There are numerous ways to get your caffeine fix in the morning: espresso machine, pour-over, French press, moka pot, stove-top percolator, and so on. There’s also the traditional coffee maker. Even the pickiest people (that is, those in the coffee industry) have one at home for regular, set-it-and-forget-it brewing. But not all coffee makers are made equal, so I asked a few baristas, roasters, and coffee shop owners about their favorite models — the ones they use to brew a consistently good cup of coffee (or two, or three).
Capacity: This is a simple topic, but the capacity of a coffee maker should be considered when deciding whether or not to use it in your own setup. The majority of the machines on this list can make up to eight or ten cups, with one slightly larger at 12 cups, one slightly smaller at four cups, and one with the unique ability to brew a single cup at a time (helpful if the day-to-day coffee consumption in your household varies).
Size: While not as huge as most espresso machines, the best coffee machines are here nevertheless take up a lot of counter space — enough so that it’s an important factor to consider when purchasing one. I’ve made a note of the sizes of each.
Temperature hold: The majority of the coffee makers on this list brew into a stainless-steel thermal carafe, which keeps your coffee warm for several hours without having to reheat it from the bottom. Professionals like this approach since it does not result in burnt-tasting coffee. However, one of the models we’ve mentioned doesn’t do this, and the other two are for iced coffee.
Thermal carafe | 8 cups | 12.4″ x 6.8″ x 12.2″
The Bonavita Connoisseur was mentioned by the majority of the specialists. The machine’s ability to brew at the right temperature is one of the main reasons. Few coffee makers, according to Ken Nye, owner of Ninth Street Espresso, “consistently bring water to that 198- to 202-degree range,” which he refers to as the “broadly agreed-upon benchmark.” The Connoisseur also “maintains that temperature throughout the brewing process,” according to Nye. It also brews directly into an insulated thermal carafe, allowing you to keep your coffee warm without having to heat it from the bottom.
The Connoisseur’s flat-bottomed basket (where the grinds go) and showerlike spout provide constant water distribution and extraction. According to George Howell, owner and originator of George Howell Coffee, the flat-bottomed basket “spreads the grounds out evenly.”
Finally, it is programmable, according to Connie Blumhardt, founder and publisher of Roast magazine. “A terrific alternative for coffee enthusiasts who want to brew at the press of a button without losing quality,” she says. Our model may not be as feature-rich as some of the other alternatives on this list — or on the market in general — but experts recommend it over the competition because of its affordable pricing, ease of use, and, most importantly, its dependability. “It’s consistent from beginning to end,” Howell explains.
[Editor’s note: This coffee maker’s eight-cup version is now only available through third-party Amazon vendors and is out of stock anywhere else.] If you don’t require as much coffee at once, the five-cup version is available on Amazon for $130.]
Reheated from underneath or in a thermal carafe | 10 cups | 12.3″ x 6.5″ x 14″
The second most popular coffee maker was the Technivorm Moccamaster. It’s pricy, but professionals who use it say it’s well worth the money if you want to invest in the best technology available. The Moccamaster, like the Bonavita Connoisseur, provides consistent temperature control and uniform brewing. While the “brewing mechanics” are similar to those used in less-expensive drip coffee makers, Suyog Mody, founder of Driftaway Coffee, notes that the Moccamaster “is designed with better materials and sturdy construction.” “I’ve been using it on a regular basis for the past three years and have had no problems,” he says. “It’s really not a big deal.” And, to tell you the truth, it looks great on the kitchen counter.” While the design is pleasing, and the manufacturing quality indicates that it should last a long time, experts would not recommend this coffee maker unless it produced a high-quality beverage. “I’ve tasted coffee from a variety of brewers, and this one consistently produces a superior cup,” says Jim Munson, president and founder of Brooklyn Roasting Company.
Jerad Morrison, co-founder and co-CEO of San Francisco-based Sightglass, is a fan of the Technivorm as well, but prefers a slightly different type. His favorite has all of the same features as the others, but instead of pouring coffee into a glass carafe on top of a burner plate, it pours it into a stainless-steel thermal carafe (just like the Connoisseur). “It keeps coffee hot for several hours without altering the flavor or making it taste burnt,” he claims.
12 cup | 8.6″ x 12.9″ x 13.5″ | Reheated from below
When it comes to coffee machines, Jamie McCormick, co-owner of the East Village coffee business Abraço, says he wants to make things as simple as possible. When it comes to brewing equipment, he argues, “people make a big deal out of a lot of nothing.” Mr. Coffee, he believes, is an excellent alternative for any “amateur coffee roaster who wants to flatter their grinds.” As a self-taught coffee roaster, I can attest to this. Before moving to a stove-top percolator to conserve counter space, I used the Mr. Coffee machine and was never disappointed. Because it lacks the high-tech mechanism that some of the other models on this list have, McCormick does provide one essential piece of advice: While the machine is brewing, open it up and “stir the grounds to ensure that they all become hydrated.”
9″ x 14.8″ x 16.1″ | Thermal carafe | 1–8 cups
Noah McKeown, a general manager at Go Get Em Tiger in Los Angeles, enthusiastically recommends this strategy. “The valve hole in the lid allows the coffee to brew directly into the carafe, which is the true selling feature for me,” he explains. “It’s safer since the liquid doesn’t splash out, and it traps heat and aromatics better.” There’s also an attachment that lets you to brew one to four cups of coffee instead of the usual five to eight. The settings are somewhat adjusted so that it pulses out less water at a time and agitates the ground beans a little more. McKeown describes it as “nearly like preparing a pour-over but in your automatic coffee maker.”
Thermal carafe | 10 cups | 9.75″ x 9.5″ x 15.5″
The name of the machine explains why you should buy it: A built-in burr grinder is included. Yes, it’s more expensive, but grinders are already very costly – not to mention that they take up extra space in your kitchen. “The Capresso drip gives the cleanest-tasting cup,” writes Kat Odell, author of Day Drinking, in addition to its simplicity. Finally, it has a thermal carafe, which many professionals prefer to a hot plate.
Cold | 4 cups | 9.5″ x 9.53″ x 14.7″
Cold-brew makers aren’t precisely plug-in electric coffee makers, but they’re essential for anyone who drinks iced coffee all year. Dennis Ngo, chef and co-owner of Brooklyn eatery Di An Di, is a big fan of this one. “The smoothness and mild acidity of cold-brewed coffee caught me,” Ngo adds. “It allows me to experiment with different beans and concentrations, plus it makes enough cold brew to last me two weeks.” It also stacks for storage, which is essential in my cramped New York flat.”
Cold | 8 cups | 4.3″ x 4.3″ x 12.2″
If you want to go any smaller, the guys at Brooklyn’s Parlor Coffee recommend this Hario jug that can brew and then store in your refrigerator — which, despite its tiny size, carries more coffee. “I enjoy the basic form and function,” adds Stephanie Dana, Hario’s communications director (something we’ve heard repeatedly about Hario’s products). “It’s also multipurpose; I use mine for decanting a bottle of wine or cold-brewing tea.”