Choosing the Best Coffee Maker for Your Needs
Without a doubt, one of the most popular drinks on the planet right now is coffee, and with good reason. It tastes fantastic, it gives you the “pick me up” that you need in the early mornings, and it gives you an excuse to socialise with your friends and family at one of the millions of coffee shops across the country. Drinking coffee has become an integral part of American culture, and research shows that our addiction to the caffeinated goodness isn’t going away anytime soon.
While coffee remains the number one hot beverage of choice for millions of people every day, there are a couple of problems that a coffee fanatic can run into at some point. For starters, the massive amount of choice available today can send you to the tipping point of insanity. When you have just stumbled out of bed, all groggy from the lack of sleep the night before, having to choose from the hundreds of different varieties of coffee available is the last thing you want to be doing. The other big disadvantage of drinking coffee, especially when on the go, is the cost. With a huge demand comes increased prices, and to be honest, I don’t blame them, but if you are looking for a way to save some money while still getting your daily fix of coffee, then investing in a quality coffee maker is the best option.
Making your own coffee at home can not only save you a small fortune, it can also give you the flexibility to create the perfect coffee for your own tastes and preferences. Different coffee makers will produce a different type of coffee, and with the wealth of different varieties available, choosing which machine to choose can sometimes be overwhelming. The biggest piece of advice I can offer you is to decide what type of coffee you typically buy, and continue reading this review to determine which coffee machine will help you create the ideal cup of coffee to suit your needs, on demand, at home.
Know The Factors That Affect Brewed Coffee Flavor
With the ability to walk into a shop, pick up a cup of coffee and be on your way within the space of a couple of minutes, it’s easy to forget that coffee is still an agricultural product, and suffers from the exact same issues that all other fruits and vegetables do. There are many factors that can affect the taste of brewed coffee, and if you want to make the most of your coffee maker at home, it’s important that you know them. Here are a few of the key factors that can affect the way brewed coffee will taste:
1. The Coffee Bean Quality
This one is a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many people still think that every cup of coffee is just a cup of coffee. The quality of the coffee beans and the more care that has been given during the packaging process will ultimately determine the end products taste. Although it’s not true 100% of the time, the age old phrase of “You get what you pay for” generally does apply to coffee.
If you decide to go with whole bean coffee, I recommend that you put it through the grinder just before you are about to brew it. Coffee beans suffer from oxidation like other plants, so the longer it’s left in the open, the more the taste will be affected.
2. The Packaging Process
Whole bean coffee will generally taste better than a grounded coffee, simply because the beans have not been tampered with as much, making them fresher. Just like you would expect a freshly picked apple to taste better than week old apple sauce, coffee that has been through less grinding, packaging and tampering will always taste better.
4. The Roasting Process
The coffee beans you buy from the store to be brewed at home are not freshly picked, generally. All coffee beans need to be roasted, in order for them to be ground up and used to make a drink, and every brand of coffee will use a different roasting process. It would be impossible for me to list the different methods of roasting, and the differences in taste, so the best way to find the perfect taste to suit your needs is to try them all. Challenge accepted!?
The most commonly used coffee maker in the United States is the automatic drip coffee maker, mainly due to its ease of use, and it’s reliable, consistent brew.
The auto-drip coffee maker utilizes a filter chamber, and a tempered glass carafe to make your coffee. The process is simple; Just place the grounded up beans into the filter chamber, pour the desired amount of water into the carafe, and turn it on.
The machine will automatically heat the water to a consistent temperature, pull it through the beans in the filter, and back into the carafe.
There is no need to interfere with the process at all, and the majority of automatic drip machines will include a timer which allows you to place the beans and the water into the machine the night before, ready to be brewed automatically at the time of your choosing. Can it get any easier than that?
- Simple and convenient to use
- Quick and automatic
- Good, consistent brew quality
- Ability to program the brew for a certain time
- The carafe will keep the coffee warm, making each brew last longer
- You need to constantly purchase new filters
- Inability to adjust the temperature to suit different types of beans
- Inability to control the steeping length
Espresso (Which you will often hear called “expresso”) is the name given to a highly concentrated shot of coffee. The beans are packed tightly together using a tool called a tamper, and the shot is made by having boiling hot water pulled through the compact coffee beans that are placed inside a portafilter.
Espresso machines are simple to use, but they only create espresso, so if you are an espresso only drinker, then they are obviously the perfect choice for you, but if you prefer other types of brew, then an espresso machine will be of no use to you.
- Espresso is expensive, so brewing your own will save you money
- Produces strong, gourmet coffee
- Allows you to appreciate the true potential of the beans
- Look great in any style of kitchen
- Requires time and preparation
- Only creates espresso which can be too strong for inexperienced coffee drinkers
- Requires additional clean up time
- More expensive to purchase
Possibly the most simple coffee maker to use, even more so than the automatic drip machine, is a single serve coffee maker. These coffee makers allow you to create a single serving of coffee, without the need for grinding the beans, or changing the filters.
Single serve coffee typically comes in individual pods, which are placed into the machine along with water which is pulled through the pod, into the cup you stand underneath the spout.
The pods are equipped with filters to save you the effort of changing them every couple of brews, and different varieties are available, allowing you to choose what type of coffee you want, whenever you fancy it.
- Ability to choose from a variety of beverages
- Simple, and easy to use
- Creates a cup of coffee in less than a minute
- Produces just enough for one cup, minimizing waste
- The convenience of the pods means they are generally more expensive
- You can only make one cup at a time
- The resulting coffee could be considered weaker than the rest
The French press coffee machine provides the most hands-on brewing experience, since it requires manual action to extract the finished coffee.
A typical French press machine will include a steel or tempered glass pot, a lid with an attached plunger, and a filter to prevent the coffee beans from dropping into the finished beverage.
The process is simply to place the water and the coarsely ground coffee beans into the pot, leave it to steep for at least four minutes, then manually push the plunger all the way down to extract all of the water from the ground beans. The end result is a hot cup of whatever type of coffee you placed inside the pot.
- You can control the brewing time
- You can control the temperature of the water
- It’s a manual machine, so it requires no electricity
- Creates a richer, fuller cup of coffee
- It’s a manual job, which requires skill and a learning curve
- It’s not automatic or programmable
- You need to transfer the coffee into your own Thermos to keep it warm
So Which Coffee Maker Should You Choose?
Now that you understand the differences in each coffee maker, and the pros and cons that each of them carry, it’s up to you to decide which one will be the best addition to your daily routine.
To make the best decision, simply take into account your budget, your preferred style of coffee and the amount of time and effort you are willing to invest for your daily cup of coffee. If you are looking for something cheap and effective, then the automatic drip is the best option.
If you want something stronger, and want to appreciate your coffee a little bit more, then an espresso machine or the French press can offer you that. If you want a quick cup of coffee in the morning, with little to no interference, then the single serve coffee maker would be perfect for you.
Nobody knows your budget or your morning routine as well as you, so choosing the perfect coffee maker is a personal choice, but hopefully, these pros and cons have made your decision that little bit easier.