Best Rated Drip Coffee Makers Of 2017: Ultimate Buying Guide

This guide will help you decide which elements are most important so you can make a great purchase the next time you are considering drip coffee makers.

Almost everyone has a drip coffee maker sitting on their kitchen counter. They are popular because of their convenience and ease of use. If you are in the market for a new coffee machine, you may have noticed that recent models come with a wide variety of new features and styles.

Drip coffee makers have come a long way since the first model was invented by Melitta Bentz in 1908. Modern day coffee drinkers have more sophisticated palettes, and at the same time expect more convenience.

Drip coffee makers have been keeping pace with those changing demands!

Extra hot brewing temperatures, stronger and more portable carafes, adjustable brew strength, and programmability are some of the features becoming almost standard fare in drip coffee makers. It can be a little intimidating to sort through the various products available.

Does temperature of the brew really matter?

The National Coffee Association (Yes, it’s a thing!) recommends that the ideal temperature for brewing coffee is between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature of the water is directly related to the full extraction of flavors from the ground coffee beans.

When coffee is brewed in the ideal temperature range, it extracts the full range of flavor from the beans, resulting in a well-rounded flavor rich with subtlety and complexity. In comparison, coffee brewed at lower temperatures has a more “flat” taste.

Unless specifically stated as a feature, most drip coffee makers brew at significantly lower temperatures than the recommended range for the ideal brew. However, the differences may not be immediately noticeable to everyone.

Coffee snobs (You know who you are!) are most likely to notice the difference in the brew on a higher temperature machine. If this is you, then a drip coffee maker with this feature is probably worth the extra investment. This feature usually comes with a significant price bump.

Which Carafe type is right for you?

The most common type of drip coffee makers come with thin glass pots. They are generally somewhat fragile and subject to break easily if you accidentally bang them into something. Often the replacement cost of the pot is high enough that it may make more sense to just get an entirely new coffee maker.

Drip coffee makers with glass carafes need a warming plate to keep coffee hot, and this means that over time they will evaporate some of the water in the brew, which definitely affects taste. Also, if you leave the pot on with little or no coffee in it, and the heating plate is on, it can make a burnt mess in the bottom of the pot, or even crack it.

Although generally more expensive, a stainless-steel carafe has several advantages. Most of them have tight lids which create a vacuum effect. This keeps steam from escaping which keeps the coffee hot and tasty for hours without a warming plate.

Besides being much harder to break and preserving a fresh taste, the main advantage to the stainless-steel carafe is that you can bring the entire pot to the table, or the living room, or the patio….and serve continuous refills.

If you are someone that likes to entertain or regularly have multiple cups of coffee in a location other than your kitchen, a coffee maker with a stainless-steel carafe is likely worth the extra money.

How important is programmability?

There are plenty of programing and customizing options available on modern drip coffee makers. Which one is worth paying for is a decision that is unique to your situation and preferences.

Those that have very busy mornings with kids, or folks that just really hate mornings, might really appreciate the ability to set the coffee up the night before program it to start automatically in the morning.

Other features that are sometimes programmable are brew strength, warming temperature, and a cup number setting. All of these aspects of coffee may seem trivial, but to some they may make the difference between a so-so and a great cup of coffee.

How much coffee do you make?

One feature of drip coffee makers that you will notice right away is, of course, their capacity in terms of the volume the machine can make at one time.

Unless you are regularly serving a crowd, 8-12 cups is plenty for most households. If you entertain often, it may be worth going for a larger capacity model. You can always brew a half batch if you want less for day to day use.

If you are seeking to save on counter space and you make coffee for one more often than not, a 4 cup model might be the right decision. This can be a great option for students staying at a dorm or people living in smaller apartments.

The self-cleaning feature.

Many higher end drip coffee machines offer a self-cleaning feature. This feature is a little over rated.

In fact, all coffee makers need to be cleaned. The buildup of minerals in tap water can affect taste and, over time, interfere with the function of your coffee maker. In addition, since several areas of the inside of your coffee maker never fully dry out, they can become a host for mold and bacteria.

The recommended cleaning process is pretty much the same across the board: run a solution of half vinegar and half water through half of the brew cycle, turn it off and let it sit for 30-60 minutes, finish brewing the solution and then run two clean water cycles to rinse.

If you buy a self-cleaning coffee maker, you will have the advantage of a blinking light to let you know that you have let the solution sit for one hour before rinsing. I am guessing you already have a timer for that. It is not worth paying extra for.

Here is an informative video on cleaning your coffee maker:

Other features to pay attention to:

  • Permanent or paper filters: Permanent filters have the advantage of saving you cost and time in the long run. They are more environmentally friendly, but more costly when they do eventually need to be replaced.
  • Automatic heating plate shut off: If you are forgetful, you want to make sure you find a coffee maker with this feature. If you have burned out a glass bottom pot before, you definitely want this feature in your next coffee machine.
  • Coffee grinder attachment: If you are someone that likes to grind roasted whole beans for each new brew, then this is a very convenient addition now available in some coffee maker models. It will save you the counter space of a separate grinder as well as the fuss of transferring the grounds. Make sure you check that you have some control over the grind size before going this route.

We kept all these features and more in mind when we selected our top 5 drip coffee makers. The guide below provides a detailed review of these 5 top models covering a wide range of features and prices ranges. You will find our number one pick (drum roll please!) at the bottom.

What are the best 5 drip coffee makers?

1. Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Switch Coffeemaker

This Mr. Coffee 4-cup drip coffee maker balances simplicity and value. If you are interested in a coffee maker that is simple to use, and super easy on the budget, then this is a good choice.

It is a basic model from a well-known manufacturer. If you are pretty easy to please when it comes to the taste of your coffee and think paying $5.00 for a cup of joe is complete insanity, then this is a choice that will probably suit your needs at a very low cost.

One of the features this basic model has added is the Grab-A-Cup feature which allows you to pause brewing to fill a mug then resume to finish the pot. Other than that, expect simplicity with this coffee maker.

PROS
  • Value for money
  • Easy to measure the size of the pot you want to brew
  • Comes in black or white making it a model that can fit in any kitchen décor
CONS
  • Lacks a lot of advanced features, very basic drip coffee maker
  • You will need to be sure to keep filters on hand to use this coffee maker

See how it looks and works down here:

2. Cuisinart DCC-3200 14-Cup

This Cuisinart 14-cup drip coffee maker is professional grade with a strong focus on quality and the kinds of features you would expect from a high-end model. A sleek stainless-steel design gives it a very high-end look.

The self-cleaning water reservoir and flat control panel are design features that make this model easy to maintain. Programmable features and automatic shut off give this model an edge for those with busy schedules.

PROS
  • 24-hour programming feature
  • Permanent filter
  • Warming plate adjustable 
  • Easy to use interface
CONS
  • 14-cup capacity may be wasteful, luckily there's a 1-4 cup setting
  • Glass carafe is expensive to replace if it brakes

See how it looks and works down here:

3. Zojirushi EC-YSC100

The Zojirushi 10-cup drip coffee maker is an excellent choice for the coffee aficionado. Several high-end features give this model an edge for those that appreciate a well brewed cup of coffee.

Those folks that are picky about their coffee will appreciate the extra hot brewing temperature this model offers – over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Make the most of those expensive beans with optimal brewing temperatures.

Other stand out features include a stainless-steel vacuum sealed carafe, full 24-hour programmability and an elegant, modern design. You are not going to be sacrificing taste or functionality with this choice.

PROS
  • Stainless-steel vacuum sealed carafe
  • Brews over 200 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Water reservoir removable and easy to clean
  • Easy to program, intuitive controls
  • Carafe design is thumb-operated for smooth pouring action
CONS
  • Expensive
  • No permanent filter

See how it looks and works down here:

4. Cuisinart DGB-900BC

If you are someone that is grinding your own beans, you will definitely want to check out the Cuisinart DGB-900BC Grind & Brew. The grinder is actually a burr grinder, which promises the maximum exposure of the ground beans for great flavor extraction.

The 12-cup capacity of the thermal stainless-steel carafe offers plenty of volume for most households. A built-in water filtration system helps to ensure a great taste.

Unfortunately, the one feature this drip coffee maker doesn’t have is high-temp brewing, worth noting for those that insist on it for the best tasting coffee.

PROS
  • Built in 8-ounce capacity burr grinder
  • Permanent filter
  • Extreme flexibility of brew strength
  • Thermal stainless-steel carafe
  • Lots of features
CONS
  • Very Expensive
  • Control panel intimidating for beginners
  • Not easy to clean
  • Charcoal filters are expensive to replace

See how it looks and works down here:

5. Bonavita BV1800SS

The Bonavita 8-cup coffee brewer offers a quality cup of coffee with a minimalist aesthetic and ease of operation. If you are looking for a great tasting cup of coffee and don’t mind sacrificing some control and programing features, this is a solid choice.

Features do include a stainless-steel carafe, extra hot brewing temperatures, and a showerhead brewing mechanism. This is a no fuss drip coffee maker that keeps the most important features for excellent brewing.

PROS
  • "Showerhead" style water dispenser for equally soaked grounds
  • Brews over 200 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Thermal stainless-steel carafe
CONS
  • Very Expensive
  • Not programmable
  • Brewing strength not controllable

See how it looks and works down here:

Conclusion

Our overall top recommendation is the Zojirushi EC-YSC100.

This drip coffee maker strikes a great balance between having the most important features for a great cup of joe and strong value considering the high quality of this machine.

The higher brewing temperature of this model is a key feature to make sure that you and your guests will get a rich and full-bodied cup of coffee. If you appreciate high quality coffee, higher temperature brewing will help you get the most out of each sip.

The stainless carafe adds the ability to take the coffee to the table for refills and you can expect it to stay warm and fresh for hours.

Finally, for today’s busy lifestyles, the programming features of this drip coffee maker are easy to use and add that level of convenience you will wonder how you lived without.​