April 23, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

After two months surveying readers, interviewing coffee experts, researching makes, models, and reviews, and testing five finalist machines with a 10-person tasting panel, we recommend the $190 Bonavita 1900TS. It’s the best coffee maker for most people who love good coffee but don’t have the time or patience for pour-over. The 1900TS brewed the most consistently delicious coffee among all of the machines we tested—better than anything I used in my past life as a barista. It does this thanks to smart internal design, like a wider showerhead and a flat-bottomed filter (the normal, wavy kind) and a built-in pre-infusion timer. This coffee machine will brew coffee 90 percent as good as pour-over every single time.


Why you should trust us

To get to these picks, I talked to coffee experts of various backgrounds from different parts of the industry: Humberto Ricardo, the owner of the renowned Manhattan coffee shop Third Rail Coffee; barista Carlos Morales who just won third place in the Northeast Brewers Cup Championship; and Mark Hellweg who founded and runs the speciality coffee accessory company Clive Coffee, which recently developed and released a high-end coffee machine of their own design. I also chatted with pretty much every barista I encountered at shops to get their perspectives.

I combined what I learned from these experts with reviews from the best sources on the web—including Consumer Reports, Cooks Illustrated, Serious Eats, CNET, and Wired—to narrow the list of contenders down to five top contenders. I then conducted a blind tasting panel of 10 coffee enthusiasts who all voted on which machines produced the best-tasting beverage. In the end, there was one clear winner.

The Sweethome

Why our pick is the best

The Bonavita 1900TS makes consistently great tasting coffee and was the easiest to use and the fastest to brew out of the six machines we tested. You won’t get many extra features, like timers and a “brew strength” adjuster, but nothing will give you better-tasting coffee with less hassle. And its maintenance and cleaning is the same as any other automatic drip machine on the market—just toss the grounds, give everything a rinse, and occasionally de-scale if you don’t use filtered water.

Using quality, well-ground beans, some of our testers even compared the brew favorably to handmade pour-over coffee. The 1900TS was also the easiest to use among the competition—just one button to push—and it was the fastest to brew a full pot by over a minute. That’s because it has a higher-powered water heater than most, which allows it to achieve the ideal brewing temperature of 195-205˚F faster than other machines.

The Bonavita (second from the left) is noticeably more compact than the other machines (The Sweethome)
The Bonavita (second from the left) is noticeably more compact than the other machines
The Sweethome

Operation couldn’t be simpler. There’s only one button. Press once to make coffee, or press and hold for five seconds to activate the pre-infusion timer. Pre-infusion allows the grounds to fully and evenly wet before brewing fully begins—this leads to more even extraction and more clarity of flavor. The machine shuts itself off after the coffee has been brewed, though you can turn the machine off anytime by pressing the one button. Because it comes with a stainless-steel insulated carafe, there’s no need for a hot plate to keep the pot warm. In our tests, coffee was drinkably hot for a couple hours after brewing, but fell to room temperature after 6 hours.

The runner-up pick

If the 1900TS is unavailable, the older Bonavita 1800-series is the next best way to go. The 1800TH is your best bet, because its glass-lined thermal carafe will keep coffee warm for longer without wasting energy on heating plates. The 1800SS is also a good option, but it uses a steel-lined thermal carafe, which many coffee aficionados claim can color the flavor of the coffee within. It’s a very similar machine to our top pick, but the 1900TS’s improvements result in a more evenly-extracted, clearer-tasting cup that was unanimously preferred by our tasting panelists. Still, the 1800TH beat out every other machine in our test, which is no small accomplishment.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to TheWirecutter.com.

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