Consumer Reports’ experts round up the top brewers from Calphalon, Cuisinart, Nespresso, and more
By Daniel Wroclawski
For many people, there’s no better way to start the day than with a great cup of coffee. But today’s coffee makers do far more than brew a pot of joe. Some grind beans, others froth milk for lattes and macchiatos, and a few even brew iced coffee.
We tested nearly 150 coffee makers to see which ones are worthy of space on your kitchen counter.
We take java seriously in our coffee maker lab, where our test team conducts a brew-performance test and measures contact time (how long water stays within the sweet spot of 195° F to 205° F for brewing) for each drip coffee maker. For single-serve (pod) machines, our engineers evaluate the temperature and size consistency of individual cups of coffee. And for cold-brew coffee makers, engineers assess ease of cleaning, and taste testers judge each brew.
Below are reviews of 10 of the best coffee makers we’ve evaluated that are currently on the market, listed in alphabetical order. The list has a number of configurations: drip, pod, grind-and-brew, self-serve, one-mug, dual coffee/espresso, and cold-brew. CR members can click on each model name for more detailed ratings and specs.
Learn more in our coffee maker buying guide. And explore additional options in our complete coffee maker ratings, consisting of more than 135 options. There, you can search according to price, dimensions, capacity, and other options that might work best for you and your kitchen.
Calphalon Special Brew BVCLDCG1
CR’s take: The Calphalon Special Brew BVCLDCG1 is one of the top-rated drip coffee makers in CR’s tests, garnering Excellent brew performance and convenience ratings. The carafe is fairly easy to use, hold, pour from, and empty. It’s worth noting that it makes up to 10 cups at a time, which is fewer than many models. But it has no problem brewing a full pot using a filter filled nearly to the top with grounds—a tough test for many coffee makers.
Cuisinart Coffee on Demand DCC-3000
CR’s take: The Cuisinart Coffee on Demand DCC-3000 is a self-serve coffee maker, meaning it forgoes a carafe and allows you to fill a mug straight from its heated reservoir. This machine does well in our tests, earning an Excellent brew-performance rating. Cuisinart self-serve machines receive Very Good predicted reliability and Excellent owner satisfaction scores in our member surveys. This model comes with a removable reservoir, permanent filter, water filter, cleaning indicator, auto-shutoff, programming, and a small-batch setting.
Cuisinart DCC-T20 Touchscreen 14-Cup Programmable
CR’s take: A traditional drip coffee maker with a modern twist, the Cuisinart DCC-T20 Touchscreen 14-Cup Programmable offers slick touch-screen controls and makes plenty of coffee for a full house, thanks to its 14-cup glass carafe. This model receives an Excellent rating for brew performance and does well in our other tests, too. It features programming, auto-shutoff, a cleaning indicator, a permanent filter, a water filter, brew-strength control, and a small-batch setting. It’s a bit pricey, but for the investment, you can count on an all-around great machine.
Hamilton Beach 12-cup Programmable 49465R
CR’s take: The unassuming, inexpensive Hamilton Beach 12-cup Programmable 49465R might be easy to miss, but it can brew a mean cup of joe at a fantastic price. It has all the essentials in a basic black plastic finish. It’s programmable, as its name says, and has auto-shutoff. And it delivers Excellent brew performance and can make a fresh pot in just 10 minutes. This model also earns Very Good ratings for convenience and carafe handling in CR’s lab tests.
Keurig K-Café Special Edition Coffee, Latte & Cappuccino Maker K84
CR’s take: The souped-up Keurig K-Café Special Edition Coffee, Latte & Cappuccino Maker K84 uses K-Cup pods to brew coffee, lattes, and cappuccinos. It can even brew iced lattes and iced cappuccinos, but it lacks a mode for making traditional iced coffee. It’s admirably consistent in terms of brew size and temperature. It takes longer than the fastest models to heat up for the first cup, earning only a Good rating in that test, but it does better with subsequent cups. In addition to its built-in milk frother, this model comes with a strong-brew setting, an auto-shutoff feature, a height-adjustable drip tray, and a removable water reservoir. Owners surveyed by CR gave Keurig coffee makers Excellent satisfaction ratings but below-average marks for reliability.
Nespresso Essenza Mini
CR’s take: One of the top-rated single-serve machines, the Nespresso Essenza Mini stands out with Excellent scores on CR’s brew-time tests and for its ability to control the brew volume for different strengths. This compact model is great for the office or anywhere you need to accommodate a variety of tastes. The adjustable drip tray and auto-off function add to its low-maintenance profile. Like other Nespresso models, it requires Nespresso capsules, which the company recycles at no charge.
Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker in Aluminum EN125S
CR’s take: The Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker in Aluminum EN125S is worth a close look for anyone who prefers Nespresso capsules over Keurig K-Cups. It comes in a sleek metallic finish and can make both espresso and coffee. Our testers give it solid performance scores across the board, including a Very Good rating for temperature consistency and an Excellent rating for first-cup speed. It features a removable reservoir, a height-adjustable drip tray, auto-shutoff, and adjustable brew temperatures.
Ninja Specialty CM401
CR’s take: The Ninja Specialty CM401 is a terrific all-in-one machine capable of brewing hot and iced coffee, lattes, macchiatos, and other specialty brews. In our tests it receives an Excellent rating for brew performance, and its glass carafe handles with ease. This model is packed with features, including an over-ice brew mode for iced coffee, a built-in milk frother, brew-strength control, and brew-size adjustment for travel mugs to full carafes. It’s also one of the most versatile coffee makers we’ve tested.
Primula Burke Cold Brew Coffee Maker PBPBK-5101
CR’s take: The Primula Burke Cold Brew Coffee Maker PBPBK-5101 is the most inexpensive cold-brew model in our ratings—and one of the best, receiving an Excellent rating for convenience. It comes with a glass carafe, and most of its parts are dishwasher-safe. It’s the only cold-brew maker we’ve tested that calls for a full 24-hour brew time, but you might find the results worth the wait.
Zojirushi Fresh Brew Plus 12-Cup (EC-YGC120)
CR’s take: If you have shallow countertops, look to the Zojirushi Fresh Brew Plus 12-Cup (EC-YGC120). The coffee maker has its water reservoir next to the carafe rather than behind it, so its depth is about half an inch less than many similar appliances at or near the top of our ratings. Best of all, it scores an Excellent in our brew performance and convenience tests, and according to data from our member surveys, it rates an Excellent in predicted reliability and owner satisfaction. It has auto-shutoff, a removable reservoir, and an indicator that tells you when it’s time to clean it.
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