When people ask what are the best coffee makers, the answer lies in the type of coffee you prefer. Does a shot of espresso do it for you, or do you prefer a drip coffee or a cold brew? Just a quick morning brew may be enough, while other situations call for a carafe on the warmer. Regardless of which machine you choose, we’d like to run you through some useful facts about coffee makers. With such a broad range of coffee machines on the market, you’re bound to find the perfect match.
Two Kinds of Coffee Makers
Generally, you can choose between two methods of extracting coffee. Different methods require different types of coffee makers.
1. Espresso Coffee Makers
Espresso is essentially made by shooting near boiling water through relatively fine ground coffee. You can procure a rich, complex and aromatic coffee in less than 30 seconds.
Although a concentrated beverage, one espresso shot contains less caffeine that the average cup of brew. Espresso is the base of all those specialty coffees we love like cappuccino, latte, flat white, Americano and breve. So, if you want these, then you’ll need an espresso machine.
2. Brewed Coffee Makers
Brewing means to pass water through the coffee grounds with less pressure and more time than the espresso. Brewing is quite broad and would include pour over drip coffee, cold brew, French press, percolated, and siphon coffee. Apart from the different beans, grounds and blends, each brewing technique produces different results. For the most part, coffee makers replicate the pour over method, while other types of coffee are brewed from different devices and contraptions.
See our guide and reviews for the best cold brew coffee makers.
Features to Look For in a Coffee Making Machine
- Assembly and cleaning
- Filters and filter papers
- Hot plate or thermal jug
- Control features
1. Assembly and Cleaning
The best coffee makers are easy to take apart and clean with a detachable water tank. Your coffee machine will need to be cleaned or descaled about once a month. Sometimes a descaling solution is provided, but for the most part you can just use vinegar. For detachable parts, you might want to check whether they are safe to put in a dishwasher.
See the end of this article for tips on how to clean a coffee machine.
2. Metal Filters or Filter Papers
Many coffee makers these days have a permanent metal or gauze filter. It’s usually possible to add your own paper filters to remove unpleasant grits, or for better filtration of cholesterol oils, which can adversely affect cholesterol levels in some people.
For the more environmentally conscious, there are unbleached papers, and you can also get reusable cloth filters made from hemp. Filters come in different sizes according to machine design, and they can either be flat based or cone shaped. Many people say that cone shaped filters brew a slightly stronger and richer coffee.
3. Hot Plate and Thermal Jug
A hot plate is necessary if you need to keep a carafe hot for a while. Keeping coffee warm for too long though will turn it bitter, so most hot plates will keep your coffee hot for two hours or up to four, before switching off. While a glass carafe looks more classic, some people feel a thermal jug preserves the flavor better. Also, glass carafes can be quite fragile and are often expensive to replace.
4. Control Functions
A delay brew or autostart function is what you need if you want coffee waiting for you in the morning, or any other time of day. Brew pause is a very useful feature which enables you to grab a cup or two out of the carafe before the brew cycle is finished. Auto shutdown is a safety feature worth having, especially when you get caught up in a rush.
Reviews of The Best Coffee Makers in 2021
- Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer Coffee Machine – Best to Buy
- Bunn Speed Brew – Best for Drip Coffee
- Ninja Cold and Hot Brew System – Best for Cold Brew
- Hamilton Beach The Scoop Coffee Machine - Best for Single Brews
- Mueller K-Cup Compatible Brewer – Best for K-Cup Single Brews
- Mr. Coffee All-In-One Pour Over Coffee Maker – Best for Pour Over
- Krups Grind and Brew Coffee Maker – Best With a Grinder
Here are our top picks for the best coffee making machines in 2021:
1. Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer - Best to Buy in 2021
We chose this Hamilton Beach because the brand itself guarantees quality, it looks great, and caters to diverse needs. This coffee maker does a 12-cup carafe or just do a single brew, which includes the option of soft pods.
Two brew chambers
Permanent or paper filtration
Delay brew timer
Soft pod compatible
Light quite bright at night
Single brew time a little long
Travel flask not included
Stylish and Convenient
A great coffee maker should add style and elegance to your kitchen, and this machine’s curved design does this well. Additionally, the single server is adjustable to accommodate any mug size to a travel flask. The flask depicted in the product picture is not included in the package though.
It’s programmable up to 24 hours so you can have coffee ready when you wake up or get to the office, and it has an auto shutoff function. A simple lever can switch between mug and carafe, and you have the choice of strong or regular brew. There’s a convenient brew pause feature and a hot-plate– basically everything is there!
Filters and Soft Pods
For filters, you can use the permanent metal filter, or you can use your own preferred paper ones. This gives users choice, cuts down on waste and suits people who needextra filtration of cafestol or grits. For filters, we recommend you go with these unbleached, high quality Melita Cup Filter Papers.
This machine is not K-cup compatible, but we feel that soft pods are a much better environmental choice. Soft pods are a quick and easy option for single serves and you can also enjoy different blends. They recommend that you use Senseo brand pods, but there are quite a few other compatible choices, and if it suits you, you can also make your own pods.
This Hamilton Beach coffee machine is generally well-reviewed and the most appreciated feature is the single serve option. For some people the brew time of the single serve is a little long. It’s recommended for a stronger pod coffee to use two soft pods. Also, the light can be somewhat bright if you are sleeping in the same room.Check Latest Price on Amazon
2. Bunn Speed Brew 10-Cup - Best Coffee Maker for Drip Coffee
Great coffee makers are not necessarily the ones with all the bells and whistles. Ultimately, what determines a good coffee machine are the people who purchase and use it. There are quite a few popular coffee makers for the best drip coffee machine, but they all came up with major flaws, which is why we chose this Bunn.
Easy to use
4-minute brew time
High quality carafe
No permanent filter included
No automatic shutoff
After going through dozens and dozens of reviewer comments, these are some of the pattern complaints we noticed: The Cuisinart has major issues with carafe and water tank design. The OXO has many quality issues, unfulfilled expectations from customers and is overpriced. The other top contender, the Ninja, had repeated issues with the side water tank, slow brew time, leaks, and a poor quality carafe that is rather expensive to replace if broken.
Why Bunn Velocity Brewer?
What we concluded was that most complaints about this machine were more about occasional manufacturing flaws, rather than niggling design issues. Customers are impressed with the speed at which it brews and the quality of the brew.
The machine is a bit noisy when boiling water and you have to be careful to position the carafe precisely. When using filter papers make sure to wet them properly first, and don’t use fine grounds to avoid overflowing
Key Features of The Bunn Velocity Brewer
- The internal water tank keeps hot water on demand, and it gets a 10-cup carafe ready in four minutes.
- It has a vacation switch for when you’re away and users report energy usage is negligible.
- The carafe is good quality, pours really nicely and if it breaks, it’s easy to buy a replacement at a relatively low cost. .
- It comes with a 3-year warranty which is something you won’t get with any other machine in this class.
If you’re feeling a bit squeezed for cash, there is also the cheaper, original Bunn GRB. We chose this Speed Brew because it is slightly better reviewed, more stylish, robust and can also take a permanent filter, but you have to buy it from another vendor.Check Latest Price on Amazon
3. Ninja Cold and Hot Brew System - Best Coffee Maker for Cold Brews
There aren’t many coffee machines that can do a cold brew– if you’re looking for something more than a brew carafe. This Ninja does a great cold brew as well as making over-ice coffee and regular hot brewed coffee.
Cold and hot brewed coffee
Separate Tea brew chamber
Many brew size options
Premium price tag
Bit tall for under some cabinets
Some brews are a little noisy
It’s an all-in-one coffee solution while also making healthy tea beverages like oolong, herbal, and green teas. This Ninja is a real pleaser for everyone and your kitchen with its signature avante-garde design.
Brew sizes range from single, to regular, XL, travel flasks and carafe sizes. The intelligent hot plate adjusts temperatures automatically or switches off for cold brew functions.
It also has a brew tracker that shows how far along you are, a delay brew timer, and a foldable milk frother on the side. For a bit of a premium on the price tag, this is a quality and versatile machine.Check Latest Price on Amazon
4. Hamilton Beach The Scoop - Best Coffee Maker for Single Serves
This Hamilton Breach is one of the most popular single brew servers. It can brew an 8 oz cup in 90 seconds, or a 14 oz travel mug in two and a half minutes. It comes with a special scoop spoon that delivers a perfectly measured amount of grinds. If you’re wondering, it doesn’ take K-Cups or soft pods.
Two brew sizes
Automatic brew size adjustment
Regular and bold brew
Automatic switch off
Travel flask not included
With the adjustable drip tray, you can adjust for a cup serving or a travel flask. Another nice feature is the bold brew choice button for a stronger coffee, fine grounds, decaf, flavored coffees, brand or premium grade coffee. Other than that, it automatically switches off after brewing.
These coffee makers are well reviewed and have even won a couple of awards. Many users suggest that using a #1 filter paper creates less spillage, and brews better tasting, clearer coffee. One thing we don’t like though is the boxy stainless steel design which looks too industrial and uncreative in a home kitchen. It’s also a pity that a quality name like Hamilton Beach cannot offer a two year warranty.Check Latest Price on Amazon
5. Mueller K-Cup Compatible Single Brewer - Best Coffee Maker for K-Cup Single Brews
We love this Mueller and it’s one of the better K-Cup coffee machines on the market. For brew sizes, you have the ultimate choice of 6-8-12 oz cup options at the push of a button. It’s designed to work with 1.0 and 2.0 K-cups as well as San Francisco Bay pods. For your own regular brew, you have to purchase a reusable filter separately and there are also filter papers.
Regular ground brew
4 cup sizes
No automatic switch-off
Doesn’t fit large travel flask
This coffee maker doesn’t have brew strength control– so a larger size means a weaker cup of coffee— or you do a double small brew to get a large strong brew. It has a 48 oz detachable water filter which is also certified BPA free.
What do you users report? For one, the clearance below the spout is 7 inches so check if it suits your travel flask. People love its compact size and many say it works better than a Keurig brand machine. Most of all, Mueller has friendly, fast, efficient customer service and with a 2-year warranty, that’s value worth having.Check Latest Price on Amazon
6. Mr. Coffee All In One - Best Pour Over Coffee Maker
Pour-over coffee isn’t all the rage in cafes as it was a couple of years ago, but it’s still a great, aromatic choice for the home. While the automated coffee machines reviewed here replicate the pour over method, it’s often more satisfying to have a personal, hands on experience. Mr. Coffee leaves that much for you and has a few neat functions too.
Hands on experience
Flavor bloom guide
No thermal carafe option
No filter papers included
Temperature control is crucial, especially for good tasting pour-over. That’s all taken care of here because the side kettle boils water to the perfect temperature, and the gooseneck spout helps you deliver the perfect pour. Worried about how much ground to use? Just select the two, four, or six cups and the inbuilt scale will guide you. The controls will also tell when to pause the pour to allow the flavor to bloom.
The carafe does not rest on a hot plate. Mr. Coffee kindly advises that keeping pour-over coffee heated ruins it’s special flavor. It takes a #2 cone filter which are also available as reusable hemp cloth or hemp paper.This machine maker is perfect not only for the home, but also a small office or a student dorm room.Check Latest Price on Amazon
7. KRUPS Grind and Brew - Best Coffee Maker With a Grinder
A lot of people with coffee machines have grinders too. It makes a lot of sense– why spend money on a coffee maker and not get the best out of it with fresh ground? Fresh beans also last longer and cost less. If you don’t want extra machines clogging up your kitchen space, then the best way to go is a machine with a grinder.
2 to 10 cup grinding
3 brew strengths
No thermal carafe
Hot plate not so hot
Beans get wet if left in after brewing
This KRUPS coffee maker gives you five grind settings and can grind for two to ten cups. It also has a bypass if you want to use pre ground coffee instead. There’s a removable gold tone filter, and they have brand paper filters too.
While most other coffee machines just offer mild and strong brews, KRUPS also gives you medium. Other convenient features include a delay brew timer, a hot plate warmer up to 2 hours, and a brew pause button. A number of users report that coffee beans left in the grinder may get soft or wet.Check Latest Price on Amazon
Best Coffee Makers Comparison Chart
|Hamilton Beach||1 to 12 cups||Permanent #2 paper||Delay and Pause Brew
Soft pod compatible
|Bunn Speed Brew||4 to 10 cups||Paper Incl.|
Bunn 10 cup
|4-min brew time
|Ninja Cold and Hot Brew||9.5 oz cup to 18 oz carafe||Permanent|
|Multiple brew functions Self-clean cycle|
|Hamilton Beach Scoop||8 oz and oz cup||Permanent|
|Two cup sizes
Two brew options
|Mueller Single Brewer||6-8-10-12 oz cups||K-Cup reusable|
K-Cup paper filters
|Mr. Coffee Pour Over||2 to 6 cups||#2 cone paper||Built-in scale
Bloom pause guide
|Krups Grind and Brew||2 to 10 cups||Permanent|
Krups paper filters
|5 grind settings
3 brew settings
How to Clean a Coffee Maker Machine
The manufacturer’s manual will always detail their preferred way for cleaning your new coffee machine. Try to clean your coffee maker at least once a month, and especially before you brew your first coffee, it may require cleaning too.
What You Can Use to Clean a Coffee Machine
- White vinegar
- Lemon juice
How to Run a Clean Cycle For a Coffee Machine
- Remove the filter from the machine, rinse off all grounds and wash over with soapy water. Then, put it back into the machine.
- Fill the carafe with a quarter or a third of vinegar or lemon juice. Lemon leaves less of an intense odor than vinegar.
- Pour the mixture in the carafe into the water tank.
- If your machine doesn’t have a clean cycle, then run half a brew cycle, switch off or pause the machine, rest for up to an hour and then complete the cycle.
- Brown bits and residue can be seen in the carafe. Rinse out the carafe, fill again with clear water, and run another two to three brew cycles until the water comes out clear.
Can I Use Baking Soda to Clean a Coffee Machine?
Yes, you can. Vinegar and lemon juice are better at killing bacteria, while baking soda is best for eliminating odors. It’s risky using baking soda on more expensive machines because if you don’t dissolve it properly, it will clog up the machine just like mineral deposits.
If you want to use baking soda, follow the same procedure but first put a quarter baking soda into a large cup, fill it with warm water and thoroughly dissolve the baking soda. Pour into the carafe, fill with water, and pour as usual into the water tank. Just run a complete brew cycle and then two more water only brew cycles.
Our selection of the best coffee makers in 2021 include a wide range of coffee machines from simple one cup brewers, to carafe brewers, a multi beverage brewer, and a hand pour over coffee maker. If you have any comments about our reviews, or would like to ask a question, please use the comment feature below. We are always here for you.
A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen.
Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it.
Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.