Coffee Maker Reviews

Editor's note:
Some coffee makers are just destined to become classics, and for this update that means Cuisinart and Bonavita still rule the roost; with a few others running close behind. And, if you're not a coffee snob, Hamilton Beach and Mr. Coffee -- two big names in coffee makers -- will give you a buzz without dinging your wallet.
 
Cuisinart DCC-3200
Specs that Matter
Capacity - 14 cupsProgrammable - YesPause and brew - Yes
Best Reviewed
Best drip coffee maker
Cuisinart DCC-3200

The 14-cup Cuisinart DCC-3200 is a very popular option in a line of well-reviewed coffee makers that get raves from experts and owners for producing hot, flavorful coffee. Owners love the variety of adjustments, which include brew strength settings as well as an adjustable keep warm feature. The DCC-3200 is fully programmable; you can set it for up to 24 hours in advance, and an alert tone sounds when the coffee is ready.
See our full review »

Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Coffee Maker 49465
Specs that Matter
Capacity - 12 cupsProgrammable - YesPause and brew - Yes
Best Reviewed
Best budget drip coffee maker
Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Coffee Maker 49465

Experts and owners give the Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Coffee Maker 49465 high praise for its simplicity and for its ability to brew an excellent cup of coffee. In spite of its tiny price, it has the features that are most popular on coffee makers -- programmable timer, pause and brew and auto shutoff. The carafe and filter basket are dishwasher safe, and an optional Medelco #4 Cone Permanent Filter (Est. $6) makes it even more affordable.
See our full review »

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Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Coffee Maker, Digital (49465) (Discontinued)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $44.80 $26.99   
Average Customer Review:  
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Medelco #4 Cone Permanent Coffee Filter
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $4.08 $2.88   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
Cuisinart DGB-550BK Grind & Brew
Specs that Matter
Capacity - 12 cupsProgrammable - YesPause and brew - Yes
Runner Up
Best grind and brew coffee maker
Cuisinart DGB-550BK Grind & Brew

The Cuisinart DGB-550BK Grind & Brew was made for those who love fresh ground coffee, but want a minimum of hassle. Just measure the beans into the hopper, pour the water in the reservoir, then set it and forget it. Reviewers say that the DGB-700BC brews an excellent cup of coffee and is easy to use and clean. Many add that it makes waking up in the morning an olfactory pleasure.

Bonavita BV 1900TS
Specs that Matter
Capacity - 8 cupsProgrammable - NoPause and brew - No
Best Reviewed
Best thermal coffee maker
Bonavita BV 1900TS

Coffee freaks and geeks agree: the best coffee makers are those that use "showerhead" technology, and among those the Bonavita BV 1900TS is a top choice for both price and performance. Experts say it makes a superior pot of coffee quickly and consistently -- taking about seven minutes to brew a full, 8-cup pot. It brews coffee at the ideal temperature range and then keeps it hot for hours in the thermal carafe.
See our full review »

Mr. Coffee BVMC-PSTX91 Thermal Coffeemaker
Specs that Matter
Capacity -- 10 cupsProgrammable -- YesPause and brew -- Yes
Runner Up
Budget thermal coffee maker
Mr. Coffee BVMC-PSTX91 Thermal Coffeemaker

If you want the perks of a thermal coffee maker, but don't want prices that kill your caffeine buzz, look no further than the Mr. Coffee BVMC-PSTX91. It gets raves for its unique, side-fill design that's easy to use, and for making an excellent cup of coffee every time. The thermal carafe keeps coffee hot for hours, users say, and they love the fact that this Mr. Coffee is programmable so they can wake to hot coffee.

Presto 12-cup Stainless Steel Coffee Maker
Specs that Matter
Capacity - 12 cupsProgrammable - NoPause and brew - N/A
Runner Up
Coffee percolator
Presto 12-cup Stainless Steel Coffee Maker

If you love a strong cup of coffee and don't like a lot of fuss, you may want to go back to basics by using an electric percolator -- and coffee lovers say there's no better choice than the Presto 12-cup Stainless Steel Coffee Maker. It makes from two to 12 cups of coffee is less than a minute, and the coffee is tasty and stays hot for hours. The Presto features a classic design and is very easy to use, too.

With coffee makers, you can please some of the people some of the time

Of all of the small appliances we review it's probably safe to say that coffee makers get the most contradictory ratings of all. For everyone who absolutely loves their coffee machine, there is an equal number who insist that it is the worst thing they've ever owned. For every expert that puts a specific coffee maker at the top of their test or list, there are hundreds of owners who say that same machine is nothing but a buzz kill.

We could blame this disconnect on cranky people who post reviews before they've had their first caffeine fix of the day, but, in fact, this merely highlights how important it is to understand exactly what type of coffee maker you want before you buy one. People who love a lot of bells and whistles and buy an expensive coffee maker whose sole function is to customize the act of coffee making are often sorely disappointed in their purchase because they wanted a programmable timer, brew strength settings, a clock, pause and serve functions, or other conveniences. By the same token, if you like to be able to tweak and customize every pot you make, a $40 drip coffee maker that's loaded down with electronic controls won't give you what you want.

Types of Coffee Makers
Drip Coffee Makers

Drip coffee makers make multiple cups of coffee, usually in a fairly short period of time. Coffee grounds are placed into a filter, water is added to a separate reservoir, the water heats up, is poured over the grounds, and the brewed coffee drips into an included glass carafe. The carafe sits on a heating element that keeps the coffee hot, usually for several hours. Drip coffee machines can be very simple -- just an on/off switch -- or highly programmable with clocks, delayed start and brew strength settings. Most have some sort of automatic shut-off just in case you forget.

Grind and Brew Coffee Makers

Most people are fine with buying pre-ground coffee, which is available in a vast array of flavors and blends, but there are plenty who instead prefer to buy the whole beans and grind them at home. The idea is that the fresher the ground coffee, the more flavorful the coffee will be. In addition, grinding your own beans lets you tweak the size of the grind, thus more specifically customizing the final flavor. Most people who grind their own beans use a separate coffee grinder (which are covered in their own report), but many love being able to put the coffee beans into one container, water in the other, program the machine, and walk away. Expert reviews often pan grind and brew coffee makers, but users give them a lot of love, and that's what's most important.

Thermal Coffee Makers

While these are also drip coffee makers, they do not have a hot plate. Rather, they have a thermal carafe instead of the heated pad that a glass carafe sets on that keeps coffee hot. Thermal carafes can usually keep coffee hot for up to two hours, but sometimes for much longer. A lot of people prefer this type of coffee maker because they say keeping coffee hot in a container, rather than on a hot plate, better maintains the original flavor.

Coffee Percolators

Remember these? They were probably a fixture on your grandparents' (or parents') counter and they're still wildly popular with people who want to brew a hot, strong pot of coffee as quickly as possible. They couldn't be simpler to use and, although they lack features, many people hook them up to a separate programmable timer so they can wake up to a ready pot.

We also recommend these coffee products:

In this report, we cover full-size coffee makers. If you prefer a making one cup at a time, or are into lovingly preparing each cup from scratch as pour-over and French press aficionados do, see our report on one-cup coffee makers. Also, no serious coffee fanatic's life (or kitchen) is complete without a good coffee grinder for that perfect blend every time.

Finding The Best Coffee Makers
Our Sources1. ConsumerReports.org
Coffee makers2. Cook's Illustrated
Best Coffee Maker (Automatic Drip) 3. TheSweethome.com
The Best Coffee MakerSee All

To find the best coffee makers in all of this confusion, we pored over the results of professional tests from ConsumerReports.org, Cook's Illustrated and TheSweethome.com, read up on what the coffee "experts" had to say, and evaluated hundreds (if not thousands) of owner reviews. Owners and experts definitely diverge in their opinions of which coffee machine is best, possibly more so than with any other small appliance category we cover, and it's interesting to read owner comments regarding the results of professional tests. What we found are the best coffee makers available, from high-end specialty brewers to your basic set it and forget it models. If you're passionate about coffee, one of these will give you the jolt you need.