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Best coffee maker

Best coffee maker
(Image credit: @NATHAN MULLET on Unsplash)

Only the best coffee makers will do for caffeine lovers. After brewing 170 cups of coffee with several different machines, we've found the very best coffee makers that make the best-testing coffee. In our guide, you’ll find the best single-cup machines, fancy machines that can create lattes, and everything in between. We also have some tips on choosing the best coffee maker for your kitchen.

Best overall

Best coffee maker

(Image credit: Amazon)

Mr Coffee coffee maker (opens in new tab)

Auto pause feature

The Mr Coffee 12-cup coffee maker has well-thought-out features such as an Auto Pause function, which enables you to enjoy a quick cup of coffee while the machine brews the rest. Other handy features include the Lift and Clean filter baskets, making for easy maintenance. The large water window helps you see exactly how much water is needed to avoid accidental overflow.

Pros:

  • Pause feature
  • Filter basket
  • Water window

Cons:

  • Very basic

With a built-in warming plate, coffee can be kept hot for up to two hours, after that time the auto shut-off will kick in. What’s more, there’s an audible signal when your coffee is ready to drink, making this coffee machine ideal for brewing large quantities of coffee, especially during busy mornings at home.  The Mr Coffee maker doesn't have a lot of the more advanced features of other coffee machines we reviewed, and it won't make other types of coffee drinks like espresso or latte. But for a decent cup of joe the Mr Coffee is the one we recommend.

Best single-serve

Hamilton Beach The Scoop review

(Image credit: Best Buy)

Hamilton Beach scoop single-serve coffee maker (opens in new tab)

Brew a cup when you need it

This single-cup coffee maker brews an 8-ounce cup of coffee in 90 seconds and takes less than three minutes for the machine to fill a 14-ounce travel mug. You save money because the Hamilton Beach coffee maker uses regular ground coffee instead of prepackaged pods, which also makes it eco-friendly.

Pros:

  • Bold setting for strong coffee
  • Automatic shut off
  • Eco-friendly

Cons:

  • Not the most compact

The included scoop has measuring lines for specific amounts, plus you can adjust the coffee’s strength by using the “regular” or “bold” settings. Regular works nicely with standard grocery-store coffee, while bold is better suited to finer grinds and gourmet coffees. The Hamilton Beach isn't the most compact machine out there, but it is good enough for a dorm room where a student can brew just enough coffee to help them get moving in the morning.

Best value

Black & Decker programmable coffee maker

(Image credit: Black + Decker)

Black & Decker programmable coffee maker (opens in new tab)

Sneak-a-cup

The Black & Decker coffee machine lets you pause brewing to grab and hot cup, then resume brewing. The water window lets you keep an eye on the levels, and both the reusable filter and the carafe are dishwasher safe.

Pros:

  • Programmable
  • Auto shutoff
  • Water window
  • Easy cleaning

Cons:

  • Can not turn warming plate on

We found that the Black & Decker coffee machine reaches the optimal temperature for brewed coffee, and it has a programmable time so that you can wake up to delicious coffee already brewing. This coffee maker will keep you pot of coffee hot for two hours before automatically shutting off. Unfortunately there isn't a way to turn just the warming plate back on once it has turned off.

Best for coffee pods

Best coffee maker

(Image credit: Amazon)

Keurig K-Classic coffee maker (opens in new tab)

Strong coffee with minimal effort

This Keurig coffee maker is great for making a single cup of coffee and there’s a vast range of capsule pods that are compatible with it. Handy features include the auto shut off, and a removable drip tray to fill a travel mug. The average brew time is less than a minute.

Pros:

  • Easy to sue
  • Automatic shut off

Cons:

  • Only uses pods
  • Makes single cups of coffee

This coffee maker is really easy to use, especially since it only uses pods. This does make it more expensive to use compared to machines that also uses coffee grounds. It has a large water reservoir that will hold enough water to make five cups of coffee, however, it doesn't come with a carafe to hold that much coffee at once. It only allows you to brew a single cup at a time, and has just enough room to hold a coffee mug.

Best maker with grinder

Best coffee maker

(Image credit: Amazon)

Cuisinart Grind & Brew automatic coffee maker (opens in new tab)

Fresh is best

This 12-cup coffee maker includes a built-in grinder to give you the freshest cup of coffee in the morning. It grinds whole coffee beans with four strength settings. It also has a grinder-off feature so you can use pre-ground coffee instead.

Pros:

  • Built-in grinder
  • Can use pre-grounds, too
  • 24-hour programming

Cons:

  • Slower brew times
  • Weaker results

The Cuisinart Grind & Brew has a 24-hour programmable function, so you can set everything for the next day, or throughout the day, at any time. The included glass carafe holds 12-ounces of brewed coffee while the heat place keeps it warm. You can opt to only brew a single cup. There is a pause feature so you can sneak a cup of coffee mid-brew, and auto-shutoff that you can set for any time up to 4 hours. It isn't the quickest at brewing, but it does fall in the average range. Also, some of our testers felt the coffee was a little on the weak side, but this can be adjusted by changing the grounds-to-water ratio.

Best professional grade

Best coffee makers 2020: The top picks for frothers, grinders and single-serve coffee mac

(Image credit: De'Longhi)

De’Longhi all-in-one combination maker and espresso machine (opens in new tab)

Multi-function and pro feel

The De'Longhi 10-Cup coffee maker and Espresso Maker has a sophisticated feel and stylish look. It makes professional-style coffee and has a steam arm for making a frothy cappuccino, or creating espresso complete with crema on top. The frother does lack steam pressure, so it may take longer to get the crema just right.

Pros:

  • Makes both coffee and espresso
  • Large capacity
  • Steam arm

Cons:

  • Weak pressure on frother

This coffee maker has one of the biggest capacities in our guide making it perfect for sharing your fine brew with a group of friends. The De'Longhi coffee maker is compatible with both coffee grounds and pods. Other finer details are a water filtration system, cup warmer and auto shut off after a couple of hours to help save energy.

What do you need in a coffee maker?

For many people, picking the best coffee maker for their home is an important purchase. After all, the type of coffee you enjoy, and the way you like to make it, is highly personal, and thankfully there are now lots of brilliant coffee machines to help you.

If you’re the only coffee lover in your house, a single-cup coffee maker might be best for you. Both Hamilton Beach and Keurig have great options depending on if you prefer coffee brewed from pods or loose grounds. Just keep in mind that it is more expensive to purchase coffee pods than grounds. Also, coffee grounds are more eco-friendly than pods, but pods do ensure you get the perfect strength and taste in every cup.

For a household with lots of coffee fans, you’ll need a machine that’s bigger so that you’re not making endless cups of coffee in a row. We recommend a 12-cup coffee maker. Also, look for one that features a warming plate so that leftover coffee stays warm for when you fancy a top off.

Testing coffee makers

(Image credit: Future)

How we tested

We spent hours researching coffee makers to narrow the field to the top models we tested. We looked for well-known, well-regarded products and limited our search to drip coffee makers, which are a staple in most kitchens. 

To keep the comparison fair and in line with market trends, we selected coffee makers within a price range based on consumer purchasing trends. We did our homework by researching coffee makers in general, studying online reviews, examining sales trends, and investigating a wide variety of sources. We also consulted long-time baristas and restaurateurs about what they look for in a home coffee maker.

Afterward, we trimmed our list, chose products, and embarked on three days of testing in our kitchen test lab. Our tests included tasting sessions with several coffee-loving panelists who made notes and offered comments on the coffee produced by each machine.

We lined up the machines side-by-side and prepared full pots of coffee using tap water and a well-known, popular brand of grounds, following the instructions and measurements described in each user manual. We repeated the process then asked a panel of coffee lovers to rate each machine’s coffee for taste, strength, and aroma as well as to note their general observations.

We tested the temperature of the coffee immediately after brewing and later noted the temperature after it had been on the warming plate or inside the insulated carafe for 15 minutes and 30 minutes. We did this to see how well each coffee maker maintains temperature. In addition, we evaluated the machines’ brewing speeds by timing how long it took to brew four cups and eight cups of coffee, and we repeated the tests to ensure we got a fair picture of each device's capabilities.

As we tested, we made notes about ease of use, including how easy it was to program and set up each machine. For example, we recorded details about how troublesome it was to plug an extra-short electrical cord into a nearby outlet. In addition, we considered whether each machine has features that make it easy to adjust the coffee it brews to your preferences.

What the experts say

Jeff Furton, the owner of Daily Rise Coffee in Utah, has clear ideas about what he wants in a home coffee maker. "What I look for is a thermal carafe so the coffee's not going to burn after it's brewed. I like a cone brew basket and a large shower head that pulses."

The big, pulsing shower head emits some hot water first to saturate the coffee grounds before the actual brewing starts, which helps extract the greatest amount of flavor from the grounds. A cone-shaped brew basket compresses coffee grounds, which also assists in getting the greatest amount of flavor from them.

Even if you buy a modestly priced coffee maker, the quality of your coffee can make an enormous difference in taste, according to Furton. Fresh, local, and organic coffee beans typically yield excellent flavor. He also strongly recommends grinding whole coffee beans right before brewing to get the best taste.

Although preprogramming coffee makers the night before is not the ideal arrangement, it does help many people, Furton said. It just won't make the very best coffee. "There's a convenience factor there, and you're still going to get a pretty good cup, but you're probably going to want to grind it right before brewing."

Hatch also looks for a shower head that distributes the hot water evenly onto the coffee grounds. "A lot of units will throw water heavily to one side or the other, so one half is over-extracted and the other half is under-extracted. With that, you'll have this weird thing where the coffee is bitter but also weak," he said.

Hatch also said the quality of the coffee you use can compensate quite a bit for a machine that is not top of the line. "The trick that a lot of people don't do but makes all the difference is grinding your coffee fresh. One of the best things a person can do is buy a coffee grinder. Buy whole beans from a local roaster, beans that you know have been roasted within the past week. Grind them fresh right before you brew, and you'll be improving your coffee quality a lot."

Why trust us

At Top Ten Reviews we recommend the best products to enhance your life. As expert curators, we handpick products based on quality and usefulness to positively impact your day-to-day, from cart to doorstep. We take our responsibility seriously — testing products, reading reviews, and sourcing knowledgeable outlets to ensure our selections are worthy of your time and money. We deliver detailed product overviews, balancing objective information with subjective opinions, so making the best choice for your home and lifestyle is as easy as possible.

Sophie is Home Editor at Top Ten Reviews. Starting off her career in print journalism, Sophie then moved to digital and now specializes in lifestyle, home interiors and social media. While she has scooped awards for her journalism, Sophie likes to whip up a storm in the kitchen when she's not writing.