It’s no surprise to learn that we live in a world full of coffee lovers. It seems that we just can’t get enough of the stuff. Starbucks (the world’s biggest coffee chain) boasts over 30,000 locations globally and sells 4 billion cups of coffee each year. But that’s just a mere drop in the coffee cup; over 2.25 billion coffee drinks are consumed worldwide each day.
While many people have a self-confessed Starbucks (or insert another coffee house of your choice) addiction, it’s a pricey habit that most simply can’t afford. Getting your daily caffeine fix(es) as takeout can soon burn a hole in your wallet. That’s why many people opt instead to brew their cups of Joe at home. And the heart-warming news is that there’s a whole range of coffee machines to suit various coffee-making needs. Each type has several manufacturers and models to choose from. There’s no reason why you can’t bring barista-quality coffee into your own home.
Whatever coffee drink you desire, a home-based coffee machine can make it for you. Think of how many dollars you spend on coffee a year. With that money, you can purchase a coffee maker that’ll keep serving you up cups of the hot stuff for years to come. The initial cost of a machine may indeed have you sweating. But it’s undoubtedly a fantastic money-saving investment in the long term. Plus, it’ll save you cash spent on gas—you’ll no longer need to hop in your car to get your daily caffeine fix.
I’ve taken the time to research numerous coffee machines and their pros and cons. After testing various appliances and their brews, I’ve decided to put together this article to help you decide which will be the perfect one to get your hands on. Let’s get into it!
Different Coffee Maker Types
Do you want a coffee maker that requires minimal input from you? Then the auto-drip is the ideal appliance for you. You simply need to add water and coffee grounds. The machine will do the hard work for you. Like percolators, auto-drip coffee makers brew your cup of Joe by steeping coffee grounds using steam from boiling water. They differ from percolators in that the coffee concentrate is filtered down into a carafe. The result? A smooth, perfectly brewed coffee that isn’t bitter to the taste. Plus, with an auto-drip, you can create multiple, delicious cups of coffee simultaneously. Most modern models even allow you to program the machine to brew your coffee at specific times and for automatic shutoff.
Stovetop or electric percolators
A coffee percolator is an oldie but a goodie, with the earliest examples dating back to the late 19th century. It’s a style of coffee maker with enduring popularity thanks to its simplicity and effectiveness. A percolator works by boiling water evaporating up a filtered chamber containing coffee grounds. In stovetop models, this cyclic percolation process stops when the coffee maker is removed from the gas. With electric versions, the process ends automatically when a specific temperature is reached.
Cold-brew coffee maker
Do you fancy a coffee drink that’s less acidic than regular coffee and with a rich, robust flavor? Then this could be the coffee maker for you. Although simple to use, it involves a bit of patience. Coarse coffee grounds are gently steeped in cold water for several hours (sometimes up to 24!). You then have the option of drinking the resultant brew over ice or by adding some hot water. Of course, you can also add milk, creamer, or sugar to taste. Many coffee lovers swear by the concentrated, deep flavor that this brewing process creates.
The popularity of French press coffee makers pays testament to their ease of use and capacity to produce multiple servings of coffee simultaneously. The French press uses pre-ground coffee and steeps it in hot water for several minutes. You then manually use a plunger to extract the maximum amount of flavor and caffeine possible—all without risking overheating and burning the grounds. Many people prefer being in control of grinding the beans, and in that case, it’s recommended to use a burr coffee grinder to allow you to create the correct grind size. For most French presses, using a medium-coarse grind is best. This grind size helps prevent the risk of ending up with sediment in your cup after the filtering process is done.
You may also find this coffee maker filed under vacuum coffee maker, vac pot, or syphon coffee maker. Its brewing method has been around for a long time, using vacuum pressure to create delicious fresh cups of nature’s nectar. With its two glass bulbs which wouldn’t look out of place in a science experiment, you may feel like you’re in a lab while using a siphon. Using a heat-induced vacuum, it moves hot water from the lower basin into coffee grounds in the upper basin. When that process is complete (all the water has risen), you stir the liquid. It then steeps for a minute or so until negative pressure forces it back down to the lower basin, first going through a filter. Users of the siphon method swear by its intense flavor and aroma and their satisfaction by seeing the brewing process at work.
Another manual coffee maker, the AeroPress was introduced in 2005 and has since gained a dedicated following of coffee enthusiasts. The brewer consists of a cylindrical chamber, a syringe-like plunger, and a filter. It works by placing ground coffee in the chamber, pouring in hot water, and allowing the coffee to brew for up to 50 seconds. You then press the plunger down, forcing the water to go through the coffee ground and into the cup. The result is espresso-style coffee, but the process can be tweaked to produce filter-strength or cold-brew drinks.
You may have seen a certain George Clooney advertising a well-known brand’s coffee pods. These are single-use capsules that you simply pop into a coffee machine, press a few buttons, and, voila, fresh coffee. Pod-based coffee makers are popular due to their convenience and the minimum amount of manual input and fuss needed to create a hot brew. However, they come with some drawbacks. Coffee connoisseurs might despair at the quality of the coffee. But for me, the main con is that machines and pods cost more than other methods and beans and grounds. Also, single-use pods are wasteful and don’t leave the best eco-footprint.
Automatic/super-automatic coffee machines
For those who would love to be their own barista, automatic coffee machines take them one step closer to that dream. These machines come in a variety of guises. For example, some simply make top-class espresso drinks, while others use frothy milk foam to create the ideal flat whites, cappuccinos, and lattes. Like pod-based machines, these require minimal input for maximum taste and aroma output. More expensive versions allow you to precisely program and customize your drinks, set timers, connect wirelessly, and more. For ease of use combined with great beverages, these coffee makers are the perfect blend. Their main downside? The high upfront price can be a turn-off for many. However, if you can afford to spend some of your cash on one of these machines, you won’t be disappointed. Plus, they’re built to last—many brands’ models will last for over seven years.
Does it make a difference if you use a cheap drip coffee maker instead of an expensive one?
If you care about the quality of your coffee drink, then it’s worth spending a little extra on your drip coffee maker. Paying more will mean all the difference in the quality of the maker’s build, design, and brewing. As you’d expect, the more expensive models use higher quality materials and components. This superior quality not only contributes to a more effective, precise brewing process as a whole but will also mean that the coffee maker will last longer, too.
Are coffee and espresso different?
Yes! And the difference lies in how they are brewed. To create the perfect cup of espresso, you require higher pressure (9 bar) than for regular coffee (around 1 bar, i.e., atmospheric pressure, with drip coffee makers). Espresso has a more concentrated flavor and aroma. Although some coffee makers may claim to create espresso, it won’t be a true espresso drink unless the brewing process uses high pressure.
What are E.S.E. pods?
E.S.E. stands for Easy Serve Espresso. An E.S.E. pod contains finely-ground coffee at a pre-measured dose ideal for an espresso drink. The pod looks more like a teabag and is usually made of paper, thus making it more environmentally friendly than regular pods.
the coffee is contained in is an Easy Serve Espresso pod. It is a pre-measured dose of finely ground coffee for espresso encapsulated in a soft fabric pod that looks like a teabag. Their appeal lies in their ease of use and their versatility—they can be used in pretty much any espresso machine or coffee brewing chamber.
Now that I’ve taken you through the various types of coffee makers available today, you’ll realize that there are many different options out there. As any coffee lover who owns their own appliance will tell you, choosing the right one is often down to personal choice. Favorite coffee flavors and drinks vary from person to person. Finding the right coffee maker to produce your ultimate cuppa can take some trial and error. But see this as an opportunity to have fun and experiment. Before too long, you’ll be playing barista in your own home and creating endless cups of delicious brews. Enjoy the ride!