Best Automatic Drip Makers
Other than espresso, our favorite way to make coffee daily is with a pour-over brewer, taking a little extra time and attention to craft a morning cup of life-giving elixir with intention. However, we also realize that for most people, mornings are a chaotic event. Rushing to get kids dressed and ready for school, hurrying out the door to get to work, or just plain trying to get stuff done, only some have all the time in the world to hand brew a cup of coffee.
The remaining options are bleak for those on the go: either concede to market forces and purchase a wasteful pod brewer, or you’ve got to stop at the nearest coffee shop on your daily commute. The latter option is phenomenal, given you have the time. The last option is to use a good, old-fashioned coffee maker that helps free up your hands and make fresh coffee at home without compromising on brew quality or making an extra stop on your daily commute.
While we think that automatic coffee makers can brew a delicious cup, many of the brewers on the market just don’t have what it takes to get the job done.
Ditch the Consumer Coffee Maker
While consumer coffee makers such as Mr. Coffee and Cuisinart are ubiquitous, they come with their own issues that can result in less-than-ideal coffee. If you have made your morning cup with one of these brewers, odds are you’ve tasted coffee that wasn’t nearly as good as your local coffee shop – here’s why:
Coffee makers work by heating water with a heating element – similar to a toaster, a coiled wire gets hot as electricity passes through it. As the water is heated, it climbs up a plastic tube and then dispenses over the bed of coffee sitting below. Most brand-name coffee makers have a fairly cheap heating element—most are rated for 1,000 watts or lower, which fails to get water to the proper temperature for brewing. They also usually have cheap plastic parts on the inside, losing heat rapidly and failing to provide adequate insulation for the slurry of coffee grounds. Without sufficient water temperature and insulation, coffee can’t be adequately extracted.
How water is delivered over the coffee grounds can significantly impact the extraction. If the water doesn’t evenly cover and saturate the grounds, dry pockets can form, which will undoubtedly under-extract the coffee. Under-extraction means that not all of the coffee flavor was adequately dissolved from the coffee, which leads to watery coffee that can taste sour and unpleasant – no one wants that!
Investing in a Proper Automatic Coffee Brewer
Luckily, with the surge of interest in Specialty Coffee, a handful of manufacturers are producing great coffee brewers that ensure your coffee is extracted evenly throughout the entire brew phase and at the correct temperature.
What are the things that all of these brewers have in common? Good design and high-quality parts. One key contributing factor is limiting the amount of plastic. This helps build a more sturdy machine but also helps to insulate the water from the heating element to the shower head and keep the slurry warm during brewing. The design of the shower head or spout where the hot water is dispersed over the grounds can be the difference between a good and bad coffee maker. Aside from the internal design, aspects like how easy the carafe is to hold or how intuitive the interface of turning the brewer on can be critical elements. Lastly, designing a machine that follows function and form is equally important. With something that will live on your counter, you want an aesthetically pleasing coffee maker that might even be a conversation piece.
Let’s get into our three favorite coffee makers on the market today.
Pros: Affordable Price, Thermal carafe & heat shield, Good shower head design
Cons: More plastic parts than Technivorm or Ratio Eight
Our pick for the Best Value coffee maker is The Ratio Six. It is hands down the best value coffee maker on the market today. Engineered with the brewing precision of the Ratio Eight, the Ratio Six Coffee Maker offers the one-button convenience of its bigger sibling with a leaner form and lighter price. It’s a sturdy, reliable machine that looks good, is easy to use, and, most importantly, can brew really delicious coffee. This machine includes a 1,400-watt heating element that is more than sufficient to get the water hot enough for optimal extraction, uses BPA-free plastic components, and we love the thermal carafe, which keeps the coffee hot for a long time without needing to sit on a hot plate. As for versatility, the Ratio Six is also compatible with the Ratio Eight Thermal Carafe and Glass Carafe.
Pros: Thick Metal Body, Good Parts, Thermal Carafe
Cons: Shower head design requires some manual stirring for best results
Until recent years, the Technivorm Moccamaster has been the industry favorite for coffee brewers because it was the only decent home coffee maker available. Assembled by hand in the Netherlands, the Moccamaster beats the most mainstream coffee makers on build quality, having much more metal than plastic. It also has a 1,400-watt heater made of copper, which means the water gets to just over 200ºF, perfect for brewing. We like the thermal carafe model over the glass since it can keep coffee hot for well over an hour. It’s one of the best brewers available thanks to its great build quality, good design, and reliably delicious coffee.
The ‘Cadillac of Coffee Makers’
Pros: Beautiful Design, Made in USA, High Quality Parts
Cons: Price, Doesn’t come standard with a thermal carafe
Designed by Clive Coffee founder Mark Hellweg and hand-constructed in Portland, Oregon, the Ratio Eight coffee maker is the Cadillac of coffee makers. Made with precision-machined aluminum, borosilicate glass, and a selection of premium hardwoods, you can choose the right finish and wood color combination to match your kitchen. Since this coffee maker uses only the highest quality parts and is hand-assembled, this coffee maker comes with a bit of sticker shock at $565. For fans of the Eames Chair or Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, the Ratio Eight has a certain midcentury minimalism that makes it perhaps the most beautiful coffee maker we’ve ever seen. This machine also boasts a whopping 1,600-watt heating element and a simple one-touch interface that starts the brewing process. Considering that this is made in the USA, its parts blast its competitors out of the water, and its design is the perfect combination of function and form, it’s understandable why this machine would come with this steep price tag. Not to be outdone, the coffee this machine makes is delicious, and with a 30-second ‘Bloom’ stage, this brewer is arguably the closest to pour-over coffee we’ve had on an automatic brewer.
Next StepsNow that you're informed on what makes a better automatic coffee maker, it's time to make the investment in better tasting coffee—your taste buds will thank you! If you have any questions at all, reach out to us through chat on our website or give us a call at (888) 557-5320—our CX team would love to take care of all of your coffee needs.