Coffee Makers – All You Need to Know Before your Buy Your Coffee Machine

Coffee Makers in a Nutshell

If you have a coffee in the morning, and a coffee maker at home, you might be a coffee addict. If you reach for the cup of coffee maker on button before you slap the alarm clock, you are beyond a doubt addicted to coffee. And as terrifying as it sounds, there will come a time when “old reliable” (your coffee maker) is not so reliable anymore and you need to buy a new one. Then you face the agonizing question of what you’re going to buy. Well, the four things you need to consider before you buy a coffee maker are: The size, type, filter and the features of your next coffee maker.

Twelve cups or a single cup, how much to brew?

This is the first thing that you should consider: How much counter space you have, and more specifically, how much of the space are you prepared to give up for your coffee machine. This is often the best place to start when considering which coffee maker to buy: How much coffee do you need to brew?

  • Twelve and Ten Cup Coffee Makers: These are a common size amongst the major brands but as the size implies, you make twelve or ten cups of coffee so this is perfect for those who drink all day, or a member of a coffee drinking family. Otherwise, you’re going to waste a lot of good coffee and that is also good money down the drain.
  • Eight Cup Coffee Maker: This is the perfect size for one all day drinker, or a family that needs one or two cups to jump start every day. These are also a good size for the non coffee drinker who wants a machine that can accommodate the needs of visitors and house guests.
  • Individual or Single Serve Coffee Machine: These are a new and the smallest size of coffee maker available on the market. As the size implies, they make individual cups of coffee and great for those who are single or the sole drinker in the family. Typically, these coffee makers tend to be pod machines which is great as you can brew your coffee when you need it, without having any waste or left over coffee.

Percolate, Press or Pod: The Types of Coffee Machines

There used to be only one type of coffee maker, but those days are long gone. These days you have a number of different coffee machines to choose from, depending on your coffee drinking style and preferences. So very briefly, you have to choose between:

The Percolator:

Coffee Percolators are the classic, old school traditional coffee makers. Most “modern” percolators are said to produce a superior cup of coffee to their predecessors because they ensure that they do not burn the grounds, damaging aromas and flavors of the coffee. Whether “oldie but goldie” percolators are better than the newest percolators however remains to be seen (and hotly debated).

French Press:

Developed by the French, it consists of a stainless steel mesh and acts as a press to filter the coffee. Ground coffee is measured and placed in the pot and hot water is poured over the grounds and left to brew for as long as desired. The press is then pushed down to filter the coffee, producing a full flavored coffee that is the brew of choice amongst most coffee drinkers. But lacking a hot plate, the coffee does not stay hot for very long, making it unsuitable for all day coffee drinkers.

Automatic Drip Coffee Maker:

Believe me when I say these make good coffee. This type of coffee maker uses ground coffee that is poured in to a filter. Water is often stored in a reservoir and then heated and released in to the grounds to brew your coffee drop by drop normally taking about two to four minutes to brew a cup of coffee.

Vacuum Coffee Maker:

Admittedly, when you see this thing for the first time, it looks more like something stolen from a chemistry lab than a coffee machine but do not let appearances fool you. These machines consistently create top quality, strong and very robust coffee. The double chamber system boils water into steam which rises in to the top chamber and mixes with the grounds coffee and then drips down, cooling, through the filter to brew your coffee using the process of vacuum stress, leaving you with an excellent cup of coffee.

Pod Coffee Makers:

These use specialist coffee and pressurized water to brew one or two servings of coffee at a time. The coffee comes in a pod that is loaded in to the coffee maker. Needles puncture the top and bottom of the pod so that water can be forced through at high pressure (up to 19 milibars). The built in filter is discarded with the pod.

Coffee Filters

Of course, if you opt for any other coffee machine besides a pod coffee maker, you are going to have to consider the type of filter your machine uses. Depending on the type of filter you opt for, you can wind up saving or spending more. The most common coffee filters are:

  • Paper filters: These are the most common type of coffee filters though there is a consensus that such filters tend to lighten the strength of the coffee’s taste, but remains the favorite and most popular. These filters can also be made from a variety of papers and pulp including recycled filters, for those who are more environmentally conscious.
  • Permanent filters: These filters are made from plastic or metal and are reusable. Just remove, wash and reuse until they finally wear out. Replacements are normally easily available and quite cheap. Of course, these will save you money over the long term and tend to be significantly more environmentally friendly. However, you should bear in mind that using metal or plastic could compromise the taste, aroma and flavors of your coffee.

 

On the subject of filters, you might want to consider water filter. Water contains any number of minerals and other impurities that can taint if not outright ruin a cup of coffee. Unless you plan to buy or have filtered water on hand for your coffee machine, then getting a machine with a build in water filter could save you a lot of hassle, especially if you live in a Hard Water area.

Features: Get what you need.

These days, you can find coffee makers with enough features and electronics built in to fly aircraft. However, the more features it has, the more it is going to cost. So you need to focus on getting features you need, and will use which keeps the cost of your coffee machine down. The most common features that you should consider are:

  • Pod compatibility: These came handy if you buy a larger machine and only need to brew a single cup of coffee.
  • Digital controls: You can get everything from clocks, to lighted buttons and digital display screens. Depending on how much you brew some useful digital controls and features worth considering include:
    • A timer that allows you to set when the machine starts brewing the first pot in the morning. Imagine, waking up and pouring a cup of coffee without waiting.
  • Small batch setting: Useful on large brewers to adjusts water flow to prevent weak, under strength coffee.
  • Brew-strength control: This allows you to adjust the strength of coffee to produce a weaker or stronger brew, depending on how much of a jolt you need.
  • Automatic shut off: Sometimes called “pause n’ serve,” this allows you to pause in mid brew to pour a cup of coffee and then return the pot to continue the brewing the rest of the pot. Great for those who need a cup of coffee and can’t wait for the whole pot to brew.
  • A carafe: This replaces the standard coffee pot in favor of a thermal carafe that will keep you coffee warm for up to six hours.
  • A longer warranty: The standard warranty is for one year, but you can find machines with a three-year warranty. Some will let you “buy” a longer warranty for a little extra. Bear in mind that cheaper machines could have a six month instead of one-year warranty.
  • A self-cleaning cycle: This will make descaling to remove built up mineral deposits easier. This is better than flushing out your coffee machine with vinegar every few months when it seems like brewing is taking longer than usual.

Coffee maker shopping 101

So when you’re looking for a coffee maker, remember to start by considering how much coffee you will be brewing before looking at the type, the filter and finally the features that you need and want on your coffee maker. Remember, it’s about what you want and need. Avoid the bank breaking cost of some bullet stopping tank like coffee maker which features include being able to walk your dog… unless of course that’s what you need and want!