16 Types of Coffee Makers Explained (Illustrated Guide)

Learn about the 16 different types of coffee makers here. Illustrated guide and photos with details on how best to use each type of coffee brewing system.
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Photo of different types of coffee

Starbucks, the world’s biggest coffee chain with 27,000 stores, sells a whopping 4 billion cups of coffee a year. That’s a lot of coffee.

But get this; 2.25 billion cups of coffee is consumed around the world EVERY DAY. I figured Starbucks sold a lot of coffee, and they do, but it’s a pittance compared to overall coffee consumption.

The reality is most of the world can’t afford expensive Starbucks coffee. Most people make their coffee at home with their own coffee maker resulting in millions of many different types of coffee makers being sold every year worldwide.

I’ve bought a lot of coffee makers in recent years, mostly as research for our coffee maker series and I’m still amazed at how many different types of coffee machines there are as well as the number of different options for each type.

You can buy a coffee machine to make every type of coffee imaginable at home, for a fraction of the cost you pay at Starbucks and other coffee houses. That makes the $100 or few hundred dollars you spend on a coffee machine a great investment. After all, it’s not the cost of the machine that hurts, it’s the cost of the coffee you buy for it year after year. But buying and making coffee at home is still way cheaper than buying it at a coffee shop.

After extensive research and coffee maker testing, I put together this extensive article setting out and explaining every type of coffee maker you can buy.

Be sure to check out our comprehensive illustration at the end of this article to get a great bird’s eye view of your options.

Below is our list of the different types of coffee machines.

Infographic Illustrating the Different Types of Coffee Machines

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All the different types of coffee makers - an illustrated guide.

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The many different types of coffee makers explained

A. Pressure Coffee Brewers

1. Manual Espresso Maker

Manual espresso machineFor espresso, you need to use very fine coffee and pack the coffee grinds tight.  Once you start the brew, it takes about 1 to 2 minutes.

The resulting coffee is strong and rich.  The volume is less than a full cup of coffee unless you make a double or triple.

2. Automated Espresso Makers

a. Partially Automated Espresso Maker

The partially automated espresso maker requires you to put in the grinds and attach it to the machine.  It takes over from there.

Partial automatic red espresso machine

Here’s a video explaining and demonstrating how to make espresso properly:

b. Fully Automated Espresso Maker

The fully automated espresso maker is push-button simple as long as you have coffee grinds in it.

Automatic espresso maker by DeLonghi

Source: Amazon

If you prefer to automate your espresso, you can buy an automatic espresso machine.  This isn’t what the purists use, but if you like the result and it’s convenient, go for it.  These machines can be costly though.

3. Moka Pot

Moka Pot Coffee Maker

Diagram illustrating how a moka pot works.

Source: How It Works

The moka pot uses steam pressure to create espresso.  The above diagram says it all.  What’s nice about these units is you can put them directly on a stove (or campfire).

4. AeroPress

Aeropress coffee maker

The AeroPress forces hot water through very fine coffee grounds with a lot of pressure to produce espresso.  It’s like a big hand pump.  While easy to use, it’s not fun to clean afterwards.

because the hot water is forcibly pressed through the coffee grinds quickly, unwanted chemicals from the beans don’t get into the coffee.  This is a big benefit to the AeroPress and other espresso methods.

B. Filtration Coffee Makers (Drip Brewers)

5. Auto Drip Brewer (Regular Drip Coffee Pot)

Automated drip coffee maker

The automatic drip brewer is one of the most popular coffee makers sold worldwide.  They’re inexpensive, easy to use and pretty much does everything automatically.  Most are large coffee makers, but you can buy small coffee makers with less cup capacity.  Most have a 12 cup brewing capacity.

The process is simple.  Hot water filters through coffee grinds via gravity and produces coffee.  The automated drip brewer heats the water and uses a pump to get it above the grinds.  The hot plate on which the pot sits further keeps the coffee hot.

These days you can buy a super simple machine or a very complex one that’s computerized and can perform a variety of functions.  I prefer simple over complex, but I can see the appeal of having all the bells and whistles.

6. Single Serve Coffee Makers

It’s astonishing how popular single serve coffee makers are.  It makes sense in many ways.  Brewing a full pot for one or two people doesn’t make sense; the coffee gets old and you have to wait a long time for it.  Single serve makers solve both of these problems by producing a fresh cup of coffee quickly.

While K-cups are the most popular single cup delivery method, they aren’t the only option.  Below I set out 3 popular types of single serve coffee makers and corresponding delivery methods.

a. K-Cup

Single serve Keurig coffee maker

Close-up photo of k-cup

In 2014, 9.8 billion K-cups were sold.  Despite it’s massive success, John Sylvan, the K-cup inventor, regrets inventing it.

The k-cup is the simplest single serve capsule.  It’s a plastic container with a tin-foil top.  The coffee maker pierces the capsule at the bottom and top through which hot water flows.

b. Tassimo Disc Machine

Tassimo T55 coffee maker

Tassimo disc

My favorite single serve system is Tassimo.  The discs have a barcode which tells the machine how hot the water should be and how much water should be used.  The resulting coffee is very good and the Tassimo machines produce a piping hot cup of coffee well under a minute.

c. Nespresso

I like Nespresso, especially the coffee foam it produces, but the coffee flavor isn’t as strong or rich as I’d like.  I’ve tried many Nespresso coffee flavors and none are as good as a Gevalia Tassimo disc.

Nespresso coffee maker

Nespresso capsule

I like Nespresso, especially the coffee foam it produces, but the coffee flavor isn’t as strong or rich as I’d like.  I’ve tried many Nespresso coffee flavors and none are as good as a Gevalia Tassimo disc.

7. Manual Drip Brew (Chemex Style)

Manual drip coffee brew system

For purists, there’s the manual drip brew option which gives you full control over water temperature and volume.  It’s a lot of work though because you have to stand there constantly pouring in hot water until you get your desired amount of coffee.  I’m not such a purist so an automated drip brew or single serve brewer works for me.

8. Vietnamese Coffee Maker

Vietnamese drip coffee maker

I remember my first Vietnamese iced coffee.  I LOVED it.  Wow, it’s absolutely delicious.  Strong and dark but tempered with the sweet condensed milk.  Very refreshing after lunch.

Making this type of coffee is very easy.  The Vietnamese coffee maker is a small steel filter in which you place coffee grinds and over which you pour hot water.  The hot water filters through the grinds into the glass, on the bottom of which you have a little condensed milk.  After the coffee is finished brewing, mix it with the condensed milk and then add ice.  It’s amazing.

9. Percolator

Electric percolator coffee maker

Source: Amazon

A percolator isn’t much different than regular drip brewer.  Water sits on the bottom portion of the pot, above which is a suspended layer on which coffee grinds sit.  The water is heated and pumped out over the grinds which then percolates and produces coffee.

Percolators are ideal for when you need to brew huge amounts of coffee.  You can get percolators that produce 100 cups of coffee.  Unless you’re an absolute fiend, you don’t need a percolator unless you’re having a party.

Some people like percolators because the water hits the grinds at boiling.  Other people suggest this is a tad too hot.  Regardless, the water is hotter in a percolator than most drip machines and that’s a big reason people opt for percolators (other than using the large ones for gatherings).

10. Cold Drip

Cold brew coffee maker

The point of a cold drip brewer is to make a better cup of iced coffee.  When you put ice on hot coffee, the ice melts, diluting the coffee.

Cold brewers use time, not heat to make coffee.  The water slowly drips, drop by drop, through the grinds producing coffee.  It can take anywhere from 6 to 24 hours to produce the coffee.  This kind of time means you need to plan ahead.

You can also cold brew coffee via steeping.  Here’s a video demonstrating how to make a cold cup of coffee:

C. Steep Brewers

11. French Press

French press coffee maker

I’m not a big fan of French Press coffee.  It has a grainy texture and it’s a nuisance cleaning these contraptions.  Some people love them; they are indeed popular.

It doesn’t get much simpler than this type of brewing method.  You mix coffee grinds and hot water together.  Let it steep for 4 minutes.  Push the screen down to separate the grinds from the coffee.  Pour and enjoy.

Bodum vs. French Press?  Actually they’re one and the same. Bodum is a French Press brand (very popular since the brand name is synonymous with French Press).

12. Siphon

Siphon coffee brewer

The siphon coffee maker looks like it’s something out of a chemistry lab.

The contraption has two chambers.  Water goes into the first.  Coffee grinds into the second.  Water is heated, the pressure pushes hot water into the upper chamber with the coffee grinds.  The resulting coffee drips back into the lower chamber via a filter resulting in brewed coffee in the bottom chamber.

Here’s a video demonstrating the process:

D. Boil-Based Coffee Makers

13. Ibrik (Turkish Coffee Pot Maker)

Turkish coffee pot

I love Turkish coffee because it’s so strong.

While the heading here is “boil-based” coffee, it’s important to avoid to heat the water to boiling during any point of the process.

To make this type of coffee you must put extremely finely ground coffee into the Ibrik.

  • First, bring water almost to a boil.
  • Second, add 1 tablespoon of coffee per 3 ounces of water.
  • Third, add sugar to your desired sweetness.
  • Fourth, once coffee drops to bottom and sugar dissolves, stir.
  • Fifth, watch for foam to rise to surface.  Remove from heat.  Repeat until you see the foam rise to surface three to four times.  It’s ready.

Here’s a video demo:

14. Camping Coffee Maker

Campfire coffee maker

Source: Amazon

This campfire coffee maker is a non-electric powered percolator.  It works exactly like a percolator with fire as heat source (or stove).

E. Combo Coffee Makers

15. Drip and K-Cup Combo

Single serve K-cup and drip pot coffee maker combo by Hamilton Beach

Source: Amazon

I have this machine and like it quite a bit.  I use it mostly for K-cup coffee, but occasionally brew a pot.  I like that it does both.  It’s wildly popular and easy to use.  The place for single serve cups is tall so it accommodates travel mugs.

16. Drip Coffee, Toaster Oven and Griddle Como

Coffee brewer, toaster oven and griddle combo machine.

Source: Amazon

For the person who has it all or no kitchen at all, there’s the “breakfast station” which is a drip coffee brewer, toaster oven and griddle all-in-one appliance.  This is a great solution for places without an oven or even no kitchen.