Best Coffee Makers 2019 - Brew Time, Taste & Temperature Comparison
We’ve researched coffee makers since 2011 and have made nearly 800 cups of coffee while testing. We brewed 170 cups with 12 coffee makers in our latest round of testing. After extensive evaluation of flavor, features and value, we chose the Braun BrewSense as the best drip coffee maker overall because our tasting panel liked the flavor, strength and aroma of its coffee. This attractive machine has useful, convenient features and makes a fine cup of coffee to start your mornings right.
Braun BrewSense KF7170S
The easy-to-use Braun BrewSense Coffee Maker prepares up to 12 cups of fine-tasting java, and it’s outfitted with many worthwhile features that make brewing coffee fast and easy.
KRUPS Savoy EC314050
The KRUPS Savoy EC314050 makes potent, good-tasting coffee, and it includes a pause feature so you can grab a quick cup while it brews. It’s also relatively inexpensive.
Cuisinart 14-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker DCC-3200AMZ
The Cuisinart 14-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker brews big batches of tasty coffee, alerts you when it's ready and lets you adjust settings such as the temperature of the heating plate.
The Braun BrewSense is a snap to use and makes fine-tasting coffee in little time. Most members of our taste-testing panel liked the flavor and strength of the coffee this drip coffee maker produced and found it considerably better than most.
During our testing, we also appreciated the many convenience features built into this 12-cup machine. After the initial setup and programming, you can do so much to ensure you get one delicious cup after another. Among other things, there’s a water filter to clear away chemicals and impurities in your tap water. Also, unlike many other coffee makers, this machine lets you control water-hardness levels so your coffee tastes great. In addition, you can change strength settings, make fewer cups and adjust the warming plate’s heat. It uses a cone-shaped brew basket that coffee devotees insist extracts the most flavor from coffee grounds.
The machine is also programmable, so you can set it the night before and your morning brew will be ready when you enter the kitchen in the morning. If you didn't preprogram the machine, you can start the brewing process and grab a quick cup in the morning using the pause function – when you remove the carafe from the heat plate mid-brew, the machine automatically pauses for up to 20 seconds so you can fill your cup. After you replace the carafe, the machine carries on.
An LCD display lets you see what’s happening with your Braun coffee maker, and the control buttons sits front and center in a row. This machine has an automatic cleaning cycle and an automatic shut-off feature, so along with enjoying nice hot cups of coffee, you have fewer things to think about in your busy life.
Overall, our panel of taste testers liked the hearty coffee the KRUPS Savoy EC314050 brewed, though two people found the coffee a bit too strong for their tastes.
However, you can adjust the machine’s strength settings to accommodate people in your household who want coffee that is somewhat less robust. You can make a full 12-cup pot of coffee with this machine or adjust it to brew just one to four cups if you need less.
During our testing, we discovered the KRUPS Savoy EC314050 nicely heated coffee to 176 degrees Fahrenheit, which is what many people like, and it certainly made an excellent first cup. The temperature dropped quite a bit after the carafe sat for a time on the warming plate, and at 30 minutes later, the coffee was substantially cooler. However, that didn’t detract from the coffee’s fine flavor and appeal, and it still scored very well.
This coffee maker uses a cone-shaped brew basket, which coffee lovers insist is best – since the coffee grounds compress during brewing, the machine can extract the most flavor from them. The EC314050 comes with a built-in water filter, so you can use tap water without off-flavors affecting your coffee.
You can preprogram your KRUPS machine the night before so your coffee is ready when you wake up. There's also a handy feature that lets you select different weekday and weekend brewing times so you can sleep in on Saturday and Sunday and still wake up to a freshly made pot.
Best for Large Quantities
The Cuisinart 14-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker made good-tasting coffee in minutes during our tests. Some of our panelists found the brew somewhat weak, but most liked it and pronounced it good.
The machine comes with a cone-shaped mesh brew basket – the type coffee aficionados say extracts the most flavor from grounds.
This coffee maker can produce 14 cups, which is great if you frequently need to make coffee for a group of people. If you need less coffee, you have the option of brewing just one to four cups.
On those mornings when you're desperate for some caffeine, you can stop the machine mid-brew to snag a quick cup – when you remove the carafe, the machine automatically pauses for up to 20 seconds, then starts up again when you place the carafe back on the heating plate. The machine alerts you when it’s done brewing, but if you dislike the sound, you can turn it off. This coffee maker also lets you know when it needs to be cleaned, which is helpful.
In our testing, this Cuisinart model ranked above average for its freshly brewed temperature and the temperatures we took after the coffee had been sitting on the warming plate. This coffee maker allows you to adjust the carafe heat level to low, medium or high, so you can keep the coffee warmed to your liking. This is a great feature if you love hot coffee but add cream straight from the refrigerator to your cup. You can also adjust the machine’s coffee strength, and if you like waking up to ready-made coffee, you can program this Cuisinart the night before and it will brew automatically.
Best 4-Cup Coffee Maker
Mr. Coffee Simple Brew 4-Cup DRX5-RB makes four decent cups of coffee in about 5 minutes, which is exceptionally fast, according to our tests.
If you live alone or are the only coffee drinker in the household, you’ll get just enough hot coffee to start the morning.
Our taste testing panel either loved or hated the flavor, with some enjoying the brew but others disliking it intensely. The newly made coffee measured 163 degrees, which was lower than top-ranked coffee makers, but is nonetheless hot enough to warm an early morning. Despite its low price tag, the Mr. Coffee 4-Cup offers some good features: a night-before programming function, a pause button, automatic shut-off and a non-drip carafe.
Hottest Coffee Maker
The KitchenAid KCM0802CU Custom Pour Over Brewer gives you a sleek and modern look for your countertop, and coffee that hits a piping hot 184 degrees Fahrenheit when freshly brewed.
It stays hot, too. Our tests showed the KitchenAid’s coffee cooled only 6 degrees even after sitting on the warming plate for 30 minutes. The brew itself tasted delicious, although it took this coffee maker over 10 minutes to make a full pot (8 cups) of coffee, which is longer than many other machines. Brewing is easy since the controls are on the front of this coffee maker, and you get a window with indicator lights and icons so you know what’s happening with your java.
The BUNN Speed Brew Coffee Maker is good to have on hand when you need a steaming cup of coffee fast. It can brew a 10-cup pot of coffee in just three minutes, though you can brew as few as 4 cups if you prefer.
Our taste testing panel enjoyed sipping this coffee maker’s brew and gave it high marks for taste, aroma and strength. Our testing also showed this machine brews coffee that’s nice and hot – 180 degrees Fahrenheit when first brewed, making it the second-hottest coffee in this test. After we let the pot sit in its warming carafe for 30 minutes, the temperature measured 177 degrees, which is excellent. The coffee’s hearty taste comes in part from the hot water and the machine’s shower head, which distributes the water evenly over the grounds to extract the most flavor.
However, there are a couple drawbacks. For example, we needed to closely examine the machine when we first set it up. The jokey user manual includes plenty of fun remarks but is rather short on actual instructions for getting the machine up and running. In the end, this BUNN coffee maker was considerably more complicated to set up than other machines we tested.
Best for Full Pot Or One Cup
The Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer is a basic, no-frills coffee maker that makes fine-tasting coffee. You can brew as many as 12 cups in the carafe or choose to fill just one cup or a tall mug.
When we tested it, the majority of our taste testing panel gave it high marks for its coffee. When coffee first emerged from our test machine, it was plenty hot at 171 degrees Fahrenheit. The warming plate kept the coffee hot for 30 minutes with the temperature going down only 4 degrees. Be aware, though, that you cannot adjust the warming plate’s heat range. In fact, there are few extra features on this machine, only a setting for “regular” or “bold” coffee and the ability to program it to start a pot 24 hours in advance. The single-serve part of this model is easy to use and versatile; the mesh brew basket lets you use either ground coffee or soft-pack pods. It has a cup rest that you can raise if you’re making only one cup, bringing it closer to the flow and reducing the chance of splatters. You can remove that to fill a 14-ounce travel mug.
Why Trust Us
We spent hours researching coffee makers to narrow the field to the 12 models we tested. We looked for well-known, well-regarded products and limited our search to basic drip coffee makers, which are a staple in most kitchens. If you routinely need just one cup, check out our review of the best single-cup coffee makers, which features several machines, including the highly popular Keurig K55/K-Classic Coffee Maker.
To keep the comparison fair and in line with market trends, we selected coffee makers with prices ranging from approximately $50 to $200. 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.
How We Tested
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.
How Much do Coffee Makers Cost?
Good quality home coffee makers run the gamut from $25 to more than $200, but price alone does not guarantee exceptional quality. Even modestly priced coffee makers intended for home use can produce excellent coffee and offer enough features to satisfy the most discerning coffee aficionado.
Jeff Furton, 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."
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