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There are two carafe options when purchasing a new coffee maker: glass or thermal. While the former is more common (and more affordable), there are several advantages to thermal carafes, the primary one being heat retention. The double-walled stainless steel of a thermal carafe is designed to maintain temperature for hours and, since no heating plate is required, the coffee won’t burn or become bitter. Durability is another advantage—you’d really have to try to chip or break one.
There are downsides too, of course. Thermal is much heavier and doesn’t always allow users to see the amount of coffee that’s left.
But for those who love a truly hot cup of joe, here are the best thermal carafe coffee makers available.
Shows time since last brew
Many features for affordable price
Plastic elements break easily
No heating coil
Plastic taste lingers for first several pots
Your basic thermal carafe coffee maker should be able to hold coffee at the optimal temperature for a long time. Black+Decker’s 12-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker takes on the task with its large-capacity, double-walled, vacuum-sealed carafe.
After testing the product, our reviewer said the thermal carafe sufficiently keeps coffee warm for several hours. "We made coffee around 9:30 AM and by 1:30 PM it was still quite hot," she wrote, "so you can say goodbye to microwaving your coffee an hour after it was made." The item does not have a built-in heating element, however, which is somewhat of a downside as that could keep the coffee even hotter.
This model also gives you the option to use preferred brew settings like ‘strong’ for a bolder flavor in every cup. The Evenstream Showerhead ensures water disperses evenly over your coffee grounds for maximum taste.
One thing to keep in mind is the extra care that thermal carafes need. Because it’s made of stainless steel, Black+Decker recommends a proper flush using a vinegar-water solution to remove hard water scale from the heater. The quick-touch programming functions make this coffeemaker effortless to use. Plus, if you get excited for your early morning coffee, there’s a Sneak-A-Cup feature which allows you to pause the flow of coffee so you can get in a quick cup mess-free.
"It isn’t the fanciest model on the market, but it works well, offers some nice features, and comes at a relatively low price point." — Suzie Dundas, Product Tester
Can brew coffee concentrate for iced coffee
Programmable up to 24 hours
Removable water reservoir
Not the sleekest design
It’s okay to want the most out of your coffeemaker. That’s why Zojirushi created their Gourmet Fresh Brew Plus with a 10-cup thermal carafe. It has an authentic coffee shop look that you can now steal for your very own kitchen. The modern appeal is a major selling point.
A removable water tank makes filling and washing super easy, and the item's clean light alert removes the guessing games and lets you know when it's time to clean the machine. The thermal carafe is vacuum insulated, keeping your drinks hot for hours. If you fear leaving your coffee pot on while running around in the mornings, you can rest assured thanks to the auto shut off feature. Thanks to the digital clock, you also get a 24-hour programmable timer so you can wake up in the best way possible—to the smell of your preferred coffee beans.
Adjustable burr grinder
Reasonably priced for machine with grinder
Can program both grinding and brewing
Learning curve to get flavorful coffee
Doesn't grind oily beans well
The Capresso Coffee Team 10-Cup Digital Coffeemaker has a reputation on the market for being a noiseless force to be reckoned with—even with its grinding ability. If you’re a coffee bean connoisseur then you will appreciate the slow grinding of the burr which protects your coffees aroma while allowing a finer, uniform grind compared to that of a standard blade grinder. Plus, the five fineness settings gives you full control of your coffee experience.
The 10-cup thermal carafe keeps your coffee warm throughout the day to cut down on waste. You can brew the maximum amount of coffee in just under 10 minutes. The clock/timer feature lets you set up everything the night before so you can wake up to a fresh pot of coffee. The charcoal water filtration system is also a unique selling point; it can remove up to 82% of chlorine and impurities from tap water, which most people use to make their daily batch.
Prone to leaking
Not the strongest coffee
A major convenience for our daily appliances is when they have self-cleaning mechanisms, which makes caring for them simple. With Mr. Coffee’s 10-Cup Coffeemaker you can clean your device with the simple push of a button. It doesn’t get any better than that. And this is not a widespread function on other coffeemakers, especially those featuring stainless steel thermal carafes.
Other functions include a ‘Dim Display’ button, the ability to delay brewing, and the pre-setting of timed coffee. You can also choose your brew strength per session, as well as pause your brewing process to sneak in a fresh cup of coffee. The double-walled thermal carafe lets you enjoy fresh coffee throughout the day from a single batch. There is also a two-hour auto shut off function which safely shuts off the coffee maker in case you forget to turn it off before leaving the house for work.
Attractive stainless steel design
Easy to use
Programmable up to 24 hours
Adjustable brew strength
Narrow mouth makes it difficult to pour
You can finally have full control over your coffee experience in your home. The Cuisinart DCC-3400 Thermal Coffeemaker uses a unique internal heating system to provide you with three different brew temperatures: regular, hot, and extra hot. The Extreme Brew option uses new re-engineered brewing technology to make your coffee 25 percent faster than the standard coffee maker without skimping on taste and flavor.
Our product tester reviewed this machine and complimented its heat retention, saying that the coffee was "consistently piping hot." One aspect to watch out for, however, is that the carafe is "heavy and somewhat cumbersome." Thermal carafes are naturally heavier than glass ones, so keep that in mind before purchasing.
The backlit LCD screen and the ability to set the brew time to 24-hours ahead are two other features that make this coffeemaker a top-rated model. The thermal carafe is dishwasher safe, and the coffee maker has a self-cleaning function as well. It's also available in seven different colors.
"If you’re looking for a thermal carafe coffee maker with lots of customizable features, the Cuisinart Thermal Coffeemaker is an excellent choice." — Sage McHugh, Product Tester
Attractive stainless steel design
Programmable 24-hour brew start
Makes tasty coffee and keeps it hot
Hot water system is unreliable
“Ready Light” isn’t very accurate
Clock is small and hard to see
You can finally perfect your coffee, tea, and hot cocoa routine with this versatile machine. The item has a 10-cup carafe on one side and a hot water dispensing system on the other, both of which can be used simultaneously.
While Cuisinart's Hot Water System can certainly be a nice perk, our product tester described it as "touch and go." The coffee came out "bold, flavorful, and piping hot," but the hot water dispenser was frustratingly inconsistent. During testing, the water would often be "lukewarm." When it does work, however, it can be a convenience for households that enjoy soup, oatmeal, tea, and more.
Like other competitors, this model boasts a self-cleaning function, as well as an auto-on setting, making this machine an everyday necessity for the countless functions alone. You can control your brewing flavor options with the touch of a button, and even use the Brew Pause setting to grab a cup before the brewing process is finished.
"Offers plenty of convenient features when it comes to coffee making, but the hot water system is not so hot." — Sage McHugh, Product Tester
Thermal carafe coffee makers are typically pricier than glass ones, but the Black+Decker 12-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker defies the norm. It's affordably priced and offers a number of convenient features—all while keeping your coffee hot. Those looking for a more advanced machine, should check out our higher-end choice, the Zojirushi Gourmet Fresh Brew Plus (view at Bed Bath & Beyond).
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Wendy Vazquez is a Cincinnati-based freelance writer and PR and marketing strategist. She has worked with brands—both on the editorial and public relations side of things—in the fashion, beauty, lifestyle, business, and technology industries. Wendy received a bachelor's degree in marketing from LIM College. She also studied fashion merchandising and marketing at The Art Institute of New York City.
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 typically uses non-electric coffee makers at home, alternating between the Bialetti Moka Express (view at Amazon) and the Bodum Brazil French Press (View at Amazon).
Capacity: How many people will you be serving? Do you drink coffee all day, or just take one cup in the morning to work? While thermal carafe machines can keep coffee warm for family members with different schedules, if you all prefer different brews you might not need a large pot that serves everyone.
Features: From 24-hour programming to various strength settings, coffee makers can have a multitude of features, or they can be simple press-and-go machines. Think about all of the things you would love for your coffee maker to be able to do. The more features, however, the higher price.
Onboard grinding: While the majority of thermal carafe coffee makers don't come with onboard grinding, it's a perk worth consideration. Coffee is best when it’s freshly ground. However, the process takes more time and will certainly raise the price if you're looking for a machine with a built-in grinder.