The Best Coffee Makers
Since at least the 15th century, humans have been harnessing the power of the coffee bean for its energizing potential. For many of us, it’s the common denominator of our mornings. We wake up. We make coffee.
There are numerous ways to make a good cup. Some prefer a simple French press, while others spring for the more modern electric coffeemaker. We elected to concentrate on the latter; specifically, those that brew fulls pots and not single-cup machines that rely on individual pods. Automatic machines add convenience and flexibility to often hectic morning routines, and are more environmentally friendly than those that require using little plastic containers every time you crave a cup.
A decent automatic drip coffee maker can cost anywhere from $45 all the way up to over $200. Higher-end machines are either more customizable, offering additional attachments like a milk frother, or are specially designed to get the most flavor out of pricier, specialty coffees. Coffee makers on the lower end of the spectrum often produce decent, hot pots of store-bought coffee with reliability. Our top picks also had to brew hot, quality coffee in a short amount of time. We favored attractive design, simplicity, and the ability to brew both delicious and hot coffee.
🏆 Top Pick
Our favorite machine out of seven highly rated and reviewed coffee makers is the Bonavita BV1900TS. This Bonavita model is easy to use and produces awesome coffee, time after time.
It brews eight cups at a time with the touch of a single button, and it does it quite quickly too. Pre-infusion—a process in which grounds are pre-wet to ensure a better flavor—comes standard on this model of coffee maker. It’s worth noting that this model is approved by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, meaning it’s one of a dozen or so machines that the SCAA trusts to make a great cup of coffee, taking into account variables like water temperature and brewing time.
Convenience is key with this machine. It’s powerful, yet compact, meaning it won’t take up too much counter space. An automatic shutoff means you don’t have to worry about accidentally leaving it on. Although not as sleek as the OXO On Barista (which also makes a damn fine cup of coffee), the Bonavita Thermal is about $70 cheaper at $120.00 at Amazon. If the taste of the coffee is your key concern, the price difference makes the Bonavita a stronger contender than its rival, the OXO.
Note: The Bonavita Thermal machine is not programmable. Although it’s simple to use, you’ll have to wake up to get the brewing process started. If the aroma of fresh coffee is what gets you out of bed in the morning, you might want to check out a coffee maker that offers a programable timer.
The Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Coffee Maker is the best bang for your buck—only $45.13 at Amazon. It’s extremely simple to use, from start to finish. The machine rotates so that the removable water tank can be easily removed and filled. The tank snaps back into place, and the brew basket swings out with the touch of a single button. Users can choose among brewing strengths like regular and bold, or specify they only wish to make one to four cups as opposed to the full dozen. The carafe keeps the coffee warm for up to two hours, at which point the machine will automatically shut off, so no need to panic if you can’t remember if you turned it off before leaving the home. Easily removable parts are dishwasher-safe.
You can also program Hamilton Beach to brew you a pot at a specific time, meaning you have fresh coffee to look forward to upon getting out of bed. If you can’t wait for it to finish, an automatic pause function allows you to remove the carafe and pour a cup without spilling coffee all over your counter. This kind of convenience and user-friendly design make it an ideal choice for the casual coffee drinker who craves a hot cup daily, but doesn’t want to make a large purchase. It’d be fine to use with store-bought, pre-ground coffee for those on a budget, and doesn’t have require costly or difficult-to-find filters. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of the more expensive machines, and it’s more reliable than it is customizable.
The OXO On Barista Brain 9-Cup Coffee Maker produces the most delicious cup out of the coffee makers we tried. This machine is SCAA-certified, meaning that the Speciality Coffee Association of America recognizes it as one that makes especially good coffee. The SCAA takes into account water temperature, brewing time, and other criteria before awarding this designation. Some of the machines we looked into, like the Bonavita and Bunn offerings on our list, share this distinction. Others, like the Hamilton Beach and Mr. Coffee Optimal options, do not, but still make a decent cup.
You can program the OXO to make coffee at a specific time, and a freshness timer lets you know if the coffee is old without requiring you to taste it. Pre-infusion is built-in. What this means is that the coffee is saturated with water prior to the brewing process, which allows carbon dioxide to be released from the grounds. Pre-infusion results in a more consistent, flavorful cup. The complete process, from pre-infusion to a complete brew, takes about seven minutes.
Although the OXO does craft an especially fine cup of coffee, it is more expensive than many of the other machines we investigated—it’s currently priced $199.95 at Amazon. It’s also not as customizable as some of the similarly priced machines. However, for the coffee snob who won’t settle for a mediocre cup but who doesn’t want to think about it, the OXO On 9-Cup Coffee Maker is perfect. It’s reliable, boasts a sharp design that’ll look nice on your kitchen counter, and ensures you can always jump-start your morning (and impress your guests) with great coffee.