Best Drip Coffee Maker
A guide to choosing an automatic drip coffee maker that suits your needs
Are you seeking the best drip coffee maker to suit your needs, your budget, your schedule, and your standards for coffee taste? If so, you came to the right place.
All automatic drip coffee makers work on the principle that water is put into a chamber, the water is then heated and forced through coffee grounds, and the resulting brew drips into a glass or thermal pot. With things being so simple, you would have thought that there are not that many things to take into account when deciding which coffee maker to choose. Well, that's wrong as you'll see shortly.
Let's first have a look at what determines the quality of the coffee you get from your coffee pot. I'll assume that you are using nice, freshly ground coffee and good quality water since without these you will not make tasty coffee even with the best drip coffee maker. What I'll talk about is the way your coffee maker influences the taste of your coffee.
Probably the most important thing is the temperature at which the coffee maker brews coffee. The best temperature for brewing coffee is somewhere in the range of 195°F to 205°F. The problem is that most automatic drip coffee makers do not reach anywhere near this temperature. What happens when the brewing temperature is too low? The coffee will be weak, sour and in general rather unpleasant. So it is important to get a coffee maker that does not have this flaw. This is not as easy as it sounds though given that most manufaturers do not tell you what brewing temperature is used. If you read about this topic in various coffee forums, it seems that the best drip coffee makers in this respect are Bunn coffee makers, Capresso coffee makers and the Technivorm coffee maker.
Filter Basket: Conical or Flat
The next thing to think about is the shape of the filter basket. There are two main types of the basket - one with flat bottom and the other one that is shaped like a cone. In general, the flat-bottomed filter baskets are not very good because the water soaks through the grounds very unevenly. A cone-shaped filters, on the other hand, force the water to pass through the ground coffee evenly.
I personally would advise against the baskets with flat bottom. The only exception to this are Bunn coffee makers - they use a special spray-head that ensures that the coffee oils are extracted evenly from all the coffee grounds.
Coffee Filter: Paper or Permanent
Most people like the convenience of just tossing out old grounds, neatly contained in a disposable paper filter. The paper filter however, does have a major drawback: it hold back some of the aromatic oils from passing through and that results in less flavorful coffee. For that reason, many coffee connoisseurs look for a gold-tone filter. To decide which type of filter suits you best, it may help to read about pros and cons of a gold-tone filter elsewhere on this site.
Hot Plate or Thermal Carafe
Traditionally, coffee makers have a glass carafe that sits on a miniature hot plate. This hot plate keeps the coffee warm for your second or third cup. It sounds fine except one thing: the hot plate burns your coffee and renders it bitter tasting, or even undrinkable within a half an hour or so.
To address this issue, manufacturers are now offering coffee makers thermal carafes which should keep your coffee warm for several hours without over-cooking it. I discuss the pros and cons of thermal coffee makers in details elsewhere, so here I just point out that they are in general rather expensive. As a result, for people on a tight budget it may make more sense to get a box-standard coffee maker with glass carafe and transfer the coffee into a thermo immediately after brewing.
There are other questions to ask when it comes to the carafe: Is it easy to pour the coffee out without spilling it? Does the handle grip well? Can you get a replacement carafe should the original one break? Is the carafe easy to clean?
Bells and Whistles
But let's not forget about the frills! Some people really don't care about them, but for others, some of these additional features are really important:
- Programmable timer
- Built-in grinder
- Automatic shut-off
- Built-in water filter
- Pause-and-serve feature
For more details about these and other features, please read my page about automatic drip coffee maker.
Other Important Things
There are other important things to consider as well. First of all, you should get the coffee maker that is the right capacity for you. The capacity for most coffee makers is between 1 and 12 cups (bear in mind that 1 cup usually refers to 4 or 5 oz of coffee).
Then you need to consider how well the coffee maker fits into your kitchen - both in terms of size and aesthetics. The durability of the coffee maker is also important - so read a lot of user reviews before you buy.
There are also issues related to the water reservoir. Try to get a coffee pot with water tank that is easy to fill and where you can easily see how much water there is (all black water tanks are particularly bad for this).
Last but not least is the question of convenience. Convenience and ease of use should be at the top of your list of priorities when it comes to choosing the best thermal coffee maker for your specific needs. The control panel should be easy to use and a one-touch option for brewing is ideal.
I hope that this has been helpful. Once you find the best drip coffee maker for you, please consider coming back and writing a review about it. It may help other visitors on this site to make the right decision.
Further ReadingBest Thermal Coffee Maker
Grind And Brew Coffee Makers
Small Coffee Makers
Red Coffee Maker