An at-home coffee maker is a practical method to receive a high-quality cup of coffee from your kitchen, whether you’re working from home or rushing out the door with your travel mug clutched tightly in hand. And it’s not just about saving time: Caffeinating at home saves money, whether you spend $350 or less than $200 on your coffee maker. In a 2020 survey, Amerisleep discovered that women spend more over $2,327 per year at coffee shops, while men spend nearly $2,000 per year.
But which coffee maker will best suit your demands, and which are the best on the market? We talked to coffee experts about the various types of coffee makers on the market — from automatic drip coffee makers to programmable coffee makers — and how to shop for them, as well as their recommendations for fantastic coffee makers to add to your kitchen. For those of us who love a simple shot of espresso or the art of the French press, we also looked into non-traditional techniques of coffee preparation.
Coffee makers of the highest quality
We rely on expert advice and past reporting on how to shop for coffee makers because we don’t test them ourselves. Each of the following highly rated coffee makers was recommended by the professionals we spoke with – all of the automatic and programmable brewers come with heated carafes and a certification from the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCA).
This Breville maker comes with a thermal carafe and a “gold cup” preset mode that automatically changes the water temperature and brew durations to satisfy SCA requirements. When the carafe isn’t in use, the steep-and-release valve keeps the water in touch with the coffee to make a little cup of coffee.
According to Bonavita, its automatic coffee maker uses a thermal carafe and can brew 8 cups of coffee in about six minutes. The Bonavita maker “does a fantastic job of maintaining a consistent temperature throughout the whole brew cycle [and] its shower head consistently distributes coffee across the entire bed of coffee grounds,” according to Marco Suarez, co-owner of Methodical Coffee. For easy cleanup, the carafe lid, filter basket, and showerhead are all dishwasher safe.
According to the company, this Cuisinart Coffee Brewer is designed to emulate the pour-over method in an easy-to-use machine. This is accomplished by soaking the grounds beforehand, allowing the coffee tastes to “bloom.” You can pick from mild, medium, or bold flavor profiles, as well as hot or extra hot temperature settings. The coffee maker may be programmed up to 24 hours ahead of time and features a self-cleaning option.
This automatic drip coffee maker is a little on the costly side, but it has all of the characteristics that experts recommend, including a suitable brew temperature, a consistent brewing temperature, and a thermal carafe (a glass carafe version of the Moccamaster is also available). It has a 9-hole spray arm, according to the brand, that evenly distributes water throughout the grind, and the copper lining along the spray arm helps to keep the water temperature consistent. The Technivorm Moccamaster can brew 40 ounces of coffee in under six minutes with the touch of a button, according to Technivorm. Jessica Easto, author of “Craft Coffee: A Manual,” has one of these brewers and recommends any of the Moccamaster products.
The double-wall carafe in this automatic drip brewer from kitchen-favorite brand OXO ensures that your coffee stays hot for longer and that the compounds that give your coffee the flavor you enjoy don’t get destroyed on the hot plate, according to Easto. If you’re simply making a cup for yourself, there’s a single-serve setting that just makes enough for one mug. The OXO model also has an easy-to-use LED interface that displays not just the condition of your brew but also the freshness of the coffee.
This smart coffee maker, which can brew up to 10 cups and has Wi-Fi connectivity for use with the SmartHQ app, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home, was recommended by Jessica Rodriguez, certifications program manager for the organization SCA. The carbon water filter on this brewer, according to Easto, “saves you the process of using a Brita [filter].” This coffee maker from GE’s Café Appliances comes with an auto brew option that allows you to brew your coffee whenever you choose. According to the manufacturer, you can also modify the brew strength (Gold, Light, Medium, and Bold) and temperature to anywhere between 185 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rodriguez also suggested the Ninja brand, which has numerous SCA-certified coffee makers. You can brew a single cup, a half carafe, or a full 10-cup carafe with this choice from the brand. Classic, Rich, Over Ice, Cold Brew, or Specialty are the five custom brew styles available. If you want to produce iced coffee, the Over Ice mode, according to the company, brews at a low temperature in 10 to 15 minutes. It also comes with a thermal carafe and a fold-away milk frother that can froth both hot and cold milk, according to the manufacturer.
The Melitta Pour-Over Coffee Brewer is a kit for individuals who want to experiment with pour-over coffee brewing at home. A 6-cup carafe, a pour-over cylinder, a coffee scoop, and five coffee filters are included. Although you may need to purchase a separate kettle to control the temperature of your water, this is one of the more cost-effective solutions on this list for the serious coffee home maker. Another set from the company includes a heated carafe to keep coffee warm.
Pour-over coffee has always been a strong suit for the Chemex. The brand recommends purchasing their filters, which are 20-30% thicker than regular filters. The wood collar and leather tie act as an insulator and can be removed to easily clean the glass in the dishwasher.
For reliable results at an entry-level pricing point, Easto recommends the Hario V60 pour-over coffee brewer. For simple handling, the silicone band is cool to the touch and can be removed for cleaning. The glass pot, dripper, and a 40-count of filters are included with the coffee decanter. Pour the water rapidly for a delicate body or slowly for a stronger flavor, according to Hario.
What is the best way to shop for a coffee maker?
So, how can you know which brewer is best for you? According to the experts we spoke with, the first thing you should think about is how much time you have to prepare coffee. “Choose based on your habit to avoid your brewer collecting dust,” said Kaleena Teoh, director of instruction at Coffee Project NY’s Academy. “You can also have many brewers, either automatic or manual, and switch between them based on your mood and availability.”
Easto suggested consulting those accredited by the SCA Certified Home Brewer Program when purchasing a coffee maker, which tests a variety of home brewers on a variety of criteria such as coffee volume, brewing temperature, extraction, and brewing time. Rodriguez told us that the following are some of the most significant qualities to look for in a coffee maker:
- Capacity refers to the number of cups of coffee you can create in a single brew. “If you’re going to be the only one drinking coffee, a whole 12-cup coffee maker isn’t necessary,” Rodriguez said, adding that you should be aware of how much coffee you can wind up dumping down the drain.
- Temperature of brewing: According to Rodriguez, temperature can alter the taste and overall quality of your coffee. “Good brewers can keep the temperature between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit,” she explained.
- Brewing time: Your coffee machine’s brew time has an impact on the quality of your coffee. The minimum SCA requirement for conventional coffee makers at maximum capacity is more than 4 minutes and less than 8 minutes of water contact with the coffee grounds. Brew time is significant for folks who want to drink their coffee on the move and don’t have a coffee maker that can be set to brew at a specific time.
- Carafe: Rodriguez also mentioned that the type of carafe used in automatic and programmed coffee machines — glass or thermal — can affect the quality of your coffee. A glass carafe is the most common and fits on a warming plate, however a thermal carafe is typically made of double-wall insulated stainless steel and can sustain heat without the use of an exterior heating element.
Glass carafes are often the less expensive alternative if you don’t mind a warming plate, and thermal carafes are more effective at preserving the heat of brewed coffee, according to Rodriguez. According to the experts we spoke with, a thermal carafe is the best way to keep the coffee’s quality and flavor.
Easto explained, “Yummy flavor components are swiftly eliminated over a hot plate.” “It’s best to never let the coffee cool in the first place if you want to keep the taste of larger quantities of coffee.”
What is the best way to brew a decent cup of coffee?
According to Scott Rao, a coffee consultant and author of “The Coffee Roasters Companion,” a decent cup of coffee from a home coffee brewer should be “flavorful, of the correct strength, and non-astringent, or dry on the tongue.”
“You might be shocked, but I’d advocate spending more money on a good grinder than a brewer,” he remarked. “A great brewer can’t make up for a poor grind.”
According to Rao, there are four qualities that “influence the quality of the final cup.”
- The freshness and quality of the coffee beans
- Their roasting quality is excellent.
- The quality of the coffee beans’ grind
- Finally, the quality of the coffee maker’s brew.
“As for coffee beans, there is a range of quality out there, just like any other food product,” Easto noted, adding that they have a direct impact on your coffee, even if you have the best coffee maker. “Because coffee only has two ingredients (coffee and water), the ‘quality in’ and ‘quality out’ are inextricably linked.”
Bad beans can’t be fixed by even the most skillful brewer. Coffee is scored on a scale of one to ten, and specialty coffee beans, which she recommended you buy, must score an 80 or higher on the SCA’s quality scale.
The roast level, on the other hand, is a matter of personal preference. “You can taste more of the roasting process with heavier roasts – those rich, smokey flavors associated with food,” she noted. However, you may be sacrificing flavor intensity for complexity.
“Lighter” roast characteristics, according to Easto, “let the particular flavors of the bean itself to shine.” Choosing a lighter roast will give your cup a wider spectrum of flavors, which she says can include “fruit flavors, nutty flavors, and chocolate flavors,” all of which are popular at specialty coffee shops.
“Don’t put yourself in a box,” Easto advised, advising you to explore new roasts and flavors. “You’ll figure out what you enjoy after a while.”
Different types of coffee makers
Coffee makers come in a variety of forms and sizes, with a variety of features that allow you to customize your coffee-making experience. They also come in a wide range of prices, from around $20 for a basic automatic brewer to over $300 for a smart and programmable coffee maker. According to experts, there are four primary types of coffee makers: automated, single-cup, programmed, and manual.
- Automatic drip coffee makers are one of the most common varieties seen in homes: they pour warm water onto a bed of coffee grounds, which drips into a carafe below through a coffee filter.
- Single-cup coffee machines use pods or reusable filter baskets to brew a single cup at a time, usually in seconds.
- Programmable coffee makers are drip coffee makers with a number of smart features, such as the ability to schedule your brew or customize the intensity of your drink.
- Manual coffee machines require you to actively steep or pour water over your coffee grinds, giving you a more individualized brewing experience.
Drip coffee machines that work automatically
Drip coffee machines boil water and evenly distribute it over a basket of coffee grinds. They’re automated, so you can brew coffee at the touch of a button, and they come with a coffee pot (or carafe) into which the coffee drips. While this brewer does not have any smart or programmable features, it is ideal for brewing multiple cups of coffee at once and is especially good “for persons who enjoy entertaining and want to serve a cup of coffee to their friends to conclude the night,” according to Suarez.
Coffee machines that create only one cup
Single-cup coffee makers use a pod or a filter basket with coffee grinds to produce one cup of coffee (reusable or otherwise). These are the most convenient and are ideal for “single-cup coffee aficionados who are frightened by hand brewing,” according to Suarez. He acknowledged that the restricted coffee alternatives and overall wastefulness of pods are drawbacks of these brewers, but said that there are other reusable versions on the market that are more environmentally friendly.
Because of the short brewing period, these machines often struggle to attain the proper brew temperature, which is critical for a decent extraction, as Rodriguez explained in our guide on single-serve coffee makers. As a result, compared to other types of coffee makers, the coffee usually tastes weaker.
Coffee machines that can be programmed
Programmable coffee makers are a sort of automatic drip coffee maker with a number of smart features, such as the ability to set your brew to start at a specific time and control the strength and quality of your brew.
Coffee makers that are operated by hand
There are various types of manual coffee makers, which are the most diverse of the group. Some manual coffee makers require you to steep and then strain your coffee grounds, while others use a vertical system that mimics a drip coffee maker but requires you to manually pour the hot water over the coffee grounds.
“A manual brewer would be a better choice if you appreciate the process of creating your own cup and being able to manipulate multiple elements to customise your coffee profile,” Teoh added. “The price tag is usually a little lower as well.”
There are a few distinct manual brewing styles to chose from when it comes to manual brewing. The pour-over is a popular method that allows you a more hands-on experience. “Most pour-over devices are cone-shaped and placed over a cup or carafe,” Easto noted. “You put a filter on top of the coffee and then pour water over it, which is how the name came about.”
Pour-over devices, according to Easto, “need a bit more technique and… Special kettles are preferable, but there are several to select from at a variety of pricing points.” A pour-over brewer may be the ideal option for you if you appreciate the ceremony and ritual of preparing coffee.
The full immersion method will be more familiar to those who consume both coffee and tea. “Like tea, full immersion divisions allow the coffee to steep in the water for the whole brew cycle,” Easto noted, citing the French press as an example. “I often recommend it to anybody trying to dip their toe into manual coffee because it’s incredibly easy and you don’t really need specific equipment to use it,” she added. Related
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