The old axiom “you get what you pay for” certainly applies to drip coffee makers. Although we can be persuaded by “fancy” in the form of timers, design, built-in grinders, and other features – none of them matter if the heating element is substandard. Unfortunately, in over 90+% of the coffee makers produced today, the heating element is considered substandard. Copper is very expensive. So, designers and manufacturers dazzle you with design and features and cut costs by installing low end heating elements but still command a higher price for the unit. You will eventually chuck these fancy drip coffee makers into the trash due to heating element failure. Of course, you need the “next great brewer” from the manufacturer. I think it is called planned obsolescence. A heating element in a coffee brewer may still produce “hot” water, but if it only heats to 160, 170, or anything under 206 F you are not saving any money. You are just going to produce bad coffee!
Because a brewer costs $100-$200 doesn’t mean it has a good heating element either. Most of these designer units have features and functionalities that offer “convenience” to you the consumer, or they are more modern and fancier looking than the $29.95 Mr. Coffee drip coffee makers. The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) tests and rates brewers on their heating elements; ability to consistently maintain water temperatures; and the method of distributing that water over the bed of coffee grounds through pulses and pauses.
We have our favorite brewers that we recommend, for all the reasons that SCA rates them so highly. Although the units may not be as “fancy” or feature rich of some of the designer drip coffee makers, they have one rock solid piece of infrastructure – a superior and properly engineered heating element! We prefer brewers with a stainless carafe, and no hot plate! If the carafe is engineered properly, it will do more than an adequate job at keeping your coffee hot for its useful life. Some folks pour out coffee after it sits for an hour, some after four hours, some will let it go stone cold and put it in the microwave and keep drinking it (ugh!). Once coffee is brewed in our home, it doesn’t last for longer than 45 minutes before a fresh pot is made. We drink a lot of coffee…. Size a brewer that is right for you. Our favorite is the Technivorm Moccamaster.