How to Shop for a Coffee Maker

How to Shop for a Coffee Maker

Sarah Coffey
Sep 9, 2010

It finally feels like fall, which means it's time to start thinking about cozy home things like tea kettles and coffee makers. There are almost as many different kinds of coffee makers out there as there are types of coffee. Here's our guide to which one's right for you.

Drip Coffee Makers

Drip coffee makers are most common in the US, and they use paper or mesh filters—the advantage of mesh filters is that they're reusable and most are dishwasher-safe, but they may let more grounds through than paper. "Gold tone" filters (coated in a thin layer of gold) are supposed to be more flavor-neutral. Pricing for drip makers usually depends on the features included in the design (programmable timers, built-in bean grinders, etc).

c8591d5f1e6c37a64fef5f743c5e8dd7c9191053. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Cuisinart
This manufacturer has been recommended on the Kitchn as a source for good drip models with lots of features. The Grind & Brew Thermal Automatic Coffeemaker ($130) allows you to grind the beans and make the coffee in the same machine. For more tips and recommendations, see this post.

Pod Machines

The advantage of pod machines is that they make single cups quickly, consistently, and there's very little cleanup. The downside is that they usually require you to buy the manufacturer's pod packets (which can be expensive and may need to be ordered through specialty stores), and most of them only make one cup at a time.

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Consumer Reports gave high marks for consistency and convenience to the Senseo Supreme 7832, available from Amazon for $130. We actually owned a Senseo at one point and, although it performed well, finding the packets was such a pain that we eventually replaced it with a Chemex (see below).

French Presses

French presses are inexpensive, durable, and they produce a strong cup of coffee for people that like a nice jolt of caffeine in the morning. The drawback is that they take a little bit of effort to use and the coffee they make can be a little bit "chewy" (meaning you'll find a few grounds in the bottom of the cup).

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Bodum makes nice basic French presses, like the classic $30 Chambord. They make versions in glass and steel or plastic, but we prefer the glass ones, since the plastic versions tend to stain.

Single-Cup Coffee Filters

If you live in a really tiny space without room for a countertop coffee maker, or you tend to make coffee only for yourself, consider going the old-fashioned route and using a single-cup filter.

5cf91fdcdfc40012a09cb9eec5df2945fdeec03b. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Fante's Kitchen Wares Shop
This online store is one of our favorite resources for specialty kitchen stuff. They have extensive product descriptions, and they carry a whole bunch of manual coffee brewing options. The KF300 1-Cup SwissGold Filter Coffee Maker is gold-coated and designed to fit inside a standard mug. Fantes recommends it particularly for Vietnamese-style coffee.

Espresso Makers

The upshot to Espresso makers is that they're higher-end products, so they're usually designed with lots of features and they look good. The problem is that most of them take up a lot of counter space and are only useful when you're making espresso drinks.

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The Bosch Tassimo ($170) offers a solution to the espresso machine dilemma, since it's a multi-purpose option that can brew regular coffee, espresso, cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, hot chocolate, and teas.

Chemex Brewers

The Chemex is a manual drip coffee maker that uses paper filters to remove sludge and grounds. The hourglass design is included in the collections of MOMA and the Smithsonian. In terms of function, it allows every part of the coffee-making process to be controlled to make a high-quality cup. The main drawback is that it's time intensive; you have to devote several minutes to proper heating and pouring. We have one and we love it, but it can be a pain when you're tired and in a hurry.

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This online store carries the Chemex in a bunch of sizes, ranging from 6 to 10-cup makers (about $30 to $40). They also carry Chemex filters ($7.95 for a box of 100) and other accessories, such as cleaning brushes and water kettles.

Aeropress Coffee Makers

This is another good, inexpensive option for coffee aficionados. Faith from the Kitchn loves hers. Based on the French press model, it uses air pressure to create a strong cup, but solves the problem of chewy grinds by incorporating a small cap with a paper filter. Although it's marketed as a combination coffee and espresso maker, it's really better suited to regular coffee than espresso.

8a0e34fb4733859764a2e6a87fa56d98a40cbd79. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Sur La Table
The Aeropress is available from a bunch of different specialty coffee and kitchen stores (we found it at Sur La Table) for around $30. To find other retailers, just do a simple google search.

When it comes to coffee, there are tons of options for brewing beyond the ones listed above. Less common in the US, but preferred in other countries, are vacuum brewers (popular in Japan), Ibrik pots for making Turkish coffee, and the cloth filter Chorreador from Costa Rica.

For more recommendations and information about coffee beans, grinding, and brewing, check out some of our coffee coverage from Apartment Therapy, the Kitchn, and Unplggd.

Search for Coffee Wares on Marketplace
Coffee Brewing Posts from the Kitchn
What is the Best Way to Make Coffee at Home? from the Kitchn
10 Best Looking Coffee Makers from Unplggd
Best Coffee and Espresso Machines 2009 from Unplggd
Top Ten Coffee Machines from Apartment Therapy
The Best Coffee Grinder You Don't Know About from Apartment Therapy

Photo: FortyTwenty used under Creative Commons license

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