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How we test filter coffee machines

By Yvette Fletcher

Learn more about how we test filter coffee machines to find the models that are quick, quiet and make delicious coffee.

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Filter coffee machines differ wildly in price, with the latest models using elaborate brewing technology and promising a better-tasting brew as a result. But how can you tell whether it's really worth investing the extra money in one? 

We've tested filter machines from big brands like DeLonghi, KitchenAid and Russell Hobbs as well as own-brand models from Argos, Currys and Lakeland. Our independent tests have shown that some budget coffee machines can make better coffee than products that are over five times as expensive, whereas other premium models really are worth the extra investment.

Head to our filter coffee machine reviews to find out which models topped our tests and which will leave you with a nasty taste in your mouth.

Our reviews answer the most crucial questions about filter coffee machines:

  • Does the filter coffee machine make good coffee?
  • Does it work quickly, or will I be waiting around?
  • How easy is it to set up and use?
  • Is the filter coffee machine noisy?
  • Should I buy it?

If you're not already a Which? member, you can gain access to all our reviews and brand ratings for hundreds of products, from filter coffee machines to mobile phones, for a £1 trial subscription to Which?.

Does the filter coffee machine make good coffee?

Giles Hilton, our expert coffee taster - and member of the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe - assesses the quality of the coffee made by every coffee machine we test. Giles' expertise means he can identify how well each machine has extracted the flavour from ground coffee (and coffee beans, for grind and brew models), as well as the quality and tastiness of the resulting brew.

We use the same type of coffee for every machine, and Giles tastes each in random order in a blind taste test. How good the coffee tastes is a big part of this test, but we also ask him to judge its appearance, as well as the texture and aroma. Giles tastes the coffee made by each filter coffee machine both with and without milk, so that whether you're a black coffee fan, or like a milky drink, we can recommend the best coffee machine for you.

Does it work quickly or will I be waiting around?

A quick filter coffee machine will take five minutes or less to dispense six cups of coffee, but we've found models that take up to nine minutes. Some models also continue to drip after they've finished brewing, meaning that you'll either have to continue to wait for it to stop or risk coffee dripping on the hot plate. We time how long it takes each coffee machine to make six cups and give it a star rating in our reviews, so you can tell which models will leave you waiting around.

How easy is it to set up and use?

The best filter coffee machines are intuitive to set up, but some will have you scratching your head - we've seen instruction manuals that read like a dissertation and controls that just don't make sense. We rate the instruction manual that comes with each filter coffee machine and put each model through our series of ease-of-use tests to ensure you don't end up buying a machine that's more hassle than it's worth.

We assess how straightforward it is to set each machine up, whether its controls are clear and well labelled, how easy the water tank is to fill, how simple it is to make coffee and how easy the machine is to clean after it's finished brewing. We've found some models have jugs that are awkward to pour from or tanks that are tricky to fill, but our Best Buys are impressively simple and intuitive to use.

Is the filter coffee machine noisy?

If you need a morning brew to get you up and going, a noisy machine that wakes up the rest of your household could be a major disappointment. We measure how loud each machine is in use and whether any noise it makes is irritating and intrusive.

Should I buy it?

75%The minimum score a filter coffee machine needs to earn to be a Best Buy

All of these tests feed into the final overall score for each filter coffee machine we review. We know that making a great coffee is the most important factor to you, so this has the biggest impact on the score. Our full test score breakdown is as follows:

  • 50% expert taste test
  • 25% ease of use and noise
  • 25% performance

Filter coffee machines need to earn a test score of 75% or more to earn a Best Buy status. Any model that scores 40% or less is a Don't Buy, and is best avoided.

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