Best Coffee Maker of 2021
$169.99 at Amazon
$296.92 at Amazon
$94.99 at Amazon
$177.90 at Amazon
$309.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Great taste, easy to use, single-cup brewing option||Great taste, almost endless adjustability||Great taste, relatively inexpensive considering its taste quality||Good taste for a pod machine, incredibly easy to use and clean||Good taste, unique aesthetics|
|Cons||Expensive||Surprisingly loud, very expensive||Not as thoughtfully designed as other high end machines||Can be expensive if not on sale||Expensive|
|Bottom Line||Top tier taste quality and a simple interface make this a great choice for connoisseurs||Imparts a great tasting cup, but some drawbacks in user friendliness and its high price make it hard to recommend to most||Can almost match the OXO in terms of taste but costs about half as much||Convenient, and tastes significantly better than Keurig machines||Great if you're looking for a unique looking countertop appliance, but you can get better coffee for much less|
|Rating Categories||OXO Brew 8 Cup||Breville Precision...||Cuisinart 14-Cup...||Nespresso Vertuoline||Moccamaster KBG 741|
|User Friendliness (20%)|
|Ease Of Cleaning (10%)|
|Specs||OXO Brew 8 Cup||Breville Precision...||Cuisinart 14-Cup...||Nespresso Vertuoline||Moccamaster KBG 741|
|Dimensions||13.5" x 10/5" x 7"||12.4" x 6.7" x 15.7"||14" x 8" x 9"||9" x 12.2" x 12.3"||13.4" x 6.7" x 14.2"|
|Warranty||2 Year Limited||1 Year Limited||3 Year Limited||2 Year Limited||5 Year Limited|
Best Overall Coffee Maker
OXO Brew 8 Cup
OXO has a solid track record of creating high-quality brewers that make similarly high-quality coffee. Their latest iteration, the OXO Brew 8 Cup, opts for a subdued design compared to its predecessors, going for more of a simple blend-in style aesthetic than the eccentric kitchen centerpiece designs of previous years. Luckily that subdued nature doesn't translate to the coffee it makes, which we found to be dark, rich and flavorful, all while avoiding even a hint of bitterness. We feel this machine's coffee is nearly as bold and nuanced as that made with more time-consuming manual brew methods like pourover, making this machine great for those that love the taste of pourover but want something more convenient for weekday mornings. All that taste comes from a machine that we found both easy to use and to clean.
All of the OXO Brew 8 Cup's high-end performance comes at a correspondingly high-end price, restricting its usefulness to those that are willing to invest in a better tasting cup of coffee. It also lacks an automatic brewing feature, so you can't load in the water and grounds before going to bed and set it to automatically start brewing as the sun rises. Still, for those that want the best tasting coffee they can get from a convenient drip machine, and that are willing to pay extra for it, it's hard to do any better than the OXO Brew 8 Cup.
Read review: OXO Brew 8 Cup
Best Bang for the Buck
BLACK+DECKER 12-Cup Programmable
The BLACK+DECKER 12-Cup Programmable is an ideal option for those seeking a practical coffee maker on a tight budget, with maximum functionality and no unnecessary features. With such an attractively low list price, it's difficult to ask for more out of a coffee maker. It makes decent coffee and even has an automatic brewing timer, making it possible to wake up to a fresh pot every morning.
We have seen some customer complaints of durability issues after extended use. However, we didn't notice any problems with reliability in our tests. If you seek higher performance and are okay with spending a bit more, we recommended checking out the Cuisinart 14-Cup Programmable.
Read review: BLACK+DECKER 12-Cup Programmable
Those looking for a super convenient pod machine are likely choosing between Keurig and Nespresso. We must give the edge to Nespresso in this battle. The aluminum pods keep coffee fresher, resulting in a stronger and better-tasting cup, and are recyclable, relieving some of the guilt of using a pod machine. That said, Keurig pods are more widely available and less expensive, so there certainly are reasons to choose Keurig over Nespresso. Furthermore, newer Keurigs have also managed to reduce the plastic aftertaste that can come from using their pods (it's still there, but slightly more subdued).
Best Single Serving Machine
The Nespresso Vertuoline is our clear front runner when it comes to single-serve capsule machines. Not only can it effortlessly switch between brewing coffee and espresso, but it also manages to produce a much bolder and darker cup than any of its capsule-style competitors. Additionally, the aluminum capsules eliminate the slight plastic aftertaste that many associate with single-serve coffee pods (and Nespresso's recycling program goes a long way to abating environmental guilt). Of course, like all pod machines on the market, the Vertuoline serves up a quick cup with the push of a button and the pull of a lever and requires almost no cleanup afterward. You can't get much simpler than that.
The biggest downside to this, and any other pod machine, is the fact that you'll be paying much more per cup than you would with a drip machine. However, the Nespresso Vertuoline provides the best single-serve pod experience we've found to date. This is an excellent choice if you feel a drip machine would be wasteful because you never make more than one cup at a time, and you're willing to pay for the convenience.
Read review: Nespresso Vertuoline
Best Keurig Machine
If you're dedicated to Keurig's single-cup capsules, then the K-Cafe is the best option out there. Though there are less expensive models, the K-Cafe boasts more features than any other Keurig model, including abundant settings for various coffee drinks and an integrated milk frother.
Keurig's pods didn't produce impressive coffee, and most of our testers found it to be on the weak side. However, they are hard to beat when it comes to convenience and ease of use. Overall, we recommend the Nespresso Vertuoline over the Keurig for single-serve capsule machines, but if you prefer K-Cups, then the K-Cafe is your best option.
Read review: Keurig K-Cafe
Best for Those with Exacting Standards
Breville Precision Brewer
The recent surge of popularity in pour-over coffee has led many enthusiasts to make their coffee with a scale, temperature gauge, and timer to ensure the perfect coffee to water ratio, along with ideal bloom and extraction times. We get it. We've been there and have enjoyed some great coffee as a result. The problem is that the logistics of pour-over dictate making a single cup at a time. Switching over to making a big pot of coffee for multiple people usually means sacrificing control over all of these variables. That's where the Precision Brewer comes in. Its "My Brew" function allows you to choose an exact water temperature, pre-infusion time, and flow rate (a proxy for extraction time), allowing you to transfer all of your pour-over preferences to a 60oz coffee maker.
Chances are that the high price tag of the Precision Brewer won't be worth to most people, aside from those that are yearning to have more precise control over how their drip-maker brews coffee. Bottom line, this is a machine for true coffee nerds, not those that are simply seeking a reliable and straightforward way to make a good pot of coffee in the morning.
Read review: Breville Precision Brewer
Great Taste at a Reasonable Price
Cuisinart 14-Cup Programmable
The Cuisinart 14-Cup Programmable managed to produce a pleasant, bold pot of coffee consistently and was second only to a few much more expensive models in our taste testing. It scored slightly lower in user-friendliness and ease of cleaning but is still a top-performer among the machines we tested.
If you're looking for a high-quality machine on a moderate budget, the Cuisinart will not disappoint. In our testing, it performed far better than the BLACK+DECKER 12-Cup Programmable. However, it comes at double the price.
Read review: Cuisinart 14-Cup Programmable
Why You Should Trust Us
Michelle Powell, our lead coffee tester, has been working in the specialty coffee sphere for more than ten years. Advanced training at cornerstone coffee institutions such as Blue Bottle Coffee and Four Barrel Coffee, and competing in the prestigious Southwest Regional Barista Competition are just a few highlights from her time in the field. Max Mutter has been writing about coffee and coffee products for more than four years and has used more products and consumed more caffeine in that time frame than he can quantify.
In finding the best caffeine slinger for your countertop, we researched more than 100 of the most compelling makers around. We then chose the best and purchased all at standard retail price (we never take any gifts from manufacturers to eliminate any bias) and brought them into our test kitchen. Our core team, along with a panel of eight taste testers, then spent over 150 hours using, cleaning, and over-imbibing with these machines. Our tests were completed in a side-by-side, controlled manner using the same coffee beans and brewing with one machine right after the other to ensure consistent outside conditions. This allowed us to objectively assess convenience, ease of cleaning, and, more importantly, the quality of coffee produced by each machine.
Related: How We Tested Coffee Makers
Analysis and Test Results
For many, the coffee maker is the crown jewel of the countertop, capable of making a life-sustaining elixir in just a few minutes. For one of these caffeine caterers to effectively do its job, it must make a good tasting cup easily and efficiently. We designed our testing around this sentiment.
Our overall scores represent the results from our ten individual tests, divided into four separate testing metrics. These metrics assessed each machine's convenience, user-friendliness, cleaning difficulty, and taste. The detailed results from these testing metrics are discussed in the sections below.
Related: Buying Advice for Coffee Makers
With coffee makers, we've found that you can either pay top dollar for high-end taste (such as with the OXO Brew 8 Cup) or convenience (in the Nespresso and Keurig pod-style machines). Or you can pay a lot less for good but not fantastic taste (something like the Black & Decker CM1160B, for instance). The Cuisinart 14-cup programmable is one significant outlier from this trend, making a great cup while keeping the cost relatively mid-range.
We have not come across any traditional coffee makers that don't put hot water in contact with plastic at some point in the brewing process. If you're concerned about plastic, you'll likely have to adopt a slightly less convenient brewing method, like pour-over.
Taste is likely first and foremost for most coffee drinkers, so we made sure our taste testing was as objective as possible. We carefully evaluated taste by having a team of tasters sample brews from each machine one after another and then grade things like flavor and texture. We also brought in a professional coffee roaster who was intimately familiar with the flavor notes of the coffee we used in our taste testing, so he could tell which machines were extracting all of the nuances and intended flavor notes. None of the testers knew which machine they were drinking from, as our taste tests were done blindly. We also compared each machine to properly made pour-over coffee as a control. We reserved a perfect score of 10 out of 10 for a machine that could match the taste of a pour over brew. While we haven't found a machine quite this good yet, some of the current models did come close.
The OXO Brew 8 Cup made the sweetest elixir of all our machines. It adds a pre-infusion step to the brewing process that swells and preps the grinds before the actual extraction begins, giving a much richer and more flavorful brew. This is the closest you're going to get to the quality of pour-over coffee in the convenience of a machine, in our opinion.
In terms of taste, the Breville Precision Brewer is the first machine we've found that can rival the track record of the OXO machines we've tested. It earned the same score in our taste testing thanks to a bold taste that didn't drown out more subtle flavors. It even allows you to adjust every step of the brewing process if you're hoping to transfer your exact pour-over setting to a drip machine.
We also found the Cuisinart 14-Cup Programmable to produce a nice brew, earning an 8 out of 10 in our taste testing. Its coffee comes out bright and bold but loses just a bit of the flavor nuances that the top-scoring models can bring through. The Bonavita Thermal Carafe 8-Cup performed very similarly in our tests with a smooth and pleasant, though slightly less bold, brew.
Both the Technivorm Moccamaster KBG 741 and the Bonavita Thermal Carafe Coffee Brewer fall into the good but not exceptional range when it comes to taste, earning them each 7 out of 10. Both models can produce a hearty, intense cup, but they also draw out fewer subtle flavor complexities usually present in coffee made with the top-scoring models.
Outside of the top scorers in our taste testing, most of the machines produced average tasting coffee. If you're entirely satisfied with the taste of the bottomless cup of coffee at the local diner, then you'll undoubtedly be happy with any of these machines. However, you may be somewhat disappointed if you're used to the refined flavor of gourmet coffee made with a pour-over setup.
The BLACK+DECKER 12-Cup Programmable leads off this average group with a score of 6 out of 10. It makes a pleasant, crisp brew but muddled some of our test coffee's more delicate flavor notes. The Mr. Coffee Simple Brew Switch also scored a 6 and made a very similar brew.
The KitchenAid Siphon received a 5 out of 10 in this metric, after much hemming and hawing. When it comes to taste, we consider it a bit of a niche product. Its unique brewing style produces an impressively smooth brew with nary a hint of bitterness — something we've never seen in another drip maker. However, that smoothness undermines much of the coffee's flavor, making it taste somewhat weak. While this is probably exactly what some people are looking for, others are sure to be disappointed.
The Nespresso Vertuoline also earned an average 5 out of 10 in this metric, making it the best single-serve capsule machine we tested. While its coffee tasted weak compared to almost all of the drip brewers we tested, it was noticeably bolder and richer than its capsule competition. Additionally, the aluminum pods eliminate that plastic aftertaste that is often associated with capsule coffee machines.
Among the worst performers in our taste tests were the Keurig's K-Cafe and K-Elite. Each earned a 3 out of 10, primarily due to a faint plastic taste that its pods can leave behind. Due to the relatively low coffee to water ratio, they also make very weak coffee if you make anything larger than a 5.5 oz cup. These machines are only for those that value convenience over taste.
Our user friendliness scores represent how easy it is to brew a pot of coffee on each machine. The top scorers would likely pose no challenge for a visitor to your home that had never seen the machine before, while the low scorers require a bit of a learning curve to get right. To ensure our testers were in a groggy, non-caffeinated state, we made sure to conduct user-friendliness testing first thing in the morning.
Unsurprisingly, single-serving pod machines dominated our user friendliness testing. You can't get much simpler or more straightforward than the push-button-get-coffee functionality of the Keurig and Nespresso models. The Nespresso Vertuoline even has a barcode reader that automatically adjusts the brew settings depending on which pod you load into the machine. Accordingly, all of the pod style machines we tested shared the top score of 9 out of 10 in this metric.
The OXO Brew 8 Cup features a simple interface and a carafe that pours predictably and smoothly. We found the flat-bottom paper filters it uses to be easy to fill with grounds and to dispose of after brewing. IT doesn't get much easier when it comes to a classic drip-style machine.
The Technivorm Moccamaster KBG 741 offers a spartan and easy to understand interface, along with a carafe that produces a controlled pour. However, you don't get any extra features that you see on many comparable models, such as a timer that allows you to know how fresh the coffee is.
A good number of the models we tested fell into a not difficult to use, but also not particularly pleasant to use sort of category. Leading off this group is the Cuisinart 14-Cup Programmable. It has many well-labeled buttons, but the small LCD screen can make navigating its settings a bit tricky. We also found the spout on the carafe prone to spills if you're not careful. Also scoring a 6 out of 10, the Mr. Coffee Simple Brew 12-Cup Switch's carafe provides a nice smooth pour, but its single-switch interface doesn't allow for any customization of your brew.
Continuing the slightly above average trend, the BLACK+DECKER 12-Cup Programmable provides a simple single-button option for brewing and arrow buttons that allow you to easily set the timer if you'd like to wake up with your pot of coffee ready. However, it lacks any options for adjusting how it brews your coffee.
The Breville Precision Brewer is the final model in this good but not fantastic group. It offers a reasonably simple brewing process once you realize the "Gold" setting is akin to what "Standard" or "Classic" would be on any other machine. It also offers an almost overwhelming number of advanced settings. Although the interface makes navigating through these settings fairly easy, you'll probably have to use the manual to figure out exactly how each one works.
Leading off the low scorers in our user-friendliness tests was the Bonavita Thermal Carafe 8-Cup. It has a simple single-button interface that streamlines things but doesn't allow for any fine-tuning. The biggest flaw is the carafe; whose lid requires almost complete inversion to get a good pour. The worst performer in our user friendliness tests is the KitchenAid Siphon. While this model offers a stunning visual experience, you may require the user manual to get a cup of coffee if you haven't used the machine before. Also, the lip around the carafe opening forces you to tip it nearly all the way over to get a good pour.
For those of us that are useless before our first cup of coffee, cutting down on the time and effort required to get said caffeine fix is paramount. We objectively measured how long it took us to make 6 cups of coffee with each machine (prep, brewing, and cleanup included) and subjectively evaluated the difficulty inherent in those processes for our convenience testing. Models that let us make a pot in less than 10 minutes with only some grind dumping and brew basket rinsing scored highly, while those that required more thorough cleanup or longer brew times scored poorly. We also gave bonus points for features like programmable brewing that could further streamline your morning coffee ritual.
Here again, the pod machines were our top scorers. As much as our environmentally inclined sensibilities hate to admit it, we can kind of understand why these machines have become so popular. The Nespresso Vertuoline was the top scorer in our testing, taking home a 9 out of 10. From start to finish, it can make a cup of coffee in less than 3 minutes, no cleanup required. The Keurig K-Cafe and K-Elite also require no cleanup but take roughly 4 minutes to make a cup starting from cold water, so they earned slightly lower scores of 8. These machines are about on par with the 3 minutes it takes to make a single cup with a pour-over rig. However, pour-over does require a little bit of extra cleaning, and depending on your system for boiling water, may take longer.
For the more traditional drip makers, we measured how long it took to make a 6-cup pot for our speed test. These times include all prep work (loading grounds and water into the machine), actual brewing time, and required cleanup (disposing of grounds, rinsing the filter if needed). The Hamilton Beach 2-Way earned a score of 7 in this metric for brewing 12 cups in approximately 12.5 minutes. If you just want to fill up your thermos in the morning without making a full pot, it also has an additional integrated brewer for single cups of drip coffee, which significantly improves convenience.
The clear majority of our makers brewed a pot in an average amount of time and required an average amount of cleanup, and thus all fell into the 6 out of 10 range on our score sheet. The OXO Brew 8 Cup makes 6 cups in 10 minutes and offers single-cup brewing. However, it lacks a programmable function. The BLACK+DECKER 12-Cup Programmable was slightly slower, making 6 cups in roughly 12 minutes. The Breville Precision Brewer consistently took 10 minutes to brew 6 cups in our testing. It does offer a fast setting that can cut that down to around 8 minutes, but the resulting brew lacks some boldness.
The models that weren't programmable all ended up towards the bottom of the score sheet. Both scoring 5 out of 10, the Bonavita Thermal Carafe 8-Cup and Moccamaster can brew 6 cups in 9.5 minutes and 9 minutes, respectively. The Mr. Coffee Simple Brew 12-Cup Switch brews a pot in 12 minutes and earned a 4 out of 10, while the worst scorer was the KitchenAid Siphon, which scored 3 out of 10. It takes a full 14 minutes to make 6 cups of coffee, mostly because it is so difficult to clean.
Ease of Cleaning
Even the most euphoric cup of coffee can be ruined if the ensuing cleaning process is excessively cumbersome. In our testing, we used and cleaned each machine dozens of times, which gave us a clear perspective on which ones will streamline your morning routine, and which ones will likely bog you down. We also ran through each machine's long term cleaning tasks to judge their inherent difficulty. This generally entails running descaling cycles to remove built-up minerals.
Due to their simple brewing methods, the two pod style machines we tested dominated our cleaning tests, producing practically nothing to clean besides a dirty mug. The Nespresso Vertuoline earned a score of 9 out of 10 in this metric. It automatically deposits spent pods into an attached bin (remember to recycle them, if possible). That bin can sometimes get a little grimy and require a quick rinse, but that's all that needs regular cleaning. Its descaling process is straightforward and took us about 30 minutes. The Keurig models had longer descaling processes that lasted roughly 70 minutes, which bumped them down to the slightly lower score of 8 out of 10. The spent pods from this machine are simply removed and thrown away, so no bin gets messy. However, the majority of these pods are not recyclable.
Falling slightly behind the capsule machines, the OXO Brew 8 Cup put in an above average performance in this metric. Its large filter basket makes removing grinds easy, and the stainless steel carafe can be hand washed without much fuss. The descaling process takes about 60 minutes to run and is easy to start. As a bonus, the machine tells you when it needs to be descaled, so there is no need to set any reminders on your calendar.
Thanks to some thoughtful design touches, the Breville Precision Brewer also picked up a 7 out of 10 in this metric. We like that its shower head is both removable and silicone, which makes removing built-up minerals very easy. However, it does tend to drip coffee when you remove the carafe, as well as condensation when you remove the brew basket, which can add to your daily cleanup routine.
The Moccamaster also fell into the good, but not great, bucket in our ease of cleaning testing. We found the majority of its components to be easy to both access and clean. The pot has a wide opening that easily accommodates scrubbing, and the paper filters make for quick disposal of grinds. However, none of the components are dishwasher safe, which eliminates that convenient route for weekly cleaning.
Bringing up the rear in this metric with a score of 4 out of 10, the KitchenAid Siphon was the one machine that we absolutely dreaded to clean throughout our testing. First off, you can't put any of it in the dishwasher. Everything must be washed by hand. Secondly, trying to grip and scrub the oddly shaped glass orb feels like a task that could end in a pile of glass shards at any moment. Finally, it uses a cloth filter that also needs to be cleaned after each use, a step very few other machines require.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the seemingly countless number of coffee makers available. At a glance, many of them have few significant distinguishing features. On the flip side, it is also easy to spend hours researching only to be further confused by dubious marketing claims and conflicting opinions. Our tests provide side-by-side, real-world, and directly comparable results, so you can rest assured that our data will lead you to the right model.
— Max Mutter, Michelle Powell, and Steven Tata