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I put this page together as a quick way for you to get information on how I make great coffee at home.
I own a ton of coffee making equipment and have tried a ton of different coffee and coffee-related services. This page is meant to show you what I use and recommend.
Of course, not everything I recommend will be for you, so feel free to ask me a question about any of these resources, and I’ll do my best to answer.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I have experience with virtually all of the equipment I recommend (unless otherwise noted) and only recommend what I truly feel will help you, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goal of making better coffee.
Recommended Coffee Makers
When I started this site I only reviewed coffee makers. Specifically, the best rated coffee makers.
Currently, I own more than 10 different coffee makers and have used and reviewed even more than this. You will find my recommendations for specific brewing methods and other criteria below.
Auto Drip Coffee Makers
Which one I recommend depends on the type of coffee drinker you are.
For those who want to get the most out of their coffee in terms of taste, without having to fuss around with a bunch of settings and extra features, the Bonavita BV1900 is without a doubt the best automatic drip coffee maker I’ve used.
It has one switch that simply turns the coffee maker on or off, it’s that easy to use.
In terms of features, it’s pretty much all built-in:
- Pre-infusion to saturate the ground coffee before the brew cycle begins
- Pulse brewing (the water comes out of the showerhead in timed intervals for a more even extraction)
- Thermal carafe
- Flat filter basket
There is also a programmable version if you want to wake up to coffee in the morning.
You can read my full review of the Bonavita Bv1900 here.
Behmor Brazen Plus
If you’re into features and experimenting with different brewing parameters, then the Brazen Plus is my recommendation for your auto drip coffee maker needs.
Not only does it make great coffee, but you can adjust pretty much everything imaginable. Some of the features:
- Adjust water temperature
- Stainless steel water reservoir
- Calibrate boiling point for your city’s altitude
- Pre-infusion (time is adjustable)
- Programmable timer
- Brew pause
- Pulse brewing
- Thermal carafe
At the time of writing (last updated 11/11/15), Behmor (the company that makes the Brazen Plus) is finishing up their next iteration of the coffee maker. The new version will integrate with your smart phone.
You can read my full review of the Brazen Plus here.
Pour Over Coffee Makers
I own about 5 different pour over coffee makers, but only consistently use 2-3 of them.
This isn’t to say that the others I own are no good, but if I used a different pour over brewer for every day of the week it would take me longer to master my technique of each respective brewer.
The 5 pour over coffee makers I own are:
- Hario V60 (Glass)
- Kalita Wave 185 (Stainless Steel)
- Chemex 6 cup (Glass)
- Bonavita Immersion Dripper (Porcelain)
- HIC (Porcelain)
If I had the choice to only keep one of these 3 pour over coffee makers, it would be a really tough decision. But for me, the V60 has given me the most consistently good results.
It is also the least expensive of the 3.
To read my review of the Hario V60 click here.
The Kalita Wave would probably be my second choice. If I traveled more, it would be my first choice because of how lightweight it is. Plus, it’s made of stainless steel.
The filters are also very thick and I find it easier to keep a flat coffee bed throughout the brew process (important for an even extraction, and thus, better-tasting coffee).
Finally, the stainless steel retains heat better than alternative materials like glass and porcelain.
To read my review of the Kalita Wave 185 click here.
The Chemex would be my third place choice just because it’s slightly more expensive than the other two pour over coffee makers I own. I’ve also found through experimentation that the filters carry most of the weight in terms of the coffee’s quality.
The Chemex is a great option if you want good quality coffee for multiple people. It is also aesthetically speaking, unbeatable.
To read my review of the Chemex click here.
French Press Coffee Makers
Many coffee fiends will tell you that the best place to learn how to make great coffee is with a French Press. While I don’t necessarily agree with this, I do think it’s a brew method everybody should try.
The benefits of French Press are as follows:
- Full-bodied (“rich”, “bold”) coffee
- Easy to use and extremely hands-off
- Fewer discrepancies in performance from brand to brand
- Can be used for cold brew
The cons (in my opinion):
- Clean-up (removing the grounds from the carafe can be a big pain)
- Doesn’t filter out all undesirable solids
- Allegedly linked to bad cholesterol – check out this great article by health.harvard.edu for more info
I currently own the Ritual French Press. I like the fact that it’s mostly made of glass, but this is what most French Press coffee makers are made of as it is.
The most popular brand in French Press is Bodum, and you really can’t go wrong in choosing a French Press made by them.
The major benefit of stainless steel is that it retains water temperature much better than glass or plastic. It’s also more durable.
The downside is that it’s more expensive. Still far less expensive than a quality auto drip coffee maker though.
Other Coffee Makers
I own some other coffee makers that don’t fall under the standard “drip” or “full immersion” (e.g. French Press) categories, and they are great for different kinds of coffee drinks.
The Aerobie AeroPress is quite possibly my favorite coffee maker.
Alan Adler is the brilliant man who invented this great little coffee maker, and to me, it has so many benefits it’s impossible not to try if you’re getting into making great coffee.
Some of the benefits:
- Inexpensive (usually retails around $30)
- Fast brew process (less than 2 minutes)
- Super easy to clean
- Portable with a very small footprint
- Made in the USA (good luck finding any other coffee maker that is still made in the USA)
- BPA free – see here for a full breakdown of all materials used
- Versatile – can be used in many different ways
- Only brews one cup of coffee at a time
- Hands-on brew process
The bottom line is that the AeroPress is my go-to recommendation for anybody who is looking for a single-cup solution.
The Moka Pot is the classic method for making coffee in Italy and Cuba. While many people think that Moka Pots are used to make espresso, this is not actually true. Yes, the coffee is concentrated. However, the resulting concentrate is not the same as what you’d achieve from a real espresso maker.
Nevertheless, the coffee it makes is unique and quite delicious.
It’s full-bodied like French Press, but usually has a more syrupy mouthfeel. I often get flavor notes that have a wood-like taste (not in a bad way), with nice acidity.
To me, a Moka Pot is the best solution for somebody who wants to get into espresso-based drinks but isn’t ready to shell out significant amounts of cash. The truth is, most coffee drinkers won’t notice the difference between real espresso and moka coffee.
Currently, I use the Bialetti Moka Express, which is available in multiple sizes. Keep in mind though, a “cup” of coffee from a Bialetti is roughly 2 ounces of coffee. But since the coffee is concentrated, most people will need to dilute it with equal parts (or more) hot water.
You can read my review of the Bialetti Moka Express here.
Cold Brew Coffee Makers
I could write about cold brew coffee makers here, but it would be superfluous. If you’re interested in making cold-brewed coffee check out my complete guide here.
There are 3 things you are looking to achieve in your ground coffee, and thus should be looking for in a grinder:
2) Ideal particle size for the brew method you choose
3) Minimal heat absorption
When you hear coffee professionals (or snobs) talk about grinding coffee, you will most likely hear grind consistency mentioned, particularly when it comes to evaluating the quality of a grinder.
A consistent grind is basically when all of your ground coffee particles are the same size.
The reason this is said to be important is that different size particles react differently when exposed to water.
Smaller (finer) particles tend to extract more flavor from the coffee while larger (coarser) particles extract less. By having multiple particle sizes in your ground coffee you are setting yourself up for a cup of coffee with a somewhat unpredictable array of flavors.
Now, some coffee professionals have actually said that you don’t want a grind that is 100% uniform because this will give the final brewed cup less complexity.
To me, both arguments sound good, but I try and focus on more uniform grinds for more consistent results.
So try this: compare a blade grinder (less consistent grind) to a burr grinder (more consistent grind). Taste differences? Take it from there.
Particle size for the brew method
Every coffee maker has a sweet spot in terms of the ground coffee’s particle size.
French Press coffee makers tend benefit the most from coarser particle sizes while espresso and turkish coffee require extremely finely ground coffee.
Most other coffee makers fall somewhere in the middle of this particle size spectrum. Finding the ideal particle size for your coffee maker will require plenty of experimentation.
My recommendation for all other coffee makers: start at a medium grind setting and work your way up or down depending on the results (more on this in a future email).
Minimal heat absorption
Since coffee has already been roasted before it’s ground, it’s important not to roast it any more.
Many electric grinders have motors that can’t help but heat up the coffee beans you are grinding. Ideally, you’ll want a coffee grinder with a slower motor so you don’t end up scorching your ground coffee.
While heating your ground coffee from an over-active motor is the least important of the 3 components of a good grinder, it’s still a good idea to err on the side of caution and go with a grinder that doesn’t come with this side effect in the coffee it grinds.
In a previous email I mentioned that burr grinders are the best option for grinding coffee, and this is backed by the 3 points I highlighted above.
You see, a blade grinder (think Krups) chops coffee beans as they hop around in the hopper, but there is no guarantee that it will chop each bean uniformly. It’s the same thing with a blender: not all of your fruit and other ingredients will be uniformly chopped.
It’s also very difficult to target a grind size with a blade grinder, because this is mostly determined by how long you hold down a button. Even then, because your ground coffee will lack uniformity you won’t be able to get the perfect grind size for your coffee maker.
Finally, the quickly moving blades produce plenty of heat when they come into contact with the coffee beans.
In contrast, burr grinders crush beans with less friction. The best burr grinders will also produce a uniform grind and have an easy-to-adjust grind setting for targeting the right particle size.
The particle sizes are basically controlled by how far the upper and lower burrs are spaced from each other. In this case, time has nothing to do with it as is the case with blade grinders.
Choosing the right burr grinder
Before you run off to Amazon typing in “Burr grinder” and ordering the first one you see, let me give you my recommendations. I will also tell you which ones I would avoid based on personal experience.
I will separate each of my recommendations based on budget. Always start on the low end if you’ve never ground your coffee before. This ensures that you will make a smaller investment in something that you are testing and learning (grinding coffee).
All of the following grinders are manual grinders meaning you will have to use a hand crank to operate the burrs. The advantages of manual grinders are that they are portable and don’t require any electricity to operate.
The disadvantages are that they usually have a small grind capacity (can’t grind more than a few cups-worth of coffee) and take longer to grind than electric grinders.
Hario Skerton (I’ve never used it, but have heard good things)
Porlex (I’ve never used it, but have heard good things)
There are a mix of manual and electric grinders listed below. Baratza is the darling brand of the home coffee grinding industry, known for its reliable grinders and incredible customer service.
All Lido hand grinders are made by Orphan Espresso and said to be the best in the business of all the hand grinders available. Yes, they are pricey, but the burrs are sharp and as such the grind speed issue in most manual grinders isn’t an issue for Lido.
Lido 2 (I’ve never used it, but have heard great things)
Lido 3 (I’ve never used it, but have heard great things)
Once grinders get into this price range you are likely looking into grinders for espresso. If you only make coffee, you won’t need to venture into this price range with the grinder you buy. These grinders are really only suitable for those who are trying to make great espresso at home.
Baratza Virtuoso (I’ve never used it, but have heard great things)
KitchenAid Burr Grinder (I’ve never used it, but have heard great things) – this is the grinder James Freeman recommends in the Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee
More than $300
Unfortunately, the best grinders are also the most expensive. However, grinders in this price range are really only necessary for the serious espresso enthusiast.
I wouldn’t venture into this territory until you are completely committed to mastering your espresso craft.
Rocky Rancilio (I’ve never used it, but have heard great things) – this was the grinder I was going to buy, but I went with the Breville Smart Grinder Pro at the last minute.
Baratza Vario (I’ve never used it, but have heard great things)
Don’t drive yourself crazy
There are a ton of different grinders on the market, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the options. Try not to get discouraged though. It’s fine to start on the low end and work your way up to something fancier when you’re ready.
Hand grinders are a great intro in terms of value, but I wouldn’t recommend them to anybody who doesn’t have any extra time to spare.
If you’re one of these people, I’d recommend starting with the Baratza Encore.
Grinders to avoid
Below are a few grinders I’ve used in the past that I’ve had bad luck with. You may have different results, but I’d still proceed with caution if you’re considering these.
I got the Bodum Bistro for my dad years ago. It broke almost immediately. It also has a motor that shuts off after running for 20 seconds.
It’s messy and very difficult to clean. There is static build-up in the grind basket and a lot of the coffee is retained (doesn’t come through the grind chute).
The grind range is also not that impressive.
Which grinders do I use?
The reason I don’t recommend the Breville Smart Grinder Pro is because I’ve had too many performance issues with it over the span of time I’ve used it. Having said that, it’s a great value grinder when it’s working. Just not a good option for grinding coffee coarsely (or very finely).
You can read my review here.