BUZZ-WORTHY COFFEE MAKERS
Many people can't fully wake up without some sort of caffeine in a cup, and the convenience of stopping by a coffee shop comes at a high cost. Brewing at home lets you spend less to get your fix — and put some of the savings toward high-quality beans and a grinder. (Experts advise that freshly ground coffee, rather than a pricey coffee maker, is the key to a superior cup.) For less than $100, you can buy a highly rated, full-featured, programmable drip coffee maker that should last for years.
For our report on the best cheap coffee makers, Cheapism.com analyzed features and online reviews to filter out unworthy contenders and make recommendations, from conventional 12-cup drip coffee makers to smaller machines, and even a combo model that can make a full pot or a single cup. For true aficionados, an elegant upgrade with "shower head" technology caught our eye.
Prices and availability are subject to change.
HAMILTON BEACH 46205
Good 12-Cup Coffee Maker Under $50
Est. Price: $36 | Buy it on Amazon
- 3 brew-strength settings, including a 1-4 cup option for smaller pots.
- Automatic pause and serve feature stops brewing so you can "sneak a cup."
- Removable water reservoir for easy filling.
- Doesn't need clearance under cabinets to lift a lid, with the removable reservoir and a swing-out filter basket.
- Some durability complaints.
- A few reports of leakage from the reservoir.
Takeaway: The Hamilton Beach 46205 is a full-featured 12-cup coffee maker that experts and users agree is a great value for the price. It has multiple brew-strength settings, so you can tweak the coffee to your taste, but where this model really shines is in ease of use. The base swivels for easy access to the water reservoir, which is located on the rear of the machine and removable for filling at the faucet. The filter basket swings out with the push of a button, so there's no need to pull this model out from under cabinets or lift a lid to add water and ground coffee. We did spot some leakage and durability complaints, but Hamilton Beach representatives are proactive in responding to unhappy customers online.
Good 12-Cup Coffee Maker Under $100
Est. Price: $63 | Buy it on Amazon
- 2 brew strengths, plus a 1-4 cup option; 3 heat settings.
- Brew pause.
- Adjustable temperature control on the warming plate and programmable auto shut-off (0 to 4 hours).
- Comes with a permanent cone filter.
- Charcoal water filter; clean light indicates when the coffee maker needs decalcifying.
- Quite a few reviewers assert that this coffee maker isn't built to last.
- Some reports of leaks.
Takeaway: The 12-cup Cuisinart DCC-3650 is easy to use and program, reviewers say. It features two brew-strength settings (regular and bold) and three heat settings (regular, hot, and extra hot) for an even more customized cup. Some users would have preferred a carafe with a hinged lid; they say this one has to be completely removed to get all the coffee out. We also saw complaints of the machine failing in the first year and reports of inadequate customer service. But Cuisinart is a popular name in coffee makers, and experts and users say this coffee maker mostly lives up to the brand's reputation for quality.
MR. COFFEE SIMPLE BREW DRX5-RB
Good Small Coffee Maker
Est. Price: $25 | Buy it from Best Buy
- Small footprint; great for tight spaces.
- Programmable delay timer up to 24 hours.
- Pause and serve function.
- Cord storage.
- Hard-to-read display contrast.
- Some complaints of grounds overflowing.
- No brew-strength settings.
Takeaway: Reviewers agree that the Mr. Coffee Simple Brew 4-cup programmable coffee maker is ideal for singles, light coffee drinkers, dorm rooms, and RVs. In spite of its diminutive size, it's programmable, so you can wake up to freshly brewed coffee in the morning. If you forget to set it, the pause and serve function allows you to sneak a cup before brewing is finished. Built-in cord storage makes this coffee machine even more compact and easy to stow in a cupboard, keeping excess length off the countertop or the entire cord neatly tucked away between uses. While some users say that grounds end up in the coffee too frequently, most are very happy with this little coffee machine.
CHULUX POD COFFEE MAKER
Good, Small Pod Coffee Maker
Est. Price: $40 | Buy it on Amazon
- Small footprint; fits under most cupboards.
- Easy to use: Just fill, insert a pod, lock, and push a button.
- Compatible with all variations of K-Cup pods.
- Accepts ground coffee with an optional, reusable filter.
- Not programmable for delayed start.
- Slow; brewing can take up to 4 minutes for a single cup.
- Clogs easily and needs to be cleaned frequently.
- Maximum 12-ounce capacity.
Takeaway: Never heard of Chulux? Thousands of users say this is a great little machine for light or occasional coffee drinkers. The Chulux Pod Coffee Maker is compatible with all types of K-Cups, and reviewers appreciate that there are so many varieties to choose from. The drip tray is removable to accommodate taller cups, like travel mugs, up to 12 ounces. Brewing is slow, though, taking 3.5 to 4 minutes for a full cup. We also saw reports that you have to keep up with the cleaning cycle or it clogs — although that appears to be an issue mainly for owners who subject this little coffee maker to heavy use.
HAMILTON BEACH BREWSTATION 48465
Best Value Coffee Maker
Est. Price: $50 | Buy it on Amazon
- 12-cup internal reservoir keeps coffee warm and dispenses 1 cup at a time; no need for a carafe or hot plate.
- Easy to use, fill, and program; tank is removable.
- 4 brewing options: regular, bold, 1-4 cups, and iced coffee.
- Slow brew times.
- Very tall, at 15.16 inches.
Takeaway: The Hamilton Beach BrewStation 48465 is a fully programmable coffee maker that does away with the carafe and stores up to 12 cups of brewed coffee in an internal tank, which dispenses one cup at a time. The tank keeps java hot for up to four hours, and there's a dedicated iced-coffee option. Most reviewers say this model is very easy to fill, use, and clean. The only consistent complaint we saw is that it's slow to brew even a smaller quantity. One last caveat: While this machine doesn't take up much counter space, it's just over 15 inches tall with the lid closed; be sure you have room for it under your cabinets.
MR. COFFEE BVMC-PSTX91-RB
Best Thermal Coffee Maker Under $100
Est. Price: $70 | Buy it on Amazon
- Fast brew time of 7 minutes from start to finish; pause and serve feature.
- Removable water reservoir; water filter to remove chlorine.
- Permanent filter included.
- Delay timer and a freshness timer that lets you know how old the coffee is.
- Thermal carafe keeps coffee hot for about 2 hours, users say.
- Some reviewers complain of leaking.
- Filter may overflow at maximum 10-cup capacity.
- No brew-strength settings.
Takeaway: Drip coffee makers with thermal carafes are generally more expensive than those with glass carafes, but they've come down in price in recent years. The 10-cup Mr. Coffee BVMC-PSTX91-RB is a relatively inexpensive option that gets good reviews from both experts and users. Thermal coffee makers like this one have an advantage over traditional coffee makers with glass carafes: They can keep coffee hot for hours without the brew taking on that "burnt" flavor from sitting on a hot plate for a while. Also, the insulated carafe can come right to the breakfast table with you. The complaints we spotted mostly centered on leakage, and grounds sometimes overflowing into the cup. Even taking those into account, this fast-brewing, programmable coffee maker is an easy recommendation.
CUISINART PERFECTEMP DCC-3200
Best Large Coffee Maker Under $100
Est. Price: $99.95 | Buy it from Home Depot
- 2 brew-strength settings: regular and bold.
- Programmable for delayed start up to 24 hours.
- Keeps coffee warm for up to 4 hours.
- Adjustable temperature control on the warming plate.
- Permanent cone filter included.
- Charcoal water filter and clean function.
- Very large footprint.
- Scattered complaints about difficulty filling the water reservoir and fully emptying the carafe without removing the lid.
- A few reports of the grinds spilling over or coffee dripping on the hot plate.
Takeaway: If you have a larger family, frequently make coffee for a crowd, or just drink a lot of coffee yourself, look to the 14-cup Cuisinart DCC-3200. It features two brew-strength settings (regular and bold, for those who like their coffee with an extra kick) and gets props from consumer product experts and owners alike for its ease of use and programming options. Still, some find this this coffee maker difficult to fill and would prefer the convenience of a removable water reservoir. Also, be warned: The large capacity makes for a large machine, so be sure you have the space for this highly popular coffee maker.
KEURIG K-CLASSIC K50
Best Large Pod Coffee Maker
Est. Price: $90 | Buy it from Best Buy
- Fast, 1-minute brew time.
- Always ready to brew.
- Vast selection of pods.
- Takes ground coffee with an optional adapter.
- Easy to use and fill.
- Pods are expensive compared with ground coffee.
- Most pods are not biodegradable.
Takeaway: While many experts sneer at pod coffee makers, plenty of coffee drinkers appreciate the convenience and wide selection available with these "always ready" coffee machines. If that's you, it's hard to do better than the Keurig K-Classic K50. This Keurig features a large, 48-ounce water reservoir; three cup sizes (8, 10, and 12 ounces); and a super-simple interface. On the downside, K-Cups (and pods in general) are pricey and most are not recyclable, which is problematic for environmentally conscious consumers. You can brew with ground coffee using the optional, reusable filter, but many owners say there's a learning curve.
BLACK & DECKER BREW 'N GO DCM18S
Personal Single-Serve Coffee Maker for Commuters
Est. Price: $20 | Buy it on Amazon
- Small footprint; makes one cup at a time.
- Versatile; brews from soft pods or grounds.
- Includes a travel mug that users say keeps coffee hot.
- Comes with a permanent cone filter.
- Not programmable.
- Doesn't always brew completely.
- Not enough capacity for heavy coffee drinkers.
Takeaway: The Black & Decker Brew 'n Go DCM18S has been around for many years in one iteration or another, and for good reason: It's a very handy little appliance if your main focus is coffee to go. It brews from grounds or soft pods into the included travel mug — or any cup you'd like to use. While the capacity is up to 15 ounces, we did see quite a few comments that the water doesn't always brew completely, leaving some in the reservoir. Several users note that they have to push the brew button a second or third time to get a full cup. Still, those complaints are in the minority; most reviewers are fond of this little coffee maker.
HAMILTON BEACH 49976
Most Versatile Coffee Maker
Est. Price: $90 | Buy it on Amazon
- Makes a full pot or a single-serve cup.
- Accommodates grounds and K-Cups.
- Programmable on the full-pot side.
- 2 brew-strength options: bold and regular.
- Slow brew times on both sides.
- Large footprint.
- Some durability issues with the single-serve side.
Takeaway: For shoppers who can't decide between a single-serve coffee maker, like a Keurig, or a more traditional model that makes a full pot, the Hamilton Beach 49976 does both. The full-pot side brews up to 12 cups directly into a carafe; the single-serve side can brew up to 12 ounces from a K-Cup or 14 ounces from grounds. All that flexibility gives it a large footprint — like having two coffee makers on the counter. We also saw complaints of the single-serve side failing prematurely. But this coffee machine is versatile and replete with features: a delay timer, keep-warm mode, auto-off function, and more.
OXO 9-CUP COFFEE MAKER
Worth a Splurge: Automatic Pour-Over Coffee Maker
Est. Price: $200 | Buy it on Amazon
- Brews at an optimal temperature.
- Rainmaker "shower head" evenly distributes water over the grounds.
- Very simple to use.
- Thermal carafe keeps coffee hot, and a freshness timer shows how long it's been sitting.
- Some complaints of drips/leaks.
Takeaway: In order for a coffee maker to meet standards set by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, it must be able to heat and hold the water to the recommended temperature of 197.6 to 204.8 degrees for four to eight minutes. The Oxo Barista Brain 9-Cup Coffee Maker does just that, earning it a rare SCA certification. You can program the time you want it to start and sneak a cup while it's still brewing. One constant complaint we noted is that the machine continues to drip after the carafe is removed — sometimes significantly. Users say the thermal carafe keeps the coffee hot for about two hours.