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Coffee is a key part of many people’s mornings. Some people get it at their local coffee shop on their way to work, others prepare their own coffee at home with a French press or a Moka pot, and others opt for automatic coffee machines. Each approach has its pros and cons depending on whether you’re looking for aroma and flavor, for a quick hit of caffeine, or both.
There are lots of types of manual coffee makers out there but in this article we’ll focus on automatic coffee machines. If you’re wondering which are the best coffee machines out there, just read on.
The different types of coffee machines
While manual coffee makers are the traditional choice, more and more people are opting for the speed and convenience of automatic coffee machines. Here’s a quick list of the best types of automatic coffee machines.
Great for any type of coffee, these machines are popular for a reason. Espresso machines use pressure to squirt the coffee into your cup which is largely what gives it its consistency. Espresso machines can be either semi- or fully-automatic and in both cases that pressure is delivered by a pump. They can also be manual, however, in which case you have to provide the necessary pressure via a lever yourself.
Great for coarse grinds, percolators are an old type of automatic coffee maker that’s still manufactured today. They are simple stainless-steel pitchers with a lid, mounted on a heating element. Similar to standard water-heating pitchers, these devices are beautiful in their simplicity as they leave a lot of the work for you to do. And that’s a good thing – you have the freedom to choose how much water, how much coffee, what type, and for how long to brew it. Essentially, coffee percolators are the happy medium between manual coffee makers and most other automatic coffee machines.
Great for medium to fine ground coffee, these are probably the most famous type of coffee machines. They can come with either conical or flat-bottomed filters but either way, the taste is usually similar. Drip-brew machines are easy and simple to use but they rarely produce the richest flavor. There’s plenty of room for variations based on different models, of course. So, using a high-quality drip-brew machine with your preferred coffee beans can still produce your preferred taste and aroma.
Single-cup pod-based coffee machines
Great for households with just one or two coffee drinkers that don’t have overly specific taste and aroma preferences, pod-based machines are great for a quick caffeine fix. The coffee they use comes in pre-packaged pods that you can buy from your local stores or online. Because of that, the result is usually plain and unimpressive but then again – that’s not the point of these machines. IF all you want is a quick morning cup of energy, this is probably the most convenient option.
What should I look for when buying a coffee machine?
So, which type has the features you want? And what features and functions should you even look for? Here’s a quick rundown:
Coffee makers can produce anything from one to twenty cups at a time so pick one with the right capacity for your needs. Going a little over your needs can be smart too – are you a household of two coffee drinkers? Then maybe a two-at-a-time coffee machine is right for you but if you tend to have guests from time to time a four-at-a-time machine might be better.
If you’re looking for more than a standard caffeine fix in the morning and you want to customize your coffee experience, some coffee machines have strength settings controls. These allow you to personalize the intensity of your brew.
As coffee machines work with tap water, it’s a good idea to look for one with a water filter.
Programmable clock, auto-shutoff, etc.
The more quality-of-life controls and features your coffee machines has, the easier your mornings will be. At the end of the day, the point of a coffee machine is to make your mornings go smoother.
Extra features that might be useful
Of course, there are lots of smaller features and extras you may want in a coffee machine. Here are a few suggestions:
- Hot plate. Not everyone likes this addition as it can be a safety hazard when used inadequately. However, when used correctly, it’s a great way to keep your coffee warm while you do other stuff.
- Brew pause. This neat feature is great for coffee machines that can make larger quantities at once. It allows you to pause the process to pour one or two cups of coffee and then resume the brewing for the other cups to finish.
- Carafe. Many coffee machines come with their own carafe. These are usually glass and insulated. Insulated carafes keep the coffee warm but glass is the classic choice.
- Coffee filters. These can be either permanent or paper filters. Paper filters need to be thrown away and replaced while permanent filters can be rinsed off and inserted back into the machine.
Did any of these coffee machine types catch your eyes or are you opting for a manual coffee maker? Whatever you choose, remember to always go for a combination of high quality and personalized functions and features. There’s no point in paying for features you won’t need but it’s also annoying when your new coffee machine doesn’t have a key function you need. Once you find the right machine for you, however, your coffee needs should be satisfied for years to come.