Coffee maker buyers' guide
There’s nothing quite like the aroma of freshly ground beans. So if you want to wake up and smell the coffee, look no further: Crowdstorm is here to help you find your ideal coffee maker. Here you can compare all the best deals from your favourite retailers (from John Lewis to Currys), then buy direct from them by going to the right page on their site with a single click.
First though, think about which kind of coffee you enjoy – or have to make – most. What do you pick up when you go to a coffee house? Cappuccino? Latte? Espresso? Filter coffee? This is your starting point. Next, have a read of this buyers’ guide to get a better idea of which coffee maker traits are most important to you – from the kind of coffee they use to special features.
Filter (or ‘drip’) coffee makers
Filter coffee makers work by allowing water to drip through a coffee-filled filter into a pot or carafe. There’s no need to boil the water first, as an inbuilt thermos pot and hot plate in the machine heat the water before it’s filtered and then keep your coffee warm.
They have either paper or permanent filters. Permanent filters take the hassle out of having to change them regularly and can be cheaper in the long run, though they can be messy to clean and are considered by some to be less convenient. Filter coffee makers can be great for making large quantities of coffee (check ‘water capacity’ if this is an issue) and can be a relatively inexpensive.
Percolators work in the opposite way to filter models. Ground coffee is placed in a holder at the top and the water in the bottom is forced up a vertical tube and through the filter. The brewed coffee then settles in the bottom of the jug.
This is great for making a strong cuppa – but on the flip side you tend to lose a lot of the subtler tastes of the coffee. The problem is the water tends to be a little too hot when it hits the coffee, making for a bold rather than nuanced cup of coffee. It’s simply a matter of taste.
Pod/Nespresso coffee makers
Thanks largely to that Clooney chap on the telebox, Nespresso machines have become a huge fad – and a bunch of competing pod-style coffee makers have come along for the ride. They use a disposable plastic capsule containing coffee to make one cup at a time, forcing hot water through the pod in much the same way a filter works – but leaving you with a mess-free pod to dispose of.
Pod coffee makers are very easy and convenient to use, and the coffee is OK. However serious coffee drinkers need not apply, as they lack quality and taste control – while many people flag-up serious environmental concerns about the pods themselves (both their manufacture and disposal). But for a quick fix cuppa for non-coffee snobs who don’t mind paying a little extra for convenience, they’re a great choice.
Espresso and cappuccino makers
An espresso is a small, rich and concentrated coffee that can be drunk on its own or used as the base to a cappuccino or latte. You’ll find two basic styles of coffee maker that can be used to make a cappuccino:
- Pump machines are usually the more expensive type of espresso and cappuccino maker, with a thermostat-controlled boiler that heats the water to the perfect coffee making temperature. The water is then forced through the coffee at just the right pressure, making you a brilliant cuppa.
- Pressure machines work by boiling water to produce steam and pressure, which is then forced through the coffee. While this creates the steam that’s used to froth the milk for your cappuccino, it has the same issue as a percolator – the water hits the coffee when it’s a little too hot, so you’ll lose some flavour while gaining some strength.
Other factors to consider
Once you’ve decided on the type of coffee maker you want, it’s time to consider some of the finer details you may want in your chosen machine:
- Coffee grinding: As soon as a coffee bean is ground it begins to lose its flavour; so if you can grind your own, you’re going to get a better brew. The real pro coffee makers come with their own bean grinders – or you can pick a coffee grinder up separately.
- Froth: Remember that if cappuccino is your thing, you’ll need a milk frother function. You can of course buy a milk frother separately, if you prefer.
- Timer: A coffee maker with a timer is perfect if you like to wake up to a freshly brewed coffee in the morning. Just set it for the time you want your coffee, and away you go.
- Water capacity/cup volume: Water capacity is based on the number of cups of coffee the machine produces. Be careful though: ‘number of cups’ may well be talking about expresso size rather than your massive morning mug, so be sure to look for water capacity for an accurate measurement.
What next? Buying your coffee maker
Once you’ve settled on your perfect coffee maker, it’s time to seal the deal. Crowdstorm isn’t a retailer – we just collate all the best deals from your favourite retailers so you can easily compare them.
But better still, the official sites of those retailers are just a click away. When you click through for your favourite offer you’ll be taken directly to the page of the retailer’s website for that product, so you can just click through and buy from the online or high street stores you trust. Right, time to put the kettle on…