Coffee Maker Buying Guide
Finding The Perfect Coffee Maker

For many of us, the daily grind can't begin until we've had that first cup of piping hot coffee—so the right brewer is top of the list.

You can spend $200 or more for a coffee maker with interactive displays and the kind of stainless-steel detailing you'd find on pro-style ranges. But our most recent tests show that a consistently good cup can be had for half that.

Still, you might want more features than a simple on/off switch. A little more money buys conveniences such as programmability, a thermal carafe to keep coffee hot longer, settings that let you adjust brew strength, and more.


How Do You Take Your Coffee?

Number of Cups?
If one cup is enough to jump start your day, choose a one- or two-cup drip model or single-serve machine. Need more? Choose a larger automatic drip or one of the specialty machines, such as an electric French press. Most large models brew 10 to 12 cups, although typically a “cup” is really only five to six ounces, not eight.

How Often Do You Need a Fix?
If you space your coffee drinking throughout the day, consider a model with an insulated mug or carafe. These keep coffee hot and fresh tasting for hours. (The warming plates that come with glass pots can cause coffee to taste stale and burnt from sitting around too long.)

Can't See Straight In the Morning?
For some people, filling the coffee machine and turning it on is too much to handle in the morning. If that's you, consider a unit with an automatic "on" switch. (You set everything up the night before). For the forgetful who rush out of the house in the morning, an automatically timed "off" feature is also important.

Size and Height Considerations
Factor in counter space when choosing your model. All the machines in Consumer Reports' tests can fit beneath upper cabinets, but you'll still need to pull out most when it's time to fill the reservoir.

Interactive Buying Guide

Watch our interactive video below. You can skip to different chapters on drip coffee makers, single serve coffee makers, specialty, and product features.  

Match the Coffee Maker to Your Habits

You'll find several varieties of coffee makers in the marketplace, including manual-drip systems, coffee presses, and single-serve "pod" coffee makers that brew individual cups using ready-to-use packets of coffee. Below are the most common types.

Image of a drip coffee maker.


The most popular type, with automatic-drip machines you fill a chamber with water, load coffee into a filter basket, and flick a switch to heat the water and run it through the grounds and typically into the pot. Our top conventional drip machines reached 195° to 205° F for five to six minutes, the industry standard for optimal brewing.

Check Out Our Drip Coffee Maker Ratings
Image of a single-serve coffee maker.


These force water through a small packet, either a hard shelled capsule or a soft “pod" resembling a teabag. Some accept an adapter that takes your favorite loose grounds. Pod machines are more expensive to operate than other types because you need to buy special coffee refills. With plastic pods, there is also a lot of unrecyclable waste.

Our Latest Single-Serve Coffee Maker Ratings
Picture of an electric French press coffee maker.


These machines brew differently from the standard drip method. Some mimic traditional French presses, suspending the coffee grounds in hot water for a period of time before filtering. (By contrast, automatic drip machines simply spray hot water on the grounds and it then drips through.)

See Our Specialty Coffee Maker Ratings
Picture of a 1- to 2-mug to-go coffee maker.

1- to 2-Mug Drip

These are designed to produce smaller quantities and come as either drip or pod models, the latter using an adapter to hold grounds. They sometimes brew directly into an insulated mug that’s ready to take with you in the car or on the train. Others accommodate your own “World's Best Dad” mug.

The Lowdown on Features

Though some coffee maker features can make a machine easier and more convenient to use, there are several you won't really need. To decide which coffee maker features are right for you, consider the list below.

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