December 8, 2023

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The Best Coffee Makers for Mornings When You Just Can’t Even

The Best Coffee Makers for Mornings When You Just Can’t Even

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, whatever you have at home is probably going to lose out to handing $3 to a barista unless you relish the process of grinding beans, weighing beans, boiling water, measuring the water temperature, preparing a filter, and cleaning up after yourself. 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 Coffee Makers, at a Glance

Caffeine-free morning got you itching for your daily dose of joe? Don’t worry, we won’t bore you with the minutiae, just get straight to our top coffee makers below.

The Best Coffee Maker for Most People: Breville Grind Control

Breville “Grind Control” coffee maker

$330.00, Amazon

Capacity: 12 cups
Size: 9 x 14 x 17 inches
Special features: Built-in grinder, various strength settings, programmable auto-start

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

Oxo Barista Brain 9-cup stainless steel coffee maker

$230.00, Amazon

Capacity: 9 cups
Size: 15 x 8 x 17 inches
Special features: Programmable auto-start

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 Budget Coffee Maker: Cuisinart PerfecTemp 14-Cup Coffeemaker

Cuisinart DCC-3200 coffee maker

$99.00, Amazon

Capacity: 14 cups
Size: 10 x 12 x 17 inches
Special features: Programmable auto-start, various strength settings, brew pause

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. And for those mornings when you just cannot wait for the whole carafe to fill up, you can utilize the coffee maker’s brew pause function, which lets you sneak a cup mid-brew without any messy drips.

The Best Expert-Approved Coffee Maker: Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741

Technivorm “Moccasmaster KBT” coffee maker

$339.00, Amazon

Capacity: 10 cups
Size: 7 x 12 x 15 inches
Special features: N/A

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 Single-Serve Coffee Maker: Oxo 8-Cup

OXO 8-cup coffee maker

$200.00, Target

Capacity: 8 cups
Size: 14 x 11 x 7 inches
Special features: Single-serve option

Oxo’s 8-cup is not merely a smaller version of its already-winning Oxo 9-cup, but an excellent single-serving brewer that eschews the Keurig-style pods for a way to make just a single cup of coffee (a minimum of 10 ounces) straight into your drinking vessel of choice. The 8-cup’s brewing functionalities are essentially identical to its slightly larger counterpart, 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. The brew time for a full pot is around six minutes, which isn’t too long to wait for your morning Koe, 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 Best Coffee Maker for Iced Coffee: Ninja

Ninja Hot & Iced Coffee Maker

$160.00, Target

Capacity: 10 cups
Size: 15 x 12 x 9 inches
Special features: Programmable, various strength options

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 cup to a full carafe, and dial up your brew strength depending on how wired you want to be. We like that the water reservoir is removable, an overlooked feature that makes it so much easier for getting the coffee going in the mornings when you just can’t be bothered to put any effort into, well, anything.

8 Other Coffee Makers Worth Considering

Braun MultiServe coffee machine

$200.00, Amazon

Capacity: 10 cups
Size: 13 x 15 x 7 inches
Special features: Single-serve option, various strength options, programmable

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 à 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 Enfinigy glass coffee maker

$270.00, Amazon

Capacity: 12 cups
Size: 11 x 14 x 6 inches
Special features: Programmable

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.

GE Cafe Specialty drip coffee maker

$300.00, Williams Sonoma

Capacity: 10 cups
Size: 13 x 14 x 7 inches
Special features: Programmable, various strength options, Wi-Fi enabled

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 “Connoisseur” BCV1901TS coffee maker

$191.00, Amazon

Capacity: 10 cups
Size: 13 x 14 x 7 inches
Special features: Programmable, various strength options, Wi-Fi enabled

Bonavita’s coffee makers are frequently recommended by baristas. This one is easy to use, with only a single button for operation, and produces excellent-tasting coffee. It doesn’t have the programmability or curb appeal of some of the other coffee makers in its price range, but dammit this thing will churn out a damn fine cup of Joe. The thermal carafe holds three liters of hot water, and the 1500-watt interior heater maintains a brewing temperature of 195° to 205°F.

Black+Decker Programmable Coffee Maker

$40.00, Amazon

Capacity: 12 cups
Size: 12 x 11 x 8 inches
Special features: Programmable

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. This workhorse of a coffee maker has nearly 47,000 Amazon reviews, with multiple reviewers giving props to the brewer for pumping out quality cups day after day.

Hamilton Beach Scoop Single Serve Coffee Maker

$57.00, Amazon

Capacity: 12 cups
Size: 9 x 7 x 8 inches
Special features: Programmable

If you’re looking for a 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. It’s not as good as the Oxo 8-cup, which has an adapter for brewing single servings of coffee to its maximum potential, but this Hamilton Beach gets the job done, no pod waste necessary.

De’Longhi TrueBrew drip coffee maker

$500.00, Amazon

Capacity: 12 cups
Size: 15 x 16 x 14 inches
Special features: Programmable, built-in grinder, auto-clean, various strength options

The espresso masters over at De’Longhi just launched a new all-in-one coffee maker that includes a built-in grinder.  Everything—whether it’s the amount of joe you need (from a tiny 3 oz. cup to a whole 40-ounce carafe) or how strong you like your brew—is laid out in the machine’s interface, no dials necessary, and setup was super easy. If you’re into fine-tuning your coffee preferences, this might not be the machine for you since everything operates according to presets, but it’s still a fuss-free way to brew great tasting coffee, however you like it. Our main gripe with the TrueBrew is its size and price. The machine is an absolute beast, being one of the biggest units we’ve tested (and a lot larger than our top coffee maker pick with a grinder, the Oxo 9-cup model). It takes up a huge amount of counter real estate and also weighs a whopping 24 pounds, so it’s definitely not a good choice for small spaces. It’s also twice as expensive as the Oxo, but if you’re looking for an investment model that’ll serve a big family, this might be just what you’re looking for.

Breville Precision Brewer thermal coffee maker

$330.00, Amazon

Capacity: 12 cups
Size: 14 x 16 x 9 inches
Special features: Programmable, various strength options, customizable coffee settings

Remove the built-in grinder from Breville’s Grind Control, our top pick coffee maker, and you have the brand’s Precision Brewer. We love this thing mainly for its customizable coffee settings, which nixes the typical non-adjustable pre-settings for the ability to choose your own flow rate, water temperature, and bloom times. Coffee nerds will know that different coffees will require different specifications to get the most out of their beans, so this customizability lets you take full control of the final cup. If you’re not that much of a coffee snob, the pre-settings are enough to trick you into thinking you’re at a specialty coffee shop and not in your cramped kitchen.

Our Favorite Coffee Gear, Period

Besides your typical drip coffee maker, you can opt for any number of coffee-related gear like pour-over devices or an Aeropress. And, of course, you’ll need the actual coffee beans and the gear that’ll turn those whole beans into ground coffee.

Trade Coffee

$18.00, Trade

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.

Baratza “Encore” burr grinder

$150.00, Amazon

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.

Porlex hand grinder

$78.00, Amazon

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.

Oxo Brew cold brew coffee maker

$52.00, Amazon

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.

AeroPress Go coffee press

$40.00, Amazon

The AeroPress Go is a travel-sized take 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.

Chemex glass pour-over coffee maker

$49.00, Amazon

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.

Fellow Stagg EKG electric kettle

$165.00, Fellow

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.

Dallfoll Milk Frother

$16.00, Amazon

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.

Originally Appeared on GQ

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