Q: Are Expensive Coffee Makers Worth It
Expensive coffee makers are worth it for the right coffee drinker. More expensive machines often include built-in frothers, pressure or temperature adjustment settings, and different brew sizes. If you like to tinker with your brew, one of these machines might be the best coffee maker for your needs. A no-nonsense coffee drinker who just wants to make the coffee and go probably doesnt need all the bells and whistles.
How Well Does It Make Coffee
Great coffee from a coffee maker seems like a pretty crucial requirement, right? Well, a lot of the machines struggle to do just that. The best coffee makers brew full-bodied, smooth coffee. And there are a couple of reasons some are better than others. For starters, my favorite machines are certified by the Specialty Coffee Association , which means they meet the SCAs Golden Cup standard for brew strength.
The standard considers coffee-to-water ratio, time of coffee-to-water contact, temperature, and more. It can get pretty technical, but the standard is two tablespoons of ground coffee per six ounces of water. The worst coffee makers of the bunch call for about half that amount, leading to watery, weak coffee. Now, you might be wondering if you can just use the correct Golden Ratio amount to fix these weaker machines? Unfortunately you can not, as their brew baskets are also much smaller and this would cause them to overflow, as coffee expands when wet.
Best Small Coffee Maker: Oxo Brew 8
This smaller coffee maker is seriously impressive and reasonably priced. Its shorter stature means that it can easily get tucked away on a shelf if you need it to live somewhere thats not on your counter. It brews consistently good, full-bodied coffee and takes about 7 minutes to make a whole carafe. It also keeps coffee hot for hours and while the water reservoir is narrow and therefore a little tough to fill, the control panel is clearly labeled and the machine is super easy to use. This coffee maker allows you to brew a single serving of coffee right into a mug and even comes with a separate brew basket for this smaller amount.
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The Best Drip Coffee Maker For Extra
This Ninja made the strongest-tasting coffee of all the machines tested. You can brew at two different strengthsclassic or richbut we found that even the classic setting produced a rather full-flavored cup. The design isnt particularly interesting, but the construction is solid. One notable feature is an easy-to-grip water tank that can be filled up at the sink at the exact level you want. This is something few coffee makers havemost require you to fill a coffeepot with water, then fill the machine. Its a small thing, but thats one less step between you and your java.
Best Sustainable: Counter Culture Coffee
Counter Culture was the inaugural winner of Roast Magazine’s Roaster of the Year Award, all the way back in 2005. The company has sustained excellence ever since, but it’s not just the taste of the coffee that it puts care into. Counter Culture is widely regarded as one of the most ethical coffee brands because of its direct-trade standards and eco-friendly farming. You can even find annual sustainability reports on the company website. Choose from a variety of ethically sourced blends in sizes ranging from 12 ounces to a whopping 5 pounds.
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A Note About Cup Capacity And Coffee Ratios
While researching coffee machines, we came across models that describe their capacity in cups or ounces. The US government considers a cup to be eight ounces, but coffee maker manufacturers dont always follow this. Depending on the manufacturer, a cup can range from four to six ounces, which makes it difficult if youre shopping by max capacity.
All the manufactures include a recipe for brewing coffee, with each calling for different amounts and ratios. But we wanted to make the same amount of coffee in each machine during each test to control as many variables as possible. For consistency and accuracy, we used a scale, instead of volume measurements that many people rely on at home. We settled on a 16:1 water-to-coffee ratio for our tests, and weighed both on our favorite kitchen scale.
What To Consider When Buying A Coffee Maker
There are so many different coffee makers on the market that it can be hard to know which is the best option for you.
If you enjoy a simple americano and dont like milk-based drinks, then a drip filter coffee maker will be a great option. Plus, these machines can make as many as 12 cups of coffee in one go. If you just want small quantities of coffee, wed recommend a single-serve coffee maker from Keurig or Nespresso.
If you do like milk-based coffee, then there are quite a few options available. Some coffee machines are fully automated and have a built-in frother that will be able to create a variety of milk textures. Alternatively, some espresso machines have steam arms which you place into a jug of milk and froth the milk yourself. Theres a third option too – and this includes buying a separate milk frother which is a stand-alone machine. Youll be able to use these to make everything from lattes to hot chocolates, and they make a great accompaniment to a pod coffee maker.
Coffee drinkers that like plenty of customization options will be best suited to a coffee maker that lets you adjust the strength of your brew and brew different sizes of hot drink. Many premium espresso makers will let you do both of these things, but you can also adjust the strength and the aroma of your coffee with a good drip filter model.
If youre still not sure, you can find a more detailed breakdown in our article covering which type of coffee maker to buy.
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Best Budget: Hamilton Beach 12
If you cant or dont want to spend a lot of money on a coffee maker, I get it. This coffee maker is the best of the budget-friendly models I tried. Its coffee is weaker than my top picks, but significantly better than others in its price range. It takes about 10 minutes to brew a full pot of coffee, but its intuitive to use and I like that the brew basket is positioned at the front, which makes it easily accessible. The water reservoir, however, is located at the back and harder to see, but it is much larger than some of the other cheaper coffee makers I tried. It keeps coffee hot for hours, too, and it has an auto-brew setting.
Breville Grind Control Coffee Maker $32935
|Steep and Release technology|
|Adjust the grinder output to suit any bean|
|Bean Hopper 1 by 2 lb & Water Tank Capacity: 60 oz-12 cup|
Imagine getting the freshest cup of coffee every time you brew without having to grind at all, this is one of the best features of Breville Grind Control aside from the Programmable Automatic Start and the Steep and Release Technology.
The Breville Grind Control comes with an LCD Display that shows the grind setting, grind time, and the number of cups selected.
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Choosing A Coffee Machine That Lasts
As well as choosing a coffee machine that makes a tasty espresso or latte, you’ll want one that will keep doing so for years to come.
We survey coffee machine owners to find out which coffee makers last the distance when you get them home, so check our guide to the most and least reliable coffee machine brands to help narrow down your search.
Coffee Maker Types: Automatic Manual Pour
Youve likely seen coffee makers at coffee shops and offices, and might have one at home. Most coffee makers fall into one of a handful of categories: manual brewers, drip brewers, and single-cup brewers. Whether you go manual or choose an automatic drip machine is up to you.
When it comes to manual brewing, there are a few different styles to choose from. Jessica Easto, author of Craft Coffee: A Manual, noted that pour-overdevices require a bit more technique and some work best with special kettles, but there are tons to choose from at a bunch of different price points. If you enjoy the ceremony and ritual of making coffee, a pour-over brewer might be your best choice. Most pour-over devices are shaped like cones, which are set over a cup or carafe, Easto explained. You add a filter and the coffee, and then pour water over it hence the name.
People who drink both coffee and tea will be more familiar with the full immersion style. Full immersion divisions let the coffee steep in the water for the whole brew cycle, like tea, she explained, adding that the most popular example is the French press. It’s super easy and you don’t really need special equipment to use it, so I always recommend it to people trying to dip their toe into manual coffee, she said.
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Most Customizable: Breville Precision Brewer Drip Coffee Maker With Thermal Carafe
If you want a coffee maker with a ton of features, this is the one for you. It makes consistently great, velvety coffee and brews 8 cups of coffee in less than 6 minutes. Its also easy to use, has a fairly intuitive control panel, and keeps coffee warm for hours. I love the large handle on the brew basket, the clear markings on the front of the water reservoir, and that the reservoir has a large opening that is easy to fill. As for those extra features, heres what this Breville model offers: Gold mode , fast mode that makes 12 cups of coffee in less than 7 minutes, strong mode that brews stronger-tasting coffee, cold brew mode, and over ice mode to make stronger coffee to account for the dilution that happens with ice in iced coffee. You can also adjust bloom time, brewing temp, and flow rate, as well as brew a single serving of coffee and even buy a pour over adapter for it.And it also has an auto-start setting.
Sage Barista Pro: The Best Under 750
Price: £700 | Buy now from Sage
If you’re looking for an all-in-one manual espresso machine, then the Barista Pro takes some beating. While cheaper all-in-one machines can make a half-decent espresso, the Barista Pro is capable of ekeing almost every drop of flavour from the finest coffee beans.
It’s also far more consistent than cheaper machines its integrated burr grinder accurately delivers the same amount of ground coffee time after time, and the volumetric sensor pushes the same amount of water through the coffee for a simply pitch-perfect cup of espresso.
Unlike some of Sage’s recent models, the Pro is a fully manual machine, but it’s well worth taking the time to dial in the perfect settings do that, and the quality of coffee is impressive. The thermojet technology means that you won’t be waiting around, either, as it takes just 3 seconds to get up to temperature.
Price: £1,200 | Buy now from Sage
Price: £1,889 | Buy now from Sage
If Sage’s Dual Boiler is just too daunting a prospect, but you still want a high-end espresso machine, then the Oracle Touch could be for you. Where the Dual Boiler requires a healthy dash of skill, and the standard Oracle assaults you with an array of buttons and LCD displays, the Oracle Touch replaces the lot with a friendly, bright, colourful touchscreen. Pick from one of the preset drink types and it will take you from coffee bean to delicious cappuccino, latte, flat white or more without befuddling you along the way.
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How We Tested Coffee Machines
The coffee machines featuring above were some of the best performing from within their category tests. Our reviews experts put products through their paces in controlled conditions and marked each against a set of core and contributing criteria. The average marks out of five across the following determined the overall star rating of each machine. Find our more about how we test products here.
- Coffee quality
For example, with espresso, we looked for a rich colour, bold aroma, intense flavour and a hazelnut coloured top of silky crema.
- Quality of materials
Coffee machines are big investments, so every element must be built to withstand daily use over a long period of time.
- Value for money
Overpriced? Cheap feel? The quality offered must feel like good return for the investment.
- Ease of use
Coffee machines shouldn’t require an hour of studying a convoluted instruction manual. They also need to be simple enough to use when half asleep or in a rush.
- Ease of assembly and packaging
We scored on the protective quality of the packaging, quantity of single-use plastic used and how simple each was to put together.
The following secondary criteria also played into our decision-making
- Extra features
- Footprint on the countertop
- Aesthetic design
Whatever your priorities, we’ve carefully, scrutinised and scored coffee machines so that only the best make it into our buyer’s guides. Find the best coffee machine for your budget and kitchen right here.
Best Coffee Maker Top 10 Pick Reviewed For 2022
- Digital Controls with Rubberized Feel – Large, rubberized buttons give you full control of the coffeemaker, and the easy-read screen displays the clock, brew time, and programming options
- Sneak-a-Cup – This feature temporarily stops the flow of coffee so you can pour your first cup before brewing ends without making a mess
- 2-Hour Auto Shutoff – For added safety and peace of mind with every use. Volts : 120V/60Hz
- Easy-View Water Window – The front-facing window shows you the exact amount of water that will turn into coffee
- Keep Hot Carafe Plate – The nonstick carafe plate keeps coffee warm for an hour after brewing is complete.. Note: Cup equals approximately 5 oz.
- Classic or Rich, each brew is flavorful and never bitter with custom brew strengths
- Hotter brewing technology: Advanced boiler for a perfectly hot cup of coffee
- Wake up to hot coffee. 24-hour programmable delay brew allows you to prepare your brew up to a day in advance
- Keep coffee fresh and flavorful up to 4 hours with the adjustable warming plate
- Conveniently carry the 60-oz. removable water reservoir to your sink for easy filling. Dishwasher-safe parts: Yes
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Our Drip Coffee Maker Testing Methodology
I have around a decade’s worth of experience in the specialty coffee industry. Before testing and reviewing coffee products I worked as a barista, helped open a cafe, and worked behind the scenes in packaging and distribution. For additional expertise, I spoke with Max Gaultieri, barista, roaster and founder of Joules and Watts coffee in Malibu California, and Jessica Rodriguez, who heads the Certified Home Brewer program at the SCA. The coffee makers in this guide were thoroughly tested based on the following objective criteria:Build quality: While testing, I paid attention to the quality of the build, most notably what each coffee maker was primarily made of, I also noted which type of carafe each used and whether they were thermal or glass kept warm with a heating plate.
Brewing capacity: For this criteria, I simply noted the maximum brewing capacity for each coffee maker. The machines I tested ranged from 8 to 12 cups of brewing capacity
Ease of setup and use: To test this, I followed the manufacturer’s instructions for setup and operation for each coffee maker. During the setup, I paid close attention to how easy each coffee maker was to set up and use and whether there were any awkward controls or components on each machine.
Type of filtration: Each coffee maker uses either a reusable filter paper filters, or has the ability to use either.
Popular Choice: Calphalon Special Brew 10
- Fresh brew timer
- Delay brew function for easy brewing
- Premium boiling system extracts 20% more flavour
- Warming plate keeps coffee hot
- Carafe lid is not detachable
- Spills easily
Known for its cookware line, the Calphalon Special Brew 10-Cup Coffee Maker is making a name for itself in its own category. This model offers brew-strength control, programming, an LED display, and a 10-cup glass carafe.
Featuring a premium boiling system, it boasts a strong temperature to extract 20% more flavour from your grounds. It also has an adjustable flavour setting and a fresh-brew timer that tracks how long ago your coffee was made. Its non-stick warming plate will also keep your coffee piping hot for up to four hours and prevents scorching.
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Bodum Eileen French Press $4142
|Designed in honor of the great Irish designer Eileen Gray|
|Solid stainless steel frame|
|34 oz. capacity.|
The Bodum Eileen French Press has a glass container that is made out of a borosilicate beaker, which has excellent heat-resistant properties. This French press also comes with a spiral plate, a filter mesh, and a cross plate that holds the filter in place to ensure that only water passes through and not the coffee grounds.