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In theory, drip coffee makers are dead simple machines. You give them grounds, they hit them with hot water, then gravity and time do the rest. It sounds easy, but it's not. Most coffee makers fail miserably at this basic task. Some because they brew too slowly, or don't get water hot enough. Others overcompensate, and end up scalding their grounds completely. Few coffee makers have what it takes to deliver drip coffee at its best.

There are noteworthy exceptions, and you don't need to spend a mint to get them. You can drop over $600 on a tricked-out Ratio Eight that's as beautiful as it is capable. But all it takes is $15 to get Oxo's superb Single Serve Pour Over funnel.

Read: 8 gifts for coffee lovers | Coffee products you never knew you needed 

And there are plenty of compelling choices in-between. One is our Editor's Choice winner, the Bonavita Connoisseur, our pick for best all-around automatic brewer. Another is the KitchenAid Siphon Brewer, which uses an ancient technique to achieve outstanding, and dramatic results. No matter your budget, there's an excellent coffee maker on this list that'll fit your drip needs perfectly.

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Despite its snobby name, the Connoisseur from Bonavita is the best automatic drip coffee maker you can buy for the least amount of cash. It reliably brews full pots of delicious joe, and it's a cinch to use. It also works fast, and it's a snap to keep clean.  

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If you find that brewing an entire pot of coffee each morning is overkill, then consider the Bonavita Immersion Dripper. This small gadget makes single cups of strong, flavorful joe. You just have to supply the hot water.  Read Bonavita Immersion Dripper review

Those who seek lots of coffee in a hurry will love this machine. The Bunn Velocity Brew BT whips up large pots of joe with astonishing speed. In as little as 3 minutes, 33 seconds, the coffee maker delivers full batches of tasty drip. Read Bunn Velocity Brew BT review

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It's hard to beat the KitchenAid Siphon Brewer's unique combination of spectacle and quality. The coffee it makes is distinctly rich, deep and seductively flavorful. Its vintage brewing method, based on vapor pressure and vacuum suction, is also mesmerizing to watch. Read Kitchenaid Siphon Coffee Brewer review

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Think of this kitchen appliance as the Swiss army knife of the coffee-maker world. The Ninja brewer offers an uncanny degree of flexibility. It can create everything from solid drip, latte-style drinks complete with frothed milk, plus cold brew. It even lets you brew in multiple sizes, from small cups, mugs, travel mugs, all the way up to half and full carafes.   Read Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System review

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Cold brew coffee is delicious, but it can be a pain to make. Oxo's cold brew contraption takes much of the headache out of the process. It saturates grounds evenly, and lets you drain cold brewed coffee from them with relative ease.   Read Oxo Cold Brew Coffee Maker review

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Great tasting drip from a product that costs just $15? It sounds unlikely but that's just what the affordable Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over offers. It only makes coffee one cup 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 almost foolproof.    Read Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over Coffee Maker review

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Judging by their Ratio Eight appliance, the people at Ratio believe coffee makers should be beautiful as well as functional. Starting at $495, each brewer is crafted from a selection of premium materials like walnut, mahogany, and hand-blown glass. Their sturdy aluminum bases are available in numerous finishes as well. And yes, the Ratio Eight also makes excellent drip.   Read Ratio Eight review

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Dutch company Technivorm has sold exceptionally good drip coffee makers for decades. Its Moccamaster KBT 741 sports a design that harkens back to 1968, the year the first Moccamaster hit stores. Retro design aside, the KBT 741 consistently brews excellent joe. It's thermal carafe also keeps its contents hot a full 6 hours.  Read Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741 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 4 minutes, and no longer than 8 minutes. Additionally, the ideal water temperature range is between 197F (92C) and 205F (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 temperatures within the coffee grounds while brewing is underway.

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

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After brewing, we take sample readings of the produced coffee liquid with an optical refractometer. Given we factor in the amount of water and 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 coffee tastes bitter there's a good chance it was over extracted. On the opposite end, under extracted coffee typically tastes weak, even sour or like soggy peanuts. And to be certain, we brew identical test runs a minimum of three times to achieve average results.