How to Choose a Coffee Maker

Rather than head to a coffee shop each day to get your caffeine fix, invest in a coffee machine so you can enjoy your daily cup of java whenever you like!
There’s nothing like the smell of freshly-brewed coffee, but rather than head to a coffee shop each day to get your caffeine fix, invest in a coffee machine so you can enjoy your daily cup of java at home.

Getting started

There’s a whole range of coffee machines available to suit every taste and budget and top-of-the-range models can cost a small fortune. Before you head to the shops, think about what type of coffee you prefer. Some machines make several types, which is ideal if there are lots of coffee lovers in your household!

Also, think about how much coffee you’re planning to make and where you’re going to put your machine. You’ll need to make space on your worktop if you’re intending on using it daily, or you might want to store it away if you only want to make the odd espresso when you’re entertaining. For real coffee fanatics, there are built-in models available that take the same space as a built-in microwave. If your budget is tight, traditional espresso machines are generally less expensive, they also weigh less than pod or bean-to-cup machines.

Cafetieres

A glass jug incorporating a wire filter to which a plunger is attached. Put as much ground coffee as you need in the bottom of the jug, pour in boiled water and place the plunger over the top. Wait for the coffee to infuse, and then gently plunge down. A cafeteria offers flexibility, you can make just a single cup or a few at once, and it’s portable so you can bring it to the dining table if you are entertaining, or even take it with you when you go away.

Filter coffee makers and percolators

You’ll need to decide what size you need filter coffee machines come in a number of different cup volumes. The machines are very easy to use: pour cold water into the top of the machine, where it is then heated before dripping slowly through a basket of ground coffee to infuse in a pot or carafe.

Choose from models that use either permanent or paper holders the permanent ones will save you money, but some are tricky to clean and can taint.

Some models use a pod system, with the coffee in a pre-packaged capsule (rather like a tea bag) or a foil-encased pod that produces a cup of filter coffee without the mess. However, you may be limited to buying the pods used by your machine manufacturer.

Percolators work like filter coffee makers in reverse, with boiled water at the bottom that is forced up a vertical tube then over and through the coffee filter at the top. The brewed coffee settles in the bottom of the jug. You can buy both stovetop and electric models.

Espresso and cappuccino makers

These are steam-driven machines for those that like seriously strong coffee. You can drink an espresso coffee on its own if you like that rich, concentrated flavor or use it as the base for a cappuccino or latte. Choose between a pressure machine and a more expensive pump machine.

In a pressure machine, the water is boiled in a chamber, building up pressure and steam, and is then forced through the coffee. Critics say that the extremely hot water produced by these machines is too hot to make a genuine espresso.

A pump machine, however, has a separate tank with a thermostatically controlled boiler that can heat the water to the optimum temperature for a genuine espresso.

Nespresso machines use a pod system with no messy filter holders to clean and the coffee is hermetically sealed in capsules so it stays fresh for up to nine months.

Bar pressure

When buying an espresso maker, remember good bar pressure is essential for making a good ‘crema’ and is one of the main indicators of a good cup– meaning the steam meets the coffee granules at the correct speed. To avoid a bitter taste, 15– 19 bar is the optimum pressure.

Thermoblock

A type of boiler within the machine that heats water to the perfect temperature (about 90 ° C) with a pump, to prevent the coffee from being scalded and impairing the flavor.

Filter holder

The container that holds the coffee should be kept warm. Top-priced models have brass holders, rather than the regular aluminum ones, to retain the heat for longer.

Wattage

Like a kettle, the higher the wattage on your machine, the faster the water is boiled something to consider if you think you’ll to want to make several cups of espresso at one time.

Bean-to-cup coffee makers

For the real coffee connoisseur, choose a machine that grinds the coffee beans on the spot for a richer, more intense flavor. These machines tend to be at the top of the price range, but for the money you’ll be able to adjust everything from the strength of the coffee to the temperature.

Energy efficiency

Coffee makers use very little energy and are very cheap to run.

Maintenance

After the pleasure of that coffee fix comes the hard work! Coffee machines do need some care to keep them in top condition and performing well particularly the top-of-the-range bean-to-cup models that grind coffee beans on demand. If you don’t look after it, you’ll find your machine may start to suffer from blockages, so descaling is something you need to do fairly regularly. A top-range model will let you know when it’s time to descale with a warning light.

On an espresso machine, you’ll need to dismantle the brew head, clean it and flush it through with water. And if the filter basket becomes clogged you may need to use a pin, or something similar, to unblock it, this is more of a problem when using a very fine grind of coffee.

Capsule coffee machines are pretty straightforward to clean just flush through with water every now and then and descale regularly.

Simply wash cafeteria in warm, soapy water.

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