Best Budget Drip Coffee Makers – Cuisinart vs Kitchenaid vs Hamilton Beach

Red Drip Coffee Machine

One of the things we love, (or need), in the morning is a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Oftentimes though, we don’t have the time to fix ourselves a natural kick of caffeine. Grinding some coffee beans and boiling water doesn’t seem that complicated. Well, with a busy schedule this is just-another-thing to add to the morning chores. That’s why we have the coffee machine.

With so many coffee machines on the market, it’s a bit difficult to decide what type of coffee maker you should get. But there is definitely one factor that we always and often consider: the budget.

So, why settle for something cheaper?

If spending over $200 is beyond your budget for a great cup of morning coffee, don’t get alarmed. There are tons of great budget drip coffee makers. There are some good ones under $100. Besides, the idea of home-brewed coffee is to spend less and brew it conveniently in your home. You can then use the 100 dollars you save, to buy some quality single origin coffee beans. It’s a total win-win situation for you! Reminder: Cheaper drip coffee makers can offer a great brew. You just need to know which one to pick. Warning: Make sure you don’t fall into the “cheap device” trap. Your coffee will taste cheap too. A coffeemaker less than $30 is way too cheap.

KitchenAid KCM1202OB

Looking for a sleek and modern looking coffee maker that makes a strong coffee? The KitchenAid KCM1202OB one of the best choices. Despite the low-cost, it has a state of the art brewing technology. It is light and compact and looks great on the counter. It has an easy operating interface with quick button settings. Here is the long list of awesome features of the KCM1202OB:

  • Large digital LED display
  • Indicator lights and LED display for operations and warnings
  • Multiple servings: 14-cup carafe and 1 to 4 cup serving selection
  • 24-hour programmability
  • Brew strength selection for bold/ strong coffee and regular coffee
  • Removable water tank for quick and easy cleaning
  • Comes with a pause and pour feature
  • Auto shut-off programmable for up to 4 hours
  • Uses reusable flat-bottomed gold tone filter
  • Polycarbonate casing
  • Design color option: Contour Silver, Empire Red, Espresso, Onyx Black, Liquid Graphite

What to Consider in Buying a Coffee Maker on a Low Budget?

Drip Coffee in Paper Cup with lid

Obviously, the cost is the first consideration when buying on a budget. The cost though is not the most important. Being selective when it comes to making coffee is the way to go. Brewing great coffee isn’t just boiling water and pouring it over coffee grounds. There are many factors that will affect the taste and aroma of your cup. When you compare coffee makers, make sure they meet these criteria:

  • They are affordable and can produce large amounts of coffee at a time
  • They are conceived for a daily basis usage
  • They have a lot of features that we can control to produce the quality brewed coffee that suits our taste
  • There are tons of models to choose from
  • They produce reliable brewed coffee
  • They produce quick and easy brewed coffee

The two important factors to consider when buying a drip coffee maker are Value and Warranty.

No matter how much we love good coffee, the cost also matters to us. But aside from the initial cost, we have to consider the value or cost of ownership. Sure, the purchasing price matters. But if it consumes a lot of energy is still going to cost you money. What if you need to replace it just after the warranty expired?

Cost of ownership

As a prospective buyer, you should consider the overall cost of an electric drip coffee maker. The main reasons why we’re trying to buy a low-budget drip coffee machine is to save some money.
Among the three, Cuisinart offers the cheapest buying price. KitchenAid though has a better cost of ownership because it consumes less energy.

Warranty

Warranty is also important. Some brands stand behind their products and give you a 5 years warranty. Other manufacturers will give you the standard 1-year-warranty to reduce costs. Sometimes is probably smart to buy an aftermarket appliance warranty. But that will increase the cost of your coffee maker.

Cuisinart DCC-3200

This is a low-budget drip coffee maker that falls lower on the price scheme. Cuisinart is an easy-to-use coffee maker, a great solution to your morning cup of joe. It adds a modern touch to your kitchen counter and is compact—saving you kitchen counter space. With simple settings and minimal selection options, is very easy to operate. You can make a cup of brewed coffee without much hassle over-complicated settings. Here are the features that made us fall in love with it.

  • 24-hour programmability
  • With a self-clean action for quick and easy cleaning
  • Auto-shut off after 4 hours
  • Multiple serving feature: 12-cup carafe and 1-4 cups serving
  • Brew strength selection for strong coffee or regular coffee
  • Uses a reusable gold-tone conical filter basket
  • Made of BPA-free plastic
  • Has three hotplate settings for hotter coffee to take to work
  • Stainless steel covers offer a nice design-quality
  • There is a thermal carafe as an optional item, for those who need it

Construction, Design and Build Quality

Heating Element

Low budget drip coffee makers use cheaper heating elements to save costs. The best heating elements are made of copper. Aluminum or stainless steel is the choice when manufacturers try to cut costs. A copper heating element is more expensive but it has a longer lifespan. Copper is a better thermal conductor and this results in consistent heating. Copper is more resistant to corrosion compared to aluminum and stainless steel.

Body Material

The construction of the coffee maker. Some use polycarbonate covers, plastic or stainless steel. A good material for a coffee maker casing is polycarbonate. This is the same material used to make cars. Polycarbonate makes it heat resistant and prevents overheating. Plastic can also trap heat in the coffee machine thus affect the longevity of a coffee maker.
On our list, only the KitchenAid casing is made of polycarbonate.

Carafe Material

You should also consider whether you’ll get one with a glass carafe or a thermal carafe. A glass carafe is great when you’re going to consume the coffee immediately. If you don’t, the hot plate that keeps the glass carafe hot will end up overheating and burning the coffee.

Brewing Quality

This is probably the most important aspect of choosing a drip coffee maker. No matter how cheap it is but if it produces subpar brewed coffee it would be twice crossed out of your list, right. Evaluating a quality coffee maker is about evaluating the taste of brew it produces.

Brewing Time and Temperature

The SCAA sets a high standard for approving coffee makers. They require manufacturers strict brewing temperature and time. The perfect brewing temperature is 195 to 205 degrees F. The total time to brew is 4 to 8 minutes. A high-quality coffee maker sticks to this set of rules. We reviewed some of the SCAA Certified Coffee Makers here, but they are a different price range.

Filter Basket

One other important brewing aspect is the filter basket. The basket’s shape affects the quality of your brew. When using a cone-shaped filter baskets water will saturate all the coffee grounds in the brewing bed. With flat-bottomed filter baskets, water tends to flow through the center only. This results in an uneven saturation, thus under-extracted coffee.

Disposable paper filters are more convenient. But, the filter paper also filters out the aroma and the total dissolved solids found in the coffee. That’s why they produce lighter-colored brewed coffee.

Reusable filters may be harder to clean but they are eco-friendly. Coffee brewed with reusable filters is more flavorful and has a fuller body. If this is how you like your coffee, avoid paper filters. If you prefer lighter, and with less body, use paper filters.

Hamilton Beach 49980A

I love Hamilton Beach coffee makers. Whether it’s coffee to-go, or a large pot to share with the others, Hamilton Beach 49980A doesn’t fail. It offers you a rich-tasting coffee without compromise and at a decent price. Has a simple design, with ease of use in mind. Is easy to operate with an intuitive interface.

  • Separate water tanks for the single serving and 12-cup carafe
  • Reusable coffee mesh filter
  • Single serve ready with soft pod accommodation
  • The single-serve plate can accommodate a cup, a mug, a thermal carafe, etc.
  • Auto-shut off programmable for up to 2 hours
  • Brew strength selection for strong coffee or regular coffee
  • Uses reusable flat-bottomed gold tone filter basket
  • Comes with a pause and pour feature
  • Hotplate only available on the carafe side

Other brewing Options

A great option to have is the pre-infusion setting. During pre-infusion, the coffee maker sprays a small amount of water over the grounds. This will enhance the grounds saturation, and allow them to bloom. Pre-infusion will, in the end, allow a better extraction. KitchenAid is well-known for using pre-infusion setting to improve the brewed coffee.

Bonus Features

Even if you are paying less, you want to make the most of your money. A popular bonus feature is the auto brew. This is a programmable option where you can set the machine to start brewing at a certain time. You can have a cup of coffee every morning when you wake up. Many low budget coffee makers have this option. I don’t use this feature because ground coffee gets stale in 10 hours.

Another interesting feature is the option to control the amount of brewed coffee. If there is only 4 people drinking, it doesn’t make sense to brew a 12 cup carafe. That’s just a waste.

Even better, Hamilton Beach Coffee Brewer has two coffee serving options. You may opt for a single serve, or brew an entire pot.

Low Budget Drip Coffee Makers Comparison Table

Compared Brewers

Cuisinart DCC-3200

Hamilton Beach 49980A

KitchenAid KCM1202OB

Place of Manufacture

China

China

China

Construction

Stainless Steel

Plastic

Polycarbonate

Capacity

14-cup carafe

12-cup carafe

12-cup carafe

Carafe Type

Glass

Glass

Glass

Filter Type

Reusable Conical Filter

Reusable Flat-bottomed Filter

Reusable Conical Filter

Auto Shut-off

After 4 hours

After 2 hours

After 4 hours

Brewing Options

Full pot

Single Serve/ Pot full

Full pot

Adjustable Brewing Strength

Yes

Yes

Yes

Approx. Time

$70

$89

$100

The KitchenAid® 12-Cup Coffee Maker

Back to KitchenAid review.

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