Coffee equipment can be spartan. Our top drip coffee maker only has one button, as does our favorite coffee grinder. And while many coffee professionals (myself included) would argue that a simple machine that does a great job is better than one with a ton of features, the attention to detail present in the OXO Brew 8-Cup Coffee Maker makes it standout even amongst the best-of-the-best brewers.
It’s our top coffee maker under $200 and it’s certified by the Specialty Coffee Association, proving it can hold a brew temperature between 195-205ºF and finish a brew cycle in under six minutes (both of which help to ensure consistently great coffee time after time). Like our other winners, it has a built-in bloom cycle, which saturates the grounds with some of the brew water to promote even extraction.
I spent 16 years in coffee education trying to teach people tricks to hack their home coffee brewer, so it’s refreshing to see a coffee maker that just plain works. However, what truly sets the OXO 8-Cup brewer apart are the small, user-focused features—four of them, specifically.
#1: The Reservoir
To start, the brewer’s reservoir has a clear indicator that each cup line marking represents five ounces, which is something I’ve never seen before. Measuring your water accurately is key to getting the most out of your coffee brewer, but other manufacturers make you guess at how much a “cup” is on their volume guidelines. (And it’s why with other brewers I’ve opted to measure water with a liquid measuring cup first instead.) While I would prefer to see the volume listed in liters to more easily calculate a brew ratio, any volume representation is a win.
#2: The Sprayhead
Another great feature is the sprayhead. Great tasting coffee requires water evenly saturating the coffee bed, and this OXO brewer is designed with a sprayhead that not only delivers water uniformly, but can also be disassembled for easier cleaning and descaling. One of the main reasons coffee makers break is that their sprayheads get clogged with scale, so this tiny detail allows users to tend to their brewer’s longevity in a more detailed manner.
#3: The Smaller Filter Basket Insert
What still floors me about the brewer, however, is the inclusion of a second, smaller filter basket insert. I’ve written extensively about the importance coffee bed depth has on even extraction, and a smaller basket insert means that there’s a deep enough coffee bed when brewing under 20 ounces to prevent channeling. If you’re the only coffee drinker in the household, or sometimes just want a single cup in the afternoon, this is the only brewer I’d recommend to handle those smaller volumes. The tricky part is figuring out which volume to switch the baskets at. In testing, I found that brews of 500 milliliters of water or less worked great with the smaller basket, while brews over one liter were best suited for the larger basket. In between, it was trickier to figure out the turning point, where the amount of coffee would cause the smaller basket to overflow or leave dry spots in the larger basket, though this could be remedied by fiddling with the grind size.
#4: The Drip Tray
My favorite feature, however, has to be the drip tray. I know. It’s simple, but I couldn’t name another drip coffee maker that features one like it. On the OXO 8-Cup brewer, it’s designed to flip over and act as a riser when brewing directly into a mug or travel cup, but even with a drip stop and a brew-through lid, there are always the occasional “it’s too early” moments of coffee spills. The built-in drip tray keeps the coffee from going all over your counter, and I’ve had many, many days in which I could have definitely have used this feature on a home brewer.
So, Is it Worth It?
At the end of the day, my love of this brewer is self-serving. As a longtime coffee pro, I get relatives and friends and friends of friends always asking what sort of coffee maker they should get. And as much as I love talking shop about coffee, it’s nice to be able to recommend a piece of equipment that doesn’t require caveats or special instructions and just really, truly works while costing much, much less than other quality brewers.
How do I descale my OXO coffee maker?
The best way to descale a brewer is by using a coffee machine descaler, which is then dissolved and run through your machine’s normal brew cycle. Hard water can leave calcium and magnesium deposits as scale in your brewer, which can clog over time. A descaler is the best way to break these deposits up without leaving harmful chemicals or lasting odors in your brewer.
What kind of filters does the OXO 8-cup coffee maker use?
The OXO Brew 8-Cup Coffee Maker comes with two differently sized filter baskets. The regular, larger basket is designed to fit standard flat-bottom coffee filters, while the smaller basket fits Kalita Wave 185 filters.