Thermal Coffee Makers


“Just about everybody has experienced it: you make a pot of coffee, get distracted, leave it on the heating element too long. And 15 minutes later, that velvety, bracing cup of coffee has turned into something acrid — liquid cinder in your mouth.” Amanda Hesser, Test Kitchen, New York Times. At CoffeeKrave, coffee rarely lasts long enough to require a thermal coffee maker.

That said, our readers do have the occasional need to keep a pot warm. And we absolutely want them to avoid the liquid cinder taste that Hesser aptly dubs “the burner effect.”

To add to the authority of the New York Times, we offer the following: “From previous tests, we knew that a thermal carafe would be essential; the usual hot plate under a glass carafe starts turning fresh coffee acrid in a matter of minutes.” – Cook’s Illustrated

Why do these culinary experts hold thermal coffee makers in such high regard? It all comes down to chemistry.


Glass Carafes vs. Thermal Carafes: The Science

The delicate flavor and aroma of coffee is the result of approximately 40 key volatile compounds. The burner effect is the result of continuously and slowly heating the coffee. The process (as the NYT article notes) is much like reducing a sauce over a low flame, only instead of concentrating delicious flavors you are volatilizing (evaporating) the subtle volatiles and condensing down any remaining undesirables. The result is burnt, acrid sludge.

The insulated walls of thermal carafe coffee makers help to maintain coffee at an ideal serving temperature without heating. They are particularly useful when serving a group, at an event, or when enjoying coffee outdoors.


Thermal Coffee Makers


Our Votes for the Best Thermal Coffee Makers

When it comes to choosing the best of the thermal coffee makers, three contenders come out on top as our clear favorites:

Bonavita 8 cup Coffee Maker with Thermal Carafe: $149.99; Approved by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. This machine is capable of reaching an ideal brewing temperature, and the showerhead system provides for thorough ground saturation. Other features include automatic boiler shutoff and an 8-cup, glass-lined thermal carafe.

Capresso CoffeeTEAM TS 10-cup Digital Coffee Maker: $229.95; This thermal coffee maker features the convenience of a built-in burr grinder. Other features include five grind settings, a charcoal water filter, a 10-cup stainless steel thermal carafe, and digital programming options.

Technivorm KBTS – 8 Cup Thermal Brewer: $279.00; Another one of the few examples of an electric coffee maker with the Specialty Coffee Association of America ‘s stamp of approval. Often called the Rolls Royce of electric coffee makers, The Technivorm KBTS has a powerful 1475 watts, 13 amp draw. This translates to boiling water in a super short amount of time. The construction is gorgeous, right down to the copper heating element and the stainless steel thermal carafe.


How long do you keep your morning coffee waiting? Share your thoughts on thermal coffee makers in the comments below!


Main Photo: Solja

Content Photo: Roland Tanglao

Robyn is a freelance writer, editor and a serious foodie. A native of Seattle, she has found a new home in Northern California where she splits her time about equally between hiking in the redwoods and typing in local coffee shops. In addition to writing for CoffeeKrave, Robyn is currently working on a project to produce a short animated documentary—"Clipped and Tucked"—about her adventures in cooking recipes from antique cookbooks.

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