You want good coffee, consistently. Close to professional quality if possible, without spending hours fussing with the device. The brewing device should be durable with a decent aesthetic; capable of fully extracting your carefully selected coffees.
In our last survey, we learned that 70% of our Coffee Lovers enjoy their brew via drip coffee machines, and 75% want to learn about making great coffee at home. It makes sense: simple changes in your brewing technique, or in this case, brewing device, can shift watered down into rich, and muddled into the complex & abundantly sweet. No matter how you brew it, we want your coffee to be simple and flawless; to taste as good in your home as it does at ours.
After weeding through the hype and imposing the most important criteria in buying a drip brewer, we found four that are worth buying. They heat water to the right temperature, they're durable, they have great reviews, and they're much more attractive than those goofy Keurigs (more affordable, too).
We're imposing our professional experience and reviewing with exacting standards the machines that love claiming to be the best. In the end, you’ll discover whose design delivers top quality and value. Plus, you get our ultimate recommendation for making a great cup of coffee at home. We think this is the only drip coffee buying guide you need.
In any drip brewer buying guide worth its salt (or beans), step one is eliminating all coffee machines that fail to meet the most basic parameters for a great cup: proper water temperature. Not surprisingly, this removed the vast majority of options. The ideal brew temperature is 200 - 205 F, which is easy to find with commercial machines but a struggle in the home brewing market. This one criterion in the decision-making process is the most crucial (we can't stress this enough). Coffee machines that don’t brew at or very close to 200 F simply don’t produce a high-quality cup.
After that condition was met, we looked at the overall balance of price, customer reviews (durability, performance, quality), and features. What remains are four options to suit varying needs and budgets. One notable characteristic they all share is being certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America for home brewing. Learn more about the SCAA criteria here.
BUNN HG Phase Brew
$90 - $120
-Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) certified home brewer
-6-min heating phase, 4-min. brewing phase = 10 min. total time
-brews 4 - 8 cups (20 - 40 oz)
-glass carafe (stainless steel available with the HT model)
-3 year warranty
-programmable, clock, timer
-brew head fountain evenly saturates grounds for more consistent extraction
-many people report durability issues
-carafe dribbles while pouring
-water valve in the reservoir commonly rusts
-uses Bunn brand filters only
$130 - $150
-SCAA certified home brewer
-glass or stainless steel carafe
-brews up to 8 cups (40 oz) in 5 - 7 minutes
-showerhead provides full coffee grounds saturation
-simplicity: easy to clean and use
-quality construction and durability
-no clock, no timer
-no “pause and serve”: you’re committed for the full 5-7 min. brew cycle
-many customers report the glass carafe shatters easily, so we recommend the stainless steel
Technivorm Moccamaster 9587
-SCAE/SCAA & European Coffee Brewing Center certified
-stainless steel carafe
-brews up to 10 cups (50 oz) in 6 min.
-great quality coffee relatively quickly & quietly
-9-hole stainless steel brew head for even coffee saturation
-simplicity: easy to clean & use
-durability and reputation (since 1964)
-no clock, no timer
-no “pause and serve”
-no automatic shut-off
-relatively pricey, especially for its very basic features
Behmor Brazen Plus
-brews up to 8 cups (40 oz)
-stainless steel carafe
-permanent gold-tone filter
-compatible with paper filters
-boiling point calibration: calibrate the temperature to the altitude of the city you live in
-brew temperature control
-pulsating, oversized shower head for full, even coffee saturation
-pre-infusion setting – for blooming coffee anywhere between 10 seconds & 2 minutes
-stainless steel water reservoir
-manual brew option for Chemex and Hario V60 under the showerhead
-thermal carafe keeps coffee hot for hours without burning
-complexity and versatility of design means a steep learning curve
-carafe could pour better but this is admittedly a minor issue
Any coffee machine on this list will very likely surpass most on the market with regard to cup quality, in large part due to meeting SCAA criteria for coffee preparation. But the obvious winner for us is the Bonavita BV1800. A very close second is the Brazen Plus.
Bunn HG Phase
We love the overall concept, especially since this coffee machine is widely available at retail stores and affordably priced to reach a larger market. Helping folks make great coffee easy is something we like! And the simple, straight-forward, familiar design makes it very approachable. However, though it can deliver on quality, this Bunn’s durability and reliability are dismal compared to the other brands. But if you don’t mind the risk of a faulty unit just to try out a higher-end coffee machine, this is definitely your best option.
Tried and true, the quality of both the finished brew and construction has made this coffee machine the top choice for many people for many years. And there are numerous other variations to choose from in the Moccamaster line to suit your needs. However, this unit’s price undermines its value for us. Is it necessary to spend that much, especially given its very basic features? Perhaps not. Even if with durability in mind, it lacks any programming or customizable features, making it less suited for the coffee aficionado who might like to tinker with settings. On the other hand, if you’re the type willing to make a long-term equipment investment for a solid design and a consistent cup of coffee, the 9587 is the ideal choice here.
This is, hands down, the most sophisticated home coffee machine to date at a huge value. With a long list of features and enough versatility to satisfy the coffee geek in most of us, you can tailor brewing parameters for each coffee, giving you nearly as much control as the manual pour-over. Experiment to your heart’s content or keep it simple and consistent to minimize fuss. In addition, the Brazen Plus is heartily constructed with many stainless steel components. But perhaps the greatest advantage of this unit is its ability to satisfy nearly every major market demand, new and old -- fully customizable brewing parameters, programmability, brew timer/pause, etc.
While we love all of these things, we think a coffee machine should be able to make great coffee right out of the box, quickly, conveniently, and easily. The complexity of this machine increases the probability of error for most people. It will take some time figuring out what settings give you the best results, so we can’t fully recommend this as the best coffee machine option, though it’s an extremely close second. But for the convenience-minded coffee geek, it doesn’t get any better than the Brazen Plus. And if you’ve been waiting to expand your brewing horizons, it might be perfect to grow into.
Our best recommendation doesn’t require a long explanation of justification: Its simple design quickly, easily, and consistently brews a delicious cup. And although it doesn’t have the same durability track record as the Technivorm, being half the price and performing just as well makes the BV1800 a tremendous value. If Bonavita ever makes this programmable, it will be an absolute knockout.
ULTIMATE HOME BREWING SETUP
Though boasting some pretty attractive features, no coffee machine comes close to out-performing our ultimate home brewing setup: the timeless, modest, and dependable French press.
Sure, we play with Chemex, Aeropress, drip machines, and anything else we can get our hands on, but as demanding, high-performing people, we expect our tools and equipment to function properly, consistently, and reliably. Tried and true for our lifestyle, it's convenient, consistent, durable, and affordable. After all, we want to taste great coffee, not the newest brewing concoction.
Here’s all you’ll need to brew a spectacular cup:
- press pot / French press
- variable temperature electric kettle
- timer / clock (phone / watch)
- kitchen scale (optional)
Depending on sizes and features, the above equipment costs approximately $65 - $150.
For a simple recipe on brewing great French press coffee, see our newest video: How to Use a French Press.