Much of the world starts the day with a hot beverage, and coffee gives many of us the lift we need to get going. Investing in a great drip coffee maker makes sure you get a consistent cup of hot, fragrant coffee with every brew.
Our Top Pick: Bonavita BV1800
In this guide we will help you discover the best drip coffee maker for you through in-depth explanations, tips and reviews.
What Is A Drip Coffee Maker? Drip coffee is made by running hot water over ground coffee beans, then filtering this beverage into a glass carafe on a burner or into a thermal carafe. Drip coffee makers are the most common coffee making tools for home and office.
Why Get A Drip Coffee Maker?
While great coffee is available at many specialty shops and restaurants, investing in a quality coffee maker for your home gives you the chance to
- start the day at your convenience, without having to venture out
- experiment with different brands and flavors of coffee, perhaps creating custom blends
- try different levels of coffee grounds and grades (and grinds) of bean to brew the perfect cup of coffee for your taste.
How Well Do They Work?
An SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) approved drip coffee maker cost a bit more than the standard machine purchased at your local big box store, but there are terrific benefits.
For that expense, you get a showerhead method of brewing, designed to bring out the best flavor of the beans and a finished temperature guarantee of between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit / 91 to 96 degrees Celsius.
Additionally, many SCAA certified drip coffee makers brew directly into a carafe, not a glass pot on a burner. If you need to walk away from your coffee maker, there's no risk of scorching or cooking down the remaining beverage.
Drip coffee makers come in a variety of sizes, serving vessels and water delivery methods. Generally, SCAA approved coffee makers include a showerhead style of water delivery to the filter basket and stringent water temperature requirements.
Features & Specifications
What is the best coffee maker for my home or office? Keep the following features and specifications in mind when choosing a coffee maker.
For larger families, offices, or heavy drinkers, the size of the carafe and speed in which coffee is brewed will be important. For others, making a single cup of coffee at a time may be more ideal.
There are several options to consider when purchasing your automatic coffee maker.
- How many coffee drinkers are in your household or office?
- How much coffee do you currently go through per day?
You can purchase any size from a 1 cup coffee maker to a 12 cup coffee maker.
Keep in mind that many single cup coffee makers require special coffee pods or K-Cups, which can be more expensive than using a bag of ground coffee.
Do you prefer a glass coffee carafe, or a thermal coffee maker carafe?
When choosing between a glass carafe and a thermal one, it's important to keep in mind your daily habits.
- If your day tends to start in a rush, with children to drop off, work deadlines to meet and a schedule to keep, a drip coffee maker with a carafe can be an excellent choice.
- For those of us who've burned up brain cells worrying about whether or not we left the coffee pot on, there is an answer. A drip coffee maker with a thermal carafe has no burner.
Glass carafes are probably the most popular choice since they are typically less expensive than thermal carafes.
You may also be familiar with some of the problems with them such burnt coffee in the bottom or glass carafes being broken by someone rinsing the hot glass under cold water.
SEE ALSO: How To Remove Burnt Smells In The House
A thermal carafe can be an excellent choice because there is no risk of leaving a glass pot on a hot burner; once the coffee brews, all the hot liquid is contained.
This also results in a portable pot of hot coffee, rather than being tethered to the burner.
Coffee makers occupy dedicated real estate on your counter, and many high end coffee makers have a bigger footprint.
Whether you want a 12 cup or an 8 cup coffee maker, be aware that many of these units can be nearly 12 inches / 30.5 cm deep, so plan accordingly.
In order to prevent coffee grounds from getting in to your delicious cup of coffee you will need a filter. In general there are two types of coffee filters:
Paper Filters – These are the most abundant and cheapest options for filtering coffee. Most coffee machines have the option of using paper filters even if they are designed to use mesh filters. Generally they do a great job and the leftover coffee grounds and filter can be composted or tossed in the trash after each use.
Mesh Filters – The benefits of mesh filters are that they don’t need to be replaced after each use. Once your coffee has brewed and the filter has cooled down, you can toss the grounds in to your compost bin or garbage and then cleaned. On the other hand, replacing these filters can be expensive if they begin to rust or become damaged.
Which is better? We prefer the classic paper coffee filters because there is less chance for grounds ending up in our coffee. If you were to accidentally damage a mesh filter, a tiny hole may allow grounds to pass through and a replacement can be costly.
However, not all paper coffee filters are made equally and some may alter the flavor of your coffee. It’s always best to use filters recommended by the manufacturer.
Several drip coffee makers include a water filtration feature. This is a portion of your coffee maker you'll want to monitor carefully and change as instructed by the manufacturer.
There are two great reasons to use a water filter for your coffee maker. Both of these reasons are affected by minerals in your tap water. If you have a water softener or if you have hard water, a water filter can:
- Greatly improve the flavor of your coffee.
- Help prevent your coffee machine clogging up.
Grind & Brew
Many coffee maker brands include additional features such as timers or grind and brew. While this can mean that you wake to the aroma of freshly ground, freshly brewed coffee wafting through the house, you can also have an unusable coffee maker if the grinder feature fails.
Higher end coffee makers offer ways to control the strength of your brew by calculating the amount of water to be used versus the amount of coffee added. This is especially true for grind and brew models.
Basic drip coffee maker models will require you to determine how much ground coffee and water to add.
SEE ALSO: Best Coffee Roaster
The auto-shutoff feature can be nice if you need to sneak a quick cup, but if you or members of your household are not accurate about lining the pot back up under the drip basket, you'll have wasted coffee and a terrible hot mess.
Apps & Programming
Additional modern add-ons include coffee makers with wi-fi access, remote control coffee makers, and coffee makers with phone apps. You'll still need to attend to basic preparation, including adding water and coffee, but these features can offer users the chance to start their day on the right footing.
Coffee Maker Brands
Mr. Coffee is one of the most popular drip coffee makers on the market. These units are available in a variety of sizes and generally come with a glass carafe, auto-shutoff burners and the chance to sneak a cup while brewing.
Keurig Coffee Machines brew single cups of coffee and other beverages from small plastic cups inserted at the front of the machine. You can also purchase personal, refillable cups to reduce plastic waste and expense.
One of the benefits of owning a Keurig is that you can treat your guests to more than coffee, as these units will also make delicious hot cocoa and apple cider. A drawback is that if six people want coffee at the same time, you'll have to brew six separate cups.
Update: Some Keurig machines are able to brew a carafe of coffee.
Bonavita drip coffee makers are available in a variety of sizes and styles. Their line of thermal carafes is particularly varied. If you need an 8 cup capacity but don't have much counter space, the BV1800SS coffee maker is less than 9 inches / 23 cm deep.
Breville coffee makers are visually striking and feature a brushed nickel finish. These units include built-in grinders and flavor controls. For smaller households, the YouBrew offers coffee fans the chance to brew a single cup or small carafe of delicious coffee.
Hamilton Beach has a long history of making kitchen appliances and has a variety of drip coffee makers. A unique unit available from them is the 48464 BrewStation, which brews and holds coffee until you're ready for a cup. If you've ever struggled with carafes that drip and splatter, this unit may be just the one for you!
De'Longhi drip coffee makers generally include a glass carafe and are visually striking units as the pot is encased in a nest within the coffee maker. Fans of espresso will be delighted to know that De'Longhi offers a machine that will make both coffee and espresso.
Bunn drip coffee makers are available in commercial and home format. This is often the coffee maker put to use in many restaurants. Home brew units can be purchased with a direct water line, so if you've got a need for hot water in addition to coffee, installing one of these units will cover you!
Cuisinart kitchen appliances are often the go-to workhorses for many cooks, and their drip coffee makers will last for years. Additionally, this manufacturer offers a 12 cup thermal carafe, while most manufacturers don't offer more than 10 cups. Cuisinart drip coffee makers are available in glass and thermal carafe, and offer a clean, simple look of brushed stainless steel.
For many of us, coffee is part of our daily ritual and the fuel that gets our brains going. If you're a fan of this very necessary beverage, investing in a great drip coffee maker is a gift to yourself that you should indulge in.
Purchase a unit that looks great on your counter, and if you've got a home office or workspace, consider getting a thermal carafe so your fuel of choice is conveniently available.