Few situations call for a hot cup of coffee more than the start of a long workday – especially if that workday involves drilling, sawing, or shoveling your way through a job site. The problem with job sites is they often operate mainly on battery power, which leaves little opportunity to get your hands on the fresh cup of joe you crave. Enter one of, if not the best battery powered coffee maker: The portable Makita Coffee Maker.
Whether you’re a tradesperson by profession or simply enjoy a good ol’ DIY project on the weekend, you’re likely familiar with Makita power tools. The brand is one of the world’s leading producers of battery-operated gadgets, so perhaps you even own a Makita tool yourself. If so, a Makita Coffee Maker might just be the perfect addition to your collection of cordless contraptions.
Makita Coffee Makers at a Glance
Overall Rating 4.5/5
These nifty machines are portable, battery-operated coffee makers that will take your finest roast and whip up a cafe-worthy cup of coffee, every time. No, the Makita models aren’t the prettiest kids on the block, but they’re designed with the hazards of a construction site in mind. So if you’re a coffee-loving craftsman, take a moment to get acquainted with the latest Makita, the DCM501Z.
- Battery: Makita 18V LXT or Makita 12V CXT Lithium-ion battery
- Dimensions: 8-9/16″ tall with a 3-1/2″ cup clearance
- Water tank capacity: 8 oz.
- Weight (without battery): 3.31 pounds
- Function: Boils water as well as brews coffee
- Coffee type: coffee pods or ground filter coffee
- Brew size: up to three five-ounce cups of coffee on a single charge, depending on the battery
But what is it that makes Makita Coffee Makers stand out in the crowd? To answer this question, we put the hardy DCM501Z to the test and measured it against similar machines. Keep reading so you can decide if the Makita truly is the missing piece to your arsenal of battery-operated power tools.
Makita Coffee Maker: A Detailed Review
Wherever you go, rest assured you can take your Makita DCM501Z with you. Being made almost entirely of plastic, this little machine weighs in at a mere 3 pounds. It’s also extremely easy to carry around. The machine itself is constructed within a compact frame and has a retractable handle so you can lug it around the building site, and fire up whenever you feel a caffeine craving coming on.
Of course, portability is only useful if you can use the thing wherever you take it. And you can. Being battery-operated, the beauty of Makita Coffee Makers is that you don’t need a power outlet to get brewing. However, you will need a Makita battery… or a few.
Brew Size and Capacity
It takes a fair amount of power to boil a cup of water. The type of battery you have on hand, either 18V or 12V, as well as the battery capacity determines how many cups you’ll get out of a single charge. We took the liberty of testing it out (and yes, we also tested every single cup of coffee along the way – but more on that later!) We wanted to gauge the accuracy of the brew size estimated in the instruction manual. We used several different Makita 18V LXT batteries and we’re happy to report that Makita was spot on about the number of cups you’ll get out of a single charge – up to 3 cups. However, that’s only if you use a battery with higher capacity.
Here were our results:
- 3.0 Ah battery: 1 cup
- 4.0 Ah battery: 2.5 cups
- 5.0 Ah battery: 3 cups
So if you’re only brewing for one or, at most, for a crew of two or three, you’ll be okay with the Makita Coffee Maker. That being said, for a long day’s work, you’ll certainly want to have a few pre-charged batteries on hand. Luckily Makita batteries are rechargeable and long-lasting. On the other hand, if you’ve got an entire crew’s worth of cups to fill, the Makita probably isn’t the right tool for the job – especially considering you can only make a single 5 oz. cup of coffee at a time. Oh, and did we mention it takes a full five minutes to brew?
Design and Durability 4.5/5
Makita Coffee Makers not only look like something you’d pull out of your toolbox – they are tools in their own right. With its sturdy composition, rectangular shape and plastic build, the DCM501Z certainly fits in with any other power tool in your shed – especially with its quintessential Makita blue finish.
If blue isn’t really your color, you’ll be happy to know it comes in red, too. Although, quite frankly, neither color makes up for the fact that it simply isn’t a pretty thing to behold.
The Makita DCM501Z, instead, puts practicality first. It is durable, compact, and easy to carry. It can survive mud, dirt, rain, and even a few minor tumbles. It even comes with a smash-proof stainless steel mug (although ours suffered a minor dent after only a few days of use).
So if we were to judge the design with aesthetics in mind, we probably wouldn’t give Makita Coffee Makers a particularly high score. But because these bad boys were designed to withstand the perils of handiwork, we’re perfectly willing to overlook the lack of visual appeal and accept that they’re supposed to look like power tools.
Worth noting is that if the Makita does prove less durable than you’d hoped, the good news is it comes with a 3-year warranty. Not bad.
Ease of Use 5/5
You don’t have time to faff when you’re on the job. You want a great cup of coffee, and you want it now. Well, with a 5-minute brew time, you’ll have to exercise a little patience with the Makita. Luckily, the brewing process is as simple as can be.
How to use the Makita Coffee Maker DCM105Z
- Insert your Makita battery. The side of the machine has 2 terminals – one for an 18V LXT battery, and the other for a 12V CXT.
- Open the water tank at the top of the device, remove the water jug and fill it with cold water. As tempting as it may be to fill it to the brim (especially considering the lengthy brew time) we don’t recommend adding more than 8 oz. as the tank fills and overflows and makes a big mess. Don’t add hot water either, it will also leak.
- Next, slide out the filter/coffee pod holder. There are two attachments here, one for either style of coffee. If you’re opting for ground coffee, use the spoon conveniently nestled above the water tank to scoop out your grounds.
- Slide the filter back in, slot the stainless steel mug in place (don’t forget the lid), and hit the only button on the machine.
- A red light will begin to flash. Thanks to the machine’s boil-dry protection, it will turn off automatically once the water is used up. So when you see the red light go off, you know you can safely remove the mug and enjoy a well-earned cup of coffee
If you’re making more than one cup, there’s a recommended waiting time of 5 minutes between brews before you top her up. So while the machine may be incredibly easy to operate, the hardest part will be patiently waiting for your next cup to brew.
Cleaning and maintenance
Luckily, as long as you don’t overfill the water tank and cause the machine to overflow, the only parts that really need cleaning are the reusable filter and the mug. Throw out your coffee grounds, give it a rinse and you’re good to go. Just be sure to remove the batteries before you clean off your machine! Other than that, it’s easy peasy.
Coffee Quality 4.5/5
If you’re looking for anything other than a decent cup of filter coffee, this probably isn’t the machine for you. Makita Coffee Makers make filter coffee, and pretty good ones at that. They don’t do espressos or anything else (don’t even try using espresso grounds– trust us). But when you and the crew are getting your hands dirty on the job site, a no-fuss coffee is all you really need.
One thing we really loved about the Makita DCM501Z is the fact that, unlike many portable coffee makers, it not only makes coffee but boils the water too. But perhaps “boil” is a strong word.
While the Makita certainly delivers on a hot cup of coffee, we noticed that finished brews were only around 176 F° or 80 C°. Sure, that’s definitely enough to burn your tongue, but if you like to add milk to your beverage the temperature will drop even more. Add potentially colder outdoor temperatures and you’ve got yourself an iced latte rather than a piping hot cup of coffee.
Beans and grind
Of course, the quality of your cup of coffee will ultimately come down to your roast of choice.
The Makita Coffee Maker DCM501Z has two separate attachments, depending on whether you choose:
- Coarse coffee grounds
- Coffee pods
Don’t be fooled, this machine doesn’t accept Nespresso pods or the like. Rather, you’ll need to stock up on the type that resembles tea bags. Better still, invest in some good-quality coarse coffee grounds and make use of the built-in drip filter.
How Much Does a Makita Coffee Maker Cost?
We’ll put it to you straight: this type of convenience, durability and quality doesn’t come cheap. Compared to other portable coffee options like plungers or flasks, the Makita DCM501Z is relatively pricey. You should also take into account that the batteries are not included in the price, so you’ll need to invest in a couple of those, too.
However, the Makita is aimed at people who already own a few Makita tools and batteries. If you fall into this category, then we think it’s a worthwhile investment.
Is a Makita Coffee Maker Right for You?
Different situations call for different portable coffee makers. Ultimately, the Makita is best for making caffeinated beverages on a job site. We’d only recommend the Makita Coffee Maker if you:
- Already own Makita 18V or 12V batteries or are willing to invest in a few.
- Often work on job sites or home renovations without access to a power socket.
- Enjoy filter coffee.
- Spend plenty of time outdoors without access to electricity
- Are only preparing coffee for 1-3 people at a time.
Of course, a job site isn’t the only place devoid of electricity in which you might want a warm beverage. You could easily find a use for your Makita Coffee Maker on a fishing trip, while camping or while out on the road. However, a simple French press of moka pot might be better for a camping trip, and although compact, the Makita still takes up a fair amount of space if you’re on the road and traveling light.
After testing the Makita, we’d recommend you avoid investing in this coffee maker if you:
- Prefer a piping hot cup of coffee
- Prefer espressos or cappuccinos over filter coffee
- Need to prepare coffee for a bigger crew
- Are looking for a more budget-friendly portable coffee maker
The Evolution of Makita Coffee Makers
Before the Makita Coffee Maker DCM501Z, there was the DCM500Z. Makita has since discontinued the older model, although you can still find it on some online marketplaces. It might be worth checking out the older model if you’re on a tighter budget. However, the Makita DCM501Z has a few new features you’d be missing out on if you were to opt for its predecessor.
- The newer model comes complete with a stainless steel mug and lid, the old one does not.
- The DCM500Z comes with a cord that can be plugged into the mains, whereas the newer model is entirely battery-operated.
- The older model is slower when running on a battery, taking 7 minutes for a single cup of coffee. Of course, when plugged into the mains it’s much faster – only 3 minutes to brew.
- The new model takes both 18V and 12V Makita batteries, whereas the older DCM500Z only takes 18V.
- The newer DCM501Z can brew using either a pod or coffee grounds. The older model only has one drip filter attachment, meaning grounds only.
- The newer model is far more compact and durable.
The only real advantage of opting for the older DCM500Z is that it can run on electricity too. But if you have access to electricity, why opt for a machine designed for portability and durability?
Makita Coffee Makers: The Final Verdict
Makita Coffee Makers are made for a rather specific audience: builders, DIY enthusiasts and lovers of the outdoors. If you fall into these categories, and often find yourself without access to electricity and absolutely craving a cup of coffee, then we cannot recommend this device enough.
It’s reliable, convenient, and designed to last. It’s portable, light and incredibly easy to use. As far as battery-operated coffee makers, this one tops our list.
That being said, if you’re on a tight budget, don’t own any Makita batteries or tools, or want to prepare larger batches of coffee at a time, then you’ll probably prefer one of the other coffee makers we’ve tested and reviewed.
Makita Coffee Maker Alternatives
While Makita Coffee Makers are ideal for some situations, others might call for something slightly more compact or affordable. Here are our top picks, based on items we’ve already tested and reviewed.
AICOK Portable Espresso Machine – Better for Espresso
If you’d rather have an espresso (in particular, those made with Nespresso and L’OR capsules) then we recommend trying the AICOK Portable Espresso Machine. It’s extremely lightweight and you won’t need to purchase Makita batteries to brew your coffee. It also heats water, which is always a big plus!
Moka Pots – Better for Camping
If you’re looking for a portable coffee maker to use in the great outdoors, we think moka pots are a far superior option. They’re smaller, lighter and, if it comes down to a fresh espresso in the morning or a cup of filter coffee, we know which one we’d choose! Of course, you’ll need a heat source to brew your coffee, but you’ll likely have a gas stove on hand while you’re out in the wild.
The Gourmia GCM3250 Digital Touch Coffee Maker – Better Design
The Makita, while functional, isn’t exactly easy on the eyes. If you’re looking for a chicer battery-powered alternative, we suggest trying the Gourmia GCM3250. This device is best suited to the true coffee enthusiast and makes the perfect pour-over. It features a built-in scale and automatic brewing mode and is extremely light and compact. You’ll have to find another way to boil your water, though.