Choosing a coffee maker is an entirely personal decision. There are many different tastes in coffee and there are machines and makers to cater to every taste, so before you buy, here are some questions that you may like to consider.
1. Where Will You Be Using Your Coffee Maker…and When?
This sounds like a very obvious question but some machines are specifically for home users and others for office users.
2. What size would suit you best?
Many models now allow you to make just one cup of coffee at a time – which is great for occasional use. If you love your caffeine, go for a maker that will supply a pot holding four cups. The most versatile makers can brew up a pot of 8 – 12 cups or make small pots of 4 cups, so if you regularly have get-togethers with friends, this style would be ideal for you.
3. Do you drink your coffee at home or make it ‘to go’?
If you like to make your coffee and then put it into a vacuum flask or travel cup, try a coffee maker that makes it straight into a thermally insulated coffee mug. Some models make two at a time, so if time is precious in the morning, get one of those so that there is no queuing or waiting!
4. Does Your Coffee Sit For Ages in the Pot?
If you find that your coffee has cooled or burned the hot plate by the time you come back for yet another cup, either choose a maker that brews less cups at a time or go for a thermal carafe. This will keep your coffee piping hot but the downside is that you can’t see at a glance how much coffee is left. A plus point for the thermal carafe is that the taste of coffee is said to deteriorate after twenty minutes on direct heat…
5. Do You Have a Favorite Coffee or Like Variety?
In either case, you may like to look at one of the most popular types of coffee maker – the single serve coffee system with pre-packed ‘pods’. You simply choose your flavor, slot the pod into the machine and brew. Check out what each maker offers as some brands have as many as a hundred varieties of coffee. Some also feature reusable pods so that you can use your own coffee, rather than be limited to the pre-packed kinds.
Espresso or Non-espresso?
An espresso machine will be right for you if…
- You are not on a budget and are willing to part with extra cash – espresso machines are always more expensive than non-espresso machines.
- You want to be able to make different coffees – including cappuccino, macchiato, latte.
- You are happy to clean parts, (or, if you have an automatic machine, happy to empty waste units) and make fresh coffee for each cup.
- You have the time to take a few minutes to make each cup of coffee (unless you are use a super-automatic maker).
- You will be brewing for less than four people at any one time. Making espresso can be time consuming unless you buy an automatic or super-automatic maker.
A non-espresso coffee maker will be right for you if…
- You are on a budget or don’t want to spend a lot of money. Non-espresso machines are generally less expensive than espresso machines.
- You don’t want a machine that makes fancy coffees. You’re happy with plain black or white.
- You like to have a pot of coffee on the go throughout the day.
- You like to start the coffee and then get on with other things while it brews.
- You regularly supply coffee to lots of people and need between six and twelve cups in a short time.
- You prefer to buy your coffee pre-ground or flavoured.
- You don’t like your coffee too strong.
Other Points to Ponder
- Read consumer reviews online or in magazines to give you an informed view of how the different machines perform.
- Decide if a programmable coffee maker would be useful for you. You can set it the night before so that you awake to the wonderful smell…and taste…of fresh-brewed coffee!
- Some models have an automatic switch-off, so if you are a little absent minded or very busy, you won’t end up leaving the machine on all day.
- If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, go for a coffee maker that has a water filter built into it. This would remove any taste of chlorine or iron. Don’t forget that you would need to buy replacement filters for this type of machine.
- Do you want to make lattes and cappuccinos? Look for a machine that has a Frothing Wand. On less expensive machines, this will just be a steam wand. On the more expensive ones, you would also get a canister to hold the milk which is to be frothed.
- If you are an espresso connoisseur, look for a machine that has a pre-moistening cycle. This dampens the coffee grounds before you pull your shot of espresso which helps to bring out more of the aromatic oils and improves the taste.
- If you want great coffee without any fuss, take a look at the newest machines that are ‘pod compatible’. Pods are little packets of various flavors of coffee and hot chocolate. You simply slot the pod into the machine and in as little as 45 seconds, you have a professional standard drink. The newer models will accept both pods and your own choice of coffee grounds. Some people feel that the amount of drink dispensed is on the small side however, as it’s so quick to make, you could brew one after the other. This would obviously affect the cost.
- High end espresso machines will let you change the amount of water for each cup, so that you can get the strength that you prefer.
- If you like to grind your own beans, look for a model that has a built-in grinder.
- If you can’t wait until the whole pot has brewed before pouring a cup, there are now models with the special feature of stopping the drip of the filter while you take the jug out of the machine to pour your coffee!
- If you’re not buying online, handle the coffee jug or carafe and see if it feels comfortable in your hand. Is it easy to take in and out of the machine?
- Check out the water reservoir to find out how easy it is to add more water and/or more coffee.