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Coffee might very well be the elixir of life. Or so it seems some days. But a bad cup of joe can start your day off on the wrong foot. That's why a good coffee maker is so important. And while we don’t mind manual brewing methods like the pour-over or the French press, nothing beats an automatic drip machine for sheer convenience. You don’t have to spend a lot on one either. Here are some of the best automatic coffee makers under $250.
Bonavita’s Connoisseur BV1901TS has all the features coffee lovers crave. It mimics artisan pour-over techniques with an optional pre-infusion mode, has a showerhead that saturates the coffee grounds evenly and a 1500-watt heater that maintains an optimal brewing temperature of 198- to 205-degrees Fahrenheit. On top of that, it comes with a thermal carafe that’ll keep your brew piping hot for hours. The result: A coffee maker so exceptional that it’s been certified by the Specialty Coffee Association. Happy customers report that the coffee it produces is delicious, the sleek design is easy to clean and it brews a full pot incredibly fast. Plus, they say the carafe keeps the brew warm for over an hour.
The OXO Brew 9-cup coffee maker has a precision brewing technique that results in a rich and flavorful cup of joe (it’s also been certified by the Specialty Coffee Association). The rainmaker shower head disperses water evenly over the grounds, and the temperature is purposely kept between 197.6- and 204.8-degrees Fahrenheit for the best brewing conditions possible. What makes it even better is that there’s a wake-up timer so you can schedule it to automatically brew a carafe to be ready when you get up in the morning.
“It has a unique brewing system and makes a rich, smooth, perfect cup of coffee at the right temperature,” said a reviewer on Amazon. “It's a well-made product all the way around … The unit is easy to use, takes five minutes to brew and coffee is never burnt because of the insulated carafe (which keeps it hot for at least an hour)... Coffee is delicious and the product works flawlessly... I'm happy to pay the extra money for a perfect cup every morning. It's so worth it!”
The OXO Brew 8-Cup is proof that excellent coffee makers can come in compact forms. This model comes with a rainmaker shower head to evenly distribute water over the grounds and the water is kept at the ideal temperature for drip coffee (somewhere between 198- and 205-degrees Fahrenheit). The simple four-button controls are easy to understand (even when you’re bleary-eyed in the morning), and the thermal carafe will keep your drink warm for hours. You can even brew directly into your favorite mug.
“All I want is a coffee machine that makes a great cup of coffee. The OXO delivers,” said a shopper. Another raved about it as well: “I love everything about this coffee maker. The coffee is excellent, the carafe is perfectly balanced and easy to clean, the brew-through lid is convenient, and the single-serve option is icing on the cake.”
The Ninja CM401 Specialty is a multi-purpose machine that can make everything from regular drip to iced coffee. It will also concoct a super-rich coffee concentrate that you can use to replace espresso in mixed drinks. There’s even a built-in milk frother if you're craving a latte or a cappuccino. The water reservoir is removable so it’s easy to fill and clean. Brew into the carafe or directly into cups of various sizes (even your travel mug!).
One Amazon shopper absolutely loved it: “For the first time after using, I could actually taste the flavor at its best! The machine itself is aesthetically pleasing and it does the job of brewing, frothing, and creating specialty espresso drinks with such ease and perfection. There are so many settings and accessories that are included in the compact design that you can make whatever coffee you want. I am actually upset I spent so much money on buying other little machines, frothers, capsules, etc. when all along this machine includes everything you need… Love love love it and I would recommend this 100 percent.”
The Ninja CE251 is a slightly more affordable coffee maker, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as capable. With over 14,000 five-star reviews, it’s clear that it's pretty popular! You can adjust the brew strength between “classic” or “rich” and the coffee will stay fresh for up to four hours on the warming plate. Plus, the water reservoir is removable so it’s much easier to fill up than a lot of other machines. It also has a 24-hour programmable delay timer that allows you to prepare your coffee up to a day in advance.
“Wow! I've only had this a few weeks, but I had to chime in,” said a reviewer on Amazon. “This is not your Mom's coffee maker, by any means. It has a separate detachable water tank, keeping you from having to pour water onto your machine. It's fast and easy...Plus, in "rich" mode, it pulses, stops and starts, just like pour-over! A small serving option allows for this process to be implemented properly. It's very easy to clean.”
With the Hamilton Beach 12 Cup Programmable Smart Coffee Maker, you can make a cup of joe simply by using your voice. It works with Amazon’s Alexa, so you can control your coffee maker completely hands-free. Just add the coffee and water the night before, and then when you wake up, tell the coffee maker to start brewing. Alternatively, tell it to start making your coffee at a specific time using Alexa routines.
One Amazon shopper loves the Alexa feature: “I love it. Lay in bed in the morning yelling, ‘Alexa, turn on my coffee’ and she listens to me and does as I say. Life doesn't get much better than that. No more waiting for my coffee to brew. Done by the time I get to the kitchen.”
If you love coffee but can’t be bothered to remember the proper bean-to-water ratio, then consider the Mr. Coffee Easy Measure. It features a color-coded measuring system that will help you get the right amount of coffee grounds and water every single time. It also uses a two-step water filtration system to make your beverage taste better and has a four-hour freshness indicator to let you know just how long it’s been since your coffee was brewed. Other features include an automatic clean cycle plus a programmable timer so you can set it to brew your morning cup at a specific time.
“Great coffee pot,” said a review on Amazon. “Just make it the night before and have a big pot waiting for me in the morning. Keeps it warm for 4 hours and gives you a countdown in intervals.” “This coffee maker is perfect for all our needs,” said another. “It’s a quick brew (even with 12 cups), has a programmable start that we use daily, and of course it makes a delicious cup of coffee! I would definitely purchase again and I would also recommend someone else to buy.”
Mr Coffee’s 12-Cup Coffee Maker is a simple machine without all the bells and whistles. It has a power indicator light, a dual-water window so you know exactly how much you've poured in and a filter basket that can be lifted out for easy cleanup. You can also grab the carafe mid-way through the cycle and the brew will pause temporarily as you pour yourself a cup.
“We love this coffee maker,” said an Amazon reviewer. “First of all it is inexpensive and you don't have to spend a fortune for a nice hot cup of coffee...It does not turn on or off by itself but again I truly don't need help with pushing one simple little button. I see the green light when it is on. Quite simple. We are avid coffee drinkers and the coffee is good, hot and fresh. No risk here.”
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