The 10 best Thermal Coffee Makers (unbiased reviews)
Are you tired of the burnt coffee that your regular machine keeps serving you?
Fed up with having to reheat the coffee you brewed in your French Press?
Maybe it’s time to get a coffee maker with a thermal carafe.
Once you start comparing models and getting into the various options and features, it can get overwhelming. If you’re looking to buy the best thermal carafe coffee maker for your money then make sure you cover these bases.
Drink #coffee while it’s fresh and keep it hot through insulation, not reheating!
- How to choose a thermal coffee maker
- 1. Melitta 10 Cup Thermal Coffee Maker -Budget Pick
- 2. Mr. Coffee Optimal Brew 10 Cup PSTX95 With Stainless Steel Coffee Carafe – Best Value For Money
- 3. Cuisinart Thermal Coffee Maker CHW-14 + Hot Water System
- 4. Zojirushi Fresh Brew 10 Cup Thermal Carafe Coffee Maker EC-YSC100
- 5. Bonavita 8 Cup Coffee Maker With Thermal Carafe BV1900TS -Best Value For Money
- 6. Cuisinart Grind And Brew With Thermal Carafe DGB-900 – Do-It-All Pick
- 7. Ninja Coffee Bar Brewer With Thermal Pot CF085Z
- 8. Behmor Brazen Plus 8-Cup Thermal Coffee Maker
- 9. OXO On Barista Brain 9 Cup Coffee Maker -Best Overall
- 10. Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 10-Cup Coffee Maker With Thermal Carafe
- The Bottom Line
How to choose a thermal coffee maker
When looking at the recommended products below, consider the following:
Thermal Carafes vs Glass Carafes
With a glass coffee carafe (like the one you get in the Bunn Velocity Brew 10 Cup), it’s only the heating plate that keeps the coffee hot. There’s hardly any thermal insulation.
It’s not a problem if you drink the coffee straight after brewing. However, come back for a cup an hour later and you’ll be drinking, burnt, bitter coffee.
The insulated design of a thermal carafe solves this problem. The coffee goes in hot and stays hot. There’s no need for reheating.
All thermal carafes offer temperature retention characteristics. However, there are other factors to consider before you decide which one is best for you.
Most insulated thermal carafes are made from double volume stainless steel. They’re easy to clean and can take a beating.
But some people claim that stainless steel affects the taste of the coffee and insist on a glass lining. That’s all fine and dandy until the day you knock over your carafe (don’t fret, it happens to the best of us). But, bye-bye glass. Not to mention that you’ll have to clean up shards of broken glass along with the spilled brew and wet grinds. Ugh!
The bottom line is, thermal carafe coffee makers with a stainless steel lining will last you a lot longer.
The quality and taste of your brew has a lot to do with the temperature of your water.
The ideal brewing temperature range is 195 – 205 degrees Fahrenheit. So you want to be aiming for 200 deg F (or 95C) as the temperature will drop a little as soon as it hits the coffee and the brewer. Make sure the thermal carafe you end up choosing can reach, and maintain this temperature range consistently.
Remember, even the best thermal coffee maker can not keep coffee hot when it can’t even get the water to its optimum temperature.
Carafe Capacity of the Thermal Carafe
Thermal coffee machines normally state their capacity in number of cups. It’s an indication of how many cups of coffee the brewer can make in one go.
But don’t automatically assume that bigger is better. Consider how many cups you brew every time. If you’re brewing a whole pot of coffee (because you chug black coffee to get you through the day), choose a 6, 8, or even 12-cup brewer. However, if you’re just looking to make a single cup of coffee for yourself, consider single serve coffee makers are your best bet. I suggest this one.
Control Versus Convenience?
Even the best thermal coffee machine, with half-a-dozen buttons and multiple functions, is of no use if don’t know how to use it.
If you’re the kind of person who wakes up excited to dial in your perfect kind of brew and selecting the style of coffee to best suit your mood, hen get a machine with loads of adjustable features.
But if you’re anything like me, you can barely string together words in the morning. That’s why I prefer a machine with a single button press to get the brew going: like the Bonavita BV1800 (review here)
Or even better, get a programmable coffeemaker that will have your coffee waiting for you when you wake up.
Grinder – Built-In Or Separate?
The quality of your grinder will have a significant impact on your brewed coffee.
The convenience of having a coffee machine with a built-in grinder is great but only if the grinder does a good job.
If you intend using the programmable auto-on function to get coffee brewing before you wake up then it’s a good idea to get a machine with a built-in grinder. Leaving ground coffee in the machine overnight is not going to give you the best results. The downside is that this kind of a machine will require additional effort to clean up. Also, if you’re particular about controlling the grind-size then you’re better off with a separate grinder.
But only if you get it right.
Pour-over gives you more control and allows you to wet the grounds for the coffee to bloom and degas before brewing with periodic addition of water.
The top-end coffee makers will have clever electronic control built-in that reproduces this process for you. If you’re the kind of person that measures brewing time on your stopwatch or if the words “dissolution” and “diffusion” mean anything to you then make sure you get one of these bad boys.
Keep an eye out for some cheaper machines that just end up sprinkling water over the grounds that isn’t hot enough and you end up with weak coffee due to under extraction.
The Specialty Coffee Association of America sounds like an elitist club of coffee snobs because, well, it is. They know their coffee, though, and if a coffee machine makes it onto their Certified Home Brewer Program then you know it’s going to give you a decent cup of coffee. Look out for this certification if you’re happy to spend more money to get something really good.
The SCAA tagline is: “Because great coffee doesn’t just happen”. If you subscribe to that way of thinking then take a look at coffee machines that I’ve reviewed below. If you like the sound this, check out our guide to SCAA certified coffee makers.
1. Melitta 10 Cup Thermal Coffee Maker -Budget Pick
- Great coffee for the price!
- Open filter cone so no chance of forgetting to discard old grounds and discovering a fungus farm a week later.
- Filter is plastic but at least BPA free
- Manual brewing takes time to learn
If you’re a bit of a purist (or a control freak) then this pour-over coffee maker from Melitta may be the best bet for you.
It is, essentially, a pour-over brewer with a stylish stainless steel coffee carafe that keeps the coffee hot for a few hours.
It’s a completely manual system so you need to know exactly what you’re if you want the best result. That said, once you get your timing and process sorted it will reward you with a better cup than you can get from something with a lot of dials and buttons.
The carafe has a glass lining, though. So treat it gently when you have to clean it. As long as you don’t pour boiling water into the carafe, drop it, or go camping with it, it’ll last ages.
Pros: It’s cheap and makes a great cup of coffee (full control over the grind, temperature, brew duration, etc.) The filter cone is open so it’s a breeze to clean. No chance of forgetting old grounds in there and discovering a fungus farm a week later.
Cons: Pour-over filter is plastic, but at least it’s BPA-free. Completely manual (grind, water temperature and brewing time is all up to you). It’s the best value for money, but only if you know what you’re doing.
2. Mr. Coffee Optimal Brew 10 Cup PSTX95 With Stainless Steel Coffee Carafe – Best Value For Money
- Removable water reservoir
- Included water filtration disk filters
- Gasket between carafe and dripper to reduce cooling-down of brewed coffee
- Emits considerable steam from the vent (not recommended under wooden cabinets)
- Water reservoir and filter on opposite sides – needs clearance on both sides
They say that all good things come to those who wait.
The guys at Mr. Coffee obviously don’t share this point of view. They have made a coffee machine that brews a full pot in just 7 minutes. They claim it’s as much as 26% faster than most other machines. And if you’re really impatient, then just hit pause and pour a cup mid-brew before letting it get back to brewing the rest. If you need your cup of joe asap, then this is probably the best coffee brewer for you.
I also liked the fully automatic experience with the ability to set the timer to get a brew going just before you wake up, as well as the indicator that tells me when it’s time to clean it.
This machine means business when it comes to making a good cup of coffee really fast. And it won’t burn a hole in your pocket. That’s probably why 4,773 reviewers gave it a near 4-star rating on Amazon.
3. Cuisinart Thermal Coffee Maker CHW-14 + Hot Water System
- Hot Water On Demand
- Auto-on Timer for fresh coffee without pressing a button
- Safety lock too easy to unlock, even for kids (who can reach it)
- Less than 4 inches space for hot water dispenser
If you often find all of your guests want coffee except that one cretin that insists on tea then you’ll love this coffee machine. Besides making great coffee it also provides you with hot water on demand for tea or hot cocoa.
The charcoal water filter is a nice touch too. Normally, I filter my water separately to get rid of any odors and chlorine taste, but this coffee maker will do all of that for you. You need to replace the filter after 60 uses but they’re readily available from Cuisinart.
I really loved the flexibility of using the 1-4 cup option for a quick cup instead of brewing a full pot. The hot water used for brewing is heated to around 200 degrees, which is perfect for getting a decent brew. And the carafe will keep coffee hot for hours after it has been brewed.
This Cuisinart appliance is a great choice for all your coffee/tea needs without breaking the bank. And with a near 4-star rating on Amazon, thousands of people agree.
4. Zojirushi Fresh Brew 10 Cup Thermal Carafe Coffee Maker EC-YSC100
- Convenient pouring via thumb button
- Removable water tank makes refilling easy
- Brewing process is a little loud
- Doesn’t switch off automatically after brewing
A lot of coffee carafes are great at keeping coffee hot, but terrible when it comes to pouring.
This 10-cup coffee maker does a great job of making coffee, but it’s the carafe that was the standout feature for me. The thumb-activated pouring and well-designed spout means your coffee goes in the cup and not around it.
I really liked the removable water reservoir. It makes refilling the tank hassle-free and removes the risk of spilling water over your coffee machine.
The coffee in the carafe stays hot for hours for two reasons:
1 – The coffee is brewed with water at 200 degrees, and
2 – the carafe is double volume and vacuum sealed stainless steel.
Getting that water temperature up to 200 degrees is also one of the reasons this machine makes such a good cup.
This Zojirushi coffee maker might be a little expensive, but it delivers on what it promises. That’s why it has a 4.2-star rating on Amazon.Note: An updated model of this coffee machine is available on Amazon.
- Very simple to operate
- Optional pre-infusion mode for wetting grounds before brewing
- Carafe needs to be turned almost upside down to get the last cup of the coffee out
- No auto-on timer
If you want a simple coffee machine that gives you consistently good coffee then the Bonavita BV1900 Coffee Maker is best balance of price and performance.
No gauges, no dials, no menus, just one button. Push button, brew coffee. Perfect.
I’m a big fan of the pour-over method, so I liked that this machine gives you the option to wet the grounds for degassing before starting the brewing stage. All you need to do is press the power button for a few seconds to switch between this and the brew-only functions.
The flat-bottomed filter basket also gives you get better saturation and extraction than you would get from a traditional cone-shaped basket.
The quality of coffee that this machine produces makes it unsurprising that it has been listed on the Certified Home Brewer Program of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
6. Cuisinart Grind And Brew With Thermal Carafe DGB-900 – Do-It-All Pick
- Built-in automatic burr grinder
- Programmable auto-on timer
- Brew strength selector
- Carafe keeps coffee warm but doesn’t pour nicely
- Loud grinder
If you’re the kind of person that likes a different style of brew depending on the time of the day or your mood, then this machine will satisfy your needs. The best part is that even though you can tweak your grind and brew strength, the machine gives you the option of one button brewing.
And even though there is a built-in grinder, you have the option to turn it off and use ground coffee instead.
At first, the plethora of buttons and settings may seem a little intimidating, but it’s fairly easy to use after a quick flip through the user manual. Cleaning the individual bits can get a bit fiddly, though. If you’re in the market for a machine that can do it all, this is the one for you.
7. Ninja Coffee Bar Brewer With Thermal Pot CF085Z
- Carafe warming plate
- Mid-brew pause
- Auto-on programmable timer
- Ability to select brew size (down to a single serve)
- Milk frother
- Brew strength control
- Removable water reservoir
- Carafe doesn’t keep coffee warm for very long
- Water reservoir leaks a little when removing it for refilling
This machine comes with something that manufacturer calls their Flavour Extraction Technology. Essentially, it means that they’ve nailed the temperature, brew time and bean quantity for each of the 3 brew types.
The milk frother is another a great feature to have as it lets you brew different styles of coffee, not just black. Combined with the 10-cup carafe, you have the option of serving your guests gourmet coffee drinks like cappuccinos and macchiatos.
The carafe might not be able to keep the coffee hot for long, but this machine comes with a warming plate. No, it’s not your bog-standard warming plate. It regulates the temperature of the coffee in the carafe without burning the coffee into bitter oblivion.
The higher price tag of the Ninja Coffee Bar Brewer is completely justified as you’d be hard-pressed to find such a feature-rich machine at this price.
8. Behmor Brazen Plus 8-Cup Thermal Coffee Maker
- Pre-Infusion for coffee beans to release CO2
- Flat bottomed filter basket for optimum saturation
- Water temperature control
- Small opening in carafe makes it difficult to clean
- Separate, instead of integrated, carafe lid
- Condensation and periodic overflow means you’ll probably need to do some cleaning each time
Gourmet pour-over coffee and coffee machines live in different worlds. But this machine automates the pour-over process and brings you the best of both the worlds.
The programmable pre-soak option allows the coffee to bloom for anywhere between 15 seconds and 4 minutes before brewing. The pulsed water flow and oversize shower head ensure great saturation and maximum extraction of the coffee. I also liked the option of being able to tweak the brewing temperature.
I’ll be honest, though. This isn’t one of those machines where you just add coffee and push a button. It takes a little fiddling around to get the best brew possible.
But make no mistake, its ability to produce great coffee and its high-quality construction were the reason behind Behmor Brazen Plus Coffee Maker‘s SCAA certification.
9. OXO On Barista Brain 9 Cup Coffee Maker -Best Overall
- Pour-over brew method emulation
- Consistent brewing temperature
- Fresh water chamber fogs up with condensate during brew
- Drip-stop on filter basket doesn’t work 100% when removing carafe
When they use the word “Barista” in the name, you know things are about to get serious.
This is a machine that can emulate brewing process of a top-notch barista’s pour-over technique – at the press of a button.
The shower head does a great job of saturating the coffee. so there’s no need to give the coffee grounds a stir halfway through. And the machine gets the consistency right every single time. It’s like having your personal barista in the kitchen.
I also love that the unit is capable of brewing 9 cups, but has a single serve (10 oz) option as well. And if 9 cups isn’t enough, you have the option of purchasing a replacement carafe that can hold 12 cups.
I would have preferred if the steam from the brew didn’t fill the fresh water tank with condensate, but that’s just nitpicking. It might be a little pricey, but the OXO On Barista Brain 9 Cup Coffee Maker is the closest you can get to having your personal barista serving you coffee.
10. Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 10-Cup Coffee Maker With Thermal Carafe
- Pre-infusion stage for blooming
- Pulsed water release
- 5-year warranty
- Fast brew cycle
- Carafe has separate brew cycles and after-brew screw in caps
- Drip-stop isn’t automatic so you need to remember to flip the lever when removing the carafe
I love the fact that Technivorm makes only coffee machines. That’s it.
Their focus has obviously paid off because this is one mean coffee maker. It’s not exactly small, so you’ll need a bit of space on your counter. But if you love coffee as much as I do, you’ll agree that it’s a small price to pay.
The brewing cycle is carefully controlled to allow for pre-infusion and then pulsed water release at a consistent 196-205 degrees. And it’s really fast too. It’ll brew a ½ carafe in 4 minutes, and only takes only 6 minutes to fill up the carafe to its 10 cup capacity.
If the high-quality metal construction and the 5-year warranty are anything to go by, you’ll probably be leaving this kids to your kids in your will. No wonder then that it has a 4.3-star rating on Amazon.
The Bottom Line
While choosing the best coffee maker with a thermal carafe may not be a matter of life or death, I think it comes pretty close. Poorly brewed coffee is big no-no, but even good coffee that goes cold too quickly can ruin your day. Each of the coffee makers I’ve reviewed above is great in its own right. The features, or the lack thereof, will appeal to different people for different reasons.
At it’s simplest, a manual pour-over is going to give you the best cup of coffee at the best price. This is fine if you’re into DIY-coffee, but not if you want to press a button and have a machine do it for you.
Some of the cheaper, simpler machines will give you a good cup of coffee purely by virtue of their good temperature control. But if good coffee isn’t good enough, you’ll need to spend a bit more to get an intelligent machine that replicates the pour-over process. You’ll obviously need to decide your budget upfront, and whether you can justify the additional expense.
I hope I have convinced you to buy a thermal carafe coffee maker. Let me know in the comments below, which one out of the ten is your favorite?