There’s no shortage of ways to make coffee, but if your priority is to enjoy it rather than spend a lot of brainpower making it, the best easy-to-use coffee makers provide a nearly effortless way to get your caffeine fix. Whether you use a drip machine, pour-over alternative, or anything in between, here are some things to keep in mind.
Isaac Mason is the Head Roaster at Maru Coffee in Los Angeles. He has four years of experience roasting, with prior history as a barista.
How The Options Stack Up
Isaac Mason, Head Roaster at Maru Coffee, offered the rundown on various coffee-making methods that don’t require a lot of effort. Here’s what to know about your options:
Automatic Drip Coffee Makers
“The coffee I drink most often and enjoy the most is just good old machine-brewed drip coffee,” says Mason. Drip machines brew anywhere from 5 cups to 14 cups, and price points range from under $30 to over $300, with higher-end models designed to produce better results with minimal effort. Using a drip maker is as simple as filling a water reservoir, adding grounds to a filter, and pressing a single button. For more versatility, you can opt for a model with programmable brewing that allows you to wake up to a fresh pot of steaming joe in the morning.
One of Mason’s favorite cheap brewing methods is the Clever dripper, which draws inspiration from both pour-over and French press, but produces “cleaner-tasting coffee than a French press.” This shortcut analog method uses a pour-over cone and filter — just add grounds and hot water (you’ll have to heat the water yourself), wait a couple minutes, then place it directly over your cup. He also notes that “the process is far less fussy than a traditional pour-over, because you don't need to spend a few minutes carefully pouring water from a special (and usually expensive) kettle.”
Single-Serve Coffee Machines
Although complex in construction, Mason says these convenient gadgets are “simple for the end user,” and heat water and brew a single cup with the help of pre-filled coffee pods, so you don’t have to bother with measuring grounds. Keurig is arguably the most recognizable single-serve machine, and if you want to avoid the single-use plastic K-Cups, you can buy reusable pods that are a bit more earth friendly — but you’ll have to add the grounds yourself.
Press Coffee Makers
Hand press-style coffee makers combine ground coffee and hot water in a chamber, allowing it to be extracted for a set amount of time before you press down to filter out the sediment. They’re compact and portable, but like the previous option, you’ll have to heat water, and cleanup can be more of a chore, so keep this in mind as this can add time to your routine.
One thing Mason advises against? Espresso. It requires “a very expensive and usually very bulky set of specialized equipment,” he explains, and “you have to know what you're doing, and follow certain steps in a certain way, in order to get decent results.”
“Brewing coffee is very simple at heart,” Mason notes, “and it doesn't have to be complicated to be good!” The best easy-to-use coffee makers below require minimal effort, so you can caffeinate quickly and get on with your day.
Shop The Best Easy-To-Use Coffee Makers
In a hurry? These are the best easy-to-use coffee makers:
- A Drip Coffee Maker With Foolproof Operation: BUNN Velocity Brew 10-Cup Coffee Maker
- A No-Nonsense Drip Coffee Maker At A Budget Price: Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Coffee Maker
- A Drip Coffee Maker With Customizable Features: Cuisinart PerfecTemp 14-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker
- A High-End Coffee Maker With A Cult Following: Technivorm Moccamaster Coffee Brewer
- A Clever Dripper For Analog Style Coffee: Clever Coffee Dripper
- A Single-Serve Coffee Maker That Also Brews Tea & Cocoa: Keurig K-Express Coffee Maker
- A 5-Cup Drip Coffee Maker For Small Batches: KRUPS Simply Brew 5-Cup Drip Coffee Maker
- A Coffee Press For Espresso & American Coffee: Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker
- A Cold Brew Maker For Chilled Coffee: Takeya 1-Quart Cold Brew Coffee Maker
1. A Drip Coffee Maker With Foolproof Operation
- Pros: reserve tank makes for fast-brewing, simple operation, great quality
- Cons: no programmable settings
A great balance of simplicity and quality, BUNN’S 10-cup coffee maker is one of Mason’s recommendations if you’re looking for great-tasting coffee without a complicated brewing experience. The process is as easy as adding grounds (you’ll need a paper filter) and pouring in the water. Interestingly, this machine preheats reserved water in the reservoir — as opposed to heating it as it drips into the pot — which reviewers have reported results in faster brewing. Operation is relegated to one simple switch that lets you turn the machine on and off, as well as activate the warming plate once the pot is brewed.
This is definitely one of the most pared-down options on the list, as there are no programmable settings (and not even a “pause brew” option that lets you pour a cup before the cycle is finished). That being said, if you’re in the market for a professionally recommended pick that’s easy to use and comes at a reasonable price point — this is the one.
A reviewer wrote: “Anyone who loves coffee and doesn't own a Bunn is missing out on the highest quality of home brew! This product lasts forever, It's all I ever owned in the past 30 years! [...] Bunn still wins for quality of machinery, temperature of coffee, [ease] of cleaning. It is also great for entertaining. The reserve tank keeps the pots coming every 5 minutes for my guests.”
2. A No-Nonsense Drip Coffee Maker At A Budget Price
- Pros: wallet-friendly, simple operation, brew-pause feature
- Cons: no programmable settings, may not be as durable
Ringing up at a low price, this automatic drip coffee maker from Mr. Coffee is a favorite of reviewers who appreciate its super simple design, which features a single on/off switch and indicator light. It has a “grab a cup” feature that pauses the brewing cycle (for moments when you just can’t wait for the full pot to brew) and a two-hour warming plate. The coffee maker has a wide lid that opens completely for easy filling of the 12-cup reservoir and coffee basket (you’ll need a paper filter), which lifts out completely for easy emptying and cleaning.
While it doesn’t have any upgraded specs, like a programmable schedule or customizable boldness, or temperature settings like more customizable machines, this is arguably the best easy-to-use coffee maker if you’re in the market for no-nonsense brewing combined with affordability.
A reviewer wrote: “I mean, what's there to say? This is the easiest-to-operate coffee maker in existence and fairly cheap. It's a bit pricier here on Amazon, but it's worth it for the simplicity. When I need to make coffee in the morning, I'm too tired to mess around with a bunch of different buttons. Also, these last a long time. This was a replacement for our old Mr Coffee that lasted maybe 6 years? And we make a pot a day.”
3. A Drip Coffee Maker With Customizable Features
- Pros: programmable options increase customizability, can also be used as a one-touch machine
- Cons: number of buttons and settings may feel complicated
Cuisinart’s programmable 14-cup PerfecTemp coffee maker can be operated as a one-touch brewing machine, but it also has several upgraded features, including the option to set schedules, a bold brew mode, and a special 1- to 4-cup setting for making smaller batches. For even more customization, you can adjust the brew temperature — make it hotter if you plan to add cold milk or dairy alternatives to your cup.
The machine comes with a reusable gold-tone mesh filter, which eliminates the need to purchase paper filters, and the built-in water filter water improves taste even more. A warming plate under the carafe keeps coffee at a desirable temperature for hours (you can set the warming plate to go off after a certain amount of time), and a “brew pause” feature allows you to steal a cup before the cycle has finished.
The Cuisinart is a versatile machine for anyone who wants convenience and a few tools to help them customize their coffee, but you can still operate it as a simple coffee maker if you choose. However, if the number of buttons and settings feels overwhelming, you’re better off with a more straightforward option.
A reviewer wrote: “Brews fast, consistently good coffee. Cleans up quick and easy, is quiet, compact. Highly recommend it. (And this is after having a Cuisinart machine that ground its own beans before this one. I like this one much better than the fancier machine.)”
4. A High-End Coffee Maker With A Cult Following
- Pros: superior results, customizable brew strength, insulated carafe
- Cons: cost-prohibitive, no programmable settings
Though he admits it’s “pretty expensive,” the Technivorm Moccamaster is the coffee maker Mason uses everyday. “It's dead simple — there's only one button on the whole thing!” The Technivorm has a side-by-side design featuring a transparent 40-ounce water reservoir (or about 5 cups), which slowly empties as coffee is brewed into the thermal stainless steel carafe. A copper boiling element heats water quickly and accurately to the optimal temperature for flavor extraction, which will offer superior-tasting results. The machine has a manual adjustment toggle on the brew basket that allows you to steep your coffee longer for a stronger brew, and you can also close the brew basket if you want to remove the carafe to pour a cup before the cycle is finished.
The carafe can keep coffee hot for up to an hour (there’s no warming plate), and it comes with a secure travel lid if you want to bring it with you on the go. While it doesn’t have customizable settings like the Cuisinart, this cult-favorite machine is pretty effortless and arguably makes the best-tasting drip coffee you can get at home.
A reviewer wrote: “Hands down the best coffee maker in the world. I don't know how they do it but this thing consistently makes the best coffee I have ever had.”
5. A Clever Dripper For Analog-Style Coffee
- Pros: easier than traditional pour-over, good for hands-on brewing
- Cons: requires a bit more effort than other methods on the list
Mason likes the Clever coffee dripper, and reviewers seem to approve too — at the time of publishing, it’s the highest-rated coffee maker on the list, boasting a 4.8-star overall rating after 2,500 reviews. It’s essentially a mashup of pour-over and the immersion-brewing method of French press — albeit with a lot less effort. The process involves adding grounds and pre-heated water and waiting — a small valve at the base of the brewer stays closed to keep water from dripping while the coffee brews. When you’re ready, place the cone on top of your cup, and the valve will open and drip the coffee in — simpler and faster than spending several minutes pouring water by hand as you would with traditional pour-over. (Note, however, that you will have to perform the extra step of preheating water.)
Mason appreciates the brewer’s paper filter, which he says results in less cleanup and a cleaner-tasting brew. The brewer comes with 100 paper filters to get you started right away.
A reviewer wrote: “This is the best pour over coffee maker out there. I've tried French presses and various pour over contraptions. I like this one because: you pour the water in and it does not release from the container until you place the base over your mug; it has a cover to keep the coffee warm longer; it's easy to clean and use; no coffee grinds in your coffee.”
6. A Single-Serve Coffee Maker That Also Brews Tea & Cocoa
- Pros: also makes tea and cocoa, good for singe brews
- Cons: K-cups are less eco-sustainable
Keurig makes a wide range of single-serve machines, and their K-Express coffee maker is one of its most straightforward and compact models. It features a removable 42-ounce water reservoir that can be filled once for multiple back-to-back brews, and three buttons offer the option of brewing an 8-, 10-, or 12-ounce cup. The machine’s removable drip tray lets you dispense directly into mugs as tall as 7.4 inches, and a “strong brew” button lets you customize the intensity of your beverage.
In addition to coffee, the Keurig can brew cocoa and tea K-Cups to satisfy any craving, but unlike the first option, you can’t schedule this pick to brew — which may be beside the point, as it’s a pretty effortless coffee maker and the single-brew method works quite fast.
A reviewer wrote: “This has all the best features of Keurig machines in the most compact space. Only problem is it's almost TOO EASY to quickly make an incredible cup of coffee and my wife ends up drinking like 10 cups a day whereas we both used to stop after finishing a pot together.”
7. A 5-Cup Drip Coffee Maker For Small Batches
- Pros: good for small batches and tight spaces, simple operation
- Cons: no programmable settings
If you’re limited by space or don’t need to brew more than a few servings of coffee at once, this brewer from Krups is arguably the best 5-cup coffee maker you can find. It has a simple on/off button to start brewing or power down the machine, a warming plate, and pause-brew capabilities, so you can pour a cup of coffee before the full pot is ready. The machine’s water reservoir is easy to access via the wide lid, and a permanent filter makes purchasing paper filters optional. Like the Mr. Coffee, this is a simple pick that doesn’t have any involved features like a scheduling setting or a bold-brew mode, but it’s easy and perfect for small volumes.
A reviewer wrote: “Simple machine- no bells and whistles- but, makes delicious coffee. All that I needed.”
8. A Coffee Press For Espresso & American-Style Coffee
- Pros: makes both espresso and American-style coffee, portable (good for travel and camping)
- Cons: requires more effort than other methods on the list
The AeroPress coffee maker can brew between 1 and 3 cups in as little as a minute, and it utilizes a stir-and-plunge approach that optimizes contact between coffee grounds and water to brew smooth, low-acidity coffee that’s not bitter. Coffee grounds and hot water combine in the brewer’s chamber, are agitated with the included stirrer, then plunged through a microfilter directly into your drinking vessel. And while this pick is relatively simple, it’s versatile, giving you the option to make both American-style coffee and espresso.
The BPA-free brewer is durable and highly portable, and after brewing, the microfilter and spent coffee grounds pop out in a “puck” for easy and quick cleanup. In addition to the stirrer, a funnel, coffee scoop, filter holder, and 350 micro-filters are included with the AeroPress to give you everything you need to stay caffeinated, whether at home or on the go.
A reviewer wrote: “This is the best. It makes the best coffee and it's fun, easy, quick, and cheap to use! There is nothing to not like about this. I've become obsessed about my coffee since getting this. I haven't been to a single coffee shop since. It's a real game changer!”
9. A Cold Brew Maker For Chilled Coffee
- Pros: easy to use, makes chilled coffee
- Cons: doesn’t make hot coffee
If cold brew is your preferred style of coffee, this simple system from Takeya functions as a brewer and serving carafe in one. Making coffee is as easy as filling the BPA-free Tritan pitcher with filtered water, adding ground coffee to the fine-mesh filter, screwing it into the pitcher’s lid, and leaving it in the refrigerator overnight to slowly extract. The Takeya brews 4 cups of smooth, concentrated coffee, which can be enjoyed diluted with water, undiluted, over ice, or mixed with your favorite milk or milk alternative. The brewer is also available in a larger 2-quart volume and has a slim design that fits in most refrigerator doors.
A reviewer wrote: “Very easy to use and the main container is made of plastic, so no worries about breaking it. Fits nicely in my fridge and makes delicious cold brew coffee. It saves me money by keeping me out of the drive-thru in the mornings.”
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