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If your days depend on an ample amount of caffeine, you’ll definitely appreciate having one of the best coffee makers in your kitchen. Last year, an estimated 23% of U.S. residents bought a new coffee maker for their home, according to a recent report by the National Coffee Association. With 42% of the coffee drinkers surveyed preferring drip over cold brewing or alternative methods, we decided to test the best java machines around—and also consulted a coffee expert—to bring you a wide selection of options, if you’re planning on making a similar purchase for your household this year.
Gary Chau, cofounder and creative director at Caffe Luxxe, a chain of high-end coffee shops in Los Angeles, tells us that you should focus on personal preferences, since different brew methods can yield different tastes. And, he says you should consider the level of convenience—in other words, how involved do you want to be in making your coffee? For those who want to be highly involved, Gary recommends a French press for a manual experience. “It will typically yield a richer, thicker cup of coffee as it retains more coffee oils in the brewing process, but then you can decide through experimentation how much coffee you prefer, and also the level of fineness or coarseness of the coffee, which helps yield different flavors and strength.” Another hands-on approach would be the pour-over method. “This allows you to control the pace and flow of hot water, and changing the brew time and water temperature can affect the flavor as well.”
If convenience is your primary goal, there’s no better option than the classic drip machine, a reliable go-to for what Gary describes as “a pleasant and mellow batch of coffee.” This method provides ease for someone who may be on the go every morning and focused on simplicity. For those interested solely in espresso and replicating fancy coffee shop drinks, head over to our review of the best espresso machines on the market.
Gary recommends using fresh whole beans and warns against going overboard with your grinder. Instead, only grind the amount you’re going to use for that day’s brew. “If you think about your coffee as a natural agricultural product, just like fruits and vegetables, then you will realize the importance of fresh coffee to preserve boldness and strength of flavor.” We love the high-quality Baratza burr grinder. Gary explains that the essential oils and flavors in the coffee beans are trapped inside until they have been ground. “After grinding, there is a fairly short time window before these oils and flavors disappear into the air and the coffee begins to oxidize.” Regardless of your morning (or noon or evening) ritual, we tested 10 machines to help you arrive at great tasting coffee every time. These are the very best coffee makers for however you like your cup of joe.
The Wolf Gourmet Coffee Maker not only has those iconic red knobs, it also offers the level of quality and precise control that you would expect from Wolf. Full disclosure: The coffee maker matches my Wolf Countertop Oven and also my Wolf Griddle, so I’m obviously a fan of their appliances—and not just because of the matching hardware. It’s made of stainless steel, and the carafe is made of thermal stainless steel. Since the basket loads from the front, there’s no issue with bumping into the upper cabinets. I can brew coffee in either manual mode or Accu-Brew mode (the latter actually has a scale to help me determine how much coffee should be added to achieve the desired strength).
The coffee maker has two knobs and a LED display panel. The mode-select bezel on the top knob is for choosing between manual, Accu-Brew, or clean mode, and the actual knob controls the brew strength when in Accu-Brew mode. The bottom knob is used to set the clock, program the coffee cycle, and choose the cup quantity. In addition to displaying the time, the display panel shows the coffee scale, brewing status, and time since brew (up to an hour), in addition to reminders to change the water filter. The water reservoir is detachable for easy filling and cleaning, and there’s a detachable water filter (in case your tap water is less than desirable). Wolf does a perfect job of extracting just the right amount of flavor for a quality coffee-drinking experience.
The Ratio Six matte stainless coffee maker is one of the coolest-looking I’ve seen, and while it’s on the expensive side, it’s actually the most affordable of the Ratio coffee brewers. Is the hefty price tag worth it? Aside from the Wolf, I think it makes the best coffee of all the machines on this list. In addition to matte stainless, it’s also available in white and black. I have the stainless steel version and, in addition to the stainless steel body, the double-wall thermal carafe, filter basket, shower head, and even the water tank’s lid are made of stainless steel.
The power cord is detachable, which made it easy to store on my countertop, and though it looks complex, it’s really easy to operate. Touch one button to turn it on, and that’s all you’ll need to do until your coffee is ready. The coffee maker goes through a sequence of phases: bloom, brew, and ready. Each phase is illuminated on the side of the coffee maker, so you’ll always know what’s going on. The Ratio Six makes up to 40 ounces of coffee, and it also has a removable heat shield for those who like an even hotter cup of coffee.
I test a lot of coffee makers and usually rotate them out every quarter. However, I must admit that the stainless steel OXO Brew 9-cup coffee maker has spent more than its fair share of time on my countertop. I love the look of it and, although the coffee machine is roughly the same height and width of the average coffee maker, it’s only 6.5 inches in depth, so it doesn’t take up much room. I also love the unique, conical shape (although if it’s too modern for your taste, the company also makes a more traditional-looking 8-cup coffee maker).
If you don’t like punching a bunch of buttons and dials, you’ll love this device because it has a single button for setting the time, programming the timer, starting the coffee maker, and selecting the quantity (2–4 cups or 5–9 cups). The display shows the time and the brew status. When the coffee is ready, the freshness timer will start and count up to 60 minutes. I’m a fan of stainless steel thermal carafes, and this one has a double-wall stainless steel thermal carafe to keep the coffee hot for a long time. Another neat feature: Inside of the coffee pot there is a removable silicone mixing tube that blends the coffee while it brews. The OXO is the perfect drip machine and consistently provides a delicious cup of coffee without a lot of fuss.
The latest Ninja specialty coffee maker, the Ninja DualBrew Pro Specialty Coffee System, is a multifunctional coffee maker. When unpacking it, I was surprised to discover so many parts and accessories. The first thing I noticed was the Ninja pod adapter on top, which is used to brew pods. However, removing the pod adapter revealed the brew basket for coffee grounds. After inserting the coffee grounds, the brewer lid is pulled forward until it closes, and it’s hard to tell that the adapter was ever there. The digital control panel displays a variety of functions. On the right side of the panel are the choices for brew style: classic, rich, over ice, or specialty. The programmable digital clock is located in the center, surrounded by the eight brew volumes to choose from, ranging from a small cup (eight ounces) up to a full carafe.
The intelligent warming plate is set to remain on for two hours, but the time can be changed to remain on for up to four. In addition, the coffee maker has a hot-water mode with a separate water line. There’s a dial on the left side of the machine and, when you turn it on, the control panel displays a water temperature button and two options: hot and boil. As if those aren’t enough features, the coffee maker also has an integrated milk frother. A glass carafe is included, but there’s also a single-serve cup platform for a smaller cup of coffee. The Ninja DualBrew Pro Specialty Coffee System is a jack of all trades.
In addition to making great coffee, the lightweight Braun MultiServe coffee maker is ideal for people who like to have options. For starters, it comes in three different color options: black, stainless steel, or white. Using the control panel, I can choose between light, gold, or bold coffee, as well as iced. And if I just want some hot water for tea or hot chocolate, I can increase or decrease the water temperature (one of my favorite features) and then select the water feature to dispense it. The coffee maker also has a clock and is programmable, so your morning cup is waiting for you each day.
Although the coffee maker has a glass carafe, it can also accommodate a travel mug or cup (on the cup shelf). Using the dial, it’s possible to select various sizes: 5, 8, 12, 16, or 20 ounces or half a pot or a full pot of coffee. The freshness countdown lasts for an hour before the coffee maker turns off. Though the coffee maker emits three loud beeps when it’s through brewing, there’s also a safety feature: there’s a hot-surface indicator light on the bottom, and it remains red until the plate cools down.
The Breville Precision Brewer Thermal in brushed stainless steel is another high-quality, programmable coffee maker that makes a superb cup of joe. The 60-ounce coffee maker has two brew baskets: one is wide and has a flat bottom (for larger amounts of coffee), and the other one is smaller and cone-shaped (for smaller quantities). Although the water reservoir isn’t removable, it’s surprisingly wide, eliminating any concern about spilling water all over the place, as some of us are prone to do when distracted. Another nice touch is that the reservoir measures water in both ounces and cups, in addition to having “max” lines for a cup, half a carafe, and whole carafe. I tend to brew between 16 and 20 ounces, and when it’s less than 20 ounces, the Breville Precision Brewer is intuitive enough to notice this and then automatically adjust the brew settings to ensure that I’m getting a robust flavor.
The coffee maker has simple functions: one dial, one start/cancel button, and an LCD screen. There are several brew settings to choose from: fast, gold, strong, over ice, cold brew, and My Brew. When using the My Brew setting, the coffee can be customized by bloom time, brew temp, and flow rate. When the coffee is ready, the clock displays the time since brewed.
Zojirushi is known for making excellent rice cookers. However, their 10-Cup Thermal Carafe coffee maker consistently brews great-tasting hot and iced coffee. In addition, the controls are simple and easy to understand. The basket swings out and is detachable for cleaning, and the water reservoir–also detachable–is wide enough to make it easy to fill.
There’s a steam vent on top, but I’ve never observed enough steam coming out to affect my cabinets. This is another coffee maker that offers convenient extras. For example, the stainless steel thermal carafe has a button that you can press while pouring coffee to control how much comes out. If you’re a heavy-handed pour, you know how important this feature is. This coffee machine is also a good choice for people who like (optional) audible notifications. It beeps once when brewing has started, five times when the brew cycle has finished, and 10 times when the auto-shutoff function has been activated.
If you want to hone your barista skills and impress your friends and family members, consider the De’Longhi All-in-One. In addition to brewing delicious coffee, it can also make espresso, cappuccino, and lattes, and it can heat water for hot chocolate and tea. There is a separate water tank for espresso (on the left back side of the machine), as well as a separate espresso tray.
Even though the programmable machine has a lot of functions, using it was a breeze and, when making between one and four cups of coffee, there’s an option to use the enhanced brewing feature, which slowly saturates the coffee grounds bit by bit. The glass carafe holds 10 cups of coffee, and the machine can keep coffee warm for up to two hours.