The best coffee makers in 2024 – a barista's complete guide

We've tested the bold, the beautiful, and the bitter to give you everything you need to know

One of the best coffee makers: The Moccamaster KGBV Select on a countertop with a wooden board and coffee canister beside it
(Image credit: Moccamaster)

The most common question people ask me is 'What's the best coffee maker?' It's a simple enough question, but the answers are different depending on what kind of coffee you like to drink.

For most people, the answer is simple. The best drip coffee makers can brew uncomplicated coffee, serving up your caffeine fix alongside some speciality flavors. However, that's not where your search for the best coffee makers should end.

I trained as a barista back in 2016, and ever since then, I’ve held a special place on my countertop for the best espresso machines. While espressos are my daily driver, I've come to love coffee in every form. No-fuss filter coffee is brilliant for extracting beautiful flavors in bucket-size quantities; the best single-serve and automatic coffee makers are useful when I need to caffeinate the whole household and just need speed.

In the last nine months, I've tested over sixty of the best coffee makers on the market. From premium espresso machines all the way through to personal percolators and pour-overs, just tell me your coffee order or brewing method and I'll have covered it.  

In this guide I'll deep dive into each brewing style and coffee maker, highlighting the key features you should look for when choosing the perfect one for you. If you've got any burning questions, such as whether you need to invest in a coffee grinder or not, I'll answer them too.

Quick List

If you're here for the TLDR, here's a roundup of the six best coffee makers on the market. Everyone from beginners to baristas could brew a delicious cup of coffee in one of these, so here are the headlines. I'll give you more information further down.

How to choose the right coffee maker for you

cold brew coffee on a countertop with milk being poured in

(Image credit: GettyImages)

When you're choosing the perfect coffee maker for you, the best place to start is with the kinds of coffee that you enjoy. Follow the flavors and combinations that you'd choose if money and skill were no object. Then you can backfit the type of coffee maker that you want. To make it really clear, I've spelled out the basics of some of the most popular coffee makers and how they are related to your favorite coffee drinks. We'll dive deeper into the details further down the page.

  • If you like punchy espressos and ultra-strong coffee you'll need an espresso machine, moka pot, or an AeroPress. These use pressure and temperature to extract full flavors, making a thick, delicious cups of coffee.
  • If you like frothy milky coffees, like lattes and cappuccinos, you'll be looking at espresso machines. These all have steam wands which will texture your milk, some work automatically, so all you have to do is touch a button. Others will need you to be a little more hands-on. Alternatively, some single-serve machines come with steam wands or separate milk frothers to help you out.
  • If you like black coffee that's full of flavor, the world of coffee makers is your oyster. French press or pour-over coffee makers will give you specialty coffee flavors, as will your drip coffee maker and espresso machine.
  • If you like big batches of black coffee that won't need milk the best drip coffee makers will cover all bases. Some of these can get quite fancy, but you can also find really simple models too.
  • If you like iced coffee, you've got a few options. Some espresso machines come with iced coffee functions. Similarly, you can buy single-serve makers which specialize in iced coffees. On both of these, you'll want to check your machine's specifications, because not every single one will cover your needs.
  • If you're on the sweet, cold brew coffee trend, you can invest in a dedicated cold brew coffee maker, or work on a bit of a budget using a French press.
  • If you like a bit of everything above you'll want an automatic espresso machine. The 'espresso' part is often cut out of the name, so you'll know them as automatic machines. If that's not in your budget, there are plenty of single-serve makers that can also cover every conceivable coffee order on the menu.

Nespresso coffee maker on a table with magazines around it

(Image credit: Nespresso)

Of course, it's not just about the kinds of coffee that you like. Other factors will play into your decision. Before you start shopping make sure that you're clear on how where your coffee maker will fit into your kitchen, how much money you're willing to spend, and how developed your coffee-making capabilities are. There's nothing worse than falling in love with something you don't have the skills, space or budget for.

If you have lots of space, you can choose almost any coffee maker. However, if your kitchen is compact, you'll probably want to steer clear of espresso machines and automatic coffee makers. These tend to be big appliances. You could still fit them on your countertop, but you'd have to work to do it.

If you don't mind taking your time with coffee, then you'll have the pick of the bunch. However, if you're normally five minutes late for being ten minutes late, you'll want a quick machine: pod machines, pre-set drip coffee makers, and automatic machines will be your best friends. Capacity If you're the only coffee drinker in the house, you might not need a big machine. Pour-overs are an excellent option for single-cup coffee drinkers. However, if there's ten of you in your home, a drip coffee maker will cater to the masses.

If you normally buy your coffee from a barista, you might not enjoy being very hands-on when making coffee. For that reason, a bean-to-cup machine would suit you really well. It'll be just like your barista, but without the small talk. If you like the idea of becoming a barista yourself, espresso machines are at the other end of the scale. They can be a lot of fun too. 

It goes without saying that price has to be factored into things. I've covered how much money you should spend on a coffee maker at the bottom of this article. A French press or pour-over can cost a tenth of the price of a bean-to-cup machine or espresso machine. It's better to start small and work up to a bigger machine. That being said, we've included these machines in our roundup because we think they're good value for what they offer. I've tested machines worth more money and you can't tell the difference.

What are the different types of coffee makers?

An espresso machine brewing a shot of coffee into a white mug

(Image credit: Westend61 via GettyImages)

Before we dive into the best coffee makers, you might want some help choosing the type of coffee maker you want. I've got some good news for you: every coffee maker caters to very different drinking needs. This table will give you a quick insight into each brewing style. I'll dive deep into the different brewing styles; best machines; and pros and cons of each further down.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
TypeBuy it if:Cons
Drip coffeeYou want large quantities of light coffeeShould be brewed in big batches
Espresso machineYou want professional, speciality coffeeTime-consuming; fiddly; easy to get wrong
Bean to cupYou want automatic, quality coffeeExpensive
Single-serveYou want fast, cheap, automatic coffeePlastic waste, lower quality
French PressYou want strong, quality coffeeBrew time and clean up
Pour-overYou want light, fast, cheap coffeePrep time and clean up
Moka potYou want high-quality, strong espresso-like coffeeNeed a gas range
PercolatorYou want straightforward coffeeEasy to over-extract
Cold brewYou want strong, smooth, cheap coffeeBrew time

Drip coffee maker

Zwilling drip coffee maker in black on the countertop

(Image credit: Zwilling)

An ever-popular, endlessly drinkable, easy brewing method

Drip coffee, also known as filter coffee, is the nation's favorite brewing style. It's a real comfort coffee. The smooth, light, delicate flavors are easy to sip all day long. 

One of the most beautiful aspects of drip coffee makers are their sheer simplicity. It's easy to learn how to use a drip coffee maker, so it is perfect for beginners and those who don't want to have to complete a PhD to use their machine. 

Most filter coffee makers need you to put coffee grounds in the filter basket. You close the lid, press a button, and then the machine runs warm water over your grounds, collecting them in a carafe. This process is known as 'infusion' and should take around five minutes. More advanced drip coffee machines have timers that can pre-brew and keep your coffee warm, so you can wake up to a fresh brew without lifting a finger. Most are whisper quiet too, so they won't even wake you up when they're brewing.

People love drip coffee makers because they're really versatile in how much coffee they can make. If you want a single serving, you can have one in minutes. If you need a carafe to serve all the extended family, your filter coffee maker has you covered. They're also on the more affordable end of automatic coffee makers (set aside $200-400 for one), so they're a great place to start.

I'll caveat the price with one recommendation. If you want to get full flavors from your filter coffee maker, you need to pair it with one of the best grinders on the market. Freshly ground coffee will have more oils which are more readily available for your coffee maker to extract. Accounting for this in the price of your filter coffee maker can bump up the price, but if you care about specialty coffee, it's worth it.

A real downside of drip coffee makers is that they are often big and they make singular, very simple coffee. There's no intense espresso, creamy cappuccinos, or smooth cold brews here. Some more complicated models might attempt at these specialty orders, but they're never as good as having a proper espresso machine or cold brew coffee maker.

I've tested the best drip coffee machines and these are my three favorites.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
FlavorsLight and clean
Difficulty levelBeginner
VersatilityMost make simple, black coffee
SpeedApprox 5 minutes for up to 8 cups
Capacity1-12 cups
SizeOften large
MaintenanceLow - rinse regularly

Espresso machine

A portafilter being filled with coffee grinds

(Image credit: GettyImages)

For the scientific and specific coffee experts who want to get technical

If you've ever admired the set-up on display in your local café, you've been looking at espresso machines. These technical pieces of kit make rich, intense shots of coffee. Espresso shots are often compared to syrup in texture. These machines can easily make an Americano: just add water to your espresso. If you want to know how to make a cappuccino, you just steam milk and add it to your espresso.

Espresso machines are at the opposite end of the spectrum to drip coffee makers, because they use high pressures and temperatures to extract all the flavorful oils out of your coffee beans. This means that they're some of the most expensive coffee makers on the market as well as some of the most technical ones too. 

If you want to know how to make an espresso, you'll have to be ready for an involved process. You'll use a heavy portafilter, which slots into your espresso machine like a key into a lock. You fill your portafilter with finely ground coffee, then flatten your grounds with something called a tamp. Then, lock your portafilter into place, before choosing a setting on your coffee maker. The machine will then get to work, extracting a shot (1.5-2 oz) of coffee from your machine. The average shot takes 20-30 seconds to make, but setting up will need at least two or three minutes. Some machines need five minutes to warm up.

There are different grades of espresso machines that you can invest in. Super-automatic and automatic espresso machines are effectively bean-to-cup machines, which I've dedicated a separate section in this buying guide to. You won't have to handle the portafilter or tamper, instead, this will make coffee at the touch of a button. 

Semi-automatic espresso machines are the ones you're probably thinking of when you imagine espresso machines. They have a nice balance of involvement and independence. These machines will probably grind your beans for you (if they have a grinder) and they'll create the pressure and extract your espresso shot for you too. What you'll need to do is lock-in your portafilter and tamp your coffee.

Manual espresso machines go back to basics. You'll be involved in creating steam and there will be a lever that you pump to create the pressure needed to extract your delicious coffee oils. I would only recommend these to real coffee experts, even  I, a former barista. find them to be a lot to handle. You also need a specialist grinder for most manual coffee makers. 

If you're interested in getting technical, this is a great machine for you. The grind size, tamp pressure, and brew time will all affect your coffee. As a hands-on process, it's easy to change a lot of factors to reach your desired cup. However, this high technicality and performance comes at a price. You can expect an espresso machine to cost between $500 and $1,500. 

These are my favorites, but if you want more we have a roundup of the best espresso machines.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
FlavorsRich and intense
Difficulty levelAdvanced
VersatilityVery versatile - makes espresso, hot water, and can steam milk
SpeedFive minute warm-up, 30 seconds to brew
CapacityMakes 1-2 shots at a time
SizeOften large
MaintenanceMedium - regular rinse and deep cleans needed

Bean to cup

The Philips 3200 LatterGo control panel close up

(Image credit: Philips)

For the hands-off, top-quality coffee drinkers

If you like the finer things in life, you're probably in the market for a bean-to-cup coffee maker. Technically, these are known as super-automatic and automatic espresso machines, but I've put them in a category on their own, here's why.

You can make a whole menu of coffee drinks with one of these. They're aimed at beginners or those who don't want to have to get technical and involved for their morning pick-me-up. All you have to do is add beans, put a cup underneath your machine and you'll get the perfect cup of freshly ground coffee. Whether your go-to is an espresso, a cappuccino, drip coffee, or cold brew, chances are, your bean-to-cup machine has you covered.

Bean-to-cup machines tend to win on flavors, because there's next to no time between you grinding the beans and drinking them. The machine has presets for every coffee type, so you can't really go wrong with brewing. More luxurious machines will let you manually adjust strength ratios, some will let you set personal preferences for different members of the home too.

The best bean-to-cup machines will also texture milk for you. Learning how to steam milk takes a lot of time and practice, so I think this is one of the biggest selling points of automatic coffee makers. In most cases, they'll pour the perfectly textured milk straight into your cup for you. De'Longhi and Philips' models do well with dairy and plant-based milk, but that's not universally true. If you love your oat and almond milk, always do your research. Default steaming settings don't suit more temperamental milk.

Bean-to-cup machines sell you the dream, but they sell it at a price. You won't find a good one of these for much less than $700. I'd make room in your budget for up to $2,000. That sounds like a lot, even these will save you money in the long run. They're often well-built, especially De'Longhi's machines, so you know they'll be your countertop companion for a long time. 

Our favorite bean-to-cup machine is the Philips 3200 LatteGo. It's easy to use and can make a range of different coffee types. It'll also froth your coffee consistently every time. You end up paying more for a machine like this, but that's because it does so much for you.  

If you're a committed coffee drinker, even the most expensive coffee makers will save you money long-term. I'd expect to pay up to $1,000, but there might be somewhere you spend a little more for a special feature, like super-fast cold brew on De'Longhi's new machine

Swipe to scroll horizontally
FlavorsFresh, full, and easy to adjust
Difficulty levelBeginners
VersatilityCovers most coffee orders
SpeedFive minute warm-up, 30 seconds-2 minutes to brew
CapacityMakes one coffee at a time
SizeOften large
MaintenanceLow - often these clean themselves

Single-serve coffee maker

Nespresso pod coffee machine on a countertop

(Image credit: Nespresso)

For simple, speedy single-servings of coffee. The flavors aren't fresh, but the machines are only getting better

Single-serve machines are a lot like bean-to-cup machines, but without the grinding. They use pods, or capsules, to make speedy, simple coffee. The flavors are generally not as fresh as espresso machines, but they're a great option if you want convenient coffee but can't stomach instant. 

Single-serve machines work using pods. You'll need to buy single-use, or re-usable capsules like these from Walmart, which are packed full of coffee grounds. Pop one in your machine, press a button, and put a cup underneath. Your coffee maker will be able to fill up a cup with everything from a single espresso to a tall Americano in under a minute. Most single-serve machines will only make black coffee. However, some more luxurious models will come with milk frothing functions too and others will recommend that you buy one separately; Nespresso's Aeroccino, available at Walmart, is a typical example.

Some people say that you can't have fresh coffee, tailored to your tastes, but with reusable pods and a variety of coffee pod flavors like this range of 40 K-Cup flavors at Amazon, it's pretty easy to find ones that you'll enjoy.

You can flick a switch and have your coffee close to instantly, so single-serve machines really suit busy lifestyles. They're great for small spaces too, because these machines rarely require more than a toaster's space on the countertop. You can get some incredibly compact options (Nespresso's Vertuo Pop is tiny and still delivers consistently delicious coffee).

Of course, you'll need to stay on top of your capsule collection, because if you run out of pods, you won't get very far with your coffee maker. Disposing of your empty capsules can be tricky. You need to find special recycling points and plenty of people don't bother. Eco-conscious coffee drinkers will need to pick carefully. There are plenty of B-Corp-certified machines which work with compostable capsules, the illy ESE and Grind One Pod are just two of plenty, but you'll need to look carefully.

Whilst single-serve machines are generally cheaper (they should cost between $100-300) than most other automatic coffee makers, they'll probably also feel cheaper. Most models have plastic shells and inexpensive skeletons, designed to last a few years rather than a lifetime. Again, Grind's One Pod is an exception, but if you're looking for a durable coffee maker, drip coffee or a bean-tp-cup machine will be a better investment.

These are my favorites, but if you want more we have a roundup of the best single-serve coffee machines.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
FlavorsGood, but often a little flat
Difficulty levelBeginner
VersatilityMost only make espresso and black coffees unless you buy a milk frother
Speed30 seconds-1 minute to brew
CapacityOne cup at a time
SizeMost are very compact
MaintenanceLow - occasionally rinse when needed

French press