Consumer Advice – The Best Price on Coffee Makers
If you are on the lookout for a new coffee maker, you will surely have realized that there is a vast array of models available – as well as a huge range of prices.
Choosing the right machine – and deciding how much you want to spend – can be a challenge, so here’s our guide to choosing the right brewer as well as understanding how much you should expect to pay for it.
What kind of coffee drinker are you?
Americans are thought to consume around 400 million cups of coffee per day, so it’s probably something of an understatement to say that it’s a popular drink. However, there’s more than one way to prepare a brew and everyone has their favorite. What kind of coffee drinker are you?
For many, coffee is the morning drink of choice for one simple reason: caffeine. For millions of people, the thought of starting the day without the kick from a strong cup of black coffee to get the synapses firing and clear the morning fog is unthinkable.
For these people, the taste is a secondary consideration – as long as the brew delivers a caffeine jolt to wake you up and help you out the door, it doesn’t matter if the coffee is good or bad. In fact, if it’s unbearably bitter – or maybe filled with sugar – so much the better. It only clears the clouds quicker.
If this sounds like you, you probably don’t need anything too fancy. The most inexpensive electric drip brewers start at only around $15-$20, and one of these will probably do the trick. Even if you want a few extra functions and options, you won’t need to spend more than $30-$70.
On the other hand, if you consider yourself a true coffee aficionado and the thought of drinking a bad bew makes you cringe, you will probably be willing to invest a little more to ensure you can always sip an exceptional cup.
Traditional brewer or pod-based system?
An important consideration is whether you want to go for a traditional brewer or a pod-based machine like a Keurig.
The advantage of Keurig-style machines is in their simplicity and convenience. You just pop in the pod of your choice and hit “go” – the machine does the rest. The machine also eliminates any human error from the brewing process, guaranteeing a perfect cup every time.
Once it’s done, there’s no clearing up either. You just dispose of the empty pod and the machine is ready to go again.
On the downside, coffee sold in pods is more expensive than buying beans or ground coffee, sometimes by two or three times. You are also limited to using only coffee sold in pods that are compatible with your machine – although reusable pods are now also available.
Furthermore, using pods is by far the least ecological way of brewing – think about what happens to all those plastic pods once they have been used. If you care about the environment, you might prefer to make your coffee using a greener method.
If you decide a pod-based machine is for you, you can expect to purchase an entry-level Keurig for around $80-$100 or less. Other pod-based machines like Nespresso start at comparable prices, but if you choose to go for a less established brand, you may find the cheapest from around $60 or below.
At the upper end of the scale, for a machine with lots of extra functionality like programmable timers and control over your brewing preferences, you can expect to pay up to around $200 or more for a top-end machine.
This is still relatively inexpensive since these companies make the money back selling pods.
Types of traditional brewers
If you decide you prefer a more traditional way of brewing, you need to consider what kind of coffee you want to make. Here are some tips about choosing between the different models and how much you should expect to pay.
The French press is one of the simplest – and often least expensive – ways of brewing. You simply put the grounds into the carafe and add hot water to steep. When it’s brewed, you press the plunger and serve.
A good quality classic French press should cost around $15-$20. Unless you particularly want to spend lots of money on a really expensive one, there’s little reason why you would need to spend more than $30.
Since they are not electric, a quality French press is also likely to last for many years.
Electric drip coffee maker
As we mentioned before, the cheapest electric drip coffee makers can be extremely inexpensive. However, these models will probably not give you the best results. In order to make a higher quality brew, you should look for some extra features – and be prepared to pay for them.
One of the most important factors affecting how well coffee is brewed is the temperature of the water. The optimum temperature is 190-205°F and the best drip brewers incorporate powerful heaters to control this accurately.
Another element is the extraction. The coffee should be infused and extracted evenly, and the best machines achieve this with large showerhead-type delivery systems.
Another element is how long they keep the coffee warm. Choosing a thermal carafe coffee maker is the best option – but often the most expensive too.
A select few coffee makers have been approved by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. With these machines, you know you can expect a superior brew, but the prices can be higher than other models. Expect to pay in the region of $100-$300 for one of these.
Home espresso machine
For some, pulling the perfect espresso shot is the highest art of brewing coffee. Unfortunately, you also need adequate equipment to be able to do it.
Some machines are available for under $100 but don’t expect to be able to produce anything like coffee shop quality with one of these.
For a decent espresso machine, you should really expect to pay at least $300. In this price range, machines are capable of an even extraction under high pressure and can often produce very respectable espresso with a delicious crema on top.
However, for true connoisseurs who insist on drinking the very best espresso, you may have to look at machines in the $1000-$2000 range.
Different machines for different needs
As you can see, when buying a coffee maker, you can spend $20 or you can spend $2000. There’s no point buying the most expensive model if you just want a caffeine hit in the morning – but if you want to drink the very best, you may need to be prepared to invest in some fairly pricey equipment.