Best Coffee Makers

Cheapism scoured coffee maker reviews to determine the best cheap coffee makers, including a pour-over model, a French press, and several single-cup brewers.

What We Considered

Most of the coffee makers in this report have at least one expert recommendation from sites such as Consumer Reports, Wirecutter, Good Housekeeping, Top Ten Reviews, and Epicurious. We also evaluated reviews from customers on retail sites such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond to see how the products work with "real world" use.  

We Looked At

How much coffee maker you need depends on how much coffee you drink on a regular basis. A large coffee maker is convenient for a family, frequent guests, or people who just drink a lot of coffee, but it's probably overkill for one light coffee drinker. Moreover, making only one or two cups in a large coffee maker often produces weak coffee, experts say, unless the machine has a special "1-4 cup" or small-batch setting. This function adjusts flow of the water so it spends the proper amount of time in contact with the grounds, producing an optimal pot when you need only a few cups. Also, keep in mind that a "cup" in coffee speak is not an 8-ounce mug; it's more like 4 to 6 ounces. We read plenty of reviews from unhappy buyers claiming that a "four-cup" coffee maker really makes only two cups.

Cup count isn't the only size to think about. Height and footprint are also considerations, because coffee makers generally need to fit under kitchen cabinets, and most have a lid that lifts up to provide access to the water reservoir. A common complaint about most coffee makers is that they have to be moved out from under a cabinet to be filled. Be sure to measure the available space where you want to put the appliance.

Drip coffee makers use either cone-shaped or flat-bottomed basket filters. Some experts (and coffee drinkers) assert that a cone results in a stronger, more flavorful cup of coffee, because the grounds are saturated longer. Others say the difference is subtle, if it's even noticeable. The biggest filter decision to make is whether to use paper filters or a permanent mesh filter. There's no doubt that permanent filters are better for the environment, but some users say they clog too easily and are a hassle to empty and wash. Most of the coffee makers in this report come with a permanent filter, or the manufacturer has one available as an optional purchase.

If you don't want to wait for a full pot to finish brewing, an automatic "pause and serve" option suspends brewing to let you pour a cup before the entire cycle is finished. Almost all automatic coffee makers, including all our top picks that make more than one cup, come with this feature.

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: Coffee makers are not made to last forever. And those with more electronic features also have more that can possibly go wrong. We saw many 1- and 2-star reviews from owners unhappy that their coffee makers conked out after two or three years, a lifespan that might be considered pretty reasonable for a cheap coffee maker. Instead of dwelling on those, we scoured reviews for consistent complaints about leakage — a surprisingly common problem with some models — or a lot of reports of failure within a few months to a year. Coffee makers with that kind of negative feedback were disqualified from our list of top picks.

Our Top Pick

Hamilton Beach BrewStation 48465
Our Picks

The Hamilton Beach BrewStation 48465 is a fully programmable coffee maker that does away with the carafe and stores up to 12 cups of brewed coffee in an internal tank, which dispenses one cup at a time. The tank keeps java hot for up to four hours, and there's a dedicated iced-coffee option. Most reviewers say this model is very easy to fill, use, and clean. The only consistent complaint we saw is that it's slow to brew even a smaller quantity. One last caveat: While this machine doesn't take up much counter space, it's just over 15 inches tall with the lid closed; be sure you have room for it under your cabinets.

  • 12-cup internal reservoir keeps coffee warm and dispenses 1 cup at a time; no need for a carafe or hot plate.

  • Easy to use, fill, and program; tank is removable.

  • 4 brewing options: regular, bold, 1-4 cups, and iced coffee.

  • Slow brew times.

  • Very tall, at 15.16 inches.

Drip coffee makers with thermal carafes are generally more expensive than those with glass carafes, but they've come down in price in recent years. The 10-cup Mr. Coffee BVMC-PSTX91-RB is a relatively inexpensive option that gets good reviews from both experts and users. Thermal coffee makers like this one have an advantage over traditional coffee makers with glass carafes: They can keep coffee hot for hours without the brew taking on that "burnt" flavor from sitting on a hot plate for a while. Also, the insulated carafe can come right to the breakfast table with you. The complaints we spotted mostly centered on leakage, and grounds sometimes overflowing into the cup. Even taking those into account, this fast-brewing, programmable coffee maker is an easy recommendation.

  • Fast brew time of 7 minutes from start to finish; pause and serve feature.

  • Removable water reservoir; water filter to remove chlorine.

  • Permanent filter included.

  • Delay timer and a freshness timer that lets you know how old the coffee is.

  • Thermal carafe keeps coffee hot for about 2 hours, users say.

  • Some reviewers complain of leaking.

  • Filter may overflow at maximum 10-cup capacity.

  • No brew-strength settings.

Cuisinart PerfecTemp DCC-3200

If you have a larger family, frequently make coffee for a crowd, or just drink a lot of coffee yourself, look to the 14-cup Cuisinart DCC-3200. It features two brew-strength settings (regular and bold, for those who like their coffee with an extra kick) and gets props from consumer product experts and owners alike for its ease of use and programming options. Still, some find this this coffee maker difficult to fill and would prefer the convenience of a removable water reservoir. Also, be warned: The large capacity makes for a large machine, so be sure you have the space for this highly popular coffee maker.

  • 2 brew-strength settings: regular and bold.

  • Programmable for delayed start up to 24 hours.

  • Keeps coffee warm for up to 4 hours.

  • Adjustable temperature control on the warming plate.

  • Permanent cone filter included.

  • Charcoal water filter and clean function.

  • Very large footprint.

  • Scattered complaints about difficulty filling the water reservoir and fully emptying the carafe without removing the lid.

  • A few reports of the grinds spilling over or coffee dripping on the hot plate.

While many experts sneer at pod coffee makers, plenty of coffee drinkers appreciate the convenience and wide selection available with these "always ready" coffee machines. If that's you, it's hard to do better than the Keurig K-Classic K50. This Keurig features a large, 48-ounce water reservoir; three cup sizes (8, 10, and 12 ounces); and a super-simple interface. On the downside, K-Cups (and pods in general) are pricey and most are not recyclable, which is problematic for environmentally conscious consumers. You can brew with ground coffee using the optional, reusable filter, but many owners say there's a learning curve.

  • Fast, 1-minute brew time.

  • Always ready to brew.

  • Vast selection of pods.

  • Takes ground coffee with an optional adapter.

  • Easy to use and fill.

  • Pods are expensive compared with ground coffee.

  • Most pods are not biodegradable.

The Hamilton Beach 46205 is a full-featured 12-cup coffee maker that experts and users agree is a great value for the price. It has multiple brew-strength settings, so you can tweak the coffee to your taste, but where this model really shines is in ease of use. The base swivels for easy access to the water reservoir, which is located on the rear of the machine and removable for filling at the faucet. The filter basket swings out with the push of a button, so there's no need to pull this model out from under cabinets or lift a lid to add water and ground coffee. We did spot some leakage and durability complaints, but Hamilton Beach representatives are proactive in responding to unhappy customers online.

  • 3 brew-strength settings, including a 1-4 cup option for smaller pots.

  • Automatic pause and serve feature stops brewing so you can "sneak a cup."

  • Removable water reservoir for easy filling.

  • Doesn't need clearance under cabinets to lift a lid, with the removable reservoir and a swing-out filter basket.

  • Some durability complaints.

  • A few reports of leakage from the reservoir.

Cuisinart DCC-3650

The 12-cup Cuisinart DCC-3650 is easy to use and program, reviewers say. It features two brew-strength settings (regular and bold) and three heat settings (regular, hot, and extra hot) for an even more customized cup. Some users would have preferred a carafe with a hinged lid; they say this one has to be completely removed to get all the coffee out. We also saw complaints of the machine failing in the first year and reports of inadequate customer service. But Cuisinart is a popular name in coffee makers, and experts and users say this coffee maker mostly lives up to the brand's reputation for quality.

  • 2 brew strengths, plus a 1-4 cup option; 3 heat settings.

  • Brew pause.

  • Adjustable temperature control on the warming plate and programmable auto shut-off (0 to 4 hours).

  • Comes with a permanent cone filter.

  • Charcoal water filter; clean light indicates when the coffee maker needs decalcifying.

  • Quite a few reviewers assert that this coffee maker isn't built to last.

  • Some reports of leaks.

Reviewers agree that the Mr. Coffee Simple Brew 4-cup programmable coffee maker is ideal for singles, light coffee drinkers, dorm rooms, and RVs. In spite of its diminutive size, it's programmable, so you can wake up to freshly brewed coffee in the morning. If you forget to set it, the pause and serve function allows you to sneak a cup before brewing is finished. Built-in cord storage makes this coffee machine even more compact and easy to stow in a cupboard, keeping excess length off the countertop or the entire cord neatly tucked away between uses. While some users say that grounds end up in the coffee too frequently, most are very happy with this little coffee machine.

  • Small footprint; great for tight spaces.

  • Programmable delay timer up to 24 hours.

  • Pause and serve function.

  • Cord storage.

  • Hard-to-read display contrast.

  • Some complaints of grounds overflowing.

  • No brew-strength settings.

Never heard of Chulux? Thousands of users say this is a great little machine for light or occasional coffee drinkers. The Chulux Pod Coffee Maker is compatible with all types of K-Cups, and reviewers appreciate that there are so many varieties to choose from. The drip tray is removable to accommodate taller cups, like travel mugs, up to 12 ounces. Brewing is slow, though, taking 3.5 to 4 minutes for a full cup. We also saw reports that you have to keep up with the cleaning cycle or it clogs — although that appears to be an issue mainly for owners who subject this little coffee maker to heavy use.

  • Small footprint; fits under most cupboards.

  • Easy to use: Just fill, insert a pod, lock, and push a button.

  • Compatible with all variations of K-Cup pods.

  • Accepts ground coffee with an optional, reusable filter.

  • Not programmable for delayed start.

  • Slow; brewing can take up to 4 minutes for a single cup.

  • Clogs easily and needs to be cleaned frequently.

  • Maximum 12-ounce capacity.

Bonavita Connoisseur BV1901TS

This automatic pour-over coffee maker is popular with experts, but users have more than a few quibbles. Specifically, you have to remove the lid to brew, then remove the carafe to put the lid back on — which allows significant heat loss, especially if you happen to be out of the room when it finishes. The "done" signal alerts you when the water is done heating, not when it's done dripping, leaving you to guess when it's time to pull out the carafe. Many reviewers also note that the carafe leaks when pouring, even after a redesign by Bonavita. While part of this coffee machine's purported charm is its simplicity, many users still wish it were programmable, so they wouldn't have to mess with it in the morning.

  • Brews at an optimal temperature prescribed by the National Coffee Association.

  • "Shower head" technology evenly distributes water over the grounds.

  • Awkward design affects the temperature of the brewed coffee.

  • Leaky carafe, according to some reviews.

  • Very few features for the price.

  • "Done" signal is premature.

Other Products We Reviewed

Hamilton Beach Ensemble 43254

Many consumers posting Hamilton Beach Ensemble reviews admire the 43254 model for its sleek, contemporary black and stainless-steel styling. Purchasers of the red version, model 43253, often comment on the snazzy color. But more important, consumers who have bought one of these basic coffee makers seem to find them solid machines that make good coffee, judging by reviews. While expert testers have found that the water temperature does not consistently reach 195 degrees, making for less than optimal brewing, consumers posting reviews on Amazon report that the coffee itself comes out quite hot.

The Hamilton Beach Ensemble 43254 (starting at $38, Amazon) has a 12-cup capacity, and no small batch setting, so it's good for a large family or any household that consumes a lot of coffee. It uses basket-type coffee filters and boasts a water filter to remove chlorine. The manufacturer touts the drip-free spout on the glass carafe, although consumers seem to disagree on the extent to which this is effective; some say the spot where the plastic rim meets the glass is prone to leaking. The pause-and-serve feature seems a greater concern. This is supposed to pause the cycle before it's complete, so you can remove the pot to pour out the first cup, but many consumers report in Hamilton Beach Ensemble reviews that coffee leaks out when you pull out the pot.

While most reviewers seem to find the coffee-making process easy, having to lift the lid on a 14-inch-high coffee maker requires most users to move it out from underneath their cabinets. Several consumers complain in Hamilton Beach Ensemble reviews that the opening on the water reservoir is way too small, making it easy to spill. As far as durability is concerned, one reviewer posting on Amazon bought the Hamilton Beach Ensemble 43254 for her son who was deployed in Afghanistan and used it to make five pots a day for a year. It was still going when the son left it for new recruits upon his return to the U.S.

Black & Decker Brew 'n Go DCM18S

The Black & Decker Brew 'n Go DCM18S has been around for many years in one iteration or another, and for good reason: It's a very handy little appliance if your main focus is coffee to go. It brews from grounds or soft pods into the included travel mug — or any cup you'd like to use. While the capacity is up to 15 ounces, we did see quite a few comments that the water doesn't always brew completely, leaving some in the reservoir. Several users note that they have to push the brew button a second or third time to get a full cup. Still, those complaints are in the minority; most reviewers are fond of this little coffee maker.

  • Small footprint; makes one cup at a time.

  • Versatile; brews from soft pods or grounds.

  • Includes a travel mug that users say keeps coffee hot.

  • Comes with a permanent cone filter.

  • Not programmable.

  • Doesn't always brew completely.

  • Not enough capacity for heavy coffee drinkers.

Hamilton Beach BrewStation Summit

Hamilton Beach BrewStation Summit Review

Hamilton Beach BrewStation reviews indicate that much of the appeal of these machines lies in their carafe-less design. The 48464 model stores 12 cups of coffee in an internal thermal tank, rather than in a pot, and dispenses the coffee directly into a mug. The tank and filter basket lift out for washing. Numerous consumers note in reviews that the coffee doesn't taste burned because it's not sitting on a hotplate. This model can be adjusted to turn off automatically after anywhere from zero to four hours, where most other cheap coffee makers, including those on our list, stay on for no longer than two hours. According to reviews at hhgregg, the coffee inside the tank stays hot and tastes good for the full four hours.

The Hamilton Beach BrewStation Summit 48464 (starting at $47, Amazon) can be set to four different brewing modes: regular, bold (for stronger flavor without having to add more grounds), iced, and 1-4 cups (for optimum brewing of smaller batches). The BrewStation Summit uses a basket filter and, like an ordinary automatic-drip coffee maker, has a reservoir that must be filled with water. At almost 17 inches high, this coffee maker is taller than many other models, which means that users generally have to move it out from under cabinets to lift the lid and get to the reservoir. Several consumers who have posted Hamilton Beach BrewStation reviews at Amazon note that you also have to lift out the tank and filter basket, which they find irksome.

One red flag: We found evidence of spills and leakage in Hamilton Beach BrewStation reviews on multiple sites. Consumers posit various explanations for this at Amazon and elsewhere. Some point to condensation on the inside that drips when you open up the coffee maker to fill the reservoir, or to a hole in the back that drains water if you overfill the reservoir. More than one reviewer notes the importance of cleaning the coffee maker regularly to help prevent leaks.

While issues sometimes arise, many people seem to be repeat buyers of Hamilton Beach BrewStation machines, picking them up for their offices, their relatives, and anywhere or anyone else in need of a good budget coffee maker.

Mr. Coffee JWX27

Mr. Coffee JWX27 Review

For the price, this model represents a good value, users say in Mr. Coffee JWX27 reviews. It's a programmable, 12-cup coffee maker that experts credit with the ability to heat water to 195 degrees for optimal brewing. An expert reviewer at HowStuffWorks found that the average temperature of the resulting coffee was 178 degrees. Users posting reviews on a consumer products testing site confirm that the machine brews good, hot coffee. Some consumers commenting at Sears and Walmart gripe that the brew cycle takes a particularly long time. Others appreciate that the machine keeps coffee hot for the full two hours that the plate under the carafe stays on.

Consumers posting Mr. Coffee JWX27 reviews at Walmart comment that it's easy to open the coffee maker, load the grounds, and empty the filter basket. This budget machine also boasts a few convenient features. A brew-strength selector lets you opt to have the water go through somewhat more slowly to make a stronger cup of coffee without having to add more grounds. The machine also comes with an indicator that lets you know when it's time to clean the coffee maker. A dedicated cleaning cycle removes mineral deposits using white household vinegar (or a branded cleaner that is sold separately). According to the manufacturer, a water filtration system removes up to 97% of the chlorine, which can mar the taste of coffee. Consumers who have posted reviews on Amazon appreciate that it's easy to clean the glass carafe and the filter basket, which are top-rack dishwasher-safe.

The Mr. Coffee JWX27 (starting at $35, Amazon) is 14 inches tall, so users often have to pull it out from under cabinets to lift the lid and get to the water reservoir. The ever-present complaints about drippy carafes and durability do turn up in Mr. Coffee JWX27 reviews, although less frequently than with some other budget models. Many users have faced no such problems and find this a convenient, reliable coffee maker.

Cuisinart DCC-450

A 4-cup coffee maker can be ideal for people who have limited counter space or make only a mug or two of coffee in the morning, and consumers find the design of this little machine appealing, according to Cuisinart DCC-450 reviews. The stainless-steel carafe attracts people who worry about breaking a glass pot, and the coffee maker comes in not just black but also red and pink. However, that's not enough for a few users who have posted reviews on Overstock.com, given that they can't seem to pour coffee from this pot without it spilling all over the counter.

Cuisinart touts the so-called dripless pour spout, but too many consumers to ignore deem that description woefully inaccurate. Several purchasers who have posted Cuisinart DCC-450 reviews at Macy's say they've junked the coffee maker because it leaks so badly. One pours coffee over the sink to avoid puddles on the counter. A consumer commenting at Amazon agrees that no matter how or where you pour, this pot is bound to make a mess.

Consumers posting reviews at Chef's Catalog give the machine credit for making coffee quickly. They also like the easy-to-use design, with no programmability.

The Cuisinart DCC-450 (starting at $21, Amazon) does have 30-minute automatic shut-off. This may seem appropriate for a machine that makes just two mugs of coffee, and most consumers posting reviews seem to consider it a blessing, but it irritates some people. On Amazon, for instance, one user gripes that the machine shuts off just as it's time for the second cup, leaving the remaining coffee cold.

We also found consistent reports of durability issues. Several Cuisinart DCC-450 reviews note that one explanation for the leaky carafe is a poor seal between the metal carafe and the plastic spout. A few consumers mention that the heating plate lost its coating very quickly. On the other hand, a few consumers who posted at Chef's Catalog have been using this coffee maker for years. The Cuisinart DCC-450 also comes with a better-than-average three-year warranty.

Unlike most other budget coffee makers, the Cuisinart DCC-450 uses a cone filter, which experts say yields a better brew. At only 10 inches tall, it will fit under most any cabinet, and users seem to find it easy to fill and clean. The small size is touted over and over again as a plus for those who don't need a gallon of coffee in the morning. Still, that can't compensate for the irritation of using a drippy, leaky pot -- wiping up a kitchen counter is not the kind of thing one wants to bother with first thing in the morning.

lg melitta lg

It may be less convenient than an automatic pot, but unlike almost all drip coffee makers, the super cheap Melitta 10-Cup Pour-Over Coffee Brewer (starting at $13, Amazon) has almost perfect ratings in consumer reviews.

It comes with a large plastic cone for holding paper filters, which is placed over a glass carafe -- bare-bones and efficient. This model is simple to use, it's durable, and the enthusiasts at CoffeeGeek say it simply makes some of the best coffee you can drink. As users repeat in reviews, the key to the Melitta’s success is that it offers control over the coffee-making process. Java Jenius explains that pouring all the water through the filter at once makes a weaker but smoother coffee. Pouring carefully and slowly yields a stronger brew. This method of using just-boiled water and saturating the grounds ensures that the flavor is fully extracted from the coffee, says an expert writing at Serious Eats.

Many Melitta adherents came to this model after becoming disgusted with the death rate of automatic drip machines. One Amazon reviewer, for instance, claims to have gone through one every two years. Another did a back-to-back taste test with an expensive automatic drip machine and found that the taste of the coffee from this little low-tech device was less bitter, smoother, and far superior. On the Walmart website, a reviewer notes that it’s useful to have around during a power failure.

There are some drawbacks, of course, to using a pour-over model. For one, it's labor intensive. You have to boil water and stand over the brew cone to pour the water, whether you stir it or not. Also, there is no heated plate on which the carafe can sit -- although coffee could be brewed directly into an insulated pot instead. Finally, canned coffee bought at the supermarket will not turn out that well with the cone-shaped Melitta, which requires more finely ground coffee.

These drawbacks aside, you can’t buy a better coffee maker for the money -- or even for a lot more money.

Bodum Chambord_250.jpg

If you are a coffee purist who grinds or even roasts your own coffee, then a cheap automatic drip pot will almost assuredly not be for you. For a distinctive cup from carefully nurtured beans, a Bodum Chambord 8-Cup French Press (starting at $31, Amazon) is for many coffee lovers the best means to the perfect brew. The coffee gurus at Java Jenius say the reason coffee from a French press is so incredibly flavorful is that both the amount of coffee and the steeping time can be individually determined.

Unlike automatic drip machines, the procedure for making French press coffee is a bit complicated. The coffee enthusiasts at CoffeeGeek suggest pouring almost-boiling water over coarsely ground coffee in the pot, stirring the resulting mix with a chopstick about six times, putting in the filter assembly, steeping for 3 to 4 minutes, and then pressing down the plunger. Why are people willing to go through all this just for a cup of coffee? The coffee geeks say it delivers a richer cup of coffee than any other method, and hundreds of consumer reviewers agree.

The Bodum Chambord French Press is the original design, consisting of a glass carafe surrounded by a chrome-plated steel frame and locking lid with a plunger that has a mesh filter. This is not like the paper filters that go in automatic coffee makers -- it allows sediment into the coffee. But Serious Eats asserts that this highlights the aromas and makes coffee-drinking a full sensory experience. Bodum Chambord reviews from Starbucks stress that the French press is easy to use and to clean. And it always works, unlike automatic pots. The 34-ounce size (which makes about 8 4-ounce cups) is just under 10 inches tall.

While many users wax rhapsodic about the Bodum Chambord French Press, there are a few downsides to it. The first is that coffee sitting in the pot will continue to steep and get stronger, so it's best to move whatever coffee you’re not drinking into an insulated carafe to keep it hot. In addition, there will be some sediment when you get down to the last cup.

That said, there are legions of people who say they will never go back to a drip coffee maker once they have tasted coffee made in a French press.

This stylish, programmable coffee maker boasts myriad features rare in the budget price range. One advantage it has over similar 12-cup pots is a specific setting for brewing only one or two mugs of coffee. Black & Decker CM1650B reviews say this turns out a better, more robust brew than a conventional 12-cup cycle if you're making a small batch. Other features include a charcoal filter that purifies the water and a brew-strength selector that makes a stronger cup without requiring the user to add more coffee -- a money-saving perk that also keeps the coffee from turning out too bitter. The machine comes with a permanent (basket) filter, although some users posting reviews at Walmart actually prefer to use paper filters for easier cleanup.

Admirers of the Black & Decker CM1650B (starting at $50, Amazon) say it's easy to use and turns out good, hot coffee. Some like the looks of the clock, saying they can see it from across the room, but others report that it's stopped working -- an unforgivable sin in the eyes of those who count on a programmable pot to have coffee ready when they wake up.

Still, this coffee maker wins over many consumers posting Black & Decker CM1650B reviews at Amazon with its convenient features. These include Sneak-A-Cup, which stops the brewing process long enough for coffee drinkers to pour out their first cup. Like other coffee makers with glass carafes, this one has a heating plate to keep the coffee warm. Unlike most other budget pots, however, it lets users adjust the length of time that the heater stays on, to between one and four hours.

While a few consumers have found that the so-called Perfect Pour carafe can get pretty messy, we found far fewer complaints about dripping in Black & Decker CM1650B reviews than for others in its price range. Few consumers posting reviews seem to have owned the coffee maker long enough to report on its durability, although at least one user comments on its sturdiness at a consumer products testing site.

With its remarkable batch of features, the Black & Decker CM1650B seems a good value for the price.

Capresso 5 Cup Mini Drip_250.jpg

Capresso 5-Cup Mini Drip Review

The Capresso brand is marketed by a Swiss manufacturer of fairly high-end personal and professional coffee and espresso brewers. In the Capresso 5-Cup Mini Drip (starting at $40; available on Amazon), consumers get a compact, affordable coffee maker made with an eye to functionality and the quality of more expensive machines.

The Capresso 5-Cup Mini Drip serves just a few mugs of coffee at a time, something people with small households appreciate. It doesn’t have a lot of special features -- just the standard add-ons that most cheap coffee makers have -- but Capresso 5-Cup Mini Drip reviews from Bed Bath & Beyond and Abt point out that it is well designed. The stylish little coffee maker is simple to use, easy to fill, and made with optimal ergonomics in mind. Bad carafe design is endemic in cheap coffee makers, making it difficult to pour coffee without spilling it all over the place, but the Capresso Mini Drip, with its specially configured handle and pour spout, seems to have no problem there.

Another issue with cheap coffee makers is that the water often runs through the grounds at a sluggish pace, leaving behind a bitter brew. Capresso machines are designed to achieve a quick end result with ideal extraction, taking about one minute per cup to brew. Users generally say their taste buds are satisfied and the coffee comes out hot. One Amazon customer actually measured the temperature of the water as it came into the basket at 190 degrees, only just short of the 195-to-205-degree range that experts suggest.

The Capresso 5-Cup Mini Drip comes with a permanent gold-tone mesh filter that eliminates the need to buy paper filters. While some people use them anyway, to save on cleanup, others like the fact that the mesh lets through some of the coffee sediment and provides a more flavorful brew. This coffee maker is programmable, with a 24-hour timer, although a few customers find it a little cumbersome to use.

So far, reports of premature demise are hard to find, and there is a one-year warranty on the Capresso 5-Cup Mini Drip.

For a very low price, the Black & Decker DLX1050 (starting at $22; available on Amazon) offers the same features as any other low-price coffee maker. It comes in simple black (DLX1050B) and white (DLX1050W) and doesn’t have any extras -- but adherents insist it doesn’t really need any. Most important, it makes a decent cup of coffee quickly at a fairly good temperature.

Coffee drinkers who like to program the Black & Decker DLX1050 ahead of time say it’s a snap to accomplish. The simple functionality is easily one of the machine's best features, and several people claim that they never needed to use the instructions. There is also a mid-brew pause-and-serve feature for a quick first cup. Most Black & Decker DLX1050 reviews on Amazon say it works well, although others claim that it causes coffee to spill all over the place.

The Black & Decker DLX1050 takes standard basket filters. The manufacturer touts this coffee maker's Easy-View water window, but that’s a misnomer -- one of the biggest complaints about this machine is that it’s hard to see the water level once you’ve filled the reservoir. Still, that's not a deal breaker for consumers used to measuring the water before pouring it in.

People who drink their coffee over the course of the day agree that the hot plate actually does keep the coffee hot enough, and they like that it automatically shuts off after two hours. Some purchasers would rather have a longer window, though.

Despite many reports of a brief lifespan for the Black & Decker DLX1050, some reviewers posting on Viewpoints have been using theirs for years and say they would never switch; one refused to let his wife replace it. There is a two-year limited warranty.

The opposite of the coffee connoisseur is the person who is busy in the morning and just wants a good, fresh, hot cup of coffee. The Mr. Coffee CG13 (starting at $15; available on Amazon) is a 12-cup coffee maker with no special attributes, other than a pause-and-serve feature that stops the machine so you can pour a cup while the coffee is still brewing. It’s as cheap as can be and as easy as pouring water into the pot. The machine has only one button, to turn it on and off, and a light (and apparently a clicking noise at times) that indicates that the machine is operating. There is also a white model, the CG12.

The Mr. Coffee CG13 has a water window to show where the water level is as you pour it into the machine. And, lest users get overzealous with pouring, there are two overflow holes at the back, so the pot cannot be overfilled. There is a hot plate underneath the carafe, but it does not shut off automatically, so if the machine is not turned off manually, the coffee can get scorched after a while. This bothers some users who have left Mr. Coffee CG13 reviews on the manufacturer’s site, but most people don’t mind it; they simply remember to turn the coffee maker off as soon as the brew cycle has finished. The Mr. Coffee CG13 uses ordinary paper basket filters, although a permanent filter is available separately.

Many Mr. Coffee CG13 adherents posting reviews at Walmart.com say they simply love the machine, and many of them re-purchase it -- which they might have to do fairly often. Although some users own machines that have been going for years, many others report that the coffee maker died after a few months or even started smoking. But for people who want a simple, non-fancy machine that makes a good pot of coffee for a low price, the Mr. Coffee CG13 is a winner.

A low-priced coffee maker with a thermal carafe that can keep coffee warm without scorching it on a heating plate is a real find. Unfortunately, most reviewers suggest that the coffee produced by the Mr. Coffee JWTX85 (starting at $38; available on Amazon) isn’t worth keeping around.

The Mr. Coffee JWTX85 is an 8-cup programmable coffee maker with a stainless steel thermal carafe intended to keep the brew at the same temperature for a few hours. Many Mr. Coffee JWTX85 reviews at Walmart complain about cold coffee, however, saying the carafe does not work as intended.

To be fair, there are some reviewers, such as this one on Amazon, who consider the coffee flavorful, rich, and warm enough. There are also some people who say they don’t like very hot coffee. Several others insist that if you carefully follow the instructions, and fill the carafe with hot water to warm it prior to brewing, the coffee will be hot. Of course, filling the carafe with hot water first is not an option if you’re programming it the night before the coffee gets made. For the most part, disappointment with the carafe -- which includes frustration associated with opening, closing, and cleaning it -- and the tepid coffee are reviewers' primary reasons for panning the machine.

There are other features on the Mr. Coffee JWTX85 that do improve the coffee experience, reviewers say. A brew-strength selector pumps up the volume for a stronger cup of coffee, and Grab-A-Cup Auto Pause lets users sneak in for that immediate mug when necessary. The machine automatically shuts off after two hours as a boon to the forgetful. It also has a cleaning cycle.

All in all, there are good pots with thermal carafes to be had out there, but not for this price, and not this model.

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This single-serve coffee maker (starting at $35; available on Amazon) is called The Scoop because users fill an included scoop with their choice of ground coffee rather than inserting a pod. Users measure out coffee grounds with the mesh scoop filter and place it directly in the coffee maker. The next step is to pour water into the reservoir from any 8- to 14-ounce mug, select regular or bold, and wait less than two and a half minutes for a cup to brew. A little platform turns upside down to raise smaller mugs closer to the pouring apparatus.

The bold setting should be used, says the manufacturer, when filling the scoop with premium coffee with a finer grind. The water will sit in the grounds somewhat longer, extracting more of the flavor. Even on this setting, though, some users say too much coffee is needed to make a strong cup. In reviews on Target.com, users say the coffee comes out plenty hot.

Cleanup is a snap, according to reviews. There are just three moving parts: the scoop, the second filter, and the filter holder. All these rinse out very quickly under the tap, or can be put in the dishwasher. One user notes in a review on Walmart.com that it's important to clean this machine after every use, as the mesh on the steel filters can easily become clogged with coffee residue. Hamilton Beach suggests using a vinegar and water solution once a month, and then running a few cycles of plain water. Some reviewers warn that a fine grind of coffee sometimes leaves grounds in the cup after brewing. Adding a paper filter can fix this problem.

This is a simple machine that shuts off automatically after a cup is made. Its main advantage, as far as users are concerned, is that it takes ground coffee -- no pods -- so it's not wasteful or expensive. At just 8.67 inches high and 6.7 inches wide, The Scoop Single-Serve Coffee Maker also has a smaller-than-average footprint that its adherents appreciate. It comes with a one-year limited warranty.

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It’s difficult to find a single-serve coffee maker that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and yet provides a hot, rich-tasting brew. The many fans of the Capresso On-the-Go Personal Coffee Maker (starting at $40; available on Amazon) believe they have had this seemingly unattainable wish fulfilled.

The Capresso On-the-Go Personal Coffee Maker has a permanent filter that fits into a small basket, and getting the coffee brewing is as simple as measuring a few tablespoons of coffee and using the included stainless steel travel mug to fill the water reservoir. The cycle is complete in less than four minutes, fast enough to satisfy coffee lovers in a hurry, but long enough to gain some strength from the coffee grounds. Users appreciate that they can add their own coffee, ground the way they prefer it, and in an amount that will procure the perfect cup. An Amazon reviewer was so amazed by the flavor that it inspired the purchase of a coffee grinder and gourmet beans, and a whole new world of coffee drinking opened up.

It is also possible to use soft pods with this machine, but in general, reviewers say the resulting coffee isn't as good as they get with grounds. Indeed, the experts at Seattle Coffee Gear recommend using freshly ground beans, which worked best in their testing.

The movable parts (mug, filter, and filter basket) are all dishwasher-safe and need to be cleaned after each use. One downside, which no reviewers cited as a deal breaker, is that some condensation drips out of the coffee maker after the brew cycle is finished. And some grounds find their way into the mug, users complain, particularly when using a fine grind.

A few people lament on Amazon that the Capresso On-the-Go was short-lived, but many reviewers, both on that site and Bed Bath & Beyond, praise the machine for being well worth the money. They contend it performed as well as, if not better than, much higher-priced and more popular single-serve models. Others are also happy with the small footprint, which is just a little bigger than the mug that comes with it.

That the manufacturer advertises a “precision pour carafe with a plastic lip for a dripless pour” would make many buyers of the Farberware 12-Cup Coffee Maker sneer. Every time a cup is poured, some reviewers claim, the coffee goes everywhere, no matter how they try to maneuver the pot.

As one reviewer puts it on Amazon, one cup gets filled for every two that get on the counter. Farberware 12-Cup Coffee Maker reviews at Walmart, for which the Farberware 103744 is exclusively made, say the water also leaks out of the vents on the reservoir if it gets filled to capacity. Nonetheless, a product testing site recommends the Farberware 103744 (starting at $40, Amazon) for its convenience, ease of use, and setup, although, like most cheap coffee makers, this one does not get up to the optimal water temperature or brew time.

These issues aside, the Farberware 12-Cup Coffee Maker has a lot of features admired by users who actually like the machine. Programming is easy, reviewers say, and they appreciate that the brew strength can be adjusted to taste. There are four brew settings: strong, gourmet, bold, and normal. The distinctions among these settings are a bit unclear, but adherents like the fact that this machine can make a stronger cup. There is a charcoal filter to remove most of the chlorine from tap water, although it needs to be replaced every few months. Some people find it difficult to locate replacements, but Walmart sells six for less than $5. The hot plate shuts off automatically after two hours, but that can be extended to four hours. Note: We saw at least one report of the coating wearing off this hot plate relatively quickly and sticking to the bottom of the carafe.

The Farberware 12-Cup Coffee Maker 103744 comes with a two-year limited warranty.

For shoppers who can't decide between a single-serve coffee maker, like a Keurig, or a more traditional model that makes a full pot, the Hamilton Beach 49976 does both. The full-pot side brews up to 12 cups directly into a carafe; the single-serve side can brew up to 12 ounces from a K-Cup or 14 ounces from grounds. All that flexibility gives it a large footprint — like having two coffee makers on the counter. We also saw complaints of the single-serve side failing prematurely. But this coffee machine is versatile and replete with features: a delay timer, keep-warm mode, auto-off function, and more.

  • Makes a full pot or a single-serve cup.

  • Accommodates grounds and K-Cups.

  • Programmable on the full-pot side.

  • 2 brew-strength options: bold and regular.

  • Slow brew times on both sides.

  • Large footprint.

  • Some durability issues with the single-serve side.

Oxo 9-Cup Coffee Maker

In order for a coffee maker to meet standards set by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, it must be able to heat and hold the water to the recommended temperature of 197.6 to 204.8 degrees for four to eight minutes. The Oxo Barista Brain 9-Cup Coffee Maker does just that, earning it a rare SCA certification. You can program the time you want it to start and sneak a cup while it's still brewing. One constant complaint we noted is that the machine continues to drip after the carafe is removed — sometimes significantly. Users say the thermal carafe keeps the coffee hot for about two hours.

  • Brews at an optimal temperature.

  • Rainmaker "shower head" evenly distributes water over the grounds.

  • Very simple to use.

  • Thermal carafe keeps coffee hot, and a freshness timer shows how long it's been sitting.

  • Pricey.

  • Some complaints of drips/leaks.

Buying Guide

Choosing a Coffee Maker

About two-thirds of American adults drink coffee every day, according to a 2018 survey by the National Coffee Association. Many get their coffee from a local coffee shop, but that can get pricey over the long run — and it also doesn't help them get going in the morning before leaving the house. That's where a good, reliable coffee maker comes in. A full-featured, programmable coffee maker can be had for less than the price of a week's worth of Starbucks. And you don't have to stand in line.

There is a vast array of coffee makers out there, from pour-over cones to French presses to espresso machines. In this report, we cover drip coffee makers — both with and without a removable carafe — and single-serve coffee makers in a range of sizes to fit any kitchen or lifestyle. All our picks are highly affordable and get props from experts and/or users in online reviews.

Pricey vs. Cheap Drip Coffee Makers

Unless you're really into coffee — or high-end appliances (which is A-OK!) — there's no reason to buy an expensive drip coffee maker. You can buy a highly rated model for $25 to $100. Even welcome convenience features don't necessarily add to the price: Virtually all drip coffee makers have, at the very least, brew pause and automatic shut-off. Most have a programmable timer, although the very cheapest coffee makers have only an on/off switch. Thermal carafes are generally more expensive than glass carafes, but even they have come down in price in recent years.

What does add to the price is technology that precisely heats and distributes the water. Some coffee makers time the gradual release of the water, or trap the water for a specified period of time to allow the grounds to "bloom" and extract maximum flavor. The most expensive coffee maker in this report, the $200 Oxo 9-Cup Coffee Maker, features a trademarked Rainmaker "shower head" that evenly disperses the water over the grounds. This and other high-end models also heat the water to the temperature recommended by the Specialty Coffee Association of America — between 197.6 and 207.8 — for four to eight minutes. The question is: Does all that expensive technology work? On the one hand, the pricey Oxo coffee maker earns no higher ratings from users than the $25 Hamilton Beach 46205. But you might notice a difference if you have an especially discerning palate.

Single-Serve Coffee Makers

As their name implies, single-cup coffee makers brew one cup of coffee at a time. Some use single-serve pods, most notably Keurig coffee makers, which originated the concept. Others use ground coffee that you put in a small, reusable filter. There are also machines that do both, and many Keurig machines also come with a reusable filter, or you can purchase one as an optional accessory. Most single-serve coffee makers also dispense hot water for tea, hot cereal, or instant soup. There are some legitimate environmental concerns with pods. Many are not recyclable, but many are, and Keurig has pledged to make all its pods recyclable by 2020. Pods also cost a lot more per cup than ground coffee does, so they are not a budget-conscious choice unless you drink coffee only occasionally. They also provide a variety of options for guests or a shared space like an office.