Coffee is a many splendored thing. Despite all the fancy espresso and French press and Turkish coffee and flavor blends and the plethora of variations, plain ol’ drip coffee still has a huge number of fans.
Reviled for decades as espresso rose in popularity, drip coffee is making a comeback. And we’re here to introduce you to the best drip coffee maker you’ve ever seen.
Considerations for Choosing the Best Drip Coffee Maker
Drip coffee was popular in the 40s, but the rise of cola and, later on, espresso and specialty coffee kicked regular drip coffee down to the gutter.
But drip coffee is a resilient fellow. The gripes against it were numerous: burned, stale, weak, plastic, sour, bitter. You name it, they were slung at drip coffee. Still are.
Because most drip coffee makers get so many things wrong. And the rest of the things that could be right? The end user screws it up.
Let’s take a look at what needs to be done right. This video goes over some of them:
Functionality of the Coffee Maker
Other than the basic concept (hot water dripping on ground coffee), each machine is going to function somewhat differently with some things being more important than the rest.
While the basics may be the same, the path each manufacturer takes to get there can result in a wide variety of options.
For our purposes, we decided to break things down according to Convenience, User Control, Cost and Method of Brew.
What is convenient to one person isn’t important to another, so how can we examine this further?
In general terms, we’re talking about how many cups of coffee the machine is able to brew in one go, how fast it heats up, does it have any kind of automatic shutoff, things like that.
While some will love the simplicity of just flicking a switch and having the machine start to make coffee, others want more.
The level of control the end user will effect each person based on what they’re looking for.
Is the machine programmable? Can you set it to turn on automatically so you coffee is ready in the morning? Does it actually make your breakfast for you?
Generally, the cost is going to increase depending on the number of functions the machine offers or the level of build quality.
Some of the machines on this list are quite costly. We’ll point this out when we think it’s important.
While the basic idea of drip coffee is the same – hot water dripping through ground coffee) how that happens can have widely varying effect on taste.
If the brewing method of a particular machine stands out, we’ll bring it up.
The three basic things you need for good drip coffee are: water, beans and the grind.
Some people swear by bottled water, some people use tap or filtered water with no problems. Experiment.
Beans? You likely have a favorite. Some are better for drip, so again, experiment a little.
And the grind? Properly ground beans will allow you to extract the best coffee you can. Each machine will prefer slightly different grinds, but you’ll also experiment with this and find the best combination.
Beyond those three things, you’re going to need to take a look at temperature, time, and how the water interacts with the ground coffee.
Let’s take a look at temperature first because it’s the most important of these three.
The water temperature for your coffee brewing needs to be between 195 and 205 digress to fully extract all the goodness from your properly chosen and ground coffee beans. To high and the coffee tastes burned. Too low and it’s weak. Neither are what you want.
Next up is time. Spend too long brewing coffee and it ends up bitter. Too short and it’s weak.
Notice the similarities to the results for incorrect temperature?
Now imagine them working together in concert. Bad coffee, all the way around.
The last element is how the water interacts with the ground coffee.
This is largely a function of the drip coffee machine you use.
Is the hot water dumped onto the grounds all at once? Is it spread evenly over them or all in the middle? Is it portioned out over time?
All these have an effect on the end result. Knowing what your personal machine does can go a long way to matching the other elements to produce a fantastic cup of drip coffee.
Our Picks for the Best Drip Coffee Makers of 2019
We’ve taken a look at many of the drip coffee machines available on the market today (and there are many) and chose the following four as standouts, designed to not only make you a great cup of coffee, but to look good doing it.
Knowing how long your coffee should or needs to brew will have an effect on the grind as well. Knowing it will be brewing for longer, you can adjust the grind to match the brewing time.
- Powerful heater maintains optimal temperature.
- Showerhead water distribution for even saturation and optimum extraction.
- Stainless steel carafe. Lots of stainless steel period, and the plastic there is BPA free.
This is a great coffee machine. We’re not the only ones who think so. The Specialty Coffee Association of America has certified the Bonavita as an exceptional coffee brewer.
What does that mean?
It means this machine passed a whole slew of tests and came out shining. They tested things like coffee volume, brewing time, temperature and preparation, beverage clarity, uniformity of extraction and a few more. In other words, pretty extensive.
But how does that help you?
Well, it tells you right off the bat that this is a good machine. But is it going to work for you? Let’s take a look at some of the major points.
The Bonavita, as its name says, can brew a maximum of 8 cups of coffee.
In truth, this is the smallest amount of the machines on our list. It gets hot fast and brews a full pot of coffee in about 6 or 7 minutes.
The perfect temperature – between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. The Bonavita touts their “showerhead” design to evenly distribute the water over the ground coffee. Once it’s done, it shuts off.
That’s really about the only bell or whistle – automatic shutoff. The thermal carafe keeps your coffee hot for a good long time without the need to keep it on the burner
If you’re looking for a coffee maker that will have your coffee ready for you at a certain time, this ain’t it. It’s got an on switch and not much more which means no way to pre-program it. Don’t worry – some of the other machines on this list can take care of that for you.
- Fantastic extraction due to the showerhead.
- Stainless steel carafe — take it with you to another room and forget about it, your coffee will still be hot.
- Auto shut off.
- No programming means no hot coffee waiting for you first thing in the morning.
- Have to wait until it’s done brewing. No brew interrupt function.
BEST SUITED FOR: The Bonavita is great for people who just want a great cup of drip coffee and nothing more. There’s no fanciness here in the function — it just makes coffee. But its design assures you it will make the best cup possible for your beans, water, and grind.
- Stainless Steel 10 cup thermal carafe.
- Copper heating element with auto-shutoff when brewing is finished.
- Simple operation. Just turn it on.
The second machine on our list just so happens to also be certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America as well. Again, this means that this machine gets pretty much everything right and will make good coffee as long as you provide the right elements.
The Moccamaster is made by Technivorm, a firm out of the Netherlands.
It’s stylish and, honestly, slightly weird looking. Basically, the function takes first place, leaving the form to follow. There are not a lot of bells and whistles. Okay, there’s basically none.
It’s very similar to the Bonavita in this way – you put in the ground coffee, put in the water, turn it on and it makes coffee. When it’s done, it shuts off.
Now, why is that worth almost $300?
Because of its fantastic build quality. The copper heating element in the unit itself gets the water to the perfect temperature (again, like the Bonavita it’s 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit). It drips the coffee into a 10 cup stainless steel carafe in about 6 or 7 minutes and then shuts off automatically.
No muss, no fuss, no programming or setting things up to turn on at a certain time. All it does is make coffee. There’s not a lot of fanciness.
Technivorm has just put together a fantastic coffee maker that does a great job as long as the water, coffee beans, and grind are right.
- It looks simple, yet stylish.
- Copper heating element will last a good long time as well as brew your coffee quickly
- Thermal carafe means less electricity wasted keeping coffee warm.
- Simple operation. Just turn it on.
- No timer to set for auto-start.
- The most expensive coffee maker on this list, at around $310.
BEST SUITED FOR: The Moccamaster, like the Bonavita, is for a person who simply loves great coffee brewed well and brewed quickly. While the Bonavita brews 8 cups, the Moccamaster boasts 10 cups, so if you need more coffee in a hurry, you might want to go with the Moccamaster.
- Programmable coffee making gives you coffee when you want it.
- Adjustable brew strength with auto shutoff.
- Charcoal filter for the water.- Brew from 1–14 cups of coffee.
If you thought the previous two machines were too simple, then you might like the Cuisinart DCC-3200.
It’s programmable, meaning you can set it to start brewing coffee before you get up every morning. Or before you get home at night. Or pretty much anytime you want it to. Oh, and if you drink a lot of coffee or are preparing it for a large group, the DCC-3200 might be your best bet – at 14 cups it’s the largest coffee maker on our list.
Let’s take a quick look at programmability. The DCC-3200 can program a start time, brew strength and temperature level of the hot plate. You can brew 1-4 cups, or up to 14. There’s a self-cleaning function and auto shut-off. That’s a lot of bells and whistles.
And something else?
It’s the lowest cost machine on our list.
- 14 cups is a lot of coffee — the largest on this list.
- Waking up to the smell of brewing coffee, even if you live alone? Nice.
- Charcoal water filter helps optimize water.
- Carafe is gigantic — 72 ounces, which can make for awkward pouring.
- Glass carafe needs the heater plate to stay o in order for coffee to stay warm for longer, using more energy and increasing the chances of coffee tasting burnt, unlike units with a thermal carafe.
BEST SUITED FOR: The person who wants to wake up to great coffee in the morning. And who likes a lot of coffee all day long — 14 cups worth.
- Programmable for start time, strength, and volume.
- Double-wall insulated thermal carafe.
- Charcoal water filter.
- Burr grinder to provide freshly ground coffee automatically.
- Brew-pause lets you pour a cup before the brewing is finished.
- Can use pre-ground coffee as well.
The second Cuisinart on our list, the DGB-900BC is similar to the DCC-3200, except it adds a very important feature: a grinder.
Why is that important?
Freshly ground coffee produces the best coffee. Grinding the beans and letting them sit for very long before the coffee is brewed lets essential goodness escape from the coffee grounds, resulting in a weaker cup of coffee.
The DGB-900BC fixes this with a sealed hopper that holds 8 ounces of beans and a built-in automatic burr grinder.
Plus it’s programmable in pretty much any way you could hope to program a coffee maker: start time, brew strength, grind control and auto shut-off.
There’s even a brew pause feature to let you snag a cup before the brewing is done as well as a grind off feature that allows you to use pre-ground coffee.
The thermal carafe keeps your coffee warm for hours while also conserving electricity.
The grinder adds a level of complexity and also cost. It will need to be cleaned out from time to time, and that’s never easy, especially on a machine with an integrated grinder as opposed to a standalone grinder.
- The brew-pause is great for the impatient.
- Automatically burr ground coffee right before brewing.
- Adjustable brew strength.
- Stainless steel thermal carafe can save energy instead of needing a hot plate to continually be on.
- It doesn’t actually make your breakfast for you as well.
- Cost – the integrated grinder and additional features add about $100 over the price of the DCC-3200.
- The built-in grinder won’t clean itself. Which means you’ve gotta do it. Or bribe your kids.
BEST SUITED FOR: The busy person or family who likes freshly ground, freshly brewed coffee ready to go in the morning but doesn’t have time to do it all by hand.
Cream of the Crop
The thing operates at the perfect temperature, making great coffee, and it makes it quickly, too.
Sure, you have to grind the beans yourself, but that’s part of the experience and, having the grinder internal means more complicated cleanup anyway.
So that’s it.
We’ve chosen the Moccamaster as our top pick, but the three other machines here will make you a mean cup of coffee. If you’re looking for the best drip coffee maker, any one of them would be a strong and worthy choice.