KitchenAid KCM1208 Drip Coffee Maker review: get fabulous filter coffee every time

A beautifully built filter coffee machine packed with genuinely useful features

coffee machine on counter with tap and mug
(Image: © Future)

Top Ten Reviews Verdict

It is well known that Americans favor filter coffee over espresso, which is probably why this Drip Coffee Maker by US brand KitchenAid is one of the best we’ve ever tested. Robustly constructed and easy on the eye, the KitchenAid Drip Coffee Maker has several smart features we’ve not seen anywhere else. My personal favorite is ‘pour and pause,’ which lets you fill a mug the second it’s poured, rather than hang around for the full carafe. Genius.

Pros

  • +

    Makes excellent coffee

  • +

    Removeable water tank

  • +

    Generous capacity

  • +

    Two auto-timers

Cons

  • -

    Slow

  • -

    Quite big

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You don’t have to be a design aficionado to appreciate the KitchenAid KCM1208 Drip Coffee Maker’s soft curves and chrome detailing. This is one seriously stylish small appliance you will not want to hide away in the cupboard. 

With an impressive 12-cup capacity, two pre-set timers, and superior flavor-extracting prowess, there’s a lot more to love about this smart machine than just looks, which is why it is one of the best coffee makers we’ve tested. Fans of the well-known American brand, best known for its iconic stand mixers, may also be impressed with the price tag, which is pitched at a very reasonable $109.99.

In the UK, the equivalent model is known as 5KCM1209, and it comes in Onyx Black or Empire Red. In the USA, the options are Onyx Black or Matte Charcoal Gray. If I was buying (and I am sorely tempted), I’d choose the Empire Red to complement my stand mixer, which sits on a pull-out shelf below the drinks station in our kitchen. Matchy-matchy! 

Linda Clayton portrait
Linda Clayton

Linda is a freelance journalist who has tested many products over the past two decades, including home tech, gym equipment, garden tools, and even mattresses. She is literally paid to sleep! She works from her Devonshire home, always within five paces of a caffeine supply. 

She usually gets her caffeine fix via Nespresso pods for ease and convenience and takes her coffee strong and black, no-frills. Black Americano is her preference for coffee shops or a quick Espresso if she’s chasing a late-night deadline. She and her husband put the KitchenAid Drip Coffee Maker to the test every day for two weeks, checking for consistency, flavor, and ease of use.     

KitchenAid KCM1208 Drip Coffee Maker: Key specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Row 0 - Cell 1
TypeDrip
Brew time5 - 18 minutes
Milk frotherNo
Programmable2 x auto-timers
Brew size options12 cup
Water tank capacity1.4L
Carafe1.7L
Power cord length1 meter
Warming plateYes
Coffee grinderNo
Average noise level44dB
ColorOnyx Black, Empire Red
MaterialMetal, plastic, glass
Dimensions14.3 x 7.1 x 13.4 inches
Weight7.3lbs

KitchenAid KCM1208 Drip Coffee Maker: Price & availability

The KitchenAid brand has a high-end reputation, making the KCM1208 Drip Coffee Maker's $109.99 / £169 surprisingly good value. It is available to buy directly from KitchenAid and most reputable stores, like Best Buy and Amazon

KitchenAid KCM1208 Drip Coffee Maker: Setup

The KitchenAid Drip Coffee Maker arrived beautifully packaged and secure—no parts were broken or missing. However, a large amount of polystyrene was involved, which isn’t considered the most eco-friendly choice and possibly needs addressing. It comes with a reusable filter with a built-in dosing gauge, and the instruction manual­ no construction was required. 

Based on looks alone, the KitchenAid Drip Coffee Maker would win first place in a beauty pageant—it looks and feels strong, durable, and sturdy, and I love its retro/vintage vibes. You don’t have to own any other KitchenAid appliances to buy one, but if you do, they all have a shared aesthetic that is perfect for those who appreciate smooth design cohesion across their countertops.  

KitchenAid coffee machine box on grey countertops

(Image credit: Future)

While the KitchenAid Drip Coffee Maker isn’t a huge coffee machine by coffee machine standards, it’s quite big for a drip filter, especially height-wise. It slid under the shelf in our kitchen, but if you want to put it beneath low-slung wall cabinets, you might need to get the tape measure out before you buy. 

I did have to pull the machine forward to access the water tank, but it’s a lightweight unit, and the task never felt difficult or annoying. This is the only filter machine I’ve tested with a removable tank – complete with a handle to carry to the sink –and it was much easier to fill than trying to angle a jug into tiny reservoir inlets, usually at the rear of the machine. 

The digital display and control panel are a little daunting at first glance and more complex than other filter machines we’ve tested. Nine push buttons under the display include the on/off button, timer controls, intensity settings, and hotplate temperature. A clean icon will also flash after 100 cycles to indicate it is time to descale.

KitchenAid box contents on marble countertops

Box contents (Image credit: Future)

KitchenAid KCM1208 Drip Coffee Maker: Performance

The basic workings of the KitchenAid Drip Coffee Maker are as easy as any other. Just lift the lid, add the coffee grounds, fill the water tank with the required volume, and press on. 

There are two handy features to mention here. First, the stepped gauge in the reusable filter indicates the fill line for coffee grounds according to the number of cups. No specific measuring scoop is required - use any spoon close to hand. Secondly, I appreciated the extra ‘on/off’ switch at the front of the machine, which was easier to reach than the side one once I had pushed the coffee machine back under the shelf unit.  

coffee machine with lid open

The stepped gauge inside the filter makes it easy to pour in the correct amount of grounds. (Image credit: Future)

There are no half/full jug options—the instructions just say to use the scale on the side of the water tank (capacity, 57 fl oz / 1.7L) and fill it according to the number of cups required. The machine will stop when it has run out of water. One standard mug was equivalent to two cups on the water tank, so the full tank made six generous mugs. 

If I had anything to gripe about with this machine, it would have to be speed or its lack of speed. The official stat is 10 minutes to make a 12-cup carafe, but that is for the regular brew strength. I preferred to use the Bold brew strength option, and my stopwatch found it took nearly five minutes to make one mug and a tedious 18.35 minutes to fill the full carafe. Three beeps let you know the coffee is done. My Sound Meter rated it at a very mild 44 decibels, similar to a quiet office environment or library and about the norm for filter machines.   

This slowness is almost deliberate; filter coffee aficionados will tell you the drip process cannot be rushed or the coffee will taste like dishwater. KitchenAid has a rather nifty ‘pause and pours’ feature, allowing you to grab a quick mug of coffee before the full cycle has been completed. It is achieved via a special valve that temporarily stops the coffee pouring into the jug (but not the coffee-making process). You have 25 seconds to get the jug back under the brew basket before it overflows, but pouring a mug of coffee only takes about four seconds, so there’s no stress involved.

If you are seriously impatient for your caffeine fix, it’s worth setting up one or both of the auto-start timers, which can be used twice in one day or twice a week. For example, you could set one for when you get up on weekdays and a later one on the weekends, or you might prefer to use Auto Set 1 for your morning coffee and Auto Set 2 for a post-dinner brew (remembering to restock with fresh grounds and water). 

buttons on coffee machine

The Auto buttons are very easy to use. (Image credit: Future)

The instructions for the Auto Set timers are easy to follow, and as long as the main clock is set correctly, the brewing starts right on cue. I set mine to begin 10 minutes before I was due home from the school run so I would arrive just in time to pour a fresh mug and fire up my computer. The house smelt fabulous.

Another cool, or rather hot, feature is the hotplate temperature adjustment and timer. The hotplate is set to ‘high’ by default, but it’s easy to switch to low heat with one press of a button. You might like to do this if you drink your coffee black, so you don’t need it to be stored too hot. You can also set the timer on the hotplate in 10-minute increments up to 40 minutes to save energy.

KitchenAid 5KCM1209 Drip Coffee Maker: Taste test

As mentioned, the slow brewing of the KitchenAid Drip Coffee Maker is no bad thing. Pour-over coffee experts recommend a ‘bloom time’, which is included in the process, which essentially means pouring a little hot water onto the grounds and leaving for 30-40 seconds before slowly continuing the pour over (or drip) process. Coffee nerds believe this allows the carbon dioxide to escape, or bloom, from the grounds, ensuring full flavor extraction. The eye-wateringly slow start-up and drip-through of the KitchenAid coffee maker supports this process, and the results cannot be denied. The coffee produced is rich, aromatic, and not in the least dishwatery – proving the best things come to those who wait! 

It helped that I used my favorite beans, from No. 1 Coffee, which are supplied freshly ground (there's a date on the side, so you know they're not stale) to the perfect medium coarseness for filter machines. 

The other cool feature that helps on the flavor front is KitchenAid’s much-lauded 29-hole spiral showerhead, designed to ensure the “drip” evenly saturates all the grounds rather than just pouring through the middle. The showerhead mimics an artisan hand-poured brew as closely as possible without you having to stand there and do it manually. All I can say is it works ­– there’s no need to lift the lid and stir the grounds, as I’ve had to in other filter machines, to ensure full coverage – and when I empty the filter, I can see all the grounds are well saturated, even with a full 12-cup payload. 

If you don’t like your coffee strong enough to stand a spoon in, you can opt for the Regular brewing strength, activated using the button with a coffee bean icon above it. I only used it for my mum as she genuinely prefers instant coffee, yuck, but I did notice the coffee processed a little faster, so it could be handy if you’re in a hurry.

coffee machine with lid up to see water entering basket

A sneak peek under the hood to see the spiral showerhead in action. (Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the KitchenAid KCM1208 Drip Coffee Maker?

Buy it if...

You've got a classic KitchenAid Stand Mixer

The shared design dialogue between KitchenAid's small appliances is sooo good, and this coffee machine is no exception – you will never want to shut it away in a cupboard.

You like the easy life

Lazy people (and convenience fans) will love the dishwasher-friendly reusable filter and brew basket.

You want to wake up to delicious coffee

The spiral showerhead, which you don’t need to see or touch, is (probably) the reason coffee from the KitchenAid Drip machine tastes better than any other I’ve tested. 

Don't buy it if...

You host coffee mornings

Whatever you look at it, this is one of the slowest filter machines we've tested, so if you are hoping to caffeinate 12+ guests at a time, make sure you set up that timer.

Your countertops are already cluttered

It is a great choice for large households and caffeine fiends, but perhaps not so great for those with small, space-starved kitchens as it does take up a reasonable footprint on your countertops.

How does the KitchenAid KCM1208 Drip Coffee Maker compare?

The KitchenAid Drip Coffee Maker is, without a doubt, the best filter coffee machine I have trialed so far. It doesn’t do anything wildly fancy – no grinder, tamper, or milk frother going on – but it ticks all the boxes you could ever ask for from a filter machine and more.

The Smeg Drip Coffee Machine comes in a close second, but the KitchenAid pips it on features, and the coffee tastes a little richer and more intense. By the way, I used the same blend of coffee grounds in both for a fair comparison. 

If you prefer the harsher caffeine hit of an espresso, check out KitchenAid’s Artisan Espresso Machine. If you like the convenience and speed of pods, try the Ninja Dual Brew, which takes both pods and grounds in the same machine. 

How I tested the KitchenAid KCM1208 Drip Coffee Maker

  • For two weeks it was the only source of caffeine in our home
  • Spent time trying out the various timers and temperature controls
  • Tweaked quantities to get the best results
  • Cleaned, buffed and shined (and put washable parts in the dishwasher)

I tested the KitchenAid Drip Coffee Maker in my Devon home in the UK, where my husband and I work full-time, for two weeks. We drink a lot of coffee, as do our friends and family, who, by complete coincidence, appeared to be dropping by a lot more than usual during the testing period! I did a cleaning cycle, following the instructions, which, to my delight, suggested a water/vinegar mix rather than harsh chemicals for descaling. 

Read more about how we test.

  • First reviewed: July 2023
Linda Clayton
Contributor

Linda Clayton is a professionally trained journalist, and has specialised in product reviews, interiors and fitness for more than two decades. Linda has written for a wide range of publications, from the Daily Telegraph and Guardian to Homes & Gardens and Livingetc. She has been freelancing for Future Publishing (and its predecessors) since 2006, covering design trends, home makeovers, product reviews and much more.