Our team of diverse coffee professionals researched over 80 brewers before choosing the 15 best coffee makers available today. If you need a coffee brewer to accompany your morning routine, you've come to the right place. We've spent hundreds of hours extensively analyzing and then brewing pots of coffee to help you make an informed decision. The world of coffee equipment can be overwhelming, but we are here to guide you through coffee terminology that can often overcomplicate finding the right equipment.
In this article, we utilize metrics of brew quality, consistency, user-friendliness, and ease of cleaning to review each coffee maker. So, whether you are brewing specialty coffee or using pods, we can help you find the right brewer to suit your needs. We also offer complete testing and reviews for related categories such as the best coffee grinders, pour over coffee makers, home espresso machines, and the best electric kettles. No matter your preference for your morning brew, we've got recommendations for the best coffee accessories and devices so you can have a great start to your day. For other home and cooking items, check out our list of the best appliances and peruse some of our favorite options today.
Editor's Note: We updated our review on December 20, 2022, to add two new brewers to our test cafe — the Braun BrewSense and the Ratio Six.
Pour-over style coffee is increasingly popular because it produces the cleanest cup possible. Taking into account variables like time, temperature, and grind size, you can pull out even the most delicate nuances in your coffee by manually brewing. The problem is the concentration required for a pour-over can be cumbersome. Switching to a larger batch brew usually means giving up your ability to dial in your brew recipe. The Breville Precision Brewer is the solution to this dilemma. This top-performing brewer stood out in brew quality with enhanced flavor notes similar to a pour-over. The customizable features on the Precision Brewer allow for adjustability over pre-infusion, water temp, and flow rate for your various brewing needs.
If you're not super discerning about your coffee, the price of the Precision Brewer likely isn't worth it. This is a machine for true coffee nerds, not those simply seeking a straightforward way to make coffee. This brewer is worth the investment for anyone who loves the pour-over quality but wants something more convenient. This machine allows you to transfer your pour-over preferences to a 12-cup coffee maker. And with single-cup brewing to a cold brew setting, this coffee maker does it all.
Method: Nespresso Vertuoline capsules | Time to brew: 1:40 minutes
REASONS TO BUY
Great tasting coffee
Simple cleaning process
REASONS TO AVOID
Nespresso pods are more expensive
Takes up more space
If you know you have a one-cup limit on your coffee intake, a single serve coffee maker is a great option to brew exactly the right amount of coffee every time. Our favorite single serve cup comes from the Nespresso by De'Longhi Espresso Machine. The straightforward brewing process automatically detects the pod type being used and produces great-tasting coffee in a variety of styles, including espresso with a rich crema not often found on other machines. The interface is very intuitive and easy to use, and we love the self-cleaning function. It takes about three minutes and is a nearly effortless process on the part of the user.
The De'longhi costs a bit more than other single-serve or traditional coffee makers, and the expensive pods drive the price up even further, which may be a deterrent for some. However, the recyclable aluminum pods don't leave the telltale plastic aftertaste that is common in less expensive pods. The water tank is large enough to produce up to 17 drinks before you need to refill it, but this also means that it takes up more room on your countertop. However, this machine brings the perfect mix of convenience, ease of use, and great flavor to your morning cup, and we feel it is a good choice for almost anyone.
The Hamilton Beach 2-Way is an inexpensive brewer with some cool features. The 2-Way is a convertible brewer, meaning, on one side, you can brew a single cup or switch the toggle to brew a full pot on the other side. This is the quiver killer of coffee makers. Spending hundreds of dollars on a specialty brewer can be worth it for some coffee enthusiasts; however, the 2-Way, is a notable option for the more budget-conscious coffee drinker.
The 2-Way is not as convenient as pod-brewing. However, it eliminates the extra cost and waste of single-serve pods. If you are looking for the quick convenience of pods, the 2-Way comes with a pod basket attachment, giving you the option to brew with a Senseo capsule. Otherwise, Hamilton Beach provides reusable mesh filters for regular ground coffee. And, of course, you can always use a paper filter in place of the reusable filter.
The Black+Decker 12-Cup Programmable is a great choice for anyone on a tight budget. This is a great lightweight and inexpensive option with features we only expect to see in pricier models. With the automatic brewing timer, it is possible to have a freshly brewed pot of coffee waiting for you in the morning.
While the Black+Decker may not extract the most flavor, it does an extraordinary job evenly saturating your brew bed. This little machine has a powerful brew head that does a great job of evenly distributing water. We are highly impressed that this affordable option can outperform more expensive models like the Chemex Ottomatic 2.0 and the Technivorm Moccamaster KBGV Select in water distribution.
The Nespresso VertuoPlus is our top pick for convenient brewing. This brewer outperforms all other pod-style brewers in our review. The VertuoPlus coffee maker brews your coffee with the touch of a single button and none of the mess. This is a great choice for anyone looking for the easiest way to brew a single cup of coffee.
It is important to know that you cannot just use any pod with this brewer. The VertuoPlus requires a specific pod and offers three different sizes from which to choose. In keeping with its futuristic design, the Nespresso pods contain a barcode that communicates with the coffee maker to determine how much to brew. Simply select your pod size and mug, and the VertuoPlus does the brewing for you.
Keurig vs. Nespresso: The Pod Wars
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. Keurig pods are more widely available and less expensive, so there are reasons to choose Keurig over Nespresso. Furthermore, newer Keurigs have also managed to reduce the plastic aftertaste from using their pods (it's still there but slightly more subdued).
We researched more than 80 of the most compelling models on the market, eventually narrowing our selection down to 15 of the best coffee makers available. We purchased each machine at standard retail price (to prevent bias, we never accept any gifts or samples from manufacturers). Our core team of coffee professionals spent over 150 hours testing, cleaning, and analyzing these appliances side-by-side in our lab. We tested in a controlled environment to manage variables such as temperature and humidity changes, and brewed batches of coffee back-to-back using the same batch of roasted beans in each brewer. These controls allow us to objectively assess each model relative to each other. Our experts conducted more than 234 individual tests to help you find the best coffee maker for your space.
Our in-depth testing process of coffee makers breaks down into four rating metrics:
Liz Nelson has spent the better part of the last two decades in the world of specialty coffee. Liz began her coffee career as a barista and trainer, facilitating brewing classes from Southwest Colorado to Chiapas, Mexico. Presently her role is better defined as roaster and founder of Cuttylane Coffee. Working with friends at Native Root, a family-owned and operated farm in Cauca, Colombia, Liz imports and roasts coffee in the Four Corners region.
New to our team is Jessica Riconscente, who has worked as a barista in both hemispheres: New Zealand, Australia, and back at home in the United States. Jessica has a technical background studying manufacturing processes at Cal Poly. Manufacturing has stringent tolerances and specifications that Jessica transfers into her testing procedures.
Analysis and Test Results
For most of us, our morning routine includes making coffee. While some prefer the simplicity of a pour-over, others prefer a more conventional machine. For a brewer to fulfill its obligation to make a great cup of coffee, it must do so efficiently. We designed our testing around this sentiment, and we invite you to read the results of these tests in the following review.
There are a lot of coffee makers to choose from and equally as many price ranges. We found that you can pay top dollar for a brewer that produces cafe-quality coffee (case in point, the Breville Precision Brewer) or splurge for convenience with a pod-style brewer like the Nespresso VertuoPlus. On the other hand, we found that some options come with a high-end price tag that actually brew subpar tasting coffee (for example, the Chemex Ottomatic 2.0 and the Technivorm Moccamaster) or vice versa, you can make a small investment in a machine that produces surprisingly good coffee like the Black + Decker 12-Cup Programmable.
Taste is most likely the highest priority for coffee lovers. For this reason, we made it a point to be as objective as possible in testing for this metric. Our coffee experts meticulously evaluated samples from each coffee maker. We had each tester try samples from all 15 of our coffee machines and one sample from a pour-over control (made with a Hario V60).
We used the same coffee from the same roaster, origin, and roast date in each test. We selected a coffee that most closely resembled the coffee we used for the rest of the testing for the pod brewers. Only a coffee machine that can equally match the pour-over quality could earn a perfect 10 out of 10. While none of the brewers excelled to that degree, some came close.
The Specialty Coffee Association's (SCA) Golden Cup brewing standard recommends preparing coffee with a brewing temperature between 195-205 degrees. Proper water temperature is essential to opening the flavor nuances of every coffee. With this in mind, we tested the brew temperature of each coffee maker. Out of the entire lineup, only three coffee makers reached the SCA recommended brewing temperature range during our testing: the Breville Precision Brewer, the Ratio Six, and the Bunn Heat N' Brew Programmable.
To determine final scores in brew quality, we also considered filter type, comparing the taste of reusable filters to paper filters. We took into account the filter basket's material and looked at customizable features and pre-infusion options.
Worried about plastic?
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 manual pour-over.
And finally, we examined water distribution. A good spray head is essential for even saturation. Pre-infusion can further brewing quality by saturating the brew bed and allowing for a period of degassing to occur before the initial brew starts. As we discovered with the Chemex Ottomatic 2.0 and the Technivorm Moccamaster KBGV Select, an expensive brewer may offer a pre-infusion setting and reach proper brew temp and still be unable to provide an even extraction due to poor water distribution. On the other hand, Black + Decker 12-cup Programmable without pre-infusion produced surprisingly great water distribution.
The Breville Precision Brewer made the best-tasting coffee out of all our test models. The pre-infusion step evenly saturates the coffee before the brewing begins, providing a more flavorful brew. This brewer achieves the industry standard for proper brew temperatures. In our opinion, the Precision Brewer is the closest to cafe-quality pour-over coffee in the convenience of a machine.
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 to the novice barista, while the low-scoring machines may require more practice. We conducted user-friendliness testing first thing in the morning before our first cup of coffee.
To assess user-friendliness, we had our testers brew a pot of coffee on each machine from start to finish, including filling the water tank, inserting filters, and loading in coffee grounds. We set the timers for programmable models that offer an automatic start-up time for the next morning. Then we ranked each model based on the design of their interface and how easy it was to pour coffee out of their carafes.
Leading the way in user-friendliness is the Precision Brewer. The controls and features of the Precision Brewer are simple to navigate. The Precision does it all if you're looking for specialty quality in the convenience of a machine. With the turn of a knob, you can move through customizable settings from single-cup pour-over to 10-hour cold brew settings. Its carafe provides great insulation with a neat and controlled pour.
We admit the Keurig K-Duo is a little confusing at first, but this brewer is fairly intuitive after one read over the manual. Keurig takes the guesswork out of brew ratios; simply fill the entire water tank, and the brewer will adjust according to single cup or batch brewing. It doesn't get much more straightforward than the Nespresso VertuoPlus single-button design, but the K-Duo took the lead because it can brew a pod or into a carafe.
Ease of Cleaning
The cleaning of a machine can ruin even the most delicious cup of coffee. So, we used and cleaned each brewer dozens of times to understand better which devices were easiest to maintain. We focused most of our cleaning score on daily cleaning, which encompassed all of the things you'd be cleaning daily (disposing of wet grounds, cleaning out the carafe, etc.). We also ran a descaling process on each machine, a deep cleaning process that removes mineral build-up from the device. Once we had run through the cleaning process for each machine multiple times, we gave them relative scores based on difficulty and the amount of time we had to spend scrubbing and rinsing.
The Hamilton Beach 2-Way and Braun BrewSense tied for first place in the ease of cleaning test. Both have dishwasher-safe carafes, and most parts of the BrewSense can also be thrown in. If you don't have a dishwasher, both carafes have big enough openings to fit your hand and a soapy sponge. Additionally, the brewers can brew directly into a mug, skipping the need to clean the carafe in the first place.
Following closely for ease of cleaning is the Cuisinart 14-Cup Programmable. The carafe and brew basket on the 14-Cup are dishwasher safe. The carafe's lid easily separates and snaps back into place for thorough cleaning. This model brews with minimal backsplash and keeps the outside of the brewer nice and clean.
Tied for second place is the Nespresso VertuoPlus. Due to its simple brewing method, this coffee maker produces practically nothing to clean besides a dirty mug. The VertuoPlus automatically deposits spent pods into an attached bin (remember to recycle them, if possible). The spent bin and the brewer's water tank can sometimes require a quick rinse. Its descaling process is straightforward and took us about 30 minutes. The Keurig models have longer descaling processes that last roughly 70 minutes.
To test the consistency metric of each coffee maker, we made five back-to-back pots of coffee and measured their results. Next, we analyzed the grounds of the spent coffee. Here we looked for coloration to indicate if the saturation was even. Also, we examined the brewed coffee and whether grounds or sludge made it into the cup. And finally, we measured the consistency of brew speed to determine if the machine slowed down after brewing multiple batches.
The OXO Brew 8-Cup did extraordinarily well at maintaining brew temperature in our back-to-back brew testing. It was also pretty consistent in keeping pace and reaching similar brew times. However, it is important to note that although the OXO maintained its brew temperature, in our tests its brewing temperature was only 171 degrees, well below the industry standard (SCA) recommended range of 195-205.
The Ratio Six and the Breville Precision Brewer tied for second place in consistency. These brewers did an exceptional job in our tests of reaching the industry standard for water temperature output. Both coffee makers did so with consistent brewing times. Additionally, both brews did an excellent job retaining their flavor after two hours.
The Mr. Coffee Simple Brew 12-Cup and Black+Decker 12-Cup Programmable also performed well in consistency testing, maintaining consistent temperatures and brew times from the first brew to the fifth.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the seemingly countless coffee makers available. At a glance, many of them have few significant distinguishing features. It is also easy to spend hours researching, only 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 best model suitable to your needs.
Liz Nelson, Michelle Powell, and Jessica Riconscente
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