The Best Coffee Makers
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.
Our Top Pick
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.
Hamilton Beach 46205 Review
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.
Cuisinart DCC-3650 Review
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.
Mr. Coffee Simple Brew DRX5-RB Review
Available from Target
- 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.
Takeaway: 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; 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.
Takeaway: 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.