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Best Plastic Free Coffee Maker

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Last updated: December 15, 2023

Quick(ish) Answer: The best plastic-free automatic coffee maker is the Bunn VP17-1SS but you need to buy a separate stainless steel brew basket for it to be zero plastic. The best plastic-free manual coffee maker is the Sterling Pro Stainless Steel French Press.

This is my roundup of the best plastic-free coffee makers.

I don’t own any of the machines featured in this article, but I spent a day painstakingly researching the sh*t out of as many coffee machines as I could to find out which ones were:

  • Plastic-free
  • Actually any good

As well as giving you some recommendations, I am also going to cast the spotlight on a couple of machines that were often cited as being low or no plastic but actually are not.

Let’s a-go.

Top Picks

Best Plastic Free Automatic Coffee Maker: Bunn VP17-17-1SS (you’ll need to buy the stainless steel filter separately) 

Best Plastic Free French Press: Sterling Pro Stainless Steel French Press

Best Plastic Free Pour Over: Hario V60 Ceramic

Machine Often Described as Plastic Free but Actually is Not #1: Technivorm Moccamaster 59691 KB

Machine Often Described as Plastic Free but Actually is Not #2: Ratio 8

Best Plastic Free Automatic Coffee Maker: Bunn VP17-1

Best Overall
Bunn VP17-1SS
$420.00

The Bunn VP17-1SS is the only plastic-free automatic coffee maker. Please bear in mind that you need to replace its plastic brew basket with a compatible stainless steel brew basket for it to be plastic-free.

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04/02/2024 11:47 pm GMT

Quality of Coffee

The Bunn VP17-1SS makes very good quality coffee by automatic pour-over coffee maker standards.

The Bunn makes a good drip coffee. This is largely because its brew basket is large enough to fit enough ground coffee to brew at a 1:17 ground coffee to water ratio (sooo many coffee machines cannot do this), and because its heating element allows you to brew at a consistent temperature.

The Bunn brews your coffee in around four minutes. This is slightly too fast, meaning that your coffee will have a slightly less complex flavor than that from machines that brew a bit slower (6-8 minute brew time is ideal).

Still, the most important contributors to coffee quality are brew temperature and ratio, and the Bunn nails both of these.

Quality of Coffee Rating: 8/10

Design and Build Quality

The Bunn VP17-1SS is about as sturdy as it comes and should last you decades. It is bulky and ugly, however – it will be a real eyesore in your kitchen.

The Bunn VP17-1SS was originally built for commercial use. This means that it’s durable and capable of operating hour in and hour out if you want it to.

What the machine has in durability, it sorely lacks in aesthetic appeal, however.

It is significantly larger than most domestic coffee machines and has a very commercial look to it. To say it’s an eyesore would be kind, in all honesty.

That being said, if you have a good amount of countertop space and aren’t put off by the ugliness of it, the machine should keep running at its best decades into ownership.

Design and Build Quality Rating: 7/10

Value For Money

The Bunn VP17-SS is on the more expensive side as far as coffee machines go. However, I know of several coffee machines that are inferior to the Bunn and are also similarly priced or more expensive.

I think that if you are not concerned about how the machine looks, then it offers excellent value for money. If, however, the machine’s aesthetics is a big drawback for you then it still offers decent, but not outstanding value for money.

Value For Money Rating: 8/10

Bunn VP17-1SS Pros

It is the only completely plastic-free coffee machine on the market.

It has incredible durability and should last you decades.

It makes better coffee than most coffee machines.

Bunn VP17-1SS Cons

It’s bulky and ugly.

You need to buy a separate stainless steel brew basket for it to be plastic free.

Best Overall
Bunn VP17-1SS
$420.00

The Bunn VP17-1SS is the only plastic-free automatic coffee maker. Please bear in mind that you need to replace its plastic brew basket with a compatible stainless steel brew basket for it to be plastic-free.

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04/02/2024 11:47 pm GMT

Best French Press: Sterling Pro Stainless Steel French Press

Best Plastic Free French Press
Sterling Pro Stainless Steel French Press
$57.83

The Sterling Pro Stainless Steel French Press is one of the most insulated French presses out there and its dual-layered metal filter means that no sediment makes it into your coffee.

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Quality of Coffee

The Sterling Pro’s double-insulated stainless steel chamber means that it will keep a consistent temperature during brewing. This means that it makes the best possible out of any French press.

The main variable that affects the quality of coffee that your French press makes is how insulative it is.

The Sterling Pro’s double-insulated stainless steel chamber means that there will be less than one degree Celsius temperature loss during a typical brew time of around 6 minutes. 

I’d still recommend that you use water that’s just off the boil (30 seconds after boiling has finished) for the best results.

The Sterling Pro uses a double-layered steel filter on its plunger. This means that you are half as likely to end up with sediment in your cup as a French press with a single-layered filter (most cheap French presses have just one layer in their filter).

Quality of Coffee Rating: 9/10

Design and Build Quality

The Sterling Pro is made from high-quality materials and is very durable. It does have a slight design flaw in that its measurements are hard to see.

The Sterling Pro is made from stainless steel. This is the same material that cutlery is usually made of.

This high-quality building material means that the French press will not break if you drop it.

The plunger is made from this material as well, making this (often fragile) component of the Sterling Pro very durable.

The Sterling Pro does have one design flaw. This is because its measurements are quite difficult to see.

The Sterling has its measurements embossed on the inside of its chamber. Since its outer materials are opaque, the inside of the chamber is very dark, making the measurements hard to see.

I’d therefore recommend measuring your ground coffee and brewing water before you put them in the French press if you want an accurate brew ratio.

Design and Build Quality Rating: 8/10

Value For Money

The Sterling Pro is not the cheapest French Press but still offers excellent value for money considering its build quality.

The Sterling Pro is one of the most affordable plastic French Presses that I could find.

To be honest, there is not a huge difference between French presses themselves, what matters is how you use them.

I’d therefore recommend just getting the cheapest French press that meets your specific requirements. 

If your requirements are that it’s plastic-free, then the Sterling Pro is the best value coffee maker that you can get.

Value For Money Rating: 10/10

Sterling Pro Stainless Steel French Press Pros

Very durable. It will not break if you drop it.

It retains heat extremely well.

Its double-layered filter means that grounds will not end up in your cup.

Inexpensive compared to other French presses of similar quality.

Sterling Pro Stainless Steel French Press Cons

Its measurements are hard to read due to being on the inside of its opaque brewing chamber.

Best Plastic Free French Press
Sterling Pro Stainless Steel French Press
$57.83

The Sterling Pro Stainless Steel French Press is one of the most insulated French presses out there and its dual-layered metal filter means that no sediment makes it into your coffee.

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04/03/2024 12:02 am GMT

Best Plastic Free Manual Pour Over: Hario V60 Ceramic

Best Plastic Free Manual Pour-Over
Hario V60 Ceramic
$26.50

The Hario V60 Ceramic is the best plastic-free manual pour-over out there. It is ideal for almost any pour-over recipe you find online as they generally assume that you are using a V60 cone.

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04/03/2024 01:04 am GMT

Quality of Coffee

The Hario V60 Ceramic can allow you to make excellent pour-over coffee because ceramic does a good job of not conducting the heat out of your brewing water. Therefore the coffee maker allows you to maintain a consistent temperature throughout your brewing process.

Ceramic pour-overs make the best-tasting coffee (all other brewing conditions being equal) because they are the most insulative material that these devices are made from.

The Hario V60 is also the most popular type of pour-over coffee maker. While this does not directly influence the quality of coffee that it makes, it does mean that much of the advice online about making pour-over coffee assumes that you are using a Hario V60.

This should therefore both make it easier for you to get started with the Hario V60 and raise the quality ceiling of this device as you have a lot of relevant recipes and brewing methods to experiment with.

Quality of Coffee Rating: 9/10

Design and Build Quality

The Hario V60 is the prototypical pour-over. Basically, all other pour-overs are based on its classic design. Being ceramic does mean that it will smash if dropped, however.

Ceramic pour-overs are the highest quality of this type of brewer because ceramic retains heat much better than alternative materials like steel, glass and plastic.

The V60 has a classic design. Pretty much all manual pour-over coffee makers’ design has been “inspired” (read: ripped off) from the Hario V60.

Please bear in mind that since the device is ceramic, it will shatter if dropped. 

Other than that you cannot really fault Hario’s design and build quality.

Design and Build Quality Rating: 8/10

Value For Money

The Hario V60 ceramic is decent, but not amazing value for money.

While it’s a good quality device at a fair price, pour-over coffee is a lot of work to make manually, meaning that a manual pour-over is unlikely to be your go-to coffee maker.

Therefore you are paying for a once-in-a-while luxury rather than something you will use daily.

This lowers the machine’s utility and therefore the value it offers.

Value For Money Rating: 6/10

Hario V60 Ceramic Pros

There are lots of recipes with this device online so you can experiment with brew styles.

Has an iconic look.

The best quality brewer of this type.

Hario V60 Ceramic Cons

You need to pay attention to the brew throughout the entire brewing process.

It will shatter if dropped.

Best Plastic Free Manual Pour-Over
Hario V60 Ceramic
$26.50

The Hario V60 Ceramic is the best plastic-free manual pour-over out there. It is ideal for almost any pour-over recipe you find online as they generally assume that you are using a V60 cone.

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04/03/2024 01:04 am GMT

Coffee Machine that is Often Cited as Being Plastic Free But Actually is Not #1: Technivorm Moccamaster 59691 KB

While I was researching this article, I saw this machine come up time and time again on lists of plastic-free coffee machines.

While the Technivorm Moccamaster uses a glass water tank, rather than the usual plastic one, its brew basket is still made out of food-grade ABS plastic.

A brew basket will not only come into direct contact with your ground coffee but also will be exposed to heat from your brewing water.

This makes it thoroughly unsuitable for anyone concerned about their food being contaminated with plastic.

Coffee Machine that is Often Cited as Being Plastic Free, But Actually is Not #2: Ratio 8

Ratio 8 is often cited on Reddit as being the best plastic-free coffee maker.

While the machine uses very little plastic, Ratio themselves say that Ratio 8 uses “five pieces of plastic… to ensure that there are no leak points in the brewer”.

I read this to mean that the Ratio 8’s brew basket contains small amounts of plastic and therefore this plastic will also come into direct contact with your hot brewing water.

It, therefore, has the same problem as the Tecnivorm Moccamaster with regard to plastic contamination (although there will be less contamination with Ratio 8 than with the Technivorm Moccamaster).

What to Ask Yourself When Looking for A Plastic Free Coffee Maker

Here are the questions that you should ask yourself when looking for a plastic-free coffee maker.

Why Are You Avoiding Plastic?

You’re likely wanting to avoid plastic in your coffee maker for one of two reasons:

  • You’re concerned about the potential damage to the environment caused by the manufacturing and/or disposal of products containing plastic.
  • You are concerned about the potential health effects of consuming food and drinks contaminated by plastic.

Each of these concerns has different implications for how little plastic you are willing to tolerate in your coffee maker. I’ll now go through how these differ.

Environmental Concerns

If you are concerned by the negative environmental impact of the production and disposal of plastic then you probably want a coffee maker that uses no plastic whatsoever.

The only automatic coffee maker that uses no plastic whatsoever is the Bunn VP17-1SS.

If you do not want the Bunn, then you’ll need to go for a manual machine. Your two main options here are a pour-over and a French press.

Plastic Free Pour Overs

With a pour-over, you have the option of buying it in the following materials:

  • Glass
  • Ceramic
  • Stainless steel
  • Plastic

So long as you choose an option other than plastic, your pour-over will be plastic free.

Personally, I’d recommend opting for glass or ceramic pour-over instead of a stainless steel one as the latter material is too conductive so you end up brewing at too low a temperature when your water comes into contact with the dripper.

Plastic Free French Presses

Looking for a plastic-free French Press is a bit more complicated than looking for a plastic free pour over as many glass or metal french presses have plastic handles.

Therefore you need to specifically look out for what the handle material is made out of. Generally, if the handle is clearly made from a different material to the body of the French Press, then you can assume it’s plastic.

The only exception to this is French presses with wooden handles. These aren’t too common and are generally only found on fancier models.

Food Safety Concerns

If you are concerned about the potential negative health effects of plastic contaminants in food, then you probably want a coffee maker that does not put plastic into direct contact with your ground coffee or brewing water. 

Most automatic coffee makers have at least one plastic component that comes into direct contact with either your brewing water or ground coffee (or both). They are:

  • Their water tank
  • Their brewing basket

Water Tank

Water tanks are usually made of polypropylene with some being made out of polycarbonate.

Polycarbonate can contain bisphenol A (BPA) (although they don’t always contain this). 

BPA is the chemical that most people are concerned about when it comes to plastic contamination in foods and drinks.

If a manufacturer does not specifically state that its machine’s water tank is BPA free then you should assume that its water tank has BPA-containing plastics.

I should make clear that coffee makers that have plastic water tanks (BPA-containing or otherwise) do not actually heat up the water in the water tank.

Water is instead heated in a copper tube and passes through a glass tube within the water tank when hot.

Therefore the possible catalysing effect that heat may have on the leaching of BPA into water will not occur even if you have a coffee maker plastic water tank.

Low-plastic coffee machines use glass in their water tank, rather than plastic. 

All the automatic coffee makers featured in this article (including the Ratio 8 and Techivorm Moccamaster) use glass, rather than plastic in their water tanks.

Brew Basket

Most coffee machines have brew baskets that are made out of ABS plastic. This is the same material that plug sockets are generally made out of.

The plastic brew basket on my Breville Precision Brewer

While ABS plastic is food grade, bear in mind that your brew basket will come into direct contact with hot water that you’ll eventually drink.

If you are concerned about plastic contamination in food and drinks then you should avoid any coffee maker that has a plastic brew basket.

The Bunn VP17-1SS comes with a plastic brew basket but you can buy a steel brew basket compatible with the machine.

The Bunn VP17-1SS is completely free from plastic if you fit it with a metal brew plastic.

It is the only machine that uses no plastic in its brew basket (if you pair it with the compatible stainless steel brew basket)

If you want to go for a manual coffee maker and are concerned about plastic contamination, then just make sure that you avoid plastic pour-overs. 

The chamber of a French press is almost always made of glass or stainless steel, so you do not need to worry about plastic contamination with these devices.

How Much Money Are You Willing to Spend?

While you can easily buy a plastic-free pour-over or French press for under $100, you have absolutely no chance of buying a plastic-free (or near plastic-free) automatic coffee maker for under $300.

One of the main reasons why plastics are so ubiquitous in products is that they are cheap to produce.

Therefore manufacturers use plastic, in part, to reduce their item’s production costs. Part of this saving passes on to the customer.

You will therefore have to pay more for a plastic-free product compared to one that is made out of plastic.

If you want to spend under $100 on a plastic-free coffee maker, then you will have to go for a manual machine like a French press or manual pour-over.

Bear in mind that even a plastic-free French press or manual pour-over will typically cost 2-5 times the price of an equivalent device made out of plastic.

Automatic machines are more expensive still, with the two machines that I could find which contained the least amount of plastic being two of the most expensive drip coffee machines on the market.

The table below shows the machines featured in this article listed from least to most expensive:

  • V60 Hario Ceramic
  • Sterling Stainless Steel French Press
  • Bunn VP17-1 with Stainless Steel Filter

What Brew Method Would You Prefer to Drink?

Plastic-free coffee makers can either brew by percolation (pour-overs and automatic coffee makers) or immersion brewing (French press). 

These two brewing methods produce different-tasting drinks.

  • Percolation brewing: Coffee brewed by percolation (water flowing through a bed of ground coffee) produces a lighter, cleaner-tasting drink.
  • Immersion brewing: Coffee brewed by immersion produces a richer and stronger flavoured drink.

As a general rule, if you are newer to coffee drinking, then you’ll likely prefer percolation brew methods. Seasoned coffee drinkers tend to go for immersion brewing.

One method does not produce categorically “better” coffee than the other, but it’s useful to be aware of the differences between them.

How Much Time and Effort Are You Willing to Put into Making Your Coffee?

Manual pour-overs are far more effort to use compared to French presses and automatic machines.

Manual pour-overs take a fair bit of practice to master, and even when you understand the technique you still need to make every coffee slowly and carefully with this type of setup.

French Presses are much easier to use. 

All you need to do is make sure that you have the correct quantities of coffee and water and then time your brew. You do not need to do anything while the coffee is brewing, unlike with a manual pour-over.

Automatic machines are easier still with you just needing to measure out your ground coffee and water dose. The machine does the timing for you.

I don’t know anyone who uses a manual pour-over as their main coffee-making method. It is just too time-consuming – especially first thing in the morning.

People use manual pour-overs as a secondary brewing system in their home – one for when they are not pressed for time and are happy to put a little extra effort into making as good-tasting coffee as possible.

Are There Any Plastic Free Espresso Machines? 

The only plastic-free espresso machines that I could find were fully manual espresso machines.

These are machines where you create your own brewing pressure by squeezing or pulling down a lever. They have a very steep learning curve compared to other types of coffee makers (even manual pour-overs).

The best plastic-free espresso machine is the Cafelat Robot which features in my roundup of the best manual espresso machines.

Final Verdict

The best plastic-free manual coffee maker is the Sterling Pro Stainless Steel French Press.

Best Plastic Free French Press
Sterling Pro Stainless Steel French Press
$57.83

The Sterling Pro Stainless Steel French Press is one of the most insulated French presses out there and its dual-layered metal filter means that no sediment makes it into your coffee.

Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/03/2024 12:02 am GMT

The best plastic-free automatic coffee maker is the Bunn VP17-1SS however you need to buy a separate stainless steel brew basket for it to be fully plastic-free.

Best Overall
Bunn VP17-1SS
$420.00

The Bunn VP17-1SS is the only plastic-free automatic coffee maker. Please bear in mind that you need to replace its plastic brew basket with a compatible stainless steel brew basket for it to be plastic-free.

Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/02/2024 11:47 pm GMT

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