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If your coffee-making exploits have you searching for the best coffee maker for hard water, then you’re most likely trying to purchase a coffee maker that’s less susceptible to mineral buildup. Possibly you live in a region with hard water, or you simply want to go longer between descaling sessions. Whichever the reason, you’re most likely going to prioritize coffee makers with built-in water filters, a cleaning function, and a cleaning indicator light.
While you’ll still need to perform routine descaling, a good water filter can help to block the bulk of mineral buildup, which normally clogs water lines and damages your coffee maker’s heating element. Likewise, picking a coffee maker that’s designed for hard water means that you’ll also enjoy a more flavorful cup of coffee.
Of course, you’ll want to think about other common considerations, such as how many cups your brewer can make if it supports automated programmability, and how easily you can clean the components.
Keep reading our guide to learn about choosing the best coffee maker for hard water. And if you’re not sure what type of brewer is right for you, check out our overall picks for the best coffee maker.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This coffee machine offers Classic and Rich brew styles, providing flavors for a wide variety of people. It has a large pot and supports both single-serve and whole pot serving sizes.
The Ninja CE251 12-cup coffee maker has a large glass carafe ideal for preparing family-sized coffee portions. This coffee machine uses an advanced boiling system to heat water fast, providing efficiency. With a 24-hour delay start timer, this model supports programming the brewing process. It has a 60-oz removable water reservoir to enable simple filling and cleaning. This device has dishwasher-safe parts that will come in handy in places with hard water. However, the brewing basket drips a bit when the carafe is removed.
A permanent filter supports simple operation, while an intuitive control panel enables hassle-free management. This coffee system has presets for Classic and Rich coffee, enabling simple customization. A small batch preset enables generating single-serve portions and batches as big as four cups. It has a number of cleaning features that stand up to hard water. A cleaning cycle removes debris, helping to prevent build up of scales. This coffee machine has a mid-brew pause function that lets users pour out a cup mid-brewing.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This coffee system posts regular cleaning reminders, helping users to stay on top of the maintenance chores. It has intuitive presets that enable the one-touch operation and has a convenient forward-filling design.
Featuring advanced cleaning features, the Hamilton Beach Easy Access 46310 12-cup coffee maker is a good pick for places with hard water. This coffee maker has a front access system, allowing users to fill the water tank without moving the machine. A swingout brew basket also offers easy access. This coffee system has a nonstick hot plate to keep coffee warm after brewing. Although this machine displays a cleaning reminder, it doesn’t have a built-in self-cleaning cycle.
With a 2-hour automatic shut off, this device turns off the warming plate to save power. The machine has a programmable design with a clock for setting the brewing time. An automatic pause and serve function lets users pour out coffee without completely terminating the brewing cycle. This coffee system supports bold and regular strengths. It has a flexible serving system that allows brewing a full 12-cup pot and 1-4 cup batches.
Award: BEST FILTERS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This machine has gold tone and charcoal filters that will clean up the water to help prevent the accumulation of scale. With a delayed start timer and presets for bold and regular coffee, this device supports precise customization.
This Cuisinart PerfecTemp DCC-3200P1 14-cup coffee maker has high-precision systems that allow controlling the temperatures and other parameters, delivering flavorful coffee. The machine has intuitive controls that enable customizing the brewing process. It has several one-touch controls for effortless operation. This device enables customizing the flavor, featuring controls for bold and regular coffee. We like this model’s gigantic 14-cup glass carafe that is suitable for families and work. However, the carafe on this model is difficult to fill and empty.
A 24-hour delay start timer allows users to set the machine to start brewing at a specified time of the day or night. This machine allows brewing whole pots but also enables users to make 1 to 4 cup portions as needed. A water window on the reservoir enables accurate filling and keeping tabs on the water level. This coffee maker has a durable reusable gold-tone filter and charcoal filters that will come in handy in places with hard water.
Award: BEST DISHWASHER-FRIENDLY COFFEE MAKER
WHY WE LIKE IT: Dishwasher-safe parts and a two-stage sieve system support easy cleanup. This machine has a 24-hour programmable design and 4-hour keep warm function. It has a pause-and-pour feature that allows sampling.
Equipped with warming late, this Mr. Coffee 2097827 12-cup coffee maker keeps brewed coffee at serving temperature for up to 4 hours. This coffee maker uses an automatic drip system to extract great flavors. It has a large 12-cup glass carafe that prepares coffee for whole families in one go, although it also supports serving portions as small as 20 oz. With a large filter basket, this device provides simple maintenance. However, the keep warm system on this machine is not customizable.
A programmable system with a delay start function allows users to set brewing to start at any time of the day or night. This coffee system features a Grab-a-Cup auto pause function that enables pouring out a cup before resuming brewing. Equipped with a two-stage water filtration system, this coffee maker reduces the amounts of calcium and chlorine in the water, so it’s a good choice for hard water. This model has dishwasher-safe parts and it’s easy to take apart and reassemble for cleaning.
Award: BEST FAST COFFEE MAKER
WHY WE LIKE IT: With an always hot water system, this coffee maker brews fast, making it a good choice for preparing coffee for breakfast. It has an innovative spout that ensures drip-free dispensing.
Brewing a 10-cup pot in under 3 minutes, the BUNN GRB Velocity Brew 10-cup coffee maker is ideal for families and workplaces that require fast brewing without compromising the flavor. This machine has an always-hot system that keeps water at brewing temperature, providing fast results. A drip-free carafe with an ergonomic handle and innovative drip-free spout that pours out coffee without spilling. However, this device doesn’t offer much in terms of customization options.
This coffee system has a multi-stream spray head that distributes hot water evenly over the coffee ground for effective extraction. The device brews whole 10-cup pots but it also supports preparing coffee in batches as small as four cups. It has a large flat-bottom filter and funnel that provide a large surface area for effective extraction. It has simplistic controls with a front-facing on/off warmer switch and it features premium parts that stand the test of time.
Award: BEST COFFEE FLAVOR
WHY WE LIKE IT: This coffee machine enables users to brew coffee in sizes ranging from a single cup to 12 cups. It has a stunning stainless steel finish that will add a touch of sophistication to any kitchen.
With Braun’s proprietary pure flavor technology, the Braun BrewSense 12-cup coffee maker optimizes the brewing temperature and duration, unlocking aromatic coffee flavors. This device is suitable for brewing whole carafes as well as 1 to 4 cup options. It has a 24-hour timer, allowing users to program brewing, and a built-in clock enables users to keep track of time. A customizable auto shutoff feature turns off the warming plate automatically. However, this model doesn’t have brew strength settings.
This coffee system has a brew pause function, enabling coffee enthusiasts to simplify without dripping or completely stopping the brewing cycle. A water level indicator enables users to brew any amount of coffee. This device has a sleek stainless steel appearance that adds a touch of refinement to the kitchen counter. It has a small footprint ideal for people with small kitchens. With easy-access controls, this device supports the intuitive operation. It has a cleaning cycle to prevent scales from building up.
A coffee maker for hard water can mean several different things, depending on who you talk to. While all coffee makers are at risk of limescale buildup, those used in regions with hard water are particularly vulnerable. At a minimum, this means selecting a coffee maker with a good water filter that can remove excess minerals which might otherwise damage your machine by clogging water lines, impacting your heating elements, and even altering the flavor of your coffee.
In some cases, this can also mean opting for a coffee maker with a self-cleaning feature. In most cases, you can add a cleaning solution to the water reservoir, press the clean button, and let the machine automatically descale the internal components. This is especially ideal for people that don’t want to manage this task manually.
Just remember that the self-cleaning feature still requires you to activate it, and you might still need to invest in the best coffee maker cleaner solution. In most cases, you won’t find a coffee maker that automatically cycles into self-cleaning mode without any prompting.
In most cases, there’s no distinguishable difference between a coffee maker advertised as being ideal for hard water versus a “standard” coffee maker. This is because no matter how many water filters or self-cleaning modes are available, all coffee makers are susceptible to damage caused by sustained exposure to water. Also, you can find those features on a variety of brewers, including the best coffee makers for RVs.
This is because all water contains trace amounts of minerals. And with repeated exposure, mineral buildup can convert into limescale. Left untreated, limescale can clog water lines and buildup on your coffee maker’s heating element. This can create problems during the brewing process, such as coffee that never gets as hot as it should or a coffee maker that just stops working.
All coffee makers need to be periodically descaled — even if you live in an area with soft water. But if you live in a hard water region, your coffee maker may not last as long as the general advertised lifespan without routine maintenance.
A coffee maker for hard water operates just like a standard coffee maker in terms of brewing coffee. Whether you have a drip coffee maker or an espresso maker, water is drawn in from a reservoir where it’s then heated and then sprayed over (or pushed through for espresso makers) coffee grounds to saturate and begin brewing coffee.
The two most significant issues hard water poses for coffee makers are functionality and flavor. With constant exposure to mineral deposits, you’ll damage your coffee maker’s heating elements, creating coffee that’s too bitter or causing the machine to stop functioning. Similarly, some hard water deposits can alter the taste of your coffee, also making it too bitter.
If you’re solely concerned about getting as much use out of your machine as possible, a coffee maker with a self-cleaning function is ideal. But keep in mind that there are a few different options for a self-cleaning machine. Some brands promote “self-cleaning,” but it’s nothing more than an indicator light telling you that your machine needs to be cleaned.
While a reminder light is nice, this isn’t exactly self-cleaning. More advanced machines may have an actual self-cleaning feature where, once a button is pressed, the machine begins to clean the water lines and heating elements. Note that you’ll need to use a descaling solution — either a dedicated solution or a water-vinegar mix — if you’re trying to remove mineral deposits. Otherwise, this step will simply push water through your coffee system.
For people that don’t want to ruin the flavor of their coffee, consider looking for a coffee maker with a good water filter. This type of coffee maker filters the water before it reaches your heating element. By removing the bulk of mineral deposits, you not only improve your coffee’s flavor but help to preserve the life of your unit. In some cases, you can find both a water filter and a self-cleaning mode in one machine.
If you find that you keep burning through coffee makers due to mineral buildup, it may be time to look into a model with features that make it ideal for hard water. Even if you don’t live in an area with hard water, a coffee maker with more robust maintenance features can ensure that you’re getting the best return on your investment.
The standard lifespan listed for coffee makers can range from five to 10 years, depending on the overall quality of the appliance. But with hard water, you might experience shorter longevity — especially if you don’t engage in routine maintenance.
As is common for all coffee makers, constant exposure to minerals in the water can lead to buildup in the water lines and damage the heating element. To avoid this, experts recommend that you regularly clean your coffee maker. This includes descaling it either with a dedicated descaling solution or with a DIY combination of water and vinegar.
Remember that the descaling frequency you should use depends on how hard the water is in your region. People with soft water can go longer between descaling sessions, while someone with hard water might want to descale every two to three months. And, in severe cases, people with very hard water should descale their coffee makers every month.
For the most part, the actual brewing aspect of picking a coffee maker isn’t going to be any different whether you live in a hard or soft water region. But if you have hard water, you’ll want to look for preventative features that help you get the most use out of your coffee maker.
A self-cleaning feature can be a nice intuitive add-on that can help extend the longevity of your coffee maker. But remember that self-cleaning functionality can vary widely across brands. At the lowest level, this may be nothing more than an indicator light reminding you to clean your appliance.
In better brands, this is an actual operation where the brewer runs water or a descaling solution through the system. While you’ll need to add in the descaling solution, even a basic rinse through your lines can remove coffee grounds or other items that can also accumulate over time.
The biggest culprit behind premature coffee machine damage is the water source. Hard water (and even soft water) leaves deposits throughout the internal components, which — left unchecked — can irreparably damage your device.
For example, a charcoal filter is a great workaround that can extend the life of your appliance. While it won’t remove all minerals or eliminate the need for descaling, you’ll still get a better-tasting cup of coffee and can often go longer between maintenance sessions.
Even if you’re focused on longevity, you still want a coffee maker that’s functional for your needs. Consider how frequently you drink coffee and whether you’re the only java drinker in your home. Thankfully, you can find self-cleaning support and water filters on machines with a variety of brew cycles.
Do you want your coffee maker to begin brewing coffee at the same time every day automatically? Or, is this not an important function? Programmability is a fairly standard option these days, and even many budget coffee makers support it.
Especially if you pick a multi-cup coffee maker, there’s a good chance that you’ll make more coffee than you can drink in one sitting. Warming plates are a fairly standard option for a glass carafe and keep coffee hot, but at the expense of technically cooking it after it’s been brewed. As a result, your coffee could taste bitter or burnt.
In contrast, a thermal carafe is designed with insulation that keeps your coffee warm without cooking it. If flavor is of the utmost importance, opt for a thermal carafe.
Traditionally, pod and one-cup coffee makers tend not to last as long when exposed to hard water. Most experts agree that more traditional multi-cup drip brewers are better at withstanding mineral deposits. Plus, these models tend to be easier to clean, too. Likewise, espresso makers usually don’t play well with hard water either. Unless you’re willing to invest in only using filtered or bottled water to fill your coffee or espresso maker, stick with drip machines as they’re the most durable.
Filtered water is your best option — especially if you’re using a pod, single-cup, or espresso maker. While you can use tap water, know that mineral buildup can be a problem. This is especially true if you have hard water, which contains the highest density of minerals.
Most experts recommend cycling descaling solution through your coffee maker two to three times. This means you’re running two to three brew cycles with just that solution. Also, note that you’ll need to then run fresh water through your coffee maker on a brewing cycle to remove any vinegar or descaling solution residue — repeat until you no longer smell the vinegar.
In most cases, they’re equally effective at removing mineral deposits like limescale. You may find that vinegar is your preferred option simply because it’s readily available and wallet-friendly.
The answer depends on the severity of hard water in your region and the type of coffee maker you own. In some cases, you may need to descale as frequently as every two to four weeks, or you can go as long as six months. For best results, consult your owner’s manual for best practices.