How to Choose a Coffee Maker

The first cup of coffee for the day, to many is something akin to a spiritual experience - especially if it comes from your own coffee maker.

Instead of settling for the average cup of straight black coffee, having your own coffee maker opens up a wide array of opportunities for the perfect cup of coffee. You can have espresso, add cinnamon, grind your own beans to ensure freshness and even choose the temperature of the water. Not to mention, you'll be saving anywhere from, $200 to $1200 per year - assuming that you buy one or more cups of coffee per day.

Of course, all of this only happens if you make the right choice in coffee maker, which is why we've put together this brief guide to help you do just that!

What types of coffee makers are there?

Coffee makers don't just vary by the brand, there are a wide variety of coffee makers available, each with their own set of benefits. Let's take a quick look at the options you'll have available, so you can make a more informed decision.

Automatic Coffee Brewer aka Drip Coffee Maker

We'll get started with the drip coffee maker or automatic coffee brewer, since you're most likely to be familiar with this type of coffee maker. You have probably seen one at your office or at a family member's home.

Drip Coffee Makers are extremely easy to use. Most often, all that's required of you, is to prepare a coffee filter, load your coffee of choice, fill the coffee maker with water to make your preferred brew size, press start and sit back.

The biggest benefits of purchasing an automatic coffee brewer, is the amount of money you'll be saving and how easy they are to use. You can adjust coffee strength easily, save money by reusing coffee filters and make multiple cups per brewing.

For the average coffee drinker who doesn't have a lot of preferences when it comes to coffee, a drip coffee maker is probably a solid choice. If you're hoping to have more options when it comes to brewing your coffee, then stick around for the rest of the blog, as we explore coffee makers that provide far more adventurous ways to create your coffee.

10-Cup Grind and Brew Automatic Coffee Maker
Cup Drip Coffee Maker

French Press

A French press coffee maker might sound extremely fancy and complicated, but it's actually a very simple machine to use. The only downside is that, there will be more cleaning involved than any of the coffee makers mentioned before.

To use a French press, all you need to do, is load your coffee grounds into the press, add hot water and then use the press to separate the coffee grounds from the coffee.

French press coffee makers aren't necessarily the most consistent coffee brewers around.

Since they're not directly heated and rely instead on boiling water, the length of time your coffee can be brewed is a little limited. Since you can't guarantee brew time, this can place limits on how flavorful your coffee can be. This is not even considering that you may occasionally get coffee grounds making their way into your coffee, through the seive.

If you're looking to save money and aren't too worried about maximizing flavor in every single cup, a French press might be your buy.

Ceramic 8 Cup French Press Coffee Maker
Classically Styled French Press Coffee Maker
Chevron French Press Coffee Or Espresso Maker
Double Walled Cafetiere French Press Coffee Maker

Pod or Single-Serve Coffee Maker

If speed and ease of use is your preference, the only automatic coffee maker that's simpler to use and faster than the traditional drip coffee maker is the single-serve coffee maker. These coffee makers are fairly recent additions to the market and function by using pods to create single servings of coffee.

Single-serve coffee makers don't require the use of coffee filters or coffee grounds, so you'll be saving some time not having to clean up or replace coffee filters. Instead, you can simply move on to another coffee pod once you're done making your cup.

You should bear in mind, that with a single serve coffee maker, you'll need to keep refilling your coffee pods, which can become costly over time, especially as your taste for coffee develops. On the plus side, single serve coffee makers are so fast and efficient that they work well both at home and in office spaces, without any waste of extra coffee.

Single Serve Ground Coffee Or Pod Coffee Maker
Single Serve K Cup Pod Coffee Maker
Single Serve K Cup Pod Coffee Maker
Small Single Serve Pod Coffee Maker
Simple Single Cup Coffee Maker

Espresso Makers

Espresso is considered almost universally to be a luxury coffee. At the least, it's an extremely rich, flavorful and hard to make coffee in comparison to the standard cup. Espresso is made by essentially forcing extremely hot, very high-pressure water through finely ground coffee grains. This results in a highly aromatic, foamy and delicious coffee that has a higher than typical amount of dissolved and suspended solids.

Given all the extra aromatic goodness that comes with each cup of espresso, it should come as no surprise that espresso makers sit at the top of the market when it comes to price. Having an espresso machine also opens a significant number of coffee flavor options, since you'll be able to make drinks like lattes, cappuccinos and macchiatos.

Espresso makers are heavily focused on flavor and quality, so they don't produce the volumes of coffee that the other coffee makers on this list do. They are also far more specialized than our other coffee makers, which can make maintenance tricky depending on the model.

Espresso makers are most suitable for buyers with a budget and penchant for extremely high-quality coffee.

Italian Pump Espresso Machine
Espresso And Cappuccino Machine
Semi Automatic Espresso Machine
Stylish Stainless Steel Espresso Machine
Pod Espresso Maker
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

Cold Brew Coffee Makers

Last on the list, but certainly not least is the cold brew coffee maker. Much like single serve coffee makers, these brewers have been growing in popularity recently. There aren't that many hard and fast rules to cold brewing coffee, in fact, there isn't a widely held consensus about brewing times or even ground to water ratio.

One thing that is certain about cold brewing, however, is that it takes significantly longer to brew cold coffee than it does hot coffee. Often, cold brew times can be anywhere from 24-48 hours, so preparing many cups at once is probably your best bet.

Cold coffee brewers tend to be ridiculously cheap and easy to maintain, so they make for ideal machines for both casual and experienced coffee drinkers.

Modern Style Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Automatic Cold Brew Coffeemaker
3 Cup Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Cold Brew 6 Cup Coffee Maker
8 Cup Cold Brew Coffee Maker

What to consider before I buy a coffee maker?

Now that you've been introduced to the wide variety of machines available, let's start thinking a bit more deeply about the things we need to consider when choosing a coffee maker.

  • Managing Your Budget

    Luckily, there is no shortage of cheap and effective coffee brewers available on the market. Most of these will be drip coffee brewers or single serve coffee brewers. If you're trying to keep your budget minimal, choosing either single serve or drip coffee makers is a good option. Cold Coffee brewers and French presses are even more budget friendly than our first two options, however they tend to be less commonplace.

    Your coffee maker itself shouldn't be your only budget consideration. Coffee filters and most coffee grounds are cheap, however Single serve pods can become a significant expense over time. Saving a little on your coffee maker can open up your budget for higher quality coffee grounds.

  • Counter Space and Sizing

    Size matters when it comes to coffee makers, so you'll need to find out how big your desired model is prior to purchase. A standard drip coffee maker are typically around 12 inches tall, 8 inches wide and 10 inches deep, so typically they don't require much counter space.

    Espresso machines on the other hand can be larger than drip coffee makers by significant amounts. Espresso machines that can brew multiple cups at once for example can be nearly 80 centimeters long, although the number of compact, single cup espresso machines on the market keeps your options open.

What are the useful features to look for in coffee makers?

  • Options for Programming - planning your coffee in advance

    If you're the type of person that starts everyday early or has a really tight schedule, you should consider choosing a coffee maker with programmable brewing options. These options will allow you to set up your brew the night before or even have a recurring time everyday where your coffee maker automatically starts brewing whatever you've loaded up.

    Many drip coffee makers and single serve coffee makers have programmable options like these. Espresso machines tend not to, except in the very expensive models which can be $1000 and up.

    Having an espresso automatically brewed every morning can also be challenging to manage. If left standing espresso can start changing its flavor profile quite quickly - even when kept warm. So, you'll need to plan appropriately and make sure you're awake in time to enjoy your cup of espresso.

  • Optional Grinders

    If you're a dedicated coffee drinker or are considering grinding your own coffee beans, to have the freshest brews possible, you may want to give some thought to a built-in bean grinder. The first thing you'll have to consider here is the fact that these machines typically run a premium rate.

    Having a built-in grinder means a lot more parts and need for space optimization, which can drive the price up, since designs have to be more complex. Built-in grinders also run some extra risk around maintenance due to their complex designs, however they are normally well built from stainless steel as opposed to the plastic commonly seen in drip coffee makers.

  • Water Filters

    Having a water filter in your coffee maker can seem a bit excessive - and to some degree it is. The quality of water you use in your coffee maker can affect the flavor of your brew and the longevity of your machine.

    You see, low quality tap water can lead to scale build up in the heating channels of your coffee maker. This can be especially true for espresso machines since they tend to generate more steam. Scale build up in the long-term can negatively affect the function of your machine, but definitely can impact the flavor of your coffee.

    If you're living in an area notorious for poor water quality, want to preserve your machine for slightly longer or just want the best possible flavor for your coffee, consider getting a model with a built-in water filter.

    You'll have to replace the water filter every few months, but the process tends to be simple once you have a compatible replacement available. As per usual, extra features tend to make the price of coffee makers go upward, so be sure to bear your budget in mind.

  • Thermal Carafe - for prolonged coffee drinking from a single brewing

    If you're a prolific coffee drinker and have multiple cups throughout the day at various times, a thermal carafe is something you can consider. In a nutshell a thermal carafe is a modified coffee pot that is designed to keep your coffee piping hot for several hours at a time, without the use of electricity. Making it ideal for prolific coffee drinkers, who like to enjoy multiple cups of coffee throughout the day.

K Mini Single Cup Coffee Maker
10 Cup Thermal Coffeemaker and Single Serve Brewer
Automatic Cold Brew Coffeemaker

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