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The OXO Brew coffee maker is our all-rounder favorite.
When browsing for a new coffee maker, it doesn’t take long to notice that there are two types of carafes: glass and thermal. Though glass carafes are more common and tend to be more affordable — and they have the advantage of showing you exactly how much coffee is left with a quick glance — thermal carafes are more durable and can keep your coffee hotter for longer.
Thermal carafes offer increased versatility, too.
“Coffee brewed into a thermal carafe can be removed from the coffee maker and placed on your dining table, desk, or bedside table (no judgment),” says Heather Calatrello of ShedLight Coffee Roasters. “Another strong selling point for the thermal carafe is that it won’t impart a burned taste onto the coffee, as you may experience with a glass carafe that has been ‘cooking’ for hours on a hotplate.”
For these reasons, thermal carafes are especially great for large-capacity brewing. They’re handy for entertaining, fueling a busy office, or just keeping your own mug full all morning long. And if you’re in the market for a thermal carafe coffee maker, we’ve assembled 9 of the best right here. Topping the list is the OXO Brew 8 Cup Coffee Maker, which we’ve crowned best overall for its just-right price point, pleasing design, and ability to turn out a quality brew. Read on for more.
OXO Brew 8-Cup Coffee Maker
Pros: Streamlined design and reliable performance at a fair price, and has a single cup option.
Cons: It’s not programmable.
OXO slides into our best overall category once again with their 8-cup thermal carafe coffee maker. We appreciate the minimalist footprint of this machine’s sleek design, and the Specialty Coffee Association gold-standard certification doesn’t hurt either.
This coffee maker features a rainmaker head to evenly distribute water over the coffee grounds, dripping a quality brew into the double-walled thermal carafe below. And if a full carafe is too much, you can opt to brew a single-serve portion.
Though this no-frills machine is not programmable, it’s easy to use, it looks good, and brews a great pot every time.
Price at time of publish: $200
BLACK+DECKER CM2045B-1 12-Cup
Pros: Programmable and brews a generous capacity.
Cons: Design is a little bulky.
Black+Decker has a reputation for durability among home appliances and other tools, so it’s no surprise that their thermal carafe coffee maker is a great choice for the value-conscious. This is also our pick for best large capacity brewer — it’ll get the job done in bulk.
This programmable machine can have a full 12 cups of coffee ready and waiting for you in the morning, and the 4-layer thermal carafe will keep it nice and hot. You’ll find a brew strength selector and an auto-clean system, too, which makes this machine perfect for offices and workshops where it’s likely to receive frequent use, but perhaps not a lot of attention.
Price at time of publish: $63
Technivorm Moccamaster 79312 KBGT Coffee Brewer
Pros: Performance matches the prestige of this top-notch thermal carafe coffee maker.
Cons: Tall stance may be tricky for some spaces.
Moccamaster coffee makers are revered by coffee enthusiasts worldwide, and the KBGT is a favorite of Calatrello, too.
“There are several features that make this machine stand out,” she says. “First, it’s lightning-fast — it’ll brew a full 40-ounce carafe in just 4-6 minutes. Second, it features a unique copper heating element that rapidly heats the water to the ideal brewing temperature of 196-205 degrees, and automatically shuts off when the reservoir is empty.”
Calatrello appreciates how the Moccamaster KBGT mimics manual brewing, and she confirms that the thermal carafe keeps coffee hot for several hours when capped with the included travel lid.
Price at time of publish: $280
Hamilton Beach The Scoop Single-Serve Coffee Maker
Pros: A cool design that brews single servings without capsules.
Cons: No special features, and it will not save you that much more space compared to a multi-cup coffee maker.
If you’ve ever thought about getting a small coffee maker to keep at your desk, The Scoop from Hamilton Beach just might be the one. This is a single-serve coffee machine that doesn’t use capsules and brews right into the included thermal travel mug.
The stainless steel design is sleek and easy to wipe down, and while the machine is not programmable, you can choose between regular or bold brewing strengths. At less than $40, this is a value that’s tough to beat.
Price at time of publish: $37
MIRA 34 oz Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker
Best French Press
Pros: Features double-walled insulation and is available in three colors.
Cons: Press filters can be difficult to clean.
We like this thermal French press for its slick design — which is available in three colors — and easy portability. With a French press made of durable stainless steel, you can easily take it to the office or even bring it along on road trips and other travels.
Like most French presses, this one from Mira is pretty straightforward: Add coarse coffee grounds and hot water, let it steep, then depress the filter and pour. There are no special features, but for a good-looking, affordable French press that’ll keep coffee hot, we’ll take it!
Price at time of publish: $24
Breville The Grind Control
Best with Grinder
Pros: Six grind settings and fully programmable.
Cons: It’s pricey, and it can be difficult to set up straight out of the box.
“If a grind-and-brew coffee maker is more your speed, our favorite is the Breville Grind Control,” says Calatrello. “It features stainless steel, flat burrs with six grind settings. It’s fully programmable and allows you to brew directly into a mug, the thermal carafe, or a travel mug.”
On top of its versatility, Calatrello says the Grind Control really does deliver on its promise of quality, noting that the machine “delivers a consistently delicious cup.”
Though the Breville doesn’t come cheap, it’s a great choice if you prefer to grind your own beans but don’t want to deal with a grinder as a separate unit. Factor in its programming capabilities and generous 12-cup capacity, and this is easily our pick for best thermal carafe coffee maker with grinder.
Price at time of publish: $350
Mr. Coffee Occasions All-in-One Coffee Maker
Best with Espresso
Pros: A versatile (and affordable) coffee and espresso machine.
Cons: Not as luxe as higher-end machines.
If your budget isn’t unlimited, but you’re looking for a versatile coffee maker that can also steam milk and pull espresso shots, Mr Coffee’s Occasions machine could be the answer.
This all-in-one machine includes a 10-cup thermal carafe, can make espresso, and has a built-in milk frother. It can even accommodate K-Cup pods if those are your thing.
Mr. Coffee has equipped this machine with a smart water system that dispenses just the right amount for your chosen brewing method, and the removable drip tray makes for easy clean-up. This won’t rival some of the top-of-the-line espresso machines, but for at-home personal use, this coffee maker certainly gets the job done.
Price at time of publish: $260
Zojirushi Fresh Brew Plus Thermal Carafe Coffee Maker
Best for Iced Coffee
Pros: Ideal for brewing hot or cold coffee, and it’s easy to clean.
Cons: Some have complained it’s a bit loud.
If you’d like to level up your iced coffee game beyond just letting a carafe of regular coffee reach room temperature, the Zojirushi Fresh Brew is your ticket to refreshment. It features a special setting for purpose-brewed iced coffee, which adjusts the grounds-to-water ratio to avoid watering down the coffee before it ever hits the ice.
Or, yes, you can simply use the Fresh Brew for hot coffee. The thermal carafe will keep it cozy, and clean-up is a breeze thanks to the removable water reservoir and anti-drip sensor that stops flow when the carafe is removed.
This machine is a little more expensive than other thermal carafe coffee makers, but it’s worth the investment if you’re an iced coffee aficionado.
Price at time of publish: $184
The OXO Brew 8 Cup Coffee Maker is our pick for best overall thanks to its sleek design, affordable price point, and high-quality brewing capability. If you’re after a great value or large capacity, the Black+Decker 12 Cup Thermal Coffee Maker is an excellent choice.
Factors to Consider
Size and capacity
As with any other small kitchen appliance, you’ll need to be mindful of your available counter space and shop accordingly. Likewise, if you’re caffeinating a crowd, a large-capacity coffee maker will be a more efficient choice than a single-serve machine.
Do you prefer to push a button and walk away, or would you rather pull shots of espresso? Do you like the low-tech performance of a French press? Consider how you’d most like to brew your coffee each day as you select your ideal thermal carafe coffee maker.
If you value nothing more than waking up each morning to an already-brewed pot of coffee, you’ll want to be sure to choose a programmable coffee maker. You might also be mindful of a machine’s ability to change brew strengths or switch from a carafe to a single serving.
Ease of cleaning
Machines with a removable water reservoir are generally easier to clean than those without. Drip trays and automatic flow stoppages are also useful in avoiding coffee-related messes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a thermal carafe, and how does it work?
<p>Generally, thermal carafes are insulated stainless steel. They keep hot things hot and cold things cold.</p><p><br/>“A thermal carafe uses the coffee’s initial heat to keep it warm, rather than relying on an external heat source (such as a hot plate),” explains Calatrello. “Coffee in a thermal carafe will taste fresher than coffee in a glass carafe on a hot plate or coffee that has been reheated in the microwave.”</p>
How long does coffee stay hot in a thermal carafe?
<p>This depends on the construction of the carafe. Some are well-insulated enough to keep coffee hot for several hours, while others may only maintain temperature for an hour or so.</p>
How do you clean a thermal carafe coffee maker?
<p>As with a glass carafe coffee maker, you’ll want to rinse the components after use and allow them to dry thoroughly. Once per month, descaling your coffee maker will remove residual oils from coffee grounds and mineral buildup from hard water to help keep your machine performing at its best.</p>
How should coffee be stored?
<p>“Coffee storage is a key component in achieving the perfect brew,” says Calatrello. “There are two factors that influence coffee oxidation: light and air. In general, coffee should be stored away from these elements.” </p><p><br/>Calatrello recommends buying whole-bean coffee and storing the beans in an airtight, stainless steel container, then grinding them right before brewing for optimal freshness.</p><p><br/>“Ground coffee is already stale when you bring it home,” she advises. “This is because coffee begins to oxidize only seconds after the roasting process is complete. This is why roasters package their beans in lined, vacuum sealed bags to protect beans from additional exposure to light and air.”</p><p><br/>But if you do prefer the convenience of ground coffee, “we get it,” Calatrello says. “Simply store the ground coffee just as you would store whole beans. Use an airtight canister and avoid exposure to light.”</p>
This article was written by Summer Rylander, a food and travel journalist who has written about food, beverage, and cooking products for Food & Wine, Allrecipes, Serious Eats, and The Kitchn. She wrote this piece based on research, conversations with a coffee expert, and her own personal experience as a coffee enthusiast with multiple coffee-making devices.