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Shopping Guide: The Best Coffee Machines and Makers for the Burgeoning Home Barista

No pods here, just every method to making your favourite cup of coffee

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By Bon Appetit US | April 7, 2024 | Shopping

Ask us what the best coffee maker is, and we’ll come back at you with some questions of our own. Do you value convenience and speed, or is time irrelevant when you’re talking about the perfect cup of coffee? Are you a 20-something with a tiny countertop and a tinier budget, or do you have an appliance garage? From single-serve coffee makers to programmable drip machines to highly advanced, professional-grade espresso machines, there’s no shortage of ways to brew great tasting coffee at home. If choosing the right coffee maker feels daunting, don’t worry. We’ve tested scores of brewing methods, tools, and appliances, and we’ve rounded up our top picks for every kind of coffee drinker below.

Best drip coffee maker: Technivorm Moccamaster

A drip machine is the easiest, most convenient route to brewing a big batch of coffee, so if your household drinks a lot of it, this is the type of coffee maker for you. Your options here range from low-cost machines that will “get the job done” to fancy, high-end coffee makers favored by baristas.

We love the Technivorm Moccamaster, which produces some of the best homemade drip coffee we’ve ever tasted. It can brew a full 10-cup pot in roughly five minutes, and it reliably churns out coffee that is smooth, never sour or bitter. What makes this machine so great at extracting flavors is its ability to maintain super precise water temperature and evenly disperse that water over the bed of coffee grounds. This is all thanks to its copper heating element that keeps the water within an ideal brewing range of 195–205 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as a conical filter basket that positions the coffee grounds so that the water flows through (i.e., it uses gravity to ensure the water doesn’t pool in the filter basket and over extract the coffee). We like that this model comes with a 40 oz. thermal carafe, which will keep a full pot of coffee warm all day—without using a hot plate that will eventually burn the coffee.

The main downsides are that it takes up more counter space than other drip coffee machines and, at $340, it’s not cheap. If you’re looking for a less expensive (but still very nice) drip coffee maker, consider the Oxo Brew 8 Cup Coffee Maker. And if you’re in the market for a smaller barista favorite, go with the Bonavita 5 Cup Coffee Maker. Learn more about our picks for the best drip coffee makers.

Best espresso machine: Breville Bambino Plus

The thing about good espresso machines is that they usually come with steep price tags and equally steep learning curves. But if you regularly shell out for Americanos, lattes, and cappuccinos at coffee shops, they’re a worthwhile investment.

Choosing the right machine will depend on the type of experience you’re looking for. On one end of the spectrum, there are easy-to-use, fully automatic espresso machines that handle a lot of the process for you. They’ll measure and grind the coffee beans, pull the shot, and in some cases, froth your milk at the press of a button. On the other end, there are advanced, manual machines that put all the control in your hands. Our top pick for most people, the semiautomatic Breville Bambino Plus, falls somewhere in the middle.

The Breville Bambino Plus produces rich, flavorful, espresso with ease. It has great brew temperature control and is speedier than other machines, thanks to a roomy water reservoir that doesn’t need constant refilling and a fast heating mechanism that’s ready after three seconds. Additionally, it has an automatic setting for the steam wand, which will save you time when making lattes.

One thing to note is that this espresso machine doesn’t have a built-in coffee grinder, so you’ll want to get a high-quality burr grinder separately—consider the Baratza Virtuoso. And check out our round up of the best espresso machines to read more about the Breville Bambino Plus, along with great options for fully automatic and manual espresso machines.

Best pour-over coffee setup: Chemex Glass Coffeemaker

Pour-overs are both the most low-tech way of making coffee and the preferred technique for serious coffee connoisseurs. This method arguably makes the most delicate, light-bodied coffee and gives you the most control over the flavor of your cup. Unlike drip coffee and espresso, pour-overs don’t require a machine—just a few manual tools. You’ll need a gooseneck kettle, a pour-over cone, paper coffee filters, and a carafe to hold your finished product. You can find pour-over coffee sets that include most of these tools, but our favorite pour-over apparatus is the Chemex brew system. With an iconic hourglass shape, it’s essentially a pour-over cone and glass carafe combined. We like the fact that it eliminates the need for multiple parts, which helps decrease room for error, and it’s different from other pour-over setups in that it allows you to make relatively large batches.

Note that this is a manual method that can be finicky and take some practice to perfect. When making pour-overs, it’s even more important to weigh out your coffee with a kitchen scale and use the correct grind size to ensure the flavor of the coffee isn’t over or under extracted. Want the convenience of a drip machine with the benefits of a Chemex? Try the Chemex Ottomatic.

Best French press: Bodum Chambord French Press

The French press is another beloved method for making coffee manually, but unlike the pour-over, it produces an ultrarich, full-bodied drink. Here, the water doesn’t run through the ground coffee or require a paper filter—it brews by soaking the grounds directly in hot water. This extended direct contact between the water and the beans means your drink will carry more of the aromatic oils and result in a product that has a bolder, more robust flavor. Depending on your size of French press, it’s an ideal method for making a single cup of coffee or a batch for a crowd.

The Bodum Chambord French Press features a classic glass-and-stainless-steel design, and it’s among the best on the market. It’s both elegant and sturdy, featuring a fine-mesh filter and perforated plunger unit that smoothly presses into the carafe. If you’re looking for a stylish upgrade, consider another one of our favs, the Le Creuset Stoneware French Press.

Best moka pot: Bialetti Moka Express

If you’re a fan of strong, espresso-like coffee but don’t feel inclined to purchase an expensive machine or fuss with the learning curve, you’ll appreciate a moka pot. This stovetop percolator consists of a bottom chamber to hold the water, a filter basket for the ground coffee, and an upper chamber that collects the finished drink. Similar to espresso, boiling water—pressurized by steam—is passed through ground coffee, and the result is rich and highly concentrated. The finished product isn’t exactly an espresso, but it’s pretty close and significantly easier to make. This coffee system also doesn't require any filters or special parts.

When you think of a moka pot, the Bialetti Moka Express probably comes to mind. With a shiny aluminum body and ergonomic black handle, it is an undeniable classic. It’s available in a variety of sizes ranging from 1 cup (which yields a single-shot of espresso) to 18 cups, but the 6-cup model is a popular happy medium. One drawback: The plastic handle is infamously known to melt over an open flame, so you should position it off-center. If your handle does melt, you can purchase a replacement. And, if you’re interested in a designer upgrade that’s equipped with a cast-iron handle that definitely won’t melt, consider the Alessi 9090 Espresso Maker. Read our full round up of the best moka pots.

Best cold-brew coffee maker: Toddy Cold Brew System

If you’re not into hot coffee, consider cold brew, which is made by soaking coffee grounds in cold or room temperature water for 16 to 24 hours. This slow extraction method results in a smooth, heavy-bodied coffee that tends to be more acidic. That’s why baristas love the Toddy Cold Brew System, which creates a concentrate that is smooth and less acidic than other cold-brew makers. The process is simple: Fill the Toddy with coffee and water and refrigerate it overnight. When you’re ready to drink it, pour it over ice and dilute it with three parts water. The result is a seriously delicious, very strong cold brew.

If you want an iced coffee but don’t necessarily want a cold brew (or you don’t want to wait for the long brew time), we recommend going the flash-brewed iced coffee route. The Coldwave Beverage Chiller, which cools hot beverages to room temperature in minutes, is another barista favorite. With this beverage chiller, you make a regular brew and instantly make it cold without diluting it—and you don’t have to make a concentrate.

This story originally appeared on Bon Appetit US.