The 8 Types Of Coffee Makers For EVERY Type Of Coffee Drinker (Updated For 2020)

There’s more than one way to skin a cat brew a delicious cup of coffee.

(Don’t like coffee? Learn how to!)

These 8 types of coffee makers run the gamut from newfangled tech to old world engineering.

automatic drip coffee makers

1. Automatic Drip Coffee Makers

Single-serve coffee makers fall under this umbrella. These machines are the simplest to use:

  • Load up with your pod or ground coffee (and filter if necessary)
  • Make sure the water reservoir is full
  • Press “brew”

Unless the machine has advanced settings you lose a lot of control over the brew — such as temperature and extraction rate — but the convenience is undeniable. Preset everything the night before and enjoy a hassle-free cup of Joe in the morning.

Related: Best BUNN Coffee Makers

Automatic drip coffee makers are also great for brewing large quantities, and many single serve brewers now have the ability to brew full pots with a single (larger) pod.

Check out our guide to the Best Drip Coffee Makers for more info.

french press coffee makers

2. French Press

More commonly used outside the United States, the french press is a cylindrical container with a plunger. Coffee grounds are placed in the coffee maker and submerged in water for some period of time, and then you push on the plunger to press the coffee grounds down to the bottom of the container. The coffee is poured out the spout on top.

The french press affords the home barista complete control over their final cup:

  • Add as much ground coffee as you’d like
  • Add as much water (at whatever temperature) as you’d like
  • Plunge to complete extraction after however long you’d like

Because of the filtered plunger the french press works best with coarse grinds that won’t slip through. This requires a longer extraction time, though. There are also the added benefits of portability; they’re small in size and don’t require a stovetop (if you have another means of getting hot water) or an electrical outlet.

pour-over coffee makers

3. Pour-Over (Conical) Coffee Makers

Chances are you’ve at least heard of drip and french press coffee makers, but have you every heard of a pour-over coffee maker?

There aren’t any secrets here: Pour-over coffee makers use conical filters, though some have a flat bottom instead of coming to a point.

Why the cone shape? It affords a couple benefits that flat-bottomed filters don’t:

  • All of the water is passed towards the bottom of the cone and completely through the coffee grounds (stronger cup)
  • If paper filters are used, no issues with the sides of the filter collapsing and grounds spilling into your cup

I’ll also lump the Chemex Brewer into this class, though it’s a more premium coffee maker.

Our guide to the Best Pour-Over Coffee Makers has you covered.

aeropress coffee maker

4. AeroPress

The same principle as a french press with some tweaks, the AeroPress is my coffee maker of choice. It’s small, lightweight, durable and gives me complete control over my coffee in record time.

Remember the french press plunger which strained the coffee grounds downward so you could pour the coffee out through the spout?

The AeroPress is the inverted version of that.

The principle is the same — mix coffee grounds and water in whatever ratios and for however long you prefer — but when extraction is done you push down on the plunger which pushes the coffee downward and into your cup, leaving the grounds behind.

Still with me? The AeroPress is actually a two-way coffee maker as there’s also an inverted method of AeroPress brewing.

(Does that make this method the inverted inverted version of french press brewing?).

I won’t go into too much detail here, but this video shows you what I’m talking about.

The AeroPress is great for several reasons:

  • Tons of flexibility to experiment with your ground size, ratios and temperature
  • For use with fine ground coffee, which means fast extraction times
  • Capable of making condensed espresso-style beverages
  • Practically indestructible and incredibly compact

There are some downsides to the AeroPress. Most notably, you can only brew one cup at a time and the unit is more complex with a few extra moving parts. Ultimately, it boils down to what you want out of your coffee maker.

stovetop coffee makers

5. Stovetop Coffee Makers

These units are great for the nerd in all of us. They typically come with 3 components:

  1. Bottom chamber or boiling pot
  2. Middle long-stemmed funnel that holds the coffee grounds
  3. Top chamber or carafe for the finished coffee

Ready for a lesson in thermodynamics? Here’s how it works:

  1. Fill the bottom chamber with water and the long-stemmed funnel with coffee grounds.
  2. Stack/assemble all of the components (there may be some screwing) and place on the stovetop.
  3. Heat from the stovetop converts the dense liquid water into less dense water vapor, which increases the pressure in the bottom chamber.
  4. The increased pressure pushes the boiling water up the stem, through the grounds and into the top chamber.
  5. Listen for bubbling or gurgling, which means the bottom chamber is running low on water.
  6. When the bottom chamber is nearly or completely empty, remove the contraption from the stovetop.
  7. Unscrew the top chamber/carafe, pour and enjoy.

These coffee makers are renowned for producing clean, crisp coffee…if you’re willing to put up with the more complex process.

But wait, it gets even more complex.

vacuum coffee makers

6. Vacuum Coffee Makers

A version of stovetop coffee makers, vacuum coffee makers are one of the most interesting applications of physics I’ve seen in the kitchen.

Sharing the same principles as stovetop coffee makers above, these units generally come with two stackable chambers. The bottom chamber is basically a stovetop carafe for boiling water. The top chamber is a glass container with a stem and is for coffee grounds. There’s a filter where the stem connects to the bowl-portion of the glass container.

The brew process is extremely similar to that of stovetop coffee makers:

  1. Fill the bottom chamber with water and the top chamber with ground coffee.
  2. Stack/assemble the components (there may be some screwing) and place on the stovetop.
  3. Heat from the stovetop converts the dense liquid water into less dense water vapor, which increases the pressure in the bottom chamber.
  4. The increased pressure pushes the boiling water up stem of the top chamber, through the filter and into the bowl containing the coffee grounds.
  5. As the top chamber is filling with water, mixing the water with coffee grounds, the home barista stirs for about a minute.
  6. Then the whole contraption is removed from the stovetop.
  7. Taken off the heat, the less dense water vapor in the bottom chamber begins to cool and condense into liquid water.
  8. This creates a low pressure vacuum in the bottom chamber and sucks the coffee from the top chamber down through the filter and stem, back into the bottom chamber.
  9. The coffee is poured from the bottom chamber instead of the top.

There’s a whole sequence of helpful images on Wikipedia that depict what I just described, but that’s the gist. This style of coffee maker has the same benefits of the stovetop coffee maker above and is a big seller in Japan.

turkish coffee pots

7. Turkish Coffee Pots

This method is as old world as they come. It involves a cezve (sometimes mistakenly called an ibrik), which is a metal pot with a long handle, and the direct immersion of extremely fine coffee grounds (almost powder-like) in water without the use of a filter.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Mix the finely ground coffee with water in your cezve.
  2. Heat over low heat to near boiling.
  3. The cezve will nearly boil over — remove it from the heat.
  4. Let it cool for 20-30 seconds.
  5. Put the cezve back on low heat.
  6. Again, remove once it’s nearly boiling over.
  7. Pour into your cup and enjoy.
  8. Some people repeat the cool-boil-remove process a third time for a bolder coffee.

There’s no filtering at all so the end result will be a thicker, slightly sludgy (but definitely richer) cup of coffee. Actually, it’s probably more like an espresso in terms of richness and volume. You could even be authentic and add some spices to it, such as ground cardamom.

cold brew coffee makers

8. Cold Brew Coffee Makers

Cold brew coffee sales have exploded over the last few years, growing 115% from 2014-2015 and 339% from 2010-2015. It’s become so popular that big corporations like Starbucks are serving cold brew (while it lasts) and grocery store iced coffee sections are now stocked with cold brewed iced coffee.

If you’re a fan on this slow brew variety — and I, for one, am — you’re probably familiar with many of the ways it sets itself apart:

  • More sweetness
  • Lower acidity
  • Lower bitterness
  • Improved smoothness
  • Long fridge shelf life

Brew cold brew coffee at home with one of the best cold brew coffee makers, which are sure to make your cold brew experience both easy and mess-free.

Cold brew coffee makers brew a coffee concentrate over a period of 12-24 hours. They’re basically big holding tanks with spouts to make it easy to decant the coffee off the grounds. You can store the concentrate for up to two weeks and add hot or cold water to taste.

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