When using a drip coffee maker, three components will most affect how your cup of coffee tastes: quality of beans and grounds, consistency of heating, and even extraction.
Since we brought it up first, we’ll chat about grounds first. You’ll want to get whole beans and use a conical burr grinder, as we’ve chatted about before, and you’ll likely want to stick to about a medium grind. Fiddle around a bit and try a brew with medium-fine all the way up to a medium-coarse to find just the right extraction for you.
Now, that’s the part of extraction you can control. Keep in mind the general correlation for extraction: if the grinds are too coarse it’s under-extracting and it’ll be sour; if the grinds are too fine it’ll over-extract and be bitter. There’s an entire science to coffee grind size.
The other half is going to be up to the machine. Machines with a single “arm” that drip water over grounds in a line are less likely to evenly extract coffee compared to those with a shower head that distribute water evenly.
Some machines will even have a “pre-infusion” option that drips water over the grounds before brewing to allow them to bloom. If you’re curious, watch this video to see how drip coffee makers work
Optimal heating components will reach a 197.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but won’t exceed 204.8 degrees Fahrenheit—this is the primo slice of temperature for brewing coffee. There is no way to control temperature on a drip machine, but one of the ways you can guarantee the machine you purchase follows these golden rules for coffee brewing is to find models that are approved by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), the people who speak for the beans worldwide.
Best Drip Coffee Makers In 2019
Everyone’s needs are different—for some people, the simpler the better, while others want to retain the ease while still getting to customize what they can. Let’s take a look at some of the top drip coffee models on the market and get you the perfect set up for your kitchen!
1. Technivorm Moccamaster KBG Coffee Brewer
The Technivorm Moccamaster 59616 KBG Coffee Brewer is a sturdy machine that uses copper heating elements for precise temperature and a glass carafe to collect your coffee. It’s on the pricier end of the scale, but it does all of the hard work for you.
SCA-certified, you know that it’s brewing your beans with tender, loving care. Once your carafe is full, you can choose whether you want the hot plate at 175 degrees or 185 degrees Fahrenheit depending on your preferences. If you can’t wait to have a cup, all you have to do to pause the brew and snag a pour is pull the carafe out. The Moccamaster will start again when you replace it.
Technivorm may not be a household name, but it’s definitely worthy of praise. Handmade in the Netherlands, these machines come with a 5-year limited warranty on the durable, recyclable parts and this energy-efficient machine has even earned the Seal of Approval from the European Coffee Brewing Center.
- Brews 10 cups of coffee in six minutes
- Auto-shut off activates when there is no more water in the reservoir
- Made with BPA/BPS/BPF-free plastics
- Hot plate shuts off after 100 minutes
- Comes with a five-year warranty from an Authorized Retailer and replaceable parts from Technivorm, making this a safe investment
- Simple but high-quality design will yield a great tasting cup of coffee
- Water reservoir is large and transparent so it’s easy to see how much water is left
- Glass carafe and hot plate might unnecessarily heat the coffee, which cold potentially affect the taste
- Fewer programming options available (However, my mother views that as a ‘Pro’!)
- On the expensive side
2. Oxo On Barista Brain 9-Cup Coffee Maker
Another great SCA-certified model, the Barista Brain by OXO actually brews using a microprocessor-controlled brew process and thermal heating control. That is a fancy way of saying this machine does its best to replicate a pour over brewing method, including using a rainmaker shower head and a pre-infusion to bloom the coffee grounds.
The LED interface features a freshness indicator and the single dial on the front allows you to program the number of cups, as well as a 24-hour start timer.
OXO has been specializing in kitchen and housewares since its California debut in 1990, where Sam Farber introduced more comfortable kitchen utensils for people like his wife, who suffered from arthritis. Today, OXO has brought their easy-to-use philosophy to other areas of kitchen life like the Brain Barista.
- Shower head design runs water evenly over coffee grounds to improve extraction and create a better flavor profile
- LED display keeps track of how fresh the coffee is and lets you know immediately when it’s done brewing
- Brews coffee based on the amount of water you put in the reservoir and the number of cups you select, which gives you a more accurate ratio
- Short brewing time and insulated, steel carafe
- Optional single-serve capacity
- 24-hour timer for auto-start in the morning
- Carafe is not particularly high-grade and won’t keep coffee hot for more than a couple of hours
- There is no brew pausing, so if you remove the carafe before the machine is done brewing, coffee will drip out
3. Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker (CM407)
After Ninja debuted it’s well-received Ninja Coffee Bar, they stepped up their game and created two new coffee makers. The new model we especially like is the Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker.
A simple dial mechanism lets you choose from six different brew sizes (Single Cup, XL Cup, Travel Mug size, XL Multi-Serve, Half Carafe, and Full Carafe) and four different brew types (Classic, Rich, Over Ice, and Specialty). We’re particularly impressed with the super-rich specialty coffee concentrate option, which really brings out the flavor in more high-end coffee beans.
Ninja’s Specialty Coffee Brewer is also quieter than the Ninja Coffee Bar, which is Ninja’s older model that we reviewed. Ninja includes a high-quality reusable filter and they even added a frothing arm that swings out from the left side of the machine. Despite our initial reservations about the quality of the frother, we discovered that it’s actually just as good (if not better) than most other hand-held milk frothers.
You can opt to get this model with either a glass carafe or thermal carafe. The thermal is a bit more expensive, but your coffee will stay hotter for longer. We opted for the glass carafe, but that’s because we don’t leave coffee sitting around for a long time.
Aesthetically, this coffee maker is very modern and has a sleek, efficient look to it, but it’s quite tall, which is good to keep in mind if you have low cabinets. This may be problematic if you have limited counter space with low cabinets. Although we always recommend weighing your beans, Ninja provides a pre-measured scoop for ease and convenience.
The only thing we would’ve liked to see different is how Ninja recommends the coffee-to-water ratio. If you typical weigh your beans pre-ground, you’ll know what we’re talking about. The coffee maker comes with a scoop, and when Ninja recommends the coffee-to-water ratio for each brew size, they base their measurements on the number of scoops of ground coffee. I like to measure out exactly 18 grams of whole bean coffee when brewing a single cup, so figuring out the scoop/pre-ground measuring took me by surprise. However, by the second or third cup, you should be fine measuring any way you want.
- Ability to select from six different brew sizes and four different brew types
- Lots of extra equipment and attachments but it all folds in nicely for storage
- No pods required
- Super convenient fold-away frother that can turn hot or cold milk into smooth froth
- Programmed auto-timer for brewing any time of day required
- Fairly tall machine that could be problematic if you have limited counter space
- You’ll need to check the included user manual to figure out what ratio of coffee grounds you should use for each brew size
4. Bonavita BV1900TS 8-Cup Coffee Brewer
Unlike most of the machines listed here, the Bonavita BV1900TS brewer uses a flat head filter and large showerhead design to reach optimal saturation of the beans. There’s even an optional pre-infusion mode (which is definitely recommended) that mimics the action Barista’s take to let coffee bloom.
This attention to detail, the precise 1500-watt heater that keeps the brewing temp between 198 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit, and the unique pre-infusion mode gave this the seal of approval from the Specialty Coffee Association.
- Small and compact for a thermal carafe
- Basic operating system starts and stops with just one switch
- Optional pre-infusion to bloom the coffee grounds
- Made with BPA-free plastic
- Carafe, shower head, and filter are all removable and dishwasher-safe so they are easy to clean
- Water reservoir is large and easy to read clearly
- Cups are measured as 5oz instead of the traditional 6oz which might require some getting used to
- Seems particularly prone to breaking down without regular cleaning
- Carafe lid must be removed completely for brewing and filter basket simply sits on top, leaving a gap between the filtered grounds and the water dispenser
- Pre-infusion setting can be difficult to figure out since there is no separate button for it
5. Zojirushi EC-YGC120 Fresh Brew Plus 12-Cup Coffee Maker
Zojirushi has been around since 1918 and creating products inspired by everyday life. They provide a variety of kitchen products, including the Fresh Brew plus, which is a great option if you like your brew iced as much as you like it hot.
Using the Japanese method, the glass carafe, which can handle 12 cups of warm coffee and six cups of cold, has a special insert to put ice. Once brewed, it’s flash frozen as it drips into the carafe. There’s no need to worry about diluting with this beaut, though, because the machine adjusts based on the iced coffee water measure lines!
- Ability to turn “off” warm setting in order to brew iced coffee
- Iced coffee setting has different water level input to account for diluting
- Four different temperature settings keep coffee as hot or cool as you want
- Auto-start timer option
- LED display with a “Clean” notification when the machine is ready for maintenance
- Iced coffee will only brew half of the total capacity (six cups)
- Alert beeping is quite loud
- Unit is tall, though not excessively wide
- Some issues with overflowing if the basket and drip are not perfectly aligned