Fact: you need a coffee maker. But which one should you get? Coffee might seem like a complicated beast, but really there’s not much to it at all. Here is my take on different styles of coffee makers that are on the market today.
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Curious about tea as well? I also have a post about what tea steeper you should get!
Oh. My. Goodness. I’m not sure what happened but I’m not complaining!
Over this week, and especially last weekend, My post on how to make coffee without a coffee maker completely blew up!
Out of almost no where, this post I made back in August is getting a lot of hits. This is big for me! I have no idea what’s going on but I love it!
So, since you dears seem like you want more coffee-related posts, I’m going to have my second drink post in 3 weeks! Yes, I am hoping to have more drink posts this year, so stick around!
So many exclamation points!!
If you don’t know me well, Hi, I’m Gem and I love beverages.
Caffeinated or no, alcohol or no, beverage culture is deeply a part of me. It’s why I talk about coffee and teas respectively, but I love them both. Each drink I hold is a special experience that cannot be fully explained and I love it!
Today, I want to talk to you about coffee makers. As there are many, many different types of coffee makers, finding which maker to get can be confusing as well as a bit daunting.
I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. Because for all the hype and silliness coffee goes through, it’s so simple it’s stupid.
Coffee makers mostly go into two main categories: drip brews and presses.
Now, a couple things to note. I am not going over espresso today (that’s another post!), cold brew (another post… maybe) nor outliers like the vacuum coffee maker. Someday I’ll get one, try it out, and let you dears know what I think.
But this is the simple guide. I want to give you the nuts and bolts of making a good cup of coffee.
But before we get into makers, we need to talk coffee grinders.
If you really don’t care, feel free to get pre-ground coffee and skip to the next section! But for those who are curious…
I will almost always recommend whole bean over pre-ground coffee. Coffee loses its freshness shortly after being ground, so the best step to getting a good cup of coffee is grinding it yourself.
The only time I don’t really recommend grinding your own is when it comes to flavored coffees. They have a way of tainting the grinder and getting their flavored oils everywhere. Unless you have a specific grinder, I advise buying it ground, or asking your coffee shop to grind it for you.
You have a few options when it comes to grinding, as I went over in my recent cold brew espresso post.
There is the electric coffee grinder, which you could get just about anywhere. Regular electric coffee grinders don’t usually have settings, but they grind coffee quickly. If you want your coffee to be at a certain grind, be sure to time it out and check every few seconds. After a while, you can pretty much hear when your coffee is at the right grind.
Burr mills are another option. The special feature about burr mills is that you can pick how fine or coarse a grind is. Often times, they are handheld, which makes for a more time-consuming grind. But, if you are willing to pay for it, electric burr mills are also an option. It’s on my wish list. 🙂
Handheld burr mills are also great for traveling or camping, when you want that fresh grind but don’t have the space (or an outlet) for an electric one.
Okay, coffee grinders out of the way, let’s talk about the actual makers.
Let’s start with drip brew.
Drip brew coffee makers are probably the most common coffee maker style you can get. Your standard coffee maker that you probably have at the office or at home is drip brew.
The process is simple. Hot water is poured onto the coffee, where it percolates through the coffee and drips through to the bottom to a vessel, hence its “drip.”
I like drip brew coffee makers because they are easy. It’s pretty hands-off and that’s what I want for first thing in the morning.
This is your most common coffee maker, the drip coffee pot.
It makes a pretty standard cup of coffee, no frills or fancy flavors. But the great thing is, the paper filter makes it a no-mess process. If you’re feeling more earth conscious, feel free to get a metal filter. but I find it doesn’t filter out the fines, or coffee dust, as well.
You can also make a lot of cups at once, usually between 10-12. Lastly, they usually run pretty inexpensive, usually $25 or less.
As a side note, if you want a nicer coffee pot, I suggest a pot with the coffee grinder in it. The Cuisinart coffee maker that is pictured above actually has the grinder in the top of the maker and it sends the coffee right into the basket!
It has a few more moving parts which might be more complicated for first-time coffee makers. But the fact that it grinds the coffee right before it brews it makes it some of the freshest coffee you can get your hands on. We’ve had one at the house since Christmas time and use it just about every day!
Another drip brew coffee maker you might not know about is the single-cup pour-over coffee maker.
It just perches on top of your cup, where you add a filter, some coffee, and hot water. It is a very simple design, but it works very well. You just pour and wait. In a couple of minutes, your coffee is ready! See? Very hands-off!
Generally, it comes in 3 different materials.
Plastic is the standard.
They are very inexpensive, usually $10 or less. My problem with plastic is that it tends to absorb flavors, which may affect the flavor of future cups.
Even still, these are very lightweight and do well for traveling. They are either a great place to start or would make a great gift for a student who lives in a dorm or someone who doesn’t have a lot of space. Here’s the one that I own.
Metal pour-overs are not as common.
Or at least in my research.
The main benefit with metal pour-overs is the strainer is already in them, so there is no need for #2 filters. At the same time, I haven’t had much luck with built-in strainers when it comes to coffee, and I fear that the metal could give the coffee a metallic flavor. But no paper filters means less money coming out of your pockets!
The metal pour-over I have pictured here is the Coffee Gator. It comes so highly rated that I’m curious about it myself! I’ll just put this on my coffee wish list…
I have saved my porcelain pour-over for last.
This coffee maker has to be my personal favorite for single-cups. They can cost more, between $10-$20, but it is worth it. I got my Melitta #4 pour-over for Christmas (a very coffee Christmas), which I use every time I want one cup. It even came with a little carafe, should I want to use it to serve coffee to company!
Personally, I find #2 pour-overs to be too small (as pictured with the plastic pour-over), as I have one big cup of coffee in the morning. But the #4 is a larger vessel (my porcelain pour-over), and I only have to pour the water once.
What a quandary, amirite?
Porcelain pour-overs come in #2 filter size as well. In fact, they are a lot more common. Get what size works for you.
But the reason why I love the porcelain so much is that porclain doesn’t absorb flavors, nor does it taint any flavors with the material.
They are dishwasher safe and easy to clean. Most of the time, I just rinse out my pour-over, no problem. The only problems that they might have is that they are generally heavier and they don’t travel well. I mean, it’s porcelain. What we’re you expecting? It’s perfect for what I use it for at home. 10/10, would recommend to everybody.
Moving on, we have our second coffee method: the press.
Coffee presses are not as common, but still very much seen throughout coffee culture. The coffee grinds and the water sit in a vessel for some extended period of time, before being pressed down. The finished product either rises to the top (like with a french press) or gets pressed into an awaiting vessel (like with an Aeropress).
Your most common coffee press is a French press.
French press coffees are very tasty and are very simple to make. You pour in your coffee grounds, pour in the water, let it sit for 4 minutes, and then gently press on the strainer to sieve the coffee from the grounds. Pour your coffee into your cup and it’s ready to drink!
I think it makes great coffee, but it is not my go-to for everyday use. I find it to be messy because the coffee grounds are literally pressed into the bottom of the press. This is probably just due to me not wanting to clean up coffee first thing in the morning! Also, don’t miss your 4-minute mark, for the coffee continues to brew until you press it! Much like tea, coffee can get over-steeped, if you will, and can become burnt or bitter-tasting.
Even still, French presses have their benefits. Since the strainer is built-in, there are no need for buying filters. Unlike with drip-brew metal coffee filters, I find that French press filters actually do a good job. They come in a variety of sizes, from 12oz. to 52oz., depending on how many cups you wanted your press to make. Again, the size is up to you.
Oh, and I think it’s important to note that grinding your coffee for a french press needs to be coarser than standard drip-brew grounds.
Lastly, we have the Aeropress.
Personally, I wasn’t thrilled about the Aeropress. It’s why I don’t have a personal picture of it. A co-worker of my dad’s, who is a total coffee geek, lent me one of his. (Thanks, Mark!) So I got to try it without buying it, and I wouldn’t put it as my top choice.
Here’s the interesting thing about the Aeropress: it’s actually technically an espresso maker.
“But Gem,” I can hear you saying. “I thought you said you weren’t going to talk about espresso makers!”
I’m not, so just hold your horses!
The Aeropress, by design, makes concentrated coffee. You can take that concentrated coffee and water it down to make a pseudo-Americano, if you will. Or, if you use espresso roast, you can leave it as it is.
But really, I wasn’t thrilled about the plastic body (which I told you my qualms about already) and its special filters that you have to get online. Either I’m not looking hard enough, or you’re not going to find Aeropress filters at your local grocery store with the rest of the regular people filters.
There were a few things that I did like about the Aeropress.
A really nice feature about the Aeropress is that it makes coffee quickly. Like, less than a minute quickly. It packs up super small and light in its little carrying pouch, making it great for travel. And if you live by yourself or with one other person, this maker is perfect, as it makes coffee (or espresso) for two. And on that note, it makes coffee and espresso. I’d say that’s a pretty cool feature!
Like I said, not my top pick. But if this does sound like something that you would be interested in, here is a link for it! I just want to be honest with you dears.
So if you get anything out of what I just said, know that coffee isn’t complicated.
I really hope I didn’t make it out to be! If you want my personal recommendation, I really like the porcelain Melitta pour-over. It’s perfect for a single person like me who only has one cup in the morning, but does well if more people join the party.
But needs are different for different people, and that’s totally fine! I hope that my guide has helped you a bit on your search for your next new coffee maker. 🙂
What kind of coffee maker do you use? Is there any that I missed? Let me know in the comments down below!