Coffee makers with hotplate vs. thermal carafe

Traditional drip coffee makers keep coffee hot one of two ways: with a hotplate under a glass carafe or in an insulated thermal carafe, which is often more expensive.

“We find that there isn’t a significant difference in temperature loss between the two types,” says Ginny Lui, a test engineer at Consumer Reports. For both types, we measure the temperature of the coffee after 30 minutes and 1 hour.

More on Coffeemakers

On average, carafes on hotplates can decrease—or increase—the temperature of coffee by about 2.5° F after 1 hour. Thermal carafes lose about 4° F after an hour.

We see more of a contrast in our carafe-handling tests, which Lui’s team conducts on both types. Generally, we’ve seen that thermal carafes are heavier than glass, making them more difficult to pour, and some of them dribble coffee. Thermal carafes can also be more difficult to clean.

Hotplates create a potential burn risk, so a thermal carafe might be best if you have children at home.

Best Coffee Makers With Hotplates

If you prefer the ease of handling a glass carafe and the continued heating provided by a hotplate, these are three of the best drip machines with hotplates that you should consider. For more options, check out our complete coffee maker ratings.

Quick Take

Calphalon Special Brew BVCLDCG1

Price: $150

Brew performance
Carafe handling
Convenience
Unlock Coffee Maker Ratings
Quick Take

Cuisinart PerfecTemp 14 Cup Programmable DCC-3200

Price: $100

Brew performance
Carafe handling
Convenience
Unlock Coffee Maker Ratings
Quick Take

Hamilton Beach 12-cup Programmable 49465R

Price: $25

Brew performance
Carafe handling
Convenience
Unlock Coffee Maker Ratings

Best Coffee Makers With Thermal Carafes

If you prefer to keep your coffee warm for long periods of time and avoid the potential for that burnt coffee taste, these are three of the best drip machines with thermal carafes that you should consider. For more options, see our drip coffee maker ratings and sort by thermal carafe under Features & Specs.

Quick Take

Cuisinart Coffee Center Thermal SS-20

Price: $230

Brew performance
Carafe handling
Convenience
Unlock Coffee Maker Ratings
Quick Take

Mr. Coffee Optimal Brew BVMC-PSTX95

Price: $80

Brew performance
Carafe handling
Convenience
Unlock Coffee Maker Ratings
Quick Take

Ninja Coffee Bar System CF097

Price: $230

Brew performance
Carafe handling
Convenience
Unlock Coffee Maker Ratings

Editor’s Note: A version of this article also appeared in the November 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.