Is it worth it to spend more money on a coffee maker or does it not really make a difference? And how much should you spend? Here’s what you want to know.
Spending more money on a coffee maker will give you a higher build quality, more features, longevity and better tasting coffee. Spending a little more than the absolute minimum will pay itself back in longevity alone. Taste is largely dictated by quality and freshness of the used beans.
This article is about drip coffee makers. If you are interested in espresso machines and how much to pay for one, click here.
Should You Spend Money On a Coffee Maker?
Coffee makers come with a wide variety of price tags. What’s the difference and should you spend more money on a more expensive coffee maker?
In general, spending more money on a coffee maker will get you better tasting coffee from a machine that is more durable and often has more features. Special types of coffee like espresso also require more expensive equipment.
If you like good tasting coffee spending a bit more than just the bare minimum on a coffee maker is a good idea. Also, if you like a machine that feels better and lasts longer, it’s a good idea to buy something a little bit more expensive since those machines are often better engineered and built from better materials.
There are a few factors that impact the price of a coffee maker. Let’s take a look at them;
- Materials and components: For $15, you can’t expect the highest quality materials and components. Cheap coffee makers are made with the cheapest possible components which means they don’t feel good and don’t last long. More money buys better components which brew better and last longer.
- Build quality: As an extension of the last point, more money often buys you higher build quality. That’s not only better materials but also quality control, engineering, etc.
- Brew parameters: For taste, the brew parameters like temperature control and flow rate are important. Cheap coffee makers often have no thought given to this whatsoever which can lead to bitter or just bad tasting coffee. Higher-end coffee makers brew with the right temperatures and flow rates for good coffee.
- Type of coffee: Normal drip coffee is very easy to make in its simplest form. Espresso needs much more pressure and lots of extra components so espresso machines are much more expensive than a drip coffee maker.
- Features: Another thing your money goes to is features. This can be many things. Some notable features are brew strength, batch size, included grinder and auto start.
- Design: And last but for many not least; if you want a coffee maker that looks good in your kitchen, you’ll likely have to pay a bit more.
If you just want a very simple brewer that makes coffee and are fine with the coffee those machines brew, you can go for a cheap machine. However, keep in mind that the cheapest ones potentially won’t last too long.
People that want something with higher quality and/or good tasting coffee, spending a bit more is worth it. If you pick the right machine, you’ll get something that looks better, lasts longer, feels better in your hands and most importantly brews better tasting coffee. Less bitterness, more depth of flavor and more brew options are often possible with better machines.
Want good espresso? There is no way around spending a good chunk of money. Because of the way espresso is brewed, there isn’t really a way to do this cheaply. The low-end machines that are marketed as ‘espresso’ machines, don’t really brew good espresso. They brew decent coffee but it won’t be what you expect from espresso.
Does An Expensive Coffee Maker Brew Better Coffee?
I’ve glossed over the taste of the coffee a little quickly above. That’s because the actual coffee maker is not the most important factor for taste of your coffee.
The most important thing for good coffee is freshly ground whole beans. High quality beans roasted by a good roaster are miles better than what you get in the supermarket and you will be able to notice a significant difference.
The easiest way to improve whatever coffee brewer you’re using is by freshly grinding whole beans. Any coffee brewer will brew better tasting coffee with fresh grounds and if you’re using pre-ground coffee now it will be a big improvement even in the same brewer.
It’s best to grind the whole beans just before brewing since that leaves the least amount of time for the grounds to go stale which results in the best coffee. A good grinder also helps by grinding the beans evenly which means an even extraction.
In the end, drip coffee makers pour water over the grounds. That water has to;
- Be the right temperature
- Flow at the correct rate
- Be distributed evenly
High end coffee makers do those things better than cheaper ones. They will have the brew water at the right temperature throughout the brew (cheap coffee makers often start too cold and end too hot). Flow at the correct rate and distribute the water better over the coffee bed (cheaper machines just drip in the middle).
The quality of the grounds used will make up about +-75% of the taste. A better coffee brewer will bring out the best in your higher quality coffee and provide the last +-25% of the taste quality.
So buying a high end coffee maker just for the taste benefits is likely to have disappointing results. Yes, the coffee will likely taste better from a high-end machine but upgrading the coffee grounds itself has a much more profound effect.
If you already have a coffee maker and just want to improve the taste, get high quality beans and a good grinder instead of a new coffee maker.
That said, there are plenty of other reasons to go for a better coffee maker like; build quality, longevity, features, warranty, etc.
How Much Should You Spend On a Coffee Maker?
So spending more will get you better coffee. That’s not an absolute but there is certainly a correlation between price and quality of coffee and quality of the machine. So how much do you need to spend to get what you want? Let’s look at a few different scenarios and what’s best for you;
Low-end drip coffee maker
- For: people that want something cheap that still brews drinkable coffee.
- Budget: About $50-$75
You just want a coffee maker that brews coffee and works. In this case, I’d still avoid the cheapest coffee makers that cost around $25 because there are concerns about longevity. I believe that spending a a bit more and spend around $50 will get you a better coffee maker that lasts longer and for that reason alone it’s worth the extra money. Spending twice the money to get a machine that lasts 3x as much is well worth it in my opinion.
If you want to spend less than $50 but still want coffee that’s much better than these brewers can make, take a look below.
Mid-range drip coffee maker
- For: people that want better coffee and also better build quality and more features.
- Budget: $100-$200
If you can spend a bit more money it’s very possible to get something that is just good without any caveats. All you have to do is put good coffee in it and this machine does the rest.
The Ninja specialty coffee maker is a really good choice in this category. It has all the features you would want and it’s well built. It gives you all the tools you need to brew great coffee. It’s well built and allows you to easily brew different styles of coffee.
High-end drip coffee maker
- For: People that want the best drip coffee makers out there.
- Budget: $200+
You want a great coffee maker that looks good and lasts forever. There are a few options but the one that ticks all these boxes the best way is the Technivorm Moccamaster. It’s not cheap but you get a very well built machine that’ll last you for a long time. Many from the 80’s are still around and working today.
There are no fancy features or space age materials. Glass, metal and very little plastic are what this coffee maker is made of so it’ll keep looking the same for quite a while. They have great temperature and flow control so you can get the best out of your coffee.
The design is not modern but it still looks good and purposeful. There are plenty of colors to choose from so you can probably find one that fits your kitchen. There are two versions; one with a glass carafe and one with a stainless steel thermal carafe. The later is a better option for longevity.
At this price point, it might seem attractive to go for a machine that does both grinding and brewing in one. While great from a taste perspective, those machines often have reliability issues since there are so many moving parts packed into one package.
Cheap Coffee Makers For Great Coffee
More expensive coffee makers tend to make better coffee. But what if you like good coffee but not the price tag that comes along with those machines. What can you do?
It’s absolutely possible to brew great coffee while not having to spend the big bucks on a fancy coffee maker. The drawback; you’ll have to develop some skills and put in more effort to brew a cup of coffee.
Some of the cheapest options are;
All of the above are available for under $40 and are capable of brewing great coffee. If you put in some time and effort, likely better than even the higher end machines can brew.
The French press makes good coffee but you have to like the type of coffee it brews. A French press doesn’t have a paper filter so the coffee can have some residue in it. It is also bolder and has more body than the other two brewers. Learn more about the French press here.
The Aeropress is very easy to use and requires much less skill to use than the V60. The downside is that the Aeropress can only brew one mug at a time. Find out more about the Aeropress here.
The V60 is a pour over cone that brews coffee that is the most similar to drip coffee makers. Put grounds in the cone, pour water on top and wait. A simple V60 cone is very cheap and simple to use. However, to brew the best coffee possible with it, you’ll need some time and skills. Extra equipment is also not a luxury. Find out more about the V60 here.
So if cheap, simple and good are the main requirements, an Aeropress is the best choice.