Breville Sells a Knock Box That’s Like a Vacuum for Espresso Pucks, but Does It Work?

We put the Breville Puck Sucker to the test to see how well it removed caked-in espresso pucks from portafilters. Here’s whether or not it’s worth buying.

A person about to place a portafilter with espresso grounds in it into the Breville Puck Sucker.
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

Go into the nearest coffee shop and you’ll likely hear the thwacking of baristas knocking out spent espresso pucks.

Espresso machines use a pump to force nine bars of pressure—around 130 pounds per square inch—through coffee, leaving dried, compacted pucks in their wake. Removing these espresso pucks requires some elbow grease (and a rubberized bar to knock the portafilter against). But, eek! This can be noisy, and some pucks don't want to budge. To that end, Breville introduced a vacuum pump-powered knock box called the Puck Sucker. We put it through two crucial tests to see if it works any better than a traditional knock box.

The Tests

A person holding a portafilter in the Breville puck sucker.
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson
  • Espresso Puck Test: We used the Puck Sucker to remove numerous pucks of espresso from a portafilter, comparing its ease of use to our favorite knock box.
  • Usability Test: We evaluated how easy the pucker sucker was to set up and operate.

What We Learned

What's the Breville Puck Sucker?

The Breville Puck Sucker is a vacuum pump-powered knock box that automatically engages when you place your portafilter in it. When the vacuum turns on, it pulls the spent espresso puck out of the filter basket and into the catch bin below, so it's easy to dispose of or compost the coffee grounds. 

Does It Work?

A person using the Breville Puck Sucker to remove espresso grounds from a portafilter.
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

Yes—with a catch. In our testing, the Puck Sucker did a great job of gently removing stuck-in espresso pucks without us having to exert any physical energy. The portafilter fits neatly in the cradle, the pump automatically kicks on, and the puck's neatly removed. There’s only one issue: Because the portafilter needs to create an even seal around the opening for the vacuum pump to work, the Puck Sucker is designed to function with 58-millimeter Breville portafilters. So it’s only compatible with the Breville Dual Boiler, Breville Oracle, or Breville Oracle Touch, making it a less universal product than we’d like.

Most Breville espresso machines have 54-millimeter baskets, which means they're not compatible with the Puck Sucker. And even though we recommend several other, non-Breville espresso machines with 58-millimeter portafilters, they won’t have the right proprietary shape needed for the Puck Sucker to operate.

What to Get Instead

If you have an espresso machine that's not compatible with the Puck Sucker, we have good news: There are cheaper knock boxes that work with any machine’s portafilter. When we tested knock boxes, we were particularly fond of the homeffect Knock Box, which has a sturdy column as its knock pad instead of a horizontal bar. It absorbed impact in a way that popped out stubborn pucks while reducing the noise and energy required to do so.

The Verdict

The Puck Sucker is a vacuum-powered knock box that quietly and efficiently removed stuck-in espresso pucks from 58-millimeter Breville portafilters. It costs more than the average knock box and is limited to use with just a few models, so we can't widely recommend it. However, if you’re willing to spend the money and have a compatible Breville espresso machine, we think you’ll enjoy its smooth operation and mess-free design. 

Good to Know

The Puck Sucker is compact enough to fit on an espresso machine’s drip tray for storage, and its catch bin is also dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup. It can hold 10 to 12 espresso pucks before it needs to be emptied and we like the rubber bottom that keeps it in place.

Key Specs

  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 5.5 inches
  • Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Portafilter diameter: Fits 58-millimeter Breville portafilters only
  • Battery: 9-volt
  • Capacity: 10 to 12 espresso pucks
A person removing an empty portafilter from the Breville Puck Sucker.
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson


What is the Puck Sucker?

The Breville Puck Sucker is a vacuum-powered espresso knock box that removes spent pucks using a battery-powered suction pump. It’s designed to be used with a Breville espresso machine that has a 58-millimeter portafilter, like the Breville Dual Boiler, Breville Oracle, or Breville Oracle Touch.

Can the Breville knock box go through the dishwasher?

While the plastic catch bin on the Breville Puck Sucker is dishwasher-safe, the battery-powered lid will need to be cleaned by hand. We recommend wiping it with a damp cloth to remove old coffee grounds. 

Why We’re the Experts

  • Jesse Raub was Serious Eats' commerce writer and spent over 15 years working in the specialty coffee industry. 
  • He was our in-house coffee expert and regularly tested coffee gear for this site including coffee scales and espresso grinders.
  • Jesse previously tested 10 knock boxes.

How to Clean Your Espresso Machine, According to an Expert

We break down how to deep clean and backflush your espresso machine to get rid of stubborn coffee oils, according to expert advice.

A person lifting up the tray of the Lelit Elizabeth Espresso Machine
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

Keeping your espresso machine clean is wicked important. Coffee oils stick to metal surfaces and grow rancid over time, imparting musty, bitter flavors. Plus, coffee residue and scale build-up can block water lines, and unclogging them is expensive.

Regular cleaning helps prevent icky espresso and also keeps your machine running smoothly. The simplest way to clean it is to backflush; that is, run coffee detergent through the machine with a blank portafilter basket.

Before diving in, I recommend checking that your machine can be backflushed. Cheaper espresso machines don’t always have this ability. Once you’ve double-checked the user manual, though, you can follow my cleaning guide below. 

Espresso Machine Cleaning and Maintenance Tools

This brush has stiff nylon bristles for scrubbing the group head clean after you pull an espresso shot. It also has a scoop for measuring out coffee detergent powder and a thin metal rod for cleaning a steam wand’s holes. 

a steam wand being inserted in a pitcher of milk
The shorter steam wand took some getting used to but steamed professional quality milk texture.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Designed to break up coffee oils, Cafiza is the standard espresso machine detergent used in most commercial espresso bars. While it also comes in a loose powder form, these tablets are convenient and less messy. 

A hand pouring a packet of descaler into a glass liquid measuring cup
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Microfiber cloths are great for polishing the outside of your espresso machine, and most any will do. I usually buy dark-colored ones so they don’t show coffee stains. 

A person cleaning the Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine with a yellow cloth towel
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

You’ll need to remove the group head screen to make sure everything is thoroughly cleaned, and this short screwdriver will do so painlessly. It has both a flat and Phillips-head while being small enough to fit between the drip tray and group head. 

How to Blackflush an Espresso Machine

The Breville The Barista Touch Impress on a table
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

Step 1: Scrub the Group Screen with a Brush

The first thing you’ll want to do is to grab your group head brush and scrub the screen and rubber gasket clean of any coffee residue or leftover coffee grounds. It also helps to run the espresso machine to flush the group head with clean water.

Step 2: Remove the Group Screen

Using a stubby screwdriver, unscrew the group head screen and place it in a heat-proof container. Place the screen in a shot glass or other small vessel so it won’t get lost. 

Step 3: Remove the Filter Basket

Parts of the portafilter Diletta Mio Espresso Machine on a table
The filter basket can be seen on the upper left in this image.Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

Pop the filter basket out by leveraging the screwdriver against the short metal wings of the portafilter. Place the filter basket in the heatproof container with the screen. Note: If your machine comes with a rubber backflush disk instead of a blank metal portafilter basket, you can skip this step. 

Step 4: Backflush

A person adjusting the Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

Insert the blank basket (the one with no holes) into the portafilter and add a Cafiza tablet or a half teaspoon of coffee detergent powder. If you have a rubber backflush disk instead of a blank metal portafilter basket, place the rubber disk over the holes in your regular filter basket so that it forms a seal.

Lock the portafilter into the espresso machine and run the group head for five seconds. This will pressurize the hot water and Cafiza mixture into the espresso machine. Press the group head button again to stop the machine and allow the water to be expelled into the drip tray. Repeat three more cycles of five seconds on and five seconds off to fully flush any residual coffee detergent from the machine.

Step 5: Soak

Once the machine is backflushed, add the portafilter into the heat-proof container with the handle sticking up. Add one Cafiza tablet or a half teaspoon of coffee detergent to the container, and pour in enough boiling water to cover all of the metal surfaces. Let soak for 20 minutes.

Step 6: Rinse and Reassemble

A person pressing one of the buttons on the Diletta Mio Espresso Machine and holding the portafilter
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

After everything has soaked for 20 minutes, dump the cleaning solution into the sink and rinse off everything. Reassemble the screen and reinsert the basket into the portafilter. After inserting the portafilter back into the espresso machine, flush the group head for 10 seconds through the filter basket to ensure no detergent residue remains.

Step 7: Empty and Clean the Drip Tray

A person cleaning the tray from the Breville Barista Express Impress with a blue sponge
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

While this is unrelated to back-flushing your machine, cleaning out the drip tray is an important task that's easy enough to do. Some espresso machines, like most Brevilles, even have pop-ups that indicate when the tray is full. To clean it, carefully detach the drip tray (you don't want to spill dirty water everywhere! More mess to tackle!), empty it into the sink, and gently clean the parts with a sponge and soap before rinsing and drying. Put it back and voila, your espresso machine is ready to pull a shot.

A Quick Note About Coffee Detergents

Coffee detergent powders are made from a variety of salts and acids and can cause skin irritation. Be sure to thoroughly rinse any part of the espresso machine you clean with coffee detergent and wash your hands with warm, soapy water afterward. You can also wear cleaning gloves if you’re concerned about exposure. 


What can I run through my espresso machine to clean it? 

The only substance you should use to clean your espresso machine is an espresso machine-specific coffee detergent, like Urnex Cafiza Tablets. These cleaners are formulated to break down coffee oils but also to dissolve easily in water so that they won’t create any build-up inside of the machine. 

Is it okay to descale my espresso machine with vinegar? 

No—vinegar has strong odors and flavors that can affect both the life of your espresso machine and the flavor of every shot you pull. Descaling an espresso machine be a harsh process, so it’s better to use softened and filtered water, or a product like Third Wave Water, to prevent scale build-up in the first place. 

How often should an espresso machine be cleaned?

Espresso machines should be scrubbed clean with a brush every time you use them, but backflushing only needs to be done around once a week or so. A good rule of thumb is to backflush whenever possible because it assists with preventing scale build-up, even if you only pull one shot of espresso a day. 

What happens if you don't descale your espresso machine?

Coffee scale buildup can not only make your espresso shots and drinks taste burnt and bitter but also harm your fancy-schmancy espresso machine. If you let scale build up, it can gunk up your machine, preventing water from flowing through it. Some brands let you send the machine in to be cleaned up, but this can cost a couple hundred dollars. Save yourself the hassle (and a trip to the post office, not to mention a few weeks without espresso) and buy a few Urnex Cafiza Tablets and backflush your machine.

Why We’re the Experts

  • Jesse Raub was Serious Eats' commerce writer and spent over 15 years working in the specialty coffee industry. He was our in-house coffee expert and regularly tested coffee gear for this site. 
  • He has cleaned and backflushed over 300 espresso machines in his career in the coffee industry, and regularly cleans his personal espresso machine at home, too.

The Best Coffee Subscriptions to Fuel Your Mornings (According to a Pro)

We asked our in-house coffee expert (who’s spent 15 years in the specialty coffee industry) to select their favorite coffee subscriptions.

A person pouring coffee from the Ratio Six Coffee Maker's carafe into a mug.
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

Picture this: It’s early and dark, and you groggily wander into the kitchen to get the day started. You throw open the cabinet and see the worst possible outcome possible—an empty coffee bag. But what if it didn’t have to be like this? What if coffee magically showed up at your door exactly the moment you ran out? Okay, maybe that’s a little far-fetched. But with a little foresight, a coffee subscription can keep your cupboard stocked and make sure you never spend another commute undercaffeinated again. 

There are lots of coffee subscription options out there—multi-roaster samplers, rotating roaster’s choice picks, standby blend boxes—and it can be tricky to know which to choose So, we’ve rounded up the 10 best coffee subscriptions to guide you towards ones that’ll match your taste and price point.

The Best Coffee Subscriptions, at a Glance

Why It's Great

Specialty coffee can be intimidating to jump into, and that’s why Trade’s coffee quiz is ideal for anyone who wants to up their coffee game without knowing where to start. After selecting a price tier ($15.75 or $19.50 a bag), Trade asks you how you like to brew, if you take your coffee with milk if you have roast preferences, and four more questions to home in on a personalized recommendation from over 50 specialty coffee roasters around the United States. Trade lets you customize the quantity and frequency, and offers discounts and free shipping for pre-paid options, too. It’s the most thorough coffee quiz we’ve taken, and when we tried it, Trade nailed its recommendations spot-on. But Trade isn’t just for newbies: Their recommendation engine is primed to pick out the best coffee for any skill level and taste preference. We particularly like their shipment management page, too. If you don’t think you’re going to jive with the next coffee in your queue, you can always swap it for something else. And since every bag is drop-shipped directly from the roaster, your coffee is always fresh. 

Good to Know

  • Bag size: 12 ounces
  • Price range: $15.75 to $19.50 per bag
  • Frequency: 1 week, 1.5 weeks, 2 weeks
  • Shipping info: Free if you pre-pay for 3 bags at a time, $1.95 per bag otherwise
a person pouring from a thermal carafe into a coffee mug
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

Why It's Great

Bean Box’s Coffee Sampler gives you four 1.8-ounce sampler bags (enough for two to three pourovers or one larger batch of drip coffee) from four roasters every month. It’s a great gift option for any coffee fanatic (they'll get to try numerous beans without having to open a full-sized bag). It comes in three-, six-, and 12-month packages that all ship for free, or you can purchase a single month to try it out. It’s not just for gifts, however. If you’ve been on the hunt for a new favorite roaster and are iffy about committing to full bags, the Coffee Sampler box is a great way to expand your palate without deflating your wallet. Bean Box also offers a recurring subscription.

Good to Know

  • Bag size: 4 x 1.8-ounce bags
  • Price range: $24 to $258
  • Frequency: One-time, 3, 6, 12 months
  • Shipping info: Free for 3-, 6-, and 12-month packages
an up close shot of coffee brewing in the Hario Mugen
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Why It's Great

Mistobox was launched in 2012, making it one of the oldest multi-roaster subscription options out there. They feature over 600 coffee options from more than 60 roasters. If that sounds intimidating, you can always take their brief coffee quiz to be paired with a coffee that fits your preferences. They also feature discounts if you pre-pay for multiple bags at once—buying six bags at a time will save you 10%, while 12 bags shave 15% off their per-bag price. They have two pricing tiers: $14.95 or $17.95 per bag, and you can choose between four frequencies to dial in exactly how much coffee you need and when. But the best feature is their coffee queue. If you know exactly which coffees you want, you can build your custom subscription easily by creating a favorites list that will automatically ship on your preferred schedule. With new and seasonal coffee options arriving weekly, it’s the best coffee subscription service for anyone who’s already a high-end coffee convert.

Good to Know

  • Bag size: 12 ounces
  • Price range: $14.95 or 17.95 per bag
  • Frequency: 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks
  • Shipping info: $5 per bag
five bags of coffee with different roast levels spilling out of them
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Why It's Great has a great home subscription service, but their office program is where they truly stand out. Their brief coffee quiz helps steer you towards some choice selections, but they also offer custom tools that let you set budget limits and invite team members to join the account so everyone can suggest their favorite coffees for the next shipment. Because of their office program, however, also offers five-pound bags of coffee for their home subscriptions (along with sampler sets of multiple bags, too). It’s a great way to snag a discount on bulk coffee if you’ve got a household that’ll blow through 12-ounce bags. Plus, since you can customize your frequency, you don’t have to worry about overdoing it. 

Good to Know

  • Bag size: 12 ounces, 5 pounds
  • Price range: $20 to $115
  • Frequency: 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks
  • Shipping info: Free shipping
A look at the OXO 8-Cup's brewing basket with coffee in it
Serious Eats / Ashley Rodriguez

Why It's Great

If you’re a home espresso enthusiast, Beanz has the best selection of coffees for you. Started by Breville to help support people who have purchased their espresso machines, Beanz ships two bags of each coffee at a time so that you’ll have plenty of coffee to dial in the perfect shot before your next shipment; plus all subscriptions ship free. You can either take their coffee quiz or roll the dice with their Barista’s Choice, which automatically sends you coffee based on your previous preferences. And keep an eye out for perks if you’re thinking of becoming a Breville espresso machine owner—Beanz runs promotions for free bags of coffee from time to time. 

Good to Know

  • Bag size: 10 ounces, 12 ounces
  • Price range: $16 to $21 per bag
  • Frequency: 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks
  • Shipping info: Free for subscriptions, 
a portafilter rests on a scale showing how much coffee is tamped in the filter basket
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Why It's Great

Counter Culture Coffee’s single-origin subscription is a favorite of senior culinary director Daniel Gritzer who says, “They send different beans each month, almost always either African or from coffee-growing zones in the Americas, so I get some variety without having to think about it.” Their subscription offerings also cover a rotating five-pound office subscription, a blend sample box, or any of their year-round blends. You can customize your delivery schedule up to every eight weeks, too, so you never have to worry about bags piling up on your doorstop while you rush to finish your current bag. They’ve got a little something for everyone, including a wide range of roast options, and since it ships directly from Counter Culture, every bag is fresh. 

Good to Know

  • Bag size: 12 ounces, 5 pounds
  • Price range: $18 to $95
  • Frequency: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 weeks
  • Shipping info: Free over $30
a bag of counter culture coffee
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Why It's Great

Stumptown is another staff favorite coffee roaster, but what we love about their subscription is how simple it is. You can choose a roaster’s choice, a rotation of their blends, or pick your favorite coffee to get on repeat. They also have a wide variety of perks for subscribers, including 30% off your first shipment, free shipping, pre-sale access to special coffees and merch, and exclusive access to limited-release coffees. If you’ve got a standby coffee that you love but still like to branch out to snag unique offerings, Stumptown has you covered.

Good to Know

  • Bag size: 12 ounces
  • Price range: $16 to $25 per bag
  • Frequency: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 weeks
  • Shipping info: Free with a subscription
a bag of Hair Bender blend from Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Why It's Great

Intelligentsia offers 16 coffees available for subscription, but you can also subscribe to their two instant coffee options, or their canned, ready-to-drink cold coffee, as well. Whether you’re looking for rotating seasonal espresso blends or a certified organic breakfast blend, Intelligentsia’s subscription options have you covered. You can also select five-pound bags for each of their coffee blends in case you need to stock up, and all subscriptions come with free shipping, too. It’s a one-stop shop for all your coffee needs, and every bag is roasted to order.  

Good to Know

  • Bag size: 12 ounces, 5 pounds
  • Price range: $16.50 to $137 per bag
  • Frequency: 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks
  • Shipping info: Free with a subscription
a box of Intelligentsia's House Blend instant coffee
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Why It's Great

Yes Plz was founded on a simple principle: It’s more important to have excellent coffee than a variety of options. At any given time they only have four options: a blend, an espresso blend, a single-origin coffee, and a decaf. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get bored—each week, the blends are updated with new coffees to bring fresh and vibrant flavors to the mix, and their single-origin offering rotates as well. If you love delicious coffee but hate making decisions, Yes Plz is the perfect choice. Their coffees ship free and come in either 8-ounce or 12-ounce bags, and subscribers save two dollars off of every bag. 

Good to Know

  • Bag size: 8 ounces, 12 ounces
  • Price range: $20 to $26 per bag
  • Frequency: 1, 2, 3, 4 weeks
  • Shipping info: Free
Fellow Atmos Coffee Canister
Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

Why It's Great

Vignette is a small start-up roaster in Greensboro, North Carolina, and is a favorite of mine (former commerce writer Jesse Raub, here!). My standby is their Rose Glass Blend for a lighter body espresso, but I love being surprised by their roaster’s choice subscription for my morning pourover. Their subscription offerings include a variety of blends and rotating coffee options, and long-term subscribers unlock a 10% discount after their fourth shipment. Combined with free shipping, Vignette’s subscriptions are a steal—especially if you like variety and go through a lot of coffee at home. 

Good to Know

  • Bag size: 12 ounces, 2 pounds, 5 pounds
  • Price range: $16 to $91 per bag
  • Frequency: 1, 2, and 4 weeks
  • Shipping info: Free
a bag of Rose Glass blend from Vignette Coffee Roasters
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub


How do coffee subscriptions work?

There are a few different models for online coffee subscriptions, but most follow the same basic principle: you pick the coffee you want, choose the frequency you’d like it delivered, and your coffee arrives right at your front door. Subscriptions direct from coffee roasters are usually roasted to order, but plenty of multi-roaster retailers also drop-ship coffees directly from the roaster meaning bags are typically fresher than what you’d find in a store. 

Are coffee subscriptions worth it?

Coffee subscriptions are a great way to sample a variety of coffees from roasters around the United States. They also typically offer bonus perks, like free shipping, while ordering a single bag usually has an additional shipping cost. 

Do coffee subscriptions save money? 

Many coffee subscriptions offer free shipping, which can save you money if you tend to order coffee online frequently. Some subscriptions also offer a cheaper per-bag price or a discount that’s applied after a certain number of shipments, so if you’re looking to save money you might be able to find a subscription that works for your budget. 

Why We’re the Experts

  • Jesse Raub was Serious Eats' commerce writer and spent over 15 years working in the specialty coffee industry. 
  • He was our in-house coffee expert and regularly tested coffee gear for this site including coffee scales and espresso grinders.

This Hybrid Colander-Spoon Is My Non-Negotiable Tool for Pasta Nights

This quick-draining slotted spoon has a large capacity and a handy hook for easy storage.

A colander spoon holding drained rigatoni of a Dutch oven full of boiling water
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

One of the best parts about cooking pasta is the leftover starchy pasta water that’s ideal for emulsifying sauce. One of the worst parts is figuring out how to strain your pasta quickly without pouring that liquid gold down the drain. Placing a bowl under a colander can be precarious, and ladling water into a separate cup is messy. Plus, the average slotted spoon isn’t the ideal shape for longer noodles and can’t move an entire batch of pasta quickly.

I make a lot of pasta at home, so I’m grateful I stumbled onto Joseph Joseph’s’ slotted spoon-colander hybrid.

Why It’s Great

It’s Big

A grey colander spoon on a kitchen countertop
The spoon is basically a perforated scoop.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Look, I get it: This colander hybrid is a little goofy-looking. But with a straining basket over twice the size of the average slotted spoon, it makes quick work of any pasta transfer—my cavatelli all hit the pan within seconds of each other, preventing the last bit from getting mushy and overcooked. And while most slotted spoons have holes just in the center, the Scoop Plus has holes that cover the entire bottom and sides of the basket. That means excess water can drain quickly, the way a colander does. That’s key for keeping your stovetop clean: No one wants to have to scrub congealed pasta water off of their burners. 

The Shape Lets You Scrape Sides and Corners

A person using a colander spoon to scoop pasta out of a Dutch oven
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

What I really appreciate about it, though, is its overall shape. Most slotted spoons are oblong, but saucepans and Dutch ovens have straight sides and steep corners. If you want to get the point of the spoon into a corner, you have to angle the head away from the walls. With its tapered hexagonal shape, the Scoop Plus can scrape the sides, corners, and bottoms of your pot all at the same time. With just a few swirls you can clear out any stragglers that might have been stuck.

Its Uses Go Beyond Pasta

The colander spoon resting on the lip of a Dutch oven
The colander-spoon has hooks that rest on the lip of a pot.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

It’s not just for moving pasta, either. It’s great for skimming the foam off of a pot of beans, delicately lowering dumplings into boiling water, and blanching vegetables. It’s big enough to fit an entire packet of instant ramen noodles, too. 

The spoon hanging with other kitchen tools on a magnetic rack on the side of a fridge.
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Though it’s not quite a unitasker, it’s still one more utensil to add to your crock (or hanging rack). But even in our house, where I have seemingly endless colanders and fine-mesh strainers, I still think it’s worth nabbing for pasta scooping alone. Amazing pasta is all about nailing the small details, and a tool that streamlines the cooking process deserves its place in your kitchen. 


Is the Joseph Joseph The Scoop Plus heat resistant? 

The Joseph Joseph The Scoop Plus colander is made from heat-resistant nylon. It can withstand temperatures up to 392ºF, though we don’t recommend using it for straining anything that’s deep-fried in oil. 

What’s the difference between a colander and a strainer? 

Colanders and strainers are sometimes interchangeable words, but typically a colander refers to a bowl-shaped strainer with holes punched through the bottom and sides for draining foods that have been boiled. A strainer, on the other hand, often refers to a fine-mesh strainer which is used for straining pulp from fruit juices, making smooth purees, dusting flour while baking, and more. 

Why We’re the Experts

The Breville Bambino Plus Is One of the Best Espresso Machines We’ve Ever Tested

In our tests, the espresso machine made great coffee, was easy to clean, and had user-friendly features that simplified steaming milk.

The Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine making an espresso
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

Home espresso machines can be tricky. Typically, the more expensive they get, the easier they are to use—which can be a tough equation for those who are just espresso curious. Thankfully, we have a solution: the Breville Bambino Plus. Since we first reviewed espresso machines in 2021, the Breville Bambino Plus has been our top pick for its myriad of features and approachable (for an espresso machine) price point. To make sure it still deserves the crown, we put the Bambino Plus through another round of testing to assess its ease of use and ability to make great espresso and steam high-quality foam.

The Tests

  • Espresso Tests: We dialed in a medium roast espresso blend to taste with the Sette 270, our favorite espresso grinder. We then pulled back-to-back shots with the Bambino Plus to assess their quality and the machine’s consistency.
  • Milk Steaming Tests: We used the machine’s automatic steam wand to froth milk on all nine of the machine’s temperature and foam settings. We then assessed the quality of the foam’s texture by pouring latte art and tasting the drinks.
  • Usability Tests: We evaluated the overall design of the machine by testing every function available as well as noting its overall design. We also assessed user-friendly details that helped simplify the shot-pulling process. 
  • Cleanup Test: We ran a cleaning cycle on the Bambino Plus according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and evaluated how easy it was to perform. 

Good to Know

It’s Easy To Use

A person adjusting the container filled with water on the Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

The Bambino Plus is a snap to set up. All you need to do is fill the removable water reservoir, place a bowl under the portafilter, and plug it in. The machine automatically flushes the boiler the first time it’s turned on, and in less than a minute it’s ready to pull a shot of espresso. 

The buttons are clearly labeled, so you know which ones are for espresso, steam, and steam settings—and every function on this machine is automated. Both the single-shot and double-shot buttons are programmed to a set volume that stops on its own, and the steam wand has a built-in aeration function that creates microfoam for you. When we tested espresso machines, we found the volumetric espresso buttons to be less accurate than desired, but at the same time, their convenience is helpful for beginners who are just learning the steps of how to pull an espresso shot. 

A person adjusting a freshly brewed espresso on the tray of the Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

Finally, the machine has all the cleaning instructions clearly printed on the backside of the reservoir for easy reference. But more than that, the Bambino Plus has a built-in shot counter that reminds you to deep clean it every 200 shots. Cleaning is the best way to prolong the life of an espresso machine, and it’s extremely helpful to have failproof systems to make sure you don’t forget. 

It Heats Up Quickly 

Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

The Bambino Plus uses a ThermoJet boiler that flash heats water on demand, so you don’t have the long heating times common in other espresso machines. It’s a zippy little system that also uses a PID controller, which is a computer board that runs an algorithm that predicts temperature swings in order to maintain a water temperature at a single degree Fahrenheit. This ensures that your espresso pucks are never brewed at too low of a temperature (resulting in flat, sour flavors) or scalded by boiling water—a surefire way to extract more bitterness. PID controllers are typically only found in high-end expensive home espresso machines or commercial models, which makes it impressive to see this technology incorporated into the Bambino Plus.

It Pulls Excellent Shots of Espresso

The Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine making espresso
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

Hands down, the Bambino Plus pulls excellent espresso shots. No matter which coffee we threw at it, we were able to dial in the grinder to make a great-tasting shot with minimal effort. It’s a forgiving espresso machine and, like most other Breville models, the secret is the way it builds pressure. Espresso machines use a pump to generate nine bars of pressure (or about 400 to 600 pounds of direct force), and most machines apply that force immediately to the surface of the coffee. The Bambino Plus, however, slowly ramps up to the nine-bar pressure over a period of around 10 seconds. This helps the coffee saturate evenly, which gives the user a wider window of grind settings that work (full-pressure espresso machines require precise grind settings from a dedicated espresso grinder to achieve the best possible extraction). 

A person smelling the espresso that was made using the Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

And while the pre-infusion setting on the Bambino Plus makes pulling shots a breeze for beginners, Breville also lets you bypass pre-infusion by holding down either espresso button. Switching to full pressure mode lets the user grind finer, which helps extract even sweeter espresso shots. It also cancels the volumetric programming, so you can stop your shot at the precise volume you’d like. It’s a small design detail, but it means that the Bambino Plus is a great machine for beginners and experts alike.  

The Automatic Steam Wand Is Surprisingly Great

A person using the milk frothier section of the Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

As skeptical as we were, the Bambino Plus’s automatic steam wand delivered. Commercial espresso machines have large steam boilers that allow the barista to whip air into the milk to create a homogenous microfoam, and most home machines lack the power to nail that texture. The Bambino Plus skips the traditional steaming process by directly injecting air into the milk while it’s heating. All the user needs to do is select one of three milk temperatures and foam settings. The steam wand will shut off automatically when it hits the designated temperature, and your milk is ready to go—almost. 

The Breville Bambino Plus' steam wand
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

The one hitch to the Bambino Plus auto steam is that it tends to leave the microfoam floating as an island in the middle of the pitcher. In order to pour latte art (or just to get a silkier overall texture), you still need to swirl the pitcher to better mix the milk and foam. This is pretty standard for home espresso machines since most don’t have the power to whirlpool the milk in the pitcher while steaming, though, and the overall microfoam texture is truly impressive. 

It’s Chock-full of Thoughtful Design Elements 

Close up on different parts of the Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

One of the best things about the Bambino Plus is all the user-friendly details. The drip tray has a bobber that pops up to tell you when it’s full, the water reservoir is removable which makes it easy to fill, and it comes with a full suite of cleaning tools, a sturdy tamper, and a milk steaming pitcher so that you have everything you need to make a cappuccino right out of the box.

A person adjusting the tray section of the Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

There’s also a little diagram on the grouphead to show you where to insert the portafilter. While that may be a small detail, it’s a thoughtful touch for making espresso feel more approachable for beginners. Same with the steam wand—the elbow has a silicone ring so you can easily pull it out to insert your milk pitcher. Altogether, these details make the Bambino Plus fun to use and easy to make drinks with. 

The Verdict

The Breville Bambino Plus is a streamlined, high-performing, compact espresso machine that’s well-priced for its numerous user-friendly features. It’s a great option for beginners and experts alike. 


It’s hard to overstate how truly great this espresso machine is. It pulls excellent shots of espresso whether you’re a beginner or a pro, it has an automatic steam wand that creates microfoam for you, and it’s extremely easy to use. On top of all of that, it’s lightweight and compact and is priced on the lower end of the espresso machine scale. It’s hard to know what else you could want. 


While its price point is more approachable than other espresso machines, it’s still an expensive piece of equipment at $500—and you have to buy a grinder, too. It also has a plastic body and isn’t as heavy-duty as some other models we’ve tested. Still, for the price and all the included features, it’s an incredible value that’s hard to beat. 

Key Specs

  • Dimensions: 8 x 13 x 12 inches
  • Weight: 11 pounds 
  • Portafilter diameter: 54 millimeter 
  • Capacity: 1 liter 
  • PID: Yes
  • Accessories: 54mm tamper, the Razor precision dosing tool, 16-ounce stainless steel milk jug, 1- and 2-cup single wall and dual wall filter baskets, cleaning tool, cleaning disc
  • Care instructions: Backflush with coffee detergent according to the manufacturer's instructions
The Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine on a white marble countertop
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson


What’s the difference between the Breville Bambino and Bambino Plus?

The Bambino and Bambino Plus are similar-looking machines, but there are a few key differences. While they both have a super fast ThermoJet heating system, the Bambino Plus has an automatic milk steaming wand that has three temperature and foam settings. But one of the main advantages is that the Bambino Plus relieves pressure inside the machine immediately once the pump is stopped so you can remove the portafilter more easily. 

Do I need a grinder with the Bambino Plus?

Yes—the Bambino Plus doesn't have a built-in grinder, so your best bet is to buy a standalone espresso grinder. The machine does come with a set of pressurized filter baskets that help the user pull espresso shots with a less-than-ideal grind setting, but the quality of the espresso won’t be as high. 

Is the Breville Bambino Plus easy to use?

The Bambino Plus is one of the easiest espresso machines to use. It has an intuitive interface, simple-to-read buttons, and an automatic steam wand that creates microfoam for you. But the best feature is its pre-infusion cycle, which helps new baristas pull better-tasting shots and is more forgiving than a traditional home espresso machine. 

Does the Breville Bambino Plus dispense hot water?

The Bambino Plus dispenses hot water through the steam wand, but it’s not an efficient way to heat anything. Instead, it’s more useful for dampening a rag to wipe down the drip tray or lightly pre-heating a cup. We recommend using a standalone electric kettle for most hot water needs. 

Why We’re the Experts

Slice and Dice like Your Favorite Serious Eats Staffer with This List of Our Favorite Knives

Our list includes tested winners from our chef knife, petty knife, Chinese cleaver, and serrated bread knife reviews.

kitchen knives lined up on a magnetic knife strip
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

While there’s no such thing as the perfect knife, there are plenty of perfect-for-you options out there. The best knife isn’t just the sharpest one, it also has to fit your hand and be comfortable while making a variety of cuts. (Mince! Chop! Brunoise!). 

While we’ve reviewed a myriad of knives at Serious Eats, picking out the knife that best suits your kitchen can take some time. Do you need a Chinese cleaver for breaking down large produce? What about a petty knife for precision cuts? Then again, there’s always a classic chef’s knife if you need to tackle a variety of tasks. To help you wade through the nearly endless options out there, we surveyed our staff to find out which knives are their favorites and why.

Personal Favorites

My favorite knives include the Wüsthof Classic Chef's Knife, which is a Serious Eats top pick. I have one with a lilac handle (called Purple Yam!), which endears it to me even more. And while it didn't come out on top during our testing, I've owned this Shun knife for about 10 years and it's still one of my go-to's for slicing, dicing, and mincing. The Tojiro bread knife is also one of my favorites. It's wicked sharp and nimble, capable of slicing bread, getting thin pieces of tomatoes, and even peeling butternut squash. Plus, it's cheap! — Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, senior commerce editor

the tojiro bread knife, shun chef's knife, and wusthof chef's knife
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Affordable Standbys

Want to know how many knives I own? I have a magnetic knife holder with about 10 knives on it, a knife drawer with another 40 or so, and about 10 more knives stashed in my pantry, and then just the other week I was going through a closet and found an old knife bag full of another 15, and that doesn't include my other knife bag and whatever mysteries it holds. And y'all want me to pick a favorite? Okay, sure, I will. In this one little snapshot in time, I mostly use my carbon steel Chinese cleaver (it does just about everything), my beater Mercer Chef's Knife (excellent quality for the money), my beloved Tojiro Bread Knife (it's the best serrated knife out there even without factoring in its incredibly low price, don't argue with me, I will die on this hill), and then a Misono that I keep in a box for the times when I need something in better shape than my beater Mercer. — Daniel Gritzer, senior culinary director

knives on a magnetic knife rack
Serious Eats / Daniel Gritzer

An Upgraded Japanese Vegetable Knife

When I was a 16-year-old prep cook at a country club, the chef would sometimes let us use knives from his personal kit. It was my first time handling a Wüsthof chef’s knife and I was immediately enamored with its balance and the sharpness of its edge. A few years later, in 2009, I was gifted one. And 14 years after that? It’s still my daily driver. I’ve had it professionally sharpened twice and used a whetstone a handful of times, and with just a few passes on a honing steel it still slides through tomatoes like they’re nothing. Impossibly sharp, comfortable to hold, perfectly balanced, and durable as all heck, the Wüsthof 8-Inch Classic Chef's Knife really is worth the investment. But I also have to admit something: when I was compiling this piece I got so excited about knives that I actually bought this Tojiro DP Nariki. It’s the slightly nicer version of our favorite nakiri knife with an added bolster and full-tang construction, and I’m excited to have a dedicated vegetable prep knife with a new edge in the house. And yes, I, too, love the Tojiro Bread Knife, which glides through all the sourdough I bake without any resistance.  — Jesse Raub, commerce writer

the wusthof chef's knife, tojiro nakiri, tojiro bread knife
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

A Nimble Go-To

If I was stranded on a desert island and told to bring one knife, I would probably bring my Messermeister Chinese cleaver; it was my great uncle’s and is perfectly balanced and sharp. If I was allowed two knives, I’d also grab my Victorinox Petty Knife, which is sturdy and nimble (I use it to cut vegetables). Three? Okay, we’re going beyond the scope of my “desert island” angle but, for kicks, I’d also bring my Tojiro Petty Knife (yes, I love petty knives, and this one is super sharp and agile). This trio would serve me well, with the cleaver providing a bench scraper-esque blade, the Victorinox providing durability and heft while still being nimble (for hardy island plants, ya know), and the dainty but sharp Tojiro for carving and eating loads of fish crudo (a girl can dream). All of these blades have served me very well beyond any island fantasy, and I reach for one of the three daily. — Grace Kelly, associate commerce editor

a magnetic knife strip with a tojiro petty knife, victorinox petty knife, tojiro cleaver, and a shun nakiri knife
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The Do-It-All Pick

Roses are red, violets are blue, we have used our Wüsthof 8-inch Chef’s Knife for literally everything—too many things, all the things, we should probably use other knives to do some of these things—for many years now, these are three things I know to be true. K, bye! —Tess Koman, senior editorial director

A High-End Japanese Chef’s Knife

Like many people on this team I also own a stable full of knives that I love and use on a regular basis, but there are a few I reach for time and again. For times when I need to chop large amounts of vegetables I turn to a 10-inch Warikomi Damascus knife I purchased in Tokyo. For daily cooking, I use an 8-inch Shun Dual Core Kiritsuke, a style of Japanese blade suited for a wide range of tasks. For small tasks, I use the incredibly simple and inexpensive Victorinox paring knife Serious Eats has used in the past. And for Chinese cooking, I use a CCK Small Cleaver, a blade we’ve recommended before which is made in Hong Kong. — Jacob Dean, former updates editor

A Precise Slicer

I've never been a "knife head" so to say, although I've cooked professionally with many in the past. I have not-so-fond memories of "chef bros" pulling out their knife trays after service to show off their shiny assortment of knives. I was never that impressed. I prefer a few select knives that work well for me. My go-to is my Mercer 8" Rennaisance Chef's Knife. I've had this knife since culinary school and it can handle all the daily wear and tear I throw its way. For the (now) rare occasion when I am making delicate precision cuts, I'll pull out my Misono UX10 (a longtime Serious Eats favorite chef’s knife). it glides almost effortlessly through onions, leeks, and scallops. I've also recently fallen in love with my new MAC Nakiri knife. I love that it is a bit shorter and easier to manage, so I can quickly slice through a mound of veggies, such as mushrooms.—Leah Colins, senior culinary editor

mercer chef's knife, mac nakiri knife, misono ux10 knife
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub


What is the best chef’s knife?

While the Wüsthof Classic Chef's Knife is our top pick for a Western chef’s knife, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a chef’s knife, like price and style. We also have multiple budget picks (like the Mercer Genesis Chef’s Knife) and a variety of Japanese chef’s knives if you’re looking for a blade with a finer edge. 

Are Japanese knives better than German knives?

There’s no one country that makes better knives, but plenty of our favorite Western-style chef’s knives come from Germany, and Japan is still the top manufacturing hub for Japanese-style chef’s knives. The difference between Japanese and Western chef’s knives comes down to a few key points: Japanese knives are typically made from harder steel that holds an edge longer but is more brittle, and German knives are usually softer so that the edge will roll instead of chip. This means Japanese knives are more prone to damage, but need to be sharpened less. 

Why We’re the Experts

The Fellow Tally Pro Coffee Scale Is Fast, Accurate, and Smart—But Also Pricey

In our tests, it was one of the fastest and most accurate scales, and its automated brew ratio calculator gave us perfect coffee every time.

the fellow tally pro coffee scale
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The first time I saw someone brew a pourover with a scale, it blew my mind. As a barista, I weighed coffee out to the exact gram, but the water was measured loosely by volume (or in less ideal situations, just eyeballed). By actually setting the whole pourover rig on top of the scale, you get immediate feedback on the coffee-to-water ratio. All of a sudden, the coffee I brewed drastically improved—and it was clear that a ratio of 1:15 coffee to water resulted in a much different cup than, say, 1:17. If you’re only using 20 grams of coffee to make a single cup, however, that difference is only 40 grams of water. This is pretty much impossible to track accurately without a sensitive scale. 

Now, scales designed for coffee brewing have become more commonplace. Most include a timer and a sensitive weighing surface for improved accuracy, but some higher-end models even have built-in brew guides. So when I heard that Fellow, makers of some of our favorite coffee gear, debuted a new scale with smart capabilities—the Tally Pro—I knew it was worth putting it through the paces to see if could, well, measure up. 

The Tests

the tally pro coffee scale with a 100g weight on it
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
  • Calibration Test: I used a 100-gram calibration weight to see how accurate the Tally was compared our our favorite coffee scale, the Acaia Pearl
  • Baseline Accuracy Test: I placed a single coffee bean on the scale to test for accuracy and its ability to register small amounts and checked the results against the Acaia Pearl. 
  • Speed and Accuracy Test: I placed 10 coffee beans onto the scale and timed how long it took to settle on a final weight. I also noted if this weight was accurate, and how it compared to the speed and accuracy of the Acaia Pearl. 
  • Pourover Coffee Test: I brewed pourover coffee following these parameters and evaluated the scale’s ability to read brew water weight quickly and accurately. I also looked at the scale’s control panel: Were the buttons responsive and did it manage weight and time simultaneously? 
  • Usability Tests: Throughout testing, I evaluated how easy the scale was to use and how simple its control panel was to read. I also tested its Brew Assist feature along with its weight and timer modes. 

What We Learned

The Scale Was Incredibly Responsive and Accurate

a single coffee bean in a ramekin on the fellow tally pro coffee scale
The Fellow Tally Pro can accurately read a single coffee bean.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

In all of the tests, one aspect of the Tally stood out: It was the most responsive coffee scale I’ve ever tested. Whether it was dropping a handful of coffee beans onto the platform or pouring water over coffee grounds, the Tally immediately gave me an accurate readout. Most other scales have a slight delay...even a fraction of a second. The Tally, however, instantaneously displayed 1.7 grams. I saw the same responsiveness when making a pourover, too.

Every pour of water I added to the coffee grounds registered instantly, which helped me hit exact targets for total brew water (even when they were extremely specific—more on that later). But also impressive was the Tally’s ability to read the weight of a single coffee bean. Coffee beans usually weigh between 0.1 and 0.2 grams, which is usually within the margin of error for many scales. This allowed me to weigh out precise amounts of coffee to ensure exact brew ratios. 

Brew Assist Mode Was Surprisingly Handy

a gooseneck kettle pouring water into a pourover brewer on top of the fellow tally pro scale. it reads 257 grams with a 495 gram targe
Brew Assist mode shows your brew time, current weight, and target weight.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The Tally has three modes: weight, timer, and Brew Assist. The latter was surprisingly helpful. Like most coffee scales, the Tally has a weight mode and weight and time mode. In weight mode, you can switch between grams, ounces, pounds, and milliliters for a variety of kitchen tasks. In weight and time mode, the scale shows, well, your weight and time side by side for easy pourover brewing. Brew assist mode is where things get interesting. You start by turning the dial to select the brew ratio you want—anywhere from 1:1 to 1:20 (though we recommend 1:16 for pourover and 1:15 for French press). Once you select your ratio, you zero the scale, then add ground coffee. The scale then automatically calculates the exact amount of water you should pour to meet your desired ratio, and shows it on the right side of its display over the word “water.” When you push the timer button, the scale zeroes itself out and waits for you to start pouring water. As the first drops of water hit the coffee, the timer automatically starts, and your brew water shows up in the middle of the screen. Keep pouring until you reach your desired water weight, and the number flashes white to let you know you’re right on target. 

a gooseneck kettle pouring water into a pourover brewer on top of the fellow tally pro coffee scale. the scale reads 501 grams highlighted in white with the target set at 495 grams
Once you hit your brew weight target, the numbers are highlighted in white.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

When I first looked at this feature, I was skeptical. I’m a coffee pro with over 16 years of experience (and a serious home coffee bar), and I was pretty sure I knew how to calculate a brew ratio properly. But I make a pourover every morning and started to think back to sleepier times when I couldn’t remember how much coffee I added to the filter. With the brew assist mode, I’d never have to remember my target ever again—it’s right there on the screen. But the Tally also helped me realize something else: Most coffee grinders hold onto a little bit of ground coffee, so if you’re only weighing your coffee before you grind, you might be up or down about half of a gram. I normally would ignore that inconsistency when brewing, but the Tally helped point out that if I wanted to stay true to a precise ratio, I should adjust my water target based on how much coffee I’m brewing. It’s a hyper-picky thing to worry about, I know, but it’s also impressive that a simple ratio function could reveal something about coffee brewing that was new to me. 

It Was Easy to Clean

a microfiber cloth wiping down the fellow pro coffee scale
The glass-top base and removable weight platform were easy to wipe clean.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The weigh pan of the Tally is made out of a coated steel that’s easy to wipe down, but it can also be removed if you want to clean it more thoroughly. The surface of the scale is also easy to clean—it has a glass top and wipes off instantly. This is key for a coffee scale, where drips and spills happen aplenty, and if you’re going to invest in a coffee scale (and I mean invest—this thing is $185) it’s good to know that you can keep it looking sharp. 

It Was, Ahem, Expensive

a hand adjusting the dial on the fellow tally pro
The Fellow Tally Pro has excellent features, but it's quite pricey.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

While the Tally’s performance is undeniable, so is its hefty price tag. Its brew assist mode is an excellent feature for anyone who is new to manual coffee brewing, but it’s hard to recommend a near-$200 accessory to anyone but a dedicated home coffee enthusiast. Other pricey coffee gear (like a high-end grinder or drip coffee maker) can make a dramatic impact on the quality of the coffee you’re brewing, but the Tally mostly offers a convenience upgrade from other, more affordable options. That being said, it’s an incredible scale with really great features that are worth the cost—as long as it fits your budget. 

The Verdict

The Tally Pro Coffee Scale is extremely responsive, accurate, and easy to use, but its high price tag makes it better suited for enthusiasts. 


If you’re looking for a sensitive coffee scale that can read weights quickly, has a built-in timer, and an incredibly useful brew assist mode, the Tally Pro Coffe Scale fits the bill. Its removable weigh pan is easy to clean (as is the glass surface of its body), and its controls are intuitive. Overall, it’s an excellent scale with some smart features that can simplify your morning routine.


The biggest issue with the scale is its price. It’s a good deal more expensive than any scale we’ve tested, and that’s likely a dealbreaker for a lot of people. We also wish its display was a little larger, but with a super bright OLED screen, it’s still easy to read.

Key Specs

  • Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.9 inches
  • Battery life: 13 hours
  • Precision: 0.1 grams
  • Maximum weight: 2500 grams, or 5.5 pounds
  • Measurement units: Grams, ounces, pounds, milliliters
  • Price at the time of publish: $185


Is the Tally Pro Scale worth it? 

Yes—if you’ve got the budget for it. It’s an extremely sensitive and accurate scale that has intuitive controls and is easy to clean. Its brew assist mode is also super helpful for anyone who makes a lot of pourover coffee or French presses. It's expensive, though, and if it’s out of your price range, there are other coffee scales we recommend.

Do I need a coffee scale?

While any gram scale can help you brew better coffee, a coffee scale has a built-in timer and a more sensitive 0.1-gram resolution for convenience and more accurate brews. We highly recommend coffee scales for anyone who enjoys manual brewing (or even for bakers, since the weight platform is sensitive enough for small amounts of dry ingredients). 

Why We’re the Experts

We Tested 7 Different Coffee Percolators and One Stood Out

We brewed pot after pot of percolator coffee to find which ones were brewed the fastest and best joe, and were the easiest to clean.

a collection of coffee percolators
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Coffee percolators have been around since the late 1800s and were the dominant brew method for much of the 20th century. It wasn’t until the advent of the automatic drip coffee maker in the 1970s that percolators fell out of fashion. Both percolators and drip brewers use the same principle: As water heats, steam bubbles drive hot water up a tube and out over the coffee grounds. The big difference is in the filter. With a drip coffee brewer, water travels to a sprayhead and then drips through the grounds in the filter and into the pot below. Percolators instead distribute water vertically into the lid and over a metal filter basket, where it drips through the coffee grounds and back into the rest of the brewing water below. It recirculates until the coffee boils—usually leading to coffee that’s weak and almost always bitter.

There are two main types of coffee percolators: Electric models have a built-in heating element in the base of the brewer, while stovetop models need to be set on a heat source (and are often popular for camping). We tested seven electric and stovetop percolators to find out which brewed the best coffee, were easy to use, and cleaned up without hassle. 

The Winner, at a Glance

The Presto produced the best coffee of the bunch. Its longer brew cycle delivered coffee closer in strength to a regular drip brewer with more balanced flavors, and its retro style was charming.

The Tests

three different stovetop percolators on the oven
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
  • Light Roast Test: We brewed a batch of coffee in each percolator with a lighter roast using a 1:16 ratio of coffee to water. We took note of how long the water took to heat before it started brewing, how long the total brew cycle took, and how the resulting coffee tasted. 
  • Dark Roast Test: We repeated the same brew test, only using a darker roasted coffee. Again we used a 1:16 brew ratio, tracked the brew times, and evalauted the flavor of the coffee.
  • Usability and Cleanup Tests: We noted how easy each percolator was to set up, how well the pieces fit together, the comfort of the handle, and the control of the pour spout. We also cleaned each percolator thoroughly and noted how easy it was to clean the filter as well as the pot itself. 

What We Learned

How Coffee Percolators Work (and Why They’re Inherently Flawed)

coffee in a filter basket in a percolator
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

When you look inside most electric and stovetop percolators they have the same design: a donut-shaped metal filter basket sits suspended on a long metal tube that stretches from the base of the percolator up to the lid. Water is poured into the bottom of the pot, coffee is added to the metal filter basket, and a metal lid with holes to disperse the brew water sits on top of that. When the bottom chamber heats, steam bubbles drive hot water up the tube until it splashes against the lid, and falls onto the dispersion plate. It then drips into the coffee and filters itself back to the bottom only to recirculate over and over until the coffee brews stronger. 

But like lower-cost coffee makers with weak heating elements, the water can travel up through the pipe before it hits the desired brew temperature of 195ºF to 205ºF. This means that the brew cycle starts with water that’s too cool, resulting in weak and sour coffee. It also ensures a brew cycle that ends with boiling water, which is too hot and pulls bitterness out of the grounds. On top of that, the coffee is consistently reheated and recirculated through the coffee grounds as it brews—a surefire way to introduce even more bitterness into the cup.

The last problem with percolators has to do with saturation. Because the water slowly drips over the grounds in spurts, it never completely saturates the coffee the way a drip brewer does, leading to weaker brew strengths overall. These design elements essentially make it impossible to brew coffee in a percolator that’s as balanced and sweet as other brew methods. 

Most of the Coffee Was Unpleasant

coffe pouring from percolator spout into a glass
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

No matter what we tried (adjusting grind size, tweaking ratio, changing coffees), the coffee we made was unpleasant. Electric models like the Faberware Stovetop Percolator, Hamilton Beach Electric Percolator, and Cuisinart 12-cup Percolator all finished brewing too quickly, resulting in very weak coffee that was bitter and harsh and had a lingering sourness. Stovetop percolators like the Eurolux Percolator and GSI Glacier Percolator didn’t fare any better. Because of the aforementioned design flaws of a coffee percolator, there just wasn’t much we could do to brew a good cup. With that in mind, the least unpleasant coffee came from the Presto Electric Percolator. Its brew cycle lasted two minutes longer than its electric competition, and the added brew strength showed a hint of sweetness (even if it accentuated bitterness). It was the only cup in our testing that was close the the brew strength of a drip coffee maker, and in a pinch, we’d be okay drinking it. 

Electric Models Offered Little Control

the light on an electric percolator
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

One of the issues with electric percolators is that you don’t have any control over the brewing process. All of the models we tested had an auto-shutoff that kicked in when the brew temperature hit boiling—but with the Farberware, Hamilton Beach, and Cuisinart models, that moment came too quickly. They finished brewing in around six minutes, and the coffee they produced was consistently weak. Without any ability to adjust the brew time, however, there’s no ability to tweak your brew. Finer ground coffee led to more bitterness and grit in the cup, and adding more coffee just led to under-extraction and pronounced sourness. 

Stovetop Models Took Forever to Brew

a stovetop percolator on a gas burner
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Every stovetop model we tested took at least 12 minutes to start brewing—and that was with a gas burner on high. It was also hard to tell when the brewing should stop—most instructions tell the user to listen for a rolling boil, but even after 17 minutes we couldn’t hear any bubbles or burbles. We were initially worried about overextracting the coffee with such long brew cycles but the opposite was true: Stovetop percolators brewed coffee that was even weaker than the quick-brewing electric models, likely due to how slowly the water dripped over the grounds without saturating them fully.

Percolators Were a Pain to Use and Clean 

spent coffee grounds in a percolator filter basket
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Percolators hold the brew basket with a spring on the metal water delivery tube that's compressed by the lid when closed. If the lid is open, nothing is holding the tube upright, and it tends to flop to one side or the other. That means you have to carefully balance the tube on the floor of the pot and close the lid quickly if you want it to be seated properly. If the tube and basket aren’t aligned perfectly, however, the coffee just won’t brew. That happened to us twice during testing, leaving us with a full pot of hot water that never made its way through the grounds at the end of a brew cycle. 

Coffee percolators are also annoying to clean. Electric models can't be submerged, so you have to scrub the interior with a sponge or bottle brush before rinsing. The filter assembly is also tricky—once it’s cool enough to remove, the coffee grounds are just loose in the metal basket. It can be messy knocking those into the trash or compost bin, and then you still have to scrub the filter basket, water delivery tube, and dispersion plate by hand to remove any old coffee grounds, requiring more effort than cleaning a drip coffee maker

There Are Other Ways to Brew That Are Better, Faster, and Easier

a moka pot pouring coffee into a glaass
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The main advantage of coffee percolators is that they are a relatively inexpensive way to brew a large amount of coffee—some people like to keep one in storage for holiday gatherings. That said, we have some alternative picks for brew methods that we think do a better job for around the same price. Moka pots are often confused for percolators since they both involve heating water that’s driven up through a tube, but moka pots use a pressurized seal and the coffee is brewed as the water travels upwards, creating a stronger, more espresso-like coffee that never recirculates. A lot of campers also swear by their stovetop percolators for campsite coffee, and while we can see their portable appeal, we also think you’d be better off bringing a French press or using instant coffee. Finally, we think an inexpensive drip coffee maker can easily outclass a percolator in ease of use and coffee quality for just a slightly higher price point. 

The Criteria: What to Look for in a Coffee Percolator

a graphic showing the best parts of a coffee percolator
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

A good coffee percolator should brew quickly, but not so quickly that the coffee is under-extracted. It should be easy to use, convenient, and relatively inexpensive, too. 

The Best Coffee Percolator

What we liked: We didn’t love the coffee this percolator brewed, but it was much more drinkable than the competition. Since almost every percolator had the same filter basket design, the main thing that stood out for the Presto was its longer brew times, which resulted in stronger (and sweeter) coffee. Its retro design was also cute and more endearing than other models, and its elongated spout was nice to pour from. It has a simple light that indicates when the percolator switches to “keep warm” mode, so it is easy to see when the coffee is ready, too. If you’re looking for a coffee percolator, this is the best model we tested.

What we didn’t like: The biggest hangup with this percolator was that the coffee it brewed was noticeably lower quality than any other brew method we’ve tested. Because percolators recirculate brewed coffee back through the grounds, they’re always going to pull extra bitterness out of the grounds. 

Price at time of publish: $67.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Stainless steel, plastic
  • Dimensions: 12.37 x 5.2 inches
  • Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Capacity: 12 cups
  • Care instructions: Wash the coffee maker with warm, sudsy water and dry it thoroughly; do not immerse in water
the presto percolator

The Best Coffee Percolator Alternatives

What we liked: If you’re looking for a stovetop brewer that makes rich, strong coffee, the Bialetti Moka Express excels. It has a filter basket large enough for proper brew ratios, and its thick, aluminum construction distributes heat evenly for consistent brews. It was by far our favorite moka pot during testing, and we think it’s a great alternative for a stovetop percolator. 

What we didn’t like: The top and bottom chambers were tricky to screw together sometimes, and we wish the threads were a little smoother for easier assembly. 

Price at time of publish: $39.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Aluminum, plastic
  • Weight: 24.6 ounces
  • Height: 8.5 inches
  • Base width: 4 inches
  • Capacity: 9 ounces
  • Induction-friendly: No
  • Care instructions: Wash with warm water, and allow to air dry before re-assembling; clean with coffee detergent when coffee residue becomes visible
a photo of the bialetti moka express
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

What we liked: With excellent dual-wall insulation, the Clara brews excellent coffee and keeps it hot longer than any other French press we tested. Though it’s pricier than our top recommended percolator, it’s also extremely well-made and will likely last longer since there are no electronics. It’s also easier to store, too, so keeping a fleet of French presses around for large family gatherings takes up less space than a fleet of percolators. 

What we didn’t like: Honestly, the only downside is its price. If you’re looking for a less expensive option, we also liked the Coffee Gator French Press.

Price at time of publish: $99.

Key Specs

  • Capacity: 24 ounces
  • Dimensions: 4.53 x 6.69 x 7.87 inches
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Insulation: Double-wall insulated
  • Filter type: Single screen
  • Care instructions: Hand-wash
The Fellow Clara French Press with its lid off
Serious Eats / Ashley Rodriguez

What we liked: For brewing larger capacities on a budget, we really liked Zorijushi’s Dome Coffee Maker. It’s our favorite no-frills inexpensive coffee maker and, during testing, we found its dome-shaped sprayhead saturated coffee evenly. Plus, its boiler reached the ideal 195ºF to 205ºF brew temperature range pretty quickly (though not as fast as our favorite drip coffee makers). It brewed very drinkable coffee, and if you’re looking for a lower-cost way to brew coffee for a crowd, we recommend the Dome over a percolator. 

What we didn’t like: Its coffee quality isn’t quite up to par with the high-end drip coffee makers we normally like, so you’re making a compromise with this brewer. We also wish it had a thermal carafe instead of a hot plate, which can turn brewed coffee bitter over time. 

Price at time of publish: $112.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Plastic, stainless steel, glass
  • Dimensions: 10.75 x 8.13 x 15.25 inches
  • Weight: 8.8 pounds
  • Average brew time: 8:15
  • Capacity: 12-cup
  • Wattage: 1050 watts
  • Programmable: No
the Zojirushi Dome programmable coffee maker
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The Competition

  • Faberware 12-cup Percolator: This model brewed weak and bitter coffee, and its stubby spout was tricky to pour from. 
  • Cuisinart 12-cup Percolator: Another poor performer, this model had issues brewing if the metal tube and brew basket weren’t aligned just right. When it did brew coffee, it also was weak and bitter. 
  • Hamilton Beach Electric Percolator: We had a hard time balancing the brew basket on the metal tube without both falling over with this model, making it hard to get the lid on securely. It also brewed weak and bitter coffee.
  • Faberware Stovetop Percolator: the metal tube on this model had a wide base, which made it easier to align the brew basket, but it took over 12 minutes to brew six cups and the coffee had a burnt aftertaste. 
  • Eurolux Percolator: This model took over 15 minutes to brew six cups, and the coffee was weak and bitter. 
  • GSI Glacier Percolator: This model struggled to properly move water up the metal tube leading to batches where coffee wasn’t brewed at all. When the tube and brew basket were properly seated, it took over 17 minutes to brew six cups, and the coffee was very weak and excessively bitter.


Does a percolator make good coffee?

Coffee brewed in a percolator is recirculated through the grounds over and over until it gets stronger and the coffee starts to boil. This means that brewed coffee is consistently reheated and splashed over the coffee grounds in small spurts, which brews weak and bitter coffee.

Why did people stop using coffee percolators?

Percolators fell out of fashion in the 1970s with the invention of the automatic drip coffee maker. Drip brewers were faster, brewed better-tasting coffee, and were also much easier to clean. They also use a similar way of using steam bubbles to push hot water through the brewer, making them overall an upgrade of the percolator brewing process.

Which is better, an electric or stovetop percolator?

Electric percolators are much more efficient than stovetop percolators and brew in less than half the time. They also have a built-in shutoff that switches the brewer to a “keep warm” mode once the brew cycle is complete, while stovetop brewers require the user to decide when to end a brew cycle. 

What's the difference between a moka pot and a percolator

Percolators rely on boiling water to push hot water up through a tube and over the coffee grounds suspended in a basket below. This brewed coffee then recirculates, consistently reheating the brewed coffee which travels back through the grounds, delivering weak and bitter coffee. Moka pots, on the other hand, use steam pressure to force water up through finely-ground coffee that brews a stronger, espresso-like coffee into the top chamber. Coffee brewed in a moka pot is much stronger than coffee from a percolator, and because it doesn’t recirculate, it’s usually sweeter, too. 

Why We’re the Experts

  • Jesse Raub is Serious Eats' commerce writer and spent over 15 years working in the specialty coffee industry. 
  • He's our in-house coffee expert and regularly tests coffee gear, including reviews of coffee roasters, coffee scales, and pourover brewers.  
  • For this review, he brewed multiple pots of coffee with each of the seven coffee percolators he tested, evaluating them for ease of use, cleanup, and coffee quality.

We Tested 12 Programmable Coffee Makers and Found Three That Can Wake Up Before You Do

We tested 12 programmable coffee makers to see which three were easiest to program, brewed the best coffee, and kept coffee fresh.

three coffee makers on a kitchen countertop
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

Waking up, weighing out your coffee, and grinding it fresh isn’t doable for everyone. While we think it’s the best way to get the sweetest and most balanced flavors in your cup, sometimes it’s better that your coffee maker gets up before you do. 

Programmable coffee makers generally offer a few more settings than their standard counterparts, but the main thing that sets them apart is a digital clock with a brew timer function. These timers trigger the coffee maker to kick into high gear when the alarm goes off, letting you wake up to freshly brewed coffee. 

To help you get your morning started, we tested 12 programmable coffee makers to find out which ones were the easiest to program, kept coffee fresher for longer, and, of course, brewed the best coffee. 

The Winners, at a Glance

The OXO 9-Cup Coffee Maker has been one of Serious Eats’ longtime favorites, and its powerful heating element reached ideal brew temperatures quickly while making a full batch of coffee in around seven minutes. It’s easy to program, brews great, and looks stylish on your counter, too. 

With more customizable settings than any other brewer we’ve tested, the Breville Precision Brewer lets you choose brew temperatures, bloom duration, and even your total brew time. We really liked its clear interface, and programming it was a breeze. It was Serious Eats’ office coffee maker for ages—and for good reason.

At almost half the cost of our top pick, the Zojirushi Dome delivers excellent performance on a budget. It’s one of our favorite inexpensive coffee makers, and its unique dome-style sprayhead helps it fully saturate coffee, while its simple interface is easy to program. 

The Tests

a person pouring from a thermal carafe into a coffee mug
Serious Eats / Will Dickey
  • Brew Tests: We brewed full, small, and Specialty Coffee Association Gold Cup Ratio batches of coffee with each brewer to assess flavor, consistency, and ease of setup. 
  • Brew Timer Tests: We programmed each brewer to start in exactly five minutes and assessed how easy each model was to navigate and how accurate the brew timer was. 
  • Time and Temperature Tests: We used a temperature probe to measure how long it took each brewer to break 195ºF, which is the minimum temperature required to extract sweeter flavors. We also timed each batch to see if they fell within SCA Certified Home Brewer Standards, which is between four to seven minutes for a full pot of coffee. 
  • Cleanup and Usability Tests: We tested how each carafe poured, how easy water reservoirs were to fill, how intuitive the controls were, and any preset functions. We also cleaned each brewer by hand to see if any model had factors that made one easier to maintain than the other. 

What We Learned

Every Programmable Brew Timer Was Accurate

a person turning on the OXO coffee maker
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

Every brewer we tested started exactly on time, no matter how cheap or expensive they were. Brew timer functions are built around digital clocks and alarm electronics, and compared to things like high-powered heating elements, they’re relatively cheap parts. What makes a good programmable coffee maker, then, is less about its programmability and more about how well the coffee maker can brew coffee. 

Brew Temperatures Were Essential for Great Coffee

The temperature of coffee brewed in the Café Specialty Drip Coffee Maker is measured
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

During our brew tests, we found the same exact results as when we originally tested coffee makers: Coffee brewers that can reach 195ºF to 205ºF within the first minute of the brew cycle brewed sweeter and more balanced cups. The OXO Brew 9-Cup Coffee Maker excelled at reaching and maintaining brew temperatures in the ideal range and consistently brewed some of the best-tasting coffee. The Breville Precision Brewer Thermal Coffee Maker, on the other hand, offered more customization. That brewer has a PID controller that uses an algorithm to regulate temperature within a single degree Fahrenheit, and it’s the only brewer we know of that lets you set your ideal brew temperature. While this might be overkill for most people, it’s a slick feature that allows the user to fine-tune their brew settings to bring out the best flavors of their favorite coffee. 

Some brewers, like the Café Specialty Drip Coffee Maker and Cuisinart 8-Cup Coffee Brewer, met our temperature standards but just didn’t match up to the flavor quality of our top picks. Most of the models we tested, however, have cheaper heating elements that aren’t able to reach the ideal brew temperature range. These brewers tend to hover around 180ºF for the bulk of their brew cycles and then spike to over 210ºF for the last minute or so. The resulting coffee from these brewers tasted both sour and bitter, as the coffee was unevenly extracted. The outlier in our tests was the Zojirushi Dome Programmable Coffee Maker: Even though it has a low-powered heating element, the brewer can reach the ideal 195ºF to 205ºF temperature range, just slightly slower than our top picks. The resulting coffee wasn’t as complex, but it was still fairly sweet and nicely balanced, earning the brewer our budget pick. 

Long Brew Times Added Bitterness to the Cup

Coffee in a glass mug beside a thermal carafe
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

Another key factor in SCA Certified Home Brewer Standards is total brew time. The longer a brewer takes to finish a batch, the more bitterness it’ll pull out of the coffee. It’s no surprise, then, that brewers with high-powered heating elements that reached ideal brew temperatures were also powerful enough to make quicker batches of coffee. Both the OXO and Breville coffee makers finished in around seven minutes total, and even the Zojirushi could brew a full pot in around eight and a half minutes. Most of the competition pushed brew times that were longer than 10 minutes, and the resulting cups were excessively bitter. 

Thermal Carafes (Mostly) Kept Coffee Fresher

a person pouring from a thermal carafe into a glass coffee mug
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

Thermal carafes kept coffee fresher, which is something we’ve stood by for a while. We think they’re even more important for a programmable brewer, too, since your coffee pot might finish brewing before you’re even out of bed. Both the OXO and Breville excelled in the freshness tests, with their thermal carafes keeping coffee pleasant for up to a full hour. But even though the Zojirushi has a glass carafe and a hot plate, it still performed better in taste tests than other brewers. The biggest factor seemed to be initial cup quality: The Zojirushi made sweeter coffee than a lot of brewers with a thermal carafe, so even after sitting on a hot plate, it still won head-to-head taste tests.

Simple Interfaces Were Easier to Program

The digital display on the Breville Precision Brewer Thermal Coffee Maker, 60 oz. (BDC450BSS)
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

Both the OXO and Breville coffee makers have a dial to navigate their programming settings, and both also prompt you to set the clock function before you’re allowed to select a brew timer, ensuring that your coffee will start brewing exactly when you want it to. Their simple interfaces made them easy to use, even though they offered more settings than other brewers we tested. 

The Criteria: What to Look for in a Programmable Coffee Maker

a person pouring coffee into a glass coffee mug set on a coffee scale
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

The best programmable coffee makers are easy to program, can reach ideal brew temperatures of 195ºF to 205ºF in less than a minute, brew full batches in under eight minutes, and, most of all, make sweet and balanced coffee. 

The Best Programmable Coffee Makers

What we liked: The OXO brewer checks off every box we have for a programmable coffee maker. It won all of our taste tests, and its quick brew times and ideal brew temperatures are consistent from batch to batch. It’s got an easy-to-navigate dial that makes programming its timer a snap, and its thermal carafe keeps coffee fresh for up to an hour. On top of that, it’s one of the more moderately priced brewers we recommend, making it a good choice for a wide variety of people. 

What we didn’t like: It’s one the only coffee makers we recommend that has a conical filter instead of a flatbed and, in previous tests, we found that it struggled to brew darker roasts as well as it does lighter roasts. 

Price at time of publish: $230.

Key Specs

  • Stated capacity: 45 ounces (9 cups)
  • Height of brewer: 17.2 inches
  • Weight: 11 pounds
  • Built-in bloom cycle: Yes
  • Type of carafe: Thermal carafe
  • Average brew time: 6 minutes, 40.5 seconds
  • Wattage: 1400 watts
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • SCA Certified Brewer: Yes
The oxo coffee maker on a kitchen countertop
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

What we liked: The Breville Precision Brewer takes programmable to the next level. It offers customizable brew temperatures and bloom times as well as flow rates for controlling your total brew time, giving you the exact same control that brewing a pourover does. It also comes with a conical and flat coffee filter insert, so you can pick whichever gives you the best results for the coffee you’d like to brew. Finally, the Breville aced all of our temperature and brew time tests, making it one of the only brewers with a larger capacity to do so. 

What we didn’t like: All of those features come with a higher price tag, and it’s one of the pricier coffee makers we recommend. Having so many customizable options can also be tricky to navigate, and some people might prefer a more stripped-down brewer.

Price at time of publish: $330.

Key Specs

  • Stated capacity: 60 ounces (12 cups)
  • Brewer height: 15.25 inches
  • Weight: 11 pounds
  • Built-in bloom cycle: Yes
  • Type of carafe: Thermal carafe
  • Average brew time: 6 minutes, 20 seconds
  • Wattage: 1650 watts
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • SCA-certified brewer: Yes
The Breville coffee maker on a kitchen countertop
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

What we liked: No other programmable brewer under $150 was able to deliver good coffee. The Zorijushi Dome’s unique sprayhead design helped it pass our brew temperature and brew time tests (just barely, however), and it made the most pleasant coffee out of all the lower-powered brewers we tested. If you’re hoping to save a little money but still want a brewer that meets your standards, the Zojirushi is a great choice. 

What we didn’t like: It lacked the coffee clarity and complexity of our top picks, and we wish it came with a thermal carafe to keep coffee fresher. 

Price at time of publish: $128.

Key Specs

  • Stated capacity: 60 ounces / 12 cups
  • Brewer height: 15.25 inches
  • Weight: 10.25 pounds
  • Built-in bloom cycle: Yes
  • Type of carafe: Glass with a hot plate
  • Average brew time: 6 minutes, 45 seconds
  • Wattage: 1050 watts
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • SCA-certified brewer: No
A person pour coffee into a glass coffee mug
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

The Competition


What does a programmable coffee maker do? 

Programmable coffee makers offer a variety of settings that non-programmable coffee makers don’t have, but the number one difference is an internal clock and a brew timer. This allows the user to program the brewer to start automatically at a specific time, usually in the morning, so that fresh coffee is waiting for them already when they get out of bed.

Are smart coffee makers better than programmable coffee makers?

While there are some coffee makers that offer Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity, most stick with traditional digital internal clocks. They tend to be easier to use, cheaper, and don’t require an external device like a smartphone to program. 

Is fresh ground coffee better than preground coffee?

We always recommend grinding coffee fresh right before you brew because roasted coffee contains hundreds of complex aromatics that start to dissipate as soon as it’s ground. If you do plan on pregrinding your coffee so that you can program a brew timer, we recommend that you grind it the night before, so that it’s still the freshest it can be. 

Why We’re the Experts

  • Jesse Raub is Serious Eats' commerce writer and spent over 15 years working in the specialty coffee industry. He's our in-house coffee expert and regularly tests coffee gear, including reviews of coffee roasters, coffee scales, and pourover brewers.  
  • For this review, we put 12 different brewers through a series of tests in our lab to check for coffee quality, temperature, and time, and the results were cross-checked with our previous results.

Why a Set of Ramekins Are My Kitchen’s True MVP

Ceramic ramekins are used for baking individual desserts, but they can also be used to portion out ingredients, serve snacks, and hold condiments for dipping.

five ramekins on a peach colored backdrop
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Ah, the ramekin—the perfect baking dish for an individual soufflé or crème brûlée. Only, you know, how often are you making personalized French desserts? In my kitchen, the answer is never. Instead, I use my 14-year-old ramekin set on a daily basis for weighing out my coffee and a drip catcher for my pourover brewer. If you’ve ever had to run to the trashcan while your dripper keeps, well, dripping coffee on the floor, take heed.

a ramekin on a scale holding 30 grams of coffee
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

But, obviously, ramekins aren’t just useful for coffee. As a work-from-homer, I spend most of my writing time resisting wandering to the kitchen for snacks. When I finally acquiesced (and of course I always do, who are we kidding?), I quickly learned that a fistful of cheese crackers is a great way to get crumbs all over your keyboard. A 4-ounce ramekin is the perfect snack holder, letting me wet my whistle and keeping my workspace clean. Plus, it’s a great vessel for making your own snack mix (salted pecans and chocolate chips, anyone?).

snacks in a ramekin on a desk next to a laptop
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

A classic ramekin is usually made from white, glazed ceramic with ridges on the outside to give you a better grip. They usually feature a slightly fluted lip for easy stacking. But if you’re not baking traditional desserts in your ramekins, there are plenty of other dishwasher- and oven-safe options available. 

A Few Ramekin Options

Decorative options are great for the table, too. Nothing makes green bean casserole more exciting than a bonus sidecar of fried onions. And if you spent time making the perfect fries, the last thing you want is wandering aioli on the plate sogging up the edges. A handsome set of ramekins can keep your dining table tidy and your guests satisfied while blending in with your dinnerware.

But the reason why you might want a whole fleet of ramekins is for prep work—each ramekin holding a separate component of your mise en place, like, say, minced garlic. I personally love using mine for separating scallions for stir-fries, measuring out spices, and having liquids at the ready for crucial moments. They’re also great as mini-waste bowls for things like ginger peels or garlic skin. And since most are dishwasher-safe, clean-up is a breeze. If you’re a panic cook like me who flails their way through every recipe step, your best chance at success is having everything laid out in easily washable dishes. 

four ramekins holding soy sauce, white onions, pepper, and chopped green onions
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

I don’t think ramekins have ever improved the actual food I’m cooking, but relying on my trusty set has certainly made me a better cook. They’re small, easy to store, straightforward to clean, and generally inexpensive—but most of all, they keep me organized and my counters clutter-free. And if I’m truly being honest? I never would have made it through writing this piece without a snack-filled ramekin at the ready. Or an extra coffee.

a spend pourover filter resting on a ramekin to catch drips
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub


What is the purpose of a ramekin?

A ramekin is a small ceramic dish that’s designed for baking traditional French desserts like soufflé or crème brûlée. They have many other uses as well—they can be filled with condiments for dipping, hold snacks, and be used to measure out ingredients for a recipe before cooking. 

What’s the difference between a ramekin and a small cup or bowl?

Technically speaking, there isn’t much difference between a ramekin and a small cup or bowl. Traditionally, however, a ramekin was used as a baking dish, so the circular shape and ridged exterior were designed to assist in baking individual desserts. While most of the time a ramekin and a small cup are interchangeable, it’s highly recommended to use a ramekin for baking small soufflés or crème brûlée.

Can all ramekins go in the oven?

Traditionally, ramekins were used as a baking dish, but there isn’t a strict definition for what is and what isn’t a ramekin these days. If you’re looking for a set, be sure to double-check if it’s oven-safe before buying, though most traditional ramekins are made out of oven- and dishwasher-safe ceramic.

Why We're the Experts

  • Jesse Raub is the commerce writer at Serious Eats. He's worked for the site since 2022.
  • Previously, Jesse worked for 15-plus years in the specialty coffee industry.