Who does not have a drip coffee machine at home? Well, if you are planning to get a new one in 2020, first make sure you know which one out of the several best coffee maker choices out there is the one that suits your needs.
When it comes to ease of use, it doesn’t get simpler than an all-in-one button and dial. You turn it to adjust the quantity and press it or hold it down to adjust the timer or to start it.
- Microprocessor controlled brew cycle replicates the pour over method to produce 2 to 9 cups of SCA certified perfect Coffee
- Water is heated and held at the perfect temperature for Coffee (197.6 to 204.8 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Rainmaker shower head evenly disperses water over Coffee grounds for uniform saturation and full flavor extraction
- Intuitive LED interface features a backlit screen that displays the Coffee maker status and freshness indicator
- A single dial allows you to program the Number of cups and the 24 hour start timer. Double walled carafe keeps your brew hot and fresh. Voltage is 120Volt/60Hertz
Drip coffee makers are fairly straightforward equipment: in essence they are appliances which brew coffee by pouring boiling water into the filter basket containing ground coffee. The water then drips through, extracting the flavor, and dripping into the carafe or cup as coffee.
It is quite different than the pressure brewing of an espresso machine and it’s also almost entirely an automated process. Even so, choosing the best one for you is not necessarily an easy task. You will find there are several features that make the difference between one drip coffee maker and the other.
To eliminate any confusion you might have, we at SoloEspresso we have created a buyer’s guide that will take you through all the facts and features you need to know. However, first take a deeper look at our pick as the best coffee maker as well as some of the worthy alternatives before diving into the guide.
Coffee Maker Reviews
OXO On Barista Brain
The OXO On Barista Brain is a 9-cup drip coffee machine.
If you’re looking for a compact appliance with clear markings and programmable features, that’s also simple to use, this might be the best coffee maker for you. Here’s why it’s our number one pick.
The flavor extraction is high-end even though this is not an appliance that breaks the bank. It’s mostly due to the even saturation and the slow dripping feature. Granted, the latter might not appeal to everyone. Still, less than 6 minutes of brewing time is not that long to wait for a 9-cup pot of fresh coffee.
The water reservoir is seen through and has clear markings for 2 and 9 cups. The appliance also features a pause option which lets you fill your cup without waiting for the carafe to fill up. It’s worth noting here that the machine does drip a bit once the carafe is removed during pause and after it’s done brewing, though this is fairly common for drip coffee makers.
When it comes to ease of use, it doesn’t get simpler than an all-in-one button and dial. You turn it to adjust the quantity and press it or hold it down to adjust the timer or to start it. The carafe mixing tube is an extra feature so far unique to the OXO On Barista Brain. It ensures that the thicker coffee (at the start of the drip) is thoroughly blended with the runnier coffee instead of staying at the bottom of the carafe.
What We Like
The Bonavita BV1900TS is our runner-up for a very clear reason. It manages to cram plenty of features you would find on the top coffee makers while compromising on style and design to accommodate a lower price tag.
It has a very good capacity for home use and small offices, and it isn’t hard to use. Although it comes with a metal filter basket, the shower head has very good distribution. This allows for more than enough particles to be caught in the filter so that the coffee is as clear as it can be under the circumstances.
The maintenance is a bit tricky. While the usual water-vinegar cycle can be used to clean the system, the filter requires thorough cleaning; it will take some time out of your day.
The design is nothing you haven’t seen before. It’s as simple as it gets and while it’s not particularly eye-catching as some high-end drip coffee makers, at least it has a simple interface which includes just one button.
What We Like
Brew Express BE-110-BB
The BE-110-BB from Brew Express is the best for home use. It has a 10-cup capacity and a wall-in feature for extra stability, protection, and space-saving.
If you’re particularly interested in having a compact one, this one should definitely be on your radar especially if you’re in a kitchen redecorating phase. The appliance is programmable which means you can adjust the quantity of the coffee as well as put it on a timer. The interface is one of the easiest to master as it only has one button that also doubles as a dial. You can press it, hold it, or turn it to change different settings.
In terms of durability, the BE-110-BB is high-end and deserving of its price tag. The wall-in feature protects it from potential knocks while not interfering with the water tank accessibility. It also comes with some nice accent lighting, so it fits well in modern kitchens.
There are two more very interesting features. One is the self-filling option which connects the tank to your water line. The other is the carafe tube mixer which blends the coffee in the carafe to ensure consistency in every cup poured.
What We Like
Mr. Coffee Optimal Brew
The Mr. Coffee Optimal Brew is definitely worth your consideration if you don’t have much countertop space. It’s also one of the more affordable drip coffee makers today that still have some features that make brewing easier.
The interface features one button that starts the brewing cycle. If you want to get into customization and programming, the Optimal Brew is compatible with the Belkin WeMo mobile app. This allows it to be controlled via your personal device to set brewing schedules for up to a week ahead of time. You will still have to refill the tank and add the coffee in between cycles.
The design is modular which means you can take it apart easily to do a thorough cleaning.
The taste of the coffee is a bit better than the price tag would indicate. There are some plastic components, but they don’t seem to affect the flavor even after prolonged use.
Although you can brew 10 cups of coffee in one cycle you will have to refill the water if you want more immediately. This is where the compact design presents a drawback.
What We Like
At first glance, the Cuisinart DCC-2000 almost looks like a commercial piece of equipment. It has a simple design, a clock in the center, a few buttons, lights, dials, and a drip tray with the classic rectangular cutouts.
The interface is not as simple as what you would find on some of the high-end models but it’s nice to see there are customization options. The price tag isn’t too bad either. If you can’t afford to go after the best coffee makers, this one is certainly a valid option.
What’s really cool is that it includes a charcoal water filter to prep the water. Any coffee or espresso connoisseur would tell you that properly filtered water is crucial to making good coffee. The water reservoir has a double-wall which helps maintain a steady temperature for longer. The appliance is programmable and features self-cleaning option and auto-shutoff.
The dripping process is also a bit different. Instead of filling a carafe with coffee, it dispenses one cup at a time from the coffee reservoir. This means that you’re not able to judge the quality of the coffee in terms of scent and texture until you pour the first cup.
While it may lack convenience in some aspects, the incorporated water filter certainly makes it one of the best choices available on the market – at least for some people.
What We Like
The Zojirushi Fresh Brew ran neck and neck with our runner-up pick. While it may not be as balanced as our best pick or the runner-up it still presents some interesting features.
First of all, it’s not that expensive considering its durability and the custom carafe design. The thermal carafe is great at keeping the coffee hot for hours. The 10-cup Zojirushi Fresh Brew is not exactly a compact design. Interestingly enough, the appliance uses paper filters.
The good is that for its price tag you can use a timer, program brewing in advance, check the clock, and pause mid-brew. The fact that you can do all that from just a tiny interface is a good sign.
What We Like
SharkNinja Ninja Coffee Bar Brewer
Connoisseurs should be familiar by now with SharkNinja. Their lines of kitchen appliances are getting better and better and the variety is impressive.
This is their best product in terms of balanced features at an affordable price. The Ninja Coffee Bar Brewer is suitable for residential use but not so much for the office given its 6-cup capacity. The glass carafe is see-through so you’re able to check the quality as soon as the coffee starts pouring. There’s also a warming plate at the bottom.
It is also programmable for up to 24 hours ahead of time. It’s interesting that you can also choose how much coffee to brew. You can fill up your carafe or choose to brew a cup, travel mug, or half a carafe. This gives you some interesting options, to say the least.
The affordability comes as no surprise if you’re familiar with SharkNinja. While the interface is not as simple as some of the high-end models, it is fairly intuitive. The build is not as compact as the top coffee makers, so you will need some extra counter space for the entire ensemble.
What We Like
Bunn NHS Velocity Brew
This model is one of the fastest brewers on the market. The Bunn NHS Velocity Brew fills up a pot of coffee in about 3 minutes which is impressive considering its 10-cup capacity.
In this sense, it beats even the best coffee maker on our list. The carafe features a proprietary lid and spout design but it’s really nothing you’ve never seen before. At least you don’t have to pay a premium for that technology.
The hot water spread is quite even so the flavor extraction is balanced. The coffee is not at all bitter as you would expect from most products in this price range. It would’ve been nice if it also had an auto shut-off feature.
The appliance can also be set to brew anywhere between 4 and 10 cups. Make sure you do that because there’s no pause feature. You’ll hardly find an interface simpler than this one, as you can use just one button for everything.
What We Like
Yet another Cuisinart drip coffee maker makes our list. The Cuisinart DCC-3200 model allows users to control the concentration of the brew to experience different coffee flavors. It also comes with a self-cleaning feature which is nice even though it is not the most reliable one out there.
The temperature control is nice to have and impressive considering the price tag. The glass carafe has a 14-cup capacity which could be very nice for an office. There’s also an auto shut-off programmable feature for up to 4 hours.
There’s a commercial-style permanent filter in the machine which not everyone will appreciate. It doesn’t affect the flavor too much, but it also doesn’t keep many of the oils at bay either. You can always remove the permanent filter in favor of paper filter.
The interface is simple enough with just 5 buttons and clear indications under each of them. If not for the average coffee quality and the bulky design this could’ve been a strong contender for the title of winner for tight budgets.
What We Like
Last but not least on our list, the Aicok Coffee Maker hits plenty of check marks that can make it the optimal choice for a wide range of users.
It’s programmable for up to 24 hours so you can wake up to a freshly brewed pot of coffee. The 12-cup capacity is the most popular one so it’s a strong pro right there. The permanent filter is removable, so you can clean it as often as you need. The good news is that you can replace it with a paper filter, so the coffee quality can be improved.
The auto shut-off feature is always nice to have especially when you set it to brew multiple hours in advance. This Aicok can also keep the coffee at a reasonable drinking temperature for up to 45 minutes which is great if you like snoozing the alarm clock.
What We Like
Facts to Consider
Who are they for?
Drip coffee makers are usually best suited for those that don’t drink fancy hot beverages; with fancy, we mean a wide range of lattes and cappuccinos. If you’re getting one, you wouldn’t be drinking milk based drinks.
There’s another category of people who prefer a drip coffee maker over an espresso and coffee combo maker, people with large families and busy mornings who simply do not have the time to brew their coffee with a french press or with a siphon every day.
There’s just no beating the luxury of pressing a button and going about your morning routines while the carafe fills with coffee on its own. With a drip coffee maker, you don’t have to hold a lever or work through advanced menu settings to brew a drink. You also don’t have to repeat the process one cup at a time. It’s usually one button equals one pot, so everyone can enjoy their cup of coffee at the same time.
Here’s another reason why you may choose the best ranking coffee machine over a high-end espresso machine – the capacity. Not everyone needs fresh coffee. If you enjoy having coffee on hand at any given time, then the amount you can make with a drip coffee maker is definitely something that will get your attention.
However, if you like being hands on with brewing coffee and experimenting with variations of the drink, a drip coffee maker is not for you. In this case we suggest you look for one the best french press coffee makers or best siphons we have reviewed. And if you are an RV lover, there are specific RV coffee makers that will suit you best. They will likely match your preferences better. If you love experimenting with coffee, do not miss to get a top coffee scale as well.
With Drip coffee makers the process is pretty much automated and if the machine also includes a grinder, your only job is to press a button and perform some maintenance.
How does it work?
Drip coffee makers have a rather simple brewing process which can be described in five steps:
In a way, they are simple closed-loop systems which resemble French press pots.
How much do you brew?
How much you brew affects whether or not a coffee maker is the ideal one for your needs for two reasons.
First of all, it determines how durable and powerful the appliance is. If you plan on brewing a lot of coffee during the day, it must handle the stress and heat from constant brewing.
Secondly, how much you brew may also impact the size you may go for. More on this a bit later in the guide.
Home or Office
The location for which you’re buying it also matters. What goes in the office might not always work for home and vice versa.
Drip coffee makers for office use tend to be more durable and designed similarly to commercial coffee makers. The reason is that they see a lot more usage. For office us one of the best combo coffee maker can be a good choice. They match durability with the option to choose drip coffee or espresso.
This means that for residential use you typically don’t have to pay for extra durability. If you brew one or two carafes a day for your family, you won’t need high-end parts. It’s when you brew a carafe per hour for half a day when things can get dicey and you might have to use your warranty.
Depending on the setting and environment, the carafe size is also important. A 12-cup carafe is very popular, but you might not need something as big at home.
What type of coffee?
Just as you can’t make an espresso coffee from any type of bean, you can’t make drip coffee from everything. Pre-ground beans aren’t always recommended for drip coffee. Why?
As soon as the beans break down, the oils that carry the flavor are released. These degrade quickly which is why it’s recommended to grind the coffee prior to brewing. If you’re all about the taste, then perhaps the best coffee maker for you is the one with a built-in grinder.
The type of coffee you get is also affected by the filters. Oily coffee with a darker color is achieved with metal filters while clear lighter coffee with no oils and particles is brewed using paper filters.
These consideration applies also if you use coffee as ingredients for coffee recipes.
Where you plan on placing it is also important. You can consider the size to make sure you get full access to the water tank and to the carafe without having to move around other objects or appliances.
The placement will also determine what cable length you might need. You would be surprised how many makers have short cables. The placement could also be a factor in choosing the materials.
If you buy it for your office, it will only be the best if it’s sturdy and can take the occasional bump. Every little detail counts if you want to make the most out of the appliance and get a good deal at the same time.
The size is important for two reasons.
First of all, it can determine whether or not you have room for it in your office or your home.
Secondly, it can sometimes determine the carafe size and the water tank capacity.
If you’re buying a massive appliance that only has room for a 6-cup carafe, that might not be the best way to go. Just because it’s bulky it doesn’t mean you can brew coffee for the whole family in one pot.
As always, your budget plays a major role in what constitutes the best coffee maker for your needs. Consider that high-end ones generally come with up to a 5-year warranty.
Focus on the word generally for a second. It’s also common to find pricey coffee makers loaded with features and accessories that only come with a one-year warranty. If you’re going to use this appliance a lot, it probably won’t be a great long-term deal.
The cost usually determines the number of important features you can get. Depending on how much you’re willing to pay or can afford to pay, some machines will be more appealing than others.
Therefore, it’s important to have a good understanding of what common and uncommon features offer and whether or not they’re worth the premium in your situation. Even low-end products can give you maximum flavor if that’s all you’re looking for.
Maintenance and ease of use
Maintenance is very important whether the use is at home or at a coffee shop. It helps extend the life of the appliance and helps maintain the quality of the flavor. However, what the maintenance entails on your part is also important and should factor into your purchase decision.
Cleaning can be as simple as running a vinegar and water solution through the system. If the appliance has a metal filter basket, things become harder and more time-consuming. The coffee maker shouldn’t force you to pause other tasks just to perform maintenance.
It also shouldn’t feature too many buttons and customizable settings other than the ones vital to a smooth operation.
Some of the following features can make or break even the choice for one coffee maker or the other. What constitutes the best is in the eye of the beholder. Not everyone has the same needs or the same budget. Because of this, some features may not be worth paying for over others.
Even the best coffee maker is a slow brewer. The drip brewing process is slow and not even a high-end appliance can get around that. So, if you can’t allow yourself to wait for an entire carafe to fill, a mid-brew pause feature might be the most important thing for you.
This can be present in a few different ways but the two most popular are the button pause or the carafe sensor. With the button, it’s self-explanatory as you press it and pause the dripping cycle until you can fill your cup. The sensor works by cutting off the dripping cycle when you remove the carafe to pour a cup of coffee.
Be very careful that the sensor is clearly specified on the packaging or in the manual. Otherwise, you stand to make a huge mess.
The coffee maker should be programmable.
Being able to set the appliance to brew your coffee at a specific time is a luxury you want to have if you’re buying something purported to be the best in its category. Programmable features also extend to shutdown timers and maintaining the temperature.
If the appliance you’ve been eyeing doesn’t have an auto shut-off feature, then a programmable shutdown option is definitely something you will want to have.
Keeping coffee warm
Keeping the coffee warm is important for two reasons. Some makers for drip coffee come with a hot plate that keeps the carafe at standard serving temperature. That way you can enjoy hot coffee whenever you like without moving the coffee into a thermos. If your coffee maker has no thermal carafe, you can use one of these ways to keep your coffee hot.
Keeping the coffee warm is also important if the machine has a mid-brew pause feature. Not all of them maintain the water temperature during the pause. If that is the case, then pausing is not ideal anymore as the brewing cycle may have to restart.
There are a number of safety features you can have and auto shut-off is one of them. The quality of the materials used could also be considered safety features as the less plastic the appliance has, the less chances it has to leak chemicals into your brew.
LEDs that alert when the system is clogged or when the water tank is empty are also important as they can prevent you from using the machine past its breaking point.
Another safety feature would be a hot plate sensor or an induction hot plate. This could help prevent you from getting burned when you reach for the carafe.
Sure, certain coffee makers can be programmed to shut off after the coffee is done.
The best coffee maker money can buy will definitely have that option; however, never underestimate the need for automatic shutdown features. If you live a busy life, it’s easy to forget to program the appliance. The auto shut-off feature is almost a must-have for a lot of people. It’s even more important in an office setting where multiple people use the same appliance.
Having an incorporated grinder is a luxury that isn’t a given even if you buy the best coffee maker in your price range. However, it is a luxury that some people pay particular attention to. Grinding coffee beans for your perfect drip coffee flavor isn’t easy.
Even if it were, it’s time consuming. Assuming that you’re getting it to press one button and fill up a carafe, getting coffee grounds by hand is the last thing you want to worry about. Having a grinder in your appliance also lets you expand your selection of beans. You won’t be limited to pre-ground blends of coffee grounds you may not like.
You also won’t have to worry about blending different beans yourself as you can just toss them into the machine and let it work for you. Nevertheless, there are some people that don’t appreciate the grinder. Even the best coffee machine will reach annoying noise levels when grinding your coffee.
If you’re using a programmable appliance, the sound of beans grinding is probably not what you want waking you up in the morning.
Hot water dispenser
Believe it or not, a hot water dispenser isn’t that common in all the makers for drip coffee.
This is a feature that’s more commonly found in espresso machines or coffee and espresso maker combos which spout hot water through the steam wand. If you like taking a break from coffee and drinking hot tea or cocoa once in a while, you may have to look harder to find an appliance that fits your needs.
When you do manage to stumble across one, it might just be the best coffee maker for you. Just make sure the dispenser doesn’t come at the expense of other more important features.
Temperature control usually refers to the ability to keep the coffee warm after it’s brewed.
Most just keep it as hot as possible but not everyone likes drinking lava. The coffee maker should come with temperature settings which allow you to keep the carafe at an optimum drinking temperature of your choosing.
If you’re worried about getting the desired caffeine concentration, don’t be. This is something you decide for a low-end drip coffee maker or even the top one.
The programming features don’t extend to this. Only the water to coffee ratio you choose will determine how strong or mild your coffee turns out to be.
Carafe type and capacity
Getting the best coffee maker is more than just looking at internal features and ease of use.
The actual carafe matters more than you think. For example, the 12-cup carafe is the most popular capacity for home and office use. Why?
It can brew enough coffee so that everyone can get a share and there are a few cups leftover too for those that drink more often. While the carafe may not have anything to do with the taste per say, its capacity can determine whether that’s the best coffee maker for you.
If you have the opportunity, then go for glass over plastic. For the average coffee drinker there’s no big difference.
For connoisseurs, using plastic over glass may not be ideal. Even if no toxins are released into the coffee, there is something to be said about the taste. Sometimes you can feel a lingering plastic aroma in your cup of coffee, especially in a new drip coffee maker.
A thermal carafe is also a popular option.
If yours doesn’t have a good hot plate to keep the coffee warm after brewing, then a thermal carafe is the way to go. It doesn’t contain plastic on the inside, it doesn’t depend on the quality of the hot plate, and it keeps all of the coffee warm, not just what’s at the bottom of the pot. Oftentimes coffee can burn at the bottom of a glass carafe if the hot plate is too hot.
If you drink coffee for the taste as much as for the energizing effect, then the taste of burnt coffee is the last thing you want. The thermal carafe isn’t always part of the deal even if you’re looking at the top priced coffee makers.
If this is important to you, expand your search filters to include product thermal carafe.
Filter basket or paper filter?
Paper filters are known to allow better flavor extraction because it captures most of the oils. This not only results in a tastier cup of coffee, but it also produces a lighter color.
Paper filters also do better when it comes to trapping micro-fine particles. Metal filter baskets may not catch every particle. There’s also the oxidizing factor to consider especially with non-replaceable filters.
The maintenance is also quite a different experience. While paper filters can be tossed after one use, a filter basket requires plenty of scrubbing and rinsing to remove all the excess particles and oils.
Does it have a water filter?
It’s not a secret anymore that tap water is not so great, no matter where you live.
If you don’t have a good water filtration system installed either at your point of entry or point of use, the water quality can drastically affect the coffee’s taste.
If yours doesn’t have a built-in water filter, then consider these options:
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is drip coffee?
When talking about drip coffee, a reference is made on the actual brewing method. Drip coffee results from pouring hot water over ground coffee that sits in a filter basket. The coffee then slowly drips through the filter and into the carafe or cup, while extracting flavor from the ground coffee. It’s also worth noting that drip coffee is brewed coffee. However, not all brewed coffee is drip coffee. You can drip coffee with a machine like those reviewed in this article, or manually via other coffee brewing methods such as pour over, french press, percolator or Chemex.
2. Is drip coffee stronger than espresso?
Contrary to popular belief, drip coffee is usually stronger than espresso. The taste is generally more potent in a shot of espresso. However, the actual concentration of caffeine is higher in a cup of drip coffee than in a shot of espresso. This, of course, can be adjusted if you experiment with the coffee-to-water ratios. Did you know you can make an espresso using a french press too?
3. Can I boil water with a coffee maker?
Drip coffee makers boil water. However, it’s worth mentioning that even the top rated one may not heat the water for long enough to be completely purified. There’s a big difference between boiling water in a pot or kettle and boiling water in a drip coffee maker. With the coffee maker you can’t boil it for a couple of minutes.
4. How to clean a drip coffee maker
If you don’t want to use potent cleaning solutions, there’s always the vinegar option. You can begin by emptying the coffee pot or carafe and then emptying the filter of leftover ground coffee. You then add one-part vinegar and to two-part water and brew a pot. After it’s done, let the machine cool off for a couple of seconds and repeat the brewing process two more times. This time don’t use any vinegar, just plain water. It should be enough to remove any lingering vinegar odor and taste from the system.
5. Are there coffee makers without plastic parts?
The answer depends on what type of drip coffee maker you’re looking for. For example, there are plenty of commercial coffee makers that don’t use plastic parts. For home use, automatic units usually come with plastic components. There are manual stainless steel ones that come without plastic parts. However, when it comes to automatic brewing, it’s hard if not impossible to find a fully stainless steel device.
6. How much coffee should you use per cup?
Deciding on the coffee to water ratio is not something anyone can tell you with certainty. It requires some trial and error before you get the perfect cup. You have to take into account your measuring unit, measuring tool, the grind, the blend, the flavor, and the brewing time. It’s very important to remember that the quantities and ratios don’t necessarily carry on from one to the next.
7. Are drip coffee makers safe?
For the most part drip coffee makers are safe. If you’re worried about getting a plastic taste or toxins leaking into your brew, you could opt for a manual stainless steel one. Most commercial drip coffee makers use non-plastic parts of stainless steel and glass. Those are considered the safest even though the risks associated with low-tier residential coffee makers are minimal.
8. Can I make coffee without the filter?
It is possible to make drip coffee without a traditional filter. However, you will have to substitute it with something else. Since drip coffee refers to the specific brewing process, you can’t just pour hot water over ground coffee and call it drip coffee. Alternatives to traditional filters include paper towels. You could also use paper napkins although those tend to break down quicker than paper towels.
9. What is the best coffee to water ratio?
One of the most popular ratios for drip coffee to water is 1:17 grams. It’s believed that 17 grams of water is enough for maximum flavor extraction. Of course, this ratio may vary a lot depending on multiple factors such as: coffee taste, caffeine concentration, water quality, size of the cup, brewing time, immersion time. In the end, the best drip coffee to water ratio is something you get to decide on your own. It takes experimenting and taste testing to figure out what’s best for you.
What makes a coffee maker the best one for your home or office might not always please the other guy.
Even if an appliance seems the best coffee maker considering all the features and its performance, it might not be the best if it comes with high premiums. There are a couple of features such as size, safety options, programmability, and convenience that you should always look for.
If you’ve followed our guide, by now you should have a better understanding of what makes a drip coffee maker stand out from the crowd. Based on our testing we’re confident that you can find your best coffee maker among the recommended products, whether you follow this or any other buying guide.