Ninja Programmable XL 14-Cup Coffee Maker
Best coffee maker for $100 or less
Cafe Specialty Drip Coffee Maker
Best programmable coffee maker
Oxo Brew Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Best cold brew coffee maker
Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over
Best pour-over coffee maker
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There are countless ways to enjoy coffee these days. At a Starbucks, Dunkin’ or Caribou, you can get anything from a simple black coffee to what’s essentially a coffee-flavored milkshake. Or, you could opt for one of the craft coffee shops that have proliferated in the last decade or so, and get a meticulously brewed coffee or latte. But if you’re looking to save money, or are just interested in learning more about brewing coffee, you’ll want to make it at home.
The options for brewing coffee at home can feel as numerous as the options for going out when you consider factors like brewing method, price and your personal situation. (Does someone living alone need 12 cups of coffee every morning? I’m not here to judge.) The choice might seem daunting, but we’re here to make it easier. And now is the perfect time to look for a coffee maker. You can find holiday deals on coffee makers going on now.
We’ve meticulously tested and carefully chosen the best coffee makers available now. Whether you’re looking to brew your coffee hot or cold, manually or automatically, on a budget or without financial constraints, we’ve got an option for you. (You can also check out our picks for the best coffee subscriptions.)
Best coffee makers
The Oxo Brew 8-Cup Coffee Maker delivers Speciality Coffee Association Golden Cup-rated coffee that tastes just as good as coffee from our previous favorite, the Bonavita Connoisseur, but Oxo’s new coffee brewer is more thoughtfully designed. This drip machine also comes with a special single-cup filter basket for Kalita Wave filters. The Oxo Brew is the best drip coffee maker that’s compact, stylish and sturdy, plus it comes with a thermal carafe that doesn’t drip or spill.
At $99.99, the Ninja Programmable XL 14-Cup Coffee Maker just about hits our $100 limit, but if you’re looking for tasty coffee on a budget, this machine does an excellent job. Of the class of cheaper coffee makers, this Ninja regularly made the smoothest, richest, tastiest coffee (not to mention the most coffee). With both classic and rich brew settings, and a setting for making smaller quantities, it’s a coffee maker that can accommodate working from home alone or having friends over for brunch. It’ll brew at a set time and warm your brewed coffee, like many other pots, but also has a cleaning cycle. With a reusable filter in the box, you can also cut down on one more coffee expense.
While the Cafe Specialty Drip Coffee Maker doesn’t come cheap, it does offer a lot for the money. If you are a coffee drinker who likes a smart coffee maker, you can schedule a delicious cup in advance with its auto brew feature. It’s an excellent brewer that brews fast and with exceptional water temperature control. The Cafe model also offers a quality thermal carafe, makes 10-cup batches and links to Wi-Fi to provide smart app control. The Cafe is easy on the eyes, too, incorporating lots of brushed metal in its design.
Cold-brew coffee is delicious, but it can be a pain to make. Oxo’s cold-brew coffee maker takes much of the headache out of the process. This Oxo Brew coffee maker saturates coffee grounds evenly and lets you drain cold-brewed coffee from them into its glass carafe with relative ease.
Delicious coffee and great-tasting drip from a product that costs less than $20? It sounds unlikely, but that’s just what the affordable Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over offers. It only makes coffee one drink at a time and requires you to provide the hot water. That said, the simple brewer transforms the otherwise complex task of making pour-over into one that’s easy, clean and almost foolproof.
Think of this kitchen appliance as the Swiss Army knife of the drip coffee maker world. The Ninja programmable brewer (with frother, thermal carafe and reusable filter) offers an uncanny degree of flexibility, making it the best coffee maker for those who don’t always want the same cup. This coffee machine can create everything from solid drip to perfect cold brew or iced coffee to latte-style drinks with its milk frother, and it will adjust the temperature according to your choice. Its thermal carafe will keep tea or coffee hot for up to 2 hours. This programmable coffee maker even lets you brew iced coffee and hot coffee in multiple sizes, from small cups all the way up to full carafes.
You won’t mind having the Wilfa Performance coffee maker sitting on your counter. Its clean, striking design makes it a device to show off. You’ll also want it close at hand for the smooth and balanced coffee it makes. This Wilfa machine pairs beautiful design with simple controls that allow you to customize your brew without getting too bogged down in minutia. While you might find similar quality for cheaper, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better looking coffee maker.
Those who seek lots of coffee in a hurry will love the quick brew cycle of this coffee maker. The Bunn Velocity Brew BT drip coffee maker with its stainless-steel-lined thermal carafe whips up a large pot of joe at an astonishing speed. In as little as 3 minutes, 33 seconds, the coffee maker can deliver full batches of tasty drip to drink.
Dutch company Technivorm has sold exceptionally good drip coffee makers for decades. Its Moccamaster drip coffee machine sports a design with clean lines and sharp angles that harkens back to 1968, the year the first Moccamaster hit stores. Retro design aside, the Moccamaster KBT 741 consistently puts out perfect freshly brewed coffee that will satisfy coffee connoisseurs. Its stainless-steel thermal carafe also keeps its contents hot for a full 6 hours.
How we tested the coffee makers
Evaluating the performance of a coffee maker is trickier than it might sound. You need to know what good drip coffee actually is and, according to the Specialty Coffee Association, there are essential criteria to brewing well. Brewing time and water temperature top the list. Hot water should come into contact with grounds for no less than four minutes and no more than eight. The ideal water temperature range is between 197 degrees Fahrenheit (92 degrees Celsius) and 205 degrees Fahrenheit (96 degrees Celsius).
To see how well each coffee maker meets that challenge, we log the length of their brew cycles. We also employ thermocouple heat sensors connected to industrial-grade data loggers. That enables us to record the temperature within the coffee grounds while brewing is underway.
After brewing coffee, we take sample readings of the produced coffee liquid with an optical refractometer. Given that we factor in the amount of water and freshly ground coffee used, that data lets us calculate the Total Dissolved Solids percentage of each brew. From there we arrive at the extraction percentage. The ideal range is commonly thought to be between 18% and 20%.
We also back up measured data with a good old-fashioned taste test. Overextracted coffee tastes bitter and sharp, while underextracted coffee is usually weak or sour. And to be certain, we brew identical test runs a minimum of three times to get a sense of the average results.
Coffee maker FAQs
How long do coffee makers last?
If cared for properly a coffee maker can last for years. That said, with the exception of Technivorm Moccamasters that are covered under a five-year warranty, most coffee makers come with one-year limited warranties. Regardless of their length, all these warranties cover manufacturing defects, not ordinary wear and tear or misuse of the item.
How do coffee makers work?
Even the most sophisticated coffee makers perform the same simple task. That’s to run hot water over ground coffee, then collect that liquid inside a container. To achieve the perfect balance of strength and flavors for excellent coffee, however, is difficult. Most machines fail because either they lack quality water-heating systems, run water through the grounds too slowly, or can’t brew with enough grounds to begin with. Some coffee makers suffer from a combination of these issues — or all three.
How to clean a coffee maker?
Besides removing external dirt, stains and dust, all coffee makers require periodic deep cleaning. Specifically, their internal water heating systems should be descaled regularly. Some manufacturers instruct you to do this with a vinegar-and-water solution. Others don’t specify except to say to use a store-bought descaling solution. For example, Technivorn says to use products like Durgol to descale its machines.