How do you make the best-tasting pot of coffee? Over the years we’ve tested a lot of coffee brewing devices—from manual pour-over designs to automatic drip machines—and drank thousands of cups to arrive at our favorite methods.

Over the years, our test kitchen has evaluated thousands of products. Price often correlates with design, not performance. We’ve gone through copious rounds of testing and have identified the most important attributes in every piece of equipment, so when you go shopping you’ll know what to look for. And because our test kitchen accepts no support from product manufacturers, you can trust our ratings.

Types of Coffee Makers

The Basics of Making Coffee

Coffee is a complex bean, containing more than 1,000 volatile flavor and aroma compounds. According to experts, the best compounds are released when brewed at temperatures between 195 and 205 degrees. Then there’s the matter of the rate of extraction. The most aromatic and best tasting compounds are generally released first, so coffee that’s brewed too slowly or at too-hot temperatures can suffer from overextraction when the more harsh and bitter flavors are released. If brewed too quickly or with water that isn't hot enough, it can suffer from underextraction where it's weak and sour-tasting. An optimum extraction rate is about 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the method. (Cold-brew methods, in which ground coffee is combined with cold or room-temperature water, take longer—at least 8 hours and up to several days.)

Automatic Coffee Makers

You can start with the best beans and the best coffee maker, but those choices won’t matter if you don’t also use the right ratio of coffee to water (several of the models we tested call for insufficient coffee—or, even worse, simply have baskets too small to hold enough ground coffee for the amount of water its tank can hold). For the ideal cup, the Specialty Coffee Association of America recommends 9 to 11 grams (about 2 tablespoons of medium-grind coffee) per 6 ounces of water.

Favorite Automatic Drip Coffee Maker

Our winner produces a “smooth,” “velvety” brew. It’s also intuitive to use.

→ Buy our favorite automatic drip coffee maker: Technivorm Moccamaster 10-Cup Coffee Maker with Thermal Carafe

→ Read our review of automatic drip coffee makers

Best Buy Automatic Drip Coffee Maker

Simple to use and certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, this brewer produced coffee that was “rich” and “full-flavored.”

→ Buy our Best Buy automatic drip coffee maker: Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Maker with Thermal Carafe

→ Read our review of automatic drip coffee makers

Which Winner Is Right for You?

Many coffee drinkers will be pleased with the excellent performance of the Bonavita, but if you want to invest in the best machine money can buy, the Technivorm might be for you.

  • Brewing Performance: The Technivorm is robotic, reaching the same optimal time and temperature numbers every single time you brew a pot. The Bonavita wavers in and out of the ideal temperature zone a bit more.
  • Heating Element: Though its exterior parts are made from inexpensive lightweight plastic (meant to be replaceable), the Technivorm’s nervous system is built to last. Specifically, its heating element is made of expensive, highly conductive copper—a metal that can reach a higher temperature more quickly than can aluminum, which is what Bonavita (and most other coffee maker manufacturers) uses.
  • Saturation of Grounds: The new Technivorm KBGT and the older Technivorm KBT each have a hold-back function that slows or stops the flow of coffee into the carafe, steeping the grounds longer. (On the old model, this function is manually controlled; on the new model, it automatically waits about 30 seconds.) The Bonavita does not have this function, though it’s equipped with a showerhead that helps saturate the grounds evenly.
  • Carafe Lid: The Technivorm’s carafe features a convenient brew-through lid; the Bonavita requires you to remove the brew basket and screw on a separate lid to keep coffee hot.
  • Construction: The Technivorm is hand-built in the Netherlands. The Bonavita is machine-built in China from a German design.
  • Length of Warranty: Technivorm: five years; Bonavita: two years.

Smart Coffee Makers

Want to upgrade to a “smart” coffee maker with an app that lets you turn on the machine from a smartphone or tablet using Wi-Fi? Imagine the cozy comforts of brewing coffee before getting out of bed. You can also link to Amazon's Alexa devices to start the machine using voice commands and to Amazon Dash Replenishment to automatically reorder coffee. The smart coffee machine we tested encourages the coffee geek in you to customize how it operates.

Behmor Connected 8-Cup Brew System

Our recommended smart coffee maker is a good choice for an automatic drip coffee maker, particularly if you often buy different varieties of coffee and would enjoy tinkering with temperatures and brew settings or if you'd like to use a voice command or an app to start a pot of coffee while you stay tucked in for a few more minutes in the morning. And even if you don't use these extra features, the Behmor makes good-quality coffee with the push of a button. We also appreciated that you can work the machine without the app.

→ Buy our favorite smart coffee maker: Behmor Connected 8-Cup Brew System

→ Read our smart coffee maker review

Curious about smart kitchen systems and appliances? Read more about the smart kitchen trend at CES and our top 10 smart kitchen highlights at the Home and Housewares Show.

Manual Coffee Makers

The beauty of manual coffee makers is that they're inexpensive, transportable, and easy to master over time. Fans love French press coffee makers for their full-bodied brew and simple-to-use design. Coffee enthusiasts also love manual pour-over brewing devices because they let you control water temperature and steeping time—both key to a good cup. Here are some models that we've tested and recommend.

French Press Coffee Maker

This thick, insulated pot was as simple to use as a traditional glass press, but it kept coffee hotter much longer. It produced coffee that tasters called “rich,” “rounded,” “nutty,” and “full-bodied.”

→ Buy our favorite French press coffee maker: Bodum Columbia French Press Coffee Maker, Double Wall, 8 Cup

→ Read our review of French press coffee makers

Interested in making rounder, sweeter, more complex coffee from your French press coffee maker? Learn more on how to make better French press coffee.

Incred ’a Brew by Zevro

Made of shatter-resistant, BPA-free plastic, this pour-over coffee device allows us to control water temperature and steeping time and eliminates the need for paper filters.

→ Buy our highly recommended brewer: Incred ’a Brew by Zevro

→ Read our review of pour-over coffee brewers

Clever Coffee Dripper

An improvement over the traditional manual drip coffee method, its cover keeps the water hotter than the usual open cone. A shutoff valve holds back the dripping coffee so that it can steep more fully.

→ Buy our recommended brewer: Clever Coffee Dripper

→ Read our review of pour-over coffee brewers

Cold Brew Coffee Makers

Caffeine nerds have long touted the advantages of brewing coffee with cold water. The process, which calls for steeping ground coffee in cold water for several hours (or overnight), is largely hands-off; produces a smoother, less acidic brew than does conventional hot-water extraction; and yields a strong concentrate that can be stored in the refrigerator and diluted to taste with hot or cold water (or poured over ice) to make instant hot or iced coffee.

Cold Brew Coffee Maker

With just a few large plastic parts, a stable, widemouthed glass carafe with an easy-to-seal lid, and straightforward instructions, this classic brewer was simple to use and clean up and yielded a generous amount of “rich,” “chocolaty,” “full-flavored” concentrate that still tasted good after two weeks in the refrigerator.

→ Buy our favorite cold brew coffee maker: Toddy Cold Brew System

→ Read our review of cold brew coffee makers

Learn more about how cold brew stacks up against other iced coffee methods or try our recipe for Cold-Brew Coffee Concentrate.

Stovetop Coffee Makers

Italian moka pots are small, inexpensive coffee makers that use steam pressure to force hot water from a bottom chamber up through coffee grounds. That pressure isn’t high enough for true espresso extraction, but the coffee they make is stronger and more complex than anything brewed in a drip machine.

Moka Pot

This easy-to-use classic design quickly brewed rich, dense coffee. Even better, it was the least expensive model we tested.

→ Buy our favorite moka pot: Bialetti Moka Express, 3 cups

→ Read our review of moka pots

Espresso Machines

Espresso machines range in price from well under $100 for basic machines to elaborate, glossy marvels that can set you back as much as $8,000—it can be a confusing process to find the best one for your investment. First and foremost, an espresso machine should make espresso as good as a barista can produce, and you should be able to customize the brew strength and size to your taste. Second, the machine must be easy to use and relatively straightforward to maintain. Brewing a drink or two should not make much of a mess, take too long, or require a discouraging amount of fuss for a busy weekday morning.

Fully Automatic Espresso Machine

This compact, well-made machine consistently produced excellent espresso at the push of a button and readily let us adjust the flavor, temperature, and strength of a shot. The thoughtfully designed controls and a clear display that showed what was happening made it simple to brew espresso or froth milk without consulting the manual.

→ Buy our favorite fully automatic espresso machine: Gaggia Anima Automatic Coffee Machine

→ Read our review of espresso machines

Hands-On Espresso Machine

This handsome machine is perfect if you want the convenience of built-in grinding and automatic weighing of coffee, as well as push-button brewing, but you don’t mind some hands-on work. You must learn to tamp properly and move the portafilter of grounds from the grinder to the brewing position. A simple gauge provides excellent feedback, quickly teaching you to dial in the best grind setting and tamping pressure.

→ Buy our favorite espresso machine for DIY types: Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine

→ Read our review of espresso machines

Manual Espresso Makers

Espresso is produced when high pressure forces hot water through finely ground coffee, quickly extracting the flavor. When done properly, the result is a thick, rich brew that captures the essence of the coffee bean. Although potentially not as powerful, manual makers are portable, lightweight, easy-to-use alternatives to expensive electric machines, and our favorites produce great espresso.


The 11-inch tool consists of two long, curved levers attached to a wishbone-shaped body, a clear hot-water chamber with markings for single and double shots, and a portafilter for grounds. The instructions were clear, and the superb result—rich, full-bodied espresso topped with a nice crema—had test cooks lining up for shots.

→ Buy our favorite manual espresso maker: ROK Manual Espresso Maker

→ Read our review of manual espresso makers


It didn't create the deep, rich brew of a gourmet coffee outlet, but it produced a smooth espresso that combined the slightly heavier body of French press coffee and the cleanness of drip coffee. And with good reason—it mimics the technology of both.

→ Buy our recommended manual espresso maker: AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker

→ Read our review of manual espresso makers

Coffee Gadgets You Shouldn't Buy

We gave these gadgets a fair chance to prove themselves in our testings. However, it was clear they aren't worth the time or money. We explain why you shouldn't buy them, and what tools or methods work much better for your intended purpose.

Single-Serve Pod Coffee Maker

Most makers on the market are either poorly designed or brew lackluster coffee. Since the price points are on par with any high-end traditional coffee maker, and even buying pods in bulk sets you back 10 cents or more per cup than brewing from regular ground coffee does, you’ll be paying dearly for the convenience.

→ Invest elsewhere for the best value on better coffee

→ Read our review of single-serve pod coffee makers

Coffee Bean Vacuum Savers

For those who make coffee daily, these products are a waste of money (if we opened it daily, a taste test revealed that it wasn’t any better than storing beans in a zipper-lock bag). For occasional coffee drinkers, it’s a good storage solution.

→ Learn tips for buying and storing coffee in our video and how-to guide

→ Read our review of food storage bags

→ Read our review of coffee bean vacuum savers

Coffee Joulies

The product promises to cool your coffee quickly to the ideal temperature (140 degrees) and keep it there. The Joulies may work as advertised, but only if you’re sipping your brew out of a travel mug—and $49.95 is a lot to spend to address a small woe.

→ Read our review of coffee temperature regulators

→ Read our review of travel mugs

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