There is no single taste for coffee and this is due to the fact that each country has its own art of brewing the said beverage. Nonetheless, even in a particular area where we live in the US, coffee brews can still vary due to the wide selection of coffee makers each one of us is using.
While grabbing a cup of Starbucks is the easiest way to have your morning caffeine before work, there is nothing better than your own concoction prepared in your home’s kitchen. This is where coffee makers come into action. However, it is important to note that coffee makers have a wide spectrum, and the taste of your java will depend on the type you will use.
One of the most common types that we often see in any household is automatic drip coffee machines. They offer convenience as the entire brewing process itself is done by the machine. They can be very affordable but their functions and features can be limited, not to mention the limited control they can also give to you in terms of the taste of your coffee. In this, you might want to consider espresso machines like the Breville Barista Express which tops our list. Things here aren’t instant and there could be a steep learning curve in its use but once you have mastered it, every cup can be rewarding.
There are other types of coffee makers to consider such as the French press, Moka pot, pour-over, and more. There are even less known types from other regions such as the cezve of Turkey and chorreador of Costa Rica. Our list won’t be able to cover all of them, so we decided to have the most commonly used types in every American household.
With the aid of the SolidSmack Household Appliance and Tool Research Team, we personally inspected the leading models for each type and assessed their performance. From their basic attributes to their special features, we made sure to highlight them in our review. We also covered their ease of use and the quality of their output by personally using them in brewing cups of coffee. To know more about our conclusions of the tests we conducted, continue reading:
Best Coffee Makers Comparison & Rating
1. Breville Barista Express
There are lots of reasons why this machine tops our list. Nonetheless, it is not just because it comes with all the sparkles and bells and whistles of a coffee maker, but for the reason that it also gives the best value out there.
While it is true that it costs a little more than the other items we reviewed, we really think that we get what we deserve down to the last cent. Besides the complete package we received (it comes with LOTS of accessories and literally everything you need!), we appreciate the well-written manual (there are even troubleshooting instructions included!) of Barista Express that even novices could understand.
Besides the accessories, the machine itself is an all-in-one unit that sports a coffee grinder, water dispenser, steam wand, and more! With this, there is no need to add some counter space for separate appliances. The best thing about it is that each section boasts quality that is hard to expect at such a price point since professional espresso machines cost $1,000 to $25,000 and it is nothing near those numbers.
When we tested it, what we first noticed are the intuitive buttons and controls. They might look overwhelming for someone who’s new to such a machine but with the help of its manual, everything can be comprehensive.
Its grinder employs a conical burr system which allows fine and uniform grinding of 19 - 22 g beans. There is also a grind size dial that allows you to decide the degree of grinding of the beans. During our multiple attempts, the grinder managed to produce consistent output every time. There is also a tamper included in the package and it worked just fine for us.
The pressure has a unit gauge that is perfectly labeled that will guide you on understanding the right pressure you need. If you are new to using such a kind of equipment, it will take you lots of time to get the right pressure (as there are things that can affect it such as the grind size and volume). However, this is the beauty of this coffee maker and we want to remind our readers about it: it isn’t an instant coffee machine. It takes time to learn how to get the right strength of your blend. It needs you to work to get the right control over the grinding, dosing, and frothing process.
On the other hand, the temperature of the water it released for steaming and brewing was of great degree: not burning but plenty and right enough. In our test, it reached the ideal brewing temperature of 190°F to 195°F and serving temperature of 160°F for a single or double espresso.
There is also a steam wand that offers great performance. It has a good temperature and pressure and we were able to texture milk appropriately. Without fuss, we got the perfect froth that has the right temp. Further, we also love that it comes with a frothing pitcher that has the right size to accommodate double espresso.
Overall, we love that even if it takes a lot of work to get the right espresso blend, the machine itself has the excellent guiding features in each manual labor users need to do. Further, it has everything you need and stands like an amalgamation of multiple appliances. With all this, we really think you get more than what you pay for, not to mention that each section performs at a very pleasing level.
2. Keurig K-Classic
Water Tank Cap
6, 8, 10 ounces
If the work required in the Breville Barista Express is too much for you and you just need a machine that can do all the work for you within a minute, Keurig K-Classic is a more ideal option for you. It is an automatic coffee machine that uses the brand’s K-cup pods which basically means absolute convenience for you.
Using the K-Classic is so straightforward that we almost skipped reading the manual. Its buttons are placed on the top right of the coffee. The surface is slightly sloped, making the panel level more accessible for your eyes which is good. Further, each control has a corresponding label and icon, making everything very intuitive. In a very simple manner, Keurig also found a way to guide users on how to use it. There are light indicators that will inform you of the process occurring and the inputs you should make. For instance, the red LED indicates that the water is still heating and the blue LED when there is a need to add water (the tank can last more than 6 cups). There are also three buttons that will light up when it is time for you to select the size of your cup. You can choose from 6, 8, 10 ounces. For a bigger container, you can remove the crip tray to make room for a 7.1” tall thermos.
Also, replacing the K-pods is very simple as you just need to lift a cover. This gives you the liberty to explore all brands and flavors of K-cup pods with ease. Even better, when we tried to test it by brewing different flavors consecutively, we never experienced a mixture of flavors in any cup. Further, we really do appreciate that the K-cup pod holder is removable, allowing the unit to handle reusable filters for the fresh grind of beans.
All in all, you can brew 6 cups of joe before the 48-ounce water reservoir empties. In case you don’t use distilled water every time you use it, it comes with 2 charcoal filters which should last 2 to 3 months or after 60 full-tank refills. When it is time to clean the unit, the Descaling button will light up red.
On the other hand, we just noticed that the piercing needle has a high tendency of getting plugged which could cause the unit to stop working. This is normal among this kind of coffee maker but we think it would be better if Keurig would give a detailed resolution instruction about it in its manual. Nonetheless, cleaning the needles from debris (though you need to be careful as they are extremely sharp) is as easy as wiping the pod holder, funnel, and water reservoir.
3. Bialetti Moka Express
1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 cups
gas, electric, propane, or induction (using adapter plate)
For fans of Moka pots, we would suggest the classic Moka Express from Bialetti which is the original producer of the product in the market. This Italy-made coffee maker is available in 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 cups and is suitable for gas, electric, or propane cooktops. It can also be used for induction tops with the Bialetti induction adapter plate that is sold separately.
Upon inspecting the unit, we spotted right away what we were expecting from a Bialetti Moka pot: a thick, solid body with substantial weight and quality build. The walls are thick and seem durable. Inside, there is a water limit mark on the bottom reservoir which is really helpful for new users of Moka pot.
The preparation, on the other hand, is very simple and far from the electronic models we reviewed. We just filled the boiler with water up to the lower level of the safety valve and the filter with ground coffee. After putting it on the stovetop, the Moka pot gurgled just after a few minutes, indicating that the coffee was ready. The result was a blend of coffee with paramount quality. Also, there was no metallic taste in any way. Instead, all we got was a rich and intensely flavored blend. Nonetheless, and of course, this still depends on the coffee ground you use and whether you get the process right or not.
On the other hand, cleaning it up is extremely easy. Without the need for dishwashing liquid or the aid of a dishwasher, you can keep it in a good condition at all times. Just rinse it with water which is the only suggested thing you need to do after using it. With this, it is truly a low-maintenance coffee maker you can rely on for years to come.
4. Mueller MU-SSHYDPRESS
Far from the glass French press models common in the market, Mueller came up with a design that can complement the daily needs of coffee addicts. It is made from 310 stainless steel that can withstand corrosion from most oxidizing acids. Besides this material, nonetheless, the overall build of Mueller MU-SSHYDPRESS can be considered a masterpiece.
The body has a good weight on it and the welded seams are polished without visible blemishes, giving it that supreme aesthetic look. Inside and out, we saw nothing but the flawless finish of the surface.
It employs a 4-level filtration system with all of the filters aided by a plunger rod that has superior rigidity. All the screen filters fit like gloves inside and were perfectly made with no sharp edges in any section. The top cover also slides smoothly and has no extra space or gap which can cause it to wobble in any way. This further helps the unit to trap sediments and contain the heat efficiently. In our test, it delivered nothing but a full-bodied blend with zero grounds in our cups.
Further, we are extremely pleased with its double-insulation design which sets it apart from the glass models we encountered before. With this, the content can stay warm for more than an hour. When we tried it, there was even steam coming out of the spout even after 30 minutes!
5. Bodum 11571-109
For the simplest way of brewing your daily cup of joe, a pour-over style coffee maker is probably one of the best options. It is stripped of the complexities possible: no paper filters, no buttons, no cords, and all. All you have is a beautiful heat-resistant borosilicate glass wrapped elegantly with a cork band around its waist. Nonetheless, the art of coffee brewing remains in it and you still need to follow the right pouring process to get the best out of the coffee grounds.
The carafe has a total capacity of 1 liter just like most of its competitors. However, we noticed that its body is relatively thicker. This, of course, wouldn’t be able to contain the heat as long as Mueller MU-SSHYDPRESS but it can still help.
The unit comes with a permanent stainless steel fine mesh filter so there is absolutely no need to purchase an additional paper filter. The quality of the filter seems extremely good and we didn’t experience a single clogging issue. The size of the holes is also just right to prevent the grounds from getting into the drink.
Lastly, we tremendously love how easy its cleanup is. Unlike others, these aren’t multiple layers of filters that need to be washed or body parts that need to be wiped! Its glass body and other attachments (except the cork band) are all dishwasher safe and can be simply rinsed with water and soap.
Best Coffee Makers - Buyer's Guide
As mentioned above, there is a wide variety of coffee makers in the market. Each one offers a distinctive taste of brew so you might want to select carefully.
Pour-over type can be very simple but it won’t give you the same control as what espresso machines can offer. And if you are planning to have electronic coffee makers, it is important to determine the features you need. If you want a more straightforward process and you don’t have the time to fiddle with the machine, an automatic drip coffee type like the Keurig K-Classic is a good choice. On the other hand, if you want to explore the art of coffee making, consider having espresso machines.
All types of coffee makers have different capacities. If you are the only one who would use it at home, having a small coffee maker won’t be a problem. However, for bigger families, a unit with a huge carafe capacity is more ideal.
It is always relieving to spot a very affordable coffee maker on Amazon, but they don’t always guarantee good quality. This is why in each of our reviews, we make sure to get the right balance between the cost and the quality of the product by personally testing them. Now, it is up to you to select the right one that suits your needs.
Best Coffee Makers - FAQs
Coffee machines rely on gravity which slowly pulls the water down the filter. On the other hand, espresso machines use a more complicated system with high pressure that forces water through the coffee.
Let the coffee bloom first in the first 30 seconds and then pour the remaining water. Just put the lid on the top of the grounds but do not plunge it yet. Instead, give it another 4 minutes to steep.
The grind for Moka pots should be coarser than espresso, so medium to medium-fine grinds would be enough.