Dunkin’ Donuts may have coined the phrase “America Runs on Dunkin’,” but there’s no denying Americans run on just about any ol’ cup of joe they can get their hands on. Whether you brew your own at home each morning, scramble through your local drive-thru on your way downtown, or merely opt for a Venti half-caff triple breve latte from Starbucks, coffee is likely a mandatory part of your daily routine. However, for those of you who decide to brew on your own, the variety of coffee makers on the market might leave you scratching your head when it comes time to pick up an at-home applicant for doing so.
If you’re like us, you take your daily coffee seriously and want to get the most out of each precious brew. So, just like there’s more to coffee than Folgers in your cup, there’s also more to coffee makers than a $15 Black & Decker you picked up at the local Target. The problem is, your local appliance store doesn’t help much, considering you only have the option of perusing the wares, rather than sampling the bean-abetted goods. To help make the process less of a headache, we’ve scoured the Web to find the best coffee makers currently available. What follows are five of the best coffee makers worthy of helping you get your daily caffeine fix.
Why you should buy this: The Bonavatia 1900TS is a compact yet eloquent coffee maker that brews some of the best drip coffee we’ve ever tasted.
Who’s it for: Limited counter space but high coffee standards? This is the coffee maker for you.
How much will it cost: $135
Why we picked the Bonavita 1900TS:
Possibly the last drip-coffee machine you’ll ever want to own, Bonavita’s 1900TS aims to revolutionize the at-home coffee experience. The 1900TS takes up little more than a sliver of real estate in your kitchen with its incredibly compact design, which prevents it from sticking out like a sore thumb.
Aesthetics aside, this Bonavita model packs a serious punch, arguably producing the best cup of drip coffee you’ll ever taste. It does so by utilizing the underused process of pre-infusion, which wets the coffee grounds a few minutes before brewing. Pre-infusion allows for your coffee to extract evenly, producing a more consistent brew — and a hell of a good cup of coffee.
Moreover, the device’s thermal 8-cup carafe keeps the coffee piping hot (around 150 degrees Fahrenheit) for nearly four hours after the brew cycle completes. Compact, sleek, and efficient, Bonavita’s 1900TS is the cream of the coffee-maker crop.
The best keep it hot coffee maker
Why you should buy this: The Mr. Coffee Optimal Brew is an economical option that will keep you caffeinated all day long.
Who’s it for: If you refill your morning cup three or four times, this might be the coffee maker you’re looking for.
How much will it cost: $60
Why we picked the Mr. Coffee Optimal Brew:
Consistency and efficiency go a long way in making a coffee maker stand out from the crowd, both of which Mr. Coffee’s Optimal Brew machine achieves with ease.
Outfitted with a stainless steel thermal carafe, the Optimal Brew keeps your beverage hotter than your average coffee maker. Moreover, the vacuum-insulated carafe keeps each pot hot regardless of whether it’s sitting within the machine or conveniently on your kitchen counter. Mr. Coffee also equipped the machine with a removable water reservoir, rendering the task of refilling the tank an absolute breeze.
Users can program the machine to brew at a set time each day, too, or choose from either normal or bold-brew cycles. Delicious coffee and a straightforward feature set simply can’t be had for a cheaper price.
The best on-demand option
Why you should buy this: The Cuisinart DCC-3200 is a feature-filled coffee maker with a few unique tricks up its sleeve.
Who’s it for: Households with multiple coffee drinkers (and varied wakeup times) will appreciate this coffee maker.
How much will it cost: $81
Why we picked the Cuisinart DCC-3200:
Cuisinart’s 14-cup DCC-3200 improves upon its predecessor in so many ways that its reasonable price tag is difficult to believe. The included water filter and permanent gold tone filter ensure you’ll always get a clean pour and it even allows you to pause the maker mid-brew in order to pour yourself a quick cup, in case you’re short on time.
The feature-laden DCC also boasts adjustable brew strength, allowing you to make coffee that’s as rich or as watery as you want. In addition, self-cleaning capabilities and auto-shutoff timers make this one of the most convenient, versatile coffee rigs on the market. The 3200 features a revamped system that’ll simultaneously make hotter and better-tasting coffee, however, the only drawback is its relatively large countertop footprint — this guy isn’t terribly small.
One common complaint about the DCC-2650 was its glass carafe. Luckily, Cuisinart realized this as an issue and upgraded the DCC line to include double-wall insulated carafes. Now, your java never gets cold. Plus, the whole machine is BPA free, so no need to worry about harmful chemicals sneaking into your brew. All in all, the DCC-3200 is an admirable upgrade to an already excellent line of coffee makers.
The best quick-brewing option
Why you should buy this: Do you use fresh coffee grounds or K-cups? Do you occasionally drink tea? If your morning routine varies by the day, the Bunn My Cafe MCU is the coffee maker that keeps up with you. Plus, it brews coffee in less than a minute.
Who’s it for: Anyone who needs their coffee faster than the speed of light.
How much will it cost: $160
Why we picked the Bunn Single Cup My Cafe MCU:
Easily the most versatile coffee maker on our roundup, Bunn’s My Cafe MCU gives coffee lovers loads of options when brewing java. The device handles regular coffee grounds, K-Cups, coffee pods, and various teas, granting it the upper hand when it comes to flexibility. The downside? The My Cafe comes standard with several brew heads to accommodate its aforementioned versatility, meaning it requires a tad more storage space than typical coffee makers and their accompanying accessories.
Still, don’t let the lone gripe distract you from just how great the machine is as a whole; few coffee makers offer as much functionality as the My Cafe. The fact it brews coffee or tea in under a minute and looks good while doing so makes it even more attractive.
The best high-end option
Why you should buy this: The promise behind most coffee makers is that they brew just as good as a coffee shop. With the Chemex Ottomatic, you’ll get baristas lining up at your front door.
Who’s it for: Are you serious about your coffee? If you’re looking for a little more than a jolt of caffeine in the morning, the Chimex Ottomatic is what you’re looking for.
How much will it cost: $350
Why we picked the Chemex Ottomatic:
The Chemex Ottomatic coffee maker blends simplicity with quality to produce one of the best cups of drip coffee anywhere. The Ottomatic makes pour-over coffee a quick, automated process, heating water to between 197.6 degrees Fahrenheit and 204.8 degrees Fahrenheit — which is within the optimal range for coffee brewing, according to the National Coffee Association — while the hot plate holds coffee between 176 degrees Fahrenheit and 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Automatic’s unique pour-over system also features a pulsing sprayhead that alternates between one- and multi-head drips to keep the coffee hot on its way into the carafe, and to better ensure a smooth, flavorful pour. Some might balk at the Ottomatic’s hefty price tag, but few coffee makers can match the simple beauty and precision of Chemex’s latest machine.
The best smart coffee maker
Why you should buy this: This about more than just turning on your coffee maker from bed. The Behmor lets you customize your coffee down to the smallest details.
Who’s it for: Coffee snobs who want complete control or people looking for a repeatable coffee experience.
How much will it cost: $350
Why we picked the Behmor Brewer:
The first smart coffee makers we saw boasted that you could turn them on from bed with an app, but the Behmor Brewer goes farther. Its app gives you control over several aspects of the coffee-making process. Love the cup you just brewed? You can make it over and over and get the same results. Looking for a little something different? You can experiment with temperature, for example, and get nerdy about it.
It’s definitely a unique-looking machine and takes up a bit more coffee space than your average machine. In addition to being smart, it’s just a very good coffee maker, with temperature accuracy and the ability to pre-soak your grounds. You may think smart-home devices are gimmicky, but in this case, it gives you more control and an easy-to-follow interface that leads you through the more complicated parts of the process.
How we test
In many ways, coffee is a subject experience. Some like theirs bold and piping hot, while others want a mild experience, in terms of both taste and temperature. When we test coffee makers, we take that into account and look at how customizable the process is.
Many people only care about a couple things (other than taste) when it comes to their coffee makers: time and temperatures. We look at how hot the coffee gets while brewing and see if it falls within the range recommended by the National Coffee Association. We time how long it takes to a single cup and full pot. We also look at how hot the coffee is when it’s poured into the carafe and how well the carafe holds the brew’s temperature after two hours.
More subjectively, we look at the device’s design. Is it going to take up the whole counter? Will guests be able to stumble into the kitchen in the morning and get it going without having to Google the manual? Does the carafe slosh everywhere when you try to pour a cup? Usability is just as important as our benchmark tests.
Things to consider
If there was ever a time that the saying “spend money to save money” applied, it’s when picking out a coffee maker. If you’re used to buying your morning caffeine fix at a coffee shop once a week, this appliance will practically pay for itself in a few weeks.
Take some time to figure out what you need in a coffee maker before you make your purchase. Here are some questions you might want to consider:
- Do you want your coffee quick? Look for a brewer with a “pause brew” option or a coffee maker with that can be scheduled to automatically brew at a specific time.
- Do you refill your cup multiple times a day? Look for a coffee maker with an insulated carafe.
- Do you prefer K-cups or fresh grounds? While most coffee makers make you choose one or the other, there are some versatile options on the market.
- Do you have limited counter space? Some of the best coffee makers come in small packages.
- Are you brewing for yourself or for multiple people? Make sure to check the carafe size before your purchase.
This article was updated on March 10, 2016 by Nick Hastings to include the Cuisinart DCC-3200.