Published Monday, September 01, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.

Which carafe really keeps your coffee hot? And for how long?

Highly Recommended
  Thermos Nissan Stainless Steel Carafe

This carafe demonstrated excellent temperature retention, and testers liked its lever-action stopper, which allowed for one-handed pouring without dripping. The wide base kept the carafe secure on the table, and when intentionally tipped over, it did not leak at all. The lid was easy to screw on and off, and the stainless steel carafe proved dent-resistant. Both the carafe and lid can be put in the dishwasher (most others can't). At $46, it landed in the middle of our price spectrum, and testers judged it an excellent value.

  BonJour Julia Thermal Carafe

Testers really liked this model’s whimsical and decorative design. Its handle was comfortable to grip, and most found the one-touch, push-button pour easy to use. The plastic spout produced a nice, even flow, and when tipped over, its seal kept all the hot contents inside. This model is not dishwasher safe, but the plastic lid and stainless steel body were easy to clean.

  West Bend Thermal Carafe

Stainless steel and sleek, our testers liked this solid, compact model. The plastic lever opened and closed with ease but felt a little cheap—as if it might break easily with extended use. The handle was large and comfortable to grip and the carafe proved dent-proof. Hand-wash only. For just $20, we thought this was a great value.

Not Recommended
  Avantro Ultimate Server Vacuum Insulated Coffee Carafe

Some testers thought this rounded, stout carafe resembled a kettle. A clear Teflon sight gage inside the clear handle allowed testers to see how much liquid was in the carafe, but some wondered if the clear plastic would stain after extended use. We found the design of the handle awkward—it extended too far from the carafe—which made it difficult to pour the carafe with one hand. Testers liked its wide spout and steady pour, but observed slight leakage when the carafe was tipped over. While unbreakable and leak-proof, the Avantro didn’t perform well enough to merit its steep price.

Not Recommended
  Zojirushi Premium Thermal Carafe

Most testers were put off by the carafe’s tall, industrial appearance. It proved difficult to pour from, and required both hands to serve. While we did like the handy push-button “open” and “closed” valve with indicator on the lid, we wondered about the functionality of the carafe’s swivel base. This model held all its contents inside securely when tipped over, but it proved laborious to hand wash.

Not Recommended
  Krups Brushed Stainless Steel Thermal Carafe

The worst of the bunch, the Krups carafe disappointed testers on a variety of scores—the handle was awkward to grip, and pouring from the carafe proved to be a two-handed operation. The carafe poured in a wide, messy stream, with the contents coming from two places on the lid. This carafe failed our tip test—a bad seal allowed contents to leak.