The Best Coffee Maker

After putting in 41 hours to do research and interview experts over the past two years and brewing hundreds of cups of coffee in 12 machines, we think the OXO On 9-Cup Coffee Maker is the best. The OXO makes better-tasting coffee than the vast majority of drip coffee makers, and it’s much easier to use than the other high-end machines we tested.

Last Updated: February 8, 2016
After pitting our former picks against four new contenders in a blind tasting with the roasting team from Lofted Coffee, we have chosen the OXO On 9-Cup Coffee Maker as our new pick for the best coffee maker. If the OXO is unavailable, we recommend the Bonavita BV1900TS, which actually won in our panel’s taste tests (if the best flavor is a priority), but it isn’t as easy to use as our new top pick. If you have more than two to three coffee or tea drinkers in your household, we recommend OXO’s On 12-Cup Coffee Brewing System, which is slow but has a separate kettle that lets you save water for making tea.
Expand Most Recent Updates
January 20, 2016: After further day-to-day usage testing combined with our taste-testing impressions, we have decided to switch our top pick to the OXO On 9-cup Coffee Maker. It's much easier to use than the Bonavita BV1900TS, which will become our runner-up pick. The Bonavita fared slightly better in taste testing, but the OXO’s superior carafe and its similarity to a traditional coffee maker make it much easier to live with. We are currently working on an update to this guide.
December 9, 2015: We just completed a new round of testing and the BV 1900TS remains our top pick for most people due to its even extraction profile, simple operation, and quick performance. We will be updating this guide with some new alternate picks in early January.
December 2, 2015: We have added the OXO On (formerly the OXO Barista) to our What To Look Forward To section. The OXO On is a new model out this year, available with 9 or 12 cups of capacity, that we are about to begin testing. The 12-cup model costs a bit more than our current top pick but has been decently reviewed by both CNET and Gear Patrol. The 9-cup model is cheaper, and we're interested to see what testing reveals.
November 6, 2015: Added long-term testing notes for both our main pick and runner-up.
October 27, 2015: After testing it ourselves, we've added the Bonavita BV-1900TD, a more powerful, programmable version of our main pick, as a recommendation if you want to be able to program your coffee maker and don't mind spending more.
June 10, 2015: Updated to note that Consumer Reports dropped its recommendation of Mr. Coffee after re-testing.
May 15, 2015: After some feedback from readers and some of our own editors, we've updated the guide to note that you can't pour from the carafe without first putting the lid on.
April 27, 2015: After two months surveying readers, interviewing experts, researching coffee makers, and testing with a 10-person tasting panel, the $190 Bonavita BV1900TS is still the best. Its brew is about 90 percent as good as pour-over every single time you use it, but the process takes much less time and patience. Plus, it has a dead-simple one-button interface.
April 6, 2015: Our favorite coffee maker is finally back in stock. You can order it here.
March 16, 2015: Our pick is currently out of stock, but you can pre-order it now on Sur La Table for shipment beginning April 10. If you can't wait and need a new coffee maker sooner than that, you should pick up our runner-up, which is just the older version of our main pick.
OXO On 9 Cup Coffee Maker
Expect great-tasting coffee from a machine that’s easy to use and clean. It brews a 1-liter pot in under 7 minutes.

The OXO On proves that good coffee and good features don’t have to be mutually exclusive. While our tasting panel, which included the roasting team from Lofted Coffee, slightly preferred the coffee made with our old pick, the Bonavita 1900TS, they felt that the brew from the OXO 9-Cup came very close. What put the OXO over the top is how easy it is to use. Smart features like a timer that lets you know how old the coffee is, a scheduler for auto brewing in the morning, and a valve that lets you pour from the carafe before the brewing cycle is complete make the OXO more convenient than the competition.

Also great
Bonavita BV1900TS
It won over our tasting panel again, but it is held back by a poor carafe and a design that departs intuitively from most coffee makers.

If you want the best-tasting pot of machine-brewed coffee, usability be damned, the Bonavita BV1900TS is the coffee maker for you. In two separate rounds of tests with different panels, tasters praised coffee made with this machine for its overall flavor and balance—it also came the closest to achieving an ideal “total dissolved solids” reading in our controlled testing. It’s super fast too, taking just 5 minutes, 20 seconds to brew a liter of coffee, including a pre-infusion period. However, it’s held back by a drippy and clunky carafe that had the worst thermal retention out of all the machines we tested. The Bonavita’s unusual design lacks some of the conveniences that even the cheapest coffee makers have—its open cone filter doesn’t attach to the machine, which can get messy, and brewing can’t be paused to pour a cup. We think most people will have a better experience with the OXO out of the box.

Also great
OXO On 12-Cup Coffee Brewing System
This large-capacity machine is slow to brew, but has a separate kettle that lets you save some water for making tea.

If you have more than two to three coffee drinkers in your household, or if you have a split between coffee and tea people, look into OXO’s On 12-Cup Coffee Brewing System. Instead of heating water out of the reservoir as it goes, the 12-Cup uses a removable kettle that heats all the water to the desired brewing temperature before brewing begins. You can also set aside a portion of its 1.8-liter capacity for tea. However, this larger coffee maker is also slow, taking nearly 8½ minutes to brew a liter of coffee, and huge at 14.7 inches by 7.5 inches, taking up almost as much counter space as a separate kettle and coffee maker setup. As a result, we wouldn’t recommend it unless you actually need the larger capacity or tea-making ability.

Table of contents

Why you should trust us

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One of Lofted Coffee’s roasters prepares the pour-over control sample using the Kalita Wave. Photo: Michael Hession

We started our search by talking to experts: Humberto Ricardo, the owner of the renowned Manhattan coffee shop Third Rail Coffee; barista Carlos Morales, who just won third place in the Northeast Brewers Cup Championship; and Mark Hellweg, who founded and runs the speciality coffee accessory company Clive Coffee (which recently developed and released a high-end coffee maker of its own design). For our blind taste test, we enlisted the help of Aric Carroll, Tobin Polk, and Lance Schnorenberg, the roasters from Brooklyn-based Lofted Coffee. They provided us with their expert opinions about every cup of coffee each machine made. Their perspective was particularly useful because they knew exactly how the coffee was supposed to taste. I also chatted with pretty much every barista I encountered at shops to get their perspectives.

Prior to becoming a reporter, I worked in and around the coffee industry for more than six years as a barista on both coasts. I received training in coffee-making technique from Stumptown Coffee Roasters and as a National Barista Championship finalist.

How we picked

Many coffee makers produce terrible coffee because they don’t heat water to the right temperature, or they over- or under-steep grounds, or they don’t use the right water-to-bean ratio. Since flavor was the top priority for the 1,354 Sweethome readers we polled, with ease-of-use and speed tying for second as the most important feature, we looked for machines that could deliver the best taste quickly and without fuss.

While taste was paramount, according to our survey, most people do not want to spend more than $200 on their machine. Survey respondents also requested features that would make the coffee-making process easier; more than half of the respondents indicated they want something that’s easy to clean, and nearly a quarter looked for one that shuts off automatically, so we gave extra weight to those attributes.

We excluded other rigs such as grind-and-brews because machines that require more parts to perform extraneous functions either break more easily or require tons of maintenance. Sweethome editor Harry Sawyers used one of these for several years before abandoning it. He compared the cleaning process of the grinder, which is a weekly occurrence just to keep it running, to “having an additional child.”

The best kind of machine is the one that performs its few functions to the highest quality.
I also didn’t look into single-cup brewing machines like Nespresso and Keurig. Regardless of how you feel about the quality of the coffee they produce, they are limited to making one cup at a time, are expensive to operate (you end up paying about $40/pound of coffee compared with about $10 for your typical Starbucks pre-ground affair), and are incredibly wasteful. But don’t take our word for it. John Sylvan, the inventor of the K-cup machine, recently told The Atlantic that he sometimes regrets inventing it.

To narrow down the field, we turned to the experts. The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), the most renowned trade organization for the coffee industry, offers a (paid) certification program for coffee makers that meet the association’s criteria for excellence, including not just temperature but also time, volume, extraction, carafe, and machine performance. Right now nine machines have the certification, up from six last year, reflecting a huge shift in the coffee-making industry. For our latest round of testing, we included five SCAA-approved models.

A few publications have done some head-to-head testing. Consumer Reports has a coffee maker guide, which looks at some of the more affordable models and ranks them based on brew performance, convenience, and carafe handling. They don’t specifically mention ratings for taste and flavor of the coffee produced by the machines. As a result, the machines they chose as the best performers all receive mixed user reviews on websites like Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Cooks Illustrated also had a really handy guide of which models it thought was best. It looked at some of the most well-known high-end machines, including some made by Bonavita, Technivorm, and Bunn.

Serious Eats and Gizmodo also did some smaller scale head-to-head testing of top models, but both reviews are from 2012 and feature older machines.

I also combed through individual reviews for coffee makers on CNET, Wired, and The Coffee Concierge.

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The new machines we tested in late 2015, from left: OXO On 9-Cup, OXO On 12-Cup, Technivorm Moccamaster, Zojirushi EC-YSC100. Photo: Michael Hession

For this year’s update to our guide, we checked out all of the new competitors to see how well they ranked. We checked out Amazon reviews, formal product reviews (if any), and talked to coffee professionals who are always looking for the best new thing in the scene. From there, I narrowed down a list of the best from the first round and the newcomers that warranted an in-house Sweethome test.

In addition to last year’s winner and runner-up (the Bonavita BV1900TS and BV1800TH), we included the OXO On 9-Cup and OXO On 12-Cup, the latest SCAA-certified machines and both with glowing reviews from other publications; the expensive Technivorm Moccamaster, known as the original “good” coffee maker in aficionado circles; and the new Zojirushi EC-YSC100—a reader request and recent Amazon favorite.

How we tested

Our test panel consisted of three roasters from Brooklyn-based roasting company Lofted and two Sweethome employees. They blind-tasted batches of coffee from the six models, as well as an additional pour-over control. Having the Lofted roasters participate was especially enlightening because they know exactly what their coffee is supposed to taste like based on their quality-control cupping sessions.

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Photo: Michael Hession

Using a digital scale. I weighed out six 60-gram batches of whole-bean Ethiopian coffee, freshly roasted by Lofted, to make 1 liter for each machine. I then ground them using Lofted’s Mahlkonig EK43 with their preferred drip settings. These beans were then brewed simultaneously and served to the tasters in numbered cups. I also tallied how hot the water was from each machine’s showerhead and how long it took to brew a full batch.

The tasters wrote down their thoughts about each cup, focusing on flavor, temperature, and balance for each cup they sipped. (For more detail on coffee tasting, read the How we tested section from the pour-over coffee guide.) Once the tasting was complete, the pros at Lofted used a VST refractometer to determine the percentage of total dissolved solids (TDS) of each sample to see which came closer to the 1.15 to 1.35 percent ideal range. These quantified results very closely followed those of the qualitative tasting. However, it’s worth noting that we overshot the dose by a bit, so everything ended up tasting a bit stronger than it should have.

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We used a refractometer to measure the percentage of total dissolved solids in each coffee sample. Photo: Michael Hession

After the rigorous taste testing, we took the best-performing machines back to The Sweethome’s test kitchen to perform more extensive usability tests. We rated how easy it is to set up and program a future cup of coffee, and checked for quirks in each machine’s user interface. We then measured how well each carafe performed temperature-wise over a two- and-a-half-hour span of time. After that, we analyzed how well each carafe poured and how easy each one was to clean.

Our pick

OXO On 9 Cup Coffee Maker
Expect great-tasting coffee from a machine that’s easy to use and clean. It brews a 1-liter pot in under 7 minutes.

In the past, you had to choose between a coffee maker that makes good coffee, or one that has all the features you might want. The OXO On 9-Cup Coffee Maker is the first machine that successfully combines the best of both worlds. Simply put, the OXO On makes it easy to brew a really good cup of coffee. If you grind your beans to the correct particle size (which is extremely important) and weigh the grounds so they extract just enough, the OXO will take the reins from there. Operation is very simple—just spin a dial to indicate the number of cups and press the button. Once that’s done, all you have to do is wait about 6 minutes and the coffee will be ready.

It’s instantly familiar to use for anyone who’s ever touched a Mr. Coffee before.

While our tasters preferred the flavor and body of the coffee from the Bonavita, they ranked the OXO coffee a close second and the machine itself was better in every other respect. The stainless steel and black plastic body looks sleek on the kitchen counter, and its mechanics would be instantly familiar to use for anyone who’s ever touched a Mr. Coffee before. This is in contrast to the Bonavita, which has a less than stellar carafe—one we’ve spent a year long-term testing and can charitably be described as “irritating”—as well as an untraditional filter basket, which sits unattached to the entire machine above the carafe, making it a pain to deal with once the coffee is done brewing.

Additionally, the OXO is pre-set to make great coffee thanks to its wide, five-port showerhead that disperses water evenly throughout the coffee-brewing basket, good temperature stability, and an automatically activated pre-infusion mode. Other coffee makers we tested, like the Bonavita 1900TS, give you the option of activating pre-infusion, but the OXO just does it automatically.

Machines that lacked pre-infusion—like the Zojirushi EC-YSC100 and the older Bonavita BV1800TH—consistently underperformed in our taste tests.

Pre-infusion—also known as a bloom phase—is a crucial step to most pour-over coffee recipes. According to Nick Cho at Wrecking Ball Roasters, pre-infusion gives the carbon dioxide a chance to escape before the real extraction begins. He explains in this video that “if gas is pushing out, water isn’t efficiently getting in.” Additionally, pre-infusion ensures that all of the coffee grounds are wetted evenly, so any additional water can flow unimpeded throughout the brew. Without this step, some of the grounds are under-extracted while some get over-extracted, resulting in less clarity of flavor. Our testing supported this hypothesis: Machines that lacked pre-infusion—like the Zojirushi EC-YSC100 and the older Bonavita BV1800TH—consistently underperformed in our taste tests.

 

Once the initial 30-second pre-infusion mode is done, the OXO On adds water to the brew in pulses, pausing for 30 seconds every two minutes or so to mimic the pour-over technique of a barista. The whole process takes 6 minutes, 45 seconds, which is pretty fast compared with the larger 12-cup OXO and the Zojirushi, but not as fast as the Bonavita BV1900TS.

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This timelapse shows the OXO’s initial pre-infusion step, along with subsequent pulses. This clip is sped up by 120x. Video: Michael Zhao

There are two important factors that make for a well-built automatic drip machine: how well it heats water and how it transports the water from the basin to the beans. On both counts, the OXO does very well. In our tests, the hot water measured 195 degrees Fahrenheit. This is slightly cooler than the acceptable SCAA range (which is between 197 and 204), but it’s possible that our testing may have cooled it by a degree or two when we opened the lid to take the temperature. OXO’s showerhead also evenly distributes the water atop the grounds to ensure that every particle is being extracted as evenly as possible. These two factors contribute to a better tasting cup of coffee. Our panel noted that the OXO’s coffee tasted “well-balanced,” with a nice “sweetness” to it that the others didn’t have.

 

Another great feature is the OXO On’s ability to make both small and large batches of drip. Every other machine we tested would behave the same whether brewing a two-cup amount or a full pot. The OXO On adjusts the pre-infusion time, water quantity, and overall brewing time for smaller amounts of coffee. Bonavita’s 1900TS doesn’t offer such an option, though the company’s smaller BV1500TS handles small serving sizes better.

What really sold us on the OXO, however, is the carafe. The machine comes with a stainless steel carafe, which is now becoming more of a standard for many auto-drips. But OXO’s carafe was a cut above the rest. First, you can take it out while the coffee is brewing and the filter will spring up to stop the brew flow. Second, it stays hot for hours on end. We tested all of the carafes and found a huge discrepancy in their extended temperatures. While they all maintained a modicum of warmth—every carafe was above 150 degrees Fahrenheit beyond the two-hour mark—the OXO’s carafe was at least 10 degrees warmer than the 1900TS’s.

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The OXO carafes pour freely. Photo: Michael Hession

You’d be surprised at how many renowned brewers come with shoddy carafes.

The OXO On pours well, too. It takes an easy tilt to get water from carafe to cup, and the stream is constant and steady. This may sound like a necessity for any top contender, but you’d be surprised at how many renowned brewers come with shoddy carafes. We also like that you don’t have to press down a lever or button to activate the pouring spout. This design is much easier to clean because there’s nowhere for stale coffee to hide inside the lid. However, it does have a silicone mixing tube that directs freshly brewed coffee to the bottom of the carafe in order to keep the coffee evenly mixed. We were unable to confirm if this made a difference, and it seems like it wouldn’t be more effective than just giving it a swirl before pouring, but it’s easily removable. (We removed ours so that it’s one less thing to clean.)

Another great plus about this machine is its display and programmability. Its digital display is large and easy to read, and once you get the hang of using just one button/dial, you’ll be able to quickly set and reset the coffee programming, indicating either 2 to 4 cups or 4 to 9 cups. When the machine is finished brewing pre-programmed coffee, the display shows how long it’s been since the coffee finished brewing. This way, you know exactly how long that coffee has been sitting in the carafe before you unintentionally pour out a cold, stale brew into a clean mug.

Cleaning is simple—if you’ve cleaned a coffee maker, you know how to clean the OXO On 9-Cup. The carafe should be hand cleaned with normal dish soap (note: it is not dishwasher safe). Every so often, you might want to use a powder cleanser to de-gunk the hard-to-remove coffee residue (Full Circle makes a good one). Also, we recommend occasional descaling to remove minerals from the water reservoir (Serious Eats explains why and how to do this, and OXO’s owner manual gives good instructions as well).

Additionally, all of the connected plastic parts are top-shelf dishwasher safe. This includes the filter basket, the showerhead, the carafe head, and the plastic mixing tube that is used inside the carafe. Occasional cleaning of these parts will make the machine last longer and ensure that no buildup or residue grows on any of the water-transporting objects.

OXO offers a two-year warranty for its On coffee makers, which is the standard for high-end appliances.

Who else likes it?

As I mentioned early, there aren’t many reviews for this device, but the ones that have been done so far have been very favorable.

Consumer Reports found the OXO On 9-Cup Coffee Maker to be “very good,” especially when it came to brew performance.

As for other reviewers, the Coffee Concierge has reviewed dozens of machines and gives the OXO 9-Cup a good score of 8.4 and concludes with, “If you have enough room for it in your kitchen, then it seems like a better option than the Bonavita BV1900TD for its [clearly marked] reservoir alone.”

Despite it being a new machine, the OXO has been reviewed by more than 40 people on Amazon as of this writing; there are zero one-star reviews and only one negative review. Most reviewers mention that it makes some of the best coffee they’ve tasted from a machine.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The OXO On 9-Cup Coffee Maker brews a full batch of coffee slightly slower than its competitors. The Bonavita BV1900TS took 5 minutes, 20 seconds, including the pre-infusion period, while the OXO took 6 minutes, 45 seconds. To add to this, the OXO On’s coffee was slightly over-extracted compared with that of the 1900TS. This meant that the tasters found the coffee a little less balanced than what the Bonavita brewed. (We should mention that while we are making gripes about the flavor, the coffee from both the Bonavita and the OXO was considered some of the best we tasted during our test session.)

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This conical basket from the BV1800TH (left) is similar to the one used in the OXO 9-Cup; it tends to over-extract compared with the flat-bottomed one in the runner-up BV1900TS (right). Photo: Michael Hession

The over-extraction is likely due to two factors: The OXO On uses cone filters and the bottom of the filter has a spring-loaded auto-stop plug, which can make for a slower flow. One of the factors that made Bonavita’s BV1900TS better than its earlier model, the BV1800TS, was that it changed filter shapes. While cone filters do make good coffee, flat-bottom filters allow for grounds to be more evenly extracted and steeped, which often leads to a more even and nuanced flavor.

While we liked that the OXO has a built-in brew-basket holder with auto-pause if the carafe is removed, we didn’t like that it tended to drip once the carafe is removed—a flaw also reported by Consumer Reports and Coffee Concierge. It’s just a few dribbles and not a huge deal to clean up, but it’s a damper on an otherwise excellent machine.

The OXO’s size may be a bit of a factor. While it’s no wider than other comparable machines, it does stand abnormally tall at 15.2 inches—3 inches taller than the Bonavita machines. While this could prove a problem for smaller kitchens, the overall design is quite compact and most cabinets can accommodate that height. Measure first if you’re unsure.

File this under “good ideas gone bad”: OXO advertises this machine as being tested to work out of the factory with a sticker, but that same sticker warns that you shouldn’t be alarmed if the machine is wet out of the box. Indeed, we unwrapped the plastic and styrofoam inner packaging to find the whole machine covered in droplets of water left over from the quality-control check. While it’s nice to have assurance that it was in fact tested, it would be even nicer if they could dry it out before boxing it up.

Last, its $200 price may seem a bit steep to some, especially when you compare it with the $180 Bonavita BV1900TS—which is now commonly available for less than $150. We find, however, that the few extra dollars is well worth it.

The runner-up: For the best-tasting coffee

Also great
Bonavita BV1900TS
It won over our tasting panel again, but it is held back by a poor carafe and a design that departs intuitively from most coffee makers.

The Bonavita 1900TS, our former favorite, is still one of the best machines in its class. It brews coffee faster than any other machine with pre-infusion and consistently makes some of the best-tasting automatically dripped drink you can find. Not only did tasters love it, according to our refractometer, but it also came the closest to the ideal range of 1.15 percent to 1.35 percent total dissolved solids as specified by the SCAA.1

 

If you are looking for a machine that makes coffee with no bells and whistles, the Bonavita BV1900TS is the way to go. Its water heater is insanely strong, brewing a full batch of coffee in a little over 5 minutes. Like the OXO On, it uses a shower system that wets all of the grounds evenly, which leads to a proper extraction. The Bonavita’s operation is among the easiest on the market: You plug it in, add beans and water, and press go. This simplicity, however, takes away from some other features and programmability.

The 1900TS also has a pre-infusion setting, but it’s annoyingly disabled by default. You activate it by pressing and holding down the start button for five seconds. This mode wets the grounds and lets them rest and offgas for a minute before brewing.

Another big difference is the filter shape. While the OXO On uses a cone-shaped filter, the 1900TS uses flat-bottomed ones. As explained before, it could be argued that the shape makes a slight difference in the coffee outcome. And we are somewhat partial to flat filters because they tend to result in a more balanced cup of coffee—you can read why in our pour-over review. Our panel for the blind tasting backed this up, noting that coffee served from the 1900TS had a more balanced flavor profile.

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If you can’t immediately discard your used filter, you have to leave it in the sink so it has a place to drip until you can deal with it. Other coffee makers don’t have this issue. Photo: Amadou Diallo

The biggest flaws for the 1900TS are in what it can’t do. For starters, its design is a bit flat and annoying if you’re used to the workings of a more traditional coffee maker. Its filter basket sits directly atop the carafe while it brews, which means you have to find somewhere else to put the drippy filter—the sink or onto a plate—when the coffee is done brewing and you’re ready to pour. This design also feeds into problems with the carafe, which is designed in such a way that you can’t pour from it without first putting the lid on, unless you want to spill everywhere. Even pouring when the lid is on is less than perfect—the stream is slow and it’s difficult to get the last drops out. Finally, it’s not programmable; there’s now a more-expensive 1900TD that is programmable, but it’s still not as user-friendly as the OXO.

Still, if taste is your absolute top priority, this is a great choice.

The larger upgrade pick that also makes tea

Also great
OXO On 12-Cup Coffee Brewing System
This large-capacity machine is slow to brew, but has a separate kettle that lets you save some water for making tea.

The OXO On 9-Cup Coffee Maker is plenty for households with two to three coffee drinkers. But if you have four or more coffee drinkers, or if you want a machine that can do tea and coffee at the same time, the OXO On 12-Cup Coffee Brewing System is the way to go. However, you should know that it’s much slower to brew and the coffee isn’t quite as flavorful. We recommend it only if you need the larger capacity or the tea kettle functionality.

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The OXO On 12-Cup has a removable kettle that can heat water for tea in addition to making coffee. Photo: Michael Hession

Like the 9 cupper, it makes a good cup of coffee that is SCAA certified. But it does something that no other SCAA-approved machine has been able to do: heat up 12 cups of water long enough to brew a good, large amount of coffee. It does this by heating up all the water before in a separate carafe, and then transporting this water over to the filter basket. In addition to being easy to fill, the water reservoir also works as a standalone kettle. That way if you have people over and want to make eight cups of coffee and save four cups of hot water for tea, you can program that into the machine using its Nest-like control dial.

A major drawback is that since the OXO preheats the water before brewing the coffee, it takes longer than many other machines. It took more than 8 minutes to make a normal eight-cup (1-liter) batch of coffee (mind you, it would take even longer if you were making the full 12 cups). Additionally, its price is a bit steep at $300.

CNET reviewed this model and gave it 4.5/5 stars. The editors found that the machine made good-tasting coffee that was “just as delicious” as cups from both Bonavita and Technivorm models. Our tasters found the coffee to be okay, but not as great as the top contenders. A few tasters found it less well-rounded than some other batches. This could have been due to the water temperature, because our testing found that the water hitting the beans to be 191 degrees Fahrenheit, which is pretty low for an SCAA-approved machine. All the same, most tasters found it much better than the Zojirushi and the Moccamaster.

The competition

This latest round of testing came on the heels of an earlier batch we did more than a year ago. Beyond the OXOs we decided to add two other brewers to the mix.

Many readers wanted us to test the Zojirushi EC-YSC100 Fresh Brew Plus Thermal Carafe Coffee Maker, so we did. Overall it was only an okay performer, but we can see why people like it. It was on the bigger side, brewing up to 10 cups of coffee and has a removable water reservoir for easy filling. It also had easy programmability, and Zojirushi is well-known for the quality of its thermal carafes. This is all well and good, but it brewed coffee that tasted over-extracted and bitter compared with the other machines. Its brew temperature was 188 degrees Fahrenheit, almost 10 degrees cooler than every other machine tested. And it took much longer to brew: more than 7 minutes for a 1-liter batch, about 2 minutes longer than our top pick and runner-up.

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Machines with wider showerheads produced more balanced coffee with better clarity. The Moccamaster (pictured above) had a narrower showerhead that resulted in a comparably bitter brew. Photo: Michael Hession

In our initial testing, we thought the $300 Technivorm Moccamaster was too expensive to consider for most people, but there was enough interest that we thought it was worth bringing in for this round of testing. Most people in the coffee scene consider this the best home brewer on the market. Its $300 price tag reflects that, too. It doesn’t have automatic pre-infusion or programmability, but the Moccamaster does make good coffee. Our tasters all enjoyed it, but the coffee didn’t rank any higher than the brew from the Bonavita or OXO models. If you have $300 to spare, like good coffee, and want to impress fellow coffee nerds, it will be a great addition to your kitchen counter. But despite its simplicity, you can get the same great-tasting coffee for $100 less.

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Last year’s testing group: Cuisinart DCC-1200, Bonavita BV1800TH, Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT, Bonavita BV1900TS, Behmor Brazen Plus. Photo: Amadou Diallo

If you like to play around with settings to get the ideal extraction from each bean, well, I would probably recommend looking into a pour-over setup that lets you control every aspect of the brewing process. But if you want a machine that’s also capable of that, the Behmor Brazen Plus—which was part of our first batch of testings—is a good choice because it makes really great-tasting coffee.

But it’s not for everyone. It takes almost 10 minutes to brew a full pot from start to finish, which is almost twice as long as our top pick—a fact that CNET was not impressed with either. It’s also huge. As Serious Eats says in its review, “At 15¼″ high by 9″ in diameter [about the size of a commercial-grade blender], you’re going to have to really love the way Brazen performs to make room for it on a small kitchen counter.” It’s also a bit of an eyesore; a participant at our tasting compared it to a “Jetsons design.” Yes you can control the water temperature, which does make a difference in how your coffee turns out, but if you’re already willing to go through all that and are willing to spend extra time waiting for your coffee to brew, you’d be better served by a manual setup that lets you control the rate of water flow and where it’s going as well.

The $80 Cuisinart DCC-1200, which was also part of our initial testing, was one of the best-selling coffee makers on Amazon at the time of this writing—and has been for more than a decade. While it was better than the other programmable coffee maker I looked at (the Mr. Coffee machine, another Amazon bestseller), you shouldn’t expect it to be comparable to the previously mentioned models if flavor is your main priority. It made coffee that tasted dull in comparison to the $150-plus machines. If price is more important than flavor, it’s a fine enough machine.

What else did we consider?

Bunn is better known for making the industrial coffee makers behind basically every diner across America, but they have a highly regarded consumer lineup as well. Its Phase Brew machine even has SCAA-certification—but a glacial 10-minute brew time and mediocre Amazon review average, combined with a $200 street price, kept it out of contention. I was originally going to bring in the similar-but-more-consistently-liked Velocity for testing because CNET was impressed by its performance, but decided against it because it (and most other) Bunn machines share an energy-wasting hot water reservoir. The reservoir allows the coffee maker to brew a whole pot of coffee in three minutes, which is very impressive. But if you’re making one pot of coffee in the morning, you’re using electricity to keep the water warm all day and all night, just to save the three minutes it takes to boil water in the morning. It’s a bit of a waste, not to mention that with all that water simmering away at all times, you’re going to have to clean the reservoir more often to avoid buildup of mineral deposits.

The Breville YouBrew was also said to make a solid cup of coffee and has the added bonus of being programmable with a built-in grinder. However, it consistently got low ratings from testers, including CNET and The Coffee Concierge. The all-in-one design creates a slew of problems that could be mitigated if individual functions were isolated, because it’s a huge hassle to clean. Sweethome Editor Harry Sawyers used it for a year, and got fed up with a convoluted cleaning process that takes about 15 minutes to complete and has to be done more and more often as the machine ages.

KitchenAid also just launched its own pour-over coffee brewer. Though it has received SCAA certification, it had very poor carafe performance, according to Consumer Reports.

Bodum also makes a Bistro pour-over coffee maker, which was met with favorable reviews. Forbes (not known for its coffee journalism), for example, wrote a dazzling review: “Bodum’s B-Over coffee maker is designed not only to look cool, but also to make a great cup of coffee.” Other reviews, however, tell a different story. On Amazon it has three out of five stars, with many people saying it broke soon after buying. Clive Coffee’s Hellweg didn’t mince words when he said said to me that the Bodum was “a piece of shit,” which echoes many Amazon reviews indicating poor parts quality and design.

There are also a number of boutique-scale coffee makers that are very expensive and well-crafted, but are made in small quantities for enthusiast audiences. Clive Coffee’s own Ratio machine, the Chemex Ottomatic, and the Wilfa Svart (designed by renowned barista Tim Wendelboe) are three prominent examples of this. All three of these machines are made for coffee enthusiasts willing to spend more than a couple hundred dollars. All the same, baristas I’ve interviewed, including Third Rail Coffee’s Carlos Morales, told me how excited they were for these machines.

Their real perk, beyond the water temperature, is that these three devices pour similarly to hand-manually making a batch of pour-over, pre-infusing the grounds and evenly pouring the hot water. If you don’t like the included Chemex or pour-over setup, you can swap in your favorite dripper and pitcher. However, Clayton at Serious Eats does mention that the Bonavita actually can be hacked to do the same. She noted, “By removing the plastic filter apparatus, which is actually a #4 Melitta cone dripper that happens to fit nicely on the Bonavita carafe (or your mug), you can swap in your Kalita Wave, Clever dripper, or even a petite Chemex to brew right under the heat-stabilized spray head.”

They all sell for more than $300, and it’s hard to see any concrete benefits they may have over the $100 to $200 mid-range machines beyond a pretty face.

Finally, there’s the large mass of nearly indistinguishable lower-end Mr. Coffees, Hamilton Beaches, Cuisinarts, et cetera. For the most part, their main components are indistinguishable; they heat water and pour it over beans, often in a single thin stream, into a carafe. Experts told me that these lower-end coffee makers botch the most important aspect of this process—heating up water to the correct temperature. For our first run of tests we included a few of the better-reviewed ones—the Cuisinart and the Mr. Coffee. Since both of those performed poorly, we decided to cut them out of the latest round of testing.

Footnotes:

1. While it’s possible to calibrate any machine to fall within this range by adjusting the coarseness of grind, an at-home user won’t have the instruments to do so. The closer you can get out of the box, the better. Jump back.

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Sources

  1. Brian Bennett, Oxo Barista Brain 12-cup Brewing System review, CNET, October 23, 2015
  2. Matt Buchanan, The Best Automatic Coffee Machine, Gizmodo, February 16, 2012
  3. Liz Clayton, Which Fancy Automatic Drip Coffeemaker Is Best For Me?, Serious Eats, June 27, 2012
  4. Consumer Reports staff, OXO Barista Brain 9-Cup 8710100 coffee maker, Consumer Reports
  5. James Hamblin, A Brewing Problem, Atlantic, March 2, 2015
  6. Maddie Oatman, Your Coffee Pods' Dirty Secret, Mother Jones, March 19, 2014
  7. Best Coffee Maker (Automatic Drip), Cooks Illustrated, January 2016
  8. Charlie Sorrel, Bodum Bistro Drip Coffee Maker: It’s Not Bitter, WIRED, January 23, 2012
  9. Liz Clayton, How to Descale Your Automatic Coffeemaker, and Why You Should, Serious Eats, Mar 31, 2014
  10. Benji Walklet, Coffee Maker Review: Breville Youbrew, Coffee Concierge
  11. Jordan Shapiro, Hands-On: Bodum's 'Pour-Over' Coffee Maker, Forbes, April 7, 2013
  12. Erin Meister, The Refractometer, Fresh Cup, January 13, 2015

Originally published: February 8, 2016

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