Staff, courtesy of OXO
The coffee maker remains one of the most popular and easiest ways to brew a morning cup (or two or three). But, like many home appliances, they get smart and some can have your brew ready and on hold when you wake up. With advancements there are even more decisions to be made when it comes to buying a new one. To help you find the best machine for your needs, we got in touch with Peter Giuliano, the research director for the Specialty Coffee Association. Read on for her buying and brewing tips, followed by our reviews of the best coffee makers.
How to choose the right coffee maker
“It’s very hard to tell if a coffee maker will perform well just by looks or price,” says Giuliano. He suggests that the best way to ensure the quality of the one you are considering is to seek certification from the Specialty Coffee Association. The SCA subjects brewers to a number of tests to assess their ability to make the tastiest java. By passing them all, a coffee machine achieves an SCA Golden Cup standard, which guarantees you some things outside of this model:
- Coffee / water ratio: The recommended coffee / water ratio is 55 grams of coffee grounds per liter of water, plus or minus 10% depending on your preference.
- Brewing temperature of the coffee: The temperature of the water, at the point of contact with the coffee, will drop from about 200 degrees Fahrenheit, to plus or minus 5 degrees, which ensures that the water is hot enough to extract the most flavor from the grounds without burning them and making the coffee taste bitter.
- Grinding / particle size distribution: this should correspond to the coffee-water contact time, i.e. one to four minutes for a fine grind, four to six for a medium grind and six to eight for a coarse grind.
How to make the best coffee
“The first tip is the most obvious: use good coffee, and use enough,” explains Giuliano. “A coffee maker is not magic and cannot improve the basic quality of coffee. It is therefore essential that you simply buy good, fresh coffee and use enough of it. Be sure to refer to the coffee / water ratio above for the optimum amount. It is also imperative to keep your coffee maker clean. You should wash it at least once a month with vinegar or coffee maker cleaner and wipe it down inside and out. “Finally, use good quality water,” says Giuliano. “Hard, mineral-rich water will make bad coffee but will also create scale deposits on the parts of the brewer that heat the water, leading to worse coffee.” Filling it with filtered or bottled water and cleaning it regularly can help.
How we choose the best coffee makers
To find the best options among the many coffee makers, we looked at the list of models tested and approved by the SCA.. We then took into account the price, brewing methods, size, and durability. Finally, we consulted over 12,000 reviews, written by people who bought these models, on sites like Amazon and Walmart to settle on those six.
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Breville Precision Brewer Glass Coffee Maker
$ 279.95 (29% off)
While it looks pretty basic, this Breville model actually has six useful presets – Gold, Fast, Strong, Iced, Cold Brew, and My Brew – that can help you brew the coffee you crave. My Brew allows you to customize settings such as flowering time, brew temperature, and flow rate to suit your preferences. And the Precisions use a thermal coil heating system, which essentially means that compared to more common aluminum systems, there is less chance of your water taking on unwanted flavors.
Bonavita Connoisseur 8 Cup One Touch Coffee Maker
If you want a quick morning coffee (and without thinking too much), this Bonavita can brew your cup in six minutes. Push a button and its internal shower head design will saturate the coffee grounds evenly. Then keep one ear open for the alert to tell you when the coffee is ready.
Oxo coffee maker
If you have a fussy coffee drinker family, you can often end up throwing out leftovers or fighting over a cup. This coffee maker allows you to brew two to nine cups, and you can even set it the night before so that the brew is ready to drink when you wake up. And if you want to get yours before the rest of the family, use the pause button and pour so you can pour yourself a cup, then resume brewing.
10 Cup Hot & Cold Ninja Coffee Maker
Don’t take the word “coffee” in the name to mean that this versatile Ninja can’t make other drinks. It can whip up everything from your morning brew to midday matcha to late afternoon iced tea, in quantities ranging from a single cup to a full carafe. And since it can brew both coffee and tea, it has separate baskets for each, ensuring your flavors won’t mix. Bonus points for the retractable foaming arm.
Cuisinart PurePrecision 8-Cup Pour-On Coffee Maker
$ 134.99 (25% off)
This coffee maker is easy to use, stylish, and can do enough for a family. It has settings for temperature and flavor strength – sweet, medium, and fatty. The system pre-wets the soil to allow it to flower before brewing, extracting extra flavor with no extra effort on your part.
Yes, this coffee maker is expensive. But it is also one of the most appreciated by experts and customers. It’s super easy to use, with a one-button brewing system and thermal carafe, which helps keep your coffee hot for longer. Brewing time is quick, just four to six minutes. And the Moccamaster can brew 40 ounces of coffee at a time. If you’re worried about longevity, that steep price comes with a five-year warranty.
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