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Finding the Perfect Drip Coffee Maker

Finding the Perfect Drip Coffee Maker
The Breville Precision Brewer is our choice for the best coffee brewer.
Credit: Laura Casner
Wednesday January 10, 2024

If you're not a morning person, having a convenient cup of coffee available can make or break your entire day. This article lays out a step-by-step decision guide to help you find the perfect drip coffee maker for your home. We then provide more detailed background information about the world of coffee and coffee makers. Our best drip coffee makers review focuses on traditional drip coffee makers. If you're interested in other methods of brewing coffee, from pod machines to pour-over and French press to espresso, check out our top picks and helpful advice on choosing the best coffee maker of any type and our favorite accessories to craft your perfect morning routine.

Choosing the Right Drip Coffee Maker

Step 1: What Kind of Coffee Maker Do You Want?

Generally, there are two types of coffee drinkers: those who want a quick and hassle-free cup and those who treat coffee the way many approach wine, savoring each subtle flavor and reveling in the ritual of brewing the coffee. This review focuses on classic drip coffee makers, which include options that make a simple and unremarkable cup of joe, as well as those that are involved and brew a delectable pot of craft coffee.

We should also note that in the world of drip coffee makers, paying more often equates to greater convenience rather than better taste. Many coffee aficionados consider relatively inexpensive brewing methods like pour-over to produce the best taste. Therefore, if you don't mind sacrificing some convenience to save some money, you might want to venture outside the world of drip brewers. You may even get a better-tasting cup in the process. Plus, like pour-over, manual brews only take about three minutes to produce a single cup.

drip coffee maker - pour-over brew methods require a precise pour to properly extract...
Pour-over brew methods require a precise pour to properly extract coffee.
Credit: Laura Casner

Step 2: How Much Coffee Do You Make?

The first priority is to make sure your coffee maker can fit your needs. If you have a family of coffee drinkers, you'll want something large enough to give everybody a cup or two in the morning. Likewise, if you like to make one pot you drink from throughout the day, you'll want to make sure that the pot is large enough (more on that in a bit). Most drip brewers make a minimum of four cups of coffee — though a few we tested have options to turn them into single-serving brewers in a pinch.

Step 3: Do You Like to Brew and Drink Later?

Many people like to brew a pot first and then pull from it throughout the morning or even throughout the day. Many drip coffee makers have a carafe on a hot plate to keep the coffee warm. Others have insulated carafes that function as thermoses to keep the coffee warm. We found that thermal carafes better retain the taste of the coffee but tend to only be at a drinkable temperature for two hours or less. Hot plates can keep coffee warm indefinitely, but the longer it sits, the more burned the coffee will taste.

drip coffee maker - an insulated carafe keeps coffee hot for a couple of hours without...
An insulated carafe keeps coffee hot for a couple of hours without adding heat and making your brew taste burnt.
Credit: Laura Casner

Step 4: Do You Need a Programmable Model?

Are you useless until you've had your first cup of coffee? Programmable models allow you to schedule your coffee brewing. Add water and ground the night before, and the coffee maker will kick on at whatever time you set, allowing you to wake up to the smell of freshly made coffee. Today, even some of the most basic and least expensive models have such features.

drip coffee maker - even some of the least expensive drip machines can still offer great...
Even some of the least expensive drip machines can still offer great convenience with an auto-brew function.
Credit: Laura Casner

Step 5: Consider Brew Quality

Obviously, you want a machine that can produce a good-tasting brew. We assigned brew quality scores to our models through rigorous blind taste tests that included testers ranging from casual coffee drinkers to professional coffee roasters and baristas. We found that most drip coffee makers can't quite match the complex flavor profile of a pour-over coffee, but if you're willing to spend a bit extra on a higher-end machine, you can get close.

drip coffee maker - some modern drip machines allow extreme customization of your brew...
Some modern drip machines allow extreme customization of your brew, resulting in an exceptional cup of coffee.
Credit: Laura Casner

Step 6: Consider Ease of Cleaning

Even the quickest, most convenient cup of coffee can be completely ruined if it requires an arduous cleanup process from messy grounds and splattering carafes. Plus, the last thing you want to come home from work is the coffee mess you neglected to deal with in the morning. Our ease of cleaning scores can guide you to a machine that won't create too much of a mess or, at best, is easy to clean.

drip coffee maker - ease of cleaning is an important metric to consider when investing...
Ease of cleaning is an important metric to consider when investing in a coffee maker.
Credit: Laura Casner

Step 7: Don't Forget a Grinder

Buying whole coffee beans and grinding them fresh will improve taste no matter what machine or brewing style you use. Grinding beans yourself also lets you dial in the perfect grind size for your machine rather than settling for pre-ground coffee. Check out our coffee grinder review for more information.

drip coffee maker - a good grinder can make a world of difference when you're chasing...
A good grinder can make a world of difference when you're chasing specialty brews.
Credit: Laura Casner

Other Types of Coffee Makers

Methods for brewing coffee are almost as diverse as the coffee beans themselves. While drip and pod machines are incredibly convenient for getting your morning started, there are many other brewing styles that allow you to focus on tuning the brewing process to achieve the most flavorful coffee possible.


drip coffee maker
Credit: Hario
Pour-over is the go-to brewing method for those who are serious about their coffee. The brewing process involves placing coffee grounds into a filter and manually pouring hot water over the brew bed. The pouring technique is a bit of an art form, and it takes the water some time to seep evenly through the grinds, so this technique won't serve you well if you tend to be impatient. Pour-over coffee produces the cleanest cup that allows complex flavors to come through. See our favorite pour over coffee makers from our comprehensive review.


drip coffee maker
Credit: Aerobie
The Aeropress is produced by a toy company. Accordingly, it is an invention of adults who design toys: essentially a delicious coffee squirt gun. It is a tube that uses a plunger to force water through coffee grinds at high pressure. This creates a strong and bold brew quickly and efficiently. Aeropress is compact and great for camping or road trips.

French Press

drip coffee maker
Credit: Simple Chef
The French press is a classic coffee-making device that has continued to grow in popularity. It lets you make coffee in the same way you would make tea by letting the grinds and hot water sit together and steep to your preferences. A plunger with a mesh strainer keeps the grinds out when you're ready to pour a cup. The best French presses tend to create a stronger, more bold flavor.

Moka Pot

drip coffee maker
The Moka Pot is an aluminum stovetop coffee maker that utilizes a two-chambered design. Water is heated in the bottom chamber, and as it starts to boil, it is forced up through coffee grinds and into the top chambers. This combination of heat and high pressure creates a very strong brew somewhere between espresso and normal coffee.


drip coffee maker
Credit: De'Longhi
Pulling shots of espresso is no longer just something for the pros in the coffee shops. With a top-rated espresso machine and plenty of research and practice, you, too, can be making lattes and cappuccinos and drinking delicious espresso shots from your favorite beans in the comfort of your own home.

Other Coffee Necessities

Depending on your ideal method of coffee consumption, you may need a few other essentials. We've tested the best electric kettles to brew pour-over, the top kitchen scales for precisely measuring your espresso, and we've outlined our favorite milk frothers for whipping up a latte. If you're interested in turning coffee from a habit to a hobby, check out our helpful advice and best product round-up of all types of coffee makers.