There’s rarely a day that goes by that, for one reason or another, we end up drinking cold coffee. Cold coffee, technically, does not taste any worse (or better) than hot coffee—but it’s all about the aromatics. The heat activates the aroma that, turns out, is a big part of the experience of coffee.
In any coffee lover’s mind, cold coffee is a sad one (with the exception of cold brew coffee which is great especially during summer). So we do everything in our power to keep it hot, and sometimes, it’s not enough. But what if we bought our coffee maker with that sole purpose in mind? To keep coffee hot.
Thermal coffee makers are designed to keep everything hot for hours on end, thanks to the thermal carafes that they brew into. These carafes usually vary in the materials and way they are made, but they all share the same function: to keep coffee as hot as possible for as long as possible.
In this article, you’ll find ten of the best thermal coffee makers you can find right now on the market, along with a short review to help you make a decision towards buying or not buying it. But before, a sneak peek with our top three choices of the list.
- Top 3 Choices for Best Thermal Coffee Makers
- 10 Best Thermal Coffee Makers
- Cuisinart Stainless Steel Thermal Coffee Maker
- Mr. Coffee 10 cup thermal coffee maker
- Breville BDC450BSS Precision Brewer Thermal, Coffee Maker
- Hamilton Beach’s 10-cup Coffee Maker
- Cuisinart DCC-1170BK 10-Cup Thermal Classic™ Coffeemaker
- Zojirushi Thermal Coffee Maker, 10-Cup, Stainless Steel/Black
- Boly Drip Coffee Maker, Programmable Coffee Maker with Thermal Carafe
- GE Drip Thermal Coffee Maker With Timer
- Café Specialty Drip Coffee Maker
- Mueller Ultra Brew Thermal Coffee Maker
- What to Consider When Buying a Thermal Coffee Maker
- Why Choose a Thermal Coffee Maker
- Types of Thermal Carafe
Top 3 Choices for Best Thermal Coffee Makers
Best bang for your buck. It is a very powerful and impressive machine that still feels quite affordable. A great choice if you’re on a budget but still want to get a machine that feels high-end. Read more about it on the reviews below.
Best performance. Breville took features that you’d only see in espresso machines and brought them to drip coffee makers, which usually are very plain and boring. It’s got settings that help it brew the best black coffee you can ever taste. Read more about it on the reviews below.
Most interesting pick. The design is unlike any other on this list, classy and elegant, and it’s got features that make it more modern and frankly more interesting. A great choice for those of us who want to feel more connected to our coffee makers or like our brewers to stand out and have the X factor, which this one definitely has. Read more about it on the reviews below.
The Cuisinart is a perfect example of the ideal thermal coffee maker. It’s got a 12-cup thermal carafe that looks great and works perfectly for keeping coffee hot for up to four hours.
And talking about hot coffee, this coffee maker brews coffee very hot, so much so that the coffee comes out hotter than with most other machines. This isn’t an easy feat, as a jump of just two degrees could mean burnt coffee, but somehow Cuisinart pulls it off with very hot coffee that actually tastes good.
In terms of programmability, it has auto shut-off as well as a very welcome self-clean feature which does a lot of the work for you. It has an optional beep that goes off whenever your coffee is ready – a good thing for those of us that start brewing and sometimes forget about it.
It also has the brew-pause function, allowing you to enjoy your coffee as it brews by pausing, pouring, and then brewing again.
Mr. Coffee has never been disappointed with its products that are of very high quality and at a very affordable price. This time, with a thermal coffee maker that promises to be one of the best on the list. Let’s check it out.
It’s got all the expected programmability as well as strength option that lets you take it up a notch in strength. This isn’t a lot of difference, but it does make your coffee blacker, more concentrated, which is a feature we all need on Monday mornings.
The Mr. Coffee is also notable for its brewing speed, which claims to be 20% faster than regular drip coffee machines – while I haven’t really taken the time to compare it minutiously against other machines, it definitely goes very fast.
It brews at a temperature of 205 degrees, which is the maximum temperature at which you can brew coffee without burning it. The result is a strong, delectable coffee with lots of aromas. Just what the doctor ordered.
Now this is a game-changer. Breville erupts into the thermal coffee maker game with a machine that is equipped with some of the best technology out there and promises third-wave specialty quality. Can it deliver?
For starters, it’s the most versatile machine on the list. It’s got six different brewing modes, including settings like Gold, Iced, and Cold Brew. That’s quite impressive!
It’s also designed to brew according to the legendary SCA Gold Cup Standards, a way of brewing the perfect black coffee, which was defined in the 1950s. That’s a long time ago! Back then, everyone drank drip coffee in America. It was a big deal. So they came up with this recipe – which was formulated by an actual MIT scientist. (E.E. Lockhart)
Another very important feature here is Breville’s temperature settings, which can be adjusted between three different settings so that you can get a brew that is closer to how you like it.
Hamilton Beach might not be the best brand for coffee, but at least they’re very good at making good, reliable drip coffee makers. I’ve got to hand them that much. For example, this humble machine actually uses disposable cone filters!
These are, in my opinion, and according to most baristas, the best way to enhance flavor in drip coffee machines. Permanent filters are convenient, sure, but they just wreak havoc on your coffee after you’ve used them for a couple of months. They get all sticky and have a strong coffee smell that actually ruins your coffee.
So the sole fact that this Hamilton Beach comes with cone filters is a surprising leap forward for this brand in the world of coffee. Good going, guys!
As for the thermal carafe here, it’s a great one that is “thumb-activated”, basically meaning you can open and close it using your thumb. It’s classy and you can’t get enough of it.
This one is a lot like the first one on the list, although this is what is called the Classic™ which is nothing but a slight change in design. The rest of the machine works pretty much just the same.
The biggest change that you’ll see is the carafe, a little smaller, this one being a 10-cup while the other is a 12-cup. In terms of programmability, it’s exactly the same.
In other words, the biggest change you’ll see is in carafe size. Which, by the way, is a very important difference: do not underestimate a small size difference when it comes to carafes. They are much easier to handle, clean, and so on when they’re smaller. If it’s not vital for you to have a big carafe, I recommend going for a smaller one, like this 10-cup.
And keep in mind that this coffee maker comes with a charcoal filter! This is great and helps keep your water free of impurities. It also means that you don’t have to descale your machine as often as you should.
Zojirushi is a brand known for adding its own twist to classic designs. I absolutely love their carafe, which is probably the best-looking one as well as the most ergonomic one on this list: it is thumb-activated and has a tall rather than chunky design.
It has an iced coffee feature, a nice addition for us to shake things up once in a while. It works by brewing super extra strength coffee that you can add ice to without it tasting too watered down. It’s also a great feature to use whenever you need extra strong coffee!
The temperature on this machine is 200F, not nearly as hot as the Mr. Coffee which brews at 205. But personally, this is a temperature I am much more comfortable with, as it leaves enough room for error. Be it drip coffee or most other types of coffee where I can control the temperature, 200F is the best number. It brews flavor, aromatic coffee that never feels burnt or too strong.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Boly is that it has a very good-looking thermal carafe. This carafe is vacuum-sealed and double-walled, which is the ideal scenario when shopping for thermal carafes. This is a carafe that can keep your coffee hot for up to eight hours! It is a smaller model, which can hold up to eight cups.
The Boly has been equipped with some of the most convenient features out there. It has a window for the water tank that lets you see how much water there is without having to take the whole thing apart just to see you didn’t actually need to refill it yet.
Besides this, it’s got all the pertinent programmability features, like a delay brew feature and a strong setting that lets you enjoy extra strong coffee. The LCD display is actually quite pleasing to use and doesn’t feel outdated like many I’ve encountered before.
All in all, I’m impressed by the quality of the coffee and the carafe from this brand that I’d honestly not heard of before.
This would be the standard choice. The GE doesn’t really offer anything new, be it in the way of design or of features. It’s got all of the necessary things:
A double-walled, vacuum-sealed carafe that does a great job at keeping your coffee hot for up to eight hours. It’s very easy to handle and feels sturdy, durable.
A delay brew function that lets you program a brew up to 24 hours ahead of time, as well as a strong feature for brewing extra strong coffee.
A pause brew function that allows you to enjoy coffee as you brew, by pausing the brew so that you can pour yourself a cup, then starting the brewing process back again.
Besides that, the only notable thing about the GE is that it has a wide showerhead, which is used to distribute the brewing water evenly. This results in better-tasting coffee. Oh, and this machine is compatible with disposable filters, too!
The SCA, Specialty Coffee Association, has given its seal of approval to this coffee maker, making it one of the very few coffee makers that can boast of such an achievement. Let’s check out whether it lives up to it:
It’s got four different strength settings – all of them based on the SCA’s gold cup standard, which is itself based on MIT’s Golden Cup and has got a lot of science behind it ensuring that it makes the best possible coffee. Science-backed coffee? Yes, please!
It’s also connected to the internet, meaning that you can connect to it via your phone. The app lets you play around with a few settings, but the best thing by far is the Voice-to-Brew option. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like: you can brew coffee using your voice!
Of course, to do this you’d have to have ground coffee and water ready in the machine already, which does kill the magic a little. But just the fact that you can actually brew by giving the command is amazing and I guarantee you won’t get tired of it, ever.
Aside from these two amazing features, it’s got all the makings of a good thermal coffee maker: a high-quality carafe, delay brew (which is called Auto Brew in this machine), and even temperature settings.
The Mueller Ultra Brew has actually been a favorite of mine for a long time. It’s got an amazing design and it’s one of the most durable machines out there. I got it as a gift many years ago, before thermal coffee makers were even on my radar, and it still works perfectly. I use it almost every single day.
The thing I like the most about it is how easy it is. There aren’t a lot of buttons, and in fact, all it takes for it to start brewing is just one single button. No settings to go through, just push one button and wait for your delicious coffee.
The carafe is the sturdiest one I have seen in my life. It’s very chunky, yes, but it’s a great design that’s also resistant and durable. Mine has survived many falls and it only has a couple of hard to notice scratches to show for it. It is double-walled and vacuum-sealed, so it keeps my coffee hot for up to eight hours.
Thermal coffee makers, in general, don’t have many settings. They aren’t made to be super modern machines, but the aim is rather the simplicity of them. And that’s great, actually.
So when it comes to settings, there isn’t really much to look at. I would say, only in this instance, that the more the merrier. The more settings that you can get, the best… But there probably won’t be many.
Stainless steel carafes are a little more expensive and complicated to make, so you don’t normally see them in small sizes. The average size, for thermal carafes, tends to be the 10-cup, whereas regular carafes have the 8-cup.
A 10-cup is actually a great size and, to me, feels like the ideal size. More than that and the carafe will feel a little heavy and hard to handle. But if you are getting this for an office or a big household, then disregard this section and get the biggest one possible!
These coffee makers tend to be quite affordable. They are drip coffee machines, so there isn’t really a lot of expensive equipment inside to justify high prices – only in a few exceptions where the coffee maker has advanced technology, like with the Breville, you’ll see that the price range is around what an espresso machine would cost.
While high prices are justified, I find that even the cheapest thermal coffee makers work great. If you’re on a budget, a thermal coffee maker is probably your best option.
I’ll be honest: permanent filters are the worst. They negatively affect the quality of your coffee, which is already not satisfied with these sorts of coffee makers. So it makes sense you’d want to do everything in your power to make the coffee just a little bit better, no?
That’s why disposable filters are great. While permanent filters collect oils and aroma which in turn seeps into your coffee, disposable filters have little to no effect on taste. It’s as simple as popping it in and then discarding it after brewing.
Not all thermal coffee makers allow disposable filters, but if yours does, then you’d better use them!
Not really a big concern here. You’re looking at a coffee maker that can be programmed to brew in the morning, which all of these on the list do. Some may have additional features, but these don’t really amount to much and none are as important as the delayed brew.
Nothing better than to wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee!
Drip coffee makers need to have this feature. Otherwise, they’ll keep running if you don’t manually turn them off, which causes a lot of issues, mainly with the water tank.
Stop considering any and all drip coffee makers that don’t have an auto shut-off function. It’s that simple.
Why Choose a Thermal Coffee Maker
We touched on this subject at the very beginning of the article. We want a thermal carafe to keep our coffee hot. But wait a minute—can’t we do that without a thermal carafe?
Well, sure, you can. But you can’t do it with the effectiveness of a thermal carafe. Take one of the most popular options to keep beverages hot: a thermos. Thermoses are double-walled, insulated, and can keep water hot for hours. So far, so good. But what about flavor?
Not so good. Thermoses are famous for giving the coffee a metallic taste, so most coffee drinkers stay away from them. Then you have other options, like one of those self-heating mugs that run on batteries. These are quite impressive, but can only really keep coffee warm, not hot. They are cute and I even own a couple, just not for the purpose of keeping my coffee hot.
Another feature that you might’ve seen a lot is hot plates. These are metal parts on the bottom of carafes that are implemented in many different coffee makers. You could say that these were the first step in the evolution towards thermal carafes, and are now a little… outdated.
Hot plates have been around for a very long time. They work by using a heating element that heats up the metal plate—placed underneath the carafe—and thus heating up the coffee. So instead of conserving heat, the solution here was to generate heat.
Does it work? To an extent. It will keep your coffee hot, but there is a downfall. These metallic plates can’t regulate temperature very well. The result is that your carafe will overheat (as they are made mostly of glass) and your coffee burns. It heats up too much, and it loses flavor.
Thermal carafes avoid this problem entirely by simply revolving to conserve the heat, then. Your coffee’s flavor will not degrade over time but stay the same. That is the goal.
We’ve seen a shift over time: there are fewer hot plates and more thermal carafes. Because they work so much better, even if a thermal carafe is definitely more expensive than a hot plate. In the end, coffee quality is just too important for us coffee lovers to care for a few extra dollars.
In the world of thermal carafes, not all of them are the same. The most important part, of course, is that they are made of stainless steel. This is the bare minimum requirement to consider a carafe as “thermal”.
However, you can take it one (or several) steps further:
The carafe will have an inner wall separate from the outer wall, which will help to conserve heat. There is a space between these two walls: this is the key part to conserving heat. Because of this space, heat has a hard time finding a way out, so the contents of the carafe stay inside for longer.
A regular double-walled carafe should keep coffee hot for anywhere between 4 to 8 hours, depending on the environment and the quality of the materials.
One step further is the triple-walled, which adds an extra inner wall. This makes it much harder for the heat to escape, meaning that these types of carafes can easily keep your coffee hot for more than usual.
Remember when I said there is an empty space between the walls? Well, this makes it a step even further. Copper is a good heat conductor, and coating these spaces with copper it allows for the heat to spread evenly through these spaces.
In other words, all of the empty space is now taken advantage of fully, enhancing the effectiveness of the double-wall technique.
Copper-coated thermal carafes are not very common, and even though some coffee makers do come with such types of carafes, most available right now have to be bought separately as they are considered a sort of specialty item.
Since copper is somewhat costly, do expect a higher price than normal if you want to get one of these. It is definitely worth it, however, if you need to keep your coffee hot for 15+ hours.
Carafes are fickle creatures. For starters, coffee is already a very pesky substance. The oils in coffee will stick to the inside of your carafe and, if not washed properly, will stink up the carafe with this pungent burnt coffee smell that will soon affect the taste of your coffee.
So it is important to maintain it in proper condition. Since the main culprit here is oils, you’re going to need to wash the carafe with hot water. Hot water, a little bit of soap, and a lot of shaking.
Do not use abrasive sponges as they could erode away from coating. If you don’t use a water filter, it is also possible that over the months your carafe will collect mineral deposits on the bottom; these can also affect the taste. Buy a descaling solution online and use it to get rid of those annoying build-ups.
In short, a thermal carafe is a type of carafe that is specially designed to keep coffee hot for long periods of time.
Scale is what we use to refer to mineral build-ups. These are accumulations of minerals that are naturally in tap water. They can appear in your carafe as well as in the internal parts of your coffee maker, which is why it’s wise to descale your coffee maker as well as your carafe every couple of months – even if you can’t actually see the build-ups, they are probably there.
It depends. A regular double-walled carafe will keep it hot for 4 to 8 hours. A triple-walled carafe is able to keep coffee hot for up to 12 hours.
Copper-coated carafes may be able to keep coffee hot up to 15 hours or even longer than that – it depends on whether they are double or triple walled.
It’s not a requirement, but it’s definitely better for your machine and your carafe if you do. This way, there is much less chance of scale forming on your coffee maker and, if you don’t descale often, this can create serious issues.
And let’s be honest: most people don’t remember to descale often. This is why Nespresso machines have a feature that forces you to descale the machine, not even allowing you to keep brewing coffee before you descale them. Smart move.
Hot coffee is good coffee, or so they say. And thanks to this list, you will always have your coffee hot, no matter which of the list you end up picking.
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.