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The Zojirushi 5-Cup Drip Coffee Maker is everything you want in a drip machine but at a fraction of the size.
There are different reasons why you might be interested in a small coffee maker. If you’re single, live with someone who isn’t a coffee drinker, or simply don’t want to go overboard on caffeine, you may find yourself wasting half a pot of coffee, give or take, with every brew. If you have a small kitchen or limited counter or storage space, your current coffee maker might be more of a hassle than a convenience. No matter your situation, small coffee makers are an excellent way to prevent clutter and waste while still getting your daily cup. And luckily, there are compact models for nearly every method, from French press to drip coffee to espresso.
For expert insights on small coffee makers, we spoke with the President and Founder of Civilized Coffee, Matt Patterson, who tells us that there are a few factors to help you determine what coffee maker to get. Most notably, he says that you should consider “how much time and effort you want to spend on making your coffee,” as there is a difference between grinding your beans and popping a pod in a machine.
The best small coffee makers combine efficiency with size, so you can have the full experience of a fresh brew without worrying about waste. We’ve rounded up our favorite models, starting with our top pick: the Zojirushi 5-Cup Drip Coffee Maker.
Zojirushi Zutto 5-Cup Drip Coffee Maker
Pros: Counter-friendly, the efficiently designed maker houses the filter inside the carafe.
Cons: There’s no auto shut-off feature.
The Zojirushi Drip Coffee Maker is our best overall pick because it has similar features to larger models — only with space-saving attributes. By housing the filter within the carafe, this machine is smaller than average without containing fewer parts.
The removable water tank includes a charcoal filter that lasts up to two years, and the machine keeps coffee hot until it’s gone thanks to the auto-warming function. It has a simple switch to turn it off and on, but note that it doesn’t have an automatic shut-off feature to save you if you are in a rush. In other words, make sure you manually turn it off after each use.
Price at time of publish: $74
Pros: It’s simple to use and a compact size for espresso fans.
Cons: It lacks the functionality scope of other Nespresso machines.
This mini Nespresso machine belies its impressive power, featuring 19 bars of pressure that produce espresso with ample crema. While it only makes a single shot of espresso at a time, it has a 24-ounce water tank that you don’t have to refill for each drink.
It’s our choice for a small espresso maker because it takes up minimal space yet gets the job done quickly, heating water in less than 30 seconds. Note that it is for espresso only and does not make drip coffee as some Nespresso machines do.
Price at time of publish: $213
Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, 3-Cup
Pros: This is a classic way to make strong coffee and only requires only a stovetop — no outlet needed.
Cons: Aluminum can create an off taste for some people.
Whether you want espresso-like coffee without investing in a bulky, expensive machine or are craving Italian coffee, this Bialetti coffee maker is for you. The Italian company is known for its stovetop espresso makers that enable people without barista-level experience or equipment to enjoy espresso-like coffee in the comfort of their homes. The process is simple: Take apart the device, remove the filter, fill the base with water until it reaches the safety valve, add coffee to the filter, put the two parts back together, and place it on the stovetop on medium heat.
Price at time of publish: $40
Chemex Pour-Over Glass Coffeemaker 3-Cup
Pros: Borosilicate glass adds no chemical flavors or smells, and if you have leftovers, you can store the carafe in the refrigerator.
Cons: The pour-over method can be time-consuming compared to others.
If you’re a fan of pour-over coffee, this three-cup version of our favorite model is a must. This coffee maker is equal parts aesthetically pleasing and functional, with its stylish wooden collar, helpful halfway mark, and mess-free pour spout.
Pour-over is considered the best way to get the full taste of a coffee because the method involves saturating the beans slowly and repeatedly, plus individuals can customize their cup to their liking. To make a delicious brew, you’ll need a gooseneck kettle and the brand’s bonded filters for optimal results, as they remove acidity and sediment. The borosilicate glass is hand blown, yet safe enough to be washed in the dishwasher.
Price at time of publish: $42
Bodum Chambord French Press Coffee Maker
Best French Press
Pros: It makes smooth coffee every time and is dishwasher-safe for quick cleanup.
Cons: You need to heat the water separately.
Our favorite compact French press is the smaller version of the winner from our in-house tests. We love this tried-and-true device because it consistently produces a smooth, balanced brew. “I enjoy using fresh ground coffee and a French press, “he says. “I drink too much coffee and do not have the time to make a pour-over every time I want a cup of coffee.”
The Chambord French press is strong enough to withstand the dishwasher yet delicate enough that it won’t add any flavors to your coffee thanks to its borosilicate glass body. We also appreciate that the filter is stainless steel instead of aluminum. Bodum has been crafting coffee makers since the ’50s and continues to use the same manufacturing methods as it did then.
Price at time of publish: $50
RELATED: How to Make French Press Coffee, According to Experts
OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Best Cold Brew
Pros: It’s easy to use, produces strong, smooth coffee, and disassembles into small parts for storage.
Cons: Cold brew requires 12 to 24 hours, so you’ll need to think ahead.
Well-constructed and easy to use, the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Maker has the design qualities the brand is known for, making it our top choice. It was the winner of our cold brew maker tests because it’s consistent, compact, and beginner-friendly.
For anyone who has a hard time with the acidity of coffee, opting to brew it this way tends to cause far fewer issues. It makes a concentrate that you can mix with milk, water, and ice, meaning you only need to brew it once to enjoy it for days. Even when in use, it takes up little counter space and stores even smaller.
Price at time of publish: $52
AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker
Best for Travel
Pros: The smallest of all our selections, it’s a highly portable coffee maker that removes sediment well.
Cons: It’s better for on-the-go use than your everyday coffee maker.
The AeroPress is a popular choice for traveling because it’s extremely easy to pack and use. It’s similar to a French press, yet it’s smaller and works more quickly, so the brew is less bitter and acidic.
To use this device, add coffee grounds to the filter and pour hot water over them. Then stir and press down the plunger with gentle pressure on top of a mug or travel cup. It enables you to make as strong or mild of a cup as you prefer, and you can even use it for up to three espresso shots instead. It’s lightning fast to rinse out, and you can easily store it in cabinets and drawers.
Price at time of publish: $40
The Zojirushi 5-Cup Drip Coffee Maker is large enough for two people to enjoy a morning cup but small enough to store in small kitchens and offices. For fans of cold brew, the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker is an ideal choice to make coffee once and then keep it on hand as a concentrate in the fridge, enabling you to brew less often.
Factors to Consider
Small coffee makers are available in all the same varieties as large ones, from French press to cold brew. You’ll want to go with the method you enjoy making most and that yields the type of coffee or espresso you prefer. Drip coffee makers are the most standard type of coffee maker and our favorite compact model is the Zojirushi 5-Cup Drip Coffee Maker.
Small coffee makers intentionally have less capacity than larger ones, but they still vary. Espresso machines have the smallest capacity in terms of output, as they only produce one or two shots at a time. Compact pour-over and cold brew coffee makers usually produce two to eight cups of coffee at a time. Travel-friendly coffee makers, like the AeroPress, take up the least amount of storage or countertop space.
Unlike larger models, small coffee makers tend to be pared down. You’ll want to find a machine with the ones most important to you, whether that’s the ease of cleaning in the dishwasher or an auto-warming function. Generally, compact models won’t have the same bells and whistles as larger ones, but they still produce quality brews.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you clean coffee makers?
<p>“There is one Golden Rule for <a href=”https://www.foodandwine.com/how-to-clean-a-coffee-maker-6834620″ data-component=”link” data-source=”inlineLink” data-type=”internalLink” data-ordinal=”1″>cleaning any coffee maker</a> — never use soap,” Patterson says. “Soap can and will leave a residue (something you do not want to taste). Depending on water quality, some hard water can create scaling.” He cleans his with vinegar and rinses thoroughly.</p>
How long do coffee makers last?
<p>The average coffee maker should last you about five years. If choosing a model made of glass, you’ll want one made of borosilicate since it’s shatterproof. Plastic coffee makers, such as AeroPress, might not last as long as more thoughtfully-designed machines like Nespresso. Patterson says that “even with the best quality and care, coffee makers can break.”</p>
What is the best coffee-to-water ratio?
<p>While the coffee’s strength is up to the drinker, there are some standards. “There are several factors for the perfect coffee-to-water ratio,” Patterson says. </p><p><br/><strong>Coffee grind size:</strong> For example, cold brew uses a large grind and a longer exposure compared to espresso machines that require a fine grind and short exposure.</p><p><br/></p><p><strong>Water temperature:</strong> Hot water will get a faster extraction, but too hot can bring out very bitter flavors.</p><p><br/></p><p><strong>Brew method/time:</strong> The longer contact the coffee grinds have to water, the more extraction.</p><p> </p><p>For a French press, he says, “use approximately one ounce of fresh ground semi-coarse coffee (a 10-second grind in a Bodum grinder) for a 32-ounce French press. After adding the hot water (not boiling), I give a quick stir and let set for four minutes before pressing and serving.”</p>
Contributor Ariane Resnick is a special diet chef, certified nutritionist, bestselling author, and lover of coffee. For this piece, she consulted with the President and Founder of Civilized Coffee, Matt Patterson, to help her determine the best small coffee makers on the market and gain further insight into choosing the right model.