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. That isn't always true with cheap coffee makers, however. Some may seem like a bargain at 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.
All that 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.
Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Drip 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 bestseller 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 couple years of purchase, but at the price it wasn't a major drawback for them.
Price at time of publish: $35
Electric: Yes | Capacity: 12 cups (60 ounces) | Dimensions: 8.4 x 11.76 x 12.5 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. After testing the item, our reviewer found it highly portable as it is "made of several parts that can conveniently be broken down to make it more travel-friendly."
The AeroPress 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.
It 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 reused several times. Additional filters come in packs of 350 and are very affordable. They can be purchased online or where AeroPress products are sold.
Price at time of publish: $40
Electric: No | Capacity: 8 ounces | Dimensions: 4.75 x 4.5 x 11.75 inches | Warranty: 1-year limited
Best French Press
Secura 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.
Price at time of publish: $40
Electric: No | Capacity: 12, 17, 34, and 50 ounces | Dimensions: Varies by capacity | Warranty: 2 years
Best Espresso Machine
Coffee Gator Espresso Machine
Fast heat-up time
Intuitive LED display
Not the strongest steam wand
Those daily trips to the coffee shop for your favorite espresso-based drinks can quickly roast a hole in your wallet. That’s where a home espresso maker comes in handy. Even though many are sold at steep prices, there are plenty of high-quality budget options out there too, our favorite being the Coffee Gator Espresso Machine. It’s compact, easy to use, and brews rich espresso in seconds.
After testing the item over several weeks, our reviewer was impressed by its fast heat-up time of 20 seconds, as well as how powerful the brewer is despite its slim, lightweight design. The power doesn’t translate to the steam wand, however, as it takes a little while to achieve rich milk foam. It still produces delicious lattes and cappuccinos, but it may take longer than with separate milk frothers or steam wands on pricier espresso machines.
Our tester added that the Coffee Gator Espresso Machine is an excellent option for customers looking to purchase their first espresso machine because of its ease of use and affordable price. Newcomers or experts alike worried about a rigorous post-espresso clean-up have nothing to fear. Simply rinse the portafilter, which comes with three different filter baskets, and move on to the next espresso shot. The drip tray is also removable for an easy rinse once it gets too full.
Price at time of publish: $150
Electric: Yes | Capacity: N/A | Dimensions: 12.4 x 5.5 x 10.3 inches | Warranty: 1 year
Best Stovetop Espresso
Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, 3-Cup
Coffee has versatile flavor and body
Easy to use regardless of experience
Compact and portable
Cheaper than electric coffee makers
Must hand wash after every use
Uses a lot of grounds
Handle gets hot
Electric espresso machines can be prohibitively expensive, but you can make a cup of traditional stovetop espresso with this classic device, known as a moka pot. Note that the coffee made from the Moka Express is not technically "real espresso" because it isn't brewed with the same high pressure as a commercial espresso machine; however, coffee experts widely consider it a type of espresso maker because the resulting brew is more in the spirit of espresso than, say, drip coffee.
Our product tester says the item is 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, but unfortunately it needs to be washed by hand after every use.
Price at time of publish: $45
Electric: No | Capacity: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, and 18 espresso-sized cups | Dimensions: 4 x 9 inches (6-cup model) | Warranty: 2 years
"I often use the concentrated coffee from my Moka Express for lattes and cappuccinos, which is why I recommend it as a budget alternative to an espresso maker."
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.
Coffee concentrate can be used to make iced coffee or added 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 said it takes a little more work than other cold brew coffee makers because all parts must be washed by hand. The glass carafe is the only component that is dishwasher safe.
Price at time of publish: $52
Electric: No | Capacity: 32 ounces | Dimensions: 9.5 x 9.5 x 14.7 inches | Warranty: Manufacturer guarantee (view at OXO)
Hamilton Beach Front-Fill 12 Cup Programmable Coffee Maker with Swing-Out Basket
Several customizable settings
Large capacity for price
Easy to fill water reservoir
Does not include permanent filter
May be too tall for some cupboards
The number of features this coffee maker offers is impressive when considering its bargain price tag. There are adjustable settings like multiple brew strengths, a programmable clock with a two-hour automatic shutoff, and a seamless pause-and-serve feature for when you want to sneak a cup before the whole pot is finished.
The swing-out brew basket is easier to fill and clean than typical coffee maker lids, and there's even a reminder that lets you know when it's time to clean the machine. It doesn't come with a permanent filter, however, so users need to buy paper ones. The majority of users give the product five stars, with especially high marks in ease of use, temperature control, and value for money.
Price at time of publish: $53
Electric: Yes | Capacity: 12 cups (60 ounces) | Dimensions: 12.91 x 7.95 x 13.9 inches | Warranty: 1-year limited
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.
The 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.
Price at time of publish: $60
Electric: Yes | Capacity: 12 ounces | Dimensions: 7.4 x 4.3 x 9.06 inches | Warranty: 1 year
Best Pour Over
Chemex Classic Series Coffeemaker
Produces rich, flavorful coffee
Looks great on the counter
Chemex Bonded Filters are specifically recommended
The Chemex Coffeemaker has long been synonymous with pour over coffee. Invented in 1941, the sleek glass brewing device can be found on countless best-of lists, on the counters of many high-end coffee shops, and even in James Bond's kitchen.
A number of our writers have owned or tested the Chemex Coffeemaker and, based on their reviews, we recommend the item for the best reason out there: it makes some delicious coffee. The Chemex is especially effective at brewing coffee with a lot of clarity, which is the ability to distinguish between different flavors. If you use coffee beans with hints of citrus and honey, for example, a Chemex can highlight each flavor instead of making coffee that tastes one-note or overly roasted.
Sizes for the Chemex range from 3 to 10 cups, and the price generally rises accordingly. It's dishwasher safe after removing the wooden collar; otherwise, a bottle brush is needed to clean the carafe by hand. Like most pour overs, paper filters or a permanent filter is needed to brew.
Price at time of publish: $49 (8-cup model)
Electric: No | Capacity: 3, 6, 8, and 10 cups | Dimensions: 5.25 x 9 inches (8-cup model) | 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 plates 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.
Price at time of publish: $55
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 Coffee Maker 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 you can take the item 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 the 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.
"It wasn’t until I had coffee in pour-over form that I could taste all the different notes, and it was this ah-ha moment. I really believe pour over is the best way to make a cup of coffee." — Nigel Price, Founder and Owner of Drip Coffee Makers
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 almost 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.
How many scoops of coffee should I use?
Every brewing device has its own recommendations, but coffee does have a "Golden Rule" that provides a general ratio for the amount of coffee grounds to use. It's usually measured in weight, though, not scoops, since weighing coffee is the most precise method. So, if you have a kitchen scale, the rule of thumb is 1 gram of coffee for every 15 to 18 grams of water. If you don't have a scale or simply prefer the convenience of measuring in scoops, try using 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water. Both ratios can be adjusted to suit your taste, whether you prefer your coffee stronger or weaker.
What does French press coffee taste like?
French press coffee is known for its strong flavor, but what really sets it apart is that it has a heavier body and longer-lasting mouthfeel than other types of coffee. This is, in part, because French presses are "immersion brewers." The coffee grounds steep—or are "immersed"—in water for several minutes. In contrast, brewing methods like drip and pour over have water pass through the coffee grounds quickly. That doesn't mean French press coffee is necessarily better than other brewing methods. But, if brewed properly, the flavors should envelop your taste buds in a unique way.
How is cold brew different from iced coffee?
Cold brew and iced coffee are both refreshing drinks, but there are two key differences in how they are made. First, cold brew is made with cold water, while iced coffee is made with hot water. Second, cold brew steeps for a much longer period of time, typically from 12 to 24 hours. Iced coffee, on the other hand, brews in just a couple minutes. These differences make cold brew a stronger and smoother beverage.
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.
How We Researched & Tested
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ease of use, material, or price—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. Our team also incorporated their own personal experiences testing products in their own lives. We then used these insights from our research and testing to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
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" a cookbook meant to simplify the bread-baking process.
This piece was updated 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 at home, complementing it with a separate milk frother to make lattes and cappuccinos.
Nigel Price is the founder and owner of Drip Coffee Makers in New York City and has worked in the coffee industry for more than a decade. Established in 2015, Drip now has multiple locations.