A coffee maker with a built-in timer, also known as a programmable coffee maker, is the best choice for those who want a warm, freshly brewed cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
You can get this type of coffee maker with or without a grinder, and most models come with different options for flavor adjustment, water temperature, amount of servings you want, and more.
If you’re always short on time in the morning, a programmable coffee maker is bound to make things notably easier for you. Set everything up at night, go to sleep, and wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee ready to serve.
Our top pick is the Ninja CE251 12-Cup Coffee Brewer. It’s easy to use, reasonably priced, and makes great coffee that everyone likes. For more specific options, see what we’ve found in the table of contents below.
Best overall: Ninja CE251 12-Cup Coffee Brewer
Ninja CE251 12-Cup Coffee Brewer
With a detachable water tank and a user friendly control panel, the stylish Ninja CE251 12-Cup Coffee Brewer is our top pick.
Pros: Removable water tank, easy to use, great range of adjustment options, nice and stylish design.
Cons: Mid-brew pause might result in a few drops onto the warming plate, not the fastest coffee maker.
The Ninja CE251 12-Cup drip coffee maker slots in as #1 because of a great design, a detachable water tank and a user friendly control panel that enables you to make coffee exactly the way you want without the hassle of trying to decipher the buttons.
You can program the coffee maker to delay the brew process for up to 24 hours, and you can easily adjust the flavor profile by pressing a single button. Choose between small batch (up to 4 cups), classic brew, or a rich brew for a stronger cup of coffee.
Ninja CE251 is capable of making up to 12 cups of coffee, but it does take a little longer than other coffee makers. This isn’t a big deal though, and in comparison with other coffee makers it takes just a few minutes longer from start to end.
Another feature advertised by Ninja is the Mid-Brew Pause feature, which allows you to pull out the carafe in the middle of a brew process and pour a cup of coffee. While it should work in theory because of the drip stop, a few drops usually manage to escape and spill onto the warming plate, which could cause a bit of a mess.
Over on Owly Choice they’re also excited about the Ninja CE251. They like it for the same reasons we do, but they did add that it makes a noticeable gurgling noise during the brewing process. We didn’t find it bothersome, but it’s worth considering if you’re shopping for a quiet coffee maker.
All in all, we believe this is the best programmable coffee maker right now, with an almost perfect price:value ratio.
Best on a budget: BLACK+DECKER DLX1050B 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker
If you want an affordable, programmable 12-cup coffee maker, the BLACK+DECKER DLX1050B is a great choice.
Pros: Simple and easy to use, sleek design, 2-hour auto shut-off, non-stick warming plate is easy to clean, and it’s extremely lightweight.
Cons: Design is all plastic, we could’ve wished a longer keep-warm period instead of just 2 hours, and the water level gauge can be difficult to read.
Most people know BLACK+DECKER from their line of tools and home equipment, but they make a few decent kitchen appliances too, including this programmable coffee maker.
The BLACK+DECKER DLX1050B has a user friendly control panel at the very front of the coffee maker, which enables you to set a timer up to 24 hours ahead. Each button is clearly marked with an understandable description, and the display is bright and clear with large, green digits.
With this coffee maker you can brew a proper cup of coffee, and it yields up to 12 cups of coffee at a time with 5 ounces per cup.
One thing worth noting is that BLACK+DECKER DLX1050B is an affordable coffee maker with a built-in timer, and in order to achieve such a low price they’ve cut corners at some areas. This becomes evident with the design which is all plastic, and it isn’t the fastest coffee maker on the market either.
It does get the job done, it’s programmable, and it actually makes a proper, tasty cup of coffee, but with such a low price tag there have been some cost cutting going on.
Best for large quantities: Cuisinart DCC-3200P1 Perfectemp
Cuisinart DCC-3200P1 Perfectemp
Serve up to 14 cups of coffee with the Cuisinart DCC-3200P1 programmable coffee maker. Perfect when family or friends drop by.
Pros: High-capacity glass carafe enables you to make up to 14 cups of coffee at a time, brew strength control allows you to adjust the taste of your coffee, timer can be set up to 24 hours in advance.
Cons: Some buyers mentioned a plastic smell/taste, but it disappeared after the first few batches of coffee. The design of the glass carafe and the top lid makes it difficult to pour out all the water without angling the carafe in an awkward way.
The Cuisinart DCC-3200P1 Perfectemp does very well with larger batches of coffee, but you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that it has a 1-4 cup setting too for those days where you just want to brew a few cups for yourself and/or your partner.
It has a timer with a 24-hour programmability, and with a total capacity of up to 14 cups you can easily program it in advance and have coffee ready for your guests later at night – or you can fill up a large thermal carafe for a picnic the same day.
Besides the few caveats including the poorly designed lid and the plastic smell/taste during the first times of using it, this is a great coffee maker that comes with a built-in timer at an affordable price.
It does require a bit more space in your kitchen than a regular-sized coffee maker, but it really isn’t that bad.
One tiny hiccup though is the water level gauge, which again is located on the side and can be hard to read unless your kitchen is brightly lit.
Best splurge: Breville BDC450 Precision Brewer
Breville BDC450 Precision Brewer
Cold brew, gold brew, fast brew. This luxurious coffee maker does it all, it’s programmable, and it keeps the coffee warm in a thermal carafe too.
Pros: Amazing design with a premium look and feel, multiple brew settings, programmable up to 24 hours, comes with flat bottom AND cone filter baskets, highly customizable brewing cycle.
Cons: While most people across the US are used to 5- or 6-ounce increments (because usually 5 or 6 ounces equals one cup), the Breville BDC450 comes with 4- and 10-ounce increments which is a bit odd. We found it slightly disappointing that there’s also a thin layer of water left in the tank after brewing.
If you want a premium coffee maker with a timer but can’t settle with “just” having a timer, the Breville BDC450 Precision Brewer is the best purchase. Not only is it packed with features, it also comes with a thermal carafe so your freshly brewed coffee stays warm for most of the day.
The stainless steel design provides an amazing look and fee, and the large digital display is properly lit and easily readable.
Because the water tank is transparent you can easily read the water level, however the level markers are indicated by 4-ounce increments up to the first 20 ounces, and afterwards they’re marked by 10-ounce increments up to the maximum level of 60 ounces. This is a bit odd, because usually one cup equals 5 fluid ounces of water, but it does indicate the number of cups on the water tank as well.
Last, but certainly not least, it’s worth noting that the Breville Precision Brewer coffee maker meets the standards set by the SCA regarding the water temperature and brew time, when using the “Gold Cup” preset mode.
Best with thermal carafe: Cuisinart CHW-14 Coffee Plus Thermal Programmable Coffee Maker and Hot Water System
Cuisinart CHW-14 Coffee Plus
Keep your coffee warm with the thermal carafe, and dispense hot water from an individual heating system. The Cuisinart Coffee Plus programmable coffee maker does both – simultaneously.
Pros: Individual coffee brewing system and hot water system, thermal carafe keeps your coffee hot, programmable with a 24-hour timer, multiple strength settings, optional ready tone.
Cons: Does appear a bit bulky due to the separate hot water system, impractical location of the water level gauge, hot water dispenser contains only 56 ounces of water.
Whether you like coffee or tea, the Cuisinart CHW-14 Coffee Plus programmable coffee maker meets your needs. Make a delicious batch of coffee for yourself and your family while boiling water at the same time for tea or cocoa. The hot water systems are separated into two units, and therefore you can do both things simultaneously if needed.
The Cuisinart CHW-14 Coffee Plus has a built-in timer with a small digital display, that allows you to program the brew process to start with a delay of up to 24 hours. For a quick mid-day snack or a cup of tea you can dispense hot water while making coffee, and because of that you don’t actually need a water kettle on the side.
Although this coffee maker is a reliable kitchen appliance that works incredibly well, it does appear a bit bulky and old-fashioned with the black plastic housing along with the tiny display, but at least you know you can trust it to make great coffee and that’s what it’s all about.
For larger portions of hot water, you might still need a water kettle on the side. Because of the separate water tank, it only holds up to 56 ounces of water for the hot water dispenser. This is slightly inconvenient, but for us it isn’t a problem.
Best single serve: Cuisinart SS-10P1 Premium Programmable Single Serve Brewer
Cuisinart SS-10P1 Premium
Have a delicious, warm cup of coffee ready to go whenever you need it. The Cuisinart SS-10P1 Premium is even compatible with K-Cup pods.
Pros: Compact and lightweight, easy to use, large backlit display, water heats up quickly, timer can be preset for up to 24 hours ahead of time, water tank is larger than comparable coffee makers.
Cons: If you don’t leave 0.5 inches empty at the top of the filter cup, the grounds might spill over and get in your coffee. Although water heats up quickly, the coffee takes a long time to brew, and the water tank is a little difficult to fit properly in its place.
If you’re the only one in the household who drink coffee and you still want to preset the timer for a quick grab-and-go cup of morning coffee, the Cuisinart SS-10P1 Premium Programmable Single Serve coffee maker should be on your wishlist
This little machine doesn’t just look nice, it’s also capable of dispensing hot water for all your favorite beverages and it’s programmable too.
For those who don’t want to measure coffee grinds, this machine is also compatible with K-Cup pods, which is the easiest way of getting a cup of freshly brewed drip coffee.
The water reservoir holds up to 72 ounces of water, which is more than enough for most people, and it comes with a practical drip tray to prevent accidents on your kitchen countertop.
While we generally like this programmable coffee maker, it does require a small learning curve to master it fully. One thing we noticed was that if you fill up the filter cup all the way, it might spill over and grounds make their way to your cup. It does also take a while to brew a single cup, which is unfortunate for those in a hurry, but in return you’ll get a deliciously rich cup of coffee.
Also worth reading: The Best Single Serve Coffee Maker Without Pods
Best with grinder: Cuisinart DGB-625BC Grind & Brew 12-Cup Automatic Coffee Maker
Cuisinart DGB-625BC Grind & Brew
If you enjoy the smell and taste of freshly ground coffee beans, the programmable Cuisinart DGB-625BC Grind & Brew is a great choice.
Pros: Choose between freshly ground coffee beans or normal, pre-ground coffee. Timer feature for a delayed start, 1-4 cup setting for a small serving, reusable filter basket included.
Cons: Because the grinder is located close to the brew basket, it fills with condensation when coffee is brewing. It does require frequent cleaning to work properly.
The Cuisinart DGB-625BC Grind & Brew should be on top of your list if you love the smell and taste of freshly ground coffee.
Whether you prefer to brew your coffee with pre-ground beans or whole beans, this programmable coffee maker is a great choice. The built-in grinder takes care of the whole beans and grinds them to a perfect coarseness, resulting in a tasty, rich coffee where flavors are preserved properly.
Being coffee enthusiast we always grind our own freshly roasted coffee beans ourselves, but we’ve always wanted to try out a coffee maker that does it automatically and even has a timer so we can get freshly brewed coffee served easily in the morning.
We were happy to learn that Cuisinart DGB-625BC Grind & Brew was actually capable of fulfilling our wishes, and it did so quite well.
Unfortunately these features do require a bit more maintenance than your regular coffee maker. There are more detachable parts for you to clean after each use, however most of them simply require a quick rinse before drying them off.
All in all, we believe this is a great choice for those who like making tasty coffee using whole, freshly ground coffee beans.
Most versatile: Ninja CM401 Specialty Coffee Maker With Glass Carafe
Ninja CM401 Specialty Coffee Maker
Whether you want a single cup of coffee ice coffee, or a stronger coffee, the Ninja CM401 Specialty Coffee Maker won’t disappoint you.
Pros: With the Ninja CM401 Specialty Coffee maker you’re able to make a single cup of coffee or a regular carafe of coffee. Ice coffee options are available as well as a rich coffee concentrate for specialty coffee drinks, and you can make the coffee at any given time of the day by setting the timer.
Cons: It is a bit bigger than other coffee makers, the many features can be a little confusing at first, it doesn’t have a water filter option like other coffee makers, the pouring spout can be somewhat messy if poured too fast.
Whether you want to make a strong carafe of coffee or just a single cup of regular coffee, the Ninja CM401 Specialty Coffee maker has you covered. However, that’s not all. With this machine you can also make a strong coffee concentrate for specialty drinks like cappuccino, caffe latte, macchiato, and more.
Besides the hot options you can also brew coffee over ice for a refreshing cup of freshly brewed caffeine on a summer day, and since it’s SCA certified along with just a few other coffee makers, you know it makes a proper cup of coffee at the right temperature and speed.
We love the versatility of this coffee maker, and we also like the fact that it has a timer. You’ll get endless possibilities with this machine, and everything can be achieved at any given time of the day, even when you’re sleeping or not at home.
Although this might not be a disadvantage to everyone, this coffee maker is quite big and bulky. The black base can get messy from time to time, and the control panel might take a little time to figure out properly. The pouring spout on the glass carafe can be a bit messy if you’re pouring too fast, but for us that wasn’t a big issue because we didn’t want to pour the coffee too fast anyway.
Identifying the best programmable coffee makers with built-in timers
Drip coffee is considered one of the easiest ways to make coffee, and with a programmable coffee maker you can even set a timer and have your fresh coffee waiting for you when you get out of bed in the morning.
As we went out to find the best programmable coffee makers with built-in timers, we conducted thorough research to better understand the elements of a great cup of coffee.
We analyzed the market and interviewed the experts to learn what makes the best, most delicious coffee as well, and these were the factors we considered when selecting our top picks for this buying guide:
- Ease of use
- Build quality
We believe taste is the most important criteria when opting for a specific coffee maker with timer. Nothing is better than a perfectly balanced cup of coffee that isn’t too strong nor bitter, and it isn’t all coffee makers that are able to achieve that level of perfection.
The perfect cup of coffee should be ready to drink right away without burning your lips and tongue. However, that’s not the only reason why temperature is important. If the water is too cold during percolation, the coffee becomes bland and tasteless. If the water is too hot, the coffee becomes bitter.
When it comes to speed, there are certain standards that every coffee maker should live up to. During the process of percolation, the water has to pass through the coffee grounds in a specific time frame, in order to extract just the right amount of flavors. If the water runs too fast the coffee once again becomes bland, but if it passes too slowly the coffee becomes too strong or bitter.
You’d also want your coffee maker to be easy to use. You don’t want to waste your precious time on excessive cleaning or handling of your coffee maker. Ease of use is important with most appliances, simply because we might not feel inclined to use them if they’re too difficult to handle correctly.
Last but not least, the build quality plays an important role too. Although you can get very cheap coffee makers without a timer and other features, we wouldn’t recommend getting them.
A coffee maker with a timer is a great purchase, and if you opt for one in a proper, durable build quality (which is not necessarily the cheapest one), it is highly likely to last you for a decade or more.
What are the alternatives?
While coffee makers with timers is a great idea for those who want hot and freshly brewed coffee first thing in the morning, there are alternatives for those who just want the ability to grab a cup once in a while throughout the day.
One of the best alternatives is coffee makers with thermal carafes, because they brew coffee directly into an insulated container. That way your coffee will keep itself hot for hours, and you seldom don’t have to drink it all at once.
You could also invest in an automated coffee brewing machine, or an espresso machine, so you’ll be able to brew a cup of coffee with just a single press of a button.
Here are the sources we’ve used for our research:
- Healthline.com: 13 Health Benefits of Coffee, Based on Science (September 20, 2018)