Whatever your coffee preferences (independently roasted beans or £1 Pret filter), it’s likely you’ve spent considerable time learning to make your morning cup from the comfort of your home. The good news is, to make reliable, barista-quality coffee in your own kitchen, you’ll only need a few core items: a great coffee maker, good beans, and the right grinders and accessories.
But there are a lot of different ways to make a good cup of coffee, using a variety of techniques. Choosing a method is largely down to personal preference, says Jana Slamova, education manager at Origin Coffee. “Coffee made from a French press versus the pour-over method is so different in flavour that it’s not worth comparing them — it would be like comparing two different kinds of red wine.” The coarseness of your beans will also affect the taste; different methods require your coffee to be ground finer or coarser.
So to help you find the right gear, we sought out highly caffeinated professionals across the U.K. and Europe and asked them about the best equipment for brewing coffee at home. We talked with 12 authorities, including café owners, coffee roasters, and experts in sourcing and training (among them several National Barista and Cup Tasting Competition champions). Below, their favourite coffee makers for every type of coffee drinker — Aeropress lovers, macchiato sippers, coffee nerds, and novices alike.
Note: For the best coffee at home, it’s important to consider a few factors alongside your chosen coffee maker. We’ve previously written guides to the best coffee grinders and kettles, as well as a comprehensive one to everything you need to make barista-quality coffee at home (like a good set of digital scales and a proper water filter).
Best overall coffee maker
The Aeropress is a perennial Strategist favourite and was endorsed by five of our experts. “Probably the go-to brewer for most aspiring home brewers,” says Colin Harmon, owner of Dublin’s 3fe Coffee, four-time Irish Barista Champion and author of What I Know About Running Coffee Shops. “The Aeropress is a cheap, easy-to-use, and dynamic brewer that can brew coffee in many different ways with a multitude of flavour profiles.”
Dan Dunne, Head of Training at London-based coffee company Climpson & Sons, likes that the Aeropress is both unique in its extraction method and versatile in its possibilities. Dunne uses the Aeropress to make filter-style black coffee, and with the right recipes, it’s also possible to make espressolike shots (for Americanos or lattes) or a good base for iced coffee.
Ewelina Kania, general manager of London’s Prufrock Coffee, agrees that the Aeropress is “the most practical coffee maker ever.” It’s great at home or on the go, she says, as “it’s unbreakable, light, and you can store a grinder inside.” It’s easy to clean and comes with a stack of paper filters, which can be replaced with an eco-friendly metal filter. The original Aeropress comes in one size, suitable for one to two cups of coffee, so it’s easy to store in an office drawer but not intended for a party.
It also came recommended to us by Anthony West, singer in Oh Wonder (who, along with his partner and bandmate, Josephine Vander Gucht, launched a coffee shop, Nola, in late 2020). “The brewing outcome is somewhere between a filter coffee and a long black, and it’s pretty hard to mess up — unless you either over-pressurise (i.e., force it down too hard) or don’t screw the filter on properly,” he says. West likes it for its speed and consistency, and notes that the humble device even has its own dedicated coffee-making tournament — the International Aeropress Championship — a testament to its immense popularity and cultlike status.
Best automated coffee maker
If you need to make coffee for a crowd, or if you like the idea of a coffee maker you can flick on and off, the Wilfa Classic+ is our top pick for automated brewers. It came strongly recommended by six of our experts. These filter coffee-makers are made by the Norwegian-owned company Wilfa and are prized for their simplicity. To make coffee, you simply fill them with the correct ratio of water to grounds, then the machine will brew your coffee with no timer or oversight necessary.
Ewelina from Prufrock considers the Wilfa a great option for filter coffee at home. “Perfect for someone who is in a rush or someone who just doesn’t want to spend time hand-brewing coffee.” She adds that “an adjustable flow brewing cone with a shutoff valve allows even extraction” and that the machine includes a cleaning indicator and a hotplate. Colin from 3fe also picks this model as a top-choice coffee maker, emphasising that it’s great for busy parents. “There are better brewers out there with more stable temps, better build quality and more even extraction,” he admits, “but bang for buck, it’s hard to argue with the Wilfa. It’s probably the brewer I use the most. It’s ideal for anyone who has young kids at home and just needs a quick, user-friendly solution without any fuss.”
Dan from Climpson & Sons adds that the Wilfa is the Climpson & Sons’ coffee brewer of choice for home and office use because “it delivers consistent, delicious coffee and looks great.”
Best (less expensive) automated coffee maker
If you’d like to keep your budget to £50, one of our experts pointed us to the Aromaboy Filter Coffee Machine. This compact, simple filter coffee maker — which is made by the German coffee giant Melitta — is designed for a small kitchen. Although it can’t claim the same quality or consistency as the Wilfa Classic+, it does the job and looks cute on the countertop. It uses paper filters and makes two cups of coffee.
Best pour-over (drip) coffee maker
Slamova chose this Chemex model as her favourite pour-over coffee maker. “It produces coffee using the ‘drip’ method — essentially, gravity does all the work, compared to the ‘immersion’ method you get with a French press, which uses pressure to extract the flavour,” she explains, adding that the pour-over coffee will have a “clean” taste compared to coffee produced by other methods.
Similarly to in an automated-filter machine, a paper filter is inserted in the top of the Chemex, then coffee is added and hot water poured over the grounds, with the resulting coffee dripping into the bottom chamber. Chemex is distinguished by the wooden ‘cuff’ on the neck, which, Slamova says, is there “to make holding it easier — as, being made of glass, it can get very hot. But it also doubles as a water carafe.”
Slamova says she uses the Chemex most at home and loves the “iconic” design — she likes pointing out that the model has been in the background of several episodes of Friends. “It just looks absolutely beautiful.”
Best portable pour-over (drip) coffee maker
Though the Chemex would be hard to take on the go, there are smaller, more portable ways to make a drip coffee. Celeste Wong, a barista, coffee/lifestyle blogger and café consultant (also known as @the_girl_in_the_cafe) — recommends this pour-over setup from Oxo. “I think a filter coffee is the most satisfying coffee to make and drink in the morning,” she says. Celeste likes the Oxo because it’s so straightforward: it has pre-marked measurements for water and coffee, works with a normal kettle, and doesn’t need to be watched over.
“I often use this when I’m in a rush. It means I can do other things to get ready in the morning and come back to a hot, freshly brewed cup of coffee.” Although Celeste gives the Oxo top marks for price, efficiency, and convenience, she notes it’s best suited for one person and isn’t particularly chic. “It’s a lazier way to make coffee, but it does the job!” We’re already big fans at The Strategist — we’ve written about this coffee maker in our This Thing’s Incredible column, and we’ve recommended other products from the Oxo Good Grips range. [Editor’s note: this item is currently out of stock.]
Since the OXO is out of stock, we sleuthed online to find a good alternative and came across this pour-over coffee maker by Stanley, a U.S.-based company that specialises in flasks, water bottles, and camping cookware. Like the OXO, this features engraved markings up the side to make measuring water and coffee grounds easier, while the stainless-steel finish makes it both durable and rustproof.
Best espresso machine
This espresso machine is made by the U.K.-based, Breville-owned company Sage Appliances. It’s the most expensive item recommended but comes strongly recommended by four experts, including Henry Biggs, the owner of Shotsmiths coffee in Beckenham. “This is the closest thing to coffee-shop coffee you can get at home without spending thousands,” he says. “You get full control over the grind dose, and you have options to tweak the coarseness in order to get a better extraction.”
According to Dan, Sage offers “the best ‘budget’ espresso machines on the market” and that they perform fantastically compared with other domestic espresso machines. He particularly likes the powerful steam wand, which is excellent at texturing milk. For Colin, “What makes [the machine] more enticing is that it has a pretty decent grinder built into it, so you don’t need to fork out any more money or counter space in your kitchen. It’s incredibly intuitive to use and is a really tidy design to boot.”
According to our experts, it’s small enough to fit on the counter but powerful enough to deliver high-quality espresso: it heats up in three seconds, ensures an ideal water temperature and has an interactive LCD interface.
Best stovetop coffee maker
The 9Barista comes strongly recommended by Dan from Climpson & Sons. It’s a stovetop coffee maker for espresso, invented by a jet engineer, and recently introduced to the market via Kickstarter. “It’s innovative, aesthetically pleasing, and has revolutionised the old-school [Bialetti] Moka Pot,” says Dan, comparing the machine to the traditional stovetop coffee method. “Where the Moka Pot arguably produces watery, burnt coffee, the 9Barista performs like an actual espresso machine.” The name hints at how the machine works: “It can produce nine bars of pressure like a commercial-grade espresso machine,” says Dan. “This might not mean much; however, pressure provides that beautiful body and crema.”
The 9Barista also ensures that the water is kept at the right temperature — so it’s a more foolproof stovetop method than eyeing the hob and listening for a gurgle. Although it’s not cheap, the 9Barista offers a less expensive method for espresso, and with no need for electricity. At 18 centimeters tall, it’s also a space saver: a great size for people with small kitchens. It’s made of brass and can be used on all hobs (including induction and, apparently, camping stoves). It makes one double espresso at a time. [Editor’s note: this product is currently available for pre-order, and will ship in April 2021].
Best (less expensive) stovetop coffee maker
For a more classic stovetop coffee, Dave Loughton — a member of the sales team at Algerian Coffee Stores — recommended this coffee maker from the well-known Italian brand Ilsa. (We’ve recommended one of Ilsa’s stovetop coffee makers before.)
According to Dave, Ilsa’s stainless steel products are sturdy, elegant, and long-lasting. He likes the versatility of this particular model: It comes with a gasket reducer that, unlike most stovetop coffee makers, allows you to adjust the amount of coffee you want to make. “So if you have a six-cup machine, pop in the reducer, add half the amount of water, and make half the amount of coffee,” he says. “It’s a great way not to waste and saves you from buying various sizes, too.”
As well as being adaptable, the Turbo Express comes in a large range of sizes (from one to nine cups). Although this coffee maker is not compatible with induction hobs, Ilsa produces similar models that work across all cooktops.
According to Marisa Crocetta, the director of London’s iconic coffee supply shop Algerian Coffee Stores, if you’re looking to invest in a new French press, you can’t beat the U.K. kitchenware supplier Grunwerg. “Our Grunwerg Café Stal Thermal Wall cafetières are a little more expensive than your regular cafetières,” she notes, “but the double thermal wall keeps your coffee nice and hot for longer.”
Unlike most French presses, she says, you can make a big pot without fretting about your second cup going cold. With its classic stainless steel design, the Cafe Stal is also a clean-lined, sturdy alternative to the ubiquitous Bodum French press — and there are shiny or matte finishes to suit all tastes. The cafetières come in a variety of sizes, up to eight cups, for dinner parties or solo sippers. “They’re also dishwasher safe,” says Marisa, “which is handy for people with busy lifestyles.”
Best (less expensive) cafetière
Nola’s Anthony West told us that Bodum’s classic, inexpensive cafetieres were his favourite. “They have always made such beautiful and simple vessels, and the brew process is impossible to mess up,” he says. He calls the French-press method, which extracts flavour via steeping, “the most ‘forgiving’ way to brew coffee, and the perfect choice for those that aren’t fussed with weighing their grounds or timing their extraction and just want to see off the weekend cobwebs”.
Best coffee maker for camping
For hikers, campers and outdoorsy coffee enthusiasts, this coffee maker may be even more portable than the Aeropress. The Snow Peak Collapsible Coffee Dripper was recommended by Anne Lunell, co-founder of Sweden’s Koppi Coffee Roasters, which supplies many top-notch U.K. cafes. The Snow Peak brews coffee in a similar style to the Oxo: a hybrid of manual pour-over and drip.
“This is the perfect coffee brewer when you are on the go … perfect for a person who travels a lot or simply loves spending time in nature, making coffee.” True to its name, the dripper makes pour-over style drip coffee. It requires a little patience but very little gear — just coffee, water, and paper filters (Anne uses Hario V60 filters). The dripper is made of a lightweight stainless steel, and it folds flat, so it can easily slide into a backpack. It’s made by the Strategist-approved Japanese outdoor equipment company Snow Peak, so, as Anne says, “you can expect high quality.” We’ve recommended Snow Peak products in our other coffee-making articles — their double-walled mug is another favourite among caffeinated campers.
Best coffee maker for cold brew
If you’re looking for a cold-brew coffee maker, our U.S. colleagues recommend this one by Dennis Ngo, the chef and co-owner of restaurant Di an Di in Greenpoint. “I got hooked on the smoothness and low acidity of cold-brewed coffee,” says Ngo, who, before he began making his own cold brew, would go out and buy it from the coffee shop Gimme! near his apartment. “It lets me tinker with different beans and concentrations and produces enough cold brew to last me two weeks at a time. It also stacks compactly for storage, which is an absolute requirement for my tiny New York apartment.”
Some other Strategist-recommended coffee makers
When we searched for the highest-rated coffee machines on Amazon, this model came out on top. It features a stainless-steel insulated jug and holds enough liquid for 10 large or 15 small cups of coffee. The timer feature was highlighted in 73 reviews, including by one customer who likes to set it to brew before they hop in the shower. Another reviewer said this timer function was so good, it was the sole reason they chose this model.
Should you be interested in making a flat white at home, contributor Sirin Kale uses this espresso machine every day. “I love this coffee machine on a sort of desperate level,” she writes. “So much so that it’s ruined the experience of going to coffee shops for me — I’ve barely bought takeaway coffees in the past year.”
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