The coffee maker has become a staple in almost every American home kitchen. If you’re a coffee lover, it’s a necessity that you have the means to make your own coffee in your home. But with all the coffee makers out there, and different types for different forms of coffee, it’s almost impossible to know what kind of coffee maker is right for you and your kitchen.
“Coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world, so having a coffee maker in your kitchen is pretty much an essential item if you’re a coffee drinker,” says Sahra Nguyen, founder and CEO of Nguyen Coffee Supply. “Coffee is a part of everyday rituals and one of the few beverages that have an emotional experience connected to it…like the feeling of starting your day and tackling your goals.”
With such an attachment to our coffee, it can be stressful to find a coffee maker that best fits your needs. You don’t want to get one that’s too big for that tiny apartment. And if you like lattes in the morning, then a pour-over or drip machine is not for you. In all the mess of thousands of coffee makers staring you in the face, it can be scary to choose the one that’s perfect for you. But that is why we have pulled together a list for you, of some of the best coffee makers out there, according to coffee experts.
How does a coffee maker work?
The idea of a coffee maker can be simple, but actually nailing down how that machine on your counter works can be a little tricky. The gist of how the machine works is: ground coffee is added to a filter, water is boiled and moves through a tube then is distributed amongst the ground coffee and the mixture of the coffee and water is filtered and dropped into a carafe underneath.
“They use hot water to extract the flavor from coffee beans,” said Ronald Miller, Barista and Business Owner of MyCoffeeCity. “This process extracts the oils and aromas from the beans, giving you a delicious cup of coffee.” The way the coffee is made obviously depends on what maker you use, and the type of coffee you want in the final product. However, the idea is the same, hot water mixed with coffee grounds and filtered out into a cup.
What should you look for in a coffee maker?
Among all the experts we talked to, they agreed there should be two things to keep in mind when buying a coffee maker. Considering the space you live in and how much room you have for the coffee maker is important. The aesthetics of your kitchen should play a role behind your choice in coffee maker. The size, shape and color are all factors that can help you make a decision. Of course, the size is also important when considering how much coffee you actually drink.
“If you only drink one or two cups of coffee per day, a small drip coffee maker might be all you need,” Miller said. “However, if you drink several cups of coffee per day or entertain guests often, a larger model might be a better option.”
Another factor that plays into some of the best coffee makers is temperature stability. According to our experts, a good coffee maker brews coffee at 195 to 205 degrees F. This temperature range is best for extracting the most coffee flavors out of the grounds, giving you the best coffee you can get with the most flavor.
One more additional element that can go into your coffee maker shopping is whether or not the machine is Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) certified. Jamison Pinkert, Quality Assurance Manager at La Colombe pays close attention to this certification when choosing a coffee maker for his home. “It’s a pretty rigorous set of standards, but essentially it’s a guarantee that the brewer operates at the optimal temperature for filter brew (195-205F), and is designed to promote even extraction of the coffee.”
What should you avoid in coffee makers?
While it’s important to know what to look for for your next coffee maker, it’s also good to know what not to include in your list of qualities. We know it can sometimes seem fun and exciting to have a coffee maker that has a bunch of tools, but these can be overwhelming. In the end, it may not make as great a cup of coffee as some of the machines that just do a great job brewing coffee.
For instance, while a coffee maker with temperature control and brew strength options may seem like it’s giving you more options, it may actually be hindering your overall coffee flavors. You can change those components yourself instead of having the machine do it for you and save yourself a few dollars in the process.
“Brew strength can be controlled with the grind size and ratio of coffee to water we use,” Nguyen said. “I’ve seen some machines have an ‘extra hot coffee’ option for folks who like to add milk to their coffee, so the machine uses a higher temperature to brew the coffee.” And as we have discussed, it’s important that the coffee maker keep the brewing process at a standard 195 to 205 degrees F.
It’s important to note, however, that when it comes to coffee makers, you are getting what you pay for. If you are unwilling to pay for a higher standard machine, you may not get the best cup of coffee. “A $20 coffee maker will get the job done, but it might not do the best job especially if you are investing in high-quality specialty coffee,” said Jenna Gotthelf, competitive barista and manager for the National Wholesale Education Program at Counter Culture Coffee.
What should you choose?
All in all, it’s important to get a coffee maker that looks good and does a great job brewing beans. you Whether that be one that fits your aesthetic more than it brews a good cup of coffee, that is okay. Looks matter as much as the final outcome of the product. If you want a higher standard brew, it may be better to get an SCA-certified machine rather than a $20 one. And while some larger coffee makers are of better quality or seem cooler to you overall, there’s a large chance your tiny apartment can’t handle a machine on the larger side. You may have to stick with something that is easily stored in order to keep the clutter away.
All of these components play a major role in deciding what is the best coffee maker. But, for the most part, all our experts agreed it depends on what you are looking for that will satisfy your coffee needs. Whatever answers that question will end up being the best coffee maker for you. But here is a list of the 15 best coffee makers that will encompass all of the needs we have discussed.
What are the best coffee makers?
Since this machine makes up to 14 cups of coffee, it’s best for the person who drinks a lot of coffee or lives with multiple people. It comes in different colors, so matching your kitchen aesthetic is possible. It’s an automatic coffee maker that you just fill it up. It does the work for you. “It’s highly rated for its performance and ease of use. Customers love that it has a hot water system for tea lovers, as well as a self-clean feature,” Miller told Parade. Cuisinart DCC-3200 14 Cup Programmable Coffeemaker, $99.95 on Amazon
This machine definitely pleases the eye at first glance, especially the black version. Another SCA certified coffee maker, the Ratio Six machine, can look a little intimidating at first, but once you see how it works, the process will come to you easily. The drip machine has a shower-head-like spout that allows for maximum saturation of the grounds and, therefore, more flavor in your cup. There is a bloom phase that assures the coffee is fully saturated. In eight minutes, you’ll have eight cups of coffee. Ratio Six, $365 on Amazon
This coffee maker is a manual maker, meaning you have to do most of the work to get that perfect cup of joe. A pour over is a good method that ensures your coffee grounds are getting evenly saturated instead of chancing it with a machine. Plus, it’s cheaper than an automatic machine, which requires you to be sure of even saturation. This is the coffee maker Pinkert currently has in his home. It takes up very little space and is completely made up of glass. Even if it is out, it’s not right in your face, which is great if your kitchen is on the smaller side. It’s easy to use once you know the process, and the final cup of coffee is delicious. Chemex Pour-Over Glass Coffeemaker, $44.95 on Amazon
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Also known as the Keurig K-Classic, this Keurig is a good single serve option if you are the only one having your coffee in your home. You don’t have to waste a whole pot if you’re only going for a cup or two. According to Miller, it is a solid option that still “doesn’t sacrifice quality.” The machine lets you pick your preferred cup size. Plus, making a cup of coffee is as simple as one, two, three. Just add the K-cup, make sure there’s water and press start. Keurig K55 Single Serve Coffee Maker, $99.99 on Amazon
This machine is definitely on the more affordable side when compared to some of the rest. It doesn’t brew at quite a high enough of a temperature to make it SCA certified. So, the coffee comes out a little duller than others. But for the price, this brewer is promising. It has a good amount of features to offer, like the “Sneak-A-Cup” feature, which lets you take the pot out and pour your first cup of coffee before the brew is even done. This is a feature Nguyen looks for in her brewers, because “sometimes you just need that first cup ASAP!” BLACK+DECKER 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker, $32.99 on Amazon
While this machine is an automatic coffee maker, it mimics the pour over technique since the filter basket hangs above. It also has a showerhead design to be sure that the grounds are fully saturated. What’s even better is this machine is easily washable, as the carafe lid, filter basket and showerhead are all dishwasher safe. Bonavita Coffee Maker, $189.99 on Amazon
Now this is really cool machine if you’re willing to fork out some real money on your coffee maker. This coffee maker makes espresso for your lattes, cappuccinos and normal single or double shots. Nguyen really likes this coffee maker “because of its super customizable espresso profiles, which you can create on an app in your phone then send to the machine.” It is a cool coffee maker. If you love espresso and you’re willing to splurge on your coffee maker, then this is the machine for you. Terra Kaffe TK-02 Espresso Machine, $995 on Terra Kaffe
This is the coffee maker Miller has had in his kitchen for years. According to him, “it makes the best coffee ever.” It’s easy to use and even easier to clean while also keeping a sleek design. Not only can you brew regular coffee, you can also make tea, hot chocolate and espresso drinks. Miller says it is “a very high-quality machine that is easy to use. It makes great lattes, cappuccinos and espressos.” Nespresso VertuoPlus, $169 on Amazon
If you are one of those people who prefers cold coffee year round, rather than hot drip or lattes, then this cold brew maker might be best for you. While cold brew can be made with everyday tools like a mason jar and a coffee filter, this speeds the process along and helps with the clean up of it all. All you have to do is add the grounds, pour water into the rain mechanism and let it sit overnight. Then the next day, turn the knob and cold brew concentrate is ready to go. OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker, $51.95 at Williams Sonoma
This Moccamaster is definitely one of the bigger coffee makers. This is also an SCA certified at-home brewer. While this is definitely on the pricier side for a coffee maker, the machine is known to make good and consistent coffee every time. There are also different types of Moccomasters, so you can choose a full glass pot. If you like the single serve idea, there is an option for just a cup as well. For Ngyuen, she enjoys this machine because of the quality coffee produced “because of the way water is distributed across multiple points.” Moccamaster by Technivorm, $359.95 at Williams Sonoma
11. Breville Precision Brewer Thermal, $329.50 on Amazon
This is the at-home brewer Gotthelf had in her kitchen before giving it to her sister for lack of space in her studio apartment. “It quickly became a favorite kitchen appliance in her home. It is customizable and can also brew to the SCA Golden Cup Standard.” This brewer holds up to 60 oz of drip coffee and has a stainless steel carafe to keep the coffee warm after it’s done brewing. This is one of the components Pinkert likes about the brewer, as well as the “bloom control and appropriate water temp and dispersion screens.” Because don’t forget, water temperature is important to a good cup of coffee. Breville Precision Brewer Thermal, $329.50 on Amazon
This was the automatic brewer Pinkert had in his kitchen and he loved it. While this machine doesn’t look like your typical coffee maker, it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as some others. But there is definitely a futuristic look to the coffee maker. And what it lacks in colors, it makes up for in good coffee. This machine is also SCA certified, which makes the price a little more understandable. If you think 9 cups is a little too much, there is also an 8 cup version where you can brew coffee right into your mug. OXO Barista Brain (9 Cup), $229.95 at Williams Sonoma
If you are looking for a coffee maker that can hide in a cabinet and is only meets your coffee needs, then the AeroPress may be the best choice for you. This coffee maker makes both coffee and espresso-like coffee, letting you explore different brew strengths depending on the type of grounds you use. This maker utilizes another manual brewing technique that requires pressure to blend the grounds and water together for your cup of joe. The only thing that is difficult with an AeroPress is boiling your water yourself and knowing when it hits the 195-205 degrees F sweetspot. AeroPress Coffee And Espresso Maker, $39.95 on Amazon
Similar to the Chemex, this coffee maker is a pour over that lets you do the work for your beverage. This item is a recommendation from Gotthelf, because she is all for the smaller coffee makers for her studio apartment. If you like taking some time out of your day to have your coffee and brew a perfect cup just for you then this might work great in your home. Just note, this only makes one cup at a time, which can take a lot of time out of your day if you have multiple cups over a short period of time. But, if you ask us, the final cup of coffee is worth the hard work. Hario v60, $21.74 on Amazon
A French press is another manual coffee maker. The idea is to let the hot water and coffee grounds stir together and allow the water soak up all the coffee flavors. Then you press down on the grounds and what you have left is a concise brew. “A French press is for that deep extraction and full immersion method,” Nguyen agreed. The French press is a very stylish coffee maker for any kitchen. This model, in particular, contains glass and stainless steel, leaving not only a classic look, but it also ensures the materials won’t taint the final product. Bodum Chambord French Press, $35.99 on Amazon