It’s not hyperbole to say that finding the perfect coffee maker is crucial to the happiness and functionality of your entire household. Get one that brews sub-par coffee, and your day can be ruined before it even starts. Get one that brews too little; the last person to join you in the kitchen could be in for a nasty surprise.
Finding the right coffee maker takes time and effort, with so many different styles and performances available. If you’re looking for that perfect brewing machine, asking yourself some questions before shopping can make the difference between a happy household or a room of grumpy Guses.
1. Convenience or Care
How patient you’re willing to be while waiting for your coffee to brew might seem like a personal question, but it’s an essential consideration when shopping for your perfect coffee maker. If you’re forever running out of time in the morning and want a quick coffee you can grab as you run out of the door, a traditional drip coffee maker with a timer or a single-serve coffee machine might be perfect. If you are willing to wait for a more delicious and complex brew, you might prefer a pour-over coffee maker, Coffee Drip, or a French Press.
2. Serving Size
If you only need your morning cup of joe to get you out of the door, then a single-serve coffee maker is likely sufficient. If you would be far happier with an IV of caffeine attached to your arm, you’ll want to look at coffee makers that can brew significantly more coffee (or faster options, see above) to keep you fuelled all day long.
Similarly, you’ll want to consider how many people your coffee machine needs to work for and their preferences. If you’re a large household wanting the same coffee as you leave for work, a 12-cup drip coffee maker could be perfect. These also usually feature a warming plate to keep the coffee hot for longer (be careful, though, as leaving your coffee on a hot plate for too long can produce a bitter, burned flavor).
If your large household all have their coffee preferences, then single-serve machines could still be the best option. Pod and K-cup coffee machines offer a wide range of coffee-making abilities by switching pods. Alternatively, hybrid coffee machines allow you to easily make regular and expresso coffees in one machine (neither will be quite as good as a dedicated machine, but they can be ideal when you’re regularly switching).
Of course, cost comes into any appliance purchase, but with coffee makers, this is more than how much the machine costs. Single-serve machines such as Nespresso or Keurig’s require regular investments in capsules, which can be pretty expensive. Even simpler devices like drip coffee makers require ongoing expenditure for replacement filters, and you’ll always need to think about getting the proper grounds or beans for your coffee.
4. Brewing Temperature
The National Coffee Association states the optimal brewing temperature for coffee is between 195’F – 205’F. Brew your coffee too cold for a flat, under-brewed beverage. Brew too hot, and you’ll lose flavor and quality.
Most quality coffee machines will clearly state their brewing temperatures on the box (or in the online product description). If you can’t find this information, it’s probably a sign of a sub-par brewer that you’ll be better off staying away from.
5. Special Features
An automatic timer is one of our favorite special features any coffee maker can include. Most modern drip coffee makers have this, and it’s a godsend that allows us to have freshly brewed coffee waiting for us when we get up in the morning. Many coffee makers may also incorporate an automatic shut-off feature that saves the fear of leaving your coffee machine on all day. Single-serve makers are fantastic for this, too, as they only turn on with the touch of a button and go to standby mode when coffee isn’t being brewed.
Putting timers aside, there are many other special features to look for in coffee makers. It’s common knowledge that grinding your beans produces better flavor, but if you want to save the hassle of doing this by hand for every mug, you might want to look out for machines with grinding capabilities.
Higher-end coffee machines may include special features like milk frothing capabilities or cleaning alerts. These are great additions and can make your coffee habit easier.
6. Cold Brew
If you prefer cold brew coffee, you will look at a different brewer type entirely! You can mix expresso with ice and sugar, but a proper cold brew is different. Get the brewer and learn some cold brew techniques for the perfect cup.