There are many different types of coffee maker, all them serving the same purpose – to mix hot water with ground coffee, and then filter out the grinds.
As a general guideline, the more you are in search of convenience, the more expensive your choice of coffee maker will be. As for the quality of the brew itself, the added cost won’t make much difference.
You can make a great cup of coffee with some of the simplest coffee makers – like a French press or $10 manual drip coffee cone.
On this page we’ll look at some of the best coffee makers you can choose from.
Which one you decide on comes down to a number of factors. How much coffee do you drink each day? How much counter space do you have? Does the look and design of your coffee maker matter to you?
Keep these questions in mind as you explore the different options.
Enter the new world of K-Cup Coffee, Pod Coffee and Disc Coffee.
It’s a bit like VHS and Betamax. These are all competing “One-cup” presentations fighting for the lion’s share of the market.
Here’s the deal. You buy a particular brand of single-serve coffee maker, and then buy these single-serve K-Cups or Pods of ground coffee. If the machine is designed for use with K Cups, you can’t use Pods, and vice versa.
There’s plenty more to say on the subject, which is why we have devoted a separate page to single cup coffee brewers.
The drip brewer is the commonest and one of the best coffee makers. You probably have one at work, and maybe at home too. You just put ground coffee in a paper filter, fill a reservoir with water, turn the brewer on and watch the glass carafe fill with coffee.
So long as you have a good model, and the water hits the coffee grounds at the right temperature, drip brewers can make a great cup of coffee.
But they do have one disadvantage. And if you have ever poured yourself a cup of coffee an hour or two after it was made in a drip brewer, you know what that problem tastes like.
Here’s what happens...these glass carafes are on a hotplate, to keep the coffee hot. The trouble is, after a while, the heat from the hotplate starts “cooking” the coffee.
If you are going to use a drip brewer, make just enough coffee for the amount you want to drink over the next thirty minutes or so. If you want more coffee an hour or two later, make a fresh brew.
Alternatively, you can buy a brewer with a quality thermal carafe.
If you are looking to buy a drip coffee maker, you can almost certainly find one locally. But it is worth researching online first, as drip brewers come in a huge variety of models, with many different features. If you find one you like, and it’s not a model you’d find in your local stores, you can probably find it at Amazon.
UPDATE: Before you buy a drip brewer, we sure to read our review of the Bonavita BV1800. We have one and it's by far the best drip brewer we have ever tried.
The French press - also known as a press pot or coffee press - is essentially a glass beaker with vertical sides and a plunger with a mesh filter on it. You put the coffee grounds in the jar, pour in the hot water, put the lid on and press down the plunger after about 4 minutes.
Presto. You have a wonderful, rich cup of coffee.
It's one of the best coffee makers you'll ever use. In fact, if you go into a quality coffee shop and ask for a single, straight coffee – which they don’t have ready-brewed – they’ll often use a French press to make it.
That is one of the weird and wonderful things about making coffee. More expensive brewing systems don’t make better coffee. They just make the process of making it a little more convenient.
For more detailed information, and a video demonstration, we have a separate page devoted to the French press.
If you want the French press process, but with a modern twist, there are a couple of new brewers on the market that have made some interesting tweaks to the traditional design. If you like an elegant stainless steel design, check out the Espro. Or, for something more sturdy you can take on your travels, take a look at the Impress coffee brewer.
There is some debate over whether or not percolators make a good cup of gourmet coffee.
Purists say you shouldn’t use them. Fans of percolators dismiss these objections and claim that percolated coffee is richer and better tasting than anything made with a drip brewer.
In my view, a percolator is great for making your everyday cup of coffee. I use one myself sometimes. But I wouldn't use a percolator if I were tasting a really good, quality coffee. There are other methods, like to French press or Chemex, that do a much better job of bringing out the more subtle flavors of a quality coffee.
If you want to try one, and can’t find any locally, they have plenty of percolators at Amazon.com.
At the end of the day, everyone has different ideas about which are the best coffee makers. It has nothing much to do with expert opinions, and everything to do with your own tastes and lifestyle.
Just keep in mind that some of the simplest brewers make excellent coffee, and never break down.
That's one of the weird thing about coffee makers - the more you spend, the greater the convenience. But paying extra doesn't mean you get better coffee.
If you want to know which brewing methods some of the industry's top experts recommend, read: Find out which type of coffee makers the professionals use at home.
And, if you are about to buy a new coffee maker, you might also want to look at the models that have received a Certification from the SCAA. (Specialty Coffee Association of America.) Do that and you can be sure that your brewer is technically able to brew a good cup of coffee.
Further reading on home coffee makers...
About the author: Nick Usborne, aka Coffee Detective, is a writer and long-time coffee enthusiast. Read more…
There are so many different types and brands of coffee maker to choose from. But over time we find the type and brand that suits us best. Which coffee maker do YOU use? What do you like about it, and why?
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Sunbeam AP-20 automatic 10-cup percolator.
My percolator is 50yrs old and makes excellent coffee. I like that it has a dial that allows me to control the strength of the coffee so I get a perfect …
Honestly its expensive ,but it worth every cent when you taste the coffee.. It uses the coffee capsules, although it's kinda stupid cuz its restricted …
Melitta makes the very best...coffee!
Many, many years ago I received an offer from Gevalia Kaffe that I couldn't resist: a pound of coffee and a Melitta coffeemaker for $10.00, with no further …
Percolators get a bad rap
Even though percolators overextract grounds, what a percolator does is insulate coffee from its worst enemy, which is air. If you buy vintage, the …
Still searching for a stainless coffee maker - healthier option
I've been searching everywhere for a stainless option to the percolator. I love the idea of the single cups you've reviewed, but they all have plastic …
BUNN ... why restaurants know best!
Walk in any restaurant and the majority of Coffee Makers will be BUNN. Thus, why not buy one for home. I have had one at home since the 1980's. They are …
I tried them all, Percolators are the best! GE Immersible 1970
I always had a hard time making a good cup of coffee at home. I grind my own beans, filtered water etc. I had many different coffee makers Bunn pour over, …
Hello Kitty coffee maker
I use Hello Kitty Coffee Maker.its pink and cute as heck.it does the job well.been using it for about 2 years.I LOVE COFFEE !!!!
West Bend 5-9 cup Percolator
Have not used lately? Any comments? Editor's Note: The West Bend 5-9 cup Percolator seems to be an older model, and I can't find any feedback on that …
Coffee percolator is the best way to brew coffee
Coffee Percolator makes the BEST coffee compared to the Drip coffee maker. The flavor comes out the strongest using a Percolator. More on coffee percolators: …
My coffee maker is a fully automatic coffee maker which is like a mini version of the huge automatic machines you see in coffee houses. Just make sure …
Technivorm - Moccamaster
An excellent coffeemaker. Very simple design seldom requires cleaning, which is very easily done when needed. Brews at just the right temperature. …
Eva Solo Cafe Solo
If you like the taste of french press coffee, you'll love the Eva Solo. It's basically a glass carafe with a neoprene zippered cover to keep the coffee …
I know it's probably not the best but I'm quite happy with my mr. coffee machine mainly because I bought the model that instead of a glass pot and hot …
Hourglass Cold Brew Coffee Maker
I suffer from acid reflux and had to stop drinking coffee for awhile until I discovered cold brew coffee. I just found a new one that is much easier to …
We love our Cuisinart Grind & Brew coffee maker
We have always liked grinding our own beans. We buy beans so the coffee is always fresh, but also so we have a big choice of different coffees to choose …
Could do without the unprofessional tone & the misinformation? Not rated yet
The way this page is written up does not come off like a balanced evaluation of the coffee brewing options but a dated rehash of "conventional wisdom", …
Various questions about coffees and coffee makers Not rated yet
I use only the vacuum brewing method and employ the new Yama 5 or 8 cup models. NOTE: You can get Yama vacuum coffee makers at Amazon.