Are you looking to invest in a top-quality coffee maker?
You might be sick of the coffee you get from the cheap hunk of plastic sitting in your kitchen.
Or just tired of shelling out another $50 for one each time something breaks.
And it’s confusing to try and make the right purchase.
Well, you might have heard the phrase SCAA certified…
The SCAA is an independent body for coffee (Speciality Coffee Association of America). They do a lot of good work.
And when it comes to autodrip coffee makers, SCAA certification is the gold standard. It’s only been awarded to 12 coffee makers!
A coffee maker with an SCAA certificate stamped on it meets all the required standards for making awesome coffee as well as being perfectly safe for use at home.
The top dog in this category is the Technivorm Moccamaster. 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.
The price point is high for the Moccamaster. No SCAA Certified coffee makers are cheap, but if you’re looking for something more affordable there are a couple more options you may be interested in below.
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. I’ll be talking about three of the best a little later in this article.
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 with classic autodrip coffee machines 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 the 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.
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.
1. Technivorm Moccamaster (Best Overall)
The Moccamaster inhabits the top-end of SCAA Certified 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 this beautiful machine are all of a high standard using BPA free materials. It weighs 6lbs altogether so its a weighty device that will sit snugly on a kitchen counter without being impossible to carry around.
The Technivorm is backed by a lengthy 5-year warranty. You can rest easy knowing your coffee maker 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.
|Capacity||45oz (1.4L) /|
|Brew Time||5 mins|
It takes around 6 minutes for the brew to finish for the full volume, a reasonable timeframe. You can also just ‘set and forget’ the coffee maker 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 (at which point the auto-off feature activates).
So that’s nearly two hours of hot coffee once you’ve made a brew! Perfect for those lazy mornings sipping cup after cup!
Let me explain another neat feature. The temperature of the hot plate of 175-185ºF is not a range, it’s a choice. There’s a little button on the front which you can set so your coffee is either really hot (185ºF) or merely quite hot (175ºF). I’ve not seen this on any other device before but it’s pretty cool.
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 a a great little feature called the ‘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.
You have the option of using paper filters or a mesh reusable filter. I’d suggest trying both types of filter, there will be a subtle but noticeable difference in the texture of the coffee. Broadly speaking, paper filters taste cleaner and let the flavor of the coffee come through, mesh filters give a richer, creamier tasting 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. If silver does not appeal to you then have a browse on Amazon for the full selection.
2. Bonavita BV1900TS (Best Budget)
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.
|Capacity||8-cup (1.9 liters)|
|Brew Time||6 mins|
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.
There are also aspects of the design that could be improved. 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.
3. OXO On Barista Brain (Preset Timer)
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.
|OXO Barista Brain|
|Best Preset Timer|
|Capacity||9-cup (2 liters)|
|Brew Time||6 mins|
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.
Should I Even Get A Drip Coffee Maker?
When you think of drip coffee, your mind gets taken back to cheap brown stuff coming out of a plastic hunka junk in grandma’s kitchen. In the Third Wave of coffee scene, these coffee makers are often looked down upon as inferior And to be fair, most of the time that’s not far from the mark.
The key is that SCAA certification which guarantees you’ve got a coffee maker that can coffee. 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…
What Countries Do They Work In?
These SCAA-certified machines plug into outlets in the wall. The differing voltages across the globe mean you cannot always rely on some products working internationally.
The products I’ve listed are all designed for the American audience so they run on 110v and will work in US, Canada, Japan and Mexico. Plug one into a wall outlet in some other country and you risk blowing a fuse.
The Moccamaster offers a European version of their coffee maker and Bonavita are working on a 220v version of theirs.
Try checking the Amazon store in your own country if possible, or just doing your due diligence otherwise.
(Note: this advice comes from experience when I ruined a $100 kettle by taking it abroad!)
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