How to Choose the Best Coffee Maker for You: A Buying Guide
Nothing beats a cup of coffee to get the day started on the right track. The right coffee maker can make it convenient and even enjoyable to brew up your morning beverage.
What is the best coffee machine on the market? The answer depends on who may be using it and how often. These days you have so many choices for coffee makers: traditional drip coffee makers for those who want to brew up coffee for a group; single-serve and pod-style coffee brewers for those who want a quick cup of joe on the go; and artisanal, slow-process options for the gourmet coffee enthusiast.
We compared coffee brewers in several popular categories to bring you this guide to the best coffee makers of 2019. Whether you’re buying for yourself or for a friend, you’re on your way to a great cup of coffee.
Compare Best Coffee Makers
Best Drip Coffee Maker
Ninja 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker
Removable, 60 oz. water reservoir can be cleaned. Multiple brew settings include Classic, Rich, and Small Batch for the perfect flavor profile. Mid-brew pause allows you to pour a cup before the brew cycle is complete. Adjustable heater plate keeps coffee hot for up to 4 hours and shuts off after 2 hours. Programmable with up to 24-hour delay.
According to some customer reviews, the lid of the coffee pot may be tricky to remove. It’s also larger than many drip machines and takes up more counter
Best Espresso Machine
Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine
This hands-on espresso machine has a built-in bean grinder for convenience and can pull shots in less than a minute. Digital temperature control ensures consistency in extraction and flavor. Analog gauge button control lets you customize every shot of espresso. The milk frother makes smooth, soft microfoam every time. Spout delivers instant hot water for tea or americanos.
This machine isn’t designed for those who want a quick cup of coffee, as
measuring and tamping the espresso, pulling the shot, frothing the milk, and cleaning the machine will require about 5–10 minutes per beverage.
Best Pod Coffee Maker
Keurig K-Elite Single Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker
Choose from 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 oz. servings. Brew options including Strong Brew for iced coffee. Takes less than one minute to brew a cup. The 75 oz. water reservoir needs refills only after 8 uses. Fits cups and mugs up to 7.2 inches in height. Quiet machine is great for the office. Drip tray is easy to remove for cleaning.
Some reviewers have experienced water leaks from the brew spout, so be sure to empty the drip tray regularly.
Best Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Primula Pace Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker
Space saving pitcher fits in most refrigerator doors. Fine mesh sieve keeps your coffee smooth. Durable glass is long-lasting. Removeable bottom and dishwasher-safe glass make cleaning easy. Large capacity means you can brew a batch now and enjoy it for up to 2 weeks (be sure to store in the fridge).
This slow-brew device requires up to 24 hours to brew coffee. Though the
borosilicate glass is durable, it may break or chip if dropped.
Types of coffee makers
Before you can start shopping for the best coffee maker, you have to figure out what
kind of coffee machine is right for you.
- Drip coffee machine : Do you want a quick, no-fuss pot of coffee? Do you like to brew up a pot in the morning and drink it over a few hours?
- Single-serve pod coffee brewer : Are you looking for a single cup of coffee (or another beverage, like tea or hot cocoa)? Is convenience the most important factor for you, above price and taste?
- Espresso machine : Do you like to take your time to make a gourmet cup of coffee? Do you enjoy sipping an espresso? Would you like to make drinks like lattes and macchiatos?
- Cold brew coffee maker : Do you prefer your coffee over ice? Do you want to make enough for several days at a time and store it in the refrigerator?
How to choose the best drip coffee maker
A drip coffee maker is a standard appliance in most homes and businesses. It’s great for anyone who wants to quickly brew multiple cups of coffee at a time. This type of coffee brewer includes a reservoir space to add water, a filter basket for coffee grounds, and a carafe to hold the brewed coffee.
Several optional features of today’s drip coffee machines can also make your coffee
brewing experience more enjoyable and convenient.
- Programmable timer : Drip coffee machines with programmable timersare great if you drink coffee on a regular schedule each day. Fill the carafe with water and the filter with coffee grounds the night before, set the timer for about five minutes before you want to drink your coffee, and you’ll have a hot pot of coffee waiting for you right on time. Coffee pots without this feature can still be set up in advance to save you some time, but you need to physically push a button to start the brew process.
- Thermal carafe or hot plate : Most drip coffee machines use a hot plate to keep coffee warm for up to a few hours, and nearly all of them automatically shut off after this period for safety. Some also use a thermal carafe to keep coffee hot. One drawback to thermal carafes is that they’re usually metal, so you can’t see how much coffee is left in the pot. But they keep your coffee hot and fresh much longer than a glass carafe.
- Built-in water filter : Though it isn’t a requirement, the best
cup of coffee is made with filtered water. Some machines have a built-in filter so you can pour tap water directly into the reservoir to be filtered as you use it. If you don’t have a built-in water filter, you may want to use a pitcher or faucet with a filter.
- Carafe size : Drip coffee makers come in several standard sizes,
usually making 4, 8, or 12 cups of coffee. Smaller ones take up less space and are typically more affordable but can be less convenient if you need to make a lot of coffee at once. Some drip coffee brewers come in a single-serve size for people who want to make only one cup.
How to choose the best pod coffee maker
Pod-style, single-serve coffee machines were made popular by Keurig, and now brands like Nespresso, Bunn, and others have joined this trend. Pod-style coffee makers allow you to make just one cup of coffee at a time. They’re super quick and convenient for offices and homes where everyone likes a different style of coffee (pods can also be purchased for tea or hot chocolate). They’re also fairly expensive, and you need to purchase coffee in pre-portioned pods (from brands like Keurig K-Cups, Starbucks Verissimo, Nescafé Dolce Gusto, Nespresso OriginalLine or VertuoLine, and others). Depending on the brand, pods run about four times the cost of ground coffee per cup.Pod coffee brewers aren’t known to make delicious cups of coffee; they make average cups in a hurry. Here are some features and extras to look for when purchasing a pod coffee maker:
- Brew speed : Since the most important factor for a pod-style
coffee maker is speed and convenience, the best brands are the ones that can pull a cup of coffee in a jiffy.
- Type of pod : Most pod-style coffee makers only fit one particular brand of pod coffee, though some accommodate multiple brands. If you’re picky about what kind of coffee you drink, you need to be sure to choose a machine that accommodates your brand. If you’re not sure which brand of pods you like, ask your friends if you can try out their various machines. Increasingly, newer models can often accommodate multiple brands and styles of pods, giving you more options.
- Environmental impact : It’s no secret that most K-Cups and coffee pods aren’t recyclable and produce a lot of landfill waste. If you’re concerned about this aspect of using a pod-style coffee maker, consider brands that make recyclable pods (for example, Nespresso capsules, Starbucks Verissimo pods, or Keurig’s regular and decaffeinated Green Mountain Breakfast Blend). You may also consider purchasing reusable pods that can be filled with ground coffee, rinsed, and reused.
How to choose the best home espresso machine
Home espresso machines are for the serious coffee aficionado. These machines make it
possible to enjoy authentic espresso and coffeehouse-style drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos every day. They’re much more expensive than most other types of coffee makers, but if you visit coffee shops regularly, owning your own espresso machine may save you money in the long run. The best home espresso machine has convenient features to fit your needs:
- Automated or hands-on : Making an authentic espresso drink at home can be time-consuming. Some home espresso machines take the work out of the process, automating steps like grinding beans, measuring and tamping the grinds before pulling a shot, and foaming the milk automatically. Automated espresso machines tend to be faster and more expensive than more hands-on models, but they provide less customization for your beverage.
- Milk frothing : Most espresso machines have a spout designed to
froth milk. If you enjoy milk-based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, this feature is a must. Automated frothing can save some time but often doesn’t create as fine a foam (often resulting in bubbles instead of a smooth, whipped-cream texture). Look for a frothing spout that’s is easy to remove and clean, as bacteria will quickly proliferate if you don’t thoroughly clean the frother after each use.
- Ease of customizing a shot : If you’re particular about your espresso, you want control over features like the coarseness of the grind, the length of the shot, and the water temperature. Some digital machines can be customized with the click of a button, whereas others use knobs and dials to allow more precise settings.
How to choose the best cold brew coffee maker
Cold brew coffee is all the rage, and for good reason: Making a refreshing glass of iced coffee is so easy, and iced coffee is smoother and less acidic than brewed. Iced coffee also lasts longer before it becomes stale, and you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for two weeks. You can brew iced coffee easily by soaking ground coffee in filtered water overnight in any non-reactive container (a glass jar or plastic pitcher works great). But then you have to deal with filtering the grounds before you can drink the iced coffee. More and more companies are offering devices to help make the process simpler.
- Space-saving : Since the cold brew coffee maker needs to be stored in the fridge while it’s brewing, choose one that fits well in your space. Some designs fit in the fridge door, while others are tall and slender to take up less horizontal space.
- Reusable, fine filter : Most cold brew coffee makers are equipped with reusable filters. Check, too, that the filter is a fine mesh to keep small pieces of coffee grounds from seeping into your beverage as it brews.
- Easy to clean : You need to remove the grounds and clean the carafe each time you make cold brew, so look for a device that’s easy to take apart.
Choosing the best coffee maker is a matter of knowing your personal preferences. Whether you value convenience, taste, or price, there’s a coffee brewer for you.