There are seemingly countless variations on the home coffee maker, from French presses to espresso machines to the now ubiquitous pod systems—but, sometimes, you may want a good old-fashioned cup of drip coffee without any fuss.
Once you’ve found the best drip coffee maker that’s right for you, it’s possible to achieve coffee shop quality from the comfort of your own home. Luckily, there are plenty of moderately-priced options that fit the bill, including the one I tested myself in my home when I was in need of a new coffee maker. Many of these options can rival the brews made by more complex machines.
- BEST OVERALL: Cuisinart SS-20 Coffee Center
- RUNNER UP: Bonavita Connoisseur 8-Cup One-Touch Coffee Maker
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: BLACK+DECKER 12-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker
- UPGRADE PICK: Breville BDC450 Precision Brewer Coffee Maker
- BEST SINGLE-SERVE: AdirChef Grab N’ Go Personal Coffee Maker
- BEST LARGE CAPACITY: Cuisinart DCC-3200P1 Perfectemp Coffee Maker
- BEST WITH GRINDER: Cuisinart DGB-900BC Grind & Brew Thermal Coffeemaker
- FASTEST DRIP: BUNN GRW Velocity Brew 10-Cup Coffee Brewer
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Drip Coffee Maker
Before you begin to shop for a coffee maker, weigh some key considerations. Though it may be easy to assume that all drip coffee makers deliver similar results, there are several factors to consider. Not all coffee makers are created equally. Read on to find out what to keep in mind when shopping for the best coffee maker for your home.
While the most basic coffee machines will simply deliver you a cup of joe, more advanced models feature customizable elements to suit your lifestyle and coffee preferences.
- Programmable coffee makers allow you to wake up to a freshly-brewed pot of coffee. Most models with programming capabilities let you set your machine up to 24 hours in advance.
- Temperature control is a feature that lets coffee connoisseurs manage the exact temperature at which their coffee is brewed. The SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) recommends brewing coffee between 197.6 and 204.8 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal results.
- Brew strength control features allow users to customize how strong their coffee turns out to be.
The majority of drip coffee makers dispense the brew into a glass or thermal carafe. Alternative models brew the coffee into a mug or single-serve thermal vessel. Some models even provide both options so that you can brew a single cup or full pot, depending on your needs. While a full carafe is perfect if you’re serving multiple people, a single-serving can be preferable to avoid waste if you only need one cup at a time. Products that use a grab-and-go thermos can be a great choice if you like to enjoy your coffee on your commute.
Though picking a high-quality coffee is important, water is the other ingredient that affects the taste. Depending on the quality of the tap water where you live, it can be beneficial to invest in a coffee machine that has a built-in water filter. This feature can eliminate chlorine and calcium, and will reduce any strong odors and flavors that may be present in the water you put into your device. Though this is a nice perk, it is a feature typically found in higher-end machines, so you can also simply brew with pre-filtered water for the same effect.
Glass vs. Thermal Carafe
Home coffee machines typically come with one of two types of carafes: glass and thermal. Each keeps coffee warm in a different way, and the best option will depend on your lifestyle.
- Thermal Carafes are insulated to keep their contents warm. They typically use double walls of stainless steel to achieve this, making the taste relatively unaffected, even hours later. If you brew your coffee in the morning, and like to keep pouring cups throughout the day, this option is probably preferable. However, thermal carafes are often associated with a higher price point.
- Glass Carafes are typically not insulated, and are usually paired with a hot plate design. Most budget coffee makers come with glass carafes, which can be suitable for those who only drink their coffee shortly after it’s brewed. The hot plate design, if not well made, can be associated with a burnt taste that permeates the contents after 15 or 20 minutes.
You may have noticed that the “cups” used to measure the capacity of coffee machines don’t actually align with the standard unit of measurement with which you’re familiar. A typical cup is approximately 8 ounces, while a “cup” brewed by a coffee maker is typically between 4 and 6 ounces. The average machine brews between 8 and 12 “cups.” However, if you have several coffee drinkers in the house, you might want a machine with a larger capacity; when that mid-afternoon slump hits, you won’t have to brew a second pot. On the other hand, if you only need one cup at a time, a single-serve model can be sufficient.
- A built-in grinder is great for the coffee aficionados out there who enjoy the taste of freshly ground coffee but want the convenience of an all-in-one machine.
- Brew time can be important if you want your cup to be ready as quickly as possible; some machines can brew an entire pot in just three minutes.
- LCD and touch screen displays can be nice as non-essential features that, while not affecting the taste of your brew, can make for a smoother user experience.
- Smart coffee makers let you control your machine using your phone, allowing you to brew yourself a pot without even getting out of bed. Some models can use voice activation by being paired with virtual assistant technology like Amazon’s Alexa.
- Brew pausing is handy if you want to grab your cup before the entire brew cycle is complete.
- A built-in filter cuts down on waste and saves you the expense of purchasing paper filters.
Our Top Picks
The following recommendations take into account all the considerations mentioned, including carafe style, brew controls, water filters, extra features, and, most importantly, quality. This list features a variety of top-notch drip coffee maker choices to help you find the right one for you according to your needs and budget.
This unique brewer by Cuisinart provides the best of both worlds with two separately functioning sides for making either one mug of coffee or an entire pot. You can use the single cup side with any brand of single cup coffee pod (like Keurig K-Cup pods). However, it also comes with a reusable filter cup so you can simply use your own ground coffee.
The full pot brewer comes with a 10-cup thermal carafe, a gold-tone filter, and a charcoal water filter for optimal flavor. It’s fully automatic and self-cleaning, and has 24-hour programmability. It also offers a control to measure brew strength, with a “bold” setting. Additionally, it allows for pausing, letting you grab a cup before the brew is complete.
If you prioritize excellent flavor but don’t want to fiddle with lots of buttons or different settings, the Bonita Connoisseur makes a great choice. Its bare-bones design makes the user interface as simple as it can be. However, the simplicity of the design equates to non-programmability, so it works best for coffee drinkers who enjoy the ritual of preparing their coffee in the morning rather than the night before.
With a thermal carafe, a 1500-watt heater that ensures perfect brewing temperatures, and a showerhead design that allows for optimal ground saturation, this model is built to create a perfect cup of coffee. It’s also equipped with a pre-infusion mode that replicates the process of pour-over coffee often seen in high-end cafes.
While most budget coffee makers feature a glass carafe and a hot-plate style warmer, this one stands out among its peers for its thermal carafe. In need of a new coffee maker myself, but wanting to avoid the burnt taste that hot plates can create, I decided to give the Black+Decker 12-Cup Thermal Coffee Maker a try.
For six months, I tested this coffee maker. I had hoped that the thermal carafe would keep my coffee as hot as promised. I wasn’t disappointed. It brewed coffee to a reliably hot 168, and even after 7 hours, it was 135 degrees.
This coffee maker also includes standard features, such as auto shutfoff, and a few advanced features, such as brew strength selector and sneak-a-cup, which allowed me to grab a cup mid-brew. Whether I wanted a hot cup right away or a chance to sip coffee all day, it produced great-tasting coffee for a great value.
While the average coffee drinker may not need all of the additional features that the Breville Precision Brewer offers, they do allow the user to create a highly-customizable brew. With control over water temperature, flow rate, and length of presoak, you can tinker to your heart’s content with this machine.
It offers a selection of presets that allow you to make iced coffee, or even cold brew, without any additional supplies. For those who want a perfect cup every time, “Gold Cup Mode” makes all the decisions for you, adhering to SCA standards. It also comes with two different filter baskets, cone and flat-bottom, which can be swapped in or out depending on the flow you desire.
If you feel like you’re always rushed in the morning, this personal coffee maker saves you from actually having to pour your coffee. For those who like to enjoy a hot coffee on their commute, this pick comes equipped with a 15-ounce stainless steel thermal mug into which the coffee is dispensed directly. The machine automatically shuts off when the thermos is filled, saving energy in the process. Another eco-friendly perk is that it comes with a built-in reusable filter.
This machine’s compact footprint makes it an excellent choice for small kitchens, or even to keep on your desk at work if your office’s communal coffee leaves something to be desired. All the components are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.
This coffee maker offers versatility because while it comes with a 14-cup carafe, it also allows you to brew just a single cup at a time. This Cuisinart model features 24-hour programmability and brew-strength control, allowing you to choose between regular- or strong-flavored coffee.
It features both a charcoal water filter and a gold-toned reusable coffee filter. The LCD display lets you quickly see the controls even if you’re making your coffee before the sun comes up. It also has an adjustable auto-shutoff feature that enables you to control how long you want to continue warming your coffee.
In order to achieve the best flavor, epicures often prefer to grind their own carefully selected coffee beans. This Cuisinart machine lets you enjoy the quality of freshly ground beans without that added step. Though it has a built-in grinder, you can turn the function off so you can use pre-ground beans as well. The strength selector allows users to choose between a mild, medium, or strong brew.
Equipped with a charcoal water filter, as well as a permanent gold-tone coffee filter, it’s made to produce the best flavor. It also has brew-pause functionality, letting you grab a cup before the brew cycle has completed.
This model comes in either a 10- or 12-cup capacity, and you can choose from either a glass or thermal carafe.
For those who aren’t looking for any bells and whistles, but do want a brewer that will get you your coffee as quickly as possible, this is a great pick. It has an estimated brew time of three minutes.
However, this Bunn model doesn’t sacrifice any quality in the name of speed. The machine is designed to maintain a brewing temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s manufactured with a spray-head design that evenly coats the coffee grounds with water for ideal flavor extraction.
If you find your coffee carafe often creates spills, this one comes with a built-in spout for easy pouring.
FAQs About Your New Drip Coffee Maker
With all the choices available, finding the best drip coffee maker can be a bit overwhelming, so you might still have some questions. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about coffee makers.
Q. How do you use a drip coffee maker?
Using a drip coffee maker involves putting ground coffee into a filter and adding cold water to a reservoir.
Q. How often should I clean my coffee maker?
You should clean the carafe and brew basket after every use. Also, once every three months, a deep clean or descaling (a metal cleaning process that removes limescale buildup) is recommended.
Q. Can a dirty coffee maker make you sick?
Anything you use for food or drink preparation can become contaminated with bacteria or mold, so it’s important to keep all of the components of your machine clean.
Q. How long does a drip coffee maker last?
A good coffee maker should last for at least five years, but a high-quality product can last even longer.