Coffee is a morning ritual for many Americans. For others, it’s a daily necessity. If you’re an older adult who loves coffee and needs it to get moving in the morning, you’ll want to consider what type of coffee maker is best plus what features are really needed.
Choosing the right one will help you easily and safely enjoy a hot, fresh cup of joe. If you just want to see my top picks, here they are. Keep scrolling to see my full coffee maker buying guide.
Why Does It Matter Which Coffee Maker a Senior Uses? Important Safety Concerns
There are many reasons why it is important for seniors to use the best coffee maker for them. In general, coffee is a great way to start the morning or wind down after a long day. It can also help keep seniors healthy and active. Coffee is packed with antioxidants, which can help promote health. Additionally, coffee can help seniors stay sharp and attentive. Finally, coffee is a social drink and can be enjoyed with friends or family.
These reasons are why coffee is a popular drink and is enjoyed by people of all ages. But, there are some safety concerns to be aware of when it comes to coffee makers for the elderly. For one, many coffee makers – even those labeled as “safe” for the elderly – can be dangerous if not used properly. Additionally, there are a few common safety concerns with coffee makers specifically for the elderly that should be considered.
- Confusing Operation. One concern with coffee makers for the elderly is that they may not be able to properly operate them. Many older adults may have difficulty gripping a hot drink mug or manipulating small buttons on a machine, which can lead to burns or other injuries if the machine is used incorrectly.
- No Safety Measures. Additionally, some machines do not have safety measures in place should water spill over or enter the machine unsupervised; this can lead to steam explosions, scalding, and other burn injuries. A 2008 study in Geriatrics and Aging reports that most burn injuries among older adults happen in the kitchen. The same study states that injuries from flames, heating elements, and scalds are the most common cause of major burns among older persons (Source).
- Fire and Injury Risk. Finally, forgetful seniors and the elderly may not remember to turn off the coffee pot once finished increasing the risk of fire.
So, where’s the good news?
There are a variety of coffee makers on the market that are safe for seniors to use! It’s important to do your research before making a purchase. To get you started, I put together this guide if you’re considering a change in your coffee brewer. Then, I’ve put together a list of the ones I recommend (and don’t recommend) for seniors and the elderly.
What Are The Easiest Coffee Makers?
If you want just a simple, easy, and safe coffee maker for an older loved one, I recommend the “coffee pod” makers like Keurig and similar models. These just require popping in a coffee pod and adding water to the machine. There is no exposed heating element to cause burns. The coffee goes right into their mug, too, so there is no additional pouring step that could lead to a drop or spill. Plus, there are no filters to contend with!
The next best option would be a single-serve drip-style coffee maker with a disposable filter system. With a personal coffee maker, the user just needs to add a filter, add their coffee, fill the carafe with water and add it to the machine, replace the carafe, and turn it on. This is a process most older adults have been doing for years and will come naturally to them.
What To Look For When Shopping for a Coffee Maker for the Elderly
I thought choosing an easy-to-use and safe coffee maker for older adults would be a pretty easy task.
Boy was I wrong.
There are so many different types of brewers to choose from – too many if you ask me. Each type, though, has its own set of features and benefits. But, the closer I looked, I found many weren’t appropriate choices for more elderly users.
Here are some tips to help you choose the perfect coffee maker for your elderly loved one:
1. Stick to What They Are Used To
The first thing you need to consider is the type of coffee maker your elderly loved one prefers. Most people prefer drip coffee makers over a complicated espresso machine, so if that’s what your loved one wants, make sure to buy a drip machine.
This is not the time to introduce french presses, espresso machines, and pour-over coffee devices. They probably aren’t going to want to learn how to use a new coffee brewing method at this point.
2. Look for Simple Switches and Controls
Look for coffee makers that have simple switches, so they are easy to use. This can be important, as many older people may have trouble reading small print or using complicated controls. Sometimes, the best choice is just a simple on/off switch and that’s it. Generally, single-serving brewers and coffee pod systems will be the easiest to control.
Many older adults have trouble manipulating the knobs that are on some coffee makers especially if they are small and difficult to grasp.
3. Always Choose Auto Shut-Off
An auto shut-off feature is mandatory to help avoid fires and accidents and keep elderly users safe. This important feature turns the brewer off automatically once the brew cycle has completed. If that’s too quick for slower coffee drinkers, I have a suggestion for that below. Or show them how to heat up their coffee in the microwave.
4. Consider How The Machine Will Be Loaded
Look closely at the filter basket, water reservoirs, etc including how they are accessed. Think about the steps necessary to get the machine running each morning.
Does it use disposable or reusable filters?
Do you need to add water every day or does the water reservoir hold enough water for several days?
Compare this with the person’s routine and abilities.
5. Choose a Stainless Steel Carafe
Take a look at the carafe that comes with the coffee maker too. Options such as the material, handle style, and weight are more important than you might realize. Stainless steel carafes are less likely to break than glass ones if they are dropped.
The style of the handle can be important too for reducing the chance of the carafe being dropped. For seniors and elderly folks with arthritis or poor hand dexterity, thicker, more round handles are easier to hold onto than skinny, stick-like handles.
Of course, a lightweight carafe is always a better choice.
6. Automation With Programmable Coffee Makers and Timers
While I generally recommend coffee machines with fewer features and options, there are some situations where programmable coffee makers are a good idea. These are really helpful when you have caregivers or family members to help with the coffee-making.
For example, the caregiver could have it loaded up and ready to go for the next morning before they leave for the day. Then, they could set it to automatically come on when the seniors usually want their morning coffee. Then, it’s hot and ready to go.
Combine this with automatic shut-off and there is no need for the elderly person to use the controls at all!
7. Easy to Read Buttons and Numbers
If you opt for a more advanced coffee maker, there will be buttons on the machine and labels to read. Look for large buttons that are easy to press for weakened, arthritic fingers. Any text labels or instructions on the machine should be easy to read too in a clear, bold, and contrasting font that stands out from the background.
8. A Bright Display
It’s hard to avoid brewers that don’t have some type of electronic display, even if it’s just to display the time. So, likewise, make sure the display is bright, clear, and easy to read with a bold font. Blues and greens tend to be easier to read than reds and oranges for older eyes.
9. Loud Beeps and Alarms
If your chosen maker has audible alerts, make sure they are loud and easy to hear – even from a distance. Also, if the devices make different tones for different functions or warnings, review the differences with the elderly person and make sure they understand.
10. Easy to Clean and Reassemble
This is especially important for seniors who are living independently. Choose a coffee maker that has an easy-to-clean carafe without small grooves where coffee grinds can get caught.
Coffee makers with removable reservoirs are more hygienic because they can be washed separately in warm soapy water. Just be sure it is easy to reassemble the machine once it has been cleaned.
11. Don’t Forget Style and Size Might Matter
This may not apply to everyone, but some seniors want their kitchen to be “just so.” If you have a finicky elderly loved one you are shopping for, consider their style and design demands. They may not want a huge coffee maker whose footprint takes up a large section of their countertop.
What to Avoid When Buying Coffee Makers for Older Adults
When it comes to finding the best coffee maker for elderly adults, there are a few things that you should avoid:
- Lots of buttons, switches, and complicated menus with small text.
- Heavy glass carafes with narrow handles.
- Machines that do not have an automatic shut-off.
- Complicated multi-step brewing devices.
My Recommendations: The Best Coffee Makers for Seniors & The Elderly
These are the top models that I recommend for elderly people who need a safe and easy-to-use coffee maker.
Keurig K-Express Coffee Maker
Coffee making doesn’t get much easier than this! This machine is perfect for those who are looking for a quick, safe, and easy way to make coffee.
To make a delicious cup of coffee, just lift the top, pop in a pod of your favorite coffee flavor, make sure there is water in the reservoir, and press the button for your cup size. The buttons are right on the side of the machine and feature bold white print against a black background making them easy to read.
Pod-styled coffee machines are a great idea for older adults, especially couples. There are hundreds of varieties and flavors of coffee to choose from so everyone can get their perfect cup, flavor, and strength of coffee.
Plus, they are easy to clean and there is less chance of accidents or spills when using coffee pod systems.
- Simple coffee-making process
- Buttons are straight-forward and easy to use
- Flavor and strength choices
- Large reservoir holds enough water for several days
- The reservoir is removable for easy cleaning
- Need to know cup size to prevent overflow
Hamilton Beach Scoop Single Serve Coffee Maker
This is the next best coffee maker for seniors and the elderly. It uses a very similar process to make coffee except that you can use any loose ground coffee you want.
So, it’s a top choice for people who only want their Folgers or may buy a special blend that they prefer. It’s also a great choice for older adults concerned about the environmental impacts of all those disposable coffee pods.
The advantage of this single-serve coffee maker is the integrated scoop and filter. To add coffee to the machine, use the included mesh scoop filter which doubles as your filter basket. Scoop the amount of coffee you want and place the entire scoop in the top of the machine.
From there just close the lid, check the water, and choose regular or bold. I love that this one has a single-button operation too. It makes your favorite coffee fast and easy!
- Fast, easy, and safe coffee making
- Start brewing at the touch of a button
- No disposable cups or filters to buy
- Durable stainless steel construction
- Can overflow if coffee is overfilled or too finely ground
- The reservoir cannot be removed for cleaning
Cuisinart 4 Cup Coffee Maker (DCC-450BK)
If you or the senior you love prefers a more traditional drip-style coffee maker, then this should be of your top choices because it is easy and safe to use and has all my recommended features. It’s also a good choice for people who want to make more than a cup at a time but prefer the size of a personal coffee maker.
This one uses the same simple process that most older adults have followed thousands of times. Simply, lift the lid and add your filter, desired amount of coffee grounds, and the water. Close the lid and flip the power switch on the left side of the unit. This single switch coffee maker also has an orange light to let them know that the machine is on and working.
If they get antsy and want that first cup right away, it has a brew-pause feature that will stop brewing if the carafe is removed. Putting the carafe back in the machine will restart the brewing process. This can save a mess and potential accident if they pull the carafe out before brewing has finished.
For larger capacity, here’s the 10-cup version.
- Simple and familiar coffee brewing process
- Single power switch is large and easy to use
- Brew-pause feature prevents spills and accidents if the carafe is removed before brewing is finished
- Stainless steel carafe is sturdy and durable and unbreakable
- Make multiple cups of coffee at one time
- Requires disposable filters and measuring of coffee
BLACK+DECKER Single Serve Coffee Maker (CM618)
Do you (or the senior you love) sip on your coffee all morning long? Or maybe you prefer the feel of a big thermal travel mug in your hand?
This easy-to-operate single-serve coffee maker comes with a large thermal travel mug that you can fill right from the coffee machine. To use this one, you simply fill the included scoop filter basket with your favorite coffee and add water to the reservoir. Then, just close the lid, and press the large start button on the right side of the machine.
The benefit of the travel mug is that you can make one large cup of coffee at once and it will stay hotter longer. Another benefit is that some older adults and elderly people with arthritis find this style of mug much easier to hold onto than a standard coffee mug with a handle.
If interested, you can learn more about coffee cups for arthritic hands here.
- Includes a large thermal mug to keep coffee warmer longer
- Easy brewing process and one-touch operation
- Reusable mesh scoop filter that is dishwasher-safe
- Brewer automatically shuts off once the brewing is complete
- Not compatible with other mugs or carafes
Here are some more makers that I considered for this guide along with an explanation of why they didn’t make my top recommendations.
Mr. Coffee 5-Cup Mini Brew Switch Coffee Maker (2129512)
Traditional coffee brewers will appreciate the style and operation of this old, familiar Mr. Coffee coffee maker. But, while it’s simple to operate it may not be the best choice for older brewers.
For seniors and the elderly, the positives of this maker are that it has a simple flip switch operation with an orange light to let you know it’s working. It also has the brew-pause feature to reduce messes and accidents if the user gets over-eager and pulls the carafe out too soon.
BUT, while simple in its operation, it isn’t the best choice for elderly folks. The carafe is glass and could shatter if dropped. Although, the ergonomic handle is pretty robust so it should be easy to hold onto. There is also no automatic shut-off feature. Instead, it relies on you noticing the orange light as a cue to turn it off.
Nespresso Vertuo Plus Deluxe Coffee and Espresso Maker
Several of my counterparts have suggested this is a good coffee maker for older people but I disagree.
While it could be a good choice for a senior or elderly person who is a bit of a “coffee snob,” your general older adult isn’t going to want to take the extra steps needed to make more fancy coffee drinks. Although, I will say, that given the variety of options this one has, it is simple to operate at the press of a single button.
Another drawback is that you have to use the Nespresso brand coffee cartridges so you are locking yourself into one brand and style of coffee really.
Cafetiere French Press Coffee Maker
Some would say that french press coffee is easier to make, but, again, I disagree. I personally make french press coffee myself at home and it does make a better-tasting cup of coffee.
Yes, they are easy to use because you just add coffee and water, brew, then press the handle and pour.
But, there is another extra step too: you have to get the water hot in the first place.
This usually involves using a stove and water kettle or an electric water kettle at least. Heating and transferring this water presents an opportunity for scalding and spills and is best avoided if safe coffee making is your concern.
Presto 6-Cup Stainless-Steel Coffee Percolator (02822)
Percolators are an interesting way to make coffee for this population. Many of them are familiar with the process and probably grew up using percolators.
And, percolators are generally safe and easy to use.
The drawback is going to be when they need cleaning. Disassembling a percolator requires several steps that some people aren’t going to want to deal with. And, if they aren’t cleaned properly, residual coffee will burn and create a bitter taste.
All that being said though, of the percolator options, I like this one best. It’s got a simple one-button operation, is relatively easy to clean, and has an automatic keep-warm mode.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is coffee good for seniors?
According to the National Institute of Health, elderly people can consume “moderate amounts of coffee which will not cause any health impairments.” But, of course, there are some caveats to this – especially with caffeine. The metabolism of caffeine is dependent on enzymatic liver function. So, some elderly people with degraded liver function probably shouldn’t drink caffeinated coffee. Excessive amounts of coffee have been known to cause “unpleasant life-threatening side effects.” If you are concerned about this, check with the elderly person’s doctor who knows their personal health history.
How much caffeine is safe for seniors?
Most elderly people can tolerate moderate amounts of caffeinated coffee with the recommendation from the NIH being 50-100mg of caffeine a day. However, seniors with decreased liver function should avoid any caffeine whatsoever. (source)
Are the elderly more sensitive to caffeine?
Caffeine has been shown to increase urinary calcium levels and has “a greater impact on calcium metabolism and bone in older people.” However, caffeine’s effect on neurological systems and overall metabolism seem to be nearly equal. (source)
Does coffee cause forgetfulness?
Healthline reports that many studies show that coffee has no effect on memory or memory tasks. Johns Hopkins Medicine even reports that caffeine can ace a positive effect on memory and recall. So, the general consensus is that at a minimum coffee has no effect on memory or may actually improve memory in other studies.
Is coffee good for dementia?
The Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging, and Dementia (CAIDE) study identified that middle-aged persons who consumed 3-5 cups of coffee each day showed a 65% decreased risk of dementia. However, a study at Harvard, indicated there is a limit to this and that you shouldn’t consume more than 5 or 6 cups per day,
When shopping for a coffee maker for the elderly, it is important to consider a coffee maker’s features and options that affect its ease of use and safety. I recommend you choose a coffee maker with minimal options, easy-to-read and press switches, a lightweight carafe and that has an automatic shut-off for safety.
Additionally, take into account the elderly person’s individual needs and preferences too. If they don’t like what you’ve chosen, they may not use it. Get their buy-in upfront.
While on the subject of coffee, take a look at the coffee cups your senior loved one is using. I have a separate guide to lightweight coffee mugs for elderly people you may want to read too.
Overall the jury is still out on whether coffee is good or bad for our health. There are some studies that suggest it may have benefits while others indicate it’s not so great for us. However, in general, most experts agree that moderate consumption of coffee is generally safe and can be enjoyed by seniors and anyone else who wants to stay healthy.
Do you see anything I missed? Are there any questions still lingering on your mind? Let me know in the comments below.