For many, a good cup of coffee is a vital part of a morning routine — that first mouth-burning sip signifies the day has officially started. However, not everyone has the patience to manually fix up a strong brew bright and early, which is why automatic coffee makers are commonplace on many kitchen counters.
Unless you're a true coffee connoisseur, you're probably looking for the simplest way to get your caffeine fix in the morning. For most people, this most likely means an easy-to-use machine that will make a solid cup of joe with just the push of a button.
To help you find the right one, Shop TODAY consulted with multiple coffee experts to find out which machines they love as well as their tips for making a good brew, so you can whip up the best (and most fuss-free) java every morning.
How to make a good cup of coffee at home
According to Michael Phillips, global director of Education & Engagement at Blue Bottle Coffee, the secret recipe for a good brew is to use 350 grams of coffee for each 12-ounce cup you plan to make. "Once you know your amount of water, you can divide that number by 11 if you want a strong cup, 15 for a medium-strength cup or 18 for a lighter cup," Phillips told Shop TODAY.
When it comes to the actual process, though, there are a few factors to consider.
"One of the most important aspects for a home coffee maker is that it can achieve a high enough temperature to properly extract the coffee," Phillips told us. "This is where a lot of machines fall short as investing in the parts to get the right temperature can be one of the more expensive elements to include."
While most coffee makers will tell you the temperature they brew at, there is a physical component that impacts the brewing process: the shower head — the part of the machine that empties the hot water over the coffee.
"Extraction is key — you want to make sure you have enough infusion time. Look at the shower head; it has to be a spray head — glass or carafe does not matter," Etienne Wiik, CEO of New York-based Ground Central Coffee Company, told Shop TODAY.
However, the quality of the machine means nothing if you're always short on time and find yourself at the drive-thru before work. That's why Kaleena Teoh, co-founder of Coffee Project NY, says you should examine your mornings before rushing to buy a coffee maker.
"How much time do you realistically have in making coffee? Choose [a coffee maker] according to your routine so your brewer will not end up gathering dust because it did not fit into your routine," Teoh said. "You can also have more than one brewer (automatic or manual) and switch back and forth, depending on your mood and availability."
Ready to upgrade your morning routine? We rounded up expert-approved and shopper-loved coffee makers below. To quickly jump to the category you're looking for, click on the links below.
Expert-approved coffee makers
We tapped many experts to help figure out which brewer is the best, and the Technivorm Moccamaster was the top answer.
"This coffeemaker has been top of its class for decades and is still respected by coffee organizations worldwide," Jordan G. Hardin, Food & Beverage Director for Los Angeles-based coffee chain Alfred, told Shop TODAY. Wiik and Chi 'Sum' Ngai, co-founder of Coffee Project NY, also recommended this drip coffee maker.
"The reason why I like the Moccamaster is because it does mimic a lot of the features of a pour over," Wiik explained, "and the reason is because of the conical and restricted brew basket the brewer has."
Along with a cool, retro-style design that will look great on your countertop, the machine offers plenty of important features. It has a thermal carafe and a copper heating element to maintain the optimal brewing temperature. Plus, your coffee will be ready in no time: It takes about six minutes for a pot to brew. "It's definitely a bit of an investment as a higher-range coffee maker, but that's what comes with style and substance," Hardin added.
This high-tech option recommended by Hardin has many of the bells and whistles you'd want in a machine, with an easy-to-use interface. It features programmable brewing, a water filter, a reusable coffee filter and a brewing strength control button. It will also notify you when it needs to be cleaned, "Because nothing is worse than an old coffee maker that hasn't been cleaned properly in years," he said.
Justin Lacher, Wholesale Education Manager for Intelligentsia, a Chicago-based coffee roasting company, uses the eight-cup model of this Bonavita coffee maker at home. It has a showerhead-like spout, which evenly distributes water over your coffee grounds for optimal flavor. Plus, it features a stainless steel carafe, which locks in heat to keep your coffee at the perfect temperature, as opposed to the continual reheating that you get with other coffee pots.
"When you go to the diner and you have the coffee that’s been sitting on the burner for hours and hours, it tastes flat," he said. "That's because coffee that’s reheated will never taste as good as when it’s freshly brewed — the way to keep those flavors is with a thermal carafe."
Patrick Grzelewski, director of coffee at Variety Coffee Roasters, also recommends the Bonavita 5-Cup machine.
Best budget coffee makers
This coffee maker comes from Drew Barrymore's Beautiful Kitchenware line. Associate Editor Danielle Murphy owns it — and loves it — and uses it as part of her morning routine. It comes in four dreamy colors, including black and sage green, and can brew up to 14 cups of coffee in less than 14 minutes. It also features a touch-activated display, customizable programming options and a special cleaning cycle.
While you probably know Ninja for its blenders, the brand also makes a top-rated coffee machine. It can brew up to 12 cups at once, using two brew strengths: classic or rich. You can schedule a brew up to 24 hours in advance and utilize the adjustable warming plate that keeps coffee hot for up to four hours.
If you're simply looking for an affordable machine that will give you a reliable brew, look no further than this top-rated machine. It's easy to operate and has a built-in auto-pause feature for impatient pourers. Basically, it's perfect for anyone who doesn't feel like a functioning human until they've had their first cup of joe in the morning.
This handy machine has two brewing options — single-serve or full pot — so you can quickly make yourself a cup when you're on the go or make enough for the whole family. It's consistently well-rated, too: It has an average 4.6-star rating on Amazon and nearly 6,000 global five-star reviews.
For those looking for convenience, Keurig is practically the gold standard. Simply add a K-cup, select your cup size and you'll have your brew ready in less than one minute. This bestselling model has a large water reservoir, so you can make six cups before needing to refill. And with so many K-cups on the market, you can go beyond your basic brews and make tea, hot chocolate, lattes and more with the touch of a button.
With a thermal carafe and an Evenstream Showerhead spout, this coffee maker includes some of the top features the pros love at an affordable price point. It can be programmed to run, so if you set it up the night before, you'll have a fresh pot of coffee waiting for you right when you wake up.
For more stories like this, check out:
- Why an immersion blender is the gadget your kitchen is missing
- Crush your health resolutions with these 16 blenders and juicers
- How to shop for bread makers, according to a chef
This story was originally published on Jan. 29, 2021.