Have you ever had one of those mornings where you forget to make the coffee because you haven't had your coffee yet? Sometime mid-morning, I realize something is just off, and then I think, "I didn't have my coffee!" Sad, but true.

If there's anything worse than realizing you forgot to have your coffee, it's the tragedy of not being able to make coffee because the coffee maker is broken.

When a coffee maker bites the dust and you need to replace it, you have lots of options. Before choosing your next coffee maker, ask yourself these questions.

  • How many cups of coffee does it need to make? If more than one person in your home drinks coffee at the same time, you'll probably want a coffee maker that can make enough for all coffee drinkers.
  • Do I need any special features? Do you need to be able to pre-program the coffee maker so coffee is ready when you wake up in the morning? Do you want an auto shut-off feature in case you forget to turn it off before you go to work?
  • Do you want to brew your coffee as environmentally friendly as possible?

Electric drip coffee makers

Drip coffee makers are very common. You fill a basket with a filter and ground coffee and pour water into a reserve. The water heats in the reserve and drips through the coffee grounds into the carafe. A heating element under the carafe keeps the coffee warm. Coffee makers come in a variety of sizes, usually between 4-cup capacity to 12-cup capacity, although there are smaller and larger ones.

Manual electric drip coffee makers don't have any bells or whistles. You plug them in, push the button, and they brew your coffee. They stay on until you turn them off.

Programmable electric drip coffee makers have more features than manual ones. They can be programmed to start at a specific time so coffee is ready and hot as soon as you wake up. They can can also be programmed to turn off after a certain amount of time so if you forget to turn them off, they won't stay on all day. Because they are programmed, they need to stay plugged, and they will use electricity the entire time they are plugged in.

cuisinart-4-cupBest small manual electric drip coffee maker: The Cuisinart 4-Cup Coffeemaker with Stainless-Steel Carafe has an average 4-star review from online customers. Although it's not programmable, it does have one additional feature that many people appreciate — a brew pause button so you can pour a cup of coffee from the carafe before the entire pot has finished brewing.


bunn-12-cup-coffee-makerBest larger manual electric dip coffee maker: The BUNN BXB Velocity Brew 10-Cup Home Coffee Brewer can brew between four and 10 cups of coffee in three minutes. The many customers who give it an average 4.5-star rating say it's one of the fastest brewing coffee makers and it still makes a great cup of hot coffee.


Mr-coffee-4-cup-programmableBest small programmable drip coffee maker: The Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker is great for small spaces or for someone who only needs a few cups brewed at a time. It has a 4.5-star average from online customers, and it can be programmed to start brewing automatically so you can wake up to fresh brewed coffee. The warming plate turns off automatically after an hour.


Hamilton-Beach-10-CupBest larger programmable drip coffee maker: The Hamilton Beach 10-Cup Programmable BrewStation Dispensing Coffee Machine is different than other drip coffee makers because it doesn't have a carafe. Instead it keeps the coffee inside the machine and dispenses it much like a soda machine. It has an average 4.5-star review from many customers who say it works great and keeps coffee hot for up to four hours. One issue some have is that not all travel mugs fit in the space where the coffee dispenses, so that is a consideration if you always pour your coffee to-go.

Single-cup coffee makers

Environmentally, many single-cup coffee makers are poor choices. The Keurig machines that use disposable pods send billions of plastic pods to the landfill each year. Some of those pods have recyclable pieces, but not every user is going to take the time to tear them apart. Using a reusable K-Cup that you pack with your own coffee is one way to make these machines less wasteful, so if you are going to purchase one, consider also purchasing a few reusable K-Cups so everyone in the house can pack it them with their preferred coffee. Not all single-cup coffee makers are Keurig-style, though.

black-decker-brew-goBest drip single cup coffee maker: The Black & Decker Brew 'n Go Personal Coffeemaker with Travel Mug works like the drip coffee makers above, but it only has the capacity to brew 15 ouces at a time. Those 15 ounces go straight into a stainless steel travel mug that comes with the machine. The machine comes with its own reusable filter so paper filters aren't necessary. Its 4-star average rating comes from customers who like that it's not wasteful like a Keurig and you can pack as much coffee into it as your want for your personal taste.

keurigBest single cup pod coffee maker: The Keurig Elite Brewing System has a 4.5-star average rating from online customers. It brews coffee, tea, hot chocolate, iced beverages and even soup in under one minute. The 48-ounce water reservoir is capable of brewing up to 8 cups of coffee before having to be refilled and has three brew-size choices: 6 oz., 8 oz., and 10 oz.

Once you have your new coffee maker set up, read these coffee articles to help you make the most of your new brewing machine.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.