If the thought of a countertop coffee dispenser sounds too good to be true, allow us to introduce you to the world of on-demand coffee makers. Similar to classic soda fountains, the best on-demand coffee makers dispense coffee at the touch of a lever or button. So why pick an on-demand coffee maker over a traditional model? Instead of a carafe, coffee is brewed and held in a heat-regulated internal tank where it stays warm and fresh-tasting until you’re ready for a refill. The benefits go beyond convenience, though, so read on for what to look for when shopping for the best on-demand coffee makers.
At first glance, on-demand coffee makers have a comparable footprint to traditional machines. Where the carafe typically rests, however, is a spot for your drinking vessel of choice. If you like to drink from a travel mug, make sure your machine has a removable drip tray so it fits.
Think about the volume of coffee you’d like to brew, and choose accordingly. While you are making on-demand coffee one cup at a time, coffee makers that have larger volumes can brew up to 12 cups without you having to refill the water tank. Technology can vary, and you’ll find on-demand coffee makers that allow you to adjust the strength of your brew or set a timer, while others offer slightly pared-down technology.
With the best on-demand coffee makers, fresh, hot coffee is only a button, or lever-press, away. Keep scrolling.
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1. The Best On-Demand Coffee Maker: Hamilton Beach BrewStation 12-Cup Internal Storage Coffee Pot
Combining a generous 12-cup capacity and just the right of technology, Hamilton Beach’s BrewStation is the best on-demand coffee maker. The brewing process is similar to that of a traditional machine (coffee grounds are placed in a paper filter and a water tank is filled), but instead of brewing into a carafe or pot, coffee goes into a heated internal chamber.
The BrewStation’s ability to make iced coffee also puts it ahead of the pack. A strong coffee concentrate is brewed directly into ice in the coffee tank, thus diluting it to make perfect ready-to-serve iced coffee. When you want a glass of hot or cold coffee, simply press your cup against the bar at the back of the dispensing area. Choose between regular or bold strength, and wake up to the smell of coffee with the 24-hour timer.
2. The Runner-Up: Cuisinart Coffee-On-Demand 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker
This on-demand coffee maker from Cuisinart doesn’t have quite the extensive programming as the best pick (there's no iced coffee brewing, for example), but boasts a few other unique features. Like the Hamilton Beach, it brews 12 cups of coffee into a heated, double-walled internal tank. Instead of a button at the back of the dispensing area, a paddle on the front can be pressed to fill your cup with coffee.
Another great design highlight? A coffee gauge in the style of a car’s fuel tank dial, so you’ll never be left wondering how much coffee you have left. The Cuisinart also has a light in the dispenser area so you can keep an eye on your cup so doesn’t overflow while being filled. Program the machine to brew up to 24 hours in advance, and the shutoff feature lets you keep the machine on for up to four hours after brewing ends.
3. The Best Single-Serve: BLACK+DECKER Single-Serve Coffee Maker
This compact brewer from BLACK+DECKER is perfect for anyone who doesn’t need more than a cup of coffee at a time, or wants a small brewer for a desk or workspace. Since it doesn’t have an internal tank like the other models featured here, it offers more of a one-touch versus an on-demand brewing experience. But that simplicity actually makes it incredibly easy-to-use.
First of all, you won’t need to worry about buying filters, since coffee grounds can be placed directly into the permanent filter basket. This is a low-waste option, but if you’re looking for convenience and easy clean-up, the BLACK+DECKER is also compatible with pre-packed coffee sachets. The brewing area has ample space for a variety of different mug styles, and a 16-ounce insulated travel mug is included with the brewer. Some travel mugs cost as much as this whole set! While you won’t find a programmable timer on the BLACK+DECKER, brewing one cup is quick so you’ll have your coffee and be on the go in no time.