Every coffeemaker promises a pleasing cup of joe. But our tests show that not all models get hot enough to extract the best from the beans and avoid a weak or bitter brew.
Industry standards espoused by coffee experts and accepted by Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's, Starbucks, and other roadside icons call for water to be at a temperature of 195º to 205º F. You can spend $200 for a model that reached those temperatures in our new brewing tests, but others brewed just as well for $40 to $50, and one from Melitta costs just $25.
The 34 coffeemakers in our Ratings (available to subscribers) include multicup carafe models, brew stations that pour directly into your cup, models with built-in grinders, and to-go models that fill a mug or two per serving. We also tested coffee grinders and pod-type coffeemakers (see Pod coffeemakers, available to subscribers), which turn packets of ground coffee into java for one. But we found that a pod machine's convenience comes at a cost. Here's what you need to know to compare coffeemakers and save on your next cup:
KitchenAid's heavy, die-cast Pro Line carafe model, $200, is to coffeemakers what "pro style" is to stoves. This multicup carafe model brewed impressively. But the top-ranked Cuisinart brewed as well for half the price and was easier to use. Nearly as convenient: the $40 Michael Graves, a CR Best Buy.
You can also buy a home version of the Bunn commercial coffeemakers found at your neighborhood diner. The $115 carafe model we tested brewed in just 3 minutes. But brewing performance was mediocre.
Grind-and-brew coffeemakers let you pour the beans right into the machine. But their grinders require regular disassembly and cleaning. One from Melitta uses radio signals to set its clock for programming and even tell you the weather. Brewing was only middling, however. And you can't program it if it doesn't get a signal, which happened in our tests. Another model, Cuisinart's Grind & Brew DGB-700BC, brewed superbly. But its grinder failed on both units we tested.
It lets you save some or all of what you grind for later. Burr grinders, which crush the beans, tend to grind more uniformly than blade grinders, which chop them. We tested the burr-grinding Capresso Infinity 565, $140, Cuisinart Supreme Grind DBM-8, $50, and Krups GVX2, $60, and the blade-grinding Black & Decker CBG100S, $20, Mr. Coffee IDS77, $20, and Cuisinart Grind Central DCG-12BC, $30. The Capresso and Cuisinart burr models served up the most consistent results. But the $20 Mr. Coffee came close.