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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 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 year of purchase but at the price it wasn't a major drawback for them.
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.
"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 Programmable: Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker
Great value for money
1-4 cup setting
Easy to fill water reservoir
Some say coffee doesn't get hot enough
Does not include permanent filter
Too tall for some cabinets
The number of features that this coffee maker offers is mind-blowing when considering its bargain price tag. The item provides luxuries like multiple brew strengths, a programmable clock with 2-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 pops up every 30 cycles so you know when it's time to clean the machine. The majority of users give the product five stars, with especially high marks in ease of use, temperature control, value for money, and, most importantly, flavor.
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.
Best Cold Brew: OXO Good Grips 32 Ounce 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."
"Looks great in any kitchen, makes high-quality cold brew concentrate, and disassembles for easy cleanup." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
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
The perfect coffee urn for folks 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. 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.
Serving is simple. 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.
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.
Best Espresso: Bialetti Express Moka Pot
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 holds up to 12-ounces of water, which is enough to make six 2-ounce shots of espresso.
This 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 and should be washed by hand and dried before storing.
"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 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.
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 (view at Amazon), 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.
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 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.
Type: Think about how much coffee you’ll regularly be making and what kind of coffee you use. If you use grounds and typically serve a crowd, choose drip coffee makers (they can make up to 14 cups at once!). If you generally make one cup at a time, try a non-electric brewer or a single-serve coffee maker that uses pods.
Size: If space is limited, you’ll have to rule out a number of larger machines, likely electric coffee makers. A non-electric brewer, a single-serve coffee maker, or a compact drip coffee maker may be better suited to your space. Remember to check height, depth, and width to ensure it fits properly. And if the machine has a compartment that lifts, keep that in mind when taking your measurements.
Durability: 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 make them worth it in the end. 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 so few parts (however, many are made of glass). See what customers say about product longevity, and double check an item's warranty before buying.