Best Coffee Makers of 2018

Angela Parkinson ·
Updated
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We made more than 600 cups of coffee as we looked for the best drip coffee makers on the market. After considering the quality and convenience of each, we recommend the Braun BrewSense for your home. Our taste testers loved the coffee from this machine, which packs all the features required for convenience into a compact and attractive countertop unit. It has that set-and-forget quality that will make getting a good cup of coffee the easiest part of hectic mornings. 

Best Overall

Braun BrewSense

The Braun BrewSense has the perfect combination of useful features and ideal final product. Our testers enjoyed the coffee it made, and it stands out for user-friendly convenience.
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Best Value

Delonghi DC514

The Delonghi DC514 14-Cup Drip Coffee Maker offers a lot of value, even when compared with much more expensive machines. This one makes a lot of great-tasting coffee for less than half the price of top-rated coffee makers.
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Best Flavor

Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer

Our taste testers liked the coffee from the Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer better than any of the others. This machine is not the most convenient, but it is a strong contender in terms of taste.
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Our Test Results

Product
Price
Overall Rating
8.8
8.3
8.3
8
7.5
7.4
7.3
7.2
7
Performance
8.8
9
9.3
8.3
8
8.8
8
8
8
Design
9.5
9.3
10
6
5.5
6.8
5.5
8.3
4.8
Conveniences & Safety
8.8
6.3
5
10
9.5
5.8
8.5
4
6
Warranty & Support
7
7
6
8
6
6
6
7
10
Cleaning Alert or Cycle
N/A
N/A
N/A
Water Level Indicator
N/A
Ease of Use Score
80%
100%
40%
80%
90%
50%
75%
45%
75%
Audible Alert
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Programmable Clock
N/A
Power Back-Up
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Coffee Quality
92%
76%
85%
80%
83%
92%
61%
90%
100%
Time to Brew
7:01
4:56
6:27
8:13
9:49
7:46
6:35
8:32
8:33
Temperature Over Time (Fahrenheit)
168
166
174
173
173
167
160
163
167
Adjustable for Fewer Cups
N/A
Water Filter
N/A
N/A
N/A
Ready Temperature (Fahrenheit)
171
179
179
177
183
169
163
176
167
Maximum Cup Capacity
12
8
8
12
8
14
12
12
12
Brew Pause for Single Cup
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Coffee Strength Settings
N/A
SCAA Certified
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Permanent or Paper Filter
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Glass Carafe
N/A
Thermal Carafe
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Glass or Thermal Option
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Carafe Heater Plate
N/A
N/A
Size
Small
Small
Large
Medium
Large
Small
Medium
Medium
Large
Warranty
2 Years
2 Years
1 Year
3 Years
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
2 Years
5 Years
Phone
Email
Best Overall

Braun BrewSense

The BrewSense from Braun will make your morning routine easier rather than complicating it. After some initial programming, you can set this machine to wake you every day with the welcoming aroma of coffee, and it takes almost no effort on your part.
It will also shut itself off after a length of time designated by you. Our testers were impressed with the coffee from this machine. It was noticeably better than most, which is impressive considering we used the same type of coffee and the same measure of grounds and water in every unit. It stood out for convenience, too. You can make a lot or a little coffee quickly with this machine. You can adjust it for strength and grab a cup before it is finished brewing without making a mess. You can use the built-in filter or a paper one. You can control water-hardness levels, and its water filter improves the likelihood of great-tasting coffee. A crystal-clear LCD display allows you to track what is going on with this machine at any given moment, and a cleaning cycle makes even the maintenance portion of the BrewSense a breeze.
Pros
  • Programming and automatic shut-off capabilities make this unit low maintenance.
  • You can pause brewing, pour yourself a cup and then let the machine finish without making a mess.
  • A compact design means you don't lose much precious countertop space.
Cons
  • The lack of an audible alarm at the end of brewing might mean you miss the freshest cup.
  • This was not the fastest machine when we compared brewing times.
  • You cannot substitute a thermal carafe with this one, so the pot must stay on the warming plate.
$109.19Amazon
Best Value

Delonghi DC514

The Delonghi DC514 14-Cup Drip Coffee Maker scored as high as the very best coffee maker in our taste tests and at less than half the cost.
The fact that it brews more than any other machine we considered – 14 cups – also is impressive. You might not need 14 cups every morning, but it’s nice to have the option when friends and family visit. This machine did not produce coffee that was as hot as most of the others in our tests. One of the reasons for higher temperatures is to achieve the best flavor, though, and this one did make coffee with great flavor. It has a programming feature that requires minimal effort after initial setup. You can program it to make coffee at any time during a 24-hour period. It is very compact, so it fits into even smaller kitchen spaces.
Pros
  • The 14-cup capacity means you will always have enough coffee, even when entertaining.
  • Our testers scored the coffee from this one in the top three for taste.
  • Controls allow you to adjust the coffee's strength.
Cons
  • Other machines were easier to program and use.
  • Other machines made the coffee a few degrees hotter.
  • If the power goes out, you must redo your programming.
$62Amazon
Best Flavor

Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer

The Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer was the undisputed champ for taste by our panel. Other coffee makers might require various adjustments to improve flavor, but this Hamilton Beach coffee maker can claim to be the best right out of the box.
It is also convenient in that you can brew a single cup on one side or make up to 12 cups of coffee. It's less convenient in other ways. It does not have a built-in filter, so you must use a paper one every time, and it lacks an alarm to let you know when the coffee is ready. The unit has no power backup, so if the power goes out, you must redo your programming. And, it is quite large, so this maker is not a good choice if you have limited counter space. Hamilton Beach stands by this product with a five-year warranty – the longest we saw in any unit we compared – which is impressive considering its relatively low price. Since it is a rather complex machine, considering the dual functionality of single-cup and full-pot brewing, that warranty could come in handy.
Pros
  • Our testers liked the flavor of the coffee from this one above all others.
  • The dual design makes it possible to brew a single cup on one side and a full pot on the other.
  • The warranty is noticeably longer than the others in our comparison.
Cons
  • This unit is quite large, so it won't be a good fit in small kitchens.
  • Other coffee makers had higher initial temperatures.
  • There is no cleaning alert or alert at the end of a brewing cycle.
$49.47Amazon

Why Trust Us?
 
We spent hours of research in narrowing the field to the 15 coffee makers we chose to test. We looked for well-known and well-regarded products that you are likely to come across as you shop for coffee makers. We considered existing online reviews and researched a wide range of sources, including the Specialty Coffee Association and the National Coffee Association, to understand the features that matter in making great coffee. We also spoke with coffee enthusiasts about how they make the best cup at home.

We limited our search to basic drip coffee makers that are on the countertops of many homes, rather than including other types like K-cup machines and cold coffee brewers. To keep the comparison as fair as possible, we also selected products that cost less than $200. Once we had narrowed the field, we tested the machines in our laboratory's kitchen. 

How We Tested 

We lined up machines side by side and prepared the same amount of the same coffee with the same amount of water. We then had a panel of enthusiastic coffee drinkers rate the coffee from each machine for flavor, aroma and strength. We documented the temperature of the coffee immediately after brewing to monitor how close it came to what is considered ideal. We made note of the temperatures after the coffee had been on the warming plate or inside the insulated carafe for 15 minutes and 30 minutes to determine how each coffee maker's design maintains temperature.

We evaluated the speed of these machines by timing how long it took to brew four cups and eight cups, and we repeated the tests to ensure we were getting a fair picture of their capabilities. We made notes throughout the testing process about ease of use, including programming and setup, and the clean-up process. We also considered whether each machine had features that would make it easier to brew coffee suiting different preferences.

Key Features to Look for When Buying a Coffee Maker 

Performance
Coffee is largely about personal preference and the raw materials you use, and most machines can be manipulated to make coffee that you would like. However, it is noteworthy that our testers liked a select few machines best, and those machines produced a decent cup of coffee every time.

You should look at the type of machine that fits your needs. If you want the convenience of a K-cup in the morning, there are some great options. If you don't mind spending a little more time for better flavor, you may want to consider machines with built-in grinders, or a French press coffee maker. We focused squarely on drip coffee machines that make your morning beverage easy to prepare but still tasty. The best of these will give you piping hot coffee in very few minutes and allow you to make as little or as much as you want.

Convenience & Design
Among drip coffee makers there are features that make certain units stand out. We liked the machines that let you program start times so you can wake up to fresh coffee rather than stumbling into the kitchen to make some. We looked for the ones that had convenient features like ready alarms and cleaning cycles. The units that allow you to adjust based on preference are nice, too. Many machines now work well with either a glass or thermal carafe, or a paper or permanent filter.

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