This definitive guide to the best coffee makers of 2021 covers everything you need to know before you buy your next morning companion. We tested what most experts consider the world’s best coffee makers, comparing size, speed, price and performance, to identify which machines to buy (and avoid) in 2021.
More Great Coffee Makers
- Best Designed Coffee Maker: Moccamaster 59616 KBG ($299)
- Best Single-Serve Coffee Maker: Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker ($159)
- Best Coffee Maker for Cold Brew, Best Programmable Coffee Maker: Braun Multiserve Programmable Brewer ($200)
Not-So-Great Coffee Makers
- Black + Decker 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker
- Amazon Basics Coffee Maker
- Hamilton Beach Programmable Coffee Maker
- Cuisinart 12-Cup Brewer
- Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker
In the world of coffee brewing, pour-over, cold brew, French press and Aeropress get all the buzz. Yet, for the vast majority of people, these methods of making coffee are not ideal — at least not for those grueling minutes between sleep and getting out the door every morning. Much to the chagrin of coffee purists, the mighty drip coffee maker is still most coffee drinkers’ preferred choice due to speed and convenience.
In the past decade or so, a thousand and one companies have pushed their way into market, though very few have the intention (let alone the ability) to manufacture coffee brewers that make truly good coffee. After testing what most experts consider the world’s best machines, we narrowed our list down to just six: here are the best coffee makers you can buy in 2021.
The Short List
Oxo 8-Cup Coffee Maker
The newest coffee maker from Oxo brews coffee just as well as its 9-cup predecessor, with the additional ability to serve a single cup of coffee (anywhere between 10 ounces to 20 ounces.) By using a Kalita-like adapter, the 8-cup brews a pour-over quality cup of coffee without the need for environment-harming coffee pods.
Best Overall Coffee Maker, Best Small Coffee Maker
What We Like: This SCA-approved coffee maker is incredibly simple to use with just four buttons. Power up the machine and either click the "2-4 cup" option for a single-serving of coffee or hit "5-8 cup" for a carafe of coffee (Pro tip: when brewing for single cups, there's a little flip-out stand for your mug to sit on that elevates it right under where the coffee exits the brewer. This limits splashing and coffee droplets around your counter.) The machine's metallic body and clean lines look good on the countertop, too, while eating up a small amount of space relative to most quality-focused coffee makers. The double-walled thermal carafe eliminates the need for a warming plate, which can degrade coffee quality as it sits on the heater. For the money, you get one of the most versatile, reliable and powerful coffee makers on the market. If you're looking for wicked coffee, just get this.
What We Don’t Like: You can't program the machine, so you'll have to, *gasp*, manually start the machine when you wake up. The non-removable water tank is annoying if you place the coffee maker under your kitchen cabinets, and if you don't have any tall cups or mugs, expect some splashing when brewing single serve.
Verdict: Highly Recommended
Breville Precision Brewer
Breville’s prime directive is to make the most powerful, versatile, impressive version of whatever it decides to put together. Its coffee maker, though somewhat large, is as customizable as coffee makers get. The build quality is exceptional, standing out in a space filled with mostly plastic components.
Best Upgrade Coffee Maker
What We Like: Lightning-fast brew times, presets that are actually useful and unmatched versatility, for starters. The Precision Pro can brew with flat-bottom filters, cone filters and it even has a pour-over attachment (you can literally put your pour-over device under the shower head). It can brew cold brew coffee, brew coffee to the exacting Gold Cup standard and it’s the only coffee maker we know of that allows you to customize options like flow rate and bloom time. If you or someone you know is keen on experimenting with coffee, there is no better coffee maker.
What We Don’t Like: It’s kind of enormous in comparison to other coffee makers. You will have to pull the whole thing from under the cabinets to load coffee and water into it. The price is high.
Verdict: Highly recommended
Bonavita BV1900TS 8-Cup
Bonavita makes one thing: specialty coffee equipment. This model earned the mark of approval of the Specialty Coffee Association — specialty coffee’s most important trade organization — and it brews quickly and evenly. It’s also dead simple to operate. It makes coffee that’s well-bodied but not overbearing, and it’s small and cheap enough to work for almost everybody.
Best Budget Coffee Maker
What We Like: This brewer makes pots of coffee that are excellent for the vast majority of coffee drinkers, and it offers a gateway into more complex brewing ideas. The coffee it makes isn’t as light as most of the higher end machines, but it’s not as oppressively dark as with cheaper models. An identical coffee maker is available as a programmable version for a few dollars more, but programmable coffee makers (unless they have built-in grinders) can’t account for the loss of freshness.
This one is a nicely balanced size that is short enough to open when positioned under cabinets and not so wide as to take up enormous tracts of the countertop. We also like that it brews a full pot in about four minutes, and maintains consistency no matter how many cups it’s brewing. On top of this, Bonavita’s customer service is exceptional, and the price is tough to beat.
What We Don’t Like: Like most coffee makers we tested, the shower head will drip water onto the machine after use. The thermal carafe and its lid could also be better (it helps to pre-heat the carafe by filling it with hot water prior to brewing) at maintaining high temperatures. Finally, the filter basket sits on top of the carafe — this means you have to take it off and put it on the counter (or in the sink) in order to fit the lid on or pour coffee. (Bonavita released a newer, slightly pricier option called the Connoisseur that addresses this issue.)
Verdict: Highly recommended
What Makes a Good Coffee Maker?
Speedy coffee makers make batch-brewed joe more convenient, but there’s more to it than that. The SCA’s rigorous certification program, which has long separated the best coffee brewers from those that cut corners, only accepts brew times of four to eight minutes, and those aren’t made-up numbers. Coffee brewed any quicker than four minutes will be under-extracted (weak) and over eight minutes will be over-extracted (bitter).
Because the higher water temperature is the agent that extracts and dissolves coffee solids and oils from coffee grounds, brewing temperature is one of the best indicators of a machine that could make a decent cup of coffee. According to the Gold Cup standard, coffee should be brewed between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Brew at a lower temperature and coffee and risk under extraction (weak, sour coffee), or brew above 205 and you’re bumping up against boiling water, which will dissolve more coffee than is preferable (heavy, extra-bitter).
Often ignored when considering a new purchase is how simple the upkeep is. Because coffee makers are working with hot water, an ideal breeding ground for mold and limescale, it’s doubly important. Making sure the machine and as many components as possible can be disassembled and cleaned is of the utmost importance to both performance and health.
This guide might look different if we completely ignored the role cost plays in the buying equation. But, seeing as not everyone is willing to spend multiple hundreds of dollars on a machine, excluding price as a primary factor is a fantasy. At the same time, the quality of the machine can’t be sacrificed to save $30, because extra-cheap machines will catch up to you in the form of leaky brew baskets, worn-out buttons, inconsistent extraction and so on.
More Great Coffee Makers
Moccamaster 59616 KBG
Technivorm’s Moccamaster has remained among the absolute best coffee makers in the world since it was invented in 1969. Thanks to a special copper heating system, it’s one of the fastest brewers, and it is lauded for its consistently outstanding pots of coffee. It’s uniquely able to disassemble, meaning you can pull it apart for cleaning or troubleshooting yourself (Technivorm’s customer service is one of the best we’ve encountered).
Best Designed Coffee Maker
What We Like: There are many Moccamaster models, but this is the one that we recommend most. This model uses a glass carafe and electric hot plate instead of the typical steel carafe. The glass makes it simpler to tell how much coffee is left and is much easier to clean (it’s difficult to see inside steel carafes). Thanks to a copper-based heating element, all Moccamasters are lightning quick to heat and brew coffee — we clocked in a full 10 cups of brewing in just over five minutes.
Additionally, this model features a manually adjustable brew basket, which is a fancy way of saying you can control pre-infusion of the grounds and you can seal the brew head when you pull the carafe away from the machine. This pretty much eliminates the annoying water drip most coffee makers are plagued with. It’s also more able to disassemble than most coffee machines, making it simple to clean and troubleshoot other potential issues.
What We Don’t Like: The price isn’t very friendly. Also, the brew basket itself feels cheap for an otherwise super-premium coffee maker.
Verdict: Highly recommended
Price (Amazon): $299 | Price (Wayfair): $309
Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker
Best Single-Serve Coffee Maker
What We Like: Other than above average brew speed and consistently good extractions, this is a machine has many, many features. The Ninja brewer’s ancillary functions, thankfully, don’t cloud these basic functions. The best of the lot is the pull-out milk frother, which elevates a simple cup of coffee into something more comforting. Brewing single-serve is the cherry on top.
What We Don’t Like: The permanent filter, like most permanent filters, creates more issues than it solves. Without thorough cleaning, coffee sediment builds up quickly and makes each subsequent pot excessively bitter. Cleaning isn’t a taxing process, but it’s one more step than it needs to be.
Verdict: Recommended with reservations
Price (Amazon): $154 | Price (Walmart): $175
Braun Multiserve Programmable Brewer
Best Coffee Maker for Cold Brew, Best Programmable Coffee Maker
What We Like: It does the basics very well, but its greatest strength is versatility. It brews pots large and small with consistency and its integrated iced coffee brewing function is new to the space are clever and well-executed. The machine allows you to brew directly over ice cubes, mimicking Japanese iced coffee brewing and creating a pleasant, sweeter cold coffee experience. The detachable water reservoir is also appreciated for filling and cleaning.
What We Don’t Like: To put it mildly, the machine is busy. There are buttons upon buttons and green accents and things that fold in and out of the machine. Other than an operational learning curve, it, like the Ninja brewer, uses a permanent filter that isn’t much help.
Verdict: Recommended for iced coffee lovers
Popular Coffee Makers to Avoid
Black + Decker 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker
What We Like: $23 is remarkably affordable, and it occasionally goes on sale for even less.
What We Don’t Like: Every pot brewed — from 4 cups to the maximum 12 — was completely over-extracted and, as a result, overpoweringly bitter. The “sneak-a-cup technology,” which allows you to pull the pot while it’s still brewing to pour yourself a cup, sounds good in theory, but inevitably means the water (which was well over coffee brewing standards) spends too much time with the grounds; this results in even more over-extracted coffee. The water reservoir is also extremely difficult to clean, given that it’s deep, all black and has a number of ridges for trace solids to build up in.
Amazon Basics Coffee Maker
What We Like: I mean, it's $21. Some bags of coffee cost more than that. Its ultra-compact size is also a plus for those with limited counter space.
What We Don’t Like: Similar to the Black + Decker model, this coffee maker will make a quick, overly bitter pot of coffee brewed at temperatures that pull far too many coffee solids away from the grounds. The materials used are as cheap as possible (the brew basket hanger broke within a month) and the integrated mesh metal filter, which is meant to replace any need for paper filters, becomes so stained with past batches that new pots of coffee you brew taste like old coffee. It’s also not fine enough, leaving plenty of silt and grime in the pot after brewing.
Verdict: Not recommended
Hamilton Beach Programmable Coffee Maker
What We Like: Hamilton Beach’s coffee maker is inexpensive (and goes on sale often) and its programmable function works consistently and is easy enough to set up. The detachable water reservoir is also a nice touch.
What We Don’t Like: As Wirecutter notes in its positive review of the machine, it’s really not for people who want above average coffee. The pots it brews are, like the Mr. Coffee, over-extracted, bitter and quell much of coffee’s natural flavor. The machine also over soaked the grounds to the point that the filter bent over and into the grounds, which caused some water to fall through to the carafe having not touched any coffee.
Verdict: Not recommended
Cuisinart 12-cup Brewer
What We Like: It comes in a lot of different colors, it’s compact and, at the end of the day, the coffee it brews isn’t terrible. Using the right preset settings, you can brew a decent pot out of it.
What We Don’t Like: We don’t recommend this particular Cuisinart because it’s not a good value, not because it’s a terrible coffee maker. Once you get to up and around $100, you’re within shouting distance of some truly excellent brewers (like the Bonavita 8-Cup) that make this machine look remarkably average. It comes with presets for regular or “bold” coffees, but you’re always better off choosing regular unless you’re in the mood for mouth-numbing bitterness. The included metal filter (it’s gold) has the same issues as the Amazon Basics brewer, though it does catch more silt.
Verdict: Not recommended
Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker
What We Like: $80 retail is a fine price for a coffee maker, especially one that goes on sale so regularly. It also comes with a helpful “Clean” button that alerts you when the machine needs to be de-scaled or have a cleaning solution run through it. It’s very simple and easily programmable, too.
What We Don’t Like: The coffee this machine brews is regularly over-extracted — this means every pot is aggressively bitter, even when using fresh, specialty-grade coffee grounds. There were also problems with the connection between the lid and the brew basket, and there was a pretty regular need to wipe down the surrounding countertop after brewing because of it. Finally, it frequently didn’t use the entirety of the water needed for whatever cup amount was selected, leaving hot, standing water in the chamber overnight. The water reservoir in the back was also had a very small pouring area.
Verdict: Not recommended