Who says you should have to sacrifice your coffee quality on account of your bank account? Really, coffee is one of the most affordable luxury on earth: By the cup, buying 12-ounce whole-bean coffee bags to brew in your kitchen is more economical than buying a bottle of wine to drink at home. And thankfully, there are plenty of ways to brew your coffee at home, while sticking to your budget.
While all coffee makers, from espresso machines to automatic drip pots to AeroPresses, perform the same... basic function—adding hot water to coffee grounds—there are differences in quality. And while more expensive machines are generally of higher quality, there are plenty of coffee makers that will make a great cup of joe without breaking the bank. That also means that while you could pick up a brewer that costs less than $30, you’re not going to end up with good coffee. Here we’ve rounded up the best inexpensive or mid-price models in several categories so you can brew the perfect cup, no matter how you take it.
01 of 07
In the world of electric coffee machines, if you can come away with a great quality cup of coffee (or five cups of coffee!) brewed evenly at the right temperature for under $100, you've found yourself a real steal. Luckily, Bonavita has the corner on the market with this midsize countertop brewer, which is perfect for brewing enough for a single person who loves coffee, or for two people to share. The company is known in the coffee industry for having a lock on water-temperature control,... which is one of the most important features of any electric brewer: This unit, as with all Bonavita machines, brews at a stable and ideal temperature, between 195–205 Fahrenheit, in an even shower-head-style dispersion over the ground coffee. It couldn't be simpler, either: A single button turns the machine on and off, and the brewer dispenses as much water as in the reservoir—only when it's reached the optimal heat. Its component parts are dishwasher safe, too—no fussing with hand-washing.
02 of 07
This little hand-pressure-powered brewer has so many different uses, it's an absolute steal at less than $40. You can easily and conveniently use it to make a single small cup of regular-strength filter coffee, or a concentrate that vaguely resembles espresso (without the hulking machine and the years of barista practice), which can be turned into an Americano, latte, or of course just enjoyed straight.
While the technique can be hard to truly master, this portable little gadget is fantastic... for traveling, small kitchens, tiny offices, and any other spot that calls for coffee without a lot of room or resources. Those who avoid plastic might balk, but for a nonelectric coffee maker, an AeroPress can be an inexpensive little lifesaver.
03 of 07
Who knew that for around $70, you could caffeinate a whole crowd—plus take some on the road with you to go? This two-way brewer from Hamilton Beach brews up to 12 cups of filter coffee, or enough for a single 14-ounce travel mug. It's even compatible with K-cups—though be warned, a single pod would make one diluted 14-ounce brew (and a heap of plastic waste), so use the included platform to brew into a smaller mug if you go that route.
Simple controls allow for easy programming, and while... there isn't a whole lot of user control, the necessities are taken care of. It's not gorgeous to look at, and like most electric coffee brewers, cleaning and regular recipe adjustments to taste are necessary, but for a double-whammy machine, this compact little number does the trick.
04 of 07
Making coffee for a crowd was never more elegant than with a relatively inexpensive Chemex. It's a coffee maker and server all in one, and is designed to be much simpler to use than a standard pour-over dripper: Rather than pour a steady, laborious stream of hot water like most hand-brew methods call for, the Chemex can take larger doses of water at once, letting the finished coffee drip through the thick custom filters that fit the pot. Klutzes beware, however: Many a pot has shattered... thanks to butterfingers, wobbly tables, or even too-aggressive cleaning. The maker also requires special Chemex-brand filters, which are sold separately. And a word of advice: Stick to the bleached filters; the natural ones can leave a very heavy papery taste behind in the coffee.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Single-cup pour-over coffee is easy with this brewer. Since water goes into a tank that drips onto the grounds, there’s no need manually pour hot water slowly onto the grounds. The tank’s holes are placed precisely to distribute water evenly over the grounds to extract the most flavor and those holes and the ribbed dripper surface encourage coffee flow for the ideal brew time. The coffee maker fits securely onto most mugs and cups.
To make things even easier, there are measurement markings in the... tank, up to a total of 12 ounces. The lid retains heat and can be flipped over and used as a drip tray after removing the coffee maker from your mug.
This uses standard #2 cone filters, and includes 10 filters to get you started.
06 of 07
OK, this is a trick category: In my humble professional opinion, the words "budget" and "espresso machine" do not belong in the same sentence. There's too much equipment, too much maintenance, and too much that could possibly go wrong with cheap equipment that it's frankly not worth it to pinch pennies in this category. Instead, try a classic stovetop moka pot for an espresso-like coffee experience without the massive price tag.
These simple little nonelectric brewers have... been used in Italian kitchens for generations—because yes, even most Italians will tell you that espresso is for the café, and moka coffee is for home. The iconic Bialetti design is still a top choice for anyone who wants a strong, thick, rich Italian-stye coffee without all the buttons, steam wands, and electrical malfunctions. You can use illy brand preground espresso coffee for an easy, convenient, and relatively authentic flavor experience without the added expense of a grinder, or you can use a relatively inexpensive small electric or hand-cranked burr grinder for maximum results.
07 of 07
A tiny, hard-to-miss press with a lot of character to make up for its small stature, this single-cup brewer is the ideal desk companion. Frankly speaking, it’s easiest to go cheap when it comes to French press style brewers. Their relatively simple design means that even the lowest-cost models will produce a decent cup. This one, however, is so cute!
Be forewarned, it's easy to brew too strong in small press pots, but if you can back off a little, this little job will be the perfect number to... make a decent 12- or 14-ounce pot of coffee to get you through the morning. Also, be careful not to too-aggressively press your French press; some less-expensive models will crack or even shatter under heavy force when you depress the grounds at the end of the brew.
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