I hope, by the time you’re on the last line, this no longer remains a question to you.
Good, bad, or ugly. No matter how your last night was, the eyes that open in the morning are looking for a good steaming cup of joe more than anything in the world.
If you’re reading this, chances are high that coffee to you is what ignition is to a car, morning prayers are to a Mulla, and water is to a seed.
You KICKSTART your day with it. And nobody wants their day to start anything less than perfect. So here we are to help you not just buy the best coffee machine but also to start your day perfectly. And of course, nobody’s stopping you from enjoying the delicious booster all along your day.
Now that you have realized your coffee is so important to you it becomes more relevant than ever before to find out what gives you your best coffee. This raises the question- what should you look for when finding the best coffee machine for you in the vast sea of options?
To answer this let me get you acquainted with the humble coffee maker.
When buying a coffee maker (for that matter anything in life) – KNOW WHAT YOU WANT.
Make sure what exactly are you looking for.
Is it the time lost during the unending travel from your bed to the coffee maker?
Are the number of cups too many for your appetite?
Is the brew too weak for your liking?
Does it not taste like what they serve in the fancy coffee houses?
Or is it just not hitting those chords that play the sweet music of deliciousness?
It could be anything.
Take your time, talk to yourself and figure out what the inner YOU desires from this generous drink.
Explore what is offered.
And only after you find something that offers what you want (or is the closest to what you want), you must go ahead and make that purchase.
But before finding your perfect match let’s go through the life cycle of our beloved coffee.
Fun fact: The coffee bean is not technically a bean but a seed of a berry-like fruit of the genus Coffea
The transformation from a fruit to a totally different beverage, your coffee goes through a long journey. The coffee fruit called Cherry in the coffee community is hand picked to select only the finest ripe cherries. The cherries then go through a process called Washing to separate the fruit and its mucilage from the seed.
The resulting seed is then dried usually under the sun until it dries to the desired moisture content before storage. An improperly dried coffee bean will start decaying and won’t reach the roasting stage.
It is only after the seeds are dried, are they stored, and transported. The dried seeds are a combination of a very pale green and yellow and nowhere around the dark brown color we are used to. The dried seeds are then roasted carefully in accordance with the flavor profile demanded by the consumer.
This whole journey takes several months to complete, and we rarely ever give any thought to the existence of our dear coffee. Coffee grows only in the tropics and is transported to the far reaches of the earth through a complex logistic system.
From bean to cup, your coffee has been through a lot.
Now that you know how your coffee bean reaches your coffee maker it surely deserves tender love and care.
Let’s find out ahead the best coffee maker that does justice to your coffee.
To know what is the best fit, one must start with understanding how the various aspects affect the coffee drinking experience.
Below-mentioned are the attributes affecting not just the coffee but the whole drinking experience.
In simple terms, brewing is the extraction of the flavors from the coffee grounds into a medium that’s usually water. It is the transformation from just a mixture of coffee grounds and water into this flavorful and delicious concoction. It draws the flavor compounds, the oils, and a bit of the coffee grounds itself in the cup.
The water comes in contact with the surface of the ground coffee beans and thereby sucks out the oils and the other flavor compounds from the solid coffee grounds. The extraction of the flavors is majorly dependent on the brewing method.
Hence, in order to know what is the best method of brewing for you, it is imperative to understand what your coffee goes through in any brewing method.
Other factors that influence the extraction are temperature, time, turbulence, and pressure. The influence of these factors is explained ahead.
The flavor from is coffee is essentially extracted in water by-
1. Immersion – coffee grounds are immersed in water that is usually hot. The grounds are left in the water to interact with it. Both the components (i.e., coffee and water) are stationary unless agitated.
The extraction usually increases with increasing temperature, turbulence, and time. Pressure does not have any significant effect in this arrangement.
2. Percolation – hot water (steam in some cases) is passed through a bed of coffee grounds. The extraction happens during the passage of water through the bed of coffee grounds. The passing water (or steam) interacts with the stationary coffee to pull out the oils and other flavor compounds.
Similar to the other method, increasing the temperature, time, and turbulence increases the extraction. The extraction increases with the increase in pressure.
Nobody likes the heated leftover coffee from yesterday.
When it comes to coffee, freshness plays a huge role. But leftover coffee is a common scene in most households. To minimize this waste and optimize the time taken to brew your cuppa it’s always better to go for a coffee machine that fits your appetite.
Therefore, knowing the capacity of your coffee machine is important. The output of these coffee machines ranges from a single cup to 8-10 cups. The ones having variable output give you the liberty to choose the number of cups.
Whether you’re a millionaire businessman or a solo traveler on a shoestring budget, there is a contraption befitting your budget. Ranging from just a few dollars to thousands, coffee makers offer you a vast array.
Needless to say, you have to get the one that fits your budget.
From grinding your own beans to just clicking a button on an app. The coffee makers have you covered when it comes to automation.
Pre-filled pods also make life easy for people who want to have their coffee without much fuss.
While all this may suggest an obvious inclination towards ease, it might not be so for a lot of people. Some people enjoy the whole process of hand-cranking the grinder, observing the blooming coffee grounds, pouring the hot water, and the whole journey from the start till the end. For some, this is a ritual.
On consulting experts of the field like certified coffee tasters, food scientists performing experiments on coffee on a regular basis, cafe owners dealing directly with consumers, coffee enthusiasts, baristas having hands on experience, and most importantly the regular coffee drinking common man, we have come up with a few selections for you.
Of all the groups of people, the most weightage is given to the regular coffee drinking common man. Seemingly unimportant entry in the jury, the regular coffee drinking common man actually is the most important.
Come to think of it, most coffee is consumed not by a coffee taster, not by a food scientist, and not even by a barista bound to make coffee all day but collectively by the regular coffee drinking common man.
Mentioned below is a list of some of the most preferred coffee machines used by the masses.
While there are a plethora of options available we have shortlisted only a few most popular according to our ‘jury’.
Popularly known as the drip coffee machine, this exemplifies the percolation method. Water heated in the reservoir is forced through the coffee grounds placed in a filter basket that’s some variation of a conical shape. The heated water enters the ground from the top surface of the coffee bed and then trickles down the height of the grounds, ultimately dripping down and out of the filter. The percolated coffee is collected in a jar usually called a carafe.
The capacity ranges from 6 to 8 to 10 ounces reducing the potency of the brew in the same order. For the strongest brew, a brew size of 6 ounces needs to be selected.
Costing between $89.99 and $115.43, this coffee machine is a decent deal.
However, there is a huge difference in price when the two available color options are compared. The Rhubarb color variant is priced at $89.99 whereas the black variant tends to almost double the price at $115.43.
With buttons for selection of the brew sizes (6,8&10 ounces), power on and off, and auto power off this is just an entry into the realm of automation.
This one is basically a flask made from glass. The upper part is conical in shape to rest the reusable filter of the same shape and the bottom part is round and holds the brewed coffee.
As the name suggests, the brewing occurs when the hot water is poured over the top of the coffee ground resting on the filter. The hot water percolates through the coffee grounds, further passing through the filter, and only then is it collected at the bottom as you would have it in your cup.
There are four sizes available for this one: 12oz, 17oz, 31oz, and 51oz.
There is a Bodum 11571-109 for every family. Whether you’re a couple, a family of four, or a single person, there is a size for you.
- 12oz – $11.41 – $15
- 17oz – $14.99 – $32
- 34oz – $ 27 -$30
It is a simple design: a peculiarly shaped (yet uncomplicated) flask with a heat resistant band for burn free handling. It is evident that there is no automation.
This is a classic example of brewing by immersion. Ground coffee is topped with hot water in the chamber and left for the desired brew time. A plunger having a perforated disc (which acts as a filter) that snugly fits the inside of the chamber is pushed through the length of the chamber extracting the final drink from the mixture of coffee grounds and hot water.
While you can brew the maximum capacity of 32 oz, you can also make smaller quantities. One cup? Two cups? Or even three and a half cups? Whatever number of cups or quantity (of course less than 32 oz) you desire, you’re covered!
This beautifully designed Austrian coffee maker is reasonably priced at just $29.97.
Given the build quality and the effective heat retention, it won’t be unfair to tag it as a bit cheap for what you pay.
This simple machine has stood the test of time and doesn’t require any automation. The secret is out – it has no automation.
This coffee maker, now popular around the world, has its origins in Italy. Consisting of two chambers and a basket for holding the coffee grounds, this coffee machine is a great feat of common sense and engineering.
The lower chamber filled with water, houses the coffee basket filled with ground coffee. This combination is then screwed to the upper chamber which has a spout for the coffee to come out and is collected in the upper chamber itself.
The whole assembly is then placed on a lit stove top. Water heated in the lower chamber is forced against gravity to percolate through the coffee in the basket ultimately coming out of the spout in the upper chamber.
The strength of the brew is close to an espresso.
The Bialetti Moka Express offers the one cup, three cup, six cup, nine cup, and twelve cup variants. It is important to understand that these “cups” are not your standard cups of filter coffee, rather a highly potent one ounce shot. The tiny shot can either be mixed with milk, water, or poured over vanilla ice cream for a delicious Affogato.
- .03 cup – $23.99
- 3 cups – $24.95 – $34.99
- 6 cups – $29.07 – $35.99
- 9 cups – $47.95 – $57.99
This, like the French Press, also has stood the test of time. While newer and fancier versions of this coffee maker flaunt some mechanical automation, this dependable Mokapot is continuing its legacy without any automation.
This Japanese engineered and manufactured product’s beauty lies in its simplicity. Basically a frustum of a cone, this device is a dripper. A conical shaped paper filter when soaked in water, perfectly lines the inner walls of the V60 dripper. The placed ground coffee in the filter paper-lined-dripper when comes in contact with the hot water poured from above, interacts with it. Water percolates through the coffee and drips down into the vessel placed below.
The Hario V60 comes in two variants, namely, Size 01 and Size 02. While the manufacturer specifies a capacity of 300 ml and 200 ml for the Size 01 and the Size 02 respectively, they shouldn’t merely be taken on their face value.
These figures only give the volume of the conical dripper and not the size of the brew. The actual brew potency and volume depend on the amount of the ground coffee and the water that’s poured over.
The Size 01 costs the buyer around $20 and the Size 02 around $30. Perhaps, the premium price for such a simple device can be attributed to the research and development and, to its manufacturing in Japan.
Doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a surprise to you if it is revealed that this is the least complicated coffee maker we have come across until now and probably ever will. This might be perceived as blunt, but – NO AUTOMATION!
Coffee and Espresso Maker Quickly Makes Delicious Coffee Without Bitterness – 1 to 3 Cups Per Pressing
This peculiar syringe-like contraption employs a brewing method that’s a mix of both Immersion and Percolation. The AeroPress is very similar to a syringe in its work. It has a hollow tube that at one end fits a removable filter and on the other end is open for the plunger to enter.
Hot water is poured over coffee grounds inside the afore-mentioned tube (with the filter attached at the designated end) which is placed inverted (filter side down) on a cup. The mixture is then, for the desired time, allowed to brew (immersion) with only occasional stirring. The plunger, from the open end, is then pushed inside the tube forcing the coffee to come out (percolation) passing through the filter into the cup.
The AeroPress’ ability to make significantly less bitter coffee has made it quite mainstream and famous despite being a relatively new kid on the block.
There are AeroPress competitions happening around the world. And believe it or not, there is also something called The World AeroPress Championship.
The AeroPress gives you the liberty to choose between one to three shots of espresso strength brews. This coffee maker can also alternatively be used to make less potent Americano by just using more water for the same amount of coffee.
This beautifully engineered and patented coffee maker which you can use continuously for years is only going to cost you around $34.99. This is a bargain even at a $100 markup.
Although a very scientifically designed and patented product by the famous American inventor Alan Adler, this has no automation. In fact, this would require you to put in relatively extra elbow grease as it requires a bit of muscle to push that plunger down the chamber.
This is also an example of brewing by percolation.
Although there is no technical definition of an espresso, the enthusiastic and quite scientific coffee community has a blurry benchmark. According to them, steam at a pressure of >=5 Bars passing through ground coffee results in an outcome that can be termed as ESPRESSO.
Hot steam is forced through a tamped disc of ground coffee called a puck (for obvious reasons). The mixture of steam and water at high pressure while passing through the puck draws the flavors that are usually not extracted in other conventional low pressure coffee makers. This method produces the highly potent decoction that is used for popular coffee based drinks that we are familiar with. For example, Cappuccino, Latte, Flat white, and so on.
While this is a highly advanced and technologically superior coffee machine when compared to the rest, this only produces two one ounce shots. The limited capacity does not make it any less attractive or desirable. The focus here is not on the quantity but on the quality.
If you’re someone who likes finer things in life and doesn’t mind paying a premium cost for them, this coffee machine is for you.
Labeled at $699.95, this one is clearly the costliest coffee machine on our list. But, as mentioned above, the focus here is not on the quantity but on the quality.
Hence, the aficionados looking for size adjustable grinding, digital temperature control, the perfect crema, the micro-foamed milk, and the perfect brewing temperature and pressure understand the markup on the price tag.
Now we’re talking about AUTOMATION! Where does one begin with its praises for convenience?! This coffee machine produces cafe quality coffee at home with just a push of a button.
And not just that, this coffee machine:
- Allows you to select the grind size of the coffee no matter which kind of beans you’re using.
- Let’s you choose between one or two shots.
- Allows you to hand texture microfoam milk that enhances flavor and enables the creation of latte art.
- Gives you a signal indicating a required cleanup.
- Tells you the pressure at which the coffee is brewed.
- Gives you a perfect espresso in under a minute.
With all these features one sure is tempted to buy such a coffee maker.
Yet another example of brewing by percolation. The ground coffee placed inside a paper filter resting on a basket is showered with hot water from above. The hot water while going down, forced by gravity transforms itself into your favorite drink.
This coffee machine is a no-brainer if you want to have a decent cup of coffee without a lot of effort.
This coffee machine brews a fixed quantity of 12 cups of coffee. While this does not allow you to choose the number of cups of coffee, you can alter the strength of the brew by controlling the amount of coffee in the coffee basket. Less coffee gives you a weaker brew and more coffee grounds by the same logic gives you a stronger coffee.
Priced variably between $24 to $40, this is a reasonable buy only at a price of $24. This coffee machine at a price of $40 wouldn’t seem like a good deal as there are many other cheaper options available.
It allows you to cut off the brewing cycle after the first cup so that you don’t have to wait until the whole carafe is full. This does not make much of a case in favor of automation but still is something extraordinary for the price you pay. If it helps – it also has an on/off indicator light.
Similar to the Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Coffee Maker described above, this also is an example of brewing by percolation. Water in the reservoir is heated and then passed through the ground coffee placed in the filter. The water while coming down becomes coffee.
It boasts a maximum capacity of 14 cups.
For someone who doesn’t need 14 full cups of coffee, It also lets you brew between just 1-4 cups, maintaining the same brew quality.
For the impatient it allows you to cut off the brew cycle in the middle and pour yourself a cup so that you don’t have to wait until the whole batch is complete.
Priced at $99.95 it is almost quadruple the price of DCC-3200P1. But this increase in price is only because of the additional automation features discussed below.
- In addition to the brew cycle cut off feature it also lets you make only 1-4 cups with just a touch of a button.
- The carafe temperature can be adjusted at will and can also be maintained for prolonged durations with the help of a button.
- The coffee maker beeps on the completion of the brew. But even this can be altered if you want it silent.
- A very useful automation feature is the programmable Auto-off. You can program the coffee machine to go off at any time between one minute to four hours after your brewing.
- It also lets you choose between a clean, subtle and, lighter mouthfeel and a potent, bold and, heavier bodied brew. Again! all this with just a push of a button.
Water heated in the reservoir falls over the coffee grounds placed in a filter basket that’s in the shape of a frustum of a cone.
The heated water enters the coffee grounds from the top surface of the coffee bed and then trickles down the height of the grounds, ultimately dripping down and out of the filter. The percolated coffee is collected in the carafe.
This coffee maker brews up to 12 cups. While 12 cups may be the maximum number of cups this coffee maker brews, you can brew just a single cup too.
Unlike any other coffee maker on our list, the Hamilton Beach can brew just a single cup. You do not have to brew a whole pot if you don’t want to. This freedom of choice highlights this coffee machine in the marketplace
Despite being a close competitor of the Cuisinart (described above) in features the Hamilton Beach is less than half of its price. Priced fairly around $43.37 – $59.99 this coffee machine is a bang for the buck.
How many times have you walked out the door, only to wonder: did I turn the coffee maker off. Now there’s no worry or turning around to check since the coffee maker turns off automatically after 2 hours.
You can program the Hamilton Beach coffee maker with the time you want to start brewing, fill it with water and add ground coffee. When you wake up, coffee will be hot and ready to drink.
You can also control how strong you want your coffee with two brew options: regular and bold. Choose ‘Regular’ for standard medium-grind coffee, or go ‘Bold’ for decaf, finer grind, or a premium roast brand for a richer flavor.
By now you would have gotten a fairly good idea of the technical yet interesting and delicious world of the coffee maker.
While covering most of the aspects of the coffee drinking experience one can only go deeper and deeper. So, let’s carry on with the spirit.
You wouldn’t agree more with the fact that the best coffee machine deserves the best care.
Assuming that you have found “the one” for you, let’s find out why you should and how you can take care of your loyal partner (after all that is what your eyes search for the first thing in the morning).
Consistently having good coffee for years requires your coffee maker to survive for all those years. Coffee like any other food decays with time, and any rancid coffee remaining from your last brew is going to affect the taste of your coffee.
The moist and warm brewed coffee grounds not only are an invitation to the cockroaches but also a breeding ground for bacterias and fungi. In addition to a chance of bad tasting coffee there also is a threat of food poisoning.
Debris may also cause malfunction of the coffee machine. It is no secret that regular checkups reveal potential future breakages and other threats to the machine thereby increasing its life.
How should you take care of your coffee machine?
- Regular cleanups of the area coming in contact with the coffee grounds, water, and the coffee should be done. This ideally should be done after every brewing session.
- There should be minimal use of cleaners and chemicals as they might get in the way of your great tasting coffee and damage the surface of some coffee machines at the best or when left unremoved properly can enter your body at its worst.
- Water also brings with it impurities and dissolved minerals. The suspended impurities are usually taken away with the brew but the dissolved minerals usually do the biggest damage. The minerals form a lining called ‘scale’ on the inner walls of the coffee machine. This scaling with time reduces the area on the inside of the coffee machine, reduces the heat transfer from the machine to the water, and also clogs small openings.
- A regular de-scaling depending on the frequency of usage and the quality of water is imperative for the long life of the coffee machine.
- An easy way of descaling is to run your coffee maker with a mild acid replacing the water and without the coffee grounds. The usual mild acid that is used and domestically available is vinegar (Acetic Acid).
You might, while using your coffee machine, come across problems of your own and draw inferences of your own but the above mentioned information is sufficient for a good start.
Having all this information by now, one must nevertheless venture into the world of coffee (for that matter, anything in life) with a blank slate and an open mind.
Explore: try newer brewing methods, try new coffees from around the world, talk to not just the experts of the matter but also to people who are in love with this elixir.
You can play around with different proportions of coffee, taste for differences due to brewing temperature, see how the duration of brewing affects your coffee.
Try a new coffee machine or a new brewing method whenever possible.
Not just this, there is a lot more that you would only find out once you start exploring.
A question was asked at the beginning
Which is the best coffee maker for your home?
I hope that no longer is a question.