Proportion: Be sure to add the appropriate parts of coffee grounds and water. Too much water matched with too little coffee will end up with a watery taste, but not enough water can produce coffee that’s bitter and strong. A good rule of thumb is to use two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water.
Freshness: Invest in a coffee grinder or a coffee maker with an integrated grinding chamber, instead of buying preground mix. Fresh-ground coffee beans make the most flavorful brew. For a stronger taste, use a finer grind and a coarse grind for a weaker taste. Make sure to grind immediately before you brew for maximum flavor.
Storage: Refrain from storing coffee in the refrigerator or freezer unless you will not use it within two to three weeks. And if you do store it in the freezer, make sure to keep it in a dark, airtight container. The hazards of keeping your coffee in the cool too long may be lack of flavor, or it may pick up the flavors of other foods. It’s best to purchase fresh coffee weekly or bi-weekly.
Water Filtration: Look for a coffee maker with built-in water filtration. Eliminating unwanted sediments is healthier and tastier.
Programmable: Let the coffee maker do the work for you! With a programmable option, brewing starts automatically at a specific time, and it even shuts off on its own for your peace of mind.
Pod Brewer: This type of coffee maker brews individually wrapped discs or “pods” of coffee grounds that are premeasured for convenience. Plus, they seal in flavor and freshness for perfectly brewed coffee or tea.
Percolator: This handy portable gadget repeatedly circulates water through coffee grounds, so you can control the taste by adjusting brewing time. It begins brewing instantly, continuing at a rate of about a cup a minute. Most percolators automatically switch to a "keep warm" setting when brewing is completed. And, oftentimes, the cord is detachable, so you can serve at your table — how convenient!
French Press: Simply pour hot water into the cord-free carafe, and add coarse ground coffee directly into the water. After the coffee has brewed for about 3-4 minutes, press down the plunger. A fine mesh filter forces the grounds to the bottom, and your coffee is ready to enjoy. This type of coffee maker usually also has temperature control and automatic shut-off features.
Thermal: Keep your coffee piping hot with an insulated thermal carafe. This is perfect for coffee drinkers who like to take their time enjoying each and every cup.
Coffee Reservoir: This type of coffee maker eliminates the need for a carafe because it houses a large quantity of coffee and dispenses it one cup at a time. Ideal for office settings!
Dual Travel Mugs: This special system allows you to brew a single mug or both at the same time. Plus, the mugs usually feature tight-fitting lids and slip-free grips and fit most car cupholders — perfect for coffee drinkers on the go!
Capacity: The first, most important, question you have to ask yourself is: How many coffee drinkers do you have in your household or office? Keep this in mind because coffee makers come in all shapes and sizes. They can range from 4-cup to 60-cup capacities! Typically, people choose 10- to 12-cup coffee makers because they offer the best of both worlds, meaning they can accommodate small and large groups of people, which is ideal if you happen to host a few dinner parties throughout the year.
Brew Pause: This option is necessary for those of us who lead fast-paced lifestyles. The “pause” feature (most commonly called Pause ‘N Serve, Brew Pause, Sneak-A-Cup, etc.) lets you grab a cup of coffee even before brewing is complete. Some models also dispense only one cup at a time (i.e. Coffee on Demand), which is even better for households with lots of busy schedules or office settings.
Automatic Shut-Off: Coffee makers with this option shut off automatically after a specific period of time, so you don't have to remember to do it before you leave the house.
Integrated Grinding Chamber: Some high-end coffee makers house a grinding chamber that automatically grinds coffee beans and drops them into the coffee filter to brew, so you don’t have to worry about grinding beforehand.
Quick Brew: This accelerated system makes a cup of coffee in about 30 seconds and tea in about 50 seconds — ideal for people who are truly on the go.
Water Filtration: Removes chlorine and impurities from the water source.
1-4 Cup Option: Slows down the water flow when brewing a lesser amount of coffee to maintain the same rich flavor as a large quantity.
Ground Saturation: A cascading brew head showers grounds evenly for better-tasting coffee.
Adjustable Temperature and Brew Selector: You choose the warmth and brew strength of your coffee, so it’s exactly to your liking.
Cord Storage: Contains a hidden chamber in the back to hide the cord and save countertop space while the coffee maker is not in use.
While many of us choose to jump start our day with a piping hot cup ‘o joe, not everyone prefers just coffee. Listed below are options for other hot drink machines you may want to get in addition to your coveted coffee maker:
Hot Tea Maker: With an easy one-step heating, steeping and serving process, modern tea makers are perfect for a fast-paced morning. Large-capacity pots usually brew up to six cups at a time. And a removable steeping basket provides extremely easy filling and cleanup. Some even accommodate bagged or loose tea for convenience.
Cappuccino/Espresso Maker: Now you can produce café-quality espresso and cappuccino in the comfort of your very own home! Most cappuccino and espresso makers let you add water without turning off the power, like regular steam machines. Plus, they have powerful Italian pump systems and a steam nozzle that turns milk into no-fuss fluffy froth.
Grinders: Perfect for great-tasting, fresh coffee. Most grinders usually have tough stainless steel blades and a heavy-duty motor with a one-touch control button. A spacious grind chamber pours ground beans directly into the coffee filter.
Burr mills: Ideal for grinding large amounts of coffee. Uniformly grinds coffee beans for maximum flavor and aroma. Some feature multiple grind-level options, an automatic timer and even a removable grind chamber for easy pouring.
Basket filters: These disposable filters are made of thick, oxygen-pressed paper to trap oils and sediment while brewing. Usually available in round and cone shapes.
Permanent (or gold-tone) filters: They never need replacing! Most are cone- or round-shaped with an easy-lift handle for cleaning. And they carry a manufacturer’s warranty in case of puncturing.
Carbon-based water filters: This filter usually lasts one month and removes bad tastes and odors from water. Use is dependent on type, brand and model number.
Charcoal water filters: This long-lasting filter removes chlorine, bad tastes and odors. Use is dependent on type, brand and model number.
Like other kitchen electrics, your coffee maker needs proper cleaning. Select models include dishwasher-safe carafes, lids and removable filter baskets for cleanup convenience. Others have control pads that are sealed against splattering, making them extremely easy to wipe clean.
Some brands even feature a “time to clean” monitor that signals when cleaning is needed. Or, you can upgrade to a high-tech coffee maker with its very own self-cleaning cycle that automatically cleans itself for you — it can’t get any easier than that!