Drip filter coffee machines are nothing new, they but are enjoying a bit of a renaissance.
But do coffee drippers make good coffee? What should you look for in a drip filter coffee machine? And what are the best drip coffee makers on the market?
We’ve taken a deep dive into the world of drip filters to come up with this guide to everything you need to know about coffee drippers, and talk you through the features of what we think are some of the best drip filter coffee machines on the market right now.
Click here to jump to that list immediately or read on to learn more about drip filter machines.
What is the deal with drip filter coffee?
Following its invention in Germany in the late 1950s, the electric drip filter rose to prominence during the ’70s. but the popularity of drip filters has been on the wane somewhat in recent years.
But the electric drip filter coffee machine is making a comeback, perhaps spurred on by the popularity of its manual cousin, the pour-over set.
Do drip filter coffee machines make good coffee?
They certainly do. A lot of this is due to how they work.
A drip filter machine will contain a basket for coffee grounds which is suspended above a carafe, and a tank of water which heats up and pours over the coffee grounds.
This extraction method is gentle and does not over-extract your beans.
The standard filter-papers and meshes that line the coffee machine’s grounds remove most of the oils and fines from the coffee, meaning the brew is crisp and clear with a nice smooth mouthfeel.
Given the ubiquity of drip filter coffee machines in restaurants, hotels, and conference-centres we are sure you will have drunk it before. Not all of it is good, but don’t blame the method.
Plenty of drip machines come with hot plates which can keep the carafe warm for hours so that plenty of establishments end up dishing up stale coffee that was brewed several hours ago and tastes a bit flat.
Also key to a good coffee – any good coffee – is freshly ground beans. If low-grade coffee was put in to begin with, no machine can make a decent brew.
What should I look for in a drip filter machine?
There are plenty of different designs out there. Some are very simple and cheap, and others are more complex and expensive.
One thing to consider is the level of programmability. Do you want to be able to tell your machine to start making your coffee before you wake up? There is nothing quite like waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and there are plenty of machines out there that can make sure you can walk into the kitchen and pour a cuppa right away every day.
A second thing to consider is whether you want a bean-to-cup. Bean to cup machines contain a hopper up top for your beans and an integrated burr grinder to crush your beans right before you brew. If you are already a coffee aficionado and have a grinder then you might think there is little point, but if you don’t have a grinder it could be worth investing.
A third thing to consider is the filter type. Some machines contain re-usable filters. You might like this idea – it will certainly save on having to buy filters, but it will make for some washing up. Some people prefer the taste of paper filtered coffee and say it is a little crisper. Perhaps you are one of them.
Finally bear in mind whether you want a hot-plate below to keep your brew warm, or an insulated carafe. While we would never advocate anyone drinks aged stale coffee, a plate could be useful – for example, if you live in a household where people get up at slightly different times and breakfast is a staggered affair.
And of course, the more bells and whistles you add, the more expensive the machine becomes.
Best Bean to Cup Drip Machine:
The Melitta AromaFresh is a drip filter coffee machine that has all the features and comes in at a very attractive price point. Not only that, the machine boasts an easy-to-use interface, robust build quality, and stylish looks.
The AromaFresh comes with a 1.3-litre water tank, glass carafe, bean hopper, and integrated grinder with three coarseness settings. This might not sound like many, but for a drip filter three is probably all you need. The grinder empties into a basket that takes standard papers. These are widely sold and work out at 3-4 pence a brew.
Via a simple button and LCD display interface on the right you can choose to programme your machine to kick into gear at a set time. You can also choose from three different strength settings, run an auto descaling programme, and tell the machine to override the grinder and just use pre-ground coffee.
Below is a hot plate that can be set up to stay warm for 20, 40, or 60 mins after each brew.
There are a couple of minor gripes. We thought that when making a full pot on strong, the coffee could be a bit more full-bodied. The hot plate also struggled to keep the coffee at a pleasantly drinkable temperature for the full 60 mins after brewing.
None of these are show stoppers however and this is a machine that can give you super fresh coffee everyday like clockwork.
Best Filter Drip Machine:
This sophisticated pour-over machine can make six decent-sized mugs of coffee, has a timer function and an easy to programme touch button display. The machine also offers a good degree of optionality, allowing you to dial in your perfect coffee altering the strength and size of each brew.
The machine comes with a permanent mesh filter but can also take cupcake style paper ones which can be purchased separately fairly cheaply.
Morphy Richard’s pitch to consumers is its more sophisticated drip-filter method, which mimics a manual pour-over. This revolves around a sort of showerhead up top which evenly soaks your beans. It also pre-wets them allowing grounds to ‘bloom’ – this is a natural expansion after they wet, as carbon dioxide is released from them.
By leaving the grounds to bloom, the theory is that the water can extract more flavour from the coffee on the second pour.
It makes smooth and sweet coffee, which a plate below will keep warm for up to 25 mins, not as long as others out there – but kind of understandable for a machine which prioritises the quality of each cup.
Best Drip Machine for Coffee Snobs:
The Clessidra is an innovative take on the bog-standard coffee dripper and is one of the best looking and performing filter machines currently on the market.
The unit features a beautiful sleek hourglass shape and has the water chamber and heater up top. The tank can hold 1.25 litres so can make up to four cups of coffee at a time.
There are two modes that are selected via buttons on the base, straight up batch filter and a precision setting, which gradually and evenly soaks your beans in bursts to mimic a pour-over made by a barista.
The unit takes paper cone-shaped paper filters and the hot plate down below is auto shut off and will keep your brew warm for 40mins.
There is not much else to it. You cannot programme it to turn on and you have to set the length and strength yourself by changing your ratios of coffee to water.
The machine is very easy to clean and can boast an excellent “no-drip” setting, unlike several other brands on the market.
For the money, some may feel the machine does not do a lot, but the biggest selling point here is the coffee itself. The brewing system is approved by ECBC (European Coffee Brewing Centre) and has been designed to ensure the perfect flavour extraction. It makes lovely bright and clear coffee consistently.
Best Budget Bean to Cup Drip Machine:
The Aicook 2-in-1 filter coffee maker is a budget bean to cup offering that is highly compact – it takes up about as much room as a kettle. The water tank holds around 0.6 litres which the machine claims to be 6 cups (all these machines seem to think a cup is around 100ml for some reason). To a normal human who drinks from a mug, this is two cups of coffee.
The machine has an onboard grinder but has no timer setting, which is a shame.
It’s pretty simple to operate. Press the buttons for 1 cup beans, 2 cup beans or ground coffee and let the machine do the rest. The hot plate below does a decent job of keeping the brew warm for up to 40 mins. There is no programmability to adjust strength or grind size which is a drawback. The chute that sends coffee grounds down into the filter basket can also get clogged up over time, so you need to keep an eye on it to check the machine is running smoothly.
It looks quite cute if a little plasticky and lacks quite a lot of the extras other machines come with but is impressively compact and excellent value for money.
Best Drip Machine for Tech Lovers:
This bean-to-cup machine from start-up Smarter Coffee comes with a 1.5-litre water tank, carafe, onboard adjustable grinder and large bean hopper that holds 250 grams of coffee. Underneath is a hot plate that will keep coffee warm for up to 40 mins.
While the machine can be programmed via buttons and its onboard display, the big USP here is the fact you can control the machine through an accompanying smartphone app and command the machine to brew coffee using Alexa.
It’s a fairly neat trick. The app does work but is not that easy to set up and quite basic. That said, the ability to order coffee wherever you are at the push of a button is awesome. If you are into tech this could be the machine for you.
Most stylish machine:
This Smeg unit features a 1.4-litre water tank and is a straight-up drip filter coffee machine, so no grinder unit up top but still a hot plate underneath with a 40 min keep-warm function.
As with all Smeg products there is a price premium for the machine’s distinct ’50s aesthetic, which comes in 7 different colours. At least it’s easy to find one to fit in your kitchen. This fact alone makes it stand out among drip filter coffee machines – you would have to say this market segment is not exactly full of stunners.
The unit is easy to programme via its buttons and LED display and can be told to switch on at a certain time. It comes with a dishwasher-safe detachable mesh portafilter basket which requires cleaning but means you do not have to buy papers.
The build quality is good, but there are a couple of minor issues. The water tank is hard to fill due to the angle it opens at and the machine beeps quite loudly after brewing and switching off and on.
Best Thermal Carafe:
The Bonsenkitchen programmable thermal coffee maker is a straight-up drip-filter unit with a programmable timer and combination of a thermal carafe and a hot plate to keep your coffee warm after brewing.
The unit offers a robust build quality at a very attractive price and makes good coffee. The thermal jug does a great job of keeping coffee fresh and warm and the unit comes with a detachable mesh filter which is reusable.
It’s simple button controls are easy to use and it can make lovely strong coffee. The final product can be kept at drinking temperature for hours, but it is difficult to get a piping hot cuppa out of the machine if you like your coffee scorching.