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There are countless ways to enjoy coffee these days. At a Starbucks, Dunkin’ or Caribou, you can get anything from a simple black coffee to what’s essentially a coffee-flavored milkshake. Or, you could opt for one of the craft coffee shops that have proliferated in the last decade or so, and get a meticulously brewed coffee or latte. But if you’re looking to save money, or are just interested in learning more about brewing coffee, you’ll want to make it at home.
The options for brewing coffee at home can feel as numerous as the options for going out when you consider factors like brewing method, price and your personal situation. (Does someone living alone need 12 cups of coffee every morning? I’m not here to judge.) The choice might seem daunting, but we’re here to make it easier. And now is the perfect time to look for a coffee maker. You can find holiday deals on coffee makers going on now.
We’ve meticulously tested and carefully chosen the best coffee makers available now. Whether you’re looking to brew your coffee hot or cold, manually or automatically, on a budget or without financial constraints, we’ve got an option for you. (You can also check out our picks for the best coffee subscriptions.)
Best coffee makers
How we tested the coffee makers
Evaluating the performance of a coffee maker is trickier than it might sound. You need to know what good drip coffee actually is and, according to the Specialty Coffee Association, there are essential criteria to brewing well. Brewing time and water temperature top the list. Hot water should come into contact with grounds for no less than four minutes and no more than eight. The ideal water temperature range is between 197 degrees Fahrenheit (92 degrees Celsius) and 205 degrees Fahrenheit (96 degrees Celsius).
To see how well each coffee maker meets that challenge, we log the length of their brew cycles. We also employ thermocouple heat sensors connected to industrial-grade data loggers. That enables us to record the temperature within the coffee grounds while brewing is underway.
After brewing coffee, we take sample readings of the produced coffee liquid with an optical refractometer. Given that we factor in the amount of water and freshly ground coffee used, that data lets us calculate the Total Dissolved Solids percentage of each brew. From there we arrive at the extraction percentage. The ideal range is commonly thought to be between 18% and 20%.
We also back up measured data with a good old-fashioned taste test. Overextracted coffee tastes bitter and sharp, while underextracted coffee is usually weak or sour. And to be certain, we brew identical test runs a minimum of three times to get a sense of the average results.