Best Drip Coffee Makers in 2016
The Top 3 Drip Coffee Makers
#1 – Brazen Plus Coffee Brew SystemHolder of the highly prestigious Home Brewer certification, this is simply the best coffee drip maker there is. Exact temperature setting, pre-soaking for better taste and full programmability is all included, at a price which can’t be beaten. This one is for the coffee lovers.
#2 – Zojirushi EC-DAC50 Zutto 5-Cup Drip CoffeemakerLimited availability
If you are looking for a drip coffee maker at a lower price while still offering perfect quality, the Zojirushi EC-DAC50 might do the trick. It uses a combination of tricks to give you a tasty cup of coffee, as long as you don’t need more than 5 cups.
#3 – Bonavita BV1800SS 8-Cup Original Coffee BrewerInspired by the more expensive Moccamasters, the Bonavita makes excellent coffee. Even though it is a great machine, it has the same price as the Brazen Plus. But the latter has more features and programmability, making it a wiser choice.
As the most mainstream method of coffee preparation in the United States, the drip brewing landscape has remained static for the latter part of the 20th century. Since its proliferation in North America during the 1970s, drip brewer technology has remained largely unchanged. As such, dominant players in the drip brewer market (Hamilton Beach, Cuisinart, Bunn, Mr. Coffee, etc.) have historically offered near-identical brewers, distinguished only by their enclosure design and branding. Shopping for the best automatic drip coffee machine used to be a simple endeavor; they were all the same!
This technological stagnation is coming to an end. With an increased availability of foreign made machines, new technological innovations, and the resulting burst of competition, the drip brewer market is seeing a renaissance.Tried-and-true no longer constitutes the best choice; the most familiar brands are no longer the most reliable. Lagging behind agile new competitors, even multi-billion dollar behemoths Hamilton Beach and Cuisinart are being forced to innovate and expand their product lines.
With this incredible expansion of choice, shopping for a new automatic drip machine can be confusing. Distinguishing real innovations from gimmicks, meaningful advantages from empty marketing-points, and great values from second-rate offerings can become a full-time research project.
This article aims to simplify your search.
Outlining the best automatic drip coffee makers available in 2016, we will cut through the fat and focus on what matters: performance, quality, convenience, and value. Some of these devices are the pinnacles of drip brewer innovation, while others are retro machines, so technically excellent that they have stood the test of time; some are cheap, and some are expensive; some simple, some complex.
From the lowliest entry-level devices, to the highest fidelity premium brewers, this list has them all. And they all have a single thing in common: they are amongst the best coffee machines in their class. Read on for the best drip coffee maker of 2016. If you want the best of the best, be sure to check out our Top 5 High End Coffee Maker list as well.
Table of Contents
- #1 – Brazen Plus Coffee Brew System
- #2 – Zojirushi EC-DAC50 Zutto 5-Cup Drip Coffeemaker
- #3 – Bonavita BV1800SS 8-Cup Original Coffee Brewer, Stainless Steel
- #4 – Bonavita BV1800 8-Cup Coffee Maker with Glass Carafe
- #5 – Technivorm-Moccamaster KBT 10-Cup Coffee Brewer with Thermal Carafe
- #6 – Cuisinart DCC-2600 Brew Central 14-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker with Glass Carafe
- #7 – Cuisinart DGB-700BC Grind-and-Brew 12-Cup Automatic Coffeemaker
- #8 – Cuisinart DCC-2650 Brew Central 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker
- #9 – Cuisinart DCC-3000 Coffee-on-Demand 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker
- #10 – Hamilton Beach Single Serve Coffee Brewer and Full Pot Coffee Maker, 2-Way (49980A)
#1 – Brazen Plus Coffee Brew SystemBrazen Plus Coffee Brew System, is simply in a class of its own.
One of a mere handful of brewers holding SCAA’s highly prestigious Home Brewer certification, the Brazen Plus stands in the upper echelon of drip machines. Previously recognizing the likes of Bonavita and Technivorm, SCAA’s certification has incredibly stringent benchmarks; coffee volume, brewing time, brewing temperature, uniformity of extraction, consistency, and beverage clarity are all strictly monitored. And according to the experts, the Brazen Plus stands alongside the Moccamaster on all the vital metrics. That is just the start, however.
For a long time now, espresso experts have recognized that the difference of a single degree in brew temperature can have a significant impact on the expression of a coffee’s flavor. Slightly higher, and a heavier body is achieved. Slightly lower, and a coffee’s brightness takes center stage. Behmor is the first drip machine manufacturer to take this into account.
Unlike the fluctuating brew temperature found on Technivorm and Bonavita machines, which results in inconsistent coffee flavor between batches, the Brazen Plus gives you full control. Simply set a temperature between 195° and 205° F, and the Brazen Plus will maintain it throughout the brew cycle with incredible precision.
Brazen Plus’s presoak functionality is another bit of wisdom borrowed from the espresso world. By soaking your coffee grinds in water prior to brewing, the Brazen Plus achieves a significantly more uniform coffee extraction.
Behmor’s final innovation is Direct Brew, which allows you to use the machine’s incredibly precise boiler in conjunction with almost any pour-over brewer. You can also use the boiler to brew a temperature-controlled cup of tea, which yields the same benefits of perfect extraction and full flavor.
Combine these innovations with the Brazen’s more “standard” features (e.g. full programmability), and you get the most powerful and convenient high-end drip brewer available.
For the time being, none of the big names in coffee brewing have an answer to Behmor’s Brazen Plus. It is simply the best drip coffee maker available.
#2 – Zojirushi EC-DAC50 Zutto 5-Cup Drip CoffeemakerTechnivorm and Bonavita.
The Zutto’s sleek, compact design is a testament to the engineering genius at Zojirushi; that such a tiny frame could hide such raw power is simply unbelievable.
The EC-DAC50 is the smallest coffee machine on the market to achieve the ideal brewing temperature of 205° F. This enormous feat is accomplished partly in due to the Zutto’s incredibly powerful boiler, and partly in due to ingenious engineering.
A simple solution to an array of common brewer issues, Zojirushi has combined its carafe and filter basket into a single item. Along with completely eliminating leaks, this ingenious carafe design maximizes heat retention by eliminating the need for elaborate tubing, showerheads, and brew-through lids. The result is a truly fantastic, perfectly extracted cup of coffee, sans leaks.
As a small bonus, the Zojirushi EC-DAC50 also includes an auto-shutoff hotplate to keep your coffee warm. But given its tiny 5-cup brew capacity, it is doubtful that you will ever take full advantage of this feature.
There are two downsides keeping the Zutto from the #1 spot.
The first downside is a common manufacturing defect. Some customers have reported needing to pre-heat their Zutto in order to reach ideal brewing temperatures. Achieved by running half a pot of water through the boiler prior to brewing, this makeshift solution can significantly hinder Zutto’s brew time.
The second downside is subpar build quality. While the Zutto’s plastic enclosure is solid, its much-lauded carafe is incredibly fragile. Stemming from thin glass and a poor handle connection, this issue can easily result in a cracked or shattered carafe.
At such a low price point, however, both issues are easily forgiven.
Just shy of the #1 spot, the Zutto is an incredible little machine any way you spin it. While few drip machines can compete with Technivorm in quality of brewed coffee. Only one can do it for under $100: Zojirushi’s Zutto.
Bonavita’s BV1800SS seems to be a more direct assault on Technivorm’s Moccamaster; all meaningful design distinctions between the original BV1800 and the Moccamaster have been bridged on this version of Bonavita’s flagship brewer.
While the original BV1800 used a glass carafe in conjunction with a warming plate, the BV1800SS takes Technivorm’s minimalistic approach. The hot plate has been removed, and the glass carafe has been replaced with a stainless steel thermal vacuum carafe. Even the machine’s aesthetic more closely resembles the Moccamaster, with a slimmer silhouette, more consistent finishes, and a black filter basket.
In taking the Technivorm approach to simplicity, Bonavita’s BV1800SS is a marked improvement over the original. It is no accident that high-end brewers avoid implementing hot plates into their designs. Beyond their questionable necessity, hot plates are notorious for destroying the flavor of coffee. This is the reason that most cafés dump their coffee every 30 minutes; coffee left on a heating element stales quickly, turning bitter and flat. In foregoing the hotplate, the BV1800SS practically ensures that every cup of coffee you drink is top-notch.
The core components of the BV1800 remain untouched on the BV1800SS. It features the same fantastic 1400-watt boiler, the same large showerhead, and the same disappointing 8-cup brew volume.
Despite being $10 pricier than the original model, the BV1800SS is a superior value—if only by virtue of its fantastic stainless steel thermal carafe. The BV1800SS is the closest you will come to a Technivorm-styled brewer without shelling out $300. Be sure to have a look at our BV1900TS review as well, along with the companion Bonavita vs. Technivorm battle.
Technivorm, Bonavita usurped the giant via simple economics; their machines are smaller, faster, stronger, and cheaper. Taking on the Moccamaster’s minimalistic no-frills approach to high-end brewing, Bonavita’s BV1800 meets all the same technical benchmarks at half the price.
Shamelessly reproducing the Moccamaster’s retro aesthetic, Bonavita’s flagship BV1800 has several notable technical advantages over its inspiration.
First and foremost, the BV1800’s 1400 watt boiler effortlessly achieves the ideal temperature range of 200° – 205° F, and it does so faster than the Moccamaster. The result is a fantastic cup of coffee in less time.
Secondly, the BV1800’s showerhead is a marked improvement over the Moccamaster’s rectangular spray nozzle. Combining a rounded design with more spray holes, the BV1800’s showerhead provides superior grinds saturation and more uniform coffee extraction than the competition.
Lastly, the Bonavita BV1800 includes a feature conspicuously missing from most high-end brewers: a warming plate. This may be a welcome convenience, especially if you enjoy your coffee with milk or cream. If you want a delicious cup of black coffee, however, this feature is a double-edged sword. Coffee that is heated post-brew quickly loses its flavor, with degradation starting as early as 15 minutes after the completion of a brew cycle. Heat your coffee for more than an hour, and bitterness destroys whatever flavor complexity existed. It is perhaps for this reason that most high-end machines opt for a thermal carafe, rather than a heating plate.
In order to achieve such a competitive price-point, Bonavita has invariably made a few sacrifices. While the Moccamaster is engineered and assembled in the Netherlands, the Bonavita BV1800 is made in China. This has obvious implications on build quality; the BV1800’s lids and hinges are flimsy and weak, giving way to the slightest of pressure.
Another notable shortcoming, the BV1800’s brews 30% less coffee per batch when compared to the Moccamaster. For families who brew large batches and entertain coffee-drinking guests, this is a potential deal-breaker.
Lastly, like Technivorm, Bonavita’s no-frills approach to coffee brewing has left it at a significant disadvantage against newcomer Behmor. In comparison to the Brazen Plus coffee maker, the BV1800 appears feature starved—no programmability, no temperature control, and no manual calibration.
Despite any shortcomings, for less than $150, the Bonavita BV1800 provides one of the best values in high-end brewers. It also makes an excellent cup of coffee.
#5 – Technivorm-Moccamaster KBT 10-Cup Coffee Brewer with Thermal CarafeTechnivorm’s Moccamaster is the standard to which all other high-end brewers are compared.
Opting for simplicity and reliability, the Moccamaster is a little short on features. With an interface that consists of a single “on” button, the Moccamaster has only one function: to brew the best drip coffee you have ever tasted. This, coffee experts agree, is achieved handily.
Next to bean quality and grind freshness, brew temperature is the single most important consideration for a great tasting cup of coffee. An issue plaguing the vast majority of drip machines on the market, subpar brewing temperature produces bland, under-flavored, under-extracted coffee. To unlock the full richness and subtlety of coffee flavor, chemistry dictates that your grinds should be steeped at a temperature range of 195° – 205° F. Although many of the aforementioned machines are capable of heating water to this range, cheap insulation materials and subpar engineering result in poor heat retention; by the time the water hits your grinds, it will have lost up to 30° of heat.
This is where the Moccamaster excels.
Combining a powerful 1000 watt dual-coil boiler, glass insulation for hot water transport, and an excellent dispersion showerhead, the Moccamaster achieves a perfect brew temperature of 200° – 205° F. This, above all else, is the Moccamaster’s greatest virtue, and the reason it has reigned in the high-end dripper segment for decades.
The Moccamaster is no longer the only reliable way to achieve the perfect brew temperature, however. Competitors like Bonavita have severely undercut Technivorm, selling more powerful machines for significantly less. Innovators like Behmor have reimagined high-end drip machines, improving on user experience, convenience, and surprisingly, quality of brew.
Despite losing its top spot, the Moccamaster is still a fantastic machine. Built to stand the test of time, this sleek and powerful machine is still worth every penny.
#6 – Cuisinart DCC-2600 Brew Central 14-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker with Glass CarafeCuisinart DCC-2600 is a technologically inferior machine—if only by virtue of its brewing speed. Yet, somewhat paradoxically, the older, slower machine is easier to recommend to shoppers. The reason is price. While the DCC-2650 must be compared to other brewers in the $100+ category, the older DCC-2600 is king of the $70 range. It does nothing new, but it is sturdy, reliable, and attractive. It just works.
Beyond brew speed, the only other difference between the two Brew Central SKUs is batch size. Whereas the DCC-2650 opted for a standard 12-cup brew volume, the older DCC-2600 offers the largest brew volume in its class, at 14-cups. Though most people won’t pay any mind, people who regularly entertain large parties of coffee-drinking guests will appreciate the additional 300 mL of brewing volume.
For better or worse, all other features between the two SKUs are identical. Full programmability is as convenient as ever, cutting the hassle of brewing coffee out of your morning routine; the variable temperature hot plate will keep your coffee just as hot, for just as long; the identical showerhead nozzle will saturate your grinds just as uniformly; the “Clean” feature is just as simple and effective at decalcifying the reservoirs; the boiler will brew your coffee at the same subpar 175° F; and the “bold strength” feature is just as adept at destroying your coffee’s flavor.
The similarities don’t stop there.
Cuisinart’s DCC-2600 also suffers from the same exact build issues as the newer DCC-2650. Given the price disparity, however, the older machine can be pardoned on this account; you would be hard-pressed to find a machine under $100 that didn’t have the same shortcomings.
As is always the case, the bottom line is price. Just barely above $70, the Cuisinart DCC-2600 is easily the sturdiest and most reliable brewer in the mid-range.
#7 – Cuisinart DGB-700BC Grind-and-Brew 12-Cup Automatic CoffeemakerCuisinart’s DGB-700BC is a seemingly standard entry to the over-saturated segment of products. But while it does nothing novel or innovative, the Cuisinart Grind-and-Brew stands head and shoulders above the competition in performance, build quality, and reliability. For this reason, the machine finds itself amongst the best automatic drip coffee machines available. It is in fact the best coffee maker with grinder.
Boasting the same standard features found on other mid-range machines, the Cuisinart DGB-700BC offers the added convenience of a built-in conical burr grinder. Grinding at 3 coarseness levels (marked mild, medium, and bold), the DGB-700BC’s built-in grinder produces surprisingly uniform, fresh grinds for every batch you brew. The result is a great cup of coffee that is fresh, smooth, and complex.
Combining the DGB-700BC’s grinding functionality with programmable features yields an incredibly convenient way to brew the freshest coffee. Instead of having to fill a filter with ground coffee at night, which oxidizes and degrades the subtle aromatics of your coffee, the Cuisinart Grind-and-Brew automatically grinds your beans immediately prior to brewing. As long as there are beans in its hopper, water in its reservoir, and a clean filter in its basket, the DGB-700BC will take care of everything.
Another (often over-looked) advantage of the built-in grinder is true strength selection. While other machines over-extract coffee to achieve a “bold” brew, the Cuisinart Grind-and-Brew increases grind quantity and fineness to achieve a true boldness.
With full programmability, a decent conical burr grinder, and a sturdy build, the Cuisinart Grind-and-Brew is one of the best mid-range coffee machines available. While it is significantly pricier than standard coffee brewers, it offers an incredibly convenient method of drinking truly fresh coffee.
#8 – Cuisinart DCC-2650 Brew Central 12-Cup Programmable CoffeemakerCuisinart Extreme Brew DCC-2650 goes back to the mid-range basics. Nearly identical to its preceding DCC-2600, the DCC-2650 boasts one major improvement: brew speed. Cutting its predecessors brew time by more than half, the Cuisinart DCC-2650 is one of the quickest brewers available.
Cuisinart’s only real innovation for this SKU, the aforementioned Extreme Brew technology, results in brew times of 6 minutes or shorter. Only a handful of machines can compete with this speed, with even fewer from the mid-range category. In all other respects, however, the Cuisinart DCC-2650 is a fairly standard machine.
The Cuisinart DCC-2650 features standard programmability (it is #1 on our Top 5 programmable coffee makers). Input the hours and minutes of your choosing, and the machine will start a brew cycle at the specified time. While fairly common for mid-range brewers, the convenience of waking up to a fresh batch of coffee cannot be overstated.
Another notable convenience, the Cuisinart DCC-2650 includes a variable temperature warming plate. Keeping your coffee hot for hours, the hot plate temperature can be adjusted in 3 increments: low, medium, and high. The first setting is reserved for those who enjoy their coffee black, with the latter two being ideal for coffee with cold milk.
The DCC-2650’s last notable feature is its “Clean” functionality, which automatically decalcifies the machine’s interior for easy maintenance.
While the Cuisinart DCC-2650 struggles with brew temperature (maxing out at about 175° F), its excellent showerhead design ensures uniform grinds extraction. The result may not be as delicious as that of a Technivorm, but it is more than serviceable.
Marred by several build quality issues, the DCC-2650 is also a little pricier than it should be. The issues are minor, however, and can be forgiven if brew speed is your main consideration in purchasing a drip machine.
#9 – Cuisinart DCC-3000 Coffee-on-Demand 12-Cup Programmable CoffeemakerHamilton Beach at #10, the Cuisinart Coffee-on-Demand takes a vastly different approach to the problem. Borrowing elements from the coffee dispensers found in convenience stores and gas stations across the globe, Cuisinart has built arguably the most convenient home batch-brewer available anywhere.
Instead of brewing into a standard carafe, the Cuisinart Coffee-on-Demand features an internal coffee reservoir. Using a simple pedal-styled actuator on the front of the machine, you can dispense a single cup of coffee at a time. The rest of the coffee remains inside the machine, heated to an optimal temperature, ready to be poured at a moment’s notice. Although this feature isn’t new to commercial environments, it is a game changer for home brewing. No fussing with carafes or filters every time you thirst for a cup of coffee—just push down on the actuator and enjoy your coffee.
On top of the standard mid-range features (full programmability, post-brew heating, automatic shutoff, etc.), the Cuisinart DCC-333 Coffee-on-Demand boasts a few other minor advantages. Firstly, it brews at a slightly higher temperature (190° F) than the lackluster 170° F found on similar machines. Secondly, it has an incredibly convenient “Clean” function, which makes maintenance quick and easy. Lastly, its showerhead, the component that disperses hot water over your coffee grinds, is vastly superior to machines in the same range.
The bottom line is this: the Cuisinart DCC-3000 Coffee-on-Demand brews a great cup of coffee, and it does so an incredibly convenient manner. Although it suffers from all the same build quality issues synonymous with products of its range, it offers a fantastic value to the consumer.
#10 – Hamilton Beach Single Serve Coffee Brewer and Full Pot Coffee Maker, 2-Way (49980A)Hamilton Beach 2-Way Flexbrew Coffeemaker may seem like an anomaly. But even with countless complaints of build issues, leaks, and malfunctions, this mid-range machine is deserving of some praise.
Quality assurance for similarly priced brewers is notoriously poor, and the Flexbrew does little to distance itself from the pack in that regard. Where it shines, however, is in its feature list. On top of the standard features synonymous with mid-range brewers—such as programmability, strength controls, and a heating plate—the Flexbrew offers an added convenience.
Inside the device’s bulky enclosure sit two separate brewers, one for standard 12-cup batch brewing, and the other for single-serve brewing.
It is easy to dismiss the dual-brewing functionality of the Flexbrew as a gimmick. Unlike an endless series of truly gimmicky devices from Hamilton Beach, however, the Flexbrew is remarkably convenient. Eliminating the need to purchase a secondary brewer (such as a Keurig or Nespresso) for single-serve coffee, Hamilton Beach has solved a common customer pain-point. Brewing a single cup of coffee in a drip machine is annoying, inefficient, and time-consuming. This isn’t so with the Hamilton Beach Flexbrew.
If you recognize the Hamilton Beach Flexbrew for what it is, two machines for the price of one, its value becomes obvious. Its build may be subpar, and its coffee may be lacking, but it is significantly more economical than purchasing a batch brewer and a single-serve brewer of similar quality. With Keurig single-serve machines fetching upwards of $100, the Hamilton Beach 2-Way Flexbrew Coffeemaker is a much more sensible purchase. Besides, it brews a decent cup of coffee.