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It’s not hyperbole to say that finding the perfect coffee maker is key 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, and 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.
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 for you. If you are willing to wait for a more delicious and complex brew, you might prefer a pour-over coffee maker (like these from Uno Casa) or a French Press.
If you only need your morning cup of joe to get you out of the door, then a single-serve coffee maker is likely to be sufficient. If you would be far happier with an IV of caffeine attached to your arm, then you’re going to 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 what their preferences are. If you’re a large household who all want 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 own coffee preferences, then single-serve machines could still be the best options. Pod and K-cup coffee machines offer a wide range of different coffee-making abilities by simply 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 itself costs. Single-serve machines such as Nespresso or Keurig’s require regular purchases of capsules, which can be quite expensive. Even simpler machines like drip coffee makers require ongoing expenditure for replacement filters, and you’ll always need to think about getting the right grounds or beans for your coffee.
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.
One of our favorite special features any coffee maker can include is an automatic timer. 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 own 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 also include special features such as milk frothing capabilities or cleaning alerts. All of these are great additions and can make your coffee habit that little bit easier.
If you prefer cold brew coffee, you’re going to be looking at a different type of brewer entirely! Sure, you can mix expresso with ice and sugar, but a proper cold brew is different. Get the right brewer and learn some cold brew techniques for the perfect cup.