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What is a good coffee maker?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
What is a good coffee maker? And one that doesn't cost a million dollars.
post #2 of 19
Abe,

It would help if you could either narrow this down a little or say you have no idea what you want and are open to the world of coffee makers.

The basic types include pour-over drip automatics (like Mr. Coffee, etc.), pour-over drip manuals (Chemex, Melitta, etc), vacuum pot, cafetiere aka French press, moka pots, Turkish coffee set ups, and more.

My guess is you're looking for a pour-over drip automatic. There's one maker that's head and shoulders above the rest, and that's Technivorm. Buying a $250 Technivorm is pretty reasonable compared to the $1,500 tariff it costs to get into serious espresso, but it's sick expensive compred to the scores of other almost as good automatic setups. At the end of the day, a Technivorm is just an autmoatic drip which is only that little bit better. I suspect that if you were the serious type of coffee drinker who'd be interested in a Technivorm you'd already know about it. It's the Cigarette boat of drip coffeemakers, faling into the "if you have to ask you can't afford it and don't want it anyway" category.

DeLonghi, Krups, Braun, KitchenAid, Mr. Coffee, Bunn, etc., all make excellent pots. To be quite honest it doesn't matter a heck of a lot which brand you get. They all brew in very much the same way at the same temperatures. Largely, you're shopping for programming features.

Linda has a Cuisinart with a built in grinder we use instead of our espresso machine or cafetiere when we want plain, ol' 'merican coffee. We chose it becuase she really liked the looks of the red one, but bought a white one because it was on sale.

For whatever reason the Cuisinarts tend to make an especially mellow and somewhat weak cup. We remedy this by using darker roasts or sometimes just adding a couple of tablespoons of "cafe latina" style coffee (La Llave, Legal or Bustelo, e.g.) to the basket to give the coffee some chest hair. The "trick" for machines which include grinders is to remember it's pretty humid in there, and the grinder and path from grinder to basket clog. So you have to clean. Fortunately, the Cuisinart's grinder motor is separate from the blade and bean holder assembly and you can put the blade and bean holder in the dishwasher. Still, you do have to wipe out the pathway every few pots.

Still, definite thumbs up for the Cuisinart. Before the Cuisinart we had a Bunn which I took from my office when I closed the office and eventually got lost in a move. I also had a small Mr. Coffee for quite a while. Thumbs up to both of them.

If you go through a lot of coffee you might want to look at the semi-commercial Bunns.

Why not visit a "big box," and try to find something you like on sale? Considering that they're all pretty much of a muchness -- that's probably the best strategy.

BDL
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks!

I'm kinda open. Its for morning coffee, and if it did other things that might be nice too.

I have a $45 Mr. Coffee now and am looking to go up from that.

I checked the Technivorm and that is nice but it seems to not have an auto-shutoff. I have ADD an never remember to turn mine off.
post #4 of 19
Bunn with thermal pot.
The best, never scorches!
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
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bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
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post #5 of 19
Go visit a website recommended by member Kuan years ago: Coffeegeek.com.

I recommend using a Swissgold filter with the appropriate plastic cone. And prior to pouring water thru my pourover setup, I measure water temperature using a tea brewing thermometer made my TelTru. Since you inquired, coffee should brew between 198-205F and a brewing temperature difference (not to mention grind setting) as little as 1 degree F either way can make or break the flavor of the final brew.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #6 of 19
Any of the Cuisinart "Grind and Brew" units are good quality and make good coffee if you take the time to clean out the grinder after each pot. They cost between $80 and $120 depending on the model, but are well worth it. We have the 12 cup thermal model and it's the first coffee maker we've had that lasted more than a year (2-3 pots per day). Also the coffee stays hot for up to 5 hours without getting that awful burned taste.
post #7 of 19
We've got a cuisinart (not one of the ones with a built in grinder) that's just awful. It makes very good coffee, most of the time. It gets the water hot enough, which is a major shortcoming of most of them. But this particular one was designed by a moron who clearly doesn't drink coffee. It's got a tiny little opening to pour water into, so when you're trying to make coffee first thing in the morning, you inevitably make a mess. And the filter basket has a knob sticking out of the bottom (it's the shut off valve so you can take the pot out and pour a cup while it's still brewing) that keeps it from sitting flat. So you can't put coffee in the filter unless the filter is in the machine, or you put the filter in something else to keep it from falling over. And when something goes wrong (like a coffee deprived moron forgets to put the pot under the filter....), and the filter overflows, all that mess finds its way into the water resevoir. And because it's got a tiny little opening, you can't get the blasted mess out, so you have to brew about a dozen pots of just water, to get the grounds out, or else it clogs up, and vaporizes all the water in the resevoir, instead of making coffee with it. It does make good coffee, though. Most of the time.
post #8 of 19
Two words: French Press.

I LOVE my bodum, I use it every day!

I hope that helps!

Jason Sandeman

http://jasonsandeman.com

Developing Systems So You Can Cook

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Jason Sandeman

http://jasonsandeman.com

Developing Systems So You Can Cook

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post #9 of 19
"The one that makes the best coffee!:lol: is the best one.

Bunn or one that makes the hottest water.:D
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #10 of 19
Keeping your beans fresh, ordering in small quantities, not pre-grinding, and always storing your beans in an air tight container will have more effect over your coffee outcome than changes in your brewer. You dont know how many places I've worked where the waitstaff fills the espresso hopper to the top once a week, and wonder why they cant get a "crema" on top of the shot, or better yet, pre-grind drip beans into coffee filters stacked 20 high in a cambro -then dont rotate. Then you have a busy day and you finally get down to the bottom, -Gee, I wonder why the coffee sucks? Not the brewer.

Fresh beans first, then address the brewer.
nel maiale, tutto e buono!
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nel maiale, tutto e buono!
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post #11 of 19
One can purchase green beans online throughout the US and roast them in a Whirlypop Popcorn Poppen in less than 20 minutes. Now, THAT's fresh roasted imho.

Visit SWEETMARIAS.COM for green beans and roasting technique. Quite simple actually.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #12 of 19

Keurig

I love my Keurig.

And I don't care what you say, it's the best thing I've had in years. No having two pots for real/decaff, messing with the grounds, etc.

I just want one cup of hot coffee when I want it. I don't want a pot of it. Just a cup. On my way out. Or some decaff at night. And I want different varieties instead of having one bag I need to finish or having orphaned bags around. I like bolds, mellows, all depends on my mood.

This thing has a water reservoir, select your brew, put your cup on it and push a button. In 30 seconds I have a steaming hot cup of coffee. My wife has been drinking hot cocoa all the time now. No cleaning coffee pots.

I don't think it's much more expensive since I was driving through to get coffee and spending a lot more. And when I want to grind and all that, I can do it.

It's made my world a better place.

H.
post #13 of 19
We have three coffee pots. One is a rather expensive espresso machine, the type known as a "prosumer." It's a Pasquini Livia 90 that's been going strong for almost 20 years. We use it most often. Linda greets the day with a large latte or a milky Americano, and I like a couple or three double espressos. The thing about making your own espresso using really good equipment (after you've figured out how to do use it, assuming you buy good beans), is REALLY good espresso. It's nothing at all like the stuff you get from all but the very best coffee stores.

Did I mention "expensive?" Including a grinder, just getting the camel's nose into the tent will set you back about $1,000. A setup like mine, which is by no means top of the line, runs around $2,500; and following my current recommendations would cost at least another $700 (mostly for the grinder). Up to about a $3,000 machine plan to spend about 1/3 more for the grinder. In fact, the quality of the grinder's more important than that of the machine.

No matter how much you spend, there's a relatively steep learning curve attached -- plus a fair bit of cleaning and maintenance. In addition, if you weren't picky about your bean choices, consider it a given. Nevertheless, if you like your coffee intense, it's the best and my preferred way to brew.

A lot of people have relatively inexpensive, "home" espresso machines and swear by them. I don't want to invalidate their experience, especially as these little machines make perfectly okay coffee. "Better than Starbucks?" Perhaps, although that's not saying much. Compared to a good coffee - good barista - good grinder - good machine -- no comparison. Really. That said, since you're open, it may be worth investigating one of the little guys. My son likes his Krups.

Most people are rather shocked to learn that real espresso (at least not drinkable espresso) isn't made with very dark roasts like Starbucks, Peets; no French, Vienna, Italian or "Espresso" roasts. The method favors medium and medium-darks -- the others are a way of capturing some of the excitement of espresso with less efficient methods of extraction.

"Our" second pot is the Grind and Brew Cuisinart, which is really Linda's. We've left the Pasquini off and been using it daily for the past week or so ... just because. It makes a fine cup of coffee -- perhaps a little on the weak side when using the gold basket (we do), but there are ways to remedy that (use a stronger roast). It's held up very well over the past few years, if you don't count breaking the glass carafes now and then. IAready mentioned on this thread is the importance of cleaning the grinder. Because the motor is separate from the grinder assembly the grinder can be washed in the sink or dishwasher. Just make sure you do it, at least every three or four pots or the fines path will get really grotty.

While I can't recommend the Cuisinart with the same kind of hardware junky enthusiasm I can recommend a Technovorm (never owned one) or Bunn (did own one), it is a first class "automatic/ pour-over/ drip coffee maker (with auto-shut-off hotplate) which looks good on our counter.

You mentioned some leeriness about your ADD (my brother!) sometimes interfered with turning off the hotplate on a Technovorm. Not to worry. No hotplate. Many coffee machines dispense into "thermal carafes" which keep the coffee at drinking temperature for a couple of hours without heating -- and the Technovorms are of that type. The thermals do prevent over-stewing the coffee which is good fron a taste standpoint; and also prevent people like you and me from cooking it into the bottom of the pot. On the other hand, they won't keep a pot going all day.

My opinion is that although the world of automatic/ pour-over/ drips contains a lot of machines is heavily populated the rules for choice making are ectually fairly simple. Look for features. Otherwise, within any given price range quality is about equal. Near the semi-commercial top, you can start trading back a few convenience features for build quality.

Our third pot (okay, pots... we have three) is a "French Press," aka "cafetiere" (France and England), aka "cafetero" (Spain, Italy). These are hugely popular in Europe. They make, strong, excellent coffee once you've mastered the fairly simple technique. Really good coffee.

Unfortunately, they're comparatively inconvenient in that they make only limited amounts and don't hold them hot. The best manufacturer is Bodum, although some of the clones are just as well made. No fear with Bodum. If you like the way it looks, buy it. As to the others, touching is an infallible gauge of quality and price tends to be quite informative as well. They function best with a fairly dark roast and a coarse grind. The method reveals pretty much all there is to know about a dark roasted blend. If it's good, it will sing; but if it's not, it will flop. They aren't friendly to medium roasts which, as a product of the coarse grind, will tend to come out insipid.

The degree of inconvenience is comparable to making coffee in a Chemex. Which is another purists choice.

A ffith method (counting the Chemex), another for which we don't own a pot, is vacuum brewing. Ultra mellow, PITA. Perhaps the best choice for after dinner. If I did "personal cheffing" or small entertaining for people who drank coffee at night (I do but my friends don't anymore), no way would I not have a few vacuum setups. Vacuum setups are small quantity. You're talking four after-dinner cups with a large pot.

This thread's getting interesting,
BDL
post #14 of 19
I agree on the importance of good beans used at peak.

In Italian there's a hierarchy of what it takes to make good coffee, called "the four 'Ms': Miscela, mano, macchina de dosatore, e macchina. That translates to: The beans (including their blend, roast, freshness, etc.), the skill of the maker, the quality of the grinder (and its doser), and the espresso machine itself.

So beans are most important, followed by the "hand" of the barista.

For espresso, "fresh" beans have about a two-week window. That's two weeks stored relatively open -- as in a grinder's hopper. So really, that waitstaff wasn't doing much wrong unless the beans were too fresh or too stale when they went in.

Depending on the bean and its roast profile, most beans are at their best during the six to eight day period beginning four or five days after roasting. Most beans won't make good espresso until they've rested three or four days after roasting.

It used to be a matter of controversy, but not so much anymore. Extensive blind testing shows you can store roasted beans in the freezer for as long as several months without doing them much, if any, harm. As long as you store them properly.

Bad crema is a sign that something's going on somewhere in the chain. But it's not definitive as to what or where. It is certainly possible to screw it up with either too fresh or too stale beans. But more often, the mistake lies in bad grind, bad tamp, bad temp.

Many people fail to understand that the grind which is best for six-day beans is not the same as the best one for ten-day beans. As time passes, you usually have to go a little finer for a good extraction. But sometimes, depending on humidity and other factors, it could go the other way. Basically, you're looking for a ~ 30 second extraction for a double.

And then there's the tamp. 30# is by no means a magic number. Personally, I grind and tamp in the "Italian" style which means I grind a little finer and "up tamp" against the tamper on the doser using a lighter pressure than most Americans barista. No crema on the first shot means I'll tighten the grind, use more pressure on the tamp or both.

However, as you probably inferred, I don't view crema as important a diagnostic as a good extraction time. That said, proper grind + proper tamp + proper temp (brew and cup) = good crema with even barely adequate beans.

Temperature, temperature, temperature. We haven't mentioned "water-dancing" to get the machine to the right temp, or even prewarming the cups by drawing blanks or just leaving them on top of a properly warmed machine -- single stacked. Many places don't even properly pre-warm the machine for brewing. Most should be on at least forty-five minutes to make coffee, but it takes longer than that to get the cups warm enough so the crema doesn't collapse.

Alas, it's almost impossible to communicate and teach this sort of layered nuance to FOH except in a specialty operation, which is why it's almost impossible to get a decent shot anywhere but a specialty operation. And even most of them suck.

I can show you how to do it, including problem solving, in ten minutes. Add another ten and I'll teach you to do "latte art." But, it takes paying attention to hundreds of cups (at least) before the sequence which includes all the steps to oulling a good shot becomes reflexive. Heck, I've been doing it for decades and still make mistakes.

When I order espresso in a restaurant, I figure I'm ahead of the curve if it comes hot.

BDL
post #15 of 19
I know of someone at coffeegeek who allows his roasted espresso beans to rest around 11 days prior to making espresso.

And the best commercially made espresso coffee I ever drank was during the 80's at Caravanserai in Berkeley - made by a Greek. Otherwise 'twas chez moi using a Sama Lever machine and beans less than 7 days post roast. Tastey.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #16 of 19
In the pursuit of great coffee, one encounters many challenges. Not the least of these is choosing to suit your own personal taste. We hope to make your decision easier by presenting information most pertinent to choosing a coffee maker, without overwhelming you with exhaustive detail. Just follow our guides to choosing coffee grinders, coffee roasters, cappuccino machines, espresso machines, milk and more by clicking on the links below, or the navigation bar to your right of screen.

Menus Nearu
post #17 of 19

Go and visit CoffeeGeek.com.     :roll:

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #18 of 19

And if you don't want to catch up at CG, just get the Brazen coffee brewer by Behmor. If the Techniform is a Saab, the Brazen is a Porsche. PID controlled and user adjustable water temps that are altitude compensated and a pre-soak cycle that gets the most out of fresh beans.

post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by raisin View Post
 

And if you don't want to catch up at CG, just get the Brazen coffee brewer by Behmor. If the Techniform is a Saab, the Brazen is a Porsche. PID controlled and user adjustable water temps that are altitude compensated and a pre-soak cycle that gets the most out of fresh beans.


Not after reading the so so reviews at amazon on the Brazen.  It appears too iffy to purchase.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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