Best 12-Cup Coffee Makers - Reviews & Buyer's Guide

Coffee Buying Guides

A decent 12-cup coffee maker is a crucial appliance for many households and small offices. However, there are many options on the market, with similar aesthetics and overall construction. In saying that, they all have their pros, cons, differences, and selling points to suit different user preferences. 

To help you make the choice, we have found the top 5 best 12-cup coffee makers on the market. We have reviewed them with a focus on functionality, features, user-friendliness, price, and possible setbacks. 

You’ll be pleased to know that all 5 products on this list are incredibly affordable.

Ninja 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker CE201

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Highlights:

  • Permanent gold-tone filter
  • Programmable timer
  • Two brew strength options
  • Warming plate with 2-hour shut off

The number one spot on the top 5 best 12-cup coffee makers goes to the Ninja CE201. This takes the lead because it has customizable features so you have a little more leeway with your coffee. For example, there are “classic” and “rich” brew buttons for adjusting the strength of your brew. The plastic and stainless steel construction 

What’s more, there’s a programmable timer that locks in a brewing time up to 24 hours in advance (great for early morning coffee drinkers). Like all good drip coffee makers, you can pour a cup mid-brew, cutting down on the wait time for your caffeine fix. 

One of the best features is the heating plate. Many other models have an auto-shutoff after as little as 30 minutes, not quite enough. On the flip side, some don’t have a shut-off feature, which causes safety issues. Impressively, the Ninja heating plate remains on for two hours after brew completion, plenty of time for those 12 cups to be poured and sipped while steaming hot. 

The price point is excellent considering the features. However, it’s still considered a cheap machine compared to the other coffee machine types. This means that there are some flaws. 

For example, the carafe lid can be tricky to figure out as it has a lock feature which must be correctly operated for the carafe to fit into the machine. This isn’t a big deal, but it has been irritating enough for many people to mention. 

What’s more, the glass carafe isn’t the most durable around, so it pays to be gentle with it to avoid breakages. While these aren’t red flags, it pays to be transparent so you know what to expect.

Pros 👍
✔ No need for disposable filters
✔ Water reservoir is easy to fill
✔ Makes hot, hot coffee
✔ Easy to clean

Cons 👎
✘ Lid can be difficult to master
✘ Awkward buttons
✘ Fragile carafe

Cuisinart DCC-1200 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker

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Highlights:

  • Programmable timer
  • Adjustable carafe temperature dial
  • 1-4 cup setting for smaller batches
  • Stainless steel housing

The runner-up goes to the Cuisinart DCC-1200 Brew Central 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker. This model has a sleek and high-end look, despite the low price tag. It has a plastic and stainless steel construction (like many similar models), but the stainless steel ratio is a lot higher, increasing the durability factor. 

The front-facing side features a series of buttons, dials, and a digital control screen. You might find the controls to be a little “old school”, but they’re functional all the same. They allow you to select the programmable timer, begin brewing manually, and display the time using the clock function. 

We like that you can program the machine to switch off after the brewing time, up to four hours. This is a great safety feature while giving you the option to pour and serve slowly as the morning goes by. Unsurprisingly, it also has a pause-and-serve function so you can pour coffee at any point during the brewing process. 

Impressively, this model has a temperature adjusting feature. The dial labeled “L, M, H” allows you to select low, medium or high coffee temperature. Not many 12-cup coffee makers within this price range offer this feature. 

There’s no need to buy disposable filters, as the Cuisinart DCC-1200 comes with a permanent gold-tone filter. And lastly, it also comes with a charcoal water filter for clean and fresh-tasting coffee.

Pros 👍
✔ Temperature is adjustable
✔ Safe and energy-efficient
✔ Durable housing

Cons 👎
✘ Reports of leakages
✘ Control screen isn’t backlit
✘ Carafe dribbles

Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Manual Coffee Maker

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Highlights:

  • Auto-Pause function
  • Illuminated on/off switch
  • Transparent water tank window
  • Removable filter basket

The third spot goes to the Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Manual Coffee Maker, a super-cheap, yet very popular drip coffee maker. There are no special features or adjustable functions here, just an on/off switch. We see this as a “pro” for people who simply want a hot cup of coffee with minimal input. What’s more, the coffee itself is hot and tastes great (by many accounts), which is the goal after all. 

The construction is almost entirely plastic (with a glass carafe), but that’s to be expected considering the extremely low price. A great feature is the lift-and-clean filter basket which allows you to easily and quickly refresh the filter and the basket in one go. 

A feature that could be a pro for some and a con for others is that there is no auto-off function. The machine (including warming plate) stays on until you manually switch it off. This is great for offices or places where there are lots of people around, and regular attention paid to the coffee maker. However, it could be “con” in the home where there’s the chance for it to be forgotten about.

Pros 👍
✔ Value for money
✔ Makes hot coffee
✔ Simple to use
✔ Easy to clean

Cons 👎
✘ Hot plate prone to rusting
✘ No auto-off function
✘ Full plastic housing

Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer (12-Cup with Single-Serve Option)

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Highlights:

  • Single-serve function
  • Programmable timer
  • Adjustable brew strength (regular or bold)
  • Auto shut-off after 2 hours

The fourth product on our list is the Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer. We were drawn to this model as we know how handy it is to be able to fill a to-go cup simply, quickly, and without having to fuss with a full pot. On the flip side, we know how essential a large, full, hot pot of coffee is, and this model offers both. 

This model has a sturdy construction made from stainless steel and plastic. It’s quite large compared to other models, but if you got the room it won’t be an issue. The carafe portion of the machine comes with a reusable, permanent filter, while the single-serve side requires a filter. What’s more, you can use soft pods (not Nespresso or Keurig hard pods) to save you from spooning (and potentially spilling) coffee grinds when using the single-serve function. 

The control panel is on the front-facing side, with a backlit control screen, and clearly-marked control buttons. We love that you can program the unit to brew up to 24 hours in advance, down to the minute. For instantaneous brewing, use the “brew now” button, and select “single-serve” or “carafe”, and pick between “regular” or “bold” brew strength. 

In terms of safety and energy efficiency, this model is great as it has an auto-off function that kicks in 2 hours after brewing completion. 

This is a great option for busy households and coffee lovers who require various options all in one easy-to-use machine. It’s like a mid-way between a super-simple drip coffee maker and a slightly fancier coffee machine, but with a very low price.

Pros 👍
✔ Dispenses single-serve straight into a cup
✔ Can make stronger coffee on demand
✔ Makes very hot coffee
✔ Safe (auto shut-off)

Cons 👎
✘ Reports of leakages
✘ Large footprint
✘ Reports of rusty hot plate

Braun Brewsense Drip Coffee Maker, 12-Cup

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Highlights:

  • Stainless steel housing
  • 24-hour programmable timer
  • Permanent gold-tone filter
  • 1-4 cup setting

Number five on our list is the Braun Brewsense Drip Coffee Maker. This model is undeniably the most attractive on our list, with a sleek, stainless steel housing and compact construction. The front-facing panel has a digital display and easy-access control buttons. As well as a chic appearance, this model has more features than the others on this list. Even so, it has the same small price tag of the previous four finalists.

For example, when it comes to cleaning, this model has a feature none of the other options have: a water hardness level function. You can adjust the water hardness level so that the cleaning feature can adjust accordingly. Plus, as well as a permanent gold-tone filter, this model also comes with a charcoal water filter.

You can program this model to brew your coffee 24 hours in advance, a favorite feature for morning coffee drinkers. While this is a 12-cup coffee maker, there is a dedicated button for brewing 1-4 cups so that the strength and flavor are just right.

For safety and convenience, you can program the unit to switch off after a certain amount of time has passed since brewing completion. It has a default time of 2 hours, but you can adjust this for an impressive maximum of 5 hours.

Pros 👍
✔ Backlit clock
✔ Easy to clean (auto clean cycle)
✔ Makes very hot coffee
✔ Attractive and compact

Cons 👎
✘ Reports of leakages and overspill
✘ Water reservoir level is hard to read
✘ No temperature or strength adjustment

How To Choose A 12-Cup Coffee Maker

Price

Price is always the starting point, especially if you have a very specific budget. However, all of the options on our list are very affordable. Figure out if you’re after a super-cheap, simple option, or spend a little more for some features. 

Capacity

Obviously, we are looking for a 12-cup capacity here. However, this can vary from model to model. Don’t bank on there being 12 large cups, as they might be small or medium cups. Check the specific capacity to be sure of the cup sizes. 

Size and footprint

Your 12-cup coffee maker needs to fit comfortably on your counter or it will just get in the way. Compare the product dimensions with your allocated space (with a power outlet nearby) to be sure it will fit conveniently. Remember that you’ll be removing the top to add water and coffee grounds, so there needs to be enough space above the unit. 

Safety features

Many 12-cup coffee makers have an auto-off feature that turns off the hot plate after a certain amount of time after the brewing cycle finishes. This is an important feature for safety, especially if you can imagine yourself forgetting to switch off the machine. 

Temperature and strength options

If you are very specific about your coffee being a certain temperature and strength, definitely find a model that allows you to control this. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself becoming frustrated and possibly wasting time reheating your cup, or putting up with too-weak coffee.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a 12-cup coffee maker take to brew?

It depends on the coffee machine, but it can take anywhere between 7 and 12 minutes. The cleanliness of the machine can also affect the brewing time, as a lot of calcium build-up can really slow things down.

How much coffee should I put in a 12-cup coffee maker?

Start with 1 ½ Tablespoons per cup of water, and make any adjustments according to your taste preferences.

What grind size should I use in a 12-cup coffee maker?

Drip-coffee machines are most compatible with medium grinds. However, your filter type may slightly adjust this. For example, a paper filter can handle a medium-mild grind, while a permanent metal filter is best with medium grinds.

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