The Best Coffee Makers for Mornings When You Just Can’t Even
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The irony of making great coffee is that some of us need to have had a cup before being capable of operating even the simplest, most intuitive, best coffee makers. Even if you can muster the early-morning brain power, unless you relish the process of grinding beans, weighing beans, boiling water, not messing up the water temperature, preparing a filter, and cleaning up after yourself, whatever you have at home is going to lose out to handing $3 to a barista. But these days even the most ardent buy-over-brew coffee lovers can become masters of at-home coffee making, thanks to a number of dummy-proof solutions, from press-and-serve automatic models that just require some water and fresh coffee grounds to brew a pot, or pod models that are even easier to handle without measuring out your coffee.
If you are someone who typically spends way too much money at coffee shops, but doesn’t like any form of instant coffee—totally get it, it’s gross—you might have tried a lot of at-home solutions with guidance from one too many coffee blogs, like a pour-over, AeroPress, Chemex, or French press. Any of those methods, and countless others, make kick-ass coffee, but the easiest way to brew up high-quality coffee for yourself or multiple people without sacrificing convenience is a humble coffee maker.
The best coffee makers nail the fundamentals—consistent water temperature, easy to use, solid build—while incorporating a system that reduces the daunting list of variables to a clever group of dials. They also ensure that you don’t need to hover about wetting the grounds bit by bit manually, timing your brew to the last second, or scraping grounds out of a vessel into the trash. To that end, we’ve tested a number of the newest and most exciting coffee makers out there, ones with features that allow you to time out a brew in advance, two-in-one models with grinder attachments (for those who are looking for a quick fix, but aren’t about to stoop to using pre-ground coffee), and options with thermal carafes that keep your coffee at just the right temp without resorting to a diner-style burner plate. We’ve plinked with dials and buttons, experimented with grind settings, and taken the things apart to clean everything.
No matter whether you’re an unfussy Folgers guy or someone with slightly more high-brow tastes, here are our top picks for the best drip coffee makers that help you get your daily caffeine fix and make your morning run smoother.
The Best Overall Coffee Maker: Breville Grind Control
The Breville Grind Control nails all the fundamentals of coffee brewing, but adds a few bells and whistles that take it over the top. The first of these is a built-in grinder. Better coffee starts with freshly ground coffee beans, but adding a separate coffee grinder into your routine adds another machine and another thing to clean. The built-in grinder is solid, and the ability to adjust the coarseness of the grind with a knob makes switching things up for specific tastes a no-hassle experience. Hence the name, “grind control.” The coffee maker has two other adjustment dials, one for strength of brew and one for number of cups. You could do this yourself with more accuracy if you were willing to bust out your scale, but, y’know, it’s 8 a.m. and you probably don’t have the time or the patience. And it works well regardless of whether you’re making one cup of coffee, which some automatic drip coffee makers struggle to do, or a whole pot. Honestly, it’s kind of fun tweaking the dials each morning to make the taste exactly right for your idea of a perfect cup. If you don’t need the built-in grinder, you can also try out the Breville Precision Brewer, which is just as good.
None of this would matter if the Grind Control threatened to fall apart each time you booted it up in the morning, which is a real concern with some poorly built automatic drip coffee makers. That being said, we’ve found the Grind Control holds up pretty well with use. It heats water to appropriate temperatures and doesn’t have any obvious build flaws. The only real downside comes when you have to clean it, which involves a few steps. When you consider that this one device is both a grinder and a coffee brewer, that cleanup doesn’t feel like a huge hassle. And spending 10 minutes one day a week is easier to stomach than the daily upkeep of other more precise devices.
The Best Coffee Maker without a Built-in Grinder: OXO 9-Cup
Buying any coffee maker involves a bunch of elaborate trade-offs. We like the Grind Control because its built-in grinder simplifies the process of making that morning cup of coffee a lot. But built-in grinders tend to be less exact in their measurements, and therefore lead to slightly worse coffee than our favorite stand-alone brewers. If you’re willing to do slightly more work for better coffee, but not so much work that you might as well just go full java freak with a Chemex, you should get the OXO 9-cup coffee maker. Once you’ve ground your beans, the OXO is dirt-simple to use. You basically just pour in your water and coffee grounds, push a button, and then you’re brewing. And if you want, you can program your brewer the night before so that you have coffee ready the moment you wake up. That coffee will taste about as good as anything you’d brew with a pour-over, especially to your morning brain. But don’t take our word for it! The OXO coffee maker is one of the few home coffee makers certified by the Specialty Coffee Association (an international non-profit organization of coffee farmers, roasters, and brewers) for consistently producing great tasting coffee.
The Best Coffee Maker, According to Experts: Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741
If you’re after the best possible coffee you can get from a drip coffee maker, the Moccamaster is the answer. This Dutch brand is a favorite of many a nerdy coffee website, and somehow, it lives up to the nerdy coffee hype. It hits the perfect temperature and quickly brews a perfect pot. Rather than a hot plate, which we don’t prefer because we find it degrades the quality of the coffee faster, the thermal carafe does a commendable job of keeping extra cups hot. It’s a little bit less flexible than the OXO 9-Cup—for example, you can’t schedule it to brew in advance—but it’s still pretty hard to mess up a batch. In a category where aesthetics are on the back burner, it actually looks pretty cool (a little laboratory-esque, but cool). It’s high-end—and you’ll need your own grinder—but with a five-year warranty, it’s an investment worth considering.
The Best Budget Coffee Maker: Cuisinart PerfecTemp 14-Cup Coffeemaker
If you’re a low-fuss coffee drinker, here’s your low-fuss device. In a sea of similarly-priced budget machines, the Cuisinart wins out: it brews consistently good coffee at the right heat, and has enough features to be functional. The build, with its relatively svelte glass carafe, is better suited to hold up for years than its cheaper, more plastic counterparts. This coffee maker is available in two size options (12-cup or 14-cup). You can also upgrade to a thermal carafe, if you prefer—but that option is only available in the 12-cup size. The brewer is available in a variety of colors, including copper, black, rose gold, and stainless steel (pictured).
8 Other Coffee Makers Worth Considering
Oxo’s 8-cup is not merely a smaller version of its already-winning Oxo 9-cup. Its brewing functionalities are essentially identical, brewing a Specialty Coffee Association-certified Golden Cup. Its rainwater head ensures coffee grounds and uniformly and evenly saturated, while brewing either a full carafe or a single cup of coffee—yes, this thing is essentially a better version of a Keurig. The brew time for a full pot is around six minutes, which isn’t too long to wait for your morning joe, and its ease of use also earns it some bonus points. There’s even a Kalita-style basket attachment, which further helps draw out those more nuanced flavors you’d expect from a pour-over coffee. We wish it had a removable water tank and all of the programmability features of its 9-cup companion, but we still think the 8-cup is a wonderful little brewer worthy of your precious counter space.
The Braun MultiServe is like having a barista on speed dial. Its greatest strength is its consistency, with carafe after carafe coming out juuuuust right. You have the option to brew a pot of coffee or a single cup, like the Oxo 8-cup, without the need for wasteful K-Cups or similar coffee pods. When you brew drip, you can choose between three strength levels, and you even have the option to brew coffee over ice a la Japanese-style iced coffee. The MultiServe has the Specialty Coffee Association’s stamp of approval, and while we would prefer a sleeker machine, that doesn’t knock any of its brewing abilities.
Zwilling is a name that’s best known for its kitchen knives over anything else. Apparently it does coffee makers well, though, because it’s certified by the Specialty Coffee Association to brew a Golden Cup of coffee. It’s designed to mimic the brewing process that goes into making pour-over coffee, so there’s a step for blooming (a fancy term for when you wet the grounds enough to let them de-gas), and there’s uniform ground saturation thanks to the wide shower head: an absolute boon for coffee nuts. It’s even programmable to let you set a designated time for it to start brewing—like, say, right before you wake up in the morning—and it’ll keep your coffee warm until you’re ready for your next caffeine fix.
We love this machine for the aesthetics alone, but it’s more than just a countertop beauty. The tech-savvy device pairs with your smartphone and allows you to control the strength, size, and temperature of your brew via an app. Whether you’re flying solo or serving a crowd, this machine’s got you covered, since you can make one to 10 cups at a time. It’s also a breeze to clean and maintain, though a removable water reservoir would’ve been nice. Seen here in stainless steel, it’s also available in matte black and white. Sleek as it is, the Cafe brewer’s price tag is a little high for some, and it doesn’t back up its prices with anything that cheaper options on this list don’t also have.
Bonavita’s coffee makers are frequently recommended by baristas. This one is easy to use and produces excellent-tasting coffee, but doesn’t have the programmability or curb appeal of some of the other coffee makers in its price range. The thermal carafe holds three liters of hot water, and the 1500-watt interior heater maintains a brewing temperature of 195° to 205°F.
Brim’s coffee products are a great pick if you’re a sucker for elegant design, but are a bit more complicated to use than your brain can probably handle first thing in the morning.
Mr. Coffee coffee makers have been keeping people awake for generations. If you think of coffee as something to be inhaled, and don’t really care how it tastes, you might be able to get away with spending this little money on the tool to make it.
Alternatively, if you have money to burn, you could do a lot worse than to spend it at Clive Coffee, a beacon for coffee nerds. The company’s automatic drip coffee machine is pricey, but it basically automates the pour-over process you’d usually have to do by hand.
If you want a coffee maker that pulls double duty, the Ninja Hot & Iced Coffee Maker does just that. It’s great for hot coffee, and it’s also your go-to for iced coffee. When you brew in iced coffee mode, it delivers a cup that won’t get watered down when you add ice, either. Choose from six different brew sizes, ranging from a single up to a full carafe, and dial up your brew strength depending on how wired you want to be.
For a bargain basic, consider the well-reviewed Black+Decker Programmable Coffee Maker. Coming in at less than $30, it’s definitely the price to beat. It brews up 12 cups, has a two-hour auto shutoff, a 24-hour programmable clock, and its washable brew basket eliminates the need for paper filters.
If you’re looking for single-cup coffee maker, this stainless steel drip machine from Hamilton Beach gets the job done—and quickly, at that: It brews up to an eight-ounce cup in 90 seconds and a 14-ounce travel mug two and half minutes. Conveniently, there’s no need to measure out your grounds. You can just fill the reusable filter and you’re good to go, no paper filter required. This is about as easy as coffee-making gets.
Our Favorite Coffee Gear, Period
A coffee subscription is a super easy way to get consistently good coffee delivered straight to your door. Trade Coffee quizzes you on your taste preferences and preferred brewing style to pair you up with coffee from roasters across the country that you’ll actually vibe with. Or, if you already have a favorite roaster, check if they have a subscription—it’s a great way to directly support their work and get it expeditiously.
One of the essential factors of making coffee is even extraction of the grounds, which is impossible if they vary widely in size. That’s why it’s important your grinder uses a burr, which uniformly crushes beans, as opposed to a blade, which just cuts them randomly. This one from Baratza is simple to use and easy to clean.
Getting a hand grinder allows you to save some money, but it’ll quickly start to feel like an obstacle to your morning cup of coffee. If you absolutely must, this one is the easiest to use.
Especially in warmer months, having the option of cold brew coffee at home is a game changer. This gizmo from OXO allows you to make a bunch of it in advance that you can parse out over the course of a few days.
The AeroPress Go is a new version of one of our favorite brewing devices. It’s easy to use and makes a consistently good cup of coffee on-the-go, plus super easy to clean (simply push on the plunger to yeet your coffee grounds into the trash). Its scientific-design also encourages you to experiment with brew ratios so you can fine tune a cup exactly to your taste. The only downside is that it can only brew one full cup at a time, but the process is easy enough for when you need to queue the whole thing up for another round.
Among the many pour-over brewers available, the Chemex is a staff favorite here at GQ. Its conical shape gives it a super sharp look, but it also makes it a bit easier to brew a consistently good cup of coffee—you can be a little bit more cavalier with your pours than you could with a pour-over that has a flat bottom. Plus, its size makes it possible to use for more than one cup of coffee at a time.
If you do decide to wade into the world of pour-over coffee, you should invest in a gooseneck electric kettle. Those will allow you to control the temperature of your water and the volume of it that you pour onto the grounds a lot easier than a stovetop kettle or electric tea kettle. Other models exist, but the Fellow is by far the best-looking, like the batmobile of kettles.
Whir up thick, creamy foam right at home with this handy, USB-chargeable milk frother. Not only does the whisking head froth your milk, but the balloon attachment can also whisk eggs and whip cream for your breakfast.