Coffee machines are all the same, right? Well, they are in the sense that they'll all make you a cup of coffee in the morning. But in truth, there's a wide spectrum when it comes to taste, style and functionality, and choosing the right machine for you and your kitchen can be a headache. Our favourite coffee maker at the moment is the Aerobie AeroPress for its simplicity and great price.
After much deliberation, research and a rather large overdose of caffeine, we’ve alighted on this bunch of unlikely heroes that steep, press and drip their way to a mighty fine brew. Dip in, there’s black gold on the table.
How to buy the best coffee maker for you
Whatever budget you have and whatever you’re looking for, there will be something to suit. The most expensive machines aren’t necessarily better than lower priced models. Some of the best traditional coffee makers are the cheapest, like the AeroPress.
You'll probably end up consuming more coffee than you expected, so be prepared for that! If you get one with a small water tank, you'll have to top it up regularly so be aware of that. If you like milky coffee, then you’ll want a coffee maker with a milk steamer/frother.
Look carefully at the milk frother on your machine of choice. A small, thin steam wand is generally only good for heating milk up, not for texturing it. What you want is a big, fat, steam wand on your espresso maker, or buy a separate milk frother. Please note, if you prefer espresso, café au lait or latte, it doesn't really matter how good your machine's milk frother is. Whatever machine you get, you'll have to clean and descale your new machine fairly regularly.
Again, if this thought irritates you, consider a pod coffee maker.
The 10 best coffee makers to buy today
1. Aerobie AeroPress
An ingeniously simple concept
The hugely popular, one-to-four cup AeroPress is an ingeniously simple concept that uses light air pressure to force coffee-infused water through a paper filter. It’s as perfect for home use as it is on the camping ground, a hotel room or the top of a mountain.
All you need is some ground coffee and a mug of hot water. For the finest tasting brew, load the main chamber with two scoops of a good quality fine to medium grind blend and some pre-boiled water, stir the contents for a while and wait for a minute before slowly pushing the plunger down over a period of about 30 seconds.
Voila, a palette smacking espresso-like brew with a hint of crema floating on top. The AeroPress is arguably the ugliest looking product here but it sure as hell makes a damn fine coffee. Exceptional value.
2. DeLonghi Distinta ICMI 211
Does the job and does it well
For larger families and dinner parties, an automatic filter machine like this unpretentiously stylish model from DeLonghi does the job and does it well. The Distinta produces up to 10 cups of filter coffee at a time and is about the size of a large kettle so it shouldn’t swallow too much worktop space.
To use it, simply fill the water reservoir up to the required level (the side gauge is measured in cups), throw one or two tablespoons of fresh medium grind coffee per cup into the easy-clean filter and hit start.
The Distinta also features an Aroma function that slows the filtering process for optimum flavour and a hot plate that switches off after 40 minutes. If you’re a fan of fuss-free filter coffee then this one’s the way to go. Available in three silky finishes: copper, cream and black.
3. KitchenAid Pour Over Coffee Brewer 5KCM0802
Fully automatic and even programmable
This classic-designed, pour-over model is fully automatic, 24-hour programmable and, according to KitchenAid, ‘developed to mimic the handcrafted coffee process’. The unit itself is comprised of a removable filter basket, a 1.18-litre water reservoir, a glass carafe and an on/off hot plate.
This machine doesn’t just pump water over the coffee willy-nilly. Instead, it first showers the grinds to ensure an even drenching before pumping in a pre-programmed amount of hot water. The resulting brew is exquisitely rich, smooth and flavoursome. And, what’s more, it can be programmed to turn on and do its stuff before you get out of bed.
Rather usefully, you can select either medium or dark roast and the number of cups you want, irrespective of how much water is in the reservoir. The warming plate, meanwhile, keeps the brew hot for up to 30 minutes although it’s best to drink it as soon as possible lest you end up with a bitter taste in your mouth.
4. Duo Coffee Steeper
Take it anywhere (providing you can clean it)
This crowd-funded four-cup option uses a two-stage filtration system and the power of gravity to make a smooth, clear brew with no sludge or grits.
It’s comprised of just three parts: a stainless steel upper section, a brewing chamber and a borosilicate glass pot.
Fill the chamber with some course coffee grounds, add boiled water, give it a stir and wait about four minutes. Now twist the lid and watch in amazement as a stream of pure sediment-free bean juice is deposited into the pot below.
To drink, simply tip and pour from the top-mounted spout. The Coffee Steeper requires no electricity so you could feasibly take it anywhere with access to hot water. However, it is a bit of a faff to clean.
5. Bodum Jesper
You know how this one goes, right?
The French press system is a popular coffee making method made famous by Bodum. You probably remember using one of these glass carafes at some point. You might also remember the time you dropped one and it smashed into a zillion pieces.
Some of you might even remember the time you pressed too hard on the plunger and the ensuing volcano of hot coffee that spewed all over the table.
User error issues aside, the Bodum system is a simple way to make a good strong brew and this three-cup Jesper model is an excellent introduction. Simply shove in a few spoons of course ground coffee, pour in some boiling water and wait about five minutes.
Now slowly press down on the handle until the plunger stops. Presto, a stonkingly rich, black blend with a kick like a mule. Just be sure to avoid drinking the last inch or so of liquid because it can be quite muddy down there.
6. Dualit Coffee Percolator
Gorgeous-looking percolator from the house of Dualit
Percolation is one of the oldest forms of coffee making and was hugely popular during the ’50s and ’60s before the filtered drip method and espresso took hold.
This tactile and frankly gorgeous-looking percolator from the house of Dualit produces up to 10 cups of black gold in around ten minutes and can even be used to brew tea.
It uses the same percolation method of old: boiled water is shoved up a narrow tube where it suffuses the coffee in a metal filter before dripping back down for a repeat of the process.
This means the coffee is extracted several times, the result being a coffee often strong enough to blow the head off. Once brewed, simply lift the jug off its plinth and take it to the table.
7. Wilfa Presisjon
Get scientific with your coffee
Turn your kitchen into a laboratory with this aesthetically pleasing creation from respected Norwegian barista, Tim Wendelboe. The Presisjon is comprised of a detachable tubular water reservoir, a plastic funnel that uses a standard No. 4 Melitta-style paper filter and a simple glass carafe.
Coffee connoisseurs will tell you that the prerequisites for a prime cup of filtered black gold are clean water, freshly ground coffee, a consistent brewing temperature, and the correct brewing time. This machine meets all those criteria.
However, the process isn’t as straightforward as other automatic machines since it involves not only precise ratios between coffee and water but also a separate flow control valve that adjusts both the number of cups and preferred flavour. Get it right, however, and the Presisjon delivers a consistently aromatic cup of fine-flavoured joe.
8. Russell Hobbs Brew & Go
Set the timer before you go to bed and...
The Brew & Go (that must have been a tough name to come up with) is small enough for even the most cramped of work spaces and just the thing for the busy bod who doesn’t have the time to fiddle about with complex machinery.
The Brew & Go filters medium grind coffee through a filter and into an insulated 400ml stainless steel travel mug.
Before going to bed, load it up with your favourite medium ground blend, add water and set the timer.
Come morning you’ll wake to the fragrance of a freshly brewed caffeine infusion that you can sip on the way to work. Just be sure to not overfill the reservoir with water or it will simply pour out of the side all over the desktop.
9. Smarter Coffee Machine
Wi-Fi enabled coffee. What more could you want?
If you’re a bit of a tech nerd who loves fiddling with phone apps to control your heating, lighting, security etc, then this wi-fi enabled filter machine is for you.
Granted, it doesn’t make the best filtered coffee in the world but, hey, you can set it off using an iOS or Android app while slouched in front of the TV or create a set of ‘rules’ that will kick it into gear first thing in the morning.
The Smarter uses bean-to-cup technology, too, so there’s no need to keep priming the filter with your favourite blend. Just fill with water (it provides up to 12 cups) and a few handfuls of fresh-roasted beans and sit back and relax. No problem if you don’t have your phone to hand because you can also use it like any manually operated filter machine.
10. Breville Moments
Coffee with a caveat - it's instant
According to market research specialist Mintel, a staggering 77% of Brits drink instant coffee at home (in Italy it’s 1%, France 4% and the US 7%).
If you’re a militant coffee aficionado, we suggest you skip this entry right away lest you start frothing at the mouth and breaking out in boils because this Breville model uses instant coffee instead of the freshly ground stuff.
Switch it on, spoon some instant into the mixing chamber (any brand will do), pour some milk into the container, hold down the lever and wait a minute while it mixes it all up into a hot frothy beverage. The taste and texture isn’t too bad, it must be said, but real coffee it ain’t. Thankfully, it also works with hot chocolate.