When you brew coffee, you want a beverage that is fresh and delicious, no matter how long it has sat in the decanter. Choosing the best coffee decanter is important to getting the best cup of coffee. The decanter you choose depends on your method of brewing as well as on the number of people you plan on serving coffee to. A decanter should have some sort of insulation so that the coffee stays evenly warm after brewing. If not insulated, it should also be made of a durable material, such as steel, so that it will not break if you drop it.
If you only make enough coffee each day for yourself or one other person, you will not need a very large coffee decanter. A four-cup coffee pot should work well for you. You'll need a much larger one if you regularly serve a crowd, though. Look for decanters that hold at least 64 ounces of liquid to serve a group of four people or more.
Some coffee decanters are made of glass, others of stainless steel, while others are thermal and insulated. You can place a glass or stainless steel coffee decanter on a hot plate, but this will result in coffee that has a burnt, unpleasant taste the longer it sits on the burner. Glass coffee pots are also more likely to break if you mishandle them. A stainless steel decanter will supposedly keep the coffee warm without the hot plate. The thermal variety will definitely keep the coffee warm for several hours without giving it a burnt, bitter flavor.
If you prefer French press coffee, look for a decanter that is insulated and has a built-in press. You may also want to get a separate decanter and pour the coffee from the press to the decanter after brewing. Pouring the coffee out of the French press will prevent it from growing bitter, as it won't remain in contact with the grounds.
People who enjoy drip coffee should look for either an automatic drip machine with an included thermal carafe or a machine that can accommodate the appropriate size of thermal coffee decanter. You can replace the decanter included in the machine with one that better meets your needs. If you prefer the manual drip method of preparing coffee, you can make the coffee directly into the thermal decanter.