Coffee Facts

How to Choose a Coffee Maker The Right Way in 2021: Valuable Lifesaver Guide

Every day the world seems to get a little bit busier. People are waking up earlier, going to bed later, and trying to get through their day with limited sleep and no energy. Juggling daily tasks at home, work, school, etc., can get overwhelming, and we could all use a little bit of liquid gold—AKA coffee—to keep chugging on, and choosing the right coffee maker is key to starting the morning off right.

Although the need for a caffeinated cup of joe is universal, how you get that coffee from the grounds to the cup is not necessarily going to be the same for everyone. The coffee maker you choose needs to fit your lifestyle and your preference. This article will help you decide how to choose a coffee maker that will be worthwhile. 

How to Choose A Coffee Maker Right for You

Coffee shops can be found everywhere, but nothing beats the convenience of brewing your own coffee at home. Coffee makers have come a very long way in recent years. They are nothing like they were 15 years ago: then, we had to patiently wait for the morning coffee to brew and fill a pot before we could pour ourselves a full cup of joe. 

COFFEE MACHINE IN KITCHEN, how to choose a coffee maker

However, today, our options for making coffee are almost endless; just about anyone can make themselves a delicious cup of coffee, hot or cold, faster and easier than ever. For example, you can purchase a Keurig coffee maker to get a single-serve cup of coffee at any moment, a drip coffee maker that will brew up a pot for you and your guests, or a commercial coffee maker for those who run a business or plan on throwing a large event. 

Of course, coffee makers are important investments, so you’ll need to consider a few things—besides price—before purchasing the best coffee maker of your own.

The decision about which coffee maker to buy is usually based on preference, cost, and convenience. However, some people will go out of their way to get the perfect cup of coffee. They will spend a lot of time and effort to make sure of budgeting for a coffee maker that works well. The reason for this is because it is a crucial decision. If you want to enjoy the best cup of coffee, then you need to make sure that you get the right machine.

Let’s dive into the considerations on how to choose a coffee maker.

Do You Prefer Automation?

Do you want a coffee pot that starts brewing without your intervention? Do you want to wake up and find coffee waiting for you? Or do you want the process of brewing coffee to be a hands-on experience?

Automation on coffee makers has come a long way. The level of automation range from fully automated machines that pick up the coffee beans and grind them to push buttons for you to ones that allow you to select which type of coffee you want, how much water you’d like in the coffee. From there, everything else is done on autopilot.

If you would like the automation feature of a coffee maker without sacrificing quality, you will want to consider your coffee maker’s brew strength, maximum cup capacity, and a hot plate or carafe design. More on some of these later.

An electric coffee maker that can be programmed to brew your coffee for you as soon as you wake up is a great way to start any day. The process is a simple one, and the machine’s programmable timer makes the process easy.

Less automated machines might require a little more attention, but they’re still fairly easy to operate. Push the button, and you’re good to go.

Manual pour-over coffee makers, like French Press, are a labor of love. They may not be the fastest way to make a cup of joe, but they produce a full-bodied and flavorful coffee with artful simplicity.

Consider how much time you’re willing to spend making your cups of coffee to decide which option is best. I wrote another post on the best programmable coffee makers here.

How Much Coffee Do You Drink Each Day?

Do you only prefer having that single cup of joe in the morning on your way out, or do you usually need little caffeine boosts throughout the day while you work from home? Knowing the amount of coffee you drink each day will help you choose the right coffee maker. 

Some machines are single-serve options that can be in drip coffee form or pod-based, in which everyone who uses it can choose their preferred coffee type and flavor. For example, this sleek machine allows each user to pick their brew size, temperature, and flavor, then wait less than a minute before their cup is ready to go.

Other coffee machines can brew multiple cups if you like to go back for refills often. Coffee makers that brew multiple servings will usually have a feature that keeps the beverage warm in the pot as long as the device is on or makes it easy to heat back up quickly. 

Do You Like Grinding Your Own Coffee?

There is nothing like the taste of freshly grounded coffee in the morning. And luckily for many of us, there are coffee makers available that offer you the option of grinding your own coffee beans in the same machine as the coffee maker itself. 

Simply place the beans into a top section of the pot where the grinding action occurs before funneling the grounds into the filter basket. Once this is completed, the water will pour over the grounds like any other percolator or drip coffee machine.

There are a few coffee maker options that simplify this process. For example, this coffee pot allows you to pre-program it to prepare your grounds and your coffee ahead of time, so you never have to wait. It only takes a few minutes to brew up a full pot. 

How Much Kitchen Counter Space Do You Have? 

Every kitchen has a territorial limitation of how many appliances that it can accommodate on the counter. Some coffee makers take up more counter space than others. So it’s important to know what size of coffee maker you need before making your purchase.

During the purchasing process, diligently examine the size of coffee makers you invest in. Knowing your item’s size, shape, and weight will help you strategically plan for where it will go in your kitchen.

Luckily for us, most of these coffee makers are modernly designed to fit in many places.

Additional Features

Technology today has improved the way we can do things in so many different aspects of our lives, and this is just as true for making coffee as it is for anything else. 

Here is a list of additional features in some coffee machines worth considering to help you on how to choose a coffee maker right for you:

Carafe Design

Most coffee makers come with carafes. The common ones are glass and thermal carafes.

A glass carafe is a useful choice for those who prefer not to use plastics and metals in making coffee. While it is more prone to breaking than other kinds of carafe materials, it is effortless to clean and maintain. Typically, glass carafes employ a hot plate to keep coffee warm. This is a great way to keep coffee piping hot for shorter periods without the risk of it getting too heated. It is usually preferable not to leave the coffee on a hot plate for very long. The coffee tends to become stale and rancid after extended periods, making it unpleasant to drink.

The thermal carafe design keeps coffee warm for a longer period of time. Thermal carafes are insulated by a double-walled construction that prevents heat from escaping. The coffee stays warm for hours so that you can enjoy a hot coffee even after the morning rush. The main difference between glass and thermal carafes is that thermal carafes do not sit on a hot plate. This keeps the coffee fresh as long as possible, but the coffee may not stay as hot as coffee on a hot plate.

So which carafe should you choose? If keeping the coffee as hot as possible is your preference, go with the glass carafe. Otherwise, in my opinion, the thermal carafe is the right choice here as I really value the taste of my coffee. Thermal carafes are recommended because they keep coffee warmer for longer periods of time. As long as the coffee stays fresh, the taste is usually very close to coffee that has just been made.

Auto Shut-Off

Purchase a coffee maker with an automatic shut-off to save energy and reduce the risk of electrical issues; this will also help keep the coffee from over brewing and prevent the bottom of the pot from becoming scorched.

Brewing Schedule

If you are the type of person who needs your coffee fix as soon as you wake up in the morning, you would probably enjoy a coffee maker that offers a brewing schedule. This way, you won’t have to wake up, prepare the coffee maker, and then wait for it to brew. These scheduling systems allow you to set a specific time to start brewing, and all you have to do is prep it before you go to bed at night.

For example, Cuisinart’s perfect temp coffee maker offers a 24-hour programmable system that allows you to set the time you would like your coffee to start brewing. It also provides a programable shut-off feature and temperature control options. 

Water Filter

Hard water can cause damage to your coffee pot, clogging it up with minerals; a water filter will help keep your pot in working order and give you clean, fresh water to use in your coffee. Here’s an article on coffee makers for hard water.

Steamer/Frother

For those of you who enjoy espressos and lattes, a great steamer and frother can make a big difference in the way you drink your coffee. These options can help you get the fancy coffee shop specials right in your own home.

Brew Strength

If you are purchasing a pot for a household with multiple people, choosing one with different brew strengths would be a great way to keep everyone happy. Some people love the strong taste of dark brewed coffee, while others prefer a milder and lighter flavor.

Pause and Serve

When you are in a hurry to get out the door, it can seem like an eternity waiting for the pot to finish filling. The pause and serve features make this issue disappear, allowing you to stop the dripping until you have replaced the pot.

This makes a huge difference in the way you drink your coffee; without this feature, you run the risk of flooding your countertop with the continuing stream of coffee once the pot is removed.

Self-Clean Cycle

Cleaning a coffee pot can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially when trying to fit your hand into those tiny little areas. Having a self-clean cycle saves you time and keeps every cup tasting as fresh as the last.

Having a self-cleaning cycle on your coffee pot will also keep you from using any cleaners or the good ole apple cider vinegar that takes many brew cycles to eliminate the water of that vinegar taste.

How to Choose a Keurig Coffee Maker

If you are looking to purchase a Keurig coffee maker, there are many different options available on the market today. 

When it comes to Keurigs, you’ll want to consider their size and who will be using the device since these machines typically offer the flexibility to choose your preferred coffee blend (comes in k cups or coffee pods) in a home with multiple coffee drinkers.  

Port Huron, Michigan, USA - February 18, 2016 - A variety of the popular Keurig K Cups. Keurig sells a single cup brewer system that offers products by Starbucks, Folgers, Green Mountain and others, keurig k55 vs k250

Below are some of our favorite Keurigs worth checking out: 

Keurig Mini 

If you are looking for a great single-serve travel-sized coffee maker, the Keurig Mini coffee maker is right for you. It offers two settings, 6 ounce and 12-ounce cups, and only requires water when in use. Simply fill the reservoir up with the amount of coffee you want, add a coffee pod, and wait. It’s as easy as that.

This Keurig Mini is energy efficient and can be easily stored in just about any place. Please keep it in your camper, under your counter, or even in your cupboard at work. 

Keurig Slim 

The Keurig K- Slim is a single-serve coffee maker that will fill your cup up from 8-12 ounces of your favorite beverages. It is around 5-inches wide, making it fit perfectly into small spaces. 

Use the Keurig slim in your office or even add it to your rental home, providing your guest with a great feature for a budget-friendly price.

This Keurig offers 3 cup size choices and a large enough water reservoir to fill multiple coffee mugs before have to add more water. It even offers a removable bottom tray giving you extra space to fit your favorite travel mug.

Keurig K-Classic 

The Keurig K-Classic would make the perfect wedding gift or housewarming present because it is a beautiful addition to the kitchen. It can sit on the countertop in any home and never make your space look crowded or cluttered.

This coffee maker holds up to 48 ounces of water in its reservoir, making it quick and simple to use over and over again. One person can turn it on early in the more to grab a quick cup of coffee before work, and then your partner will still be set for their cup a few hours after you have left, never worrying about stale or cold coffee that has been sitting for hours in a pot.

The Keurig K-Classic heats water and starts the drip process within 60 seconds of pressing your desired coffee setting size.

Keurig K-Elite

The Keurig K-Elite can brew 4, 6, 8,10, or 12 ounces of coffee at a time. With a 75-ounce water reservoir, this machine can be used throughout the day without needing to be refilled. Use the hot water not only to make a delicious cup of coffee but to make yourself a bowl of oatmeal or a delicious hot chocolate. 

This elite Keurig coffee maker also offers an iced feature, giving you the option of enjoying an iced coffee or even a refreshing cup of iced tea. 

How to Choose a Drip Coffee Maker

If you prefer the flavor of a slower drip coffee maker, there are still many options available that will please every type of coffee lover. Drip coffee makers are no longer giant eyesores that sit on top of a counter and can actually impress your guests when they see it in action.

When choosing a drip coffee maker, you may want to consider things like size, how many people plan on using the device, and whether it grinds its own beans. There are also a few different types of slow-drip coffee makers to choose from: 

Basic Drip Coffee Makers

The basic drip coffee maker is perfect for those who tend to drink multiple cups of coffee in a short period. Simply fill the reservoir with an entire pot full of water, replace the pot onto the base and add your preferred grounds into the basket. After pressing the power button, the water warms up and flows over the ground coffee, allowing it to soak up the flavor and drip into the pot.

These drip coffee makers come in many different sizes and colors based on your preference and can create large pots of coffee, saving you time and money by not purchasing separate pods every time you want a fresh cup.

Drip and Single Serve

There are also drip coffee makers that also offer single-serve cups, giving you the best of both worlds. These pots offer you the option of making large pots of coffee for multiple people to use at once, or you can use single-serve filters or k-cups to make yourself a quick cup on the go.

Grind and Brew

There is also the option of purchasing a drip coffee maker that actually grinds the coffee beans for you before brewing the coffee. Simply add your favorite brand of coffee beans into the grinder on the coffee maker, and it will create the perfect amount of ground-up coffee needed to make a flavorful cup of hot joe. 

If you are looking for a coffee pot that will give you a freshly ground coffee flavor, grind and brew coffee makers are the perfect fit for your home. Some coffee machines can automatically brew coffee, such as an automatic drip coffee maker.

How to Choose a Commercial Coffee Maker

If you own a small business, like to host events or want to provide coffee for an entire office, a commercial coffee maker may be a good idea. These coffee makers are designed to hold a much larger amount of water to serve up a lot of coffee at one time.

When choosing the right commercial coffee maker for your specific situation, you may want to consider things like the number of people it serves, how many different types of coffee you can offer at a time, and how long each coffee maker takes to produce the coffee.

Like slow-drip coffee makers, there are also different types of commercial coffee makers: 

Commercial-Grade Percolator

There are many different size options of these commercial-grade percolators, with servings ranging from 35-110 cups at a time. 

Because of the large amount of coffee this machine can make, the wait time for the brewing process is a lot slower than that of the normal coffee makers. These big machines can take up to 40 minutes to prepare the coffee, but after that, they will keep it warm and fresh for hours while you are catering to many people.

Most of these machines do not require paper filters and are designed with food-grade stainless steel baskets that you can pour the coffee ground directly into, making clean up a cinch. 

When purchasing one of these coffee makers, look for the ones that offer an automatic shut-off feature.

Brewer with Warming Station

If you are looking to purchase a commercial-grade coffee maker for a smaller crowd or a waiting area or office space, a 12 cup brewing machine with an extra pot and warming station may be a better option.

The machines are designed to brew an average-sized pot of coffee and provide a warming station to store it while you start to brew a fresh new pot. This helps keep the coffee coming cycling from one pot to the next.

Depending on the brewing station you purchase, you can get two, three, or four warming stations that are added directly to the machine, giving you the capability of providing multiple coffees at the same time. 

Make a pot of regular coffee, a pot of flavored coffee, and a pot of decaf, offering them all up to your guests without having to make a special pot each time someone wants something different.

Commercial Sized Keurig

If you don’t want to deal with making multiple pots of coffee for your guests and it would be easier for you to offer up single-serve k-cups with many different flavors, then you may be interested in a commercial-sized Keurig.

These machines can store up to 90 ounces of water in their large reservoirs, allowing your guests to pour 4, 6, 8, or 10 ounces of coffee at a time and the option of choosing their own strength preferences. 

The Keurig Commercial coffee machine is easy to use and easy to clean up. It can make a hot cup of coffee in less than a minute, giving your guests easy access to warm beverages in no time at all. 

Other Coffee Makers to Consider

The above coffee makers are great options and definitely some of the most popular ones purchased by many people. However, they are not the only types of coffee makers available:

French Press Coffee Maker

When using a French press, you will take fresh coffee grounds (usually high-quality full-flavored roasts) and add them into a hot pot of water. You then allow the ground coffee to be steep in hot water for a few minutes until it reaches the brewing of your choosing. Then, use the flat metal press to push the grounds to the bottom of the container, resulting in a clean, flavorful coffee.

Recommended Options:

Pour-Over Coffee Brewers 

To use a pour-over coffee cup or pitcher, you fill a cone-shaped filter with medium ground coffee. Then you will pour hot water on the coffee grounds two times. First, to prep the grounds, and second to pull out the flavors. This water flows through the coffee and flows directly to the cup, making a bold-flavored coffee for you to enjoy.

Recommended Options:

Aero Press 

To use an Aero Press coffee maker, you first have to unscrew the provided basket filter and add about one tablespoon of your favorite coffee grounds. Add hot water to the glass container and stir the coffee to get the full amount of flavor from the grounds. Allow the coffee to soak for around 30-45 seconds and stir again. 

man using aeropress

Place the filter on top of the glass container and flip on top of your coffee mug, using the plunger to push the grounds towards the filter to release as much flavor as possible.

Recommended Options:

Espresso Machines

An espresso machine takes hot water and pours it over coffee grounds at high pressures. By doing this, you will get a strong, dark, flavorful shot of coffee. There are many different types of espresso machines, including:

  • Manual espresso machines – you do all of the work
  • Semi-automatic espresso machines – controls the pressure, but you still add in the water yourself
  • Fully automatic espresso machines – controls every aspect of the brewing process for you
  • Pod machines – make the espresso for you in a single-serve machine, where you have the choice of coffee pods you prefer

Recommended Options:

Stove-Top Coffee Maker 

The stove-top coffee maker produces an extremely dark roast for those who truly enjoy a silky, rich coffee flavor. To use a stove-top coffee maker, you simply fill the bottom canister with water and place the filter full of coffee grounds on top. Once the water becomes hot enough, it will start to boil and rise into the ground coffee, brewing the flavor into the water.

Recommended Options:

Turkish Coffee Maker 

This specific coffee maker is as easy as it gets. Boil the tea in a Turkish cup designed to withstand a large amount of heat, then simply stir the grounds into the water and wait for them to settle at the bottom of the cup. 

Recommended Options:

Cold Brew Coffee Maker 

If you are more interested in a coffee maker that will provide you with the best tasting cold brew coffee, a cold brew coffee maker is what you need. There are many designs for cold brew coffee makers, but they all do the same thing. 

Fill the filter with coffee grounds (usually a long cylinder filter that will go straight down into the pot), fill the pot with water, snap on the cap, and place it in the fridge. The normal wait time for a good flavor is about 12-16 hours.

Final Thoughts

Dropping by a coffee shop every day on your way to work to grab your favorite cup of coffee can add up fast; finding the right coffee maker for you can save you so much time and money without sacrificing flavor. There are plenty of coffee makers to choose from, so think about some of the considerations we’ve mentioned above, such as how much and how often you drink coffee, whether you prefer to grind your own coffee beans, and other features. 

Please take a few minutes to decide what is most important to you when it comes to the perfect coffee machine, and then use our guide to help you choose the best coffee maker for you!

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