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When you use a regular coffee maker with a heating element that warms the carafe, that second cup of coffee can sometimes taste a little burnt. As the level of coffee in the carafe drops, the burnt taste becomes even more noticeable. You want to keep your coffee warm after you brew it, but leaving it on the heating plate can have a negative impact on its flavor. To solve that problem, we set out to find the best thermal carafe coffee maker.
A thermal carafe coffee maker brews directly into an insulated container. The carafe keeps your coffee at the perfect temperature using insulation instead of a heating element.
The best coffee maker with a thermal carafe, in our opinion, is the OXO On Barista Brain 9 Cup Coffee Maker.
But these coffee makers come with a lot of options, and certain features may be more important to you than others. Read on to find the thermal carafe coffee maker that’s most appropriate for your needs.
7 best thermal carafe coffee makers at a glance
|TopTop Top Top Top Top Top||OXO||See Deal|
|Top Top Top Top Top Top||Melitta||See Deal|
|Top Top||Ninja||See Deal|
|Top Top Top Top Top Top||Bunn||See Deal|
|Top Top Top Top Top Top||Zojirushi||See Deal|
|Top Top Top Top Top Top||Bonavita||See Deal|
What to look for in a thermal carafe coffee maker
Thermal carafe coffee makers usually have two walls with space between them. That space often has a vacuum, which minimizes air movement and heat transfer. This insulates the container, preventing heat from escaping and cold air from coming in.
The carafes are usually made of stainless steel. However, some have plastic parts. Many consumers want to avoid BPA plastics in their food containers, though. If you purchase an insulated coffee carafe with plastic components, you might want to ensure that it’s BPA-free. All insulated carafes and coffee makers that we reviewed are BPA-free where they come into contact with water or coffee.
Stainless-steel, double-walled carafes are extremely durable. They’re shatterproof and can be knocked around without breaking. If the carafe has plastic parts on the exterior, such as a handle, those components could break off if the product is mishandled.
If you’re looking for something that multiple household members use daily, you want it to stand up to heavy use. Realizing that your coffee maker is broken at 6 a.m. can be disappointing.
Do you usually make yourself a single cup of coffee in the mornings, or do you need to serve a crowd? Thermal carafes come in single sizes or larger vessels to brew and insulate up to 15 cups.
Ease of use
Everyone has a different idea about how much time and effort they want to put into their brew. Perhaps you want to roll out of bed and smell the coffee brewing automatically. Maybe you don’t mind a hands-on brewing experience.
If you prefer a simple experience, look for a thermal coffee maker with few bells and whistles. However, automated functions can make your life easier, because you can set the coffee to brew ahead of time. It will stay hot in the thermal carafe for four to six hours.
Sometimes, a coffee maker with complicated functions can be a hassle. Paying for the extra features isn’t worth it if you don’t know how to use them. If you’re a coffee aficionado, you might enjoy a product with plenty of manually adjustable elements. But if you just want a good, simple brew, you may prefer a coffee maker with one-button operation.
Ease of cleaning
A dirty coffee maker can interfere with the taste of your brew. It’s important to keep your insulated carafe coffee maker clean. However, some designs are more difficult to wash. Those with larger openings at the top tend to be easiest to clean. You might also want a carafe that is safe to put in the dishwasher.
Advantages of a thermal carafe
A thermal carafe keeps your coffee hot without burning it. It maintains the freshness of newly brewed coffee so that every cup tastes just as good as the first.
Because the carafe doesn’t have to sit on a hot plate to stay warm, you can bring it anywhere. This makes it ideal for serving multiple people at once or entertaining.
Plus, a stainless-steel carafe is difficult to break. While a glass lined coffee carafe can shatter, stainless steel is resilient.
How long will a thermal carafe keep coffee hot?
Thermal carafes can keep coffee hot for two to 12 hours. If the carafe is vacuum-sealed, the air between the two stainless steel walls has been removed. Heat transfers through air. With no air in the walls, the heat stays inside the carafe. You can fill the carafe with hot water for five minutes before brewing your coffee to preheat it, and this will allow it to retain heat for even longer.
7 best thermal carafe coffee makers in detail
The following insulated carafe coffee makers were the best we found, all capable of brewing a flavorful cup of joe.
This OXO On Barista Brain 9 Cup Coffee Maker not only makes great coffee but also keeps it warm until you’re ready to drink it. The machine heats the water to the perfect temperature for brewing coffee. It also uses a rainmaker showerhead to evenly distribute the water over the grounds for a robust flavor.
Durability: This product is fairly durable. It does contain several plastic parts, which can fail if mishandled or used frequently.
Capacity: You can brew up to nine cups of coffee at once using this coffee maker.
Ease of use: One of the best aspects of this product is how easy it is to use. It has a programmable start timer that adjusts with the turn of a dial. The backlit LED screen tells you the status of the machine and the freshness of the coffee.
Ease of cleaning: This OXO On Barista Brain is easy to clean. It has few parts to keep track of, and all the parts you need to wash are simple to remove. A red light indicates when the machine requires descaling.
- Comes in several sizes
- Easy to wash and clean
- Not as durable as some other models
- Must leave lid on water chamber open after use to avoid moisture buildup
Pour-over brewing gives you ultimate control over your cup of coffee. This manual way of making coffee usually delivers a fuller, more fragrant brew than a traditional coffee maker. The Melitta Pour-Over Coffee Brewer lets you can save all that goodness in an insulated stainless steel thermal carafe until you’re ready for your second cup…and your third.
Durability: Although the plastic pieces could break if you drop the carafe, the product is quite sturdy.
Capacity: You can put up to 60 ounces of water in this coffee maker, which brews about 7.5 medium-size cups of coffee.
Ease of use: You don’t have to press any buttons to use this coffee maker. However, you do need to heat your water separately, on a stove or with an electric gooseneck kettle.
Ease of cleaning: This product is fairly easy to clean if you can fit your hand inside the opening. The manufacturer states that the cone filter is dishwasher safe, and many consumers have reported putting the carafe in the dishwasher with no ill effects.
- The open filter cone is easy to empty and clean.
- Simple and straightforward to use.
- The lid must be on to use the pouring spout.
- Online reviews indicate that the lid’s seal may malfunction over time
The Ninja Auto IQ Coffee Maker is ideal for people or households that prefer different types of coffee. The Ninja brews cold and hot coffee as well as tea. Plus, it has five brew styles, including iced coffee, cold brew, classic, rich and specialty. You can use loose leaf or bagged tea or coffee, and the smart basket recognizes the type of brew you’re trying to make and gives you various recipe options.
Durability: This product seems fairly durable. Some consumers complain that the machine did not last as long as they had hoped, though.
Capacity: You can brew one mug of your favorite beverage or fill the entire carafe. The carafe holds up to 10 cups of coffee.
Ease of use: This coffee maker has a few more bells and whistles than others. However, it’s still fairly easy to use. You’ll have to learn how to adjust the settings so you can make your favorite brew. Once you get past the learning curve, you should be able to navigate this machine easily.
Ease of cleaning: The carafe’s opening is wide enough to insert your hand for cleaning. Many of the components are top-rack dishwasher safe. The Ninja also tells you when it’s time to descale the calcium buildup.
- Comes with milk frother
- Can make a variety of drinks using pre-programmed settings
- Can make a single serving or an entire pot of coffee
- Not for use with well water
- Carafe doesn’t keep drinks hot for very long
Bunn coffee makers have served many an American diner over the years, and the Bunn Velocity is similar to the coffee makers that caterers and restaurants use. However, it’s designed for household use. It doesn’t have many frills. This coffee maker has one job, and it does it well. But it does have some features that ensure you end up with a high-quality brew. The spray head evenly extracts the flavor from your coffee, and the machine brews a full carafe in three minutes.
Durability: You can feel the heft and quality of this machine. The carafe also has a wide base, which makes it unlikely to tip over or fall.
Capacity: The machine makes up to 10 cups of coffee. You can also heat up to 10 cups of water to use for tea.
Ease of use: Because this machine doesn’t have a lot of fancy features, it is user-friendly. There are no buttons to push. Just put the water in and close the lid to start the brewing process.
Ease of cleaning: This coffee maker has few parts and is easy to clean. You can put the filter in the top rack of the dishwasher.
- One of the easiest machines to use
- Internal thermostat ensures that water is brewed to the proper temperature
- Difficult to see water measurement when making coffee
- Water flows so fast that it might not spend enough time in contact with the grounds; use a finer grind if necessary
The Zojirushi EC-YTC100 has a 24-hour programmable timer, automated cleaning indicator, drip-prevention mechanism and convenient water measure lines on the reservoir.
Durability: The Zojirushi feels solid. Its carafe is one of the sturdiest and most durable.
Capacity: Makes two to 10 cups of water at a time.
Ease of use: The buttons are large and clear. The design is straightforward. Using this machine is intuitive.
Ease of cleaning: The removable water reservoir is easy to clean, and a light indicates when the machine needs descaling.
- Removable water tank is easy to fill from any source
- Automated cleaning cycle
- Spout design reduces dribbling
- Loud brewing cycle
- No auto shut-off
If you’re looking for a smaller coffee maker that brews high-quality beverages, the Bonavita BV1900TS has an 8-cup capacity. Its standout feature is the pre-infusion mode, which wets the grinds before brewing, ensuring maximum richness and extraction.
Durability: The double-walled stainless-steel carafe resists breaking. The machine is straightforward and reliable.
Capacity: Brew and store up to eight cups of coffee.
Ease of use: One-button operation makes the Bonavita easy to operate.
Ease of cleaning: The carafe has a wide enough opening, but it is not dishwasher-safe.
- Auto shutoff
- Pre-infusion mode
- Produces lots of steam, which could affect your kitchen cabinets
- No auto-on feature
Our final verdict
Our favorite coffee maker with a thermal carafe is the OXO On Barista Brain 9 Cup Coffee Maker. It is easy to use but has a few extra features, such as the internal thermostat and rainmaker showerhead. It is also durable and holds enough coffee for daily use.
If you’re trying to entertain a crowd, you might want to choose an option that holds at least 10 cups of coffee. If you enjoy pour-over coffee, you might prefer the Melitta, which is completely manual. The Bonavita also provides pour-over flavor because of the pre-infusion function.
If you want a coffee maker that keeps coffee hot without a warming plate, any of these will serve the purpose. You just have to decide how much coffee you want to make and what features are the most important to you.