How to select the best coffee maker – The Essential Guide

Posted on October 30 in Articles | 9 comments

What if your doctor tells you to quit caffeine? Fire your doctor.

That is if you do not wish to ruin your life. If you are like me, you jolly well know that a sip of coffee is what pulls you out of zombie-mode when you wake up in the morning.

Do you really think you can maintain your productivity level with a caffeine-free life? Come on.

Do you really think a caffeine-free life means a healthier life? Come on. Stop finding excuses! That glass of coffee is not going to ruin your health (neither will it boost your health either).

Enough crap here. If you are still with me, good. It just means one thing.

All the speculation about caffeine’s ill-effect does not diminish your lust for coffee. And you are here because mediocre is not in your dictionary. You are interested only in the best coffee maker.

Stop, hold on a second! Before continuing, let me ask you a question.

Coffee is great. But what if the coffee you brew sucks? Trust me. I’ve tried different types of coffee beans – from the cheapest to the most expensive.

Guess what I learned? Coffee bean alone does not guarantee the highest quality brew! Your choice of coffee maker is equally important!

Do you see coffee brewing as an art or just a chore? I see coffee making as an art. That’s why I deem it necessary to have the best of the best coffee maker.

Below are my best picks for different category of needs (I believe you trust that I have a good taste).

The Best Personal Brewer (Manual)

The cup of coffee brewed out of French Press maker is often touted as the best. I disagree.

What is considered as a perfect brew is subjective. Some people like it strong. Some people like it mild.

If you like the former, then go for French Press. For me, I like my coffee to be milder.

If a single cup of coffee is all you need to brew and you want to be able to control the strength of your brew, the Black & Decker DCM18S is a no brainer pick.

If you live in hectic city (e.g. New York), chances are you find yourself having to squeeze yourself in small apartments. Every inch of space is a luxury. The size of this personal coffee maker is made right for people like you.

At 10-inch tall and 7×7-inch big, it can fit to almost any corner of your kitchen. If you intend to use it in the office, it should not take up too much of your desktop space.

The only complain about the DCM18S is the brewing temperature. The product specs claim to be optimal brewing temperature. But some say it is not hot enough while other say it is just right.

I guess it pretty much depends on your definition of the right temperature. So far, I have no complain on this.

The Best Personal Brewer (Electric)

Coffee has become part of modern lifestlye. Brew quality aside, look and appearance are what separate the best from mediocre coffee machines.

The personal brewer from Black & Decker we talked about earlier is great but it does not make an espresso. To be called espresso, the brewing process requires a pressure of at least 9 bar to be passed through the coffee grounds.

Espresso sounds cool but it is not for everyone. Acidity level is higher in espresso compared to that produced using the drip method. If you always feel your coffee is not friendly to your stomach, this could be the reason.

If you are an espresso guy and does not brew more than two cups at one go, Hamilton Beach 49981 is what you want to go for.

With its stainless steel material, the black and silver color combination of this maker is highly pleasing to the eyes.

This single serve coffee station from Hamilton Beach received much praise for its sleek design and close to hassle-free cleaning. (Go to Starbucks or Dunkin if you want completely hassle-free)

The other great thing about this sleek coffee machine is the flexibile mounting if you need to make different cup sizes. You can fit in 7-inch cup. Or place the tray and you fit in 4 1/4-inch cup.

Click to find out how these personal brewers fare against other great brewers

The Best Mass Brewer (Manual)

When I say mass, I liberally refer to the 8-cup size. It is the most reasonable size for most people (I think). Who on earth brew for more than a party of 8?

My winner for this category goes to the peerless Chemex coffee maker. The biggest reason for my pick is its timeless and flawless shape and design. Such is the perfection that the Illinois Institute of Technology decided to award it as among the 100 best designed items ever in modern times.

The only consideration against Chemex coffee maker is the pure glass construction. If you are sloppy (just like me), the wise advice is not to go for it. Unless you vouch that you will change to be a less sloppy guy. If you have young kids in the house and often meddle with your appliance, this is not the wisest choice either.

All things said, this is a very simple and classic coffee maker. No gimmicks. No useless features. You are simply paying for its beauty. Place a filter. Dump your coffee grounds. Pour hot water. That is it.

The Best Mass Brewer (Electric)

If the beautiful Chemex is not suitable for you (whether it is because you are sloppy or have young kids or simply dislike the manual way) and you still need large capacity brewer, Bonavita BV1800 is your best bet.

The name Bonavita itself is an assurance of quality. It is a produce of German engineering works (German engineers are known for their low tolerance against lousy quality products). If this does not convince you, this 8-cup brewer has bagged certification from Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA).

If you are not convinced, I would be interested to hear what it takes to convince you.

The only drawback of this brewer is the 1400-watt power consumption. It is a monster. I’m sure it will have notable impact on your monthly utility bill, especially if you use it day in day out, every single day.

It is Showtime

You now have the creme de la creme of coffee makers. Ask yourself what you need in a coffee maker. What serving size do you need? Do you have fragility concern? Will you use it every day? What level of maintenance are you willing to dedicate?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you know what your pick should be.

It’s time to get my cup of coffee now! Share your thought on whether you agree or disagree with my picks. Tell me what you think of my taste.


  1. Hello, im looking for a big coffee machines that we can put in the office but im looking for a cheap one because at a public place they wont take a good care of it.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Ali,

      That is indeed a very important consideration when one is making his / her coffee maker selection. There is no point getting an expensive brewer when you know it is not going to be taken care of.

      For cheaper alternative, Mr. Coffee coffee makers are what you want to be looking at. I’m sure you can find lots of good options there.

      – ethan

  2. I love coffee, but productivity should not be the reason. We should aim to reduce productivity. The world already produces far too much.

  3. Looking for a great coffee maker, drip style. I have gone through perhaps 6-7 ranging from every Cuisinart, to Bunn, etc. It seems none of them can make a really hot cup of coffee, or cant keep it hot. Im a caffeine addict, and love coffee…but the single serving cups are out of the question at an average of $.40 a cup.

    Suggestion on one that will brew it hot, and keep it hot?

    • Hi,

      If you’re looking at one that brews at close to the ideal temperature (95°C or 205°F), Bonavita will be the first recommendation. The second will be Technivorm Moccamaster but it cost twice as much.

      As to whether it will ‘keep it hot’, it is a question that is rather subjective. It depends on how long you want your coffee to be kept hot. The Bonavita lets you choose from 2 different options – BV1800 (with glass carafe and keep warm plate) and BV1800TH (with thermal carafe).

      It depends on which you prefer. The choice is yours.

      – ethan

  4. Other than the esthetics, Is there any difference between the Chemex and the Mellita?

  5. I have a drip coffee maker I hate. I think it is a Mr. Coffee that I drag out when my Dad comes to stay for awhile. He does not like my coffee press.

    I need a new electric drip machine for my Dad and I am thinking that it was the plastic interior of the Mr. Coffee machine that was destroying the coffee flavor.

    I ‘m liking the look of the Zojirushi. Any issue with the plastic container or flavor?


    • Hi Patty,

      I personally have high regard for Zojirushi. I think they generally make great products and it is no exception with their coffee makers. As far as my experience goes, I don’t have any issue with the plastic flavor contamination.

      But when it comes to being the best, Bonavita is certainly the one to beat. Mr. Coffee, on the other hand, has always been known for their no-frill offering. It is the best if you have limited budget. Otherwise, you know what your options are.

      – ethan

    • Why not just buy what he likes. Another Mr. Coffee?

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