Looking for a new autodrip coffee maker? If you made your way here then you probably know that SCAA-certified is the gold standard, all quality conditions met and safety regulations kept to, the easiest way to get great coffee made with no fuss, every morning.
Stick around and I’ll even fill you in with what’s so great about SCAA certification…
So what’s your best option?
The top dog in this category is the Technivorm Moccamaster (link to Amazon). This handmade coffee maker has a gorgeous, elegant design and has a quality that is built to last, backed up by a generous 5-year warranty, this one’s for the long term. It’s got a 10-cup (50fl oz / 1/5litre) capacity and it’s one of the few coffee makers that meets the criteria for SCAA-certification so it’s going to produce coffee at an extremely high standard. Photo below.
Read on for more info, including why the SCAA is so damn important when choosing a coffee maker (and takes all the hassle out of know what to buy) and for other solid options including a budget choice for those with a little less cash and a coffee maker that has a preset timer included.
What does SCAA Certified mean?
Enter the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America). This organization has, among other things, spearheaded a huge increase in standards in Autodrip Coffee Makers with their prized SCAA certification. Notably doing their best to regulate the temperature of the water that coffee is made with, the evenness of the flow and a couple of other engineering problems that affect the taste of the coffee.
This SCAA certification is the gold standard in autodrip coffee makers. Any coffee maker that is SCAA-certified can stand up with the best methods there are and make superb coffee. A coffee maker without this certification is likely to be the kind of $40 ugly plastic thing that is collecting dust in your parents’ basement.
Now do bear in mind you pay a premium. These are not the kind of coffee makers you get at Walmart then throw in the trash 6 months later. These are well-engineered machines that will give you fantastic coffee at the touch of a button and will last you a decade. You do pay a bit more for that.
You can check out their list of the current SCAA Certified coffee makers here. It’s quite a short list, only 12 coffee makers on there at the time of writing, which goes to show you how stringent the expectations are. The Technivorm Moccamaster is there of course.
Note: Since this article was written the SCAA has merged with the SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe) to form one organization: the SCA – Specialty Coffee Association. This doesn’t change anything that’s written here. The SCAA certification is still exactly the same and good coffee makers are still good coffee makers.
Why are SCAA-certified coffee makers better?
Making coffee is hard. It’s the reason why coffee shops need well-trained baristas and thousands of dollars worth of equipment to pour a tiny cup of espresso. And in this regard, most drip coffee makers simply are not designed well enough to account for all the little idiosyncrasies that go into making a great brew. The main issues are…
1. Temperature. The biggest issue is that the temperature of the water is not high enough for the coffee to properly extract. A temperature of between 195 and 205 degrees F is necessary to get the full flavor and aroma. Many cheaper and unregulated coffee makers brew at a temperature much cooler than this. This does not extract the desired compounds from th coffee bean and results in a lifeless and tasteless cup of coffee.
So why is this? Well, the most common explanation is that coffee that is ‘too hot’ is a potential lawsuit. You may recall the infamous case of a woman who was badly burned by her coffee from McDonald’s. Also, it’s easier and cheaper to produce something with a wider range of temperatures which equally does not give the consistency you need when making a brew.
This isn’t a problem with most manual brews as you pour the water in yourself. Make it as hot as you like!
2. Even flow. Not just a great Pearl Jam song – am I getting old? – but a description of one of the most important aspects of drip or pour over coffee… making the water flow evenly throughout the grounds.
One key aspect is to have a small preinfusion of water that will saturate the grounds to prevent dry clumps forming. Another is to have a showerhead that drips water in a way that prevents channeling – the process where water flows quickly through fine channels in the slurry and over-extracts the grounds it passes but doesn’t extract at all the grinds it misses.
3. Adjusting for different sizes. If you’re brewing a smaller or a larger batch in a drip coffee maker, the flow rate should be slower or faster to account for the differing sizes of grounds. A cheaper coffee maker will do no such thing, again risking under and over-extraction.
Should I even get a drip coffee maker?
Don’t let this put you off getting an Autodrip Coffee Maker. A quality, modern coffee maker is the peak of convenience in making a morning coffee. Paired with a solid grinder, you can make high-quality coffee at the touch of a button in your own home.
A great advantage is how easy it is to use. No fiddling, no hassle. Put your coffee and water in, press a button and you’ll come back to a pot of coffee. And so long as you buy the right machine, you can be sure of getting high-quality coffee with a minimum of effort.
Choosing the best drip coffee maker? One that is SCAA-certified with all the bells and whistles? Well, that’s why I’m here…
These are well-engineered machines that will give you fantastic coffee at the touch of a button and will last you a decade. You do pay a bit more for that.
Best Overall Autodrip Coffee Maker: Technivorm Moccamaster
The Moccamaster inhabits the top-end of Autodrip Coffee Makers but the higher price tag comes with great reward – this thing makes really makes wonderful coffee.
Handmade in the Netherlands, the glass carafe, metal/plastic body design and copper boiling element of the beautiful machine are all of a high standard using BPA free materials. It weighs 6lbs altogether so its a weighty device without being impossible to carry around.
The Technivorm is backed by a 5-year warranty, this thing is built to last. Among the many other benefits of going with a high-quality SCAA certified coffee maker, you know that it will last you years rather than having to replace the $50 hunk of junk that you get at Walmart every 12 months.
The capacity of the coffee maker is 40oz (about 1.25 liters) which amounts to about 3 large coffees, although there is no minimum amount of coffee if you want to make for just one person. It takes around 6 minutes for the brew to finish for the full volume which is a reasonable timeframe and you can just ‘set and forget’ and come back to your coffee which will still be hot… which leads me on to the next paragraph.
Another little feature for those who like their coffee hot: In fact, the carafe is a ‘thermal carafe’ which is well insulated and when combined with the hot plate which sits just underneath as you can see in the photo can hold temperatures between 175F and 185F for 100 minutes (then it auto-off). So you get over an hour and a half of hot coffee once you’ve made a brew, perfect for those lazy mornings of 5 cups of coffee!
Now one extra trick with the hot plate is that the 175-185 is not a range, it’s a choice. There’s a little button on the front which you can set it to so your coffee is either really hot (185F) or merely quite hot (175F). I’ve not seen this on any other device before but it’s pretty neat.
On the other hand, if you’re the type of person who stares at your coffee maker impatiently waiting for it to finish… the Technivorm has an ‘Automatic Brew Basket’. What this means is that you can pull the carafe away from the machine mid-brew and pour yourself a cup without any coffee dripping down onto the hot plate. It will collect nicely in this basket and wait for you to put the carafe back.
The Moccamaster has a 10 cup capacity which works out to about 50oz or 1.5 liters – plenty for any size family. You have the option of using paper filters or a mesh reusable filter. I’d suggest trying both types of filter at first, there will be a subtle but noticeable difference in the texture of the coffee.
UPDATE: The success of the Technivorm sine I first wrote this article has been such that they have released the machine in 16 more colors, so if silver does not appeal to you then have a browse on Amazon for the full selection.
Best Budget Option: Bonavita BV1900TS
Bonavita is a big name in SCAA Certified Coffee Makers and the BV1900TS is the latest in a number of models that are well loved by coffee drinkers. The design is simple and elegant, and a nice fit in most kitchens.
The manufacturer says that the design includes a flat-bottomed filter basket and larger showerhead allow for even better saturation and uniform extraction and combined with the strict SCAA certification it results in a lovely cup of coffee. You can even try the pre-infusion mode where the coffee grounds are wetted before brewing. This is called blooming and helps to degas your coffee and give you a better extraction and therefore a better taste.
The Bonavita keeps things simple with a one-button design. Fill with water, fill the basket with coffee and away you go. It has an auto-off feature that activates after 40 minutes, useful if you’re as scatterbrained as me and you come back from work to find the coffee machine’s been on all day.
This coffee machine is not perfect, however. Initial brews may taste a little plasticky, you may want to make a few throwaways to start with. Also, parts of the design could have been worked better. For instance, the carafe lid traps some coffee as you pour it, meaning you can’t get that last bit unless you put it basically upside down.
That said, these are minor niggles and for the price this is the best SCAA Certified Autodrip Coffee Maker you’re going to get. Here’s the link to the Bonavita on Amazon if you like the sound of it.
Preset Timer: OXO On Barista Brain
The OXO’s selling point is one particular feature. What it has over other Autodrip Coffee Makers is its Programmable Wake-Up Timer. The idea is you can synchronize with your alarm clock so you are waking up to a freshly brewed Nicaraguan City Roast.
It’s a well designed machine with – of course – SCAA Certification. It’s modern looking and feels sturdy and solid. It runs very quietly, even for a more expensive machine. The parts such as the showerhead come off very easily which makes for quick and simple cleaning.
The OXO has a couple of interesting benefits when making coffee. It has a microprocessor controlled brew cycle and a Rainmaker Showerhead that work together to copy the optimal way to make pour over coffee, wetting the grounds before brewing the let them bloom, for instance.
In terms of quality of coffee, I’d say the OXO is in line with the Bonavita. That is to say, really good. It does cost a little more and you’re paying for the use of the preset timer. All other things being equal, I’d go with the cheaper Bonavita.
An interesting feature is the OXO’s LED screen. It shows the time by default and you use it to preset the time you want it to make coffee. You can also choose the number of cups of water that it runs through – something I’ve not seen in any other coffee maker.
The Choices + Where to Buy
The three machines I’ve chosen can be neatly summed up as the best value, preset timer or best at any price. These are all SCAA Certified and I can wholeheartedly recommend them as excellent purchases.
Remember these prices may be higher than other coffee makers but you are paying for the quality that comes with SCAA certification. If you’re looking for a cheap machine to pump out factory grade brown swill, go to another website.
Click on the photo of each to be taken to the Amazon page. Full disclaimer: Those are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage at no extra cost to you. If you’re thinking of buying one I’d really appreciate if you clicked on them before you buy, it supports the site and helps me write more articles.
|Bonavita BV1900TS||OXO On Barista Brain||Technivorm Moccamaster|
|Best Budget Option||Best with Preset||Best at any Price|
|Capacity||40oz (1200ml)||45oz (1350ml) or 60oz (1800ml)||50oz (1500ml)|
|Time||6 mins||7 mins||4-6 mins|
|Features||Thermal Carafe||Thermal Carafe, Preset Timer||Thermal Carafe, 5-Year Warranty|
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