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The 8 Best Coffee Makers of 2020
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This definitive guide to the best coffee makers of 2020 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 2020.
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 eigth: here are the best coffee makers you can buy in 2020.
Related Video: How To Make Perfect Coffee Three Ways
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 Overall 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 but, compared to what you get, it’s not a problem of value.
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|
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 disassemblable, meaning you can pull it apart for cleaning or troubleshooting yourself (Technivorm’s customer service is one of the best we’ve encountered).
Best Upgrade 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 disassemblable 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| |
Bunn 10-Cup Velocity Brewer
If you’re looking for a coffee maker to take up less space, you want one that’s designed to be deeper than it is wide. Bunn made its name over the years designing utilitarian coffee makers that are compact, easy-to-use and just plain work. This model is only seven inches wide, goes on sale often and pumps out a very good 10-cup pot of coffee in just over three minutes.
Best Small Coffee Maker
What We Like: We chose this Bunn brewer because it was small and it didn’t compromise on brewing performance.
What We Don’t Like: Some may take issue with the brewer keeping water at or near brew temperature at all times. This is the trade-off for the quickest button-press-to-cup time we’ve ever tested (that’s all 10 cups, mind you). Some reviews noted the coffee it brews isn’t as hot or strong as preferred, but the coffee we brewed was consistently around 190 degrees post-brewing, and was stronger than expected for such a quick brew cycle.
Verdict: Recommended| |
OXO Barista Brain 9-Cup
Though buying coffee pre-ground or leaving grounds in the machine overnight isn’t ideal for freshness (more on that here), it is convenient. We found many programmable coffee makers leaned too hard into “smart” tech in lieu of making good coffee. OXO’s 9-Cup Barista Brain didn’t. Other than its one-button brew timer, it’s a high-performing, nice-looking machine, made with better materials than most of its competition.
Best Programmable Coffee Maker
What We Like: Instead of offering dozens of programmable settings and options, the Barista Brain gives you one — a 24-hour timer to set before you go to bed. Most importantly, this simple addition to the machine is secondary to how good the machine is at its primary duty (making pots of coffee). The coffee maker heats and brew quickly (about 6-and-a-half minutes for a full pot) and carries with it the SCA’s brewer certification. It’s also simple to use — one button controls pretty much everything the machine does — and looks good enough to leave on your countertop.
What We Don’t Like: $200 isn’t cheap and the everlasting issue of water dripping from the brew basket onto the base below is present. The water tank will often fog up after brewing, too, which is slightly bothersome at most.
Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker
Best New 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| |
Braun Multiserve Programmable Brewer
Best Coffee Maker for Cold Brew
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
Though a subjective trait, it’s hard to dispute how good its walnut arms and matte black tower look on a countertop. The automatic pour-over brewer is basically a Chemex that you don’t have to fiddle with (it uses Chemex filters, too). And yes, it is expensive, but it also might be the last coffee maker you ever have to buy.
Best Designed Coffee Maker
What We Like: Its black aluminum body and walnut frame give the Ratio Eight a look that is unique unto itself. Its coffee brewing style is essentially an automated version of a Chemex brew (pre-infusion included), and produces similarly light-bodied and super floral cups of coffee. As we’ve noted before, the glass carafe is a nice departure from steel, as you always know how much coffee remains and can see the brew process in action.
What We Don’t Like: It’s a pretty luxurious buy, and as such there’s no escaping the price associated with such things. Apart from that, condensation tends to build up around the top of the machine during brewing.
Verdict: Recommended, with reservations
The Specialty Coffee Association does not pull punches when testing the coffee makers that eventually wind up in your kitchen.Read the Story
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.
Popular Coffee Makers to Avoid
Black + Decker 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker
What We Like: $20 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.
Verdict: Not recommended
Amazon Basics Coffee Maker
What We Like: Again, it’s $20. Some bags of coffee are more than that. Its ultra-compact size is also a plus for those of us 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