Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

Cold brew. French press. Pour over. There are many ways to make coffee—and my team at ATK Reviews has tested just about all of them.

In every test, this coffee maker came out on top: It brewed hotter and faster than most other models, resulting in a smooth brew that tasters rated the most flavorful. Its thermal carafe kept brewed coffee hot for more than an hour, and pouring was tidy, with a responsive lever that stopped and started the stream of coffee promptly. All of its parts were accessible and easy to clean, and the machine turned on with the push of a button and automatically turned off when it finished brewing. It had a smaller capacity than the other coffee makers we tested, but it could still brew enough to make about six 8-ounce cups of coffee. It wasn’t programmable and was the most expensive model in our lineup; however, this was the only brewer in our lineup certified by the Specialty Coffee Association home brewer program as meeting all the standards for good coffee.

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This grinder is bare-bones: Just select one of the 40 grind settings and turn it on; it mills beans until you turn it off. It was too minimal for novice testers who wanted more guidance, but its no-fuss design is perfect for experienced users. It doesn't include a scale, so you need to weigh beans beforehand.

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Our winner is the only carafe that has extra insulation in addition to the standard double-wall vacuum seal. The thin sheets of copper and aluminum foil worked: After 4 hours, coffee was still piping hot at 152 degrees. Milk was 40 degrees after 2 hours and just 41 degrees after 4 hours. Testers loved its snap-on lid, which sealed with an audible (and reassuring) click and can be completely disassembled for cleaning. It also boasts a comfortable handle and a responsive button and pours with a steady, even stream that cuts off without dribbling.

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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. A simple attached steam wand with a silicone grip was comfortable to use and popped off for cleaning.

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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 (Pro tip: Tamp on a scale, aiming for 30 pounds of pressure). This process soon became intuitive and easy. We loved that the machine came with everything you need—tamper, milk frothing jug, and portafilters for single and double espresso—and had a hidden drawer to store it all.

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This attractive and lightweight flat bottom–style model made delicious, full-bodied coffee. It has horizontal ridges on its interior and three small drainage holes, which allow water to flow through the coffee bed at a steady and not-too-slow speed, preventing overextraction that results in bitterness. The flat-bottom design also creates a shallow coffee bed, which mitigates the risk of water saturating grounds unevenly. Those three design features work together to make the brewing experience more consistent and forgiving, appealing to pour-over novices. In our testing, we determined that it’s best used with the Kalita proprietary filter paper, which has wavy edges and fits snugly inside the cup.

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This pretty pour-over coffee maker brewed coffee that amplified “bright” notes and produced well-balanced flavors overall, according to tasters. It’s easy to use and has a semicircle handle that helps you lift it up and move it around. It’s sturdy and has a base, so it sits securely atop the vessel of your choice. Spiral ribs created space between the coffee grounds and the wall, allowing the hot water to reach the bottom of the grounds more quickly, preventing uneven extraction and clogging. This style of pour-over maker favors light roast coffee, as its speedy extraction helps highlight flavors common in light-roast beans, such as berry and citrus fruits. Its proprietary filter paper clings to the wall nicely, and its broad opening offers a clear line of sight while pouring water over the grounds. It also comes in a plastic version with the same design features.

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 This coffee maker impressed us with the most rounded, sweet, and vibrant coffee, according to our tasters. It was made possible by the 20 vertical, accordion-like gutters to allow air in to speed up the process. It’s not as user-friendly as our other top-rated models. A wooden collar, which is sold separately, is needed to secure it over a mug or a carafe. There’s also no handle, so you’ll have to carefully remove it after brewing is done. Additionally, the gutters are more dramatic than the slightly-raised, spiral ribs inside the Hario models, resulting in a quicker drain. It may be challenging for novices to control the flow of water.

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This sleek and responsive scale was sturdy and user-friendly. Its high level of accuracy and sensitivity makes it ideal for making pour-over coffee. A power button is conveniently located on its side, ensuring that it won't be accidentally switched on, a considerate touch that some other hypersensitive scales don’t have. It has two buttons on its weighing platform, and a combination of long presses and short taps unlocks the additional features, such as the auto mode. But don’t worry about memorizing the commands: It comes with a removable plastic sheet with directions to ease you through the learning curve, a feature we found helpful.

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This moka pot features the classic hourglass-shape design, with a wide bottom that allows for maximum contact with the stovetop burner, accelerating the brewing process and preventing over-extraction that can cause bitterness. It was fast, averaging a little over 5 minutes to extract the coffee. The center tube inside its upper chamber has two wide openings, which prevents the liquid from spurting and spilling from the pot. We liked that its lid stayed open when we wanted it to; it made monitoring the brew process and cleaning the upper chamber easier. Its curved handle was ergonomic and comfortable to hold. Like all moka pot coffee, there was some grit in the finished brew because the metal filter doesn’t filter out fine solids.

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We liked this stainless-steel model, as it’s compatible with induction stovetops. It brewed three servings of coffee in less than 6 minutes, which is a bit longer than ideal, but the yield was consistent throughout the tests. Its design is rather tall and slender, and it has a relatively small footprint compared to the other models with wider bases. We didn’t like the long, narrow upper chamber that was hard to reach into to clean. The valve location is also hidden under the threads of the bottom chamber, so we had to crane our necks to see it, making it harder to fill to the correct level.

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This easy-to-use model made consistently delicious and full-flavored coffee concentrate with notes of “chocolate,” “maple,” and “orange.” The coffee filters through a small ¼-inch-thick food-grade polyester disk that you insert into the bottom of the brew basket. For a second layer of filtration, we outfitted the brew basket with the paper filter the device came with. Using two filters gave the brew a clear appearance and a clean taste that was free of off-flavors, earning it top marks in our tasting. The instructions are clearly written and easy to follow, which set us up for success. As we pulled the plug to drain the coffee from the bucket where it had been steeping, we didn’t notice much spilling, to our relief. Cleanup was easy for the most part, except for the thick polyester disk; it was hard to tell whether the interior had dried enough after rinsing. However, the disk can be sterilized in the microwave after each use to eliminate bacteria growth.

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