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There’s something wonderful about a piping hot cup of cheap coffee. Diner coffee. Bodega coffee. Motel coffee. Even when it’s bad, it’s somehow good.
The same cannot always be said about cheap coffee makers, however. Some may seem like a bargain in the moment then stop working only a few months later. Budget coffee makers also tend to have fewer features than higher-end options and often don’t produce the same quality of flavor.
That being said, there are many hidden gems on the market, ranging from drip machines to non-electric devices. This list will help you get value for your money and find an affordable way to reliably brew your favorite beverage. Day in, day out.
Here are the best budget coffee makers to buy.
Best Overall: Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Manual Coffee Maker
Easy to use and clean
No automatic shutoff
If saving big is a top priority when you're deciding to buy a new coffee machine, you'll want to take a look at this best seller from Mr. Coffee. Although it comes in at a steal of a price, it has stellar reviews and can produce a 12-cup pot. It has some basic features that make brewing easy and simple, like a water window so you don't have to worry about overfilling and a pause button that will let you fill up a cup of Joe before the whole pot is done brewing. You'll have to get paper filters for this, but the lift and clean basket makes cleaning the coffee maker a breeze.
Reviewers agree this makes a solid cup of coffee at a very reasonable price. A few have said this broke within a year of purchase but at the price it wasn't a major drawback for them.
Electric: Yes | Capacity: 12 cups (60 ounces) | Dimensions: 12.3 x 9.2 x 13.6 inches | Warranty: 1-year limited
Runner-Up Best Overall: AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker
Fast brewing (2 minutes)
Less acidic than drip and French press
Small capacity (8 ounces)
Slight effort to plunge
Use it at home or take it on the road in the included tote—this simple hand-pressed brewer can make either American coffee or espresso. It makes 1 to 3 cups of coffee and brews in a minute or less, so you won’t be tapping your toe waiting for that first cup of morning coffee. This works similar to a French press but it uses finely ground coffee, so you’ll extract more flavor.
This coffee maker has a super-fine filter that keeps coffee grit out of your drink, so you don’t have to wait for it to settle before sipping. This comes with 350 paper filters in the included filter holder, and the filters can be rinsed and re-used several times. Additional filters come in packs of 350 and are very affordable. They can be purchased online or where AeroPress products are sold.
Electric: No | Capacity: 8 ounces | Dimensions: 11.3 x 5 x 4.25 inches | Warranty: 1-year limited
"An AeroPress can certainly be used as your primary home coffee maker, but it's an especially great option when camping or traveling." — Derek Rose, Coffee and Tea Expert for The Spruce Eats
Best French Press: Secura Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker
One-hour heat retention
Can't see coffee level
Scratching sound when pressing plunger
Made from 18/10 stainless steel, this French press is nearly indestructible, and you certainly won’t break it from normal kitchen use. It comes with an extra stainless steel screen, so you can stack them for finer filtering, or tuck one away as a spare, in case the first filter gets lost. The large handle and lid knob are designed to stay cool, even when the coffee is piping hot, so you can pour safely.
This is a large French press that holds 34 ounces, so you can make coffee (or tea!) for guests, or make a smaller batch just for yourself. When coffee making is done, all parts are dishwasher safe, so cleaning is fast and easy.
Electric: No | Capacity: 15, 17, 34, and 50 ounces | Dimensions: Varies by capacity | Warranty: 2 years
Best Cold Brew: OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker
High-quality cold brew concentrate
Easy cleanup and storage
Visually appealing design
A little pricey for cold brew maker
Cold brew coffee has become quite popular, and with good reason. The coffee tastes smoother, with less acid and less bitterness than traditional brewing methods. After testing the OXO Cold Brew Maker, our reviewer said setup can be fairly time consuming, as there are several pieces to assemble, but after that brewing is simple and foolproof. Just add coffee and water and let it steep for 12 to 24 hours. Then flip the switch to drain the coffee concentrate into the carafe.
That coffee concentrate can be used to make iced coffee, or add it to hot water to make a hot cup of coffee. Keep the carafe in the refrigerator so you can have coffee for several days with no effort. The strength of the cold brew can be adjusted simply by adding more or less coffee or water.
This brewer has a permanent filter, or you can add a paper filter to collect every last bit of coffee dust from the cold brew. When brewing is done, all the pieces nest for more compact storage. As far as cleanup goes, our reviewer wrote that it "takes a little more work than other cold brew coffee makers because you have to hand wash all of the parts. The glass carafe is the only component that is dishwasher safe."
Electric: No | Capacity: 32 ounces | Dimensions: 9.5 x 9.5 x 14.7 inches | Warranty: Manufacturer guarantee (view at OXO)
"Looks great in any kitchen, makes high-quality cold brew concentrate, and disassembles for easy cleanup." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Best Single Cup: Chulux Single Serve Coffee Maker Brewer
Easy to use
Not the strongest coffee
Great for making one cup at a time, this compact brewer lets you use any type of K-cup, or you can use refillable cups (sold separately) along with your own favorite grounds for unlimited versatility.
Operation is simple too. Just insert the K-cup, add water, and press the button to start the brewing process. To make it easy to remember, instructions are illustrated on the side of the brewer, so you don’t have to leave coffee-making instructions for overnight guests.
The drip tray is removable for easy cleaning, or to accommodate tall travel mugs. This is available in several different colors, so you can match your kitchen or add a pop of fun color to the coffee bar.
Electric: Yes | Capacity: 12 ounces | Dimensions: 7.4 x 4.3 x 9.06 inches | Warranty: 1 year
Best Espresso: Bialetti Moka Express
Easy to use
Clean after every use (hand-wash only)
Not real espresso
Electric espresso machines can be prohibitively expensive, but you can make a cup of traditional stovetop espresso with this classic pot. It's simple to use. Just fill the base with cold water, add the filter and coffee, and screw the top onto the base. Heat the pot on the stove until the water boils, and it will filter through the grounds and fill the top of the pot. When all of the water has passed from the bottom to the top, the coffee is done. It's recommended to use coffee beans that are on the fine-ground side, though not quite as finely ground as those used for a real espresso machine.
This disassembles easily for cleaning and should be washed by hand and dried before storing.
Electric: No | Capacity: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, and 18 espresso-sized cups | Dimensions: Varies by capacity | Warranty: 2 years
"The Moka Express brews coffee that falls somewhere between drip and espresso as far as strength and consistency goes, making it an affordable way to shake up your coffee routine." — Derek Rose, Coffee and Tea Expert for The Spruce Eats
Best Pour Over: Coffee Gator Pour Over Coffee Maker
Compact and portable
Stainless steel filter is very convenient
Brews strong coffee
Smaller serving size
Pour-over coffee has become quite popular, and this simple brewer makes it easy. It includes a conical stainless steel mesh filter to hold the coffee, and a glass carafe to collect the brew and serve it. The filter is made from two layers of mesh, so to let the flavor through while keeping ground out of the finished coffee. The carafe has a large handle and a pouring spout, so you won’t make a mess when you’re serving.
When you’re not making or serving coffee, the carafe will come in handy for serving other beverages, like iced tea, as well.
Electric: No | Capacity: 10.5, 14, and 27 ounces | Dimensions: Varies by capacity | Warranty: 1 year
Best Large Capacity: Hamilton Beach 45 Cup Coffee Urn and Hot Beverage Dispenser
Great for large groups
Brews a cup per minute
Sturdy enough to transport
Interior stains easily
Can't see amount of coffee left
Spout prone to leaking
An ideal coffee urn for people who like to host large gatherings, this holds a whopping 45 cups, so you won’t have to make pot after pot in your everyday coffee maker. However, do keep in mind that coffee brands measure cups as 4 to 6 ounces instead of the standard 8 ounces.
A light indicates when brewing is done, keeping it easy to make the coffee and letting you know when it’s time to start serving. It dispenses with just one hand, so guests can serve themselves without putting their plate down. Despite the large size, this is designed to be easy to clean when serving is done, and two side handles give you a comfortable grip when you need to move the brewer for serving or cleaning. Many customers say the interior stains easily, however, so be sure to rinse often.
Electric: Yes | Capacity: 45 cups | Dimensions: 11 x 11 x 16.12 inches | Warranty: 1-year limited
Our top two picks are almost the same exact price, yet they reflect two very different routes you can take with budget coffee makers. The Mr. Coffee 12-Cup (view at Amazon) is a straightforward electric brewer that's easy to use but offers little versatility. An AeroPress, on the other hand, is a manual coffee maker that requires more time and a little elbow grease, but the resulting coffee is robust and tasty, and the item can be taken anywhere.
What to Look for in a Budget Coffee Maker
By Derek Rose
Electric vs. Non-Electric
There are several types of coffee makers that can save you money and whip up a delicious cup of joe. Figuring out which style you prefer will narrow down the options and make the buying process much easier. A natural place to start is to decide between electric and non-electric devices. Drip machines, espresso machines, and pod-based brewers are common electric coffee makers. Drip is the most affordable of the three, but reasonably priced options are available in each category. The main advantages of electric coffee makers include speed, convenience, and a larger average brewing capacity. Customers interested in more artisanal coffee may prefer non-electric brewing devices. Here, you will find French presses, pour-overs, percolators, and more. While these items require more hands-on effort than electric brewers, they often produce stronger, more flavorful coffee.
Most coffee makers take up a permanent spot on your countertop, so item size should always be considered before buying. If space is limited, you may need to rule out larger options like espresso machines and certain drip coffee makers. Fortunately, budget coffee makers tend to be more compact. This is, in part, because items with smaller brewing capacities cost less than ones with larger capacities. Non-electric coffee makers also come in handy for those hoping to save much-needed kitchen space; French presses, AeroPresses, and pour-overs are all usually smaller than drip machines. Remember to check the depth and width of your countertop beforehand, as well as the height from countertop to cupboard.
While budget coffee makers aren’t always equipped with the abundance of features seen in higher-end items, many still come with useful settings. Even cheap drip coffee makers can be programmable, have adjustable brew strengths, or come with a 1-4 cup setting. Consider what features are most important to you in a coffee maker and adjust your budget accordingly. It may be worth tacking on a few extra dollars for the convenience and versatility that certain features provide.
The double-edged nature of cheap coffee makers is that they can be, well, cheap. Some budget brewers are a great buy in the moment but don't last long enough to be worth it in the long run. If durability is a major concern, simplicity might be best. French presses, pour-overs, and stovetop coffee makers tend to last a long time because they have fewer parts—just keep in mind that many are made of fragile glass. See what customers say about product longevity and check an item’s warranty before buying.
Budget coffee makers are less likely to have a self-cleaning function, so expect to use a little elbow grease after each brew. For drip coffee makers specifically, there are a few small decisions that affect ease of cleaning. First, do you want a machine with a permanent filter or one that uses paper filters? Second, would you rather have a glass carafe, which is generally easier to clean, or a thermal carafe? Those who purchase a non-electric coffee maker avoid the rigorous descaling process, but they will have to wash the item after every single use. Many French presses and pour-overs are dishwasher-safe, however, so check ahead of time to ensure an easier post-coffee cleanup.
Glass vs. Stainless Steel
No matter the type of coffee maker you’re interested in, there are a variety of materials from which to choose. The most common decision comes down to glass versus stainless steel. Glass is more popular, largely because it’s cheaper and easier to clean. However, if you do choose to spend a little more on a stainless steel drip machine, French press, or pour-over, the main advantage is temperature retention. Stainless steel brewing devices use thermal insulation to keep your coffee hot much longer than glass.
Types of Budget Coffee Makers
Enjoyed in kitchens and cafés across the country, drip is not only one of the most popular types of coffee but one of the most affordable too. There are certainly some expensive drip machines out there—items that exceed the hundred-dollar mark—but this category contains a uniquely broad range of prices. Well-known brands like Mr. Coffee, Black+Decker, and Hamilton Beach all manufacture bargain brewers that will leave you smiling with every sip. Some cost little more than a bag of coffee beans, especially if they have a smaller capacity. Drip machines also come at a significantly cheaper price than the common alternative of pod-based coffee makers—namely those manufactured by Keurig and Nespresso.
French presses are a great starting point for coffee lovers curious about non-electric brewing devices. They are stylish, easy to use, and, of course, affordable. On average, they are even cheaper than drip machines, and many prefer the coffee they brew. The bold, beloved French-press flavor is a result of the immersion brewing style, which is when coffee grounds and water soak together for several minutes rather than water being poured quickly through the grounds like with drip coffee. French presses, also known as cafetières, usually have a glass carafe, though stainless steel and ceramic options are widely available at a slightly higher price. As an added bonus, French presses can be used to make cold brew coffee.
Many are familiar with the simplicity of pour-over coffee makers even if they don’t realize it. This is because pour-over is essentially the manual version of drip coffee. All you have to do is put in a coffee filter, fill it with the right amount of grounds, and pour hot water over the grounds until your cup or carafe is full. Some pour-overs brew a single cup of coffee and are small enough to store in a bag while camping or traveling; others, like Chemex, make multiple servings of delicious coffee. This is a particularly worthwhile category for customers who love drip coffee but find that they never finish the full pot.
Black+Decker has long been a go-to source for hardware and power tools, but this century-old American brand also manufactures an assortment of coffee makers that are both affordable and dependable. The company exclusively makes drip coffee makers, the majority of which are easy to find at various retailers both in-store and online. Black+Decker products generally come in two sizes—5 or 12 cups—but customers can also select a single-serve model, as well as one with a built-in grinder for those who want the freshest possible coffee.
Coffee lovers of all different tastes should check out Bodum’s many products. The Danish-Swiss company sells everything from brewing devices to handy accessories, like grinders and frothers. Bodum is best known for its budget-friendly French presses, making it a top brand for buyers hoping to save money on a non-electric coffee maker. The sleek CHAMBORD is its most popular option, while the BRAZIL and EILEEN are two affordable models worth consideration as well. The brand also manufactures a highly reviewed pour-over coffee maker that comes in a variety of sizes and styles.
Mr. Coffee found rapid success after its 1972 inception, and many coffee drinkers soon began associating the brand with affordable drip machines. Decades later, Mr. Coffee has maintained its reasonable prices but now offers a wider variety of brewing devices. Along with its signature drip machines, customers can also find espresso machines, an iced coffee maker, and a single-serve coffee maker compatible with K-Cups. All Mr. Coffee products are backed by a one-year limited warranty.
What is descaling?
Water is filled with minerals like magnesium and calcium. Over time, the mineral residue builds up inside of your coffee maker around parts that contact water. This can cause major issues with the machine if left untreated. Descaling is the way to avoid the problem. It’s the process of removing mineral buildup, typically done with vinegar or a special descaling solution. Brands may suggest descaling at different frequencies, but the basic rule of thumb is to do it every one to three months.
What is a 1-4 cup setting?
Many coffee drinkers question the purpose of the 1-4 cup setting on their device—how is it any different than a regular brew? Well, the reason for the extra button is that most machines are designed to brew a larger amount of coffee, so when you only want a few cups the water pours too quickly through the coffee grounds and leads to a weak final product. A 1-4 cup setting adjusts the drip function to a slower speed and perfectly extracts the grounds to suit a smaller pot of coffee.
What size coffee grounds should I use?
Every style of coffee maker requires a specific grind size to achieve the best flavor. People with a pour-over, AeroPress, or drip coffee maker are in luck, because these devices work best with a medium grind. Pre-ground coffee, readily available at grocery stores, is generally a suitable medium grind. In contrast, espresso machines need a very fine grind to brew bold shots and produce a frothy crema. Finally, French presses require coarse-ground beans. Too fine a grind and the resulting coffee will have a silty, gritty texture, and the French press itself may quickly become clogged.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a freelance food writer who specializes in product reviews and recipes. Her work has appeared on Serious Eats, Fine Cooking, and her own recipe blog, Cookistry.com. She's also the author of "Make Ahead Bread" (view at Amazon) a cookbook meant to simplify the bread-baking process.
This piece was edited by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight. He uses the Bialetti Moka Express (view at Amazon) at home, complementing it with a separate milk frother to make lattes and cappuccinos.