Typical automatic coffee machines often brew subpar quality cups of Joe, so we set out to find the best coffee maker for your kitchen counter—one that is capable of producing well-extracted cups with the proper balance of sweetness, acidity, and body.
So after a combined 50 hours of testing, we think the best drip coffee maker money can buy is the Technivorm Moccamaster. It extracts coffee perfectly, eliciting a pleasant acidity that was lacking in cups from other machines. Moreover, its taste profile exceed if not matches the always tedious process of manual brewing.
So wonder no more what is the best coffee maker. Because we’ve done all the home work for you.
Top Coffee Makers Compared 2017
How We Tested The Coffee Machines
While we only tested automatic machines, the human element is still a big factor. The quality of coffee you choose, as well as the amount you use and the size you grind it to can have a big impact on the taste of the resulting cup. Because of this, we controlled what factors we could and made choices to give each machine the best chance of performing well.
We tested all the machines on the same day with coffee from the same batch of roasted beans—a high-quality house blend from a local roaster—to eliminate variables in quality from the beans themselves.
In order to assure the most accuracy possible, we weighed both water and coffee in grams with an Acaia kitchen scale and waited until each cup cooled to an ideal temperature—140°F—before tasting and evaluating the cup. (We used a standard digital probe thermometer.)
Though many of the machines we tested came with metal filters, we used whitened paper filters across the board to eliminate the differences between filters on the brew.
During the first round of testing, we used the same base specifications: a medium-fine grind setting (achieved with a high-quality burr grinder) and a brew ratio of 1:15 (that’s about 33 grams of coffee to 500 grams of water, which results in about a 16-ounce cup). In a real-life situation, you would tweak these specs in order to perfect the results of the machine.
After the first round, if we felt contenders, like our #1 pick the Technivorm Moccamaster, could perform better with tweaks to the brew ratio, grind setting, or other variables, we made them and used the best cup overall to judge the machine’s performance.
Although taste was our primary consideration, we did note other factors that consumers often value in a home coffee maker: ease of use, speed, and aesthetics.
Best Home Coffee Maker: Technivorm Moccamaster KBG 741
Price: Check Price | Features: glass carafe, 10-cup capacity, includes permanent metal filter
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: It brews, hands down, the best cup of coffee.
As someone who wrote a book on manually brewing coffee—a method that gives the user complete control over the time and temperature of the brewing process—I was a bit skeptical that a non-commercial machine could achieve café-quality results at home.
That being said, I was completely blown away by the perfectly extracted cups the Moccamaster produced. The coffee was extremely well balanced, and the machine was able to tease out a pleasant acidity that was lacking in cups from other machines.
It was also the fastest of the brewers we tested, brewing 500 grams of coffee in an average of three minutes and twenty-five seconds. This is impressive considering that the manufacturer claims the water stays within the ideal brewing temperature for the length of the brew cycle. The machine contains a copper heating element that seems to boil water almost instantly.
On first impression, the Moccamaster seems a bit rickety, especially compared to some of the sleeker models we tested, but after spending some time with the machine, it’s clear that it was engineered for utility and simplicity—it doesn’t need all the extra polish to brew a great cup (plus the entire machine is recyclable).
The Moccamaster requires a bit of (easy) assembly, but after that, you simply add your water and coffee and push a button. The machine is also remarkably quiet, and while it’s footprint appears larger than more square models, it’s narrow and can be easily tucked into a corner on your countertop.
From aesthetics to utility, the Moccamaster was engineered to make a great cup of coffee. Because it does this simply and quickly, it’s our choice for #1 Best Home Coffee Maker.
Best Budget Coffee Maker: Bodum Bistro Automatic Pourover Coffee Machine
Price: Check Price | Features: stainless steel thermal carafe, 10-cup capacity, includes permanent metal filter
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: It brews a great cup of coffee at a more affordable price point.
According to our testing, the Bodum Bistro produced the third ranked cup (after the OXO Barista Brain) in terms of taste, but we’re making it our #2 Best Home Coffee Maker because it can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of some of the other high-end models, including the Moccamaster, which is more than double the cost of the Bodum Bistro. It also looks great on the countertop, and its sleek peek-a-boo design lets you watch as the water heats and makes its way to the grounds.
Cups made with this machine lacked some of the complexity that we found in cups from the Moccamaster and OXO Barista Brain, but the coffee was still well extracted and of very high-quality. In terms of speed, it was the second fasted machine to brew 500 grams (in about three minutes and forty-five seconds).
The design is notably functional. Both the water tank and the filter holder are removable—which isn’t always the case—making them easy to fill and clean. This model also comes with a stainless steel thermal carafe, a feature that usually costs extra on other machines, that keeps your coffee hot.
Best for All Day Coffee Drinkers: OXO Barista Brain
Price: Check Price | Features: Stainless steel thermal carafe, 9-cup capacity
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Excellent coffee in an attractive, accessible package that stays hot throughout the day without the flavor loss.
Our #3 pick for best home coffee maker is the OXO Barista Brain, which retails for $199.99. It produced our second favorite cup of coffee, but we aren’t convinced the small bump in quality is worth the extra $70 when compared to the Bodum Bistro.
However, if you care about what your machine looks like, this one is very sleek and modern, while still being extremely user friendly (the user guide is actually very informative and easy to read).
It also has a specific setting for making it ostensibly the best single serve coffee maker, which cannot be said for all machines. If you’re like me and sometimes only want one mugful in the morning, you’ll find this feature particularly practical.
If you do want multiple cups of coffee, the thermal carafe comes in handy. This model has a heat plate that, if you don’t turn the machine off, will stay on until the “freshness timer” times out after 60 minutes. But because the coffee is in a thermal carafe, the coffee won’t lose temperature as quickly as coffee in glass carafes.
For making and storing extra coffee, I preferred the OXO to the Moccamaster, which also has an auto-off heat plate but no thermal carafes (although models with thermal carafes are available). The Moccamaster’s thermal plate keeps the coffee extremely hot, and it tastes noticeably degraded the longer is stays on the plate. The OXO’s coffee seems to stay fresher, longer.
The Remaining Picks
There are three other drip coffee makers we tested that produced OK results.
The first is Cuisinart DCC-3200 Perfect Temp, which as of this writing, is the number one best seller on Amazon. We found it difficult to achieve a balanced cup on this machine, and they often were strangely oily and bitter, a sign of bad extraction.
We tested this machine over and over, and couldn’t seem to get the results into that top tier of quality. This machine has a “brew strength” control where users can select from “regular” or “bold,” but we never quite figured out what the setting actually controlled, although coffee brewed on the “bold” setting tended to be better extracted.
In the coffee world, the term brew strength refers to the number of total dissolved coffee solids in a cup. It expresses itself, in part, by how the coffee feels in your mouth: thick or thin. The more coffee to water you use, the higher the strength and vice versa. Therefore, a machine can’t actually control brew strength, unless it’s holding back water (which it isn’t). One bonus is the fact that it is capable of brewing a single cup, which not all multi-cup models can do.
Next, we have the Behmor Brazen Connected, which can be controlled wirelessly through your phone.
The manufacturer boasts about the number of settings you can control to create your perfect brew profile, but it only allows you to select the temperature and the presoak time, which admittedly can influence your brew but, in this case, does not seem worth the hassle—especially because you can only choose to brew six or eight cups—nothing more, nothing less, and nothing in between.
We feel that if you are the kind of person who is interested in controlling your brew temperature and presoak times, you would also be the kind of person who would like to choose your own volume of coffee. We would also expect that using the machine’s default settings and its recommended coffee dose would result in a well extracted cup.
While the cup was arguably better than one a standard machine would have produced, it simply did not stand up to the high-performers in our testing, coffee makers that simply required a push of a button.
On top of all that, the technology was disappointingly finnicky. It took us a good 45 minutes to get the machine to even connect to the phone. When it finally did, we spent several more minutes waiting on a firmware update. Then, once we finally figured out how to control the machine, each brew took an average of eleven entire minutes—something that, in our view, defeats the purpose of an automatic machine (manual devices can usually make coffee in 5 minutes or less).
Whereas machine such as the Moccamaster and Bodum Bistro brought their water to temperature seemingly in a matter of seconds, the Behmor Brazen let its water boil for several minutes in the water chamber (which we found unsettling in and of itself) before any extraction took place.
Our least expensive model, the Black & Decker DCM600B retailing for a mere $19.99, made claims, though nonspecific, about achieving an ideal brewing temperature. We doubt this model can sustain an ideal brewing temperature the way other models can, since the resulting cups tended to be rather unnuanced. This model is small and the closest to a “typical” coffee maker of any on our list, but even so, it produced a cup that, at least, rivaled the Cuisineart. Although these cups were the least complex of all the cups we tasted, it didn’t tend toward bitter, as cups from other machines did. It’s certainly not flashy, but it got the job done for around twenty bucks.
Coffee Maker Brew Times
Interestingly enough, our top 3 picks, in order of rank, also had the fastest brew cycles. In short, we’re countering the saying “all good things come to those that wait”. Not in this case.
How We Choose the Home Coffee Makers
We selected six machines to test, all of which made claims about achieving an ideal contact time, water temperature, or both.
A typical home coffee maker generally underperforms because either the water cannot reach an ideal brew temperature (generally considered to be between 195°F and 205°F) or the water does not stay in contact with the coffee long enough—or a combination of both.
Professionals often consider this a go-to list for home coffee makers, so we started there, selecting three best rated coffee makers that met this standard: the Technivorm Moccamaster, the OXO Barista Brain, and the Behmor Brazen Connected.
But since these machines tend to be expensive, we didn’t want to exclude options at lower price points.
We also tested three additional machines that did not meet the SCA standard— the Cuisinart Perfect Temp, the Bodum Bistro, and the Black & Decker DCM600B—, each of which made claims about achieve the proper contact time, temperature, or both. And unfortunately, none of our picks would qualify for the best single serve or single cup coffee maker.
Why You Should Buy a New Drip Coffee Maker
Most US households own an electric coffee maker. Most of those machines do not have the ability to make well-extracted, well-balanced cups of coffee. But if you like to drink high-quality coffee, there is no reason to settle for the status quo: you can make café-quality coffee at home with minimal effort.
Although the models with the technology—namely heating elements that can sustain an ideal brewing temperature through the ideal length of a brew cycle—to produce superior cups tend to be expensive, they will eventually pay for themselves.
Without a new coffee maker, the only comparable alternative is purchasing coffee at a local specialty coffee shop. At a national average of $2.70 per cup, it would only take about four months for the most expensive machine on this list to pay for itself—assuming, of course, you only drink one cup per day.
Why Trust Me
My name is Jessica Easto. I received degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee and an MFA in creative writing from Southern Illinois University. My writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Gapers Block, Fresh Cup Magazine, and more. My first book, Craft Coffee: A Manual, is publishing in November.
Mistakes to Avoid
When buying a new home coffee maker, it’s important to remember that you, the user, have the power to set it up to succeed or set it up to fail. All of the user manuals for the machines we tested recommended using freshly ground, high quality whole beans in the devices.
Drip coffee makers can be designed to optimize a cup of coffee, but they can’t move the dial that much if you are using poor-quality beans to begin with.
The same goes for the amount of coffee you use and how you grind the beans. User manuals generally provide recommendations for these, too, although you may need to tweak them the first few times you use the machine, since your environment (humidity, water chemistry, etc.) can affect how the machine extracts coffee.
Most of the coffee makers we tested provided great basic information for how to make these decisions in their user manuals, and you can always use the internet to educate yourself. But if you aren’t willing to set your new automatic coffee maker up to succeed by taking care with the beans, your $200+ investment likely won’t impress you.
Features to Understand
Temperature and Time Claims
As previously mentioned, one of the main reasons why most home coffee makers do not produce well-extracted coffee is because they cannot reach and/or sustain the ideal brewing temperature (between 195°F and 205°F) for the length of the brewing cycle. Here’s what you need to know:
When it comes to coffee, water is a solvent that removes flavor compounds from coffee grounds. Hot water achieves this more easily than cold water—but water that’s too hot (like boiling) burns the coffee.
Most coffee machines cannot reach an ideal temperature before or during the brew cycle, which usually means the water doesn’t properly extract the coffee. The more specific that manufacture is about their temperature claims, the more likely it’s a high-quality machine.
Time claims are related to temperature. Because most machines cannot get the water hot enough to properly extract the coffee, they are often designed to have longer brewing cycles to make up for it. It’s not always that simple, though. Coffee brewed at a less-than-ideal temperature for a relatively long period of time will usually still result in improperly extracted coffee.
Presoak / Preinfusion Functionality
Some high-end home coffee makers include a presoak (sometimes called preinfusion) phase. This is analogous to what coffee professionals call the bloom time when manually brewing coffee.
This practice, which involves wetting the grounds with a small amount of water for a certain length of time before fully brewing, is generally considered to help the coffee extract better. Fresh roasted whole coffee is full of carbon dioxide, a byproduct of the roasting process. Coffee naturally off-gasses carbon dioxide over time, but in fresh ground coffee, it can inhibit extraction.
The small amount of water that’s added during a presoak phase releases the carbon dioxide—if you could see it in the machine, you’d see the brew bed bloat and bubble, as if it were breathing. If the carbon dioxide was not removed during the presoak, it could create a barrier between the water and the coffee, making it harder for the water to extract flavor.
Carbon dioxide is also bitter (think about the slight bitterness of soda water), so it’s thought that releasing that carbon dioxide prevents those bitter notes from dissolving into the brew. When looking for a home coffee maker, I wouldn’t consider it a deal breaker if the machine does not make a claim related to a presoak phase. To the best of my knowledge, the Technivorm Moccamaster, for example, does not make this claim, and it still makes superior coffee.
It’s possible that it simply doesn’t matter that much or that well-engineered machines do include a presoak phase but manufacturers don’t advertise it, as they figure it’s not meaningful to most consumers.
Most of the devices we tested came with permanent (usually removable) filters. Manufacturers often cite convenience (you don’t need to remember to buy paper filters) and environmental reasons (conservation of paper resources) for this choice.
If these points are important to you, look out for models that include a metal filter. Keep in mind, though, that coffee made with metal filters tastes different that than made with paper filters, mostly because no matter how fine the mesh, metal filters cannot trap as many oils and small particles as paper filters can. This tends to result in a richer, fuller-bodied cup. You may prefer this. If you don’t, you can always use a paper filter, whether the machine comes with a permanent one or not.
Every coffee machine comes with a carafe. Most models offer options for either a glass carafe or a thermal carafe. The glass carafe options usually have a heating-plate feature, so that large batches of coffee can stay warm.
Models with thermal carafes tend to be more expensive than those without, but generally speaking, if your goal is to keep coffee hot for the longest amount of time possible, it’s best to never let it cool down in the first place. This makes thermal carafes a desirable option.
Coffee is rather delicate, and extended exposure to the environment quickly degrades the pleasant flavor compounds in coffee into less pleasant ones. Extended exposure to heat, such as on a hot plate, can speed up this process, which usually resulted in a more bitter cup.
Some multi-cup coffee makers have a minimum water threshold which often prevents them from brewing single cups of coffee. If this feature is important to you, make sure the machine you are purchasing is capable of brewing small quantities.
Average Brew Time
A brew time that’s too long can cause poor tasting coffee. Leaving your grounds swimming in water for too long can lead to overextraction, and your coffee can end up tasting bitter. Plus, there’s the convenience aspect of it; you don’t want to wait around forever scratching your arm waiting for your morning fix, right?
It all depends on how much time you have to maintain your device. Most of our reviewed coffee makers have dishwasher-safe parts, and shouldn’t be a problem to clean for the busy commuter. Don’t forget to descale your machine to keep it running smoothly.
With the help of our list you’re hopefully not buying junk coffee makers anymore, but life happens sometimes. And with coffee makers like the Moccamaster you’re investing a hefty sum, so make sure you can recoup a loss with a solid warranty that lasts at least a year, if not a heck of a lot longer.
What Else To Think About
Coffee from the best drip coffee machine can most certainly fuel the day, or at the least the beginning of it. But keep in mind caffeine is a stimulant and does wear off with time. Moreover, your body can build up a tolerance, requiring you to drink more and more to achieve a comparable “high”. We highly recommend adding coconut oil and blending it. It can not only reduce the jitters often associated with coffee, but can help with overall brain function among other benefits. We highly recommend Nature’s Way Coconut Oil, as it’s the best tasting overall and is certified Organic.
Alternatively, many people report that their energy levels increase after juicing or blending greens plus fruit. It’s surely a more sustainable energy source, offering countless nutrients to the body and providing energy throughout the day. Of course everyone is different so we highly recommend trying out different methods before complete buying in and leaving your sweet cup O’ Joe in the dirt.
The post Best Coffee Maker: Brew Home Coffee Like A Barista is republished from GadgetReviews