Many standard coffee makers have carafes designed to hold 10 to 12 cups. But the truth is, that’s much larger than most people need on a daily basis. Brewing a large batch in the morning guarantees burnt-tasting (or cold) coffee later in the day. The best five-cup coffee makers will give you the same great-tasting brews as larger models, without making excess cups or taking up as much precious counter space. Here’s what to consider while shopping.
Gone are the days when there were only glass carafes to choose from. Options abound now, from stainless steel to ceramic pour-over setups. Of course, if you’re in the market for a drip machine, the big head-to-head comparison is steel versus glass. Here are some pros and cons to each.
Filters can also impact your coffee experience. A paper filter absorbs some of the oils in your beans to create a milder (though perhaps less nuanced) cup compared to one using a reusable metal filter. Reusable options come with the added benefit of being eco-friendly — and will save you money in the long run because you won’t have to stock up on filters from month to month.
A typical five-cup coffee maker will be a standard drip machine. But if you prefer the artisanal thrill of pour-over coffee or a French press, I’ve included some 5-cup versions here, too.
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This programmable 5-cup coffee maker doesn’t cut any corners and, in fact, it has all the features of its full-sized family. You can program it the night before and wake up to fresh-tasting coffee, and it even lets you select different brew strengths. The thermal, double-walled stainless steel carafe keeps coffee warm in between cups. There’s an automatic one-hour shutoff for safety, although you won’t need the hot plate to reap the thermal benefits. The water reservoir has clear panels on either for easy filling, and the built-in cord storage keeps countertops tidy. It takes paper filters, and shoppers reported good success with both the versatile Melitta paper coffee filter that fit 4-6 cup coffee makers, as well as this reusable filter.
This programmable coffee maker from Capresso provides a lot of the same functionality as the bestselling Mr. Coffee option above (and is comparably priced), but it comes with a glass carafe and a reusable GoldTone basket filter, so you don’t have to stock up on paper ones. The hot plate will stay on for up to two hours — longer than many other models out there — and then will turn off automatically for safety. It has a “drip stop” design that lets you pour a cup mid-cycle, and the spout on the carafe itself is designed to prevent drips when you pour. “Makes my coffee smooth and strong yet doesn’t require adding excessive grounds,” reported one viewer who added, “I’m throwing away all my other methods for coffee brewing. This coffee pot wins!”
If you prefer to keep things simple before you’ve had your caffeine, this small one-touch coffee maker is easy to operate when you’re half awake. This no-frills options comes with a glass carafe, and the machine automatically pauses brewing when you remove it to pour a cup. It has a reusable filter, so you’re spared the hassle and added expense of tracking down ones in a specialty sizes. It even has a long 36-inch cord to give you greater flexibility in small spaces where outlet placement might be a concern. Shoppers were impressed by the solid strength of brew this little pot could put out. “This maker is cheap, simple, and makes great coffee as long you use good coffee grounds to begin with,” said one reviewer.
This compact, high-end five-cup coffee maker from Zojirushi was made with the home barista in mind: The water tank is removable for easy cleaning or refills, and there’s a charcoal water filter that lasts up to two years to sift out the chemicals in tap water than can flavor your coffee. The cone-shaped filter basket is seated within the glass carafe for the tiniest possible footprint, but you’ll need to pick up a pack of paper cone #2 filters. The only downside with this model is the lack of a programmable or pause functions, so you’ll have to wait until it’s finished brewing before you can pour a cup (although it does come with a “keep warm” function). That said, this was the favorite of self-proclaimed coffee snobs. One former barista raved, “There are lots of fancier systems and makers out there, but I would put a cup of this coffee up against those any day.”
A small French press lets your coffee’s natural oils (and all of that flavor) shine, for a full-bodied cup that forgoes the bulkier equipment and paper filters entirely. There are two built-in filters: a fine stainless steel mesh on the plunger and a second filter on the spout, so not a speck of grounds ends up in your mug. The borosilicate glass carafe is especially heat-resistant and is seated in a durable stainless steel frame, then pops out when you’re ready to put it in the dishwasher. It even comes with a scoop, so you don’t have to sacrifice your tablespoons.
For those who want to get into the pour-over method, this pour-over coffee maker gives you more control to make the perfect brew every single time. This ceramic stoneware pick is pretty enough to leave out on your kitchen counter and leaves a light footprint, even though like the other options on this list, it makes five cups. It’s microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe. Plus, the reusable stainless steel filter is safe to pop in the dishwasher too. “Super cute and functional! Makes great coffee, easy to clean, looks great on my countertop and LOVE the reusable filter,” one shopper was pleased to report.
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