Have you noticed how the cost of a steaming cup of coffee, in many of the little cafes around, has been gradually creeping up and up? When you total this, over the course of a week, it can be quite staggering, depending how often you love to duck into your favorite coffeehouse to savor that true, albeit highly priced, coffee aroma.
Now, whether this is a reflection of warmer weather impacting coffee production or whether it is a reflection of the ever-trending popularity of our coffee breaks, there is no doubting the fact that making your own coffee at home is an economical alternative. And that is what leads us to ask: what is the best drip coffee maker for the home?
What Exactly is a Drip Coffee Maker?
Believe it or not, these coffee makers are sometimes referred to as dripolators.
Drip coffee makers are characterized by water seeping through coffee grounds held in a filtering container, into a carafe below. Its components include:
Roasted ground coffee beans
metal or plastic (needs to be cleaned)
Coffee pot / Carafe
Water which is heated to the required temperature and then funneled through the coffee grounds into the coffee pot.
Some feel that the paper filters rob the coffee of some of the essential flavor that comes from the coffee oils. The metal filters, on the other hand, do not filter out these flavorsome oils.
Options Available in Various Models
You can find a number of different options in drip machines such as the following:
Many of the automatic versions come with a number of extras such as a programmable feature, automatic turn-off, variable cup capacity and a number of different types of alerts.
Manual Drip Coffee Makers
These are, as you would expect, less expensive than their automatic counterpart.
You can manually watch the coffee making process.
Many coffee connoisseurs believe that because they can have more control over the brew process they can make a better tasting coffee with the manual version. For example, you can control your preferred temperature, you can control the brewing time etc..
You can even get single serve drip coffee makers. These typically sit on top of your mug, allowing the hot water to be poured from the top, over the coffee grounds through the filter into your mug.
Drip coffee makers are considered ideal for large parties or groups but they are also very convenient for that single serve cup of coffee.
Best Drip Coffee Maker Brands
So, if you have decided to add that quality coffee experience to your home, then what is the best coffee maker brand to go for?
Michael Allen Smith writes favorably of the Bonavita Immersion Coffee Dripper. In Michael’s words:
There are a lot of tutorials online for the Bonavita Immersion Coffee Dripper and each one is slightly different. This speaks to how forgiving this brewing method is. I’ve made excellent coffee using different brew times and different grinds. I may or may not stir the coffee. You can also bypass the bloom step and just fill and stir. It all works.
I was really interested to see a report brought out by Consumer Reports early this year, in which they ranked coffee makers that use pods or capsules, well below drip coffee makers when it comes to producing that perfect coffee taste. After testing nearly 100 different coffee makers, Consumer Reports advised that:
If you want the speed of a single-serve machine but prefer a more robust brew, consider one of the brew-and-dispense models that did best in our tests.
According to the study carried out by Consumer Reports, the drip coffee makers that fared best were the brew-and-dispense models:
The indicator lets you know how much coffee is left.
Dispenses one cup/mug at a time
Coffee reservoir is double walled
The coffee reservoir is easily removed for cleaning
Easy to activate the coffee flow
Can set it to brew fewer cups (1-4)
Has a charcoal water filter than can compensate for any unpalatable taste coming from tap water
All of the above models scored well on both brew taste and convenience of use.
Amazon Customer Choices
What better measure to go by than other people just like yourself. Customers are very generous with their time, usually sharing, in detail, the pros and cons of every product they review. When you see a coffee maker with hundreds of glowing reviews, then you know you are in good company.
At the time of writing, more than 3,000 customers had left a review, resulting in a very healthy star rating. This is a pretty good indication of how popular this model as been and continues to be. Plus, it is a very, very well priced coffee maker.
More than 1/2 the price of many other models
Choice of thermal carafe or glass carafe
Machine can detect which one is being used.
Temperature is just right
Can choose between various cups
Very well lit
Can easily choose between strong or regular strength brew
Very compact – takes up less room on the kitchen bench
Filter basket is very easy to remove
What Makes a Good Cup of Coffee?
There is a lot more to making a good cup of coffee than you would expect. Is the temperature right? If it is too hot, then the coffee can taste bitter. If the brewing cycle is too long, then the coffee can simply taste over-cooked.
Many experts believe that the richest flavor is obtained from a brewing cycle of about 5 or 6 minutes.
So what is the ideal temperature? Well if you have the right coffee machine, then you don’t really need to worry about it so much but generally speaking a temperature of around the 195 to 205 degree mark is considered ideal and is a recommendation of the National Coffee Association.
Getting it Right with a Drip Coffee Maker
Whilst many feel that the manual drip coffee maker allows you to strive for perfection in aroma and taste, it still means that you have to do a little more fiddling to get it just right. So what can you do to enhance the quality achieved with an automatic drip coffee maker?
First and foremost:
Quality coffee beans.
Make sure they are fresh.
Coffee can become stale quite quickly if not stored correctly. But you can prolong the lifespan of your coffee if you start with beans, not ground coffee. But, if you must rely on grounds from supermarkets and grocery stores, always check out the date the beans were roasted.
A fine to medium grind tends to suit most automatic drip coffee makers.
Knowing When to Grind the Beans
Because so many automatic drip machines can be programmed, there is the temptation to grind the beans the day before or even earlier. However, if you can resist this temptation and grind the beans just before brewing, you will notice the enhanced flavor straight away.
Using Fresh Water
If you find that your tap water has a strong taste about it then you can be sure that this will filter through into your brewed cup. So, in that case you are better advised to use filtered water.
Extraction Stage This is when the heated water filters through the ground beans.
Getting the timing of this stage just right is critical to being able to make a strength that is ideal.
If it takes too long then the coffee is likely to taste quite bitter. And naturally if it happens too fast, the strength of the coffee is compromised.
Getting the Temperature Right Before you buy, check the coffee machine specs to make sure that it is capable of reaching the recommended temperature range of between 195 and 205 degrees.
Avoid Stewing the Brewed Coffee Once the carafe has filled with sweetly brewed coffee, remove it from the element rather than leaving it there to continue “stewing”.
If you are worried that your particular carafe type can’t hold the heat, then you can swiftly pour the coffee into an insulated thermal carafe ready for serving. However, if your coffee maker includes a thermal carafe without a heating element, then you are in “good hands”.
Keep the Carafe Clean You want every day’s brew to be exactly that, today’s brew. You don’t want any lingering taste of yesterday’s brew. So, yes, cleaning the carafe every day is very important.
Making the Final Choice
When making your final choice as to which drip coffee maker you want to see on your kitchen bench, make sure that:
It is easy to clean
It is a coffee maker that can brew the right number of cups for your needs
It has the desired type of filter
It can heat the water to the ideal temperature range
It has all the extra “bells and whistles” that you would like in your coffee maker companion.
If you would like some more guidelines on finding out what is the best drip coffee maker for the home, then Coffee Maker Buying Guide might help.
Please leave a comment letting us know which coffee maker you opted for in the end and we would love to hear your opinion on its functionality.