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Programmable coffee machines have come a long way since I was sipping sludge out of a Mr. Coffee at FSU some 25 years ago. Back then, the only programming you could do would be to have the coffee maker activate on a timer—and that was a luxury feature.
Now there are combination machines that serve up both drip coffee and espresso. Some makers can simulate manual brewing processes. Others can even work with K-cups (if you’re into that sort of thing).
What they all have in common, though, is that they can have your coffee ready for you when you wake up in the morning (or very soon after). And, really, isn’t that what we all want? Here are the best programmable coffee makers for 2019:
This DeLonghi combination drip and espresso maker gives you the best of both worlds. On one side, you have an espresso machine with 15-bar pressure and frothing wand to make lattes and cappuccinos. On the other, you have a 10-cup carafe drip coffee maker, fully programmable so that you can wake up to a pot every morning. The grounds and water load from the front, so you don’t have to reach around the back of the unit to refill it—a very nice convenience. The unit also sports active carbon filters to make sure your water is free of impurities. If you’re a coffee hound that enjoys an afternoon espresso, this is your machine.
But what if you’re trying to kick your K-cup habit? The FlexBrew Coffee Maker from Hamilton Beach is a programmable drip-coffee maker that can brew an entire pot into a convenient thermal carafe (my favorite way to keep coffee warm—burners are for chemistry class, not coffee). You can even set the depth of flavor that you want for your brew. On the right side of the unit is a single-cup coffee maker that works with grounds or K-Cups and can brew directly into your favorite mug or thermos. It’s the most flexibility you’ll be able to find in a coffee maker at this price range.
Thermal carafes are the difference between your last cup of coffee tasting like your first and it tasting like tar. No matter what a manufacturer tells you about the thermal regulation in their warming plates, they will always, always overheat coffee left in a glass pot and burn it. That’s why this Motif unit caught my eye (that and having the chance to sample excellent coffee made from it while at my brother’s place). Not only does it have a 24-hour timer. Not only does it dispense into a thermal carafe. Not only is the large water reservoir easy to see and refill. But it also uses showerhead drip with pre-infusion. What does that mean? The grounds are wet prior to brewing to release the gas in the coffee and infuse that aroma into your final pot. The showerhead drip simulates a manual pour-over that keeps the machine from over-extracting coffee from the grounds in one section. The result is a sublime cup of coffee.
The Cuisinart DCC-4000 has a 24-hour timer, a 12-cup carafe and a customizable strength setting. But that’s not why it’s on this list. It’s here because it’s the prettiest Cuisinart coffee maker I’ve ever seen, and I think that design this good should get its day in the sun.
Oh, you think that “programmable” just means that you can set a timer? That’s cute. The Miele CM6150 is for those that have graduated to wanting nothing more than an automated barista in their kitchen that knows exactly what each member of the family wants. The CM6150 is a complete system that grinds beans with a built-in conical burr grinder, froths milk, brews coffee or espresso drinks on demand, and even warms your cups. You can save four one-touch profiles to the unit, letting you prepare exactly the coffee you want, the way you want it, with a single press. You can even add grounds to the hopper if you want to brew something other than the beans that are in the grinder. The Miele is a “next-level” coffee system and, as such, has a next-level price. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything that can do as much as well outside of your local coffee house.