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Many of us can’t function without that morning cup of coffee. Or afternoon. Heck, some of us even appreciate the occasional evening cup of coffee. When it comes to brewing coffee at home, a well-made coffee maker is paramount, followed by properly ground beans and filtered water. You don’t have to go ultra-fancy with your coffee maker selection, though. There are plenty out there that will suit your budget and end goal. But first, some things to know about coffee makers.
While drip coffee makers are relatively compact, they can vary in size, so consider your counter space and measure the space between your counter and cabinets. There's also a wide variety of features available from simple 24-hour programming to built-in grinders. Determine what you can't live without.
We’ve researched a variety of coffee pots and narrowed it down to these top ones. Here are the best drip coffee makers.
Best Overall: Braun BrewSense 12-Cup Drip Coffee Maker
Compact with a modern aesthetic, the Braun BrewSense will work in anyone's kitchen. The unit measures 8 x 8 x 14 inches with a glass carafe that holds 12 cups of coffee. It's fully programmable so you can have fresh coffee when you wake up and there's an auto shut-off should you forget.
To achieve the best cup of coffee, Braun designed this with a charcoal water filter that includes a reminder for when it's time to replace. In addition, you can have four levels of brew strength to choose from. There's also a colorful interior marker so you can actually see the water level as you pour.
Users love that it’s easy to set up and brews the pot of coffee fairly quickly with a result that’s delicious. The glass carafe’s heat is maintained with a warming plate. Some feel the warming plate makes the coffee too hot, but most people seem to be okay with it.
Best Budget: Black+Decker 12-Cup QuickTouch Programmable Coffeemaker
The Black+Decker 12-cup is an affordable drip coffee maker that gets the job done efficiently. It comes with a clock so you can program a brew time and includes has a “sneak-a-cup” feature that allows you to pour coffee without making a mess before the brewing ends.
It measures 8.2 x 11 x 12.2 inches, which is perfect for fitting under cabinets. You do have to lift the lid to fill the water tank, so it might take daily maneuvering if you do. Some users dislike that it doesn’t stay hot the full two hours that the machine stays on. Both the carafe and removable brew basket are safe to clean in the dishwasher.
Best Thermal: Cuisinart Programmable 12-Cup Thermal Coffee Maker
Many people opt for a thermal carafe instead of a glass one. Not only is there less chance of breakage, but these also have the advantage of keeping coffee hot for hours without the use of a warming plate.
This 12-cup Cuisinart thermal coffee maker is super programmable from the time you want to start brewing your coffee to brew strength to the tone that alerts you that your coffee is ready. At 9 x 7.75 x 14.25 inches and weighing 10 pounds, it's a little on the large side but if you have the space, it’s worth the investment. Its stainless-steel thermal carafe will keep your coffee hot for hours and a charcoal water filter makes your morning cup taste even better. The main complaint users shared is that the spout of the carafe can be a little finicky, so keep a dishtowel on hand.
Related: The Best Coffee Makers
Best Single Serve: Hamilton Beach 49981 The Scoop Single-Serve Coffee Maker
If you live alone, or you’re the only coffee drinker in your household, you might want to consider a single-serve coffee maker that’s not a pod system. The Hamilton Beach The Scoop, though, uses ground coffee and eliminates the need for pods or filters—the scoop is the filter. Woah!
The coffee maker is 9.75 x 7.75 x 13.5 inches and makes up to 14 ounces of coffee with being able to control the brew strength. Just insert your favorite travel mug and you’ll be good to go. The downside of the coffee maker, though, is that it can be a little leaky if the mug is placed too low beneath the brew head. Users also note that you should tamp down your coffee grounds in the filter to help brew a stronger batch of coffee.
Related: The Best Espresso Machines
Best with Grinder: Cuisinart DGB-550BKP1 Grind & Brew Automatic Coffee Maker
It’s typically recommended to get a separate grinder, but if you need to be mindful of space (or simply can’t resist), the Cuisinart Grind & Brew Automatic Coffee Maker is the way to go. It comes with all the special features you'd expect from Cuisinart.
At 7.5 x 11.2 x 15.2 inches, it's won't take up too much space, but maybe too tall to fit under your cabinets. The coffee maker utilizes showerhead brewing, which means the hot water flows evenly over the grounds for a full-bodied cup. The 60-ounce glass carafe even has an ergonomic handle that makes it easy to pour, while the coffee maker includes a gold-tone filter and water filter. You can use pre-ground beans if you want to, just turn off the grind feature before using.
There are higher-end Cuisinart grind and brew models but this one is most affordable and just as effective.
Related: The Best Nespresso Machines
Best for Specialty Drinks: Ninja CP301 Hot & Cold Brew System
Some like it hot and some like it cold. Some want a coffee maker that can do both. That’s where the Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System comes in.
There are five modes to choose from with the Ninja: classic, rich, over ice, cold brew, or specialty (this one brews four ounces and makes a great base for latte-like drinks). There’s also a milk frother tucked away and you can brew a cup of tea with the 11.8 x 10 x 15-inch machine as well as brew directly into your cup. It also has a 10-cup thermal carafe so it stays hot for a long time. Now, it’s not perfect. Users report that the temperature can be hard to control. But, it’s a fun machine that gives you a little bang for your buck.
Related: The Best Coffee Grinders
Most Versatile: Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer
At 13.7 x 11.4 x 15.4 inches, the Hamilton Beach 2-Way is large but versatile. While not necessarily compact, it's great if you want the option of brewing a single-serve cup of coffee or a 12-cup carafe. It’s programmable, allows you to select brew strength, and has a warming plate for the carafe.
Some users find that the filter for the single-serving side allows too many oils to get through resulting in a cup that’s too bitter or strong. This can be mitigated by cutting down a paper filter, or by using fewer beans. Note that you will need to use your own travel cup.
Best No Frills: Black+Decker DCM600B 5-Cup Coffeemaker
If you're in need of just a straightforward coffee maker, this basic model from Black+Decker will fit the bill. While it comes with no advanced features, it also won't take up a lot of space.
It’s no-frills, with just a 5-cup carafe and a removable filter basket. No 24-hour programming or water filters, just a power switch and a hot plate (there also isn't an auto-shutoff). The 9.75 x 7.25 x 10.75-inch machine might not produce the most awe-inspiring coffee experience, but it will get the job done.
Related: The Best Travel Coffee Mugs
What to Look for in a Drip Coffee Maker
That big, shiny coffee maker catching your eye might be a disaster in your tiny kitchen. Before selecting your coffee maker, consider the size of the maker as well as the carafe. Most coffee makers brew up to 12 cups of coffee. Many will fit under cabinets, but you’ll want to check the dimensions if you’re worried about that. If you don’t need to make coffee for multiple people you might want to consider getting one on the smaller side (four cups or less).
Also, so you know, a cup of brewed coffee is typically four ounces (made with five ounces of water). This can be confusing when you’re used to a cup of liquid measuring eight ounces.
At the most basic level, operating a coffee maker is as simple as pouring water in the reservoir, lining the grounds basket with a filter and filling it with grounds, and pushing a button to make the magic happen. From there, they can have more options which might make your life easier (or more complicated). Some settings you might see include programming a time to start brewing coffee, pause-and-serve which lets you pull the carafe out in the middle of the brewing, a clean cycle that tells you when it’s time to run a vinegar solution through the maker, a water filter (though these can be annoying to maintain), and a permanent filter, and a built-in grinder.
Coffee maker filters work to keep the grounds out of the coffee as well as oils and other sediments. When it comes to coffee maker filters, there are two main materials: paper and metal.
Paper filters come in a variety of sizes, and before choosing one you’ll want to make sure it works with your coffee maker. Most 8-12 cup coffee makers that have conical filters will work with size #2 or #4 filters (view at Amazon). If you have a coffee maker with a basket you’ll want basket-shaped filters (view at Public Goods).
Metal filters are reusable and some coffee makers include them. If yours doesn’t, and you still want one, you’ll want to make sure it’s compatible with your coffee maker.
Besides the reusability, some people like that metal filters allow more oils and sediment to get through. This makes for a more complex-flavored coffee that has a richer body. It’s a matter of preference (and coffee maker capability).
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Lia Picard is a certified coffee lover and has written about coffee for publications like Conde Nast Traveler and HuffPost. During the research process of this story for Simply Recipes, she made multiple trips to the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee from her stainless steel Cuisinart (that she’s had for nearly 10 years!).
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