Odds & Ends

SPY Guide: Best Coffee Makers

SPY Guide: The Best Coffee Makers
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*Features to fit your java-drinking preferences
*Convenience at your fingertips
*Our top pick will last for years to come

Best Coffee Makers

Cuisinart Coffee Maker

Editor’s Choice: Cuisinart PerfecTemp 14-Cup Glass Carafe with Stainless Steel Handle

Bottom Line: An excellent filter coffee maker from a premium brand that’s simple and straightforward to use.

Editor’s Notes: Reusable filter, extra-large capacity, and all the bells and whistles you need. A solid basic coffee maker that will last years.

Check Price of Cuisinart PerfecTemp

  

Keurig Coffee Maker

Choice: Keurig K55 Brewer

Bottom Line: A compact and affordable choice if you want a single-serving machine that uses coffee pods.

Editor’s Notes: Highly convenient for making one or two cups, but a pain if you’re brewing for a crowd. No settings to adjust brew strength.

Check Price of Keurig Brewer

  

Hamilton Beach 2 Way Coffee Maker

Best Value: Hamilton Beach 2 Way Brewer

Bottom Line: A versatile, well-made coffee maker that offers exceptional value for the money.

Editor’s Notes: Choose between brewing a full carafe, a single cup, or using a coffee pod. Can be programmed to brew at a future time.

Check Price of Hamilton Beach Brewer

  

Buying Guide for Coffee Makers

If you wake up bleary-eyed and just can’t function until you’ve had that first morning cup of joe, you may need a decent coffee maker to help ease your transition into the day.

The only problem is that there are hundreds on the market, so it can be overwhelming trying to determine which one is right for you. This guide to coffee makers will give you all the info you need to know to make the right purchasing decision before dropping your cash. Look it over, and you’ll be celebrating with a hot mug of java before you can say “coffee beans.”

  
Some people find coffee from K-cups to be bitter and not the best-tasting, but if you still like the idea of a single-serving coffee maker, you can buy a “My K-Cup” that you fill with your own blends.

Types of Coffee Makers

Drip Coffee Maker

Drip coffee makers brew black filter coffee into a carafe.

Pros: Simple to use, reasonably priced, and can make large quantities of coffee at once.

Cons: Only makes basic coffee, and flavor is not always optimal if not consumed straight after brewing.

Price: $20 to $100

 

Single-Serving Coffee Maker

Single serving coffee makers — such as Keurig or Nespresso coffee makers — use pods or “K-cups” to quickly brew various types of coffees.

Pros: Coffee pods are available in hundreds of varieties and flavors; quick for making one or two cups, convenient and easy to use.

Cons: Slow at making more than a couple of drinks at a time, and the plastic pods are not environmentally friendly.

Price: $50 to $200

 

Espresso Maker

Espresso machines make shots of espresso and usually have a streamer arm for foaming milk.

Pros: Ideal if you want espresso beverages as well as tall drinks; can make a variety of drinks like cappuccinos and lattes with the steamer arm.

Cons: More expensive than other types of coffee makers and can be complicated to use for newbies.

Price: $75 to $350, though commercial models can run in the thousands.

  
While this guide doesn’t focus on them, you can also find several manual coffee makers, such as the French press and the AeroPress.

Features to Look for in a Coffee Maker

Consider the following features when selecting a coffee maker. Few will have every single feature you’re looking for, so you’ll need to decide what’s most important to you.

  • Timer – Some coffee makers have a timer function. This lets you fill up the water reservoir and put your coffee grounds or pod in position, so the makers will automatically brew your coffee for a preset time. This is an excellent solution for busy mornings or to lull you out of bed.
  • Brew Controls – If you like your coffee stronger or weaker than average, look for a machine that allows you to control the brew strength.
  • Thermal Carafe – Coffee makers that come with a carafe may have a standard glass or thermal option that keeps your coffee warm. The latter negates the need for a hot plate, which can give coffee a burned taste.
  • Steamer Arm – Steamer arms are usually found on espresso machines. They heat and foam milk, so you can make lattes, cappuccinos, and other drinks that require hot milk.
  
When a manufacturer refers to how many cups of coffee their machine brews, they use a standard measurement of 8 oz. per cup, but most mugs hold 10 to 14 oz., so adjust your expectations depending on the size of your mug.

FAQ 

 

Q. What sort of water should I use in my coffee maker?
A. While it’s fine to use simple tap water in your coffee maker, some people prefer the taste of a brew made with filtered water. Avoid using mineral water in a coffee machine, however, as it can cause mineral deposits, which may end up clogging the machine. Some coffee makers have a built-in filter.

Q. How many cups will my coffee maker brew?
A. Most drip coffee makers brew between 8 to 12 cups (although you can find larger or smaller models). Single-serving coffee makers only brew one cup at a time.

Q. What type of coffee maker should I choose if I want to make specialty drinks, such as lattes and cappuccinos?
A. If you want to make specialty drinks, either choose a single-serving coffee maker (as you can buy pods that make both plain and flavored lattes and cappuccinos), or an espresso machine with a steamer arm so you can make your own fancy coffees from scratch.

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