If you’ve ever endured a tepid cup of pre-brewed coffee, you’ll be very familiar with the awful grimace it rapidly induces – eurgh!
Down the sink it goes – wasted – and you’re off to cook up a fresh pot.
Pick a really good thermal carafe though and you’ll never have to worry about this again.
In this article I’m reviewing five very popular carafes, each one of which is suited to a different kind of occasion.
In this article I’ll be reviewing the following carafes:
- Cresimo 68oz Stainless Steel Carafe – BEST OVERALL
- Keurig 2.0 Thermal Carafe
- Bodum Columbia French Press Coffee Maker – BEST HOSTING
- Cresimo Airpot Thermal Coffee Carafe – BEST CAPACITY
- VonShef Thermal Airpot Carafe
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Thermal Carafe Reviews
Let’s dive right in with the reviews of the best coffee carafes on the market today.
Cresimo’s one of the leading names in insulated coffee carafes and the company’s reputation is very well-deserved.
This particular model is good for keeping the coffee at a drinkable temperature for around 10-12 hours. That’s more than enough for a day at the office or a lazy weekend day at home!
What’s really impressive though is that cool drinks stay cold for even longer. Up to 24 hours, in fact.
If you’re heading out for a picnic on a hot day, it’s wonderful to be able to top up a refreshing chilled drink. It doesn’t make a mess like other cold carafes either, with a noticeable lack of condensation on the outside.
As for capacity this model can hold 68 fluid ounces, which is an impressive amount at this end of the budget spectrum.
It’s really easy to use as well. With one hand you can push down the button that opens the spout, and then simply pour away. It’s obviously heavier to handle with a full brew inside though.
As it has quite a large capacity, it has a equally large mouth. That not only makes it easier to fill, it also means it’s much easier to get inside with a handled cloth for a good clean out.
As a general, all-round carafe this model is very easy to recommend. The design is rather industrial, but in terms of function this is about as good as things get.
- Dual wall insulation means the exterior remains cool to the touch, regardless of how how hot the contents are.
- Pours very well with a simple one-hand operation. I haven’t experienced any mess while pouring this thing.
- Feels extremely durable, yet it’s also lightweight. The handle is sturdy, and this is a very well-constructed carafe.
- Although I love this carafe as an all-rounder, that capacity is quite large for the average home.
- The exterior has a tendency to pick up fingerprints and water spots over time.
- The lid in particular requires a thorough clean if you’re going to store anything other than coffee in this. The coffee flavor really lingers if you don’t make an effort here.
Coffee pod brewing has a bit of a bad reputation among coffee connoisseurs. Keurig’s dedicated insulated carafe is a great option for this kind of small-scale operation though.
Because of this, it’s not really designed for anything more than a very limited volume of coffee. About four cups I reckon – and I’m talking Keurig cups here, which are often disappointingly small servings.
As this is a licensed product designed specifically for Keurig machines, there is some extra tech built in. Once you’ve connected the carafe to the machine, it opens up larger brewing options on the coffee maker.
If you don’t have a Keurig machine though – but this fits – you’re not going to get the benefit of that extra feature.
You should also keep in mind that this is not compatible with every Keurig coffee maker on the market. Check the listing carefully to make sure this will actually work with the machine you have in your kitchen.
- If you’re making Keurig pod coffee – and nothing but pod coffee – this is a very good, compact carafe that will get the job done in a very basic fashion.
- Very easy to clean thanks to its wide mouth, but generally compact size.
- Integrates nicely with compatible Keurig machines, making larger brews easier to set up and complete.
- Only holds around four cups of coffee, which makes it hard to recommend for anything other than a Keurig machine.
- Although well constructed, it only really retains that heat for around one hour. After that there’s a noticeable dip in temperature. This is best considered as a serving device for larger batches of Keurig coffee.
- Not compatible with every Keurig machine. Check the listing carefully before buying for your own device.
As someone with a depressingly small kitchen, I love anything that does a great job of combining two tasks into one appliance.
Bodum’s Columbia stainless steel carafe gets a big thumbs-up from me on that front.
This is both a French Press coffee maker and a thermal carafe in one elegantly designed unit.
To whip up a fresh batch, you just remove the lid and add your coffee. Next, you fill it up with hot water and give the contents a stir with a spoon.
Pop the lid back on, and then give it a twist to close off the spout to lock the heat and aroma in. Wait a few minutes, plunge gently, and start pouring a pretty good cup of French Press coffee!
As for construction it’s built of smoothly molded stainless steel, with a double wall to make sure the outside doesn’t get too hot to handle.
It really is a very clever thing and I’m quite smitten by the ingenuity and convenience of this appliance. It looks fantastic and feels comfortable to use as well.
I would not hesitate to make this my main French Press coffee brewer for when we have guests over.
- Makes delicious French Press coffee, and then retains the heat nicely for a leisurely drink with friends.
- A beautifully designed device that really stands out among the other more industrial carafes on the market.
- An actual, dishwasher-proof carafe! When it comes to overall convenience, it’s hard to think of a better device.
- Only retains heat for around two to three hours, but for its intended use as a non-portable carafe I think that’s good enough.
- By design this is for French Press coffee only. I wouldn’t use it as a general coffee storage container.
- There are some plastic elements tucked away here and there, although they’re really not very noticeable.
This is essentially the bigger, more industrial brother of the Cresimo carafe I reviewed earlier on in this article.
If you’ve ever been to a conference at a hotel, for example, you’ll have seen this sort of “airpot” container on the table with the biscuits!
If you’re not familiar with them, you use a sort of pump at the top of the carafe to feed coffee through into the cup you place beneath the spout.
Most noticeable here is the huge 101 oz capacity. This isn’t the kind of thing you’re likely to want at home, but if you have an office (or run a community event) this is a very cost-effective solution.
Again, you’re looking at around 10-12 hours of heat retention, and 24 hours of cold retention if you want to serve iced drinks.
As this is such a large carafe, it won’t surprise you to learn that it’s relatively easy to clean out. Give it a good wash out with hot water, then use a handled cloth to wipe around the interior.
With this sort of carafe you’re more concerned with capacity rather than looks. Don’t expect anything special in terms of its visual appeal, but when it comes to function it does exactly what you need it to.
- An extremely generous capacity, which should be enough to keep a large group of people refreshed for some time.
- Despite this increased capacity, it still retains heat / cold just as well as the smaller device I looked at earlier.
- Cresimo has a rock-solid reputation for replacing parts under warranty. They take good care of commercial and home owners alike.
- The pump makes the coffee flow quickly, which is fantastic when guests have a limited amount of time to grab a top-up.
- For maximum heat retention, you need to pre-warm it with hot water. Not a big deal, but something to keep in mind.
- Tricky to dry overnight as the lid doesn’t open far enough to balance the carafe upside down.
- If it gets knocked over, it will leak a little. Make sure it’s situated properly.
- The lid construction isn’t particularly sturdy, and the plastic hinge can break easily.
VonShef’s carafe is another airpot style coffee container, with a push down pump and a spout.
This one has an even bigger capacity than Cresimo’s model at a whopping 170 oz. If that seems like overkill for your needs, there is a smaller 100 oz model as well.
It’s also got a sturdy built-in handle, which makes carrying the thing – full or otherwise – a lot easier.
In terms of heat retention you’ll find that results vary quite a bit. It’s drinkable after 12 hours, although I think you’d want to factor in less time than that for the best results.
As with the Cresimo model, it also does a good job of keeping cold drinks cool. That’s nice to have for summer parties in the garden, for example.
Finally, a safety lock is always welcome to avoid spillage. The VonShef has one built in, which is good for peace of mind, especially if you have youngsters racing around.
- For sheer capacity, this is about as good as it gets!
- Built-in handle makes life a lot easier, and it’s surprisingly easy to move around even when filled.
- Lid comes off really easily for fast re-filling and cleaning.
- This is another carafe that’s prone to picking up water spots and fingerprints on the exterior. If you’re buying for form as well as function, this might be a little off-putting.
- The push button takes a little more effort to get going than other carafes of its kind. You really have to push hard to get a decent flow going.
- There are plastic elements of the design that come into contact with the contents. Not ideal for flavor preservation.
All the coffee carafes I’ve reviewed in this article are the best in class for different occassions.
There’s no one true winner!
Instead, I’ll recommend one for each main usage type. Click through the links to read more user reviews for each one:
- Cresimo Thermal Coffee Carafe – BEST OVERALL
- Bodum Columbia French Press Coffee Maker – BEST FOR HOSTING
- Cresimo Airpot Thermal Coffee Carafe – BEST FOR CAPACITY
I’ve made my recommendations based on reviewing the most popular thermal coffee carafes that are available today.
If you want to carry on researching for yourself, these are the most important things to keep in mind.
How easy is it to use?
You might not think it’s possible to find a carafe tricky to use! Believe me when I say there are some design tweaks that make life a lot easier – and create much less mess as well.
Check the listing for any clever design details that will increase safety and prevent spills.
Carafes that are advertised as being “cleaning-friendly” or “easy-pour” have had a little more thought and attention put into them.
Is it easy to clean?
You can happily put a glass coffee carafe into the dishwasher and think nothing of it.
There aren’t many thermal carafes that play nicely with a dishwasher though. Instead, you’ll need to spend a bit of time manually cleaning it.
It’s worth the effort though, as these things can get quite gunky over time.
For that reason, I recommend buying a carafe that has a generously wide lid. You’ll find it much easier to get in there with a cloth and have a good wipe around.
What capacity do you really need?
A thermal carafe probably isn’t something you’re going to want to leave sitting out on the countertop. Don’t buy something so big that you can’t store it in your kitchen!
Think about the absolute maximum capacity you’re going to need for your biggest event.
Carafe capacities range from a handful of cups to as many as fifteen. Choose the one that’s going to suit your own particular needs.
If you’re using it exclusively for home use, 32oz should be more than enough. If it’s for a small office, double up on capacity.
How’s the heat retention?
If you’re reading this article, then you’ve probably already decided that a thermal carafe is the way to go.
What is it that makes them so useful though?
A properly constructed stainless steel thermal carafe retains the heat of the coffee far better over time. They often feature vacuum seals and double-walls to aid that retention.
So, the coffee’s more enjoyable, and you waste less of it too. No need to empty a load of lukewarm coffee into the sink in exchange for a fresh brew.
They’re a little trickier to clean than a glass carafe, but they don’t break nearly as easily!
I’ve dropped a slippery glass carafe during cleaning, and it’s not just the financial hit that annoyed me. I spent forever hunting scattered pieces of glass across the kitchen. With young kids in the house that’s a source of worry I really don’t need.
In terms of looks, I prefer a glass carafe over an industrial-looking thermal carafe. In terms of function and safety though, there’s really no comparison.
A good thermal carafe can retain heat for up to many, many hours – and also store iced drinks at a chilly temperature for some time too.
Does the design matter?
If you’re going to be using the carafe in day to day family life – or in an office – then I recommend buying the most practical carafe.
If you’re using it for hosting though, then you’ll probably want to pay a little more attention to the design aesthetics.
Thermal carafes range from the industrial to the sleek. Make sure you pick one that suits the occasion you have in mind.
As a general rule of thumb, consider as well that the fancier the carafe is, the greater care you’ll have to take with cleaning and maintenance.