Having a decent coffee maker is a must for anyone who needs to start the day off with a dose of caffeine. Taking in that first cup of coffee and having it be too cold, too bitter, or with a horrible taste can make your entire day start off badly. This is also why it’s important to know what to buy so you can ensure you aren’t spending money on a machine that is going to offer a subpar beverage.
Finding the right drip coffee maker is easier than starting from choosing any coffee maker since the options are narrowed down some. However, there are still hundreds or thousands of options available to choose from. Choosing the right coffee maker can be even more complicated when choosing your favorite drink from the local coffee shop.
What makes things complicated is that there are so many types of machines, but many of those machines also have a different range of features. One drip coffee maker might have an insulated carafe while another might have a brewing button to make a latte or cappuccino easily. It can make you wonder how you’ll ever find the right one for you.
We’re here to share some tips and tricks on how to find the drip brewer that makes coffee that you can’t wait to indulge in every morning. We’ll go over all the features to consider and all the options you can choose from when looking at the machines on the market. First, we want to look at brew type and whether a drip coffee maker is the right option for you to begin with.
Options of Brew Type for Your Coffee
There are many different brew types to choose from for home coffee. The most popular are pod models, automatic drip models, and grind and brew models. However, there are also other coffee makers like pour-overs, French presses, and Moka pots on top of that. There are lots of nuances to each option but the biggest question you should ask is how patient you can be.
This is a question that matters a lot when choosing a coffee making option. An automatic dripper is going to be the best option for someone who wants to get their morning coffee quickly and move on. If you’re the type of person who wants to spend more time creating the actual coffee, a Chemex or a French press might be the better option.
The Benefits of Owning Your Own Coffee Maker
There are many reasons to choose to have your own coffee maker. It can actually save you money and add additional convenience to your life. For one thing, if you drink even one cup of coffee a day at home instead of at a coffee house, you can save at least $2 a day. That can add up, especially if the savings are even more in your location. You also get to save time since you don’t have to step into the coffee shop every day and wait on your order.
Another perk of having a coffee maker of your own is that you can make coffee however you like it at home. You can even add things or experiment with things that aren’t seen at the coffee shop down the road. Plus, when you wake up in the morning, you get to enjoy the coffee aroma every single day.
The truth is that if you want to be precise about the coffee you drink, making it at home is the best option. You can craft a cup to your own personal specifications each time you brew. You also get to save money even if you are investing in the coffee maker to begin with, so it’s a win-win proposition overall.
Factors in Choosing the Perfect Drip Brewer
When you’ve decided on the type of brewer you want, if that answer comes down to a drip brewer, there are a ton of things you need to watch for when making your final decision. We’re going to share all the different things that matter, and you can prioritize those based on what matters to you and your lifestyle. The first is going to be the actual size of the coffee maker itself.
Size of the Coffee Maker
This might be one of the most important things, even if it seems like a minor concern. You need to have plenty of space for your coffee maker to go. The counter or cabinet space that you have available is going to vary. For instance, someone living in a small studio apartment might have next to no space while someone in a luxury home might have a huge kitchen with room for the largest machine on the market.
That means you need to be reasonable and aware of the space you have. Even if you have a ton of room on the counter, you might not want the entire space filled with a giant drip coffee maker. Think about what will work for you and then only look at machines that are in that size range or very close. The last thing you want is a coffee maker that takes over the whole kitchen.
Amount of Coffee that Can Be Brewed
The next question to ask yourself is how much coffee you will need to brew on a daily basis. Some people are cool with having a single cup every day while others might drink a few before getting in the car to head to work. Those who want a single serving only can find compact machines that capitalize on that. However, those who drink more than that or who share coffee with other household members will want to look at something that can offer more. Many coffee brewers make up to 12 cups of coffee, but some can make 16 or more.
Some people choose to go with a large machine to keep a full pot of coffee on hand but choose one of the options that also offers a single serving option. This can be useful if you have multiple caffeine lovers in the house and everyone has different needs.
One tip we can offer here is that while a larger pot may be able to make smaller servings, sometimes the single cup is going to taste less strong than expected. Those who are mainly going to need single cups are likely to be better off with a small drip machine.
Offered Programming Features
Some drip brewers are super simple and do nothing more than make coffee. Others have programming options so they can turn on and off whenever you want, remain hot for a certain period of time before the machine shuts off, and more. This can be useful if you are the sort of person who enjoys waking up to a coffee smell or you just can’t drag yourself out of bed to push a few buttons right when you get up. Some people just want their coffee to be there ready due to not being morning people.
The great thing is that most coffee makers have at least enough programming options to turn the machine on whenever you want it to. At the same time, not all makers need this option since some make coffee in a matter of a couple of minutes, so the feature is unnecessary. Does this feature matter to you? If so, make sure that you watch for it when shopping.
Ability to Pause Brewing Midway Through
If you are choosing a coffee maker that makes multiple cups, you may not always want to wait for all 12 or 16 cups to be made to have your first beverage. Some of the brewers you find on the market let you pause the brewing, which means you can pour your coffee, unpause to continue brewing, and let the rest of the process go through. This may or may not matter to you depending on how reliant you are on coffee, but if it sounds like something you would often use, make sure your coffee maker offers the option.
Flavor and Strength of the Made Coffee
For those who have families with multiple coffee drinkers, you likely have separate preferences between you. This means that one person might like a lighter coffee than someone else. If this is the case in your own household, it might be worth considering a machine that lets you change the brewing strength between cups. As far as flavor goes, some machines go farther than just making a traditional cup of coffee. Some can make everything from a cappuccino to hot chocolate, which might be appreciated depending on your specific tastes.
Choice of Heating and Temperature Control
When you pick up a drip coffee machine, most of them are going to have heating plates that go under the carafe or pot that holds the coffee itself. If you are the kind of person who appreciates slowly sipping coffee over a matter of hours, leaving it sitting on a hot plate can slowly contribute to a bitter and burnt taste. If this is the case, temperature control settings are vital for your coffee maker. This means you can adjust things out over the course of the day. Or you can look into a stainless steel insulated carafe which will keep your coffee warm longer than other carafes would.
- A glass carafe is the most common and also happens to be the cheapest option. The problem is that the glass with the heat plate can over-extract oils and lead to bitter coffee. Beyond that, when the warming plate is used on a continuous basis, this can lead to more energy usage.
- Thermal carafes are the stainless steel option and are the better choice for most people. This carafe is made to keep the coffee between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit for a couple of hours. Many people agree that this leads to better flavor while conserving energy at the same time. The only issue is that these carafes are going to be a bit more expensive.
Price and Your Own Budget
The reality of the situation is that when you look at a coffee maker with tons of features and modern technology, it is going to be more expensive than a simple machine that has few of these things. However, that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank for a decent coffee maker. The average machine should cost no more than around $100. When you want to get the best deal, you should take a look for holiday sales and compare prices on websites like Amazon and eBay.
Single-serve machines, French press machines, and many drip coffee machines are under $100 in price. A basic espresso machine can often also be bought for a lower price like this. Most of the coffee makers you choose that are in this price range are easy push a button and serve type of machines. There are likely not going to be as many features or as much ability to program the machine. However, they tend to be pretty energy efficient and durable over a longer period of time.
Machines using pods or filter baskets are often in this same price range and may use reusable or disposable coffee filters. These machines often offer the functionality to make coffee or flavored beverages with caffeine. They are also going to have built-in temperature and brewing settings that cater to the average person.
When it comes to machines that are more expensive than $100 or $150, you’re going to see higher-end products. That means there are likely to be things like expanded temperature control settings, more programmability, and grinding built-in. Many of the most expensive machines are also going to offer things like water filtration and self-cleaning. Some of them will have more basic models, so you don’t have to spend too much and can still get the features that matter the most to you.
Deciding Whether You Need a Water Filter
Something that isn’t entirely related to the coffee maker itself but that makes an impact nonetheless is whether you have a filter attached to your kitchen sink. If you do not, this can result in coffee with subpar water, which means the flavor isn’t going to be as exceptional as it could be. Thankfully, if you don’t use a water filter, there are now coffee makers that come with them installed. This will ensure your coffee tastes the best that it possibly can.
However, there are also expenses and extra effort involved when it comes to replacing filters in the machine. This may have an effect on whether you want to deal with them or not. If you have a water filtration system already installed in your kitchen, this is something you likely will not need.
Different Temperature Settings
As we mentioned in regard to brew strength settings, having different temperature options is crucial when choosing a drip coffee maker. Most coffee makers will offer a selection of temperature settings. Some are going just to have simple settings like low, medium, and high, while others might be more advanced and let you choose a specific temperature like 170 degrees or 200 degrees Fahrenheit based on your needs.
The ideal temperature you want to go for when brewing is 195 degrees Fahrenheit. If you go too far away from that in either direction, your coffee may over-extract, which leads to a lessened taste and aroma in the final cup. While water temperature is very important to the final cup of coffee, it is something many people forget to think about.
Some of the coffee makers you can choose from will let you adjust the temperature while brewing is happening to prevent too much extraction. Those using an espresso or single-serve machine may want a lower temperature since you are making a single cup at a time. Thankfully, drip makers offer better temperature control than percolators or French press brewing options.
Need for a Coffee Grinder
Another thing to think about is whether or not you prefer freshly ground coffee. Most people fall into this category and are going to have two different options to choose from. Some machines come with a grinder built-in and others do not. If the grinder is not attached, you will need a grinder that comes separately.
Any coffee maker that has a built-in grinder is going to be more expensive than those without grinders. However, you also need to know that you may still save cash when buying a machine with a grinder rather than buying the two as separate tools. On top of that, with one machine that does both, you can save space in your kitchen.
However, those who want the very best quality or who plan to use other brewing methods on occasion should consider the separate grinder for those reasons.
Presence of SCAA Certification
The SCAA is the Specialty Coffee Association of America and it is responsible for testing, reviewing, and certifying all sorts of coffee gear, which includes drip coffee machines. You don’t have to choose a machine with certification, but you can be assured that if you do, it is going to be capable of making some magnificent level coffee each and every morning for you.
Deciding Whether You Need a New Coffee Maker
If you already have a coffee maker and you are debating whether to replace it, we can help you make that decision. Before you start looking at the details, you want to take a good look at your machine and how it is getting on. If the machine has issues with any of the things below, it is best to go with a new coffee maker and toss the old one in the trash.
- Is your coffee machine no longer brewing fresh coffee like it used to? This is going to be the most obvious sign that you should buy a new coffee maker rather than attempting to have yours repaired. This can happen if there is tank damage, a broken pump, or even a leak. While you can try to repair the damage, if the machine is cheap and no longer under warranty, it’s often best to just invest in a new machine and avoid the hassle.
- Is the coffee machine having issues with a faulty temperature control? If your coffee maker is not getting hot enough during the process of brewing, that is going to have a huge effect on the coffee you get in the end. This can happen if you have a heating element or heat plate that has worn out. If you leave this to get worse, it can do so very quickly and completely deteriorate in only weeks. This can also lead to stale and sour coffee, so we recommend a new machine.
- Are you tired of dealing with coffee pods? Many of the most popular coffee makers on the market are compatible only with pods and specific ones at that. These pods may be lacking in variety and are often quite expensive. If you are tired of spending so much money on pods, choosing a drip coffee machine can be the solution to save money and enjoy great coffee each morning.
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Choosing Between Popular Brands of Coffee Makers
You may or may not care much about the name brand that is emblazoned on your coffee maker but knowing that the brand offers high-quality can make a plunge in purchasing a machine a little less terrifying. There are dozens of brands on the market to choose from, but some are more popular and well-known than others are. These are the brands that are known for offering quality and having a selection of options.
We’ll also share some of the top coffee makers based on your preferences and needs, so you know where to start with your search.
Mr. Coffee – 4-Cup Switch Coffeemaker
If you want something that is inexpensive, effective, and as simple as could be, look no farther than a Mr. Coffee machine. This particular machine is ultra-affordable and reliable over a long period of time. This particular machine has very few extra features and is ideal for someone who just wants to get the job done. Those on a budget are going to have a hard time choosing anything that is better.
This machine is less than five pounds and made of plastic with a glass carafe. It can make four cups of coffee at once. It has a small size, so it won’t take up a lot of space on your counter and it has a reusable basket filter, so there’s no need to buy paper filters over and over. It does have a pause feature, as well, so you can grab a cup while brewing.
Now, that doesn’t mean the machine is perfect. It doesn’t allow you to program it to start on its own in the morning. It also doesn’t use the ideal water temperature that is suggested by coffee experts. It also says it makes four cups of coffee, but those are five-ounce cups rather than typical eight-ounce ones, so keep that in mind.
Cuisinart – Perfect Temp 14-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker
Now that we’ve covered one of the best budget options, let’s look at a coffee maker that offers a huge amount of coffee at once. It also has a huge number of features that will make your life a little easier. The maker has a 14 cup glass carafe and still stands at a reasonable price range. It also has temperature control so you can have the perfect cup of coffee based on your preferences.
This coffee maker weighs less than five pounds and is made of stainless steel. It also offers you automatic programmability on a 24-hour basis. It has settings for self-cleaning, automatic shutoff, and one to 14 cup settings. Keep in mind that making more than 10 cups of coffee has been known to add grounds into the coffee so you may not want to go to the maximum.
If you are the type of person who enjoys making large amounts of coffee, this has a lot going for it. It has a large number of programmable features and includes a pause feature for convenience. It also offers the optimal brewing temperature and a water filter to create coffee that tastes fantastic. However, the reusable filter will need to be cleaned out on a regular basis. There is also no sensor that offers information about whether the carafe is set up for automatic brewing.
Zojirushi – Fresh Brew Plus Thermal Carafe Coffee Maker
We’ve mentioned that a thermal carafe is the best option you can choose, and this is a good example of a machine that offers that. This is also a value option, so you get both quality and a good price all in one. A thermal brewer is recommended if you prefer to brew a pot of coffee in the morning and drink on it throughout the entire day. Not having to brew and rebrew can save lots of time.
While most thermal carafes are expensive, this is an exception. It also offers other great features like a reusable basket filter, automated cleaning, and a removable water canister. Keep in mind though that this is a large machine that will take up a lot of your counter. It also has no automatic turnoff feature, which some may consider a deal-breaker.
This machine weighs nine pounds and is stainless steel with a capacity of 10 cups. The thermal carafe can keep coffee hot for hours and the reusable basket filter keeps you from needing buy filters. There is also tons of programmability and automatic cleaning. With that said, the size can be too large for some kitchens and some find the carafe doesn’t keep the coffee hot enough. The directions also tell you to unplug the machine after every use.
Bonavita – BV1900TS 8-Cup Stainless Steel Coffee Brewer
Those who take their drip coffee brewing seriously consider this option from Bonavita one of the best available on the market. It is also SCAA approved, which you know is a good thing from our information about it earlier. This coffee maker offers a great cup of coffee, makes creating that coffee easy, and keeps it hot for hours. The many positive reviews for the product online tell you what you need to know.
This machine has a thermal carafe to keep coffee hot for hours without the need to worry about it burning. It also has holes in the basket so that steam can escape out of the grounds. This coffee maker also offers a pre-infusion setting, so the coffee blooms before it starts brewing in a similar way to the pour-over coffee brewing technique. This leads to some of the best tasting coffee imaginable.
It has a one-touch design, weighs just over six pounds, and is made of stainless steel with an eight-cup capacity. The machine has a large head to evenly wet down your grounds and create a better level of extraction. The brew basket, carafe, and showerhead are also all dishwasher safe. However, this machine does not have an automatic shutoff and has no programmability.
Technivorm – Moccamaster 10-Cup Drip Machine with Thermal Carafe
The Moccamaster is a serious beast of a machine that is beautifully designed and can be seen in all sorts of high-end specialty coffee shops. This is enough to tell you how great this machine is, but we won’t make you assume the details. This is going to be one of the most expensive options on the market, but it also is going to make a great cup of coffee. This is another coffee maker that is SCAA approved.
All metal parts are used to come in contact with the coffee and taking apart the machine to clean is a breeze. This coffee maker also comes with a five-year warranty, so you don’t have to stress about it breaking down on you in the near future. The brewer weights six pounds, has a 10 cup capacity, and is made of stainless steel.
This SCAA approved coffee maker is all metal and easy to clean. It also has a heating element that turns off on its own when the water reservoir has been emptied. However, it is one of the more expensive options on the market and there is no capability to program it to do anything automatically.
Ninja – Coffee Bar Brewer with Thermal Carafe
Those who want a selection of options can’t do much better than the bar brewer by Ninja. If you want to make a simple cup of coffee, you can do that. Prefer to make a whole pot of eight cups? That’s an option too. You can play with the water amount to make your coffee weaker or richer. You can even choose to make a latte or an iced mocha if that’s the kind of mood that you are in.
People who want the ultimate in customization are going to want to consider this drip coffee maker. It can do nearly anything save for making expresso. Touch a few buttons and you can come up with a new coffee beverage to try every single day of the week. This machine weighs just under 11 pounds, is made of plastic and stainless steel, and can make up to eight cups at once.
The pros of this coffee machine are many, including the fact that it can brew so many different amounts of coffee depending on your needs. It also features a double-insulated carafe which will ensure your coffee stays nice and hot for hours. There is also special extraction technology, so your coffee can be as bold or light as you wish. However, those who get overwhelmed by options may find this to be a bit too much for your needs.
A drip coffee maker can be as simple or as feature-rich as you want it to be, something many aren’t aware of. Those who are looking for something cheap and operable by a single button will find plenty of choices out there, but those who want to have a bevy of features will find those too. Most machines are going to fall somewhere in between and cater to a huge number of people.
Think about the things that matter most to you and use our article to decide on the coffee maker that is right for you, not anyone else. That might be one of the options in this article or it might be something totally different. Take time to look at your options using your list of must-haves and you’ll be on your way to the perfect drip coffee maker for 2019.
1. How long does a coffee maker last?
It really depends on the actual machine, but on average you can expect a coffee maker of good quality to last five years. Keep in mind that parts may wear out and you may need to replace it sooner depending on the actual machine and how often it is being used.
2. What coffee brewing method is best?
It’s largely a matter of personal preference. Those who want convenience will be happy with a drip maker, while those who want control might want to use a manual pour-over maker. Those who want concentrated coffee may appreciate an espresso machine while the AeroPress is great for brewing while traveling.
3. How do I choose a good coffee?
There are lots of things that go into the right coffee for your needs. Think about your preference and choose beans based on that along with the amount of caffeine you prefer. Also, make sure to check on the roast date and select beans from a respected roaster.
4. How often do I clean my coffee maker?
It is recommended that you clean your coffee machine once a month at a minimum. The reason is that hard water, debris from beans, and lime deposits build up over time. Removing those things is the best way to keep your coffee tasting great.
5. Are Keurig’s worth it?
It really depends on what you’re looking for. Keurigs can be more expensive than a typical drip coffee maker, but some find the convenience worth the price tag. You also have to keep in mind that the K-cups tend to cost much more than just buying a bag of coffee.
6. Where do the best coffee beans come from?
There are numerous locations where great coffee beans can be grown. Some of them include Brazil, Hawaii, Ethiopia, Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.
7. What is the ratio of coffee to water?
This is something that depends on preference, but the general idea is that you should use six ounces of water for every one to two tablespoons of ground coffee. Take a look at the indicators or cup lines on your brewer to see what the actual measurements are and how close they are to the average.
8. How do you decalcify a coffee maker?
It is going to depend on the machine, but in general, you want to add equal parts of water and vinegar to the reservoir. Then add a paper filter into the empty basket of the machine. Put the coffee pot where it goes, hit brew, and let it go halfway through the process. Turn it off and let it sit for 30 minutes before finishing.
9. What is the best single-serve coffee maker?
Some of the top choices for this include the Keurig K250, the Mr. Coffee Single Serve Brewer, the Nespresso Pixie, the Hamilton Beach 49981A, and the Bunn MCU Single Cup brewer.
10. How do you make drip coffee taste better?
There are a few ways to make your coffee taste better. Using filtered water, grinding your own coffee, using fresh beans, and cleaning the coffee pot regularly can all have an effect on the coffee quality in your cup.
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