What are the best coffee makers? And which one is right for you?

by | Jul 16, 2019 | coffee | 0 comments

There are many types of coffee makers out there, all with the same purpose: to mix hot water with ground coffee, then strain the grind.

As a general rule, the more convenience you are looking for, the more expensive your choice of coffee maker will be. As for the quality of the brew itself, the additional cost won’t make much of a difference.

Single cup coffee makers

Keurig Coffee Maker and Storage DrawerOne individual Keurig coffee maker and one K-Cup storage drawer.

Enter the new world of K-Cup coffee, pod coffee and disc coffee.

It’s a bit like VHS and Betamax. These are all competing “one cup” presentations vying for the lion’s share of the market.

Here is the deal. You buy a particular brand of single serve coffee maker and then buy those single serve K-Cups or ground coffee pods. If the machine is designed for use with K Cups, you cannot use pods, and vice versa.

There’s a lot more to say on the subject, which is why we’ve dedicated a separate page to single-serve coffee makers.

Our personal favorite …

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The iCoffee Opus K-Cup Brewer.

Of all the single serve brewing systems we’ve tried, we’ve found the iCoffee Opus to be the best cup of coffee. Watch our video review …

Drip brewers

Bonavita drip infuserThe Bonavita drip infuser with thermal carafe.

The drip coffee maker is the most common and one of the best coffee makers. You probably have one at work, and maybe also at home. You just put ground coffee in a paper filter, fill a tank with water, turn on the infuser, and watch the glass carafe fill with coffee.

As long as you have a good model and the water reaches the coffee grounds at the right temperature, drip infusers can make a great cup of coffee.

But they have a downside. And if you’ve ever poured yourself a cup of coffee an hour or two after brewing it in a drip coffee machine, you know what this problem looks like.

Here’s what happens … these glass carafes are on a hotplate, to keep the coffee hot. The problem is that after a while the heat from the hob starts to “cook” the coffee.

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If you will be using a drip coffee maker, brew just enough coffee for the amount you want to drink over the next 30 minutes or so. If you want more coffee an hour or two later, brew a cool brew.

Alternatively, you can buy a brewer with a quality thermal carafe.

If you are looking to buy a drip coffee maker, you can definitely find one locally. But it’s worth doing some research online first, as drip brewers come in a wide variety of models, with many different features. If you find one you like and it’s not a model you’ll find in your local stores, you can probably find it on Amazon.

We have a whole page on drip coffee makers here …

Our personal favorite …

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The Bonavita BV1800 drip coffee maker.

It is the brewer that we ourselves use every day. This is our first choice among drip brewers. Read our review here …

French press

French press and clock.

The French press – also known as a pot squeezer or coffee press – is basically a glass beaker with vertical sides and a plunger with a mesh filter on it. You put the coffee grounds in the pot, pour in the hot water, put the lid on and press the plunger after about 4 minutes.

Presto. You have a wonderful and rich cup of coffee.

This is one of the best coffee makers you will ever use. In fact, if you go to a quality cafe and ask for just one simple coffee – which they haven’t brewed yet – they’ll often use a French press to brew it.

This is one of the weird and wonderful things in making coffee. More expensive brewing systems don’t make better coffee. They just make the process a bit more convenient.

For more detailed information and a video demonstration, we have a separate page dedicated to the French press.

If you want the French press process, but with a modern twist, there are a few new brewers on the market that have made some interesting changes to the traditional design. If you like a sleek stainless steel design, take a look at the Espro. Or, for something more sturdy that you can take with you on your travels, take a look at the Impress Coffee Brewer.

Coffee makers to pour.

Chemex and Hario overflow coffee makers.Chemex and Hario Dripper overflow coffee makers.

Beloved of coffee lovers, the pouring method is completely convenient, giving you complete control over the coffee making process.

The Chemex brewer is the one on the left in the photo above. You simply add a filter to the top of the glass container, add ground coffee, and then pour the hot water over the coffee grounds.

On the right is a Hario Dripper filter cone. With the Hario, you provide your own mug or decanter.

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What serious coffee lovers love about the pouring method is the element of control. You can influence the taste of coffee with different grinds of coffee, water temperature adjustments and – most importantly – your timing and technique when pouring hot water.

Does the poured approach make better coffee than the other methods? Some people swear by it. Others don’t.

Try it out for yourself and see how you like the results.

You can watch our Chemex demo video here, and our filter cone demo video here.

If you want hands-on experience with any of these brewing methods, but with less hard work, check out our review of the Clever Dripper.

Coffee percolators

General Electric coffee percolator.An older model of General Electric coffee percolator.

There is some debate as to whether or not percolators make a great cup of gourmet coffee.

Purists say you shouldn’t be using them. Fans of percolators dismiss these objections and claim that percolated coffee is richer and tastier than anything made with a drip infuser.

In my opinion, a percolator is ideal for brewing your everyday cup of coffee. I use one myself sometimes. But I wouldn’t use a percolator if I tasted really good quality coffee. There are other methods, like the French press or Chemex, that do a much better job of bringing out the more subtle flavors in quality coffee.

If you want to try one and can’t find one locally, they have plenty of percolators on Amazon.com.

Final thoughts on the “best coffee makers” …

At the end of the day, everyone has different ideas about the best coffee makers. It has nothing to do with expert opinions, and everything to do with your own tastes and lifestyle.

Just keep in mind that some of the simpler brewers make great coffee and never break down.

This is one of the weird things about coffee makers – the more you spend, the more convenient you are. But paying the extra doesn’t mean you get better coffee.

If you want to know what brewing methods some of the best experts in the industry recommend, read: Find Out What Kind of Coffee Maker Professionals Use at Home

And, if you’re about to buy a new coffee maker, you might also want to look at models that have received SCAA certification. (Specialty Coffee Association of America.) Do that and you can be sure your brewer is technically capable of brewing a great cup of coffee.

What type of coffee maker do you use the most?

This is a one click survey. Super simple. Let us know which coffee maker you use most of the time.

Create your own user feedback survey

Further reading on domestic coffee makers …

Our opinion on the Cona vacuum coffee maker

The best drip coffee makers and what to look for before you buy.

Our opinion on the Breville Precision Brewer

4 unusual coffee makers you’ve probably never tried

Find out what kind of coffee maker professionals use at home

Choosing the best coffee machine … traditional or individual?

Our review of the Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System.

Our review of the Asobu Cold Brew Insulated Portable Infuser.

Our review of the Breville Grind Control coffee maker.

Our review of a simple Vietnamese coffee maker.

Our review of the iCoffee K-Cup brewer.

Our review of the Ninja Coffee Bar brewer.

Our review of the Clever Dripper coffee maker.

My opinion on the Chemex coffee maker.

The best home brewers now have SCAA certification.

How to make coffee without a coffee maker.

Learn more about single-serve coffee makers.

Best coffee makers under $ 50.

Best coffee makers under $ 100.

The best-selling coffee maker is …

Make coffee with a Neapolitan coffee maker “upside down”.

How to make coffee using the coffee sock method.

Is your drip coffee maker even CAPABLE of making great coffee?

Discover vacuum-packed coffee makers.

Ask about the coffee percolator.

Choosing between the different Keurig Single Cup Brewers …

Learn more about making coffee with a coffee press …

Everything about Grind and Brew coffee makers …

Are you ready for your first WiFi enabled coffee maker?

How to make Turkish coffee …

About the Author: Nick Usborne aka Coffee Detective is a lifelong writer and coffee enthusiast. Find out more …

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