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Coffee Maker 101 - How to Find the Best Coffee Maker

Coffee Makers - From Buying to Caring for a Coffee Maker

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For many households, a coffee maker is an essential kitchen appliance and the one that gets the most use.  A coffee maker is not merely an appliance that completes a certain task, it's crucial to delivering a satisfying brew that for many, starts their day on a positive note.  When shopping for a coffee maker, consider flavor and what features you need and want to ensure you get the best coffee maker to meet your needs and budget.

1. Types of Coffee Makers

There's a large variety of coffee maker types to choose from, from the retro coffee perculator to the single-serve coffee machine, and each type has its pros and cons:

Perculator (Stovetop):

  • Pros:  Great for camping stove use or home; no counter clutter; can regulate brewing time but constant monitoring required
  • Cons: Requires gas or electric cooktop; difficult to keep warm

Perculator:

  • Pros:  Most electric perculators have a handy keep warm setting; some find this style brews bolder coffee; durability
  • Cons: This style is slowly regaining popularity; it was the first type of electric coffee maker

French Press (Stovetop):

  • Pros:  Brews a bold coffee; it's a different style of brewing popular in European countries
  • Cons: Needs constant monitoring; capacity is small

Drip Style:

  • Pros:  Most common type of coffee maker used; more convenience features, requires less monitoring, good choice of capacity
  • Cons: Wide range of prices depending on features

Drip Style (Gas Stovetop):

  • Pros:  Ideal for a gas camp stove; 12-cup capacity
  • Cons: Only one brand - Coleman; can only be used on a gas cooktop; inability to keep warm
  • Coleman Drip Company Coffee Maker Review                

 Single Serve:

  • Pros:   Best for convenience and flavor using pre-measured ready-to-use pods, K-cups or coffee capsules
  • Cons:  More expensive to own and operate; pod/K-cups harder to find
  • Before You Buy a Single Serve Brewer

Specialty Coffee Machines:

  • Pros:   Best for flavor and ability to make espresso or gourmet coffees
  • Cons:  Most expensive type of brewer; most maintenance and time to brew; requires specialty coffees and specific grinds; capacity is limited

Coffee Urn (Large):

  • Pros:   Large capacities, best for buffets or socials, can keep warm for long periods, economical
  • Cons:  Sometimes difficult to perfect the brew strength

2. Important Features

Though there could be some debate as to which coffee maker features are must-have, these are very important and considered basic.  Learn more about essential coffee maker features:

Must-Have Features:

  • Auto shut-off
  • Removable filter basket
  • Programmable setting with clock
  • Cleaning cycle
  • Brew Interrupt
  • Water level window
  • Wide pouring spout for drip-free pouring

3. Bells and Whistles

Some of these features make a difference in coffee flavor but most improve the brewing convenience.  When it comes to filter shape - cone or basket - some would argue that cone filters provide the best saturation of the coffee grounds.

  • How Filter Shape Can Affect Flavor
  • Brew selector
  • Shower head style of brewing
  • Permanent filter
  • Water filtration
  • Cone-shaped filter
  • Hands-free serving
  • Dual water level windows
  • Audible signal when coffee ready or at the end of the keep warm cycle
  • Thermal carafe to eliminate breakage and keep coffee warm
  • Brewing into travel mugs
  • Buit-in coffee grinder
  • Cleaning cycle

4. What Not to Buy

Though a 12-cup capacity is the most common, always choose a capacity that suits your lifestyle. A single serve brewer generally has much higher operation costs; avoid this style unless the budget can sustain the on-going cost of coffee pods, K-Cups or capsules.  It's also a good idea to check local availability of coffee capsules before buying a single-serve brewer.

5. Price Ranges and Compare Prices

Prices vary considerably for coffee makers starting around $20 to over $100 and a gourmet coffee or espresso machine starts in the $100 range and can span to several hundreds of dollars.  In many cases, brand can affect the cost but it's the features that mostly affect coffee maker prices.

Compare Prices

6. Coffee Maker Reviews

With so many styles, capacities and features, it can be daunting to choose a coffee maker.  To find the best, read coffee maker reviews and best lists:

To help others make good coffee maker buying decisions, take a minute and review your current or previous coffee maker:

7. Coffee Maker Care, Use and FAQ's

In order to keep a coffee maker in top condition, it requires a certain amount of care and maintenance.  In some cases, a lack of maintenance can severely affect brewing operation, as well as coffee flavor. Before buying a coffee maker, learn about general care and other use tips:

8. Related Appliance - Coffee Grinder

To enhance the taste of your coffee, start with your favorite high-quality coffee beans and grind them just before brewing a pot of coffee.  And how you grind them also can make a difference depending on the type of brewer you have.  Learn about coffee grinders and complete your coffee experience.

Compare Prices

9. General Appliance Tips

What to do if your appliance has been recalled or you've upgrade to a new model.  And there are reasons why it's a good idea to inform manufacturers of problems or areas where appliances could be improved.  Remember to review your product manual and keep it handy - it has lots of use information, as well as key tips on how to properly care for your new appliance.

Promotional Feature: View this video series to learn how to take good care of your house.

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