Types of Coffee Makers
Although one-cup coffee makers (covered in their own report) are popular in their own right, automatic drip coffee makers are the most common choice among those who want to brew fresh coffee at home. Automatic drip brewers consist of a water chamber, filter basket and a carafe. Most have a capacity between 4 and 12 cups, and many have features that make brewing smaller batches easier. Additional features available on some models include programmable brewing time, a built-in water filter and automatic shut-off for added safety.
Thermal coffee makers also fall into the automatic-drip category, but lack a warming plate. Instead, they use a thermal carafe in place of a glass carafe to maintain the temperature of brewed coffee. The advantage of this approach is that it prevents constant heating of brewed coffee, which can cause it to turn bitter. Automatic drip coffee makers range in price from $25 to several hundred dollars, with thermal coffee makers trending towards the upper end of the range.
Grinder-brewer combos will cost you $100 or more and are a good option for consumers who prefer to grind their own coffee beans. These brewers combine a coffee bean grinder with an automatic drip coffee maker, eliminating the need for two separate appliances. However, most receive mediocre reviews, with experts and users agreeing that stand-alone grinders do a better job of grinding beans to the right consistency. Consult our report on coffee grinders for our take on the best choices.
To choose the best coffee makers, we look at professional reviews, which test different models for brew times and temperatures, ease of use and carafe handling. We also consult owner-written reviews, which attest to a coffee maker's performance and durability over time. Owners and professional testers reveal important factors that point to the best coffee makers, such as ease of programming, how long coffee stays hot after brewing and whether the taste becomes bitter over time, and how easy the coffee maker is to clean.
Coffee makers are sometimes recalled due to defects, including some that can potentially lead to injuries. In June 2012, nearly 160,000 Black & Decker coffee makers that attach to the underside of a cabinet were recalled due to more than 1,000 reports of the carafe handle breaking, which poses a risk of cuts and burns. Consumers owning one of these recalled models can visit this website for more information.