Begin your search for the best thermal carafe by considering the length of time that you need the liquid in your thermal carafe to remain hot or cold, the amount of liquid that you need to store and the functionality of the carafe. In addition, keep in mind that some thermal carafes are designed to work with specific coffee makers, so if your need for a thermal carafe is connected to your need to make coffee, you may be able to save yourself some money and aggravation by buying a carafe and coffeemaker set. If you plan to use a thermal carafe in a food-service setting, for example in a restaurant, you may also want to find out if any health regulations require you to purchase thermal carafes manufactured to certain specifications.
Depending on its construction and materials, a thermal carafe can be counted on to keep hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold for anywhere from four to sometimes as long as 12 hours. When investigating carafes, be sure to read the manufacturers specifications and find out how long the manufacturer recommends keeping a liquid in the carafe. This can be important, because if the liquid is subject to spoilage, consumption of liquid that has been in the carafe too long can potentially be dangerous. On the other hand, you may simply want a carafe that will keep hot beverages hot for a long period of time if you plan to be camping or live in an area that experiences the frequent disruption of utilities. One thing to consider if you do choose a thermal carafe that holds its temperature for long periods of time is that it is very likely lined with glass, which is subject to breakage.
Always consider the amount of liquid you will need to store in a thermal carafe. Thermal carafes come in a variety of sizes, with the larger carafes being more expensive than smaller carafes. You should also consider the environment in which you will be serving hot beverages. While a thermal carafe with a handle and a pour spout may work well in restaurants with table service or for home use, if the carafe is going to be used in a self-service capacity, you may wish to select a carafe that has a push button mechanism on top that allows the liquid to pour out of a spout without requiring users to move or tilt the carafe.