If you can’t start the day without caffeine, a coffee maker is undoubtedly the most important automatic appliance on your countertop. Despite the growth in popularity of single-serve, espresso, and cold brew makers, the drip coffee maker still reigns supreme in many households. That's mostly because its process is deceptively simple—just pour hot water over coffee grounds.
With thousands of brewers available, though, shoppers are spoiled for choice. That's why we tested some of the most popular full-size makers on the market. We narrowed the field down to drip machines that ranged in price and could brew at least eight cups and keep your coffee hot. We looked at ease of setup and use, durability, ease of cleaning, and the overall design and features of each machine. Most importantly, we gathered groups of coffee connoisseurs and handed out free samples of specialty coffee, ultimately concluding that the Technivorm Moccamaster KBG(available at Amazon) is the best option on the market. After all, taste is king.
These are the best coffee makers we tested ranked, in order:
Technivorm Moccamaster KBG
Breville BDC450 Precision Brewer with Carafe
Bonavita Connoisseur 8-Cup One-Touch
De’Longhi 3-in-1 Specialty Coffee Brewer
Black & Decker 12-Cup Thermal
Cuisinart 14-Cup Programmable
Chefman Froth and Brew
Hamilton Beach 2-Way
Technivorm Moccamaster KBG
With its mid-century design and an exposed reservoir, you'll want to leave the Moccamaster out on the counter even when it’s not in use. But it doesn't just look great. Indeed, the pricey Moccamaster brews a complex and smooth pot of coffee that ranked the highest—and continues to—in our taste tests. This machine also fills a full pot quickly—a necessity for the morning rush.
We also like that the Moccamaster’s heating element maintains the coffee between 175ºF and 185ºF, ensuring it won’t burn.
The Moccamaster isn't for everyone. Handmade in the Netherlands, it costs around $460—and would never win an award for value. It lacks a programmable timer, and it was also a bit more difficult to set up than the rest of the models we tested—in fact most were ready to go right out of the box. But a quick look at the instruction diagram should clear up any confusion, and the end result is well worth the effort.
If the Moccamaster is well outside your budget, we recommend the Black & Decker 12-Cup Thermal. It falls on the lower end of the price range for drip coffee makers, but it brews a tasty pot and has some useful features that make it a convenient pick for your kitchen.
On taste tests, the Thermal outperformed several more expensive machines, as the shower head dispensed hot water evenly on the grounds in our testing. We found this coffee smooth and not overly bitter. Compared to an earlier model we tested, the discontinued CM1100B, we saw significant improvement in the taste of the coffee. The stainless steel vacuum-sealed thermal carafe feels sturdy, and its spout design ensures that the coffee pours out steadily without spilling.
The intuitive control panel allows users to easily customize the brew times and strength when making coffee. While the Thermal isn’t flimsy, it’s made of materials that feel less durable than more expensive models. It probably won’t stand up to decades of heavy use, but we’ll readily recommend it for the price.
For people who are indecisive about which gear to get, the Breville Precision Brewer can solve the problem—it packs a few coffee gadgets into one. It’s an automatic drip coffee maker with flat-bottom and semi-conical baskets and it can easily turn into a cold brew maker with pre-programmed settings enabled. Additionally, you can buy an adapter to use your favourite pour-over dripper if these options don’t satisfy your brewing needs.
Settings-wise, users can choose Fast, Over Ice, and Gold, which is short for Golden Cup Standard, a precision-driven brewing ratio recommended by the Specialty Coffee Association. There’s also an option to customize your brew with which you can set the water temperature, bloom time, and flow rate. This specialty feature is particularly helpful for pour-over enthusiasts who prefer to have control over every aspect of the brewing process. Thanks to these features, the coffee came out tasty.
When it comes to ease of use, it’s convenient enough to set it and forget it, but it also gives users the flexibility to control the specifics. In addition, we like the Steep and Release valve that automatically prevents the brew head from dripping when the carafe is removed, which means less cleaning work. It has a warming pad that can keep the coffee warm for hours, even with a glass carafe. From a single cup to a 12-cup pot, the Breville can brew for a crowd of any size.
As the demand for versatility increases, major manufacturers are shifting toward brewers equipped with diverse features. Enter this one-of-a-kind brewer—it can accommodate our iced coffee needs with flexibility. At the touch of a button, users can choose from pour-over, drip-style, or bold brew over ice. In our testing, we were impressed with the pour-over feature that gave us barista-quality coffee, thanks to its pulsing shower head design that evenly dispersed hot water over grounds. It also gives users the convenience of making iced coffee by marking the number of ice cubes needed on the carafe.
The only thing we didn’t like was the spout—it was a bit too wide to pour into a mug, causing occasional spilling. Additionally, the pot lid didn’t close securely when pouring the coffee. This normally won’t cause problems, but when the pot was loaded with ice cubes in our testing, we ended up with lots of spilling caused by the ice floating out of the pot.
We compared the coffee machines in terms of their ease of use and setup, reliability, and overall design. We held taste tests where coffee enthusiasts helped us decide which had the most nuanced flavours in our previous testing. Although we weren’t able to hold taste tests with the same group of people in this roundup, we brewed two full carafes of coffee with each machine to check for consistency and brew quality.
What You Should Know About Drip Coffee Makers
How to Use a Drip Coffee Maker
To start brewing, you’ll need to fill the reservoir with filtered water, twist a filter into the brewing head, and add the right amount of coffee grounds into the brew basket. To cut the bitterness of the coffee, our editor recommends adding a pinch of salt in the grounds before brewing starts. But you may also consider investing in a burr grinder, which can significantly improve the taste of your coffee.
How to Brew the Best Coffee
When it comes to brewing, most people tend to overlook the importance of coffee beans. Freshly roasted beans taste more robust, vibrant, and flavorful than pre-packaged grounds. For drip coffee, the ideal grind size is medium to fine because of the brewing mechanism that lets hot water run through the grinds. Due to the differences in temperature, pressure, and extracting method, different brewing methods may require the grounds to be at various degrees of fineness. Take French press, for example—it makes the best coffee when the fresh coffee grounds are coarse.
Another thing to consider is the brew ratio. Specialty Coffee Association recommends 9 to 11 grams of coffee per every 6 ounces of water for the best flavour and smoothness. Although it’s fine to use a coffee scoop to measure the grounds, SCA suggests using a kitchen scale for precise measurements.
How to Clean a Drip Coffee Maker
You might not realize your speedy brewer needs regular cleaning, just like many other appliances. The good news is, you can fill the water tank (also called the water reservoir) with water and white vinegar (at a 1:1 ratio) and let it brew until the carafe is half-filled. Then, rinse out any remaining vinegar-water residue. If you like your machine to be more thoroughly cleaned, you can repeat the process as many times as you'd like. You may also consider descaling and deep cleaning the water tank regularly, as the mineral buildup can clog your machines.
Other Drip Coffee Makers We Tested
Bonavita Connoisseur 8-Cup
With fewer parts than other models we’ve tested, the Bonavita Connoisseur is freakishly easy to assemble. Once it’s up and running, it can brew up to eight cups of coffee—impressive considering it has a small footprint.
It also brews a delicious cup. Its powerful heater can quickly reach the optimal water temperature for brewing and distribute water evenly over the coffee grounds, and the optional pre-infusion mode mimics the pour-over brewing method by pausing the showerhead to give the grounds time to bloom, enabling optimal flavour extraction. The Bonavita 8-cup brewer features one-touch brewing and automatic power-off.
We’ve had no problem brewing a pot of coffee, as the removable filter basket provides convenience as opposed to a traditional coffee maker that requires users to hover over the basket and add the ground coffee from the top. To start brewing, simply press the “Start” button. It took about four and a half minutes to get a full pot from start to finish, but there’s no auto-off. Instead, it gives you an audible signal when brewing completes.
Unfortunately, there’s no valve under the filter basket, which means that there was nothing to stop coffee dripping down onto the warming pad when the carafe was removed after we brewed a pot of coffee.
Like many other Braun products we’ve tested , the Braun MultiServe received high marks for build quality and reliability. Although this Braun lost the taste test to the Moccamaster by a small margin, it’s still one of the finest coffee makers we’ve tested. It offers a range of options for coffee lovers: brew strength, brew temperature, and brew size, as well as specialty features like “Over Ice.” Other than making coffee, it’s great for making tea, iced beverages, or simply dispensing hot water.
The only thing we didn’t like was its size. Though it’s not ridiculously bulky, it does require some significant countertop space in your kitchen. However, if you’re looking for a versatile machine packed with features, this one may be right for you.
The Cuisinart 14-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker brews a solid pot of coffee on its default settings and includes several options that give experts more control.
While it has an option to brew bolder coffee, on the Cuisinart's default setting the coffee turned out smooth but slightly bitter. Tasters also found it lacking in flavour compared to others. The Cuisinart can be programmed to brew coffee at a set time, but multi-function buttons make the process confusing at first.
At 14 cups, the Cuisinart has more capacity than most. Of course, if you don't have 14 coffee drinkers in your home, the 3200 has options for brewing between one to four cups at a time. Despite its larger carafe, the 3200 doesn’t take up much more space than smaller coffee makers, and we appreciate the sleek, stainless exterior.
The Braun BrewSense is stylish, solidly built, and has a handful of useful options. Its 24-hour timer lets you set up your morning coffee a day in advance and it has a separate setting for brewing one to four cups, instead of the full 12-cup pot.
With two brew settings, you can choose how strong you'd like your coffee—our taste testers found the regular setting flavorful and smooth. Unfortunately, they also found it on the bitter side, and weren’t as fond of the coffee overall.
Like other makers with several options, programming the BrewSense wasn’t intuitive. Since some of the buttons serve double duty, less tech-savvy users may find it frustrating.
This Chefman with a built-in foamer is designed for individuals who prefer their coffee with foam but don’t want to spend time using a separate milk frother. We like the compact and simple setup of the machine—it requires minimal assembly. Just plug it in, and the machine can do the rest of the work for you.
Although we were impressed by its quick frothing function, we found the coffee to be mediocre and on the watery end. For first-time users, they might also need to dial in the right milk-to-coffee ratio to achieve the right balance, which could take some time.
A luxurious appliance brand from Italy, Smeg is known for its elegant, classic design, as well as solid build quality—and this coffee maker is no exception. It’s easy to set up and start brewing as there’s no assembly required. It also comes with a reusable mesh filter, but users can still opt for paper filters if they prefer. There’s an anti-drip valve that prevents coffee from leaking through the brew head to keep the warming pad clean and dry.
However, this beautiful machine isn’t without flaws. In our testing, we found that it was difficult to refill or empty the water reservoir, which caused spilling. In the taste test, we found the coffee to be a bit too watery and bland compared to the Moccamaster. Smeg will do the job, but don’t expect it to brew the highest quality cup.
There’s absolutely nothing fancy about the Black & Decker CM1200B 12-Cup Switch Coffeemaker, but it does brew a decent cup, especially for a machine that costs less than a week of Starbucks.
This coffee was smooth and not overly bitter, according to taste testers. But compared to other models, tasters found the CM1200B’s coffee weaker and slightly bland.
The CM1200B couldn’t be easier to use. Once you put in the ground and water, just flip the switch and wait. And just like the other Black & Decker on our list, the CM1200B lets you pull out the carafe mid-brew if the caffeine situation gets desperate.
The CM1200B’s durability is in line with its price. It's not flimsy, but don’t expect the CM1200B to be the last coffee maker you buy.
For the coffee drinker who needs only a cup or two most days, but wants that full pot option, the Hamilton Beach 2-Way has a unique solution. In a machine not much larger than a typical coffee maker, users get the choice between brewing a whole pot, or using a coffee pod to brew just a single cup.
While that’s an attractive feature that makes this a popular seller on Amazon, the Hamilton Beach’s coffee was taste testers’ least favourite. Several testers felt it was bland or watery, while others found it middle of the road.
Valerie Li Stack is a senior staff writer for Kitchen & Cooking. She is an experienced home cook with a passion for experimenting with the cuisines of countries she's visited. Driven by an interest in food science, Valerie approaches the culinary scene with a firm grasp of cooking processes and extensive knowledge of ingredients. She believes food speaks to all people regardless of language and cultural background.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.