Tips for Choosing a Coffee Maker

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Coffee makers have come a long way. From yesterday’s cowboy pots boiling coffee over the coals to today’s sleek gourmet brewers, there’s a coffee maker to fit every taste, every lifestyle, every budget and every counter space. So where do you begin finding the coffee maker of your dreams?

Before you head for the appliance aisle at your favorite store, do a little homework. Consider what kind of coffee you prefer, how often you drink coffee, how much space you have for a coffee maker, how much you can afford to spend on a coffee maker. These are the issues involved in deciding whether to purchase an espresso or a non-espresso coffee maker

Choosing a Coffee Maker: Espresso or No Espresso

Espresso coffee makers are fancy. They cost more than other coffee makers (some cost thousands of dollars) and make a variety of coffee types including cappuccino and lattes. Espresso machines often make only one cup of coffee at a time and require cleaning after each cup. The coffee is stronger than that brewed by other means.

True coffee aficionados often prefer to use the espresso coffee maker, especially the super automated models that do everything from grinding the coffee to pouring it into the cup.

Typical coffee drinkers who prefer to have a pot of coffee available at all times and aren’t interested in lattes or other versions of coffee tend to prefer non-espresso coffee makers. Non-espresso coffee makers work well for people who like to start the coffee brewing and go on about their usual activities while it brews. They buy coffee already ground and don’t bother with beans or grinding.

For coffee drinkers needing large quantities of coffee, non-espresso is the way to go. Large percolator type coffee urns can be used to make more than a hundred cups of coffee at one time.

They also prefer returning to the coffee pot time after time and refilling their coffee cup over making only a cup at a time. Non-espresso type coffee makers are much less expensive than espresso machines.

Choosing a Coffee Maker: Non-Espresso

These coffee makers are available in drip, French press and combination models. Drip machines often make 6 to 10 cups of coffee at a time. For those who need a lesser quantity, it’s better to buy a model that makes 4 cups (or less) at a time. Drip coffee makers are inexpensive and easy to use.

There are pod coffee makers available which use single serving pods to brew coffee. Pod coffee makers can be inexpensive but the coffee itself costs more than standard cans of pre-ground coffee.
French Press coffee makers are great for a few cups of coffee at a time. Combination coffee makes featuring both espresso and non-espresso coffee makers in one machine are also available. These machines give coffee drinkers the best of both worlds.

Choosing a Coffee Maker: Espresso

Espresso coffee makers come in semi-automatic, fully automatic and super automatic models. These machines make fewer cups at a time and may require more time and attention that a standard drip coffee maker.

The more automated an espresso coffee maker is, the more features it will offer. Some take care of everything from grinding the coffee beans to filling the cup with coffee and ejecting the used coffee grounds.

The more features the espresso coffee maker offers, the higher the price tag attached to it. These coffee makers can cost anywhere from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars.

The first decision to be made in choosing a coffee maker is the need to determine whether an espresso coffee maker or a non-espresso coffee maker is needed. Coffee preferences, budget and quantity of coffee to be made are factors that affect the decision making process.

Automatic Espresso Coffee Makers

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Automatic Espresso Coffee Makers


Automatic espresso coffee makers are more expensive than many other coffee makers. They are prestigious as well as good coffee makers. They’re available in semi-automatic, fully-automatic and super automatic machines.

Semi-Automatic Espresso Coffee Makers

The distinction between semi, fully and super automatic lies in the automation process. Semi-automatic espresso coffee makers are very popular. The electric pump makes for consistently good coffee. Users put coffee and water into the machine. Pulling the electric pump turns the coffee maker on and off.

Semi-Automatic espresso coffee makers automatically:

>tamp down coffee grounds
>brew coffee
>fill coffee cup
>eject used grounds

Semi-automatic espresso coffee makers can be purchased for less than a thousand dollars.

Fully Automatic Espresso Coffee Makers

Fully automatic espresso coffee makers work like the semi-automatic machines but operate via the simple touch of a button.

Fully automatic espresso coffee makers automatically:

>grind coffee
>fill brewing chamber
>tamp down coffee grounds
>brew coffee
>fill coffee cup
>eject used grounds

Prices for fully automatic espresso coffee makers range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars.

Super Automatic Espresso Coffee Makers

Super automatic espresso coffee makers are the luxury version of coffee machines. In addition to the fully automated process, the super coffee maker comes with a built-in coffee grinder and other special features. These machines are fast, easy to use and easy to maintain. Most allow the user to brew any number of specialty coffees such as espresso, cappuccino and lattes.

Super automatic espresso coffee makers automatically:
>grind coffee
>fill brewing chamber
>tamp down coffee grounds
>brew coffee
>fill coffee cup
>eject used grounds into waste box

Users of fully automatic espresso coffee makers do not have to deal with grinding coffee beans or hot filters and cleaning sieves. Super machines include either a steam wand or an automatic system to froth milk. Competition between super automatic espresso coffee maker companies is fierce. Each is seeking to create the best loved, most versatile machine.

Some machines now feature automatic cleaning and descaling. Another special feature is the presence of water filters that reduce mineral content and get rid of the taste of chlorine. Adjustable coffee cup spouts and the ability to manually control water volume in a cup of coffee are also added features available on select machines.

Prices for super automatic espresso coffee makers run from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars.

Popular Features of Automatic Espresso Coffee Makers

Features differ among brands and styles of automatic espresso coffee makers. Available features include the following.

Adjustable dosing:
In coffee, dose refers to the number of grams of coffee used in brewing a shot. Some espresso coffee makers allow users to adjust both number of grams and amount of water used.

Bean Grinder:
Bean grinders are included on some units to automatically grind the necessary amount of coffee.

Brass Boiler:
Brass boilers offer greater durability and help retain warmth. Machines with brass boilers reheat faster and have less fluctuation in water temperature.

Bypass Doser:
A bypass doser allows users to use a different blend of coffee than what is already in the machine grinder. Emptying the grinder isn’t necessary.

Cup Warmer:
Some units feature a cup warmer. Using a pre-warmed cup maintains the heat of the coffee for a longer period of time.

Milk frothing/foaming wand:
Cappuccino and latte drinkers need machines with a milk frothing/foaming wand. These aren’t available on all machines. Some of the more expensive coffee maker models feature milk reservoirs.

Pre-brewing pre-moistening:
Coffee is pre-moistened. This may provide for superior taste.

Removable Brew Group:
The brew group refers to where the brewing occurs. If these components can be removed, they’re easier to clean. Machines without removable components often have automatic cleaners.

Water Filter:
Some high-end espresso coffee makers have water filters built in to eliminate chlorine, minerals and contaminants that affect taste. If filters are present, they do have to be changed regularly.