach brand, and the Brewstation Summit Coffee Maker is no exception. While it brews 12 cups like a traditional brew station, it features a unique enclosed brewing system, benefits of which include hot coffee for up to four hours.
Press the dispenser bar and fill your mug all morning long and, if you need more, the removable internal water reservoir makes it super easy to fill and brew more.
If you want the customizable options without making it too complicated or expensive, the Cuisinart 14-Cup Coffee Maker will hit the spot. Program your caffeine to brew up to 24 hours ahead of time, choose your carafe temperature, and even snag a cup before the pot is full—the Brew Pause feature allows you to sneak the carafe half way through to enjoy your first mug.
Needs change multiple times of the day, right? Sometimes you need a full 12 cup and other days you’re running out the door and need a quick hit of java for the road. The Hamilton Beach FlexBrew can handle both requests with finesse.
Brew straight into your travel mug using the single-serve side, which features a removable cup rest to fit both taller vessels and squatter mugs. When you have the time to leisurely enjoy a cup or two (or 10), the full carafe will be your main squeeze. Program your machine to brew right before your alarm so you can wake up to the delightful smell of brewed coffee, use the auto pause feature to snag a mug the moment you make your way to the kitchen, and let the auto-shut off feature do it’s thang 2 hours post brew.
It’s a no-sweat sort of machine, which I think we can all appreciate.
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 Specialty Coffee Brewer 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.
If you’re open to more hands-on models but want to stick in the brew machine family, you should also take a look at siphon coffee makers. If your jam is drinking cold coffee year-round, there are many excellent cold brew coffee makers to choose from, too.There’s another route you can take, too, especially if you don’t already have a conical burr grinder. It requires a bit of an upfront splurge on a single machine, but think of it as a coffee machine plus bean grinder, and suddenly the price becomes less objectionable: coffee makers with built-in grinders. Whatever ends up gracing your kitchen counter, we hope this list has been helpful and you enjoy your next coffee maker!