Coffee Makers: Buyers' Guide
There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly ground coffee to wake you up in the morning and kickstart your day.
If it’s time you woke up and smelt the coffee, look no further, because we’re here to lend you a helping hand to find your ideal coffee maker.
Firstly have a think about which kind of coffee you enjoy most. What do you pick up when you go to a coffee house? Cappuccino? Latte? Espresso? Filter coffee? This is your starting point.
Next, have a read of our definitive buyers’ guide and once you start to get a better idea of which factors are important to you – from style, size and special features - you’re ready to start to compare coffee makers, deals and offers over on our shopping pages. Happy coffee making!
Filter coffee makers and Percolators
Filter coffee makers are the easiest of the bunch to use, and if you regularly pic up this classic coffee option at a café on your way to work then it may be worth investing in this model; you’ll save yourself a bundle.
Filter coffee makers work by allowing water to drip through a basket or cone of coffee in a filter into a pot or carafe. Luckily, there’s no need to boil the water first as an inbuilt thermos pot and hot plate in the coffee maker will heat the water and keep it warm.
These models have paper or permanent holders; permanent filters take the hassle out of having to change them regularly and can be cheaper in the long run, though they can be messy to clean and are considered less convenient. They also come in a variety of cup volumes depending on how many cups you go through a day.
Filter coffee makers are great for making large quantities of coffee and can be a relatively inexpensive investment if you shop around. Smaller models are great for space saving but often don’t produce such good quality coffee due to the flatter cone.
Percolators work in the opposite way to filter models and are great if you like to control the strength of your coffee. They work with ground coffee in a holder at the top and water in the bottom by forcing water up a vertical tube and through the filter. The brewed coffee then settles in the bottom of the jug.
As the top of the percolator is glass you’re able to see the strength of the coffee and switch off the machine as soon as it’s made your coffee just how you like it. If you’re very particular about your coffee then take note that some experts claim that a percolator does not make the best quality coffee.
The cafetiere is considered by coffee aficionados as the best way to make a ‘proper’ cup as is often a cheap alternative to an electronic coffee maker. They’re also great if you only want to make a couple of cups as you can control quantities used.
Espresso and cappuccino coffee makers
Espresso is a rich, concentrated coffee and can be drunk on its own or can be the base to a cappuccino or latte.
Pump machines Pump machines are usually considered the most expensive type of espresso and cappuccino maker, with a separate tank and thermostat-controlled boiler that heats the water to around 85-92C. Water is forced through the coffee at the right bar pressure so you're pretty much guaranteed a brilliant cup of coffee! Pod/Nespresso coffee makers
Pressure machines Pressure machines work by boiling water to produce steam and pressure, this is then forced through the coffee. The only problem with this is that there may not be enough bar pressure to make a really great espresso.
Pod/Nespresso coffee makers
Pod coffee makers use a disposable plastic capsule containing coffee; they work by forcing hot water through the pod of coffee, which then releases the coffee drink into a mug.
A coffee mill works to slice coffee beans finely with a blade. They tend to be cheaper than coffee grinders but can leave the beans ground less evenly.
A coffee grinder grinds coffee more evenly than a coffee mill and are available in two models: wheel or conical burrs. Conical burrs are the best option if you’re looking for an investment buy as they’re normally quieter and tend to clog less. Wheel models usually grind the coffee faster but can be noisy.
Making the perfect espresso or cappuccino
Making the perfect espresso or cappuccino is dependent on getting your crema just right. Crema is the coffee extract you find on the top of a cup of coffee; it should give off a rich aroma and leave a lasting taste.
To get the ideal crema make sure to ‘tamper’ your coffee that is, gently tapping the coffee container to make sure the water filters evenly.
To get that perfect froth always use fresh milk and a stainless steel jug for the best results
To taste the quality of your crema put some sugar on the top and see how quickly it sinks. If it takes its time then call yourself a barista because you’ve made the perfect crema!
Features to consider when buying a coffee machine
Bar pressure Good bar pressure (around 15-19 bar) is essential for a good crema as it means that the steam from the coffee maker reaches the coffee beans at the perfect speed.
Crema The pure coffee extract on the top of an espresso.
Keep warm function Keeps coffee warm after brewing
Milk frother Uses steam to heat and froth milk to create the perfect latte or cappuccino
Timer A timer is brilliant if you like to wake up to a freshly brewed coffee in the morning. Just set it for the time you want your coffee, for example first thing in the morning.
Water capacity Water capacity in a coffee maker is based on the number of cups of coffee the machine produces.
In an espresso machine water capacity is measured by how many litres of water the machine holds.
Water indicator A water indicator shows the amount of water available.
Cappucino: 1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk, 1/3 frothy milk
Latte: With extra milk. Normally a ratio of 1:6 espresso: hot milk
Macchiato: Espresso with a little milk
Mocha: hot chocolate with a dash of espresso
Americano: hot water with a little espresso
Which coffee should I use?
- Coarse ground coffee best suits percolators and cafetieres.
- Medium ground coffee should be used in flat-bottomed filter machines.
- Fine grind coffee is great for cone filter coffee makers
- Use extra-fine coffee in espresso machines.
- Keep your coffee maker clean for hygiene and to ensure the best cups of coffee. Always use fresh water when cleaning your coffee machine and skip the detergent.
- De-scale your coffee maker every few months to keep it in tip top condition.
- Coffee loses that fresh taste very quickly so avoid storing in bulk; instead buy little and often and store in an airtight, glass container.
- To keep your coffee fresh store in the fridge.
- Flush the coffee machine through with hot water before using to get rid of air bubbles.
So, you’ve narrowed down your options and have decided on the best coffee maker for you – now what? Refine your search over on our shopping pages with the settings and filters in the left column. Narrow your search by style and features and select keywords or a budget to make sure you’re getting the best choice of coffee makers in the UK. Once you’ve selected a deal you’ll be transferred to the site on your selected retailer where you can either click and buy or keep searching. Be sure to check out online retailers’ delivery options and costs and compare coffee maker reviews of the models you’ve shortlisted.