Coffee lovers understand that not all coffee makers are created equal. The device you use to brew your morning cup can have a significant impact on the flavor and quality of the final product. With so many options on the market, from drip machines to pour overs and espresso makers, how do you determine which one will produce the best tasting cup of coffee for your preferences?
In this comprehensive review guide, we tested over a dozen different coffee maker models to identify the clear winners that consistently produce delicious, aromatic coffee with rich, complex flavors. Our criteria included brew time, carafe design, ease of use, convenience, and most importantly – taste. Read on for our detailed analysis of the pros and cons of various coffee makers and our top picks for making a stellar cup of joe.
Outline of Coffee Maker Models Tested
To thoroughly evaluate the best tasting coffee makers, we tested a wide range of popular options:
Drip Coffee Makers
- Cuisinart DCC-3200 – Fully programmable 14-cup drip coffee maker with glass carafe
- Breville Precision Brewer – Drip coffee maker with thermal carafe and bloom time/temperature control
- OXO Brew 9 Cup – SCAA certified drip coffee maker with rainmaker shower head
- Bonavita 8-Cup – Simple, compact drip coffee brewer with 1500W heater
- Technivorm Moccamaster – Handmade drip machine meeting strict brew guidelines
Pour Over Coffee Makers
- Hario V60 – Manual pour over cone with spiral ribs for even extraction
- Chemex – Hourglass-shaped manual pour over using proprietary filters
- Kalita Wave – Flat bottom pour over dripper for uniform extraction
- Clever Dripper – Immersion brewer with valve for timing extraction
- Breville Bambino Plus – Entry-level semi-automatic espresso machine
- De’Longhi Dedica – Compact pump espresso maker taking up minimal counter space
- Breville Barista Express – Integrated bean grinder and adjustable settings
- Rancilio Silvia – Commercial grade semi-automatic espresso machine
- Gaggia Classic Pro – Manual espresso machine with 58mm portafilter
Alternate Brew Methods
- Aeropress – Full immersion brewing using air pressure extraction
- French Press – Manual steeping coffee maker with filtration plunger
Evaluation Criteria for Testing Coffee Makers
To evaluate the wide range of coffee brewers, we developed a comprehensive testing methodology based on the following criteria:
- Brew time – Total time required from start to finish. Quicker is better for convenience.
- Brew temperature – Ideal is 197-205°F. Important for proper extraction.
- Ease of use – How intuitive and convenient the device is to operate.
- Consistency – Ability to repeatedly produce the same great tasting coffee.
- Carafe design – Durability, ability to maintain temperature, and pouring.
- Taste – Most important factor – flavor clarity, sweetness, balance.
- Crema – (espresso only) Quality and consistency of crema.
- Versatility – Ability to brew different coffee types and quantities.
- Durability – Build quality and lifespan based on materials used.
- Maintenance – Difficulty of cleaning and maintenance requirements.
- Value – Overall product quality based on price.
Using this framework, we rigorously tested each coffee machine and took detailed notes on every aspect. We evaluated multiple criteria for each method including calibration, bean type, grind size, water temperature, brew time, etc. to optimize every machine’s ability to produce an exceptional cup of coffee.
Drip Coffee Maker Reviews
Drip coffee makers are the most common type of coffee brewer found in homes and offices. They work by pouring hot water over coffee grounds and allowing it to drip down into a carafe. Here are our reviews of top models:
Cuisinart DCC-3200 Glass Carafe Drip Maker
|14 cup capacity carafe Programmable start time Easy to use control panel Built-in charcoal water filter
|Loud beeping sounds Carafe fails to keep coffee hot Mediocre tasting coffee
The Cuisinart DCC-3200 is very easy to operate with a front panel that clearly displays options to program start time, brew strength, number of cups and more. It includes handy features like a built-in charcoal water filter and self clean setting. However, the carafe is poorly insulated allowing coffee to cool quickly. Taste of the final brew was unremarkable and the loud beeping sounds are annoying.
Breville Precision Brewer Thermal Carafe
|Precise temperature control Adjustable bloom time Maintains coffee temperature Fast brew time
|Expensive Heavy and bulky Complex programming
The Breville Precision Brewer offers granular control over brew factors like bloom time, temperature, flow rate and contact time. The sealed stainless steel thermal carafe keeps coffee hot for hours. Brew time is impressively fast. However, the interface has a steep learning curve and it is pricy. The weight makes it difficult to pour from the carafe. Overall, great for a coffee enthusiast looking to geek out over extraction details.
OXO Brew 9 Cup Coffee Maker
|Rainmaker water distribution Digital timer SCAA certification Single cup mode
|Weak hot plate No insulation Not durable
The OXO Brew 9 Cup drip coffee maker evenly saturates grounds for optimized extraction using its rainmaker shower head. Brew customization options and SCAA certification confirm quality. However, the hot plate barely keeps coffee warm and the carafe lacks insulation. The plastic construction feels flimsy and we worry about its durability with daily use.
Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Maker
|Compact design Quick brew time Simple operation Great tasting coffee
|No programming No thermal carafe
The Bonavita 8-Cup coffee maker has a stripped down, compact design focused entirely on quick brewing. It lacks any programming options or fancy features. But it excels at the basics – rapidly heating water to the perfect temperature and saturating grounds for smooth extraction. It consistently produces flavorful coffee, despite limitations of the glass carafe.
Technivorm Moccamaster Cup-One
|Copper heating element Precise brewing temp Durable metal housing Excellent taste
|Expensive Lacks features 5 cup minimum
Hand crafted in the Netherlands, the Moccamaster Cup-One is carefully engineered for ideal extraction meeting strict SCAA criteria. The copper heating element and metal housing make it extremely durable. Brew time and temperature are carefully controlled. While expensive and lacking extras like a programmable timer, it brews what is consistently one of the best tasting cups of drip coffee.
Pour Over Coffee Maker Reviews
Pour over coffee makers require manually pouring hot water over grounds in a cone filter. They allow control over variables and can produce a clean, flavorful cup. Here are our reviews:
Hario V60 Pour Over
|Allows fine tuning Enhances flavors Ceramic or plastic Low cost
|Manual operation Needs kettle Can be messy
The ridged V60 design and large single hole ensure proper extraction. The cone shape and ribs allow manipulating flow rate and contact time. With some practice, the Hario V60 can produce a bright, flavorful cup that really accentuates tasting notes. It requires more effort than automated machines and can create counter clutter.
Chemex Pour Over
|Thick filter removes oils Glass and wood options Attractive design
|Long brew time Pricey filters Fragile glass
The Chemex’s thick proprietary filters remove more coffee oils and sediment resulting in an incredibly clean, bright taste. The elegant hourglass design looks great on the counter. However, the filters are expensive and brew time is long. The thin glass handle and vessel require careful handling to avoid cracks.
Kalita Wave Pour Over
|Flat bottom for even extraction Disperses water well Minimal sediment
|Plastic construction Pricey filters Can clog easily
The Kalita Wave’s flat bottom, three-hole design evenly saturates the coffee bed for consistent extraction. The filters produce a clean cup. However, the plastic body feels cheap and the small holes in the filter clog up easily. It requires a careful pour technique as water can overflow the small dripper.
|Immersion brewing Added control Minimal sediment
|Plastic parts Steeped coffee Need grinder
The Clever Dripper provides benefits of both immersion and pour over. It steeps like a French Press then filters. The valve provides control over flow rate. It makes a clean, rounded cup of coffee with lots of options for customization. The taste lacks the rich body of French Press. Need to grind beans fresh.
Espresso Machine Reviews
Espresso machines use pressure to force hot water through finely ground coffee in seconds. This produces a concentrated shot of coffee with rich crema on top. Here are our reviews:
Breville Bambino Plus
|Fast heat up time User-friendly Compact size Budget-friendly
|No grinder Makes 2 drinks max 54mm portafilter
The Breville Bambino Plus is an affordable introductory espresso machine that can go from off to brewing in under 30 seconds. The automatic frothing wand and user-friendly controls make drink making easy. The small water reservoir and portafilter limit how many drinks you can make. But it’s tough to beat for the price.
|Compact Easy to use Auto-frothing wand Budget price
|No temperature control Max 2 shots at once Small drip tray
The slim De’Longhi Dedica barely takes up any counter space while still pulling quality shots. The automatic milk frother steams and foams with a dial. But the tiny drip tray overflows easily and it can only pull two shots simultaneously. For an entry level espresso machine, it performs well above its price point.
Breville Barista Express
|Built-in grinder Dose control Adjustable grind size Delicious espresso
|Expensive Bulky Grinder needs frequent cleaning
With precise control over grind, dose, tamping, and temperature, the Breville Barista Express can produce café quality espresso drinks. The conical burr grinder right on board simplifies the process tremendously. The downside is a high price tag and large footprint. Requires frequent grinder cleaning to avoid clogs.
|Commercial grade 58mm Portafilter Powerful steaming High quality parts
The Rancilio Silvia utilizes commercial grade components like a 58mm portafilter for incredibly rich, aromatic espresso. The heavy duty wand can steam milk rapidly for perfect latte art. It lacks automation though, requiring you to manually control brewing. Expect a long wait for it to heat up. Out of the box modifications help, but overall it’s designed for experienced baristas.
Gaggia Classic Pro
|Commercial style 58mm portafilter Three-way solenoid valve All metal housing User-friendly operation
|Small drip tray No programing abilities Slow heat up
The Gaggia Classic Pro combines commercial components like a 58mm portafilter and three-way solenoid valve with straightforward usability. It is manually operated but convenient user interface simplifies pulling consistently rich shots. All metal construction gives it a premium feel, though the tiny drip tray is frustrating.
Alternate Brew Methods
Beyond standard drip machines and espresso makers, some alternate brewing methods can produce unique tasting coffee. Here are two top options:
|Total immersion Great for travel No grit or acidity Unique extraction
|Small servings Need grinder Frequent cleaning
The AeroPress combines full immersion brewing with air pressure extraction for a smooth, rich coffee without any bitter or acidic notes. The plastic construction makes it perfect for travel and small countertops. But you can only make one cup at a time and need to grind beans. The paper filters and small parts require frequent cleaning.
|Strong, bold flavor Natural oils preserved Inexpensive Easy to use
|Messy Sediment in cup Need grinder Not ideal for lighter roasts
A French Press infuses coffee grounds directly in the water for a richer, more full bodied flavor. The metal and glass construction gives it a classic look. But the lack of a paper filter allows sediment into the final cup. The brew can turn muddy without finely ground coffee. And the glass and metal parts require careful cleaning.
Top 3 Picks for Best Tasting Coffee Makers
With so many excellent options for brewing flavorful cups of coffee, which machines ultimately produce the best tasting results? Based on our extensive testing and reviews, here are our top recommendations:
Best Drip Coffee Maker: Technivorm Moccamaster Cup-One
- Impeccable brewing temperature and time for smooth extraction
- Durable metal housing built to last
- Reliably delicious coffee approved by coffee aficionados
Best Espresso Machine: Rancilio Silvia
- Powerful commercial-grade machine
-58mm portafilter for rich espresso
- Incredible steaming ability for perfect lattes
- Brews café-quality shots when mastered
Best Manual Method: Hario V60
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- Greater control over variables like flow rate
- Enhances tasting notes and clarity
- Makes flavorful cups when technique is perfected
- Fun, hands-on brewing ritual for enthusiasts
While taste preferences are subjective, we found these three machines can consistently produce exquisite coffee when operated correctly. With a bit of practice, you can brew barista level cups of coffee to enjoy every morning right at home. Savor the last sip!
FAQ About Finding The Best Tasting Coffee Maker
What factors most impact the taste of brewed coffee?
Several key variables influence the flavor and quality of freshly brewed coffee:
- Water temperature – Ideal is 195°F to 205°F. Too low under-extracts, too high burns the grounds.
- Coffee grind size – Grind size affects extraction and body. Espresso requires very fine, drip coarse.
- Coffee to water ratio – The proper dose of grounds per water volume is key. Too much or little alters taste.
- Brew time – Time grounds are in contact with water impacts extraction. Not enough and coffee is weak.
- Water quality – Minerals and impurities in water affect taste. Filtered water is best.
- Bean freshness – Freshly roasted beans produce better taste. Stale beans lack aromatics and oils.
How often should you clean your coffee maker?
To avoid buildup of rancid oils and growth of mold and bacteria, thoroughly clean coffee makers every 2 weeks. For drip machines, run vinegar through the water reservoir followed by several cycles of plain water. Wipe down exterior and remove parts to wash separately. Descale espresso machines as recommended by the manufacturer to prevent mineral deposits from accumulating. Always read the instruction manual for proper cleaning of your specific coffee equipment. And give high-touch areas like the carafe lid a quick wipe down daily. Proper cleaning is essential for both taste and health safety.
What is the best way to store coffee beans?
To maintain freshness and prevent beans from becoming stale, store them in an airtight opaque container at room temperature out of sunlight and away from heat, moisture and aromatic foods. Ceramic, stainless steel or glass containers with an air-tight seal work best. Avoid clear containers or bags. Grind beans right before brewing – buying pre-ground coffee diminishes freshness quickly. With proper storage, whole coffee beans will stay fresh for 2-4 weeks before flavor and aromatics begin to fade.
How important is a burr grinder for great tasting coffee?
Using a consistent grind size optimized for your preferred brew method is crucial for full flavor extraction. Burr grinders crush beans between rotating abrasive surfaces allowing precise grind adjustment. The uniform grind enhances taste and appropriate sizing. Cheaper blade grinders inaccurately hack beans into irregular chunks. Uneven grinds lead to both under and over extraction. Investing in a quality burr grinder dramatically improves flavor and is worth the cost.
Should you use tap water or filtered water in a coffee maker?
Filtered water is best for making great tasting coffee. Minerals and chlorine in tap water can negatively impact taste. Filtering removes impurities and neutralizes unwanted flavors. However, do not use fully demineralized distilled water which can taste flat. Look for water with about 50-100ppm total dissolved solids. If you do use tap water, let it run for a few seconds to purge pipes first. While not a deal breaker, filtered water is preferred by professional baristas for optimal flavor.
Finding a coffee maker that perfectly suits your preferences and produces a delicious tasting cup of joe can truly elevate your morning ritual. With a wide range of options from programmable drip machines to hands-on pour overs and high-end espresso makers, identifying the best machine takes research. We elimination tested the various brew methods and top models considering factors like brew time, temperature control, ease of use, consistency, durability, and most importantly – taste. While personal taste plays a role, our top picks like the Technivorm Moccamaster, Rancilio Silvia and Hario V60 consistently impressed in terms of quality construction and ability to produce an exceptional cup of coffee. Know your criteria, experiment with different setups, and find the one that creates your ideal brew. Go enjoy a fresh, hot cup of joe just how you like it!