Automatic but coffee-shop quality: Best drip coffee maker
Who this is for: Anyone who wants a solid drip coffee maker that will make a pot of great-tasting coffee that stays hot for hours. If you already own a great grinder (which is the most important part of any coffee setup) and pay a premium for gourmet beans, this machine will get the most out of them.
Why we like it: The OXO Brew 9 Cup Coffee Maker is fast and convenient, with features like programmable start time and an automatic pre-infusion cycle (which briefly wets the coffee before brewing, for better extraction). In our tests for the best drip coffee maker, we found that the coffee was pleasant and much better than the coffee we made with some of the competitors. The coffee maker has a handsome design, with a well-made thermal stainless steel carafe that pours easily and keeps coffee hot for hours.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The OXO’s unintuitive interface means that programming the timer without reading the manual can be difficult, but it’s pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it. In our years of long-term testing, we’ve also noticed that the lid on the OXO’s carafe tends to trap old coffee; even a good rinse isn’t enough to flush everything out. Another thing to note is that the OXO is tall at 17.2 inches, so you may have an issue fitting it under your cabinets—especially because the lids for the water tank and the grounds basket need an additional five inches of clearance to fully open. (For comparison’s sake, our also-great pick, the Bonavita BV1901TS Connoisseur, is only 12.2 inches tall.)
The OXO was beaten in our taste tests by the Bonavita BV1901TS Connoisseur, which you should consider if you prioritize flavor over all else (the Bonavita lacks some convenience features, including a timer). Lastly, if the OXO’s $200 price seems a bit steep, consult our budget coffee makers guide.
For boutique coffee beans: the Best gear for making pour-over coffee
Who this is for: People who want a manual and inexpensive method to make great-tasting coffee. It’s also for people who want more precise control of the different variables in making coffee.
Why we like it: Pour-over is simple and makes for delicious coffee. By having more control of the brewing process, you can hone each variable to get the most flavor out of the beans. In our guide to the best gear for making pour-over coffee, we have recommendations for drippers, grinders, kettles, and scales. Our favorite dripper is the Kalita Wave 185 because it produced the most consistent, even, and flavorful cup of coffee among all of the drippers we tested.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: In comparison with an automatic drip coffee maker, a multistep, gear-intensive method of making coffee can be a bit complicated, especially if you are groggy first thing in the morning. Also, our dripper pick, the Kalita Wave 185 Dripper, has proprietary filters that are more difficult to acquire than standard Melitta filters. They are, however, available on Amazon or at specialty coffee shops.
Decent coffee for under $50: Best cheap coffee maker
Who this is for: Someone who wants a good but inexpensive coffee machine with minimal fuss. If you don’t grind your own coffee, something like this will prepare preground coffee just as well as a more expensive drip machine at a fraction of the cost.
Why we like it: The Mr. Coffee Easy Measure made the smoothest, most balanced cup of coffee among the models we tested. It was the only model that succeeded in brewing an adequate, just-strong-enough pot of coffee from the recommended 12-tablespoon dose. It has an appealing, compact footprint and a simple interface that lets you know in half-hour increments how long it’s been since the last brew cycle. It was also a no-brainer to program, which is great for shared kitchens.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Although the Easy Measure’s $50 price tag weighs in its favor, it’s mostly plastic, and it looks less sturdy than some of the other models we tested. It’s also a brand-new model, so we can’t look at reviews on Amazon or elsewhere to see how it may hold up over time; we’ll continue using it while keeping an eye on other reviews. We also found some slight discrepancies in brew times and coffee output between batches, but we expect any cheap coffee maker to be less precise per pot than a higher-end model.
Capacity: 12 cups
Brew time: about 11 minutes
For simple, extra-rich coffee: Best French press
Who this is for: People who want a super-simple and quick method of making coffee. It’s easy to learn and master.
Why we like it: The classic Bodum Chambord makes a balanced cup of coffee with few stray grounds in an elegant glass body. After testing the top contenders in a blind-tasting panel and making more than 40 cups of coffee for our guide to the best French press, we found that the Chambord brewed coffee that was as grit-free as brews from models that cost up to three times as much. It’s easy to clean and use, and it makes a balanced, rich coffee with little muddiness.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Glass presses will never be as sturdy as their stainless steel counterparts. Any glass beaker is delicate and will break if you drop it or knock it too hard. In the event that the Chambord does break, you can buy replacement parts, such as beakers and filters, for any Bodum press.
Testers also disliked the plunger’s spherical handle, which was less comfortable to push down than other, flat-capped handles. But the process never takes more than seconds, so we were happy to trade an ergonomic plunge for a press that cost less than most others.
Available sizes: 12 ounces (1½ cups), 17 ounces, 34 ounces (4 cups, pictured), 51 ounces (6 cups)
Materials: borosilicate glass (beaker) and polypropylene (handle)
For low-acid iced coffee: Best cold-brew coffee maker
Who this is for: A cold-brew coffee maker is for people who want to make better-iced coffee. Compared with refrigerating hot-brewed coffee, cold-brewing with a slow exposure extracts fewer bitter flavors, so you’ll get a sweeter, milder-tasting coffee.
Why we like it: The OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker is our pick for the best cold-brew coffee maker because it’s easy to use and well-designed, and in our tests, it produced a more consistent, flavorful cup of coffee than other models. It made cold coffee with balanced acidity, a stronger aroma, and a cleaner finish.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Some of our testers thought the Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer (our runner-up) made a smoother, mellower cup of coffee. But others liked the stronger, bolder flavor of coffee from the OXO. Plus, we found our pick easier to use than the Filtron, which is a bit more cumbersome.
Dimensions: 9.5 by 9.5 by 14.7 inches
Capacity: 32 ounces (4 cups)
If you prefer espresso: Best espresso setup for beginners
Who this is for: People who like good coffee and want to make quality espresso (or espresso-based drinks such as cappuccinos, lattes, and americanos) at home.
Why we like it: The Breville Bambino Plus espresso machine stood out in our tests for the best espresso machine, grinder, and accessories, pulling consistently great-tasting espresso shots more easily than other machines. It was also the simplest to use, featuring the best documentation and most user-friendly design. When it came to making milk drinks, the Bambino Plus’s steam wand was by far the best we tested. This model comes with a lot of accessories and a place to store them. And it’s available for a reasonable price.
In making espresso, a good grinder is just as important as a good espresso machine. Our coffee grinder picks, though great for grinding coffee for the purposes of drip or pour-over, lack the finer, more precise settings that are needed to make the best espresso. The Rancilio Rocky accurately produced fine espresso grinds. In our tests, it performed best in its price range.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: In our tests, the Bambino Plus made the most consistently good espresso but it did not make the absolute best (the more expensive Breville Barista Touch won that crown). The preprogrammed double-shot setting on the Bambino cut off the extraction too quickly during our initial attempts. But it was easy to reprogram the shot volume using a phone timer. Finally, the Bambino lacks the hot-water dispenser that’s included with other Breville models.
If you want an espresso with convenience: Best Nespresso machine (but it’s not for everyone)
Who this is for: Nespresso is for people who need convenience and speed, as it’s the fastest, most effortless way to make an espresso-like drink. All you have to do is pop a capsule into the machine and press a button.
Why we like it: The Essenza Mini is our pick for the best Nespresso machine because it’s small and mighty, capable of making the same espressos and lungs as any other Nespresso machine in its line. We’ve determined that all of the machines make identical drinks, so the least expensive one is your best bet. We don’t love the flavor of Nespresso, and it’s more expensive than a full cup of drip coffee. But the taste is subjective, and the real appeal of Nespresso is its ease, speed, and consistency (though if you want to make real at-home espresso, we recommend these beginner setups)
Flaws but not dealbreakers: In exchange for its compact size, the Essenza Mini has a 20.3-ounce water tank and a reusable tray that can accommodate just six capsules, the smallest of any Nespresso machine. But then again, both are easy to refill and empty. The Essenza Mini did struggle slightly in our testing after brewing dozens of back-to-back espressos. This may be a problem if you plan on churning out logos from your Essenza Mini for a large dinner party. But if the machine sputters or stops, letting it rest for a minute should make it good to go again.
Dimensions: 4.3 by 12.8 by 8.1 inches
Water tank capacity: 20.3 ounces (enough for eight espressos)
Used capsule capacity: six
Don’t get a Keurig: Why we don’t recommend Keurig machines
We hate to break it to you, but after more than 20 hours spent researching and testing Keurig machines, we don’t recommend them for anyone. Keurig machines brew expensive coffee that we didn’t find particularly strong or tasty. And they often break within warranty, all while taking a toll on the environment. A Keurig also doesn’t save you much time, shaving just a few minutes off of the time it takes to make coffee using other single-cup brewing setups. If you absolutely must get one, the Keurig K-Classic was the best model we tried. But you don’t really need a Keurig machine. We go into further detail in our full review of the machines and their environmental impact.
A grinder if you take coffee seriously: Best coffee grinder
Who this is for: If you want to take coffee seriously, the most important item in your brewing setup is a good quality burr grinder. Unlike blade grinders, which randomly chop coffee beans into smaller and smaller pieces, burr grinders pulverize coffee beans between two sets of burrs and deliver a way more uniform grind, which leads to better-tasting coffee.
Why we like it: The slim and trim Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder is lower-priced than most of the competition—about $140 compared with about $200 for anything else in its echelon. In our testing for our guide to the best coffee grinders, the Encore performed as well as or better than any home grinder we tried. It grinds beans quickly and evenly, is simple to use and adjust, and is easy enough to clean and maintain that you’ll use it for years to come. The Encore makes it supremely easy to produce a great cup of coffee.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The Encore is a very simple machine: It has only an on/off switch, so it doesn’t allow for a timed grind. (The Baratza Virtuoso+, our upgrade pick, does.) It can take a long time to grind in a very fine, espresso-like setting. And like all of the machines we tested, the Baratza machines can be messy when grinding the coffee, spreading dust and chaff over the counter.
Dimensions: 6.3 by 4.7 by 13.8 inches
Grind settings: 40
For hot water at the ideal temperature: Best electric kettle
Who this is for: The Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp Cordless Electric Kettle is for anyone who needs to bring water to a boil to make French press coffee, pour-over coffee, or tea. The Bonavita BV382510V 1.0L Digital Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle is best for people preparing pour-over coffee (the gooseneck offers better aim), or for tea lovers who will geek out over its spot-on temperature accuracy.
Why we like it: The Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp Cordless Electric Kettle bested all of the competition in the tests for our best electric kettle guide (it’s been our pick since 2013). It’s got a winning combination of speed, accuracy, and ease of use. The handle has buttons with preset temperature settings, which is pretty useful because different coffees and teas require different brewing temps. In addition, if pour-over coffee is your jam, you’ll appreciate the precise aim of the gooseneck spout on the Bonavita BV382510V 1.0L Digital Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle. It had the most accurate temperature controls among all of the models we tested.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Although the Cuisinart CPK-17 had better accuracy than most of the other kettles we tested, we found that it wasn’t as accurate at hitting lower temperatures, measuring 8 degrees over when we set it to 160 °F. Because this model has a slew of other noteworthy features, we’re willing to forgive its minor temperature variances at the lowest setting. We’ve received feedback from some of our readers about this Cuisinart model breaking down after about a year, including rusting screws and lid issues. We haven’t experienced these issues ourselves; several people on our staff have owned and used this kettle for years and haven’t encountered any problems with it.
The Bonavita 1-liter kettle has some minor drawbacks: This model took about two and a half minutes longer to boil than our top pick, and it doesn’t provide a water-level window for you to see when it’s getting low. Unlike our top pick, it lacks a boil setting, so you have to manually enter 212 °F using the plus button. Despite those minor flaws, after over two years of using the Bonavita BV382510V daily, we haven’t experienced any issues, and we think it’s the best for anyone who will use it for both tea and pour-over coffee.