Best Drip Coffee Maker: Automatic Drip Brewing at Home
Without a doubt, one of the more popular ways to brew coffee at home is by using a drip coffee maker. These automatic coffee brewers are found in almost every home around the globe and are also a favorite in more commercial settings such as restaurants and company staff canteens, and for a good reason. The best drip coffee makers are pretty cheap with some brewers costing under $50, and they are also simple to operate and are a relatively hands-free way of making a decent tasting cup of coffee at home or in the workplace.
In this article, I have reviewed and scoured through some of the best drip coffee makers I could get my hands on. All of these drip coffee brewers are ones I have personally used or have been recommended to me by friends and colleagues during my research for this drip coffee maker review article. So rest assured that all of the drip coffee makers below have passed the scrutiny of various coffee lovers that are on my personal Christmas card list.
Not All Drip Coffee Makers Are Equal
Before I dive in head first, I feel it’s important to quickly touch on the fact that not all automatic drip coffee makers are equal. Many of the best drip coffee makers come with varying features, settings, and overall designs. Even though these drip coffee brewers try and stay within the same design specification; featuring a glass carafe and water reservoir, there are some that like to “break the mold” and make theirs stand out from the competition.
In most cases, you don’t need any extra bells and whistles when it comes to buying the best drip coffee maker, as long as it has the basics you should be good to go. Features such as morning wake-up timers, and pause-and-serve settings might sound desirable, but I have found that they are often not used to their fullest.
Which Drip Coffee Makers Do I Recommend?
What makes a good drip coffee maker (in my opinion) is a brewer that can make a great tasting cup of coffee with little to no hassle. If you want to brew extravagant types of coffee, you can opt for a different kind of coffee machine that's designed for making specialty coffees. The best drip coffee maker aims to do one thing, make a simple "Americano style" coffee (minus the headaches).
Cuisinart Brew Central 12-Cup (DCC-1200)
The first drip coffee maker that I feel deserves a mention is the Cuisinart Brew Central DCC-1200. This is a great budget friendly drip coffee maker by Cuisinart that brews up to 12 cups of great tasting strong coffee. I have used two other machines in the past from Cuisinart (the Cuisinart DCC-2650 and the Cuisinart DCC-3200), and they have both served their purpose.
However, I prefer the Cuisinart Brew Central DCC-1200 over the other two because the coffee has very little (if no) contact with the plastic of the machine which can impair the taste. Also, I like the more commercial looks of the Cuisinart Brew Central DCC-1200 with its primitive flick switches and controls.
Some of the notable features on the Cuisinart Brew Central DCC-1200 are the shower-head that helps to distribute water over your ground coffee evenly. This helps to reduce the temperature loss when the water passes over and through your ground coffee.
This drip coffee maker also has a charcoal water filter that helps to filter out bad tastes and odors from your water; this is especially beneficial if you use tap water. The charcoal filter can also contribute to eliminating calcium and chlorine from the water you use. The filter basket comes with a permanent filter in the box (I removed that and replaced it with a gold tone filter like this but paper filters can be used if you prefer to use those instead. Make sure to check out my article Permanent Coffee Filter vs. Paper if you are unsure of each type.
There are various other settings such as auto off and on, brew pause feature, and a scratch resistant heating plate along with a self-cleaning function which I find works pretty well. (make sure to check out my full Cuisinart Brew Central review for all of the features and functions).
Bonavita 8-Cup Carafe Coffee Brewer (BV1900TS)
The Bonavita drip coffee maker has been recommended to me by a colleague; she swears that it brews the best tasting coffee she’s ever made at home. After the recommendation, I went digging a little further, and it seems like she isn’t the only one that loves this coffee maker, even the New York Times has given it their thumbs up in their best drip coffee maker reviews.
Let’s take a closer look at the Bonavita 8-Cup Carafe Coffee Brewer. One of the features that were mentioned to me about the Bonavita drip coffee maker was the fact that the thermal carafe never burns the coffee and is excellent at keeping the brewed coffee scalding hot from breakfast all the way through to late afternoon. This makes it a great option for small offices or for those of you who love a regular coffee fix throughout the day.
Unlike the above Brew Central that use classic cone-shaped filters, the Bonavita drip coffee maker uses a flat-bottomed filter basket like this one. This larger basket supposedly allows for a better saturation of the ground coffee, which ultimately should lead to a better tasting brew. One of the downsides with the Bonavita 8-Cup Carafe Coffee Brewer is the fact that the water reservoir cannot be removed, this shouldn’t become an issue, but if you ever need to give it a good clean, you may struggle.
The Bonavita 8-Cup Carafe Coffee Brewer also comes with some other notable features such as a simple one-touch brew button which includes an auto-off function, a pre-infusion mode which showers the freshly ground coffee to help with degassing before your full brew commences (this would only really be beneficial if you grind your fresh coffee before each brew).
BUNN Velocity Brew Home Coffee Brewer (GRB)
I grew up around BUNN coffee makers when I was a kid, my father owned a restaurant, and there was always a BUNN coffee maker with a carafe full of fresh coffee sitting in the restaurant. They have come a long way in the past 30+ years and have also gained popularity in home kitchens as well as still being a favorite in commercial settings.
The BUNN GRB Velocity Brew 10-cup home coffee brewer is a well-made, durable machine that shouldn’t be passed on by its look alone; this drip coffee maker means business. There are a handful of different models in this BUNN range, the GRB (which is the one I like), the GRW which is the 'white' version of this, and the next generation BXB which uses a more rounded silver water tank reservoir.
The BUNN drip coffee maker is super easy to use, simply flick a switch, grab your milk and a cup and before you get back you’ll have a carafe full of strong tasting coffee waiting for you. I’m not lying to you when I say this BUNN only takes 3 minutes to make a full brew (it really does).
The BUNN GRB Velocity Brew 10-cup home coffee brewer also uses paper or a permanent basket type of filter. It does come supplied with a general purpose permanent filter, but I recommend that you swap that out and use a better quality Gold tone filter. I have found that many of the generic ones will not fit so make sure you buy the right one for this machine such as this BUNN GoldTone filter.
With the BUNN you can effortlessly brew from 4 to 10 cups, and like I said it really only take 3 minutes. Just like the above drip coffee makers, the BUNN uses a spray head system to evenly coat the coffee grounds for better tasting final brew. Some other notable features include; a durable glass carafe, a porcelain-coated warming plate (with an on/off light), and a stainless steel internal hot water tank (not plastic).
Zojirushi Fresh Brew Plus Coffee Maker (EC-YSC100)
This next best drip coffee maker has been recommended to me by a close friend who recently purchased this brewer as a replacement for an aging BUNN. His first words to me regarding his new toy was that it made one of the finest cups of coffee he had tasted from a home drip brewer and it was on a par with those made by a professional Barista. Ok, he might have been going a bit too far when he mentioned it tasting better than coffee made by a Barista, but I do get his point.
The design of the Zojirushi Fresh Brew Plus thermal carafe coffee maker is very similar to the above Bonavita and a first glance you could mistake then for being the same drip coffee machine. However, there are some subtle differences that keep them apart, let’s take a closer look.
Firstly, the water reservoir can be removed, unlike the fixed tank in the Bonavita drip coffee maker. This makes it a lot easier for deep cleaning and filling up with water a lot easier (plus it has an excellent built-in handle). The thermal carafe keeps the coffee hot for hours, even without the heating plate the coffee is piping hot due to the 10-cup thermos carafe.
Cleaning the Zojirushi Fresh Brew Plus is also pretty easy, and all that is needed is the automated clean cycle initiating and then let it do its thing. You can use both permanent and paper filters with this Zojirushi, and I have been told that any generic filters will work so you aren’t tied in with buying overpriced branded filters.
For a somewhat “new boy” on the block it seems like the Zojirushi Fresh Brew Plus thermal carafe coffee maker is doing a great job and is coming out on top in many other best drip coffee maker reviews, however, only time will tell if its performance can keep up with the above Bonavita.