Coffee is not a particularly cheap habit. Although it isn’t, as some people might lead you to believe, a habit that would leave you broke and homeless. A couple of coffees a day isn’t going to cost you the same as your mortgage.
Still, as coffee lovers, the more we buy coffee out, the more we realize we’d save a ton of money if only we learned how to make it at home. So in this article we’re going to go over some of the most convenient, useful and ultimately cheap coffee makers out there.
We’ll go over the 9 best coffee makers that we believe are the best choices under $50. But before that, here’s a quick comparison of our top three picks:
#1: Müeller Ultra Brew Thermal
There’s just no beating the stainless steel carafe on this coffee maker. It’s super durable (can last decades) and keeps your coffee hot for hours on end. You’ll fall in love with the carafe. And the coffee maker itself makes a killer cup of coffee, too!
A great choice, if only for the fact that it is the perfect combination of single serve and drip coffee maker. It may not be a perfect coffee maker by itself, but it still a great compromise.
Hard to say anything bad about this coffee maker. The most good-looking of the bunch by far, a perfect blend of traditional coffee maker aesthetics with a modern touch that turns a regular ol’ drip coffee maker into a whole new thing.
The 9 best coffee makers under $50
This is actually a very modern take on the classic American coffee maker. It has a very similar design to that old coffee maker that’s been in the house/office for decades. However, it has some serious updates.
For example: the digital display. This is a great thing to have on a coffee maker like this because it makes it so much easier to use. Most coffee makers of this style tend to be a little uncomfortable to use but thanks to the small digital display and the use of analog buttons, it ends up being a breeze to use.
The carafe is absolutely beautiful, very slick, and made out of very sturdy materials. It feels both light and durable at the same time.
|Modern take||Not very versatile|
|Easy to use|
A slick design, a small and compact build, and a discreet concept. So far, so good.
The Chefman is at first sight a copy of the now-ubiquitous Keurig single serve coffee maker of the same style. Side by side they are almost identical.
The idea behind the Chefman, besides it being a cheaper version, is to come off as a just a little bit more convenient. And it does: it comes with its own high-quality reusable k-cup, which is huge. Keurig or Nespresso mostly act like those don’t exist and you’d have to buy your own otherwise.
So you’re saving money twice: on a cheaper coffee maker and by not having to buy your own reusable k-cup. And it’s a damn good one, too!
|Inexpensive||Looks a little phony|
|Comes with high-quality reusable capsule|
This is a good example of a single serve that doesn’t really mind that much about sticking to the conventional, Keurig-like design.
Although it says “single serve” on the name, don’t get your hopes up. It is not a capsule coffee maker. Instead, it works similarly to drip coffee makers, only it is very small and only makes enough for one single cup.
You can still buy coffee pods, which are a lot like capsules.
Quite frankly, if you can get used to coffee pods (taste is a little different because of the filter), this is a great option. Much, much cheaper.
|Comes with a travel mug||NOT a capsule coffee maker|
A classic design. You can’t really go wrong with coffee makers like these: they have worked well for decades and they continue to work just as well. Scratch that: they work even better. Companies like this one don’t stop researching new ways to make their products better.
Some may go down the path of adding new, exciting functions to their coffee makers. That definitely works.
But you know what works better? Making it easier. Taking out whatever you don’t actually need for a good cup of coffee. Make it as simple as it can get: just one button. That’s all you need. This Müeller coffee maker is incredibly satisfying to use precisely because of how simple it is.
|Easy to use||No real options in terms of brew strength|
Mixpresso comes out of nowhere with this elegant coffee maker that has us turning our heads as we walk past it at the store. It is truly a one-of-a-kind coffee maker that nevertheless sticks to the classic black/glass design.
The carafe is the most notable part of this coffee maker. It is almost completely made of glass as there are markings at the side of its body to let you know just how many cups there are inside. It comes in very handy.
|Simple to use, only one button||No brew strength options|
The Betty Crocker brand. They’ve got some tricks up their sleeves: up to this point, this is probably one of the most complete and well-rounded coffee makers in here. It’s got its fair share of features and has a very good design.
Most drip coffee machines have their buttons/display on top nowadays, but the Betty Crocker coffee maker has both at the bottom part. This can be good or bad depending on your particular situation, but it’s a nice throwback to 60s and 70s coffee makers that used to be all like that.
|24-hour programmable function||Stainless steel exterior gets hot when brewing|
The second coming of Müeller, this time with extra features.
The main differences between this and the previous one are the following:
- 8-cup coffee maker. Unlike the previous one, this carafe can only hold up to eight cups, which is probably enough for most people but it falls short in big households or office settings.
- Thermal carafe. The carafe here is double insulated with a stainless steel exterior. It will keep your coffee piping hot and fresh for much longer than a normal carafe. A real luxury.
So, while it is technically better, it is a shame that it’s both smaller in terms of capacity and more expensive than the other one. In the end, it all evens out.
|Thermal carafe||Only holds 8 cups|
The Wirsh is kind of a fun little coffee maker that combines the best of the two types of coffee makers that we’ve seen so far: drip coffee machines and single serve coffee makers.
The design is a lot like a mini single serve coffee maker up until you get to the bottom, where it has a digital display and analog buttons just like the ones you see on traditional coffee makers.
It doesn’t have a lot of capacity but it does have a very high-quality travel mug that is capable of keeping your coffee hot for hours on end.
A good choice for those who can’t decide between single serve or drip coffee!
|Insulated Travel mug|
Another single serve coffee maker that is really just a drip coffee machine masquerading as a capsule coffee maker.
All in all, it is a very good machine that brews good coffee and has a very nice stainless steel design that makes it the best looking coffee maker in our list. Plus, it comes with a really nice tumbler that promises to keep you coffee fresh and hot all day.
|Beautiful design||Essentially a drip coffee maker|
What to consider before buying a coffee maker
Still can’t decide after reading all that, huh? Don’t worry, we understand. That’s why we’ve made this buying guide which breaks down several different priorities so that, by examining each of them separately, you get a clear sense of what it is that you value the most in a coffee maker. That makes it much easier to make a decision.
12-cup coffee makers are a must-have in big households, office settings, and so on. You probably don’t need one, for example, if you live alone or with just your SO. Plus, smaller coffee makers are cheaper.
- Ease of use
Some machines have more, fancier features. That doesn’t always mean they are better: this can make them hard and complicated to use when all you want is a simple cup of coffee in the morning. If you have experience with coffee makers, sure, ease of use is not that important. But if you don’t like not knowing what’s going on with your machine, then the easier to use the better.
- Maintenance and cleaning
A lot of these machines are rather easy to clean and maintain. Nothing beats a good drip coffee machine, which needs virtually no cleaning. Some of the carafes can even be washed in a washing machine!
If it’s about budget, why didn’t we include a French press in our list? Surely, a French press is a very cheap way of making coffee and deserves a spot on the list.
Yes… but it isn’t a coffee maker. There is quite a big difference. When people think of a coffee maker, they think of something that makes the coffee for them. A French press may very well be an excellent brewing method and also very cheap, but it still requires for work than a coffee maker.
The same can be said for other cheap brewing methods, like the Moka pot or the Aeropress. Both of these are very cheap ways of making coffee at home, but they still require a lot of know how and in general getting in there and learning how to make the coffee yourself using these devices.
A coffee machine, then, or a coffee maker, should be something that you throw water and ground coffee into and, moments later, coffee comes out. That’s how it should be.
If you don’t mind this extra work and are on a budget, then we strongly recommend you look into any of these three brewing methods. In terms of ease of use, it would go like this: French press, Aeropress, Moka pot.
The moka pot is an older device and has a more steep learning curve, but it’s probably the most satisfying of the three. Plus, it makes a very concentrated coffee and for that it is sometimes called a “stovetop espresso maker”. Not completely accurate, but still gets the point across!
The French press is the simplest one of the three and only requires about a minute of actual work into it. The Aeropress is a much newer brewing method that nevertheless takes some getting used to. However, the Aeropress is incredibly versatile and can make a lot of different styles of coffee – something that neither the French press nor the Moka pot can do.
Now, making coffee using a coffee maker may be very easy, but still requires knowing some basics.
First of all, you have to take care of the basket. This is where the grounds are deposited and is usually a filter made of a special material. This has to be cleaned every once in a while or it will start to give off a certain burnt coffee smell that we should avoid at all costs, as it will make all of our coffee smell bad.
Another useful thing to know is that most coffee makers nowadays come with a programmable function. That means that you can program it to start brewing in the morning before you wake up. Then you can wake up to a delicious freshly brewed coffee aroma! That means you need to watch the water level so that it’s enough and pour ground coffee into it before going to sleep.
While we’re on the topic of water level, cleaning your coffee maker’s water tank is a very important part of owning one that most people just don’t do. Recent studies have found some sort of mold and even yeast growing in most types of drip coffee makers. If you think about it, it makes sense: dark, warm and humid. The best environment for all sorts of bacteria to grow in!
- When do you clean a coffee maker?
Usually, once every week is enough to keep your machine free of unwanted germs and working perfectly. You should also look into giving it a deep clean once a month: it’s proven that deep cleaning coffee makers extends their working life. So get to cleaning!
- Can a coffee maker make tea?
Most coffee makers can make tea, yes. But keep in mind that this is only for real tea, meaning white, black, green tea. Infusions just can’t be made because they require steeping, which coffee makers just don’t do.
To make tea using a coffee maker, don’t use tea bags but instead use loose tea. Tea bags also require steeping, so they aren’t really a good choice. They will still work, but you’ll probably need a lot of bags!
- Can a coffee maker make hot chocolate?
Unfortunately, no. At least not yet! Hot chocolate means powdered cocoa, which can’t be poured into a coffee maker or it can very literally destroy the whole thing. So, please, don’t try it!
That’s all, folks! Now you know how to properly operate and take care of a coffee maker, you have a list of all the best ones around under $50 and a nice buying guide which gives you all the info to make an informed decision. The only thing left is for you to buy one!
Marcelo is a filmmaker and passionate barista on the side. He spends his free time cooking up new and exciting recipes – and drinking too much coffee in the process.