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Coffee grounds need to hit hot water for the right length of time and within a precise temperature range in order to yield a great cup, which is neither easy for humans nor for many automatic machines to achieve. Only a handful of drip coffee makers can pull off this sort of alchemy -- the vast majority of coffee brewing devices don't and serve up truly nasty-tasting pots.

Whether you want to brew perfect lattes and cappuccinos, make iced coffee or turn beans into a delicious cuppa, you don't need to spend a fortune to get the best coffee maker. We've discovered some noteworthy exceptions on the market. You can drop almost $500 on a tricked-out Ratio Eight that's as gorgeous as it is capable, or on a programmable commercial coffee maker. And you don't even have to go high-tech -- we also included a manual coffee maker in the $15 Oxo Single Serve Pour Over funnel, which makes a superb hot coffee or coffee drink and easily bests your typical coffee pod.

But those aren't the only brewers that a coffee lover might want to explore. There's also our Editors' Choice winner and pick for all-around best automatic brewer, the Oxo Brew 8-Cup. Another is the KitchenAid Siphon Brewer, which uses an ancient technique to achieve dramatic and outstanding results. No matter your budget, there's a coffee machine on this list that'll fit your drip needs perfectly and be the best coffee maker for you. We'll periodically update the list with new products as we test them, so you'll always have access to good coffee. We promise, you'll never have to drink coffee from pods or an ancient coffee pot again.

Brian Bennett/CNET

The Oxo Brew 8-Cup Coffee Maker delivers SCAA Golden Cup-rated coffee that tastes just as good coffee from our previous favorite, the Bonavita Connoisseur, but Oxo's new brewer is more thoughtfully designed. This drip machine also comes with a special single cup filter basket for Kalita Wave filters. The Oxo Brew is compact, stylish and also sturdy, plus it comes with a thermal carafe that doesn't drip or spill.

Read our Oxo 8 Cup Coffee Maker review.

 

Those who seek lots of coffee in a hurry will love the quick brew cycle of this coffee maker. The Bunn Velocity Brew BT drip coffee maker with its stainless steel-lined thermal carafe whips up a large coffee pot of joe at astonishing speed. In as little as 3 minutes, 33 seconds, the coffee maker can deliver full batches of tasty drip to drink.

Read our Bunn Velocity Brew BT review.

 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

It's hard to find a coffee maker that beats the KitchenAid Siphon Brewer's unique combination of spectacle and quality. It makes a coffee pot of distinctly rich, deep and seductively flavorful coffee. Its vintage brewing process, based on vapor pressure and vacuum suction, is also mesmerizing to watch. No paper filters needed as the Siphon Brewer comes with a reusable stainless steel filter.

Read our Kitchenaid Siphon Coffee Brewer review.

 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Think of this kitchen appliance as the Swiss army knife of the drip coffee maker world. The Ninja programmable brewer (with frother, thermal carafe and reusable filter) offers an uncanny degree of flexibility, making it the best coffee maker for those who don't always want the same cup. It can create everything from solid drip, to perfect cold brew, to iced coffee, to latte-style drinks with its milk frother, and it will adjust the temperature according to your choice. Its thermal carafe will keep tea or coffee hot up to two hours. This programmable coffee maker even lets you brew iced coffee and hot coffee in multiple sizes, from small cups all the way up to full carafes.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Cold brew coffee is delicious, but it can be a pain to make. Oxo's cold brew coffee maker takes much of the headache out of the process. This Oxo Brew coffee maker saturates coffee grounds evenly and lets you drain cold brewed coffee from them into its glass carafe with relative ease.

Read our Oxo Cold Brew Coffee Maker review.

 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Delicious coffee and great tasting drip from a product that costs less than $20? It sounds unlikely but that's just what the affordable Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over offers. It only makes coffee one drink at a time and requires you to provide the hot water. That said, the simple brewer transforms the otherwise complex task of pour-over into one that's easy, clean and almost foolproof.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Judging by the Ratio Eight appliance, the people at Ratio believe that a coffee maker should be beautiful as well as functional. Starting at $670, each brewer is crafted from a selection of premium materials like walnut, mahogany and glass. (Both the water reservoir and carafe are made from hand-blown glass.) Their sturdy aluminum bases are available in numerous finishes as well. And yes, the Ratio Eight with its glass carafe also makes excellent drip.

Read our Ratio Eight review.

 

Megan Wollerton/CNET

Dutch company Technivorm has sold exceptionally good drip coffee makers for decades. Its Moccamaster drip coffee machine sports a design with clean lines and sharp angles that harkens back to 1968, the year the first Moccamaster hit stores. Retro design aside, the Moccamaster KBT 741 consistently puts out perfect freshly brewed coffee that will satisfy coffee connoisseurs. Its stainless steel thermal carafe also keeps its contents hot a full six hours.

Read our Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741 review.

 

Brian Bennett/CNET

While the GE Appliances Cafe Specialty Drip Coffee Maker doesn't come cheap, it does offer a lot for the money. It's an excellent brewer that brews fast and with exceptional water temperature control. It also offers a quality thermal carafe, makes 10-cup batches, and links to Wi-Fi to provide smart app control. The Cafe is easy on the eyes too, using lots of brushed metal in its design. Read our GE Appliances Specialty Drip Coffee Maker review.

A note on testing coffee makers

Evaluating the performance of a coffee maker is trickier than it might sound. The first step is to know what good drip coffee actually is. According to the Specialty Coffee Association, there are criteria critical to brewing quality java. Mainly these are brewing time and water temperature. Hot water should come into contact with grounds for no less than four minutes and no longer than eight. Additionally, the ideal water temperature range is between 197 degrees Fahrenheit (92C) and 205 degrees Fahrenheit (96C).

To confirm how each coffee maker meets that challenge, we log the length of their brew cycles. We also employ thermocouple heat sensors connected to industrial-grade data loggers. That enables us to record the temperature within the coffee grounds while brewing is underway.

We measure the temperature inside the brewing chamber of every coffee maker we test.

Brian Bennett/CNET

After brewing coffee, we take sample readings of the produced coffee liquid with an optical refractometer. Given we factor in the amount of water and freshly ground coffee used, that data lets us calculate the Total Dissolved Solids percentage of each brew. From there we arrive at the extraction percentage. The ideal range is commonly thought to be between 18 and 20%.

We also back up measured data with a good, old fashioned taste test. If the taste of a cup of coffee is bitter, there's a good chance it was over extracted during the drip. On the opposite end, an under extracted cup of coffee will typically taste weak -- it can even taste sour or have the flavor of soggy peanuts. And to be certain, we brew identical test runs a minimum of three times to achieve average results.

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