An Expert Guide to Coffee Makers: How to Buy the Best Coffee Maker for You

Published on 11/14/2023 · 11 min readJumpstart your mornings with the right coffee maker to suit your lifestyle and taste. Understand how to make your daily brew a personalized and delightful experience!
Jason Gass, Coffee Expert
By Coffee Expert Jason Gass

Photo by Aleksandra Suzi

Tl;dr: Coffee makers can be a very personal purchase. Whether you are looking for a drip machine or a complex espresso maker, buying the right coffee maker for your needs doesn’t have to be a difficult process.

As a coffee lover, the joy of making my morning cup of coffee is all about the process. I love the smell of fresh ground beans, the aroma of coffee drifting through my house, and that first sip of my carefully crafted beverage. Getting the perfect coffee maker took me some time because there are a plethora of options and a variety of coffee styles.

I’ve created this guide to help you find the absolute best coffee maker for your personal morning routine. Whether you are well-versed in your morning Joe, or new to drinking and making coffee, my goal is to guide you to the best coffee maker for your tastes and experience level.

I’m also recommending coffee makers that I, or fellow Curated Coffee Experts, have used and tested ourselves, so you can be confident that our options are reliable and have been vetted by an actual human being.

Whether you want a basic drip machine or are ready to invest in a luxury, multi-function espresso maker, this article will help guide you through the ins and outs of buying the best coffee maker for your java enjoyment.

What Are Coffee Makers?

Coffee makers include a wide variety of tools that are used to produce coffee. In general, they work by combining ground coffee beans with water to create coffee. Some coffee makers are considered appliances, while others are more of a tool or container.

Coffee makers exist in various sizes, styles, and brewing techniques. Depending on the coffee style you prefer—for example, espresso—you may need to use a specific type of coffee maker.

What to Consider When Buying a Coffee Maker

Let’s take a deeper look at the factors you should consider when you are shopping for a coffee maker to create your perfect cup of coffee.

How Much Coffee Do You Need?

Are you making morning coffee for just you? Or for your whole family? Photo by Branislav Nenin

The type of coffee maker that you select is going to be quite different if you are serving a whole family of coffee drinkers, like mine, compared to just a single cup of coffee. For example, a 12-cup drip machine is great for serving a large gathering.

On the other hand, a single-cup coffee maker, such as a pod machine or pour-over carafe, is ideal for that single cup of coffee as you head out the door for work.

Ease of Use

Photo by Dasha Trofimova

Ease of use is a huge factor that you should definitely consider when shopping for your perfect coffee machine. If you are shopping for a coffee maker because you want to spend less at your local coffee shop, you will want a product that is easy to use, but versatile at the same time.

Or, maybe you just want a no-hassle, single-button cup of coffee to jump-start your morning. On the flip side, if you are ready to become a home barista, like yours truly, and want the full coffee experience, you may not be deterred from some of the more complicated machines on the market.

Available Counter Space

Photo by Pixel Shot

You may dream of a robust commercial-style espresso machine, but if your kitchen is tiny, this option is probably impractical. Make sure that you measure the space you have for a coffee maker, accounting for prep space, and shop for options that fit within that space.

Do You Love Fresh Ground Beans?

Photo by Laura Hagi

If you love freshly grinding your coffee beans, you probably want to invest in a coffee maker with an integrated coffee grinder. However, if you would rather use pre-ground or already have a stand-alone burr grinder, look for makers that do not include a built-in grinder.

How Much is Your Budget?

Photo by Bodnar Photo

Coffee makers range greatly in price, from a meager $30 to thousands of dollars for commercial-quality espresso machines. Knowing your budget is an important consideration. While a $1,500 fully-automatic espresso machine with all the bells and whistles sounds awesome, it may only be a practical option for those with higher budgets.

What Are the Different Types of Coffee Makers?

We can now look a bit deeper at the different types of coffee makers. Again, knowing your preference for ease of use, price, and type of coffee will help guide your choice.

Automatic Drip Coffee Makers

Photo by Earlybird Coffee

Drip coffee makers are what many people envision when they think of a coffee maker. Automatic drip coffee makers work by sprinkling hot water over a basket of coffee grounds. The water passes through the grounds and into a carafe or pot below the basket. This is the most common and popular type of coffee maker.

Benefits:

  • Drip machines make larger volumes of coffee
  • Typically, these are beginner-friendly and very easy to use

Be Aware:

  • Drip coffee can be bland, even with great beans
  • It can take some time to find the right balance of water and grounds

Single-Serve Coffee Makers

Photo by MBLifestyle

Most of us know these types of coffee makers by their brand names. The two most popular options are Keurig and Nespresso. These machines use single-serve coffee pods to brew one cup of coffee at a time.

They are also pretty easy to use. You simply fill the machine with water, insert a coffee pod, and hit start. In a few short moments, you have a hot cup of coffee to enjoy.

Benefits:

  • Easy to use and highly convenient
  • Pods come in a variety of flavors and coffee styles

Be Aware:

  • The coffee quality tends to be less than stellar
  • Coffee pods create a lot of plastic waste, which is not great.

Espresso Machines

Photo by New Africa

Espresso machines use pressure, whether from steam or a pump, to force hot water through tightly packed grounds. This process results in coffee with a bold and robust flavor, in a small serving. This concentrated coffee is known as espresso.

Espresso machines come with a wide range of features and functionality. You will find manual, semi-automatic, and fully automatic options that allow for precise brewing operations.

Benefits:

  • You can make a wide range of coffee drinks with espresso, such as lattes or cappuccinos
  • More control over the resulting coffee or espresso

Be Aware:

  • Espresso machines can be very expensive
  • Making espresso is not as easy as other types of coffee

French Press

Photo by Microgen

The French press is one of the most affordable and simple-to-use coffee makers, as well as my personal favorite quick-brew method. These brew coffee by steeping grounds in hot water for a few short minutes, depending on the strength of coffee you’re going for. The grounds are then pressed from the water with a filter, leaving the coffee free of coffee grounds.

Benefits:

  • Brews a robust and bold cup of coffee
  • Great for one or two people

Be Aware:

  • Takes a bit longer to brew your coffee
  • Cleaning French presses can be a chore

Pour-Over Coffee Makers

Photo by Shark Pae CNX

Pour-over coffee is a lot like drip coffee. With pour-over coffee makers, you fill a basket with grounds and then manually pour hot water over the grounds. The water passes through the grounds and fills a carafe below the basket.

Pour-over allows for a more precise brewing process, as you can alter the flavor and strength of the coffee by adjusting the water temperature and pour rate.

Benefits:

  • Easy to control brewing factors like temperature and extraction rate
  • Coffee from pour-over tends to be smooth and less bitter

Be Aware:

  • Takes more time to prep and brew
  • Can be a bit messy for less experienced brewers

Cold Brew Coffee Makers

Photo by Akira Kaelyn

Cold brew coffee makers allow you to slow brew a larger quantity of coffee without heat. Cold brew is made by steeping grounds in cold water for 12 to 24 hours. The coffee that results from this process is light and smooth, but also very flavorful.

Benefits:

  • Results in a larger quantity of coffee
  • Coffee can be stored in the fridge for up to a week

Be Aware:

  • You have to wait at least 12 hours before drinking
  • Takes up space in your fridge

Features to Look for in a Coffee Maker

There are countless features available in coffee makers on the market, and some of them can overwhelmingly enhance your coffee brewing experience. Here are some features to consider when looking at coffee makers:

Brewing Capacity

Some coffee makers are designed to brew a single serving, while others brew multiple cups. Think about the quantity of coffee you normally drink and select a coffee maker that meets your capacity needs.

Water Filter

A coffee maker with a removable water reservoir and a built-in water filter can enhance the taste of your morning Joe by eliminating impurities from unfiltered water.

Built-in Grinder

Fresh-ground coffee beans make a considerable difference when it comes to the flavor of your coffee. A built-in coffee grinder can make grinding your beans simple.

Ease of Cleaning

Look for a coffee maker that is simple to take apart and wash. Detachable parts, a descaling function, and dishwasher-safe components can make cleaning your machine much easier.

Adjustable Settings

Programmable coffee makers allow you to set a specific brewing time in advance. This setting is convenient if you want your coffee ready when you wake up. Consider a coffee maker that allows you to control the brewing temperature as well. The temperature of the water can significantly alter the flavor you get from the coffee grounds.

Thermal Carafe

Coffee makers tend to come with either stainless steel or glass carafes. Thermal carafes retain heat without the aid of a heating element, as well as preserve the flavor longer.

Check out the video below for a simple guide to understanding all different kinds of coffee machines.

How to Choose the Right Coffee Maker for You

As you now see, there are a lot of options when it comes to choosing the right coffee maker. To get to your perfect coffee maker, you need to take a moment to consider what you enjoy about coffee and the various features that you are looking for.

Below, I describe three different individuals who demonstrate different “coffee drinker” personas that I’ve encountered as a Coffee Expert at Curated. For each person, I have noted their coffee preference and what they should look for in a coffee maker, based on their needs.

Steve: Beginner Coffee Drinker Looking for Convenience

Steve is inexperienced at making coffee. He’s only managed to brew coffee in a basic drip coffee maker before and he’s not very good at it. He aims to brew better coffee in a convenient and no-frills way—keeping it simple but taking it to the next level without the cost of an elaborate machine.

Features Steve Should Look For:

  • A drip coffee maker with a few controls
  • Programmable control to brew coffee on a timer
  • A quality carafe to keep coffee hot for hours

Coffee Maker Recommendations: Ratio Six Drip Coffee Maker, Cuisinart PerfecTemp

Tami: Intermediate Coffee Drinker Looking for a Variety of Flavors

Tami is a moderately experienced coffee enthusiast and wants to get various flavors from her morning coffee as well as develop her coffee skills. She doesn’t want to spend a load of money, but would like to get a quality coffee maker nonetheless.

Features Tami Should Look For:

  • Adjustable settings that will provide more control and better results
  • A machine that allows for more variations of coffee drinks such as hot or cold brew
  • A coffee maker that she can develop her skills with

Coffee Maker Examples: Cuisinart Pour Over, DeLonghi Dual Master Brewer

Kevin: Advanced Coffee Drinker Wanting Artisanal Greatness

Kevin is a very experienced coffee brewer who has brewed every basic style of coffee imaginable. He’s the type of “barista pro” who wants top-of-the-line equipment so that he can create coffee drinks to showcase his talents.

Features Kevin Should Look For:

  • More fine-tuning features that will provide even more control over more aspects of the brewing process
  • A semi-automatic system to make more variations of coffee drinks such as cappuccinos or cortados
  • An espresso coffee maker that challenges him to fine-tune his barista skills

Coffee Maker Examples: Breville the Barista Pro, Rocket Espresso Appartamento

Find the Best Coffee Maker for You

Photo by Kraken Images

When you’re ready to invest in a coffee maker, you’ll quickly realize that there are many options on the market. Each machine has a different purpose and creates a unique result. Before you can purchase the right coffee maker, you need to understand your personal preferences. In this article, I hope that I’ve offered you a bit of guidance on how to select the best coffee maker for your needs.

If you are looking for more information, chat with me or another Coffee Expert at Curated for free, personalized advice on finding the best coffee maker for you. We’re here to help you find the best choice for your needs!

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

Shop Coffee & Espresso on Curated

Breville the Barista Pro Espresso Machine
$849.95
Ratio Six Drip Coffee Maker
$339.00

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