Consumer Reports’ coffee maker Ratings include performance scores and judgments on about 135 drip and single-serve coffee makers. But we know that many coffee drinkers occasionally like to brew coffee in a different way, or try a new coffee altogether, so we’re increasingly doing the same with the products we choose to test. With that in mind, we recently brought the Aerobie AeroPress Coffee Maker ($30), the Fellow Duo Coffee Steeper ($100), and the Oxo Cold Brew 1272880 ($50) into our labs for testing.

The three coffee makers varied in how they work, so we used their instructions as a guide and compared their performance to the claims made by each. We also compared the coffee we brewed with what we’ve made using other alternatives to drip coffee makers, such as a French press, a Chemex, and a pour-over cone-filter holder. In all, we brewed lots of coffee with much experimenting with coffees, roast, time, proportions, and temperatures. Here's what we found.

Use the AeroPress Coffee Maker to brew coffee.
Photo: Courtesy of AeroPress

AeroPress Coffee Maker

Dubbed “a better coffee press,” the AeroPress “utilizes a breakthrough in the coffee brewing process to yield the smoothest, richest coffee that you have ever tasted,” says manufacturer Aerobie. You can brew coffee or espresso, and the company says that the lower temperature and short brew time result in a coffee with a much lower acid level than you’ll get from conventional brewers. The product consists of a chamber for mixing hot water and coffee, plus an airtight plunger for forcing the resulting coffee through a micro filter at the bottom of the chamber—and into a mug or other container.

Our results. Our greatest concern about the AeroPress is that the press can feel unsteady poised atop your mug as you’re pressing the plunger down hard to force the coffee through the filter. It also doesn’t make a lot of coffee at a time, a problem only if you’re making coffee, not espresso. But the coffee was ready shortly after the water reached the proper temperature, and the AeroPress was easy to clean.

Use the Fellow Duo Coffee Steeper to brew coffee.
Photo: Courtesy of Fellow

Fellow Duo Coffee Steeper

Fellow describes the Duo as “a dual chamber ‘twist’ on a traditional French press.” You can also make cold-press brew coffee and, using the optional ($22) tea filter, loose tea. Almost 15 inches high, it consists of a stainless-steel chamber atop a glass carafe. To release coffee through the filter into the carafe, you twist the two parts of the top chamber. As with a French press, coffee grounds are immersed in the hot water. But the company claims the permanent fine filter ensures no gunk at the bottom of your cup.

Our results. The coffee portions and brew time we used, despite being what the manufacturer recommended, resulted in a weak brew. Once we lengthened the steeping time, we liked the resulting coffee better. The coffee remained hot despite the longer brewing time, so the steeping chamber is well enough insulated that you can vary the process and still brew hot coffee.

One complaint: You can’t fill two travel mugs with 21 ounces of coffee, the maximum amount of coffee the Fellow Duo claims to make at one time. Two people with different schedules, however, might like this product just fine.

Use the Oxo Cold Brew 1272880 to brew coffee.
Photo: Courtesy of Oxo

Oxo Cold Brew 1272880

Oxo claims that the Oxo Cold Brew delivers on cold-press coffee’s promise of “a result that is less acidic and less bitter than coffee brewed with hot water and that stays fresh longer.” The product consists of a stand and a container with a filter and a “brew-release” switch at the bottom. You fill the brew tank with coffee grounds, and a so-called “rainmaker” lid spreads water over the grounds. After 12 to 24 hours, you place a glass carafe beneath the stand and flip the brew-release switch, which lets the concentrated brew drip slowly into the carafe.

Our results. If you found yourself wondering, after using the Oxo once, exactly why you need it, your experience would reflect ours. Other than its switch on the container that holds the water and grounds, the Oxo doesn’t add much. Draining the coffee concentrate through the grounds and the fine mesh was much slower than decanting the bulk of the liquid and filtering just the dregs—as we did when we made cold brew using a simple glass jar.

The product’s filter also clogged badly during one of our batches, requiring us to decant and filter the coffee anyway. To make matters worse, we fumbled the glass carafe, which lacks a handle, and it crashed to the floor.

Bottom Line

All three of these products can make a good cup of coffee, though all will take practice and experimentation to yield the results you desire, as they did for us. The true test, of course, is whether you continue using the coffee maker after you’ve tried it a few times—or if it instead begins its slow journey to your home’s land of misfit appliances. There’s a reason, after all, that standard drip coffee makers still dominate the market.

Need a New Coffee Maker?

If you haven’t bought a new coffee maker in some time, check out our coffee maker buying guide before plunging into our Ratings, which include specialty coffee makers as well as drip and single-serve machines. Among our top-performing drip coffee makers are the KitchenAid KCM1202OB and Kenmore Elite 12-cup # 76772, both $100. For a single-serve machine, consider the $130 DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio EDG455T and the $100 Hamilton Beach FlexBrew 49988.