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Coffee Maker Types: Which is Best for You?

We compare single-serve coffee makers, espresso machines, moka pots and French presses so you can find the one that best suits your needs

Are you someone whose day doesn’t get started until you’ve had your first hit of caffeine? Then finding the right type of coffee maker to service your needs will be a priority. With so many types of coffee maker available, it can be difficult to come to a decision over which model is suitable for you. Some people are after the hands-on feel of a manual espresso machine or stovetop coffee maker, while others will prefer the ease of a single serve machine or the laid-back approach of a drip coffee maker.

To help you decide what’s best for you, below you’ll find a guide detailing the main types of coffee maker available, highlighting their advantages and disadvantages. As well as drawing on the opinions of our hard-to-please coffee expert, Sasha Muller, who suggests some of his top models of coffee maker, we’ve also reached out to Kaleena Teoh, co-founder and Director of Education at coffee training campus Coffee Project NY, to discover her favorite way to brew a cup of coffee.

What are the different types of coffee maker available?

Single-serve coffee maker

Making one cup of coffee at a time, single-serve coffee makers use cleverly designed single-use or reusable coffee pods to create your brew. The advantages of single-serve pod coffee makers include the wide range of coffee types available from different pod manufacturers, their simplicity, with many models operating with a single button, and the lack of any mess or clean-up. If you’re a fan of a barista-style drink such as a cappuccino or a flat white, you can even opt for a single-serve coffee maker with a built-in milk frother.

However, single-serve machines aren’t so great if you like to make large batches of coffee for yourself or for a busy household. Some people, unless they can find reusable pods for their coffee maker, also find single-serve pods to create excess waste.

Ultimately, if ease, variety and reliability are a priority for you, we can recommend several quality options. Our top all-rounders include the dual-spouted L’OR Barista, compatible with a wide range of pods, and the Nespresso Vertuo Next, which offers a more diverse range of drink sizes than most machines. Want something top of the line? The Nespresso Creatista Plus offers users a gorgeous stainless steel exterior, a milk-frothing wand and better espresso extraction than cheaper models.

Pour-over coffee maker

Want to make coffee without using an appliance? A pour-over coffee maker is quick and easy to use, and can make your coffee without taking up much space or using any electricity. Simply add a paper (or reusable) filter and your coffee grounds, then, as the name suggests, pour water over the grounds and allow the coffee to filter down into the receptacle below.

Making pour-over coffee takes around 15 minutes and can produce up to eight to ten cups of smooth, light-tasting coffee. The best pour-over device we’ve encountered is the Clever Dripper, which improves on classic designs by adding a lid and a valve that allows you to better control brew time and, therefore, the flavor profile of your coffee. Other popular pour-over coffee makers include the large, all-glass Chemex Pour Over and the ceramic Hario V60.

Coffee Project NY’s Kaleena lists pour over as her ideal way to brew: “My favorite brewing method is pour over, otherwise known as gravity brew. This brewing method highlights the acidity and the delicate notes of the coffee and usually results in a vibrant cup.”

Drip coffee maker

Drip coffee is one of the most popular methods of making coffee. In essence, this method automates the process of making pour-over coffee, passing heated water over fresh grounds and using gravity to draw the coffee into the pot below. More advanced drip coffee makers add keep-warm settings, precise temperature controls and even the ability to set your coffee to brew at specific times, meaning you can roll out of bed to a cup of joe ready and waiting.

Drip coffee makers are perfect for those whose preference is for a lighter, more delicate-tasting drink – and who also wish to make large volumes of coffee. However, if you prefer an intense flavor, want a versatile machine or are going to be making smaller amounts of coffee, then a drip coffee maker probably isn’t for you.

Top drip coffee machines on our list include the stylish and versatile De’Longhi 3-in-1 Speciality Coffee Brewer and the top-of-the-line Moccamaster Select.

Espresso machine

Serious coffee lovers who like to get technical with their brewing will be hard-pressed to beat an espresso machine. You’ve probably seen one in action at your local coffee shop, with the barista loading up and tamping down a portafilter with ground coffee before attaching it to a large, industrial-sized espresso machine. Internally, espresso machines create massive amounts of pressure and high heats to extract as much flavor as possible from coffee grounds, with the best espresso coffee tasting rich, smooth and chocolatey.

From the beans or coffee used to the grind size, tamp pressure, temperature settings, brew time and more, tinkerers and perfectionists are sure to be satisfied with an espresso machine. For the richness of espresso but without the effort opt for a pricey but luxurious bean-to-cup coffee machine, which takes care of everything from grinding the beans to making the espresso, with some even frothing your milk.

The best manual espresso makers we’ve tested include the simple but reasonably priced De’Longhi Dedica, the sleek-looking mid-range Gaggia Classic Pro (which produced the best espresso we’ve had from a sub-$500 dollar machine) and the high-end Breville Dual Boiler.

Stovetop coffee maker

If you like your coffee as dark as midnight and sharp as a tack, then a stovetop coffee maker – also known as a moka pot – is the way to go. Moka pots work by heating water in the device’s lower chamber over an open flame or electric range, utilizing steam pressure to force water and vapor through the coffee grounds in the middle chamber, delivering freshly brewed coffee to the upper chamber. Overall, this process takes around 15 minutes.

People are drawn to moka pots for the dark, rich coffee they produce, as well as their iconic, stylish design. However, moka pots do have a few downsides. First, they can only produce espresso, making them more limited than some of the other options here. There’s also a bit of a learning curve to using them, with newbies often accidentally leaving their moka pot on the stove too long, leading to over-extraction and an unpleasant, intensely bitter-tasting coffee. However, those with the patience to master this brewing style tend to swear by it, so it’s certainly still worth considering.

The most recognisable, iconic moka pot available is the original Bialetti Moka Express. Other stylish designs that have impressed in testing include the wooden-handled Stelton Collar and the conical Lavazza Carmencita.

French press and AeroPress

One of the more straightforward and budget-friendly coffee making methods, a French press is simple to use, easy to store and transportable – and it delivers strong, flavorful coffee. To use a French press, you simply remove the plunger, add a heaped tablespoon of ground coffee to the pot along with water heated to 200°F (just below boiling) and stir. Next, re-insert the lid plunger, stopping just above the water level, and allow the contents to sit for three to four minutes, before slowly but firmly depressing the plunger. Voila. You’re ready to pour yourself a tangy, full-bodied cup of coffee.

Our favorite French press options include the iconic, glass-based Bodum Chambord and the colorful Le Creuset Stoneware.

If you prefer a lighter, less acidic flavor profile, or are allergic to a messy cleanup process, then an AeroPress may be a better option. I find the set-up process fairly simple and enjoy the flavorful, rich espresso it produces. Most of all, though, I prefer the clean-up of popping a dried puck of used coffee grounds into the trash, over having to deal with wet, sludgy coffee grounds.


Not as popular as they once were back in the 1970s, having largely been supplanted by automatic drip coffee makers, many people still enjoy using a percolator. Something of a cross between a moka pot and an electric kettle, modern percolators are plug-in appliances sporting tall, metallic exteriors, an internal filter basket for holding coffee grounds and a water chamber large enough to make up to 12 cups of coffee.

Percolators work in a similar way to stovetop coffee makers, forcing heated water from the device’s lower chamber into the upper chamber where the coffee grounds sit. The coffee-imbued water then returns to the lower chamber and can cycle up through the ground coffee several times over the course of operation, making for a strong, tarry brew. For those who want their coffee to deliver a serious kick, a percolator makes a large batch of deliciously bitter brew and keeps it warm for hours.

While their relative obsolescence means we haven’t reviewed any percolators in depth just yet, a popular option that’s well-liked by users online is Farberware’s 12-cup Stainless Steel model.

Cold brew coffee maker

Still a relatively new and trendy way of making coffee, cold brew, as its name would suggest, is a coffee-making method where grounds are steeped in water under cold conditions for an extended period of time. Cold brewing yields a drink with a much sweeter, smoother flavor and a higher caffeine content – which will suit those who dislike the more astringent taste of hot-brewed coffee, as well as anyone looking for an extra boost first thing in the morning.

Cold brew coffee is made in a jar in your fridge, using specific ratios of coffee and water, but you filter out the grounds afterwards. Some people use a French press to make cold brew, since it provides an easy storage vessel and a built-in filtration method. The downsides to cold brew generally concern the time it takes to make the coffee – anywhere between 12 and 24 hours. If you want an easier, faster solution, then a dedicated cold-brewing machine is the way to go.

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