Saturday, April 04, 2009

How to find the best coffee makers for home, among a wide variety of choices.

The best coffee makers are not necessarily the most sophisticated or expensive.

You can make a great cup of coffee with some of the simplest coffee makers – like a French press or $10 manual drip coffee cone.

In this post we’ll look at some of the best coffee makers available – and some that are not so great.

The French Press

The French press is essentially a glass jar with vertical sides and a plunger with a mesh filter on it. You put the coffee grounds in the jar, pour in the hot water, put the lid on and press down the plunger after 3 – 4 minutes.

Presto. You have a wonderful, rich cup of coffee.

It's one of the best coffee makers you'll ever use.

Coffee Percolators

I suggest that you don’t make your coffee with a percolator. Those are the pots you put on the stove and leave for hours. It’s not a good way to make the most of your carefully selected coffee beans.

When you brew coffee, whatever the coffee maker, the water temperature should be slightly below boiling point, 200 degree's F. Percolators just boil the flavor out of your beans. If you are completely indifferent to the flavor of your coffee, by all means keep that old percolator. But if you want to enjoy the flavor you paid for when you bought those coffee beans, use a different kind of coffee maker.

Coffee Drip Brewers

This is the most common and one of the best coffee makers, if the right model is chosen. You probably have one at work, and maybe at home too. You just put ground coffee in a paper filter, fill a reservoir with water, turn the brewer on and watch the glass carafe fill with coffee.

So long as you have a good model, and the water hits the coffee grounds at the right temperature, 200 degree's F, and hold that temperature throughout the brew cycle, drip brewers can make a great cup of coffee. Most retail models do not do this!

But they do have one disadvantage. And if you have ever poured yourself a cup of coffee an hour or two after it was made in a drip brewer, you know what that problem tastes like.

Here’s what happens...these glass carafes are on a hotplate, to keep the coffee hot. The trouble is, after a while, the heat from the hotplate starts “cooking” the coffee.

What can you do? Use a thermal carafe to hold your coffee. A good thermal will hold the coffee at the proper serving temperature, 180 degrees F, for a couple of hours without changing the flavor profile by evaporation and cooking.

My personal recommendation for the best home brewer is a Bunn model A-8 or A10 either brewer has a built in water tank that keeps the water hot all the way through the brew cycle....Just like the ones at your favorite restaurant or coffeehouse.


The Grinder said...

Home Brewers: I concur on the Bunn models for home brewing. Aside from the coffee you choose, the brewer is critical to producing a high quality cup of JOE. The keys are temperature (200F) and time (3-4 min. for 48-60 oz. pot).
The "mr. coffee" type brewers heat the water you pour in via a heater block or coil. This takes time. Too much times results in over extraction. The coffee you drink is mostly coffee solids extracted and suspended in water. When the brew time exceeds 4 minutes you risk extracting more than 20-22% of the coffee solids and this is when "the bitters" are extracted. Not a good thing. Even the most expensive coffee beans can be ruined by a poor brewing method.

What makes the Bunn models great? The key is in the water tank that keeps 1.5 to 2 pots of water pre-heated to the proper temperature. When you pour in the COLD water it goes down a tube to the bottom of the tank. COLD water is denser than hot water. Therefore, the COLD water pushes the hot water up through a tube and is delivered through a spray head (water disperser) evenly over all of the coffee grounds. When you pour in the cold water the hot water is delivered almost instantaneously. Therefore, the brew time is shorter, the extraction is proper and your coffee is all it can be. That's all you can ask from a brewer.

Tip: Keep that spray head and the brew basket clean. It gets gummed up, clogged and nasty. Not good for the finished product.

Note: The Grinder taught The Coffee Guy a little bit in his early days.

wallyworld said...

Hello Grinder,

I have been a believer in coarse grind at high throws for the best flaver profile. The more coffee used the harder it is for the water to pass over the grounds. If you grind the coffee into bigger pieces the easier it is for the water to get through, making a great tasting cup o Joe. Grinding to fine causes over extraction leaving you with a bitter taste. Remeber the 20/1 ratio. (for every 20oz of water use 1oz of coffee)