In Depth Buying Guide: Drip Coffee Makers
For some, making a fresh pot of coffee in the morning is more than a daily task or chore. It is a therapeutic and pleasurable ritual. As the warm and welcoming smell of coffee travels through your kitchen to the rest of your home you suddenly realize you have done more than make yourself a cup of coffee. You have given yourself a treat and a tool to get through the rest of the day.
In an ideal world, this is exactly how your daily coffee brewing experience should transpire. In the real world, you may throw some instant coffee in a grimy old coffee maker, only to become aware of a distinct burnt aroma moments later. As quickly as you can drink a hot liquid, your coffee is consumed. Your only real aim in consumption is to feel the sweet effects of caffeine 30 minutes later. For those of you who may find some truth in this brief abstract, there is hope.
BeverageFactory.com wants to help you enjoy making daily coffee and experience the true flavor and effects of coffee. Whether your flavor preference is bold or delicate, your experience should always be delightful. While drip coffee makers may be commonplace in America, they are an extremely effective, convenient, and tasty way to enjoy a daily brew. The key to leaving mediocre coffee behind and experiencing superb drip coffee lies in first finding the brand or type of coffee maker that is right for you based on your needs and then correctly adding the two key ingredients: coffee and water.
Types of Drip Coffee Makers
While all drip coffee makers use the same brewing technique of heating water in the reservoir which "drips" through a filter full of ground coffee, you can choose from many extra features and settings such as what type of pot or carafe you want your brewed coffee to sit.
Thermal, Glass, and Double Pot Coffee Makers
Drip coffee makers are equipped with either a thermal, glass, or duel pot system. Thermal carafes are great for people who like to brew a big pot of coffee and want to keep it hot and flavorful for an extended period of time. Because thermal coffee carafes are insulated, they will keep the coffee warm for hours without sitting on a hot plate. This prevents the coffee from over cooking or burning and allows the pot to be portable.
Glass carafe coffee makers on the other hand are not insulated and need to sit on a hotplate to stay warm. You will want to limit the amount of time coffee you consume sits on a hot plate as its flavor and freshness will break down and you will be left with burnt, bitter tasting coffee. No matter which carafe you use; to achieve optimal taste coffee should be consumed as soon as possible after brewing. Oftentimes, glass carafe machines come equipped with a timing or temperature mechanism that allows you to set your hot plate to turn off at a certain time and allows you to control how hot you let the plate get. Furthermore, glass carafes give you the option of seeing the quantity of coffee you brewed.
For those of you who entertain often, want the option of brewing two different flavors of coffee at once, or a pot of decaf and a pot of regular, there is the dual pot system. Dual pot coffee makers feature dual brewing stations and therefore dual pots making them great for entertaining or for large venues of coffee consumption such as the office.
Drip Coffee Makers and Features
Enjoying your daily coffee is guaranteed if you purchase the coffee maker whose features fit your lifestyle. As we already discussed, dual pot coffee makers are great for people with a crowd or thermal carafes are excellent if you plan on going back to a brewed pot after and extended period of time. What if you are the only person in your household who drinks coffee? Well then, you will want to purchase a coffee maker that is designed to brew small pots or one that allows you to control the speed of water flow over the coffee grounds. If you purchase a coffee maker designed to make up to 12 cups, water in the coffee maker will flow at a speed fast enough to saturate coffee grinds for 12 cups despite the fact you only wanted 4 cups and your coffee maker is holding only enough coffee for 4 cups. If your machine does not allow you to adjust the flow, extraction time is limited and flavor is damaged when making smaller pots.
Another feature to consider when purchasing a drip coffee maker includes programmability. For example, some coffee machines allow you the option of programming and pre-setting a time you want brewing to commence. Too tired at 6am to even think about brewing a cup of coffee, well your coffee maker is never too tired! It will do the dirty work for you.
Two features available in coffee makers that will maximize the flavor you enjoy in your cup of coffee include a built in coffee grinder and something that is known as a showerhead hole. There is no question that pre-ground coffee is convenient, however fresh ground coffee is divine. Some coffee makers come with a built in grinder which will grind the amount necessary for brewing for optimal flavor enhancement. We will discuss this feature more in depth later in the article.
Showerhead holes are another great feature for those who wish to achieve optimal flavor extraction from their coffee. Like it sounds, showerhead holes produce a constant spray of water over the coffee grinds in the coffee maker's filter which insures more even saturation than a single hole whose stream of hot water which usually concentrates in the center of the ground coffee. Even extraction, as caused by a showerhead hole, results in a tastier cup of drip brewed coffee.
The list of features on modern day drip coffee makers goes on and on and BeverageFactory.com has them all! Whether you are looking for a machine with an internal grinder, one that allows you to sneak a cup before the coffee maker is finished brewing, or a coffee maker with a thermal carafe, we have them all and we are always ready and available to help you decide which is the right fit for your lifestyle!
Getting the Most Out of Your Drip Coffee Maker
Okay, so you have checked out our website, looked the coffee makers we have to offer up and down for features, style, price, etc. and you have chosen your coffee companion after much attentive service from the BeverageFactory.com's wonderfully helpful, kind, and just plain witty staff. Your coffee maker has just arrived; you eagerly unwrap and decide it time to fire it up. Here is the best way to get started!
Upon first use of your drip coffee maker, you will want to run water through it clearing the coffee maker of dust from packing materials. This will insure particles that may have made their way into your coffee maker are flushed out before your first cup is brewed. While this is the only priming necessary for most drip coffee makers, some such as those made by Bunn, feature a pour over system which requires a little prepping.
Pour over coffee makers hold a full tank of hot water at all times so when you first use a pour over coffee maker, you will need to fill it and let it heat up. This only takes about 15 minutes and once complete you subsequent brews will take only 3 minutes.
Coffee and Water: Keys to a Successful Brewing with Drip Coffee Makers
The three keys to making great drip coffee first include picking the coffee maker that best fits your lifestyle, secondly the quality of the coffee you brew, and thirdly what kind of water you use for brewing. As we have already discussed the first part of the excellent coffee equation, and explored what to do upon first use of your chosen coffee maker, it is time to explore steps two and three of the brewing equation.
While forms of pre-ground coffee bought in the supermarket offer a consistent and decent brew, nothing beats the taste of fresh coffee made from freshly ground whole coffee beans. Whole bean coffee tends to be more expensive than pre-ground and you may have to invest in a grinder or a drip coffee maker with an internal grinder. However, grinding your beans before brewing each cup of coffee is the best way to extract the maximum flavor from the coffee bean. The longer a bean sits, pre-ground, the more flavors it loses. For more on selecting the right coffee beans and roast for your morning brew, click here.
If you do not already own a coffee grinder, or do not feel like purchasing another kitchen appliance, built in coffee maker grinders are a great option! Like all coffee grinders, internal grinders need to be cleaned and maintained however, since they are located inside the coffee maker, you do not need to worry about finding coffee grinds all over your kitchen!
No matter if you purchase a separate grinder, internal coffee maker grinder, or purchase pre-ground coffee we recommend you buy a small quantity of beans at a time and grind them as you use them or have them ground at your local coffee shop or supermarket for use. The grind should always be medium to coarse with a texture of unrefined sugar. As with espresso, the quality and flavor of your drip coffee is largely dependent on the right grind. Too coarse a grind and the water in the coffee maker will flow through the coffee grounds too quickly producing watery coffee. Too fine a grind and you run the risk of grinds seeping into the pot and creating muddy bitter coffee. Using the freshest ground coffee, with a medium grind are two important factors for created delicious coffee.
Water is the last ingredient necessary for creating rich and fragrant brews. What kind of water you use will both effect the taste of your coffee and the longevity of your coffee maker. Hard waters with high mineral concentrations such as well and tap water should be avoided. They contain high levels of calcium and magnesium which build up in your coffee maker overtime stagnating your machine's water flow. The best way to prevent this potential problem is use a charcoal water filter which will keep just enough of the minerals necessary for flavor but prevent build up. Be sure to look for a coffee maker that has this feature added in their filtration system.
Coffee Check, Water Check, Now What?
Now that our equation of coffee maker + quality coffee + filtered water = yummy coffee has been solved, you'll need to know the right ration of coffee to water for a strong but not overpowering brew. The general rule of thumb is always 10 grams of coffee for every 6 oz of water. However, you are always free to play with that ration to find the brew that is right for you!
Cleaning and Maintaining
Congratulations! We have now come full circle in our quest for consistent, delicious, and daily home brewed coffee. After figuring out what coffee maker is right for you, learning how the two main inputs (coffee and water) effect the brew, and what ratio of these ingredients is necessary for a palatable brew, you are ready to learn how to clean and maintain! I know, cleaning and maintaining really do not deserve and exclamation point. Really, though coffee makers are as easy to clean as they are to brew with.
If you are using paper coffee filters in your coffee maker, all you will need to do is dump them out grinds and all. Permanent filters do need to be cleaned daily but this usually just involves dumping out the excess grinds and rinsing the filter with water. Because grinds can settle in the filter holder, this will need to be cleaned every so often as well. As you can probably guess, the carafe will need to be cleaned after each use as coffee will stick to it or stain it. Warm and soapy water is all that is necessary to rectify this! Finally, about every 3 months you need to decalcify your coffee maker. The whole process is very simple and involves running a decalcifying agent through the machine as you would a pot of coffee. After it has been run through, you will want to run pure water through the coffee maker 2 or 3 times more to remove any remnants. Now your coffee maker is cleaner than the day you bought it!