I don’t like programmable coffee machines. When I think that my ground coffee is going to sit in an open space for a minimum of 6 hours, I just can’t use one of these machines. They are very practical, and if all you want from your coffee is a jolt of caffeine, and you don’t care about the taste, then these are for you. Here is what Business Insider considers the best programmable coffee makers on the market.
The best programmable coffee makers you can buy
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Programmable coffee makers remain popular since they can be programmed to brew your coffee in advance.
The best model overall, Cuisinart’s Coffee Plus 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker, takes it a step further with a built-in hot water dispenser for making breakfast at the same time your coffee is brewing. If you’re the type who blearily wanders around the kitchen until you’ve had your first cup of coffee, a programmable coffee maker could be for you. Some machines allow you to program your coffee up to 24 hours in advance, ensuring that a fresh, hot cup of coffee is available as soon as you enter the kitchen in the morning. Heck, some will even grind the beans for you.As with other variants of coffee machines, programmable coffee makers fit all types of budgets and coffee drinkers. You can start with a bare-bones model that lets you program a basic cup, or splurge on a pricier machine that lets you make specialty drinks. Most programmable coffee makers have some sort of display, the most common being an LCD screen. There are generally buttons or dials that let you select the time you wish to program. Many machines also let you choose the desired strength and amount. Many programmable coffee makers on this list can brew up to 12 cups, although some have a capacity of 10 cups or less. You can choose to brew single servings as well.
Aside from programmability, size, and price, certain features can help make the decision easier. If the flavor is crucial, you’ll want to consider the brewing temperature. In general, coffee makers that reach a range of 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit deliver the most precise results. Some machines come with a warming plate to keep your beverages hot after brewing, which is particularly helpful if you’re not going to be drinking your coffee right away, or you want the remaining coffee to stay warm.
Impurities in the water, such as chlorine, could also impact the taste of the coffee; machines with carbon block filters work particularly well. However, they generally don’t make a noticeable difference if your water tastes good, to begin with.
Here are the best programmable coffee makers you can buy:
- Best programmable coffee maker overall: Cuisinart Coffee Plus 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker (CHW-12)
- Best value programmable coffee maker: Mr. Coffee Optimal Brew 10-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker (BVMC-PSTX95)
- Best programmable coffee maker with grinder: Krups Grind and Brew 10-Cup Coffee Maker (KM785D50)
- Best budget programmable coffee maker: Black & Decker Programmable Coffee Maker
- Best programmable coffee maker for specialty drinks: Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System
Why you’ll love it: The Cuisinart Coffee Plus 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker not only makes coffee, but its built-in hot water system also lets you make tea, oatmeal, and more.
You won’t have to fire up the kettle with this Cuisinart programmable coffeemaker, which comes with its own hot water system. The machine can brew coffee and get your favorite tea or snack ready at the same time with hot water on demand. The hot water is ready almost instantly, so all you need to do is press the lever down to dispense it. The hot water system is controlled via a power button and can be used even if you don’t want coffee, or if you’re already done brewing a cup. If you’re wondering how hot the water actually gets, one user measured it with a digital thermometer and found it to be 186 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your day can’t start before you’ve had a cup of coffee, you’ll appreciate this machine’s 24-hour programmability. If you need to sneak a sip or two before the brew cycle is finished, the Brew Pause feature lets you remove the cup or carafe without making a mess. This particular model brews up to 12 cups and has a one-to-four cup setting. A slightly smaller 10-cup model is also available. However, keep in mind that most models this size actually brew cups that are closer to 5 or 6 ounces, rather than the full 8 ounces, according to Consumer Reports.
Its generous array of features combined with an affordable price also helps set this programmable coffee maker apart as a top pick. You’ll find low, medium, and high carafe temperature control settings for optimal results. The machine automatically turns on and shuts off. When it’s time for cleaning, simply use the self-cleaning function. The machine comes with one charcoal water filter and a gold-tone filter to eliminate any impurities that can impact the taste of your coffee or other beverages.
Speaking of taste, it seems the machine works equally well with freshly ground coffee as well as pre-ground coffee. “I have used pre-ground coffee and freshly ground whole bean coffee (using my coffee grinder) with equally great results,” wrote one satisfied customer.
Pros: Separate hot water system, 24-hour programmability, carafe temperature control
Cons: Doesn’t have a backlit display, awkwardly placed water fill container, not the quietest machine
Why you’ll love it: From its high brew temperature to delay brew and auto-pause features, the Mr. Coffee Optimal Brew 10-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker is a solid value.
If you’re looking for overall value in a programmable coffee maker, consider this Mr. Coffee model. For starters, it’s equipped with many features you’d expect on a higher-end coffee maker, such as the delay brew function and an auto-pause feature that lets you grab a cup of coffee before brewing is finished. The machine automatically shuts off after two hours, which is a big plus if you’re the forgetful type.
If you can’t get to your coffee right away (or you want it to stay warm for additional cups), you’ll appreciate the double-walled stainless steel carafe. Unlike some models in this price range that come with a glass carafe, the extra insulation in this thermal carafe maintains a warm, but not scalding, temperature. Not only does this keep your coffee from tasting burnt, you also won’t have to rely on a warming plate or a microwave to get your coffee back to a drinkable temperature.
Based on several user comments, the machine is a worthwhile pick for those who like strong coffee. “If you enjoy lethally strong coffee that can bend a spoon, then follow the instructions that came with the coffee maker. I use about half the grounds they recommend using for a normal pot of coffee,” one owner suggested. Another said, “I am measuring my coffee for the first time ever, which makes for more consistent coffee.” The same user suggests the deep filter holder makes it easy to produce coffee that’s stronger than normal.
Whether you like your coffee strong or mild, the brewing temperature also plays a role. This machine brews up to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Black Bear Coffee, the ideal water brewing temperature is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit, with 205 being the optimal temperature. Anything less than 195 degrees Fahrenheit leads to improper extraction, while temperatures more than 212 degrees Fahrenheit will cause the water to boil and burn the coffee. A built-in water filtration system helps to remove up to 97% of chlorine.
Pros: Delay brew feature, greatly reduces chlorine taste from water, high brewing temperature
Cons: Plastic construction cheapens the appearance, produces a fair amount of steam when brewing, doesn’t have a permanent filter
Buy the Mr. Coffee Optimal Brew 10-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker (BVMC-PSTX95) on Amazon for $54.30 or $59.97 (originally $89.99)
Why you’ll love it: Not only is the Krups Grind and Brew 10-Cup Coffee Maker fully programmable, you can grind coffee at the same time.
The highlight of the Krups Grind and Brew 10-Cup Coffee Maker is its built-in grinder. Whether you’re a bit short on space or you simply prefer the convenience, having a built-in grinder lets you grind fresh coffee, and then brew it — all within one machine.
The conical burr grinder has five settings, so you can choose between coarse and fine grounds, and anywhere in-between. According to The New York Times, a good quality burr grinder cuts beans into evenly sized particles, as opposed to powder or chunks. You can adjust the settings on this machine according to the type of bean you’re using as well as your desired drink.
As far as built-in grinders go, this one stands out for its versatility. Many espresso drinkers find they can get the grind down to a fine powder that works well enough for homemade espressos. One user commented: “The blades are sharp and very low in the grinder, allowing this unit to pick up and pulverize any stray beans,” adding that it typically takes less than a minute to grind the beans. Another said it takes approximately 10 to 12 seconds to grind up beans to espresso consistency. Several owners mention that cleaning the storage container can be a bit of a chore. Using a smaller brush can help reach into tight spaces for easier cleaning.
If you’re looking for user-friendly features to help make your mornings easier, you’ll appreciate the straightforward controls on the Krups Grind and Brew. For starters, you can push a button to select anywhere from 2 to 10 cups. An auto-on feature allows you to program the machine to start at a time that’s most convenient for you. One user commented on the overall user-friendly nature of the coffee machine, saying that after adding beans to the grinder, “you just add the water for the number of cups you need, select the cups needed, and the coffee pot does the work for you.” Then, the machine will “automatically take the correct amount of beans to grind depending on how many cups you want and at the strength you choose.”
Pros: Built-in burr grinder, auto-start function, three brew strength settings
Cons: Grounds can get stuck on the container walls, carafe lid prone to opening when pouring, can get loud when grinding coffee