As any coffee lover knows, there is nothing quite like having a nice cup brewed right in your home kitchen. These days there are a ton of options available when it comes to home coffee makers, and depending on what you’re looking for, you can bring home anything from the simplest coffee maker which does nothing more than brew you a few cups, to a full featured device with all sorts of bells and whistles like timers for automatic scheduled brewing, warmers to keep your coffee hot all day, and a variety of other neat and clever additions.
But do you really need all of that? Maybe you want absolutely simplicity, or the best bargain possible, or maybe you just need a few simple features but don’t want the full monty. Whatever the case maybe, we’ve assembled this handy home coffee maker buyer’s guide to help you get a handle on what is available and figure out what you want and need out of your home coffee maker.
1. Home Coffee Maker Rundown
The simplest home coffee makers consist of nothing more than the coffee maker, the pot, and a single on/off switch to operate the device. The most luxurious home coffee makers, in contrast, are equipped with enough high tech gadgetry to make every other appliance in your kitchen feel outdated. Some of these features are very handy and can make a coffee drinker’s life a bit simpler, while others are likely to go neglected by all but the most obsessive owners.
Probably one of the most useful features is scheduled brewing. This feature is available on a wide range of coffee makers, in fact it is usually included on all but the simplest models. With scheduled brewing, you simply fill the coffee maker with your favorite coffee grounds and water, and then set the clock to schedule when you want brewing to begin. This is a life saving feature for anyone who can’t start the day without a nice cup of coffee. Instead of trying to groggily navigate your kitchen and brew a cup before you’ve even woken up, you can just set up your coffee maker and schedule before you retire the night before, and awake to a freshly brewed cup in the morning.
Another handy feature included on some higher end home coffee makers is the inclusion of another digital time keeper: this time in the form of a freshness timer. This handy little timer keeps track of how long its been since the coffee maker stopped brewing, giving you a very precise idea of just how fresh that pot of coffee is. Never waste your time making a cup of coffee only to find out its time for a fresh pot!
2. Things to Consider When Buying a Home Coffee Maker
The main consideration for your coffee maker is going to be how many serving you want to make at a given time. There exist options on the market for home coffee makers which brew everything from just a single cup of coffee up to the standard 10-12 cup range. Some models can brew upwards of 14 or 16 cups, but 12 cups is a general standard for home coffee makers.
If you have a large family or frequently serve a lot of people coffee, you will definitely want to be looking towards the 12 cup and upwards range, as 4-5 avid coffee drinkers can easily make their way through a 12 cup pot of coffee. Of course, larger pots of coffee can always be used to brew fewer cups, but the market has also made plenty of accommodations for people looking to brew single servings.
Single serve coffee makers are available as standalone units which just brew a single cup, or as versatile home coffee makers which include a traditional pot for making larger portions or an option for single serve to just produce a single cup. If you like to use K-Cups, the various Keurig brewing systems can be good options for single serve coffee makers which can also be used to accommodate a variety of other types of K-Cups for making things like teas and other beverages.
3. Consider Filtration
There are now a variety of home coffee makers in the moderate to high end price ranges which include filtration to remove impurities from the water.
These are typically carbon block water filters integrated into the coffee maker mechanism, and they can have some impact on the quality of the taste of the coffee. However, this strongly depends on the quality of your water. If you are working with poorly tasting water, these filtration systems could be helpful, but if you have high quality water (or are already passing your water through another filtration system before brewing coffee,) you may see little to no benefit from these filtration systems.
If you have poorly tasting tap water, or chlorinated water, these filtration systems can actually make a pretty substantial difference on the final taste of your coffee. Remember: coffee is mostly just water!
Also keep in mind that after a lot of use, these filters are meant to be replaced to ensure optimal function. This adds a bit of additional maintenance to your coffee maker, but is generally a simple process to replace the filtration system if one is present.
4. Keeping It Toasty
You may find yourself wanting to brew up a pot for later, or suddenly need to leave after you’ve made a fresh pot, only to return to find your coffee either burnt or cold.
This is a problem with lower end coffee makers: the coffee is great when it is fresh, but rapidly declines in quality once it has been brewed. This is because the coffee rapidly loses its heat in the glass coffee pots present on low end coffee makers, meaning that unless the heating element is active, the coffee is rapidly cooling. The only way for these types of coffee makers to keep the coffee warm is to have the heating element active, which runs the risk of burning the coffee.
The solution to this is the insulated coffee pot carafe. These can be found on higher end models: look for a stainless steel carafe pot. These incorporate vacuum insulation and can keep the coffee hot inside for hours. Often they are surprisingly not much more expensive than simple models with cheaper glass carafe pots!
If you expect you need to be keeping your coffee hot for longer than your carafe can provide for, look into getting a stainless steel coffee urn dispenser or something similar to pour the coffee into once it has been brewed to keep it hot. Don’t rely on the heating element as a warmer!
Take some time to explore the many available options for home coffee makers to find the perfect compliment for your kitchen!