Even though a limited budget puts some restrictions on choosing the right coffee brewer, it’s not completely impossible.
Today, a lot of manufacturers offer great options within a 100-dollar price tag. In fact, there are so many of them that you can easily get your head spinning while you’re making a choice.
So, I’ve tried to help you out a bit and listed the best coffee maker under $100 I’ve chosen earlier, so you can find your perfect one!
What to Expect from a Quality Coffee Machine Under $ 100: Basic Features Explained
So, you only plan to spend $100 on a coffee maker.
What can you expect for that price?
Well, generally speaking, a lot. $100 is a medium price for a decent coffee machine, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
Let’s see what we’ve got here.
A 100-dollar price tag gives you a variety of options, but you’ll more likely choose between the following types:
- Single-serve coffee makers. As the name implies, these can only make one serving of coffee at a time. The most attractive features of single-serve coffee makers are fast operation, easy maintenance, and compact design. They can usually work with both K-cups and ground coffee beans. There are also manual single-serve models (for example, some great Japanese coffee makers that don’t cost that much).
- Drip coffee makers. These are more of a family-friendly or an office-friendly option, as they feature a carafe pot, which can have up to 12 cups of capacity for this price. Drip coffee makers are one of the most popular choices for their convenient operation and energy-effectiveness. You can also find some of the best automatic pour-over coffee makers among them, which use a special water dispersion system for a more even extraction.
- 2-way coffee makers. Two-way or dual coffee makers combine two previous types in one appliance, as they have both a carafe pot and a single-serve side. Some of the best dual coffee makers can reach up to $300 in price, but you can easily find a programmable model with several fancy options (i.e. brew-strength selector or hot water delivery) within the $100 budget.
- Coffee machines with a grinder. Also known as ‘grind and brew’, these machines save your kitchen space by offering a built-in grind chamber that grinds the coffee before making you a cup. An obvious advantage of this design is the flavorful and tasty coffee every time, but sometimes these machines can be a bit hard to maintain. Note that coffee machines with grinders typically cost a bit more than other types, but you can still find a decent budget-friendly model. Or, if you don’t mind spending a bit more, you can check my other guide on the best grind and brew coffee makers and choose the one to your liking.
Ah, here goes the eternal ‘glass vs thermal carafe’ battle.
I will just list the pros and cons of every type for you below, and you will make the choice depending on your preferences.
A glass carafe has a sleek and modern look and keeps you informed about how many cups you have left. Glass carafe pots are typically made of borosilicate glass that can withstand up to 330 °F without breaking, and quickly cool down after being removed from the heat source (1). That’s why your coffee machine will typically have a heating plate to keep the coffee warm.
Glass carafe pots are easy to maintain, immune to staining, and cheaper than thermal ones. However, they have a couple of problems. The first one is fragility — if you accidentally drop a carafe, you may need to buy a new one. The second one is over-extraction: when you leave your glass carafe on the warming plate, the coffee in it keeps brewing and may become bitter or develop a sour taste.
Now, thermal carafe coffee makers come with a steel pot that has dual or insulated walls and works like a thermos, hence the name. A thermal carafe doesn’t need a heating plate: top models can keep your coffee pretty warm for up to 4 hours. It’s also much more durable than glass.
However, a thermal carafe can easily stain or alter the taste of your drink if it’s made of low-quality steel. Also, you cannot see how many cups you have left.
Knowing all of this, you can now decide which type of carafe suits you better.
The word “carafe” was initially used to define a glass vessel without handles or stoppers used for serving wine or other drinks. The association with the coffee maker pot is made only in American English.
Also read: Highly-rated 5-cup coffee makers
Compatibility with Different Cups
Most people buy coffee makers to cut their expenses on takeaway beverages. This means that these coffee machines should be able to make a cup that you can take with you to work or for a stroll in the park.
Thankfully, today’s brands make devices that have an adjustable cup tray allowing you to place a high tumbler mug and brew your coffee right into it.
It gets even better:
You can find models under $100 that are equipped with their own branded travel mug, so you can be sure about the perfect fit.
Note that the most common size of a travel mug that can fit into a coffee maker tray is about 7-8 inches. Be sure to check the mug’s size with the manufacturer before buying.
K-Cups or Ground Coffee: What’s Better?
You can get your coffee brewed from pre-ground beans or use a K-cup or coffee capsule. Fortunately, many modern coffee makers are compatible with both ways of brewing. They come with a thin mesh filter for ground beans and have a holder with a needle for coffee capsules.
But if you ask me, I prefer pre-ground coffee.
And there’s a reason for that.
A coffee pod is a sealed capsule that contains a pre-measured amount of coffee and all you need to do is put it in the K-cup section of your brewer and let the device work its magic.
Sounds about perfect, right?
Well, with the ground coffee being completely recyclable and eco-friendly — you can even use it as a pH-neutral fertilizer for plants! (2) — the capsule is made of non-recyclable plastic in most cases. Plus, coffee pods are too small to be picked up by the sorting systems, so they often end up in landfills.
Pre-ground beans, on the other hand, have a lot of benefits:
- they don’t leave non-recyclable waste (assuming you buy them in paper packaging);
- they allow you to vary the grind and flavor very easily;
- they’re fresh (this is supported with my own terrible experience of getting stale coffee in a pod).
Other Things to Consider Before Purchasing a coffee maker under $ 100
Now, let’s make some final checks before purchasing your highly rated coffee machine under $100:
- Carafe capacity. In a budget-friendly model, you can typically expect the carafe capacity of 10-12 cups. Note that this refers to the coffee maker cup size which is around 4-6 oz, and not to the regular U.S. cup size, which is 8 oz (3).
- Brew selector. That’s an easy way to make your coffee drinking experience a bit more flavorful. A brew-strength selector allows you to select Regular brew or Bold brew. The latter makes the water drip more slowly, so it can extract more flavor from coffee beans.
- Programmable features. These are the basics, so even most coffee makers under $50 have them. Typically, a coffee machine will allow you to set the brewing time and auto shut-off time, so you can literally touch your device only when you need another refill.
- Pause setting. If you need your coffee cup ASAP, this feature is a must. It helps you stop the brewing mid-cycle and steal that quick energy boost without spilling coffee everywhere.
- Water tank. If you don’t want to refill the reservoir too often, give your preference to larger models with bigger water capacity. You might also want to check some of the best coffee makers with a water line. They allow users to connect them to the water supply and forget about the refills for good.
- Hell’s kitchen: Thermal stress and glass cookware that shatters (2012, August 31). Retrieved from https://ceramics.org/ceramic-tech-today/hells-kitchen-thermal-stress-and-glass-cookware-that-shatters
- Heather Rhoades (2018, May 8). Composting With Coffee Grounds – Used Coffee Grounds For Gardening. Retrieved from https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/ingredients/coffee-grounds-gardening.htm
- Julie R. Thompson (2016, November 3). Sorry America, But A Cup Isn’t 8 Ounces Everywhere Else In The World. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/coffee-cup-is-6-ounces_n_5819db10e4b07c97c1c571d6
My name is Yurii Brown. I am a passionate coffee geek and, concurrently, a certified coffee specialist.
I’ve been learning about coffee for a long time, testing various devices and practicing in home coffee brewing. I like to share my experience and insights with fellow coffee lovers so that my readers could enjoy the real taste of quality-brewed beverages.