Every coffee lover alike knows the importance of a good coffee maker and learning how to use them properly. The coffee maker can make or break the taste of the coffee, and so proper use and maintenance are essential when purchasing and maintaining your home coffee machine.
The first thing to note is that there are several different styles and features of a coffee maker. From single, plastic pour-over cup covers to expensive espresso machines, each requires its own level of use and care.
8 Different Types Of Coffee Makers
Cone Coffee Makers
These small makers, usually single brew, fit comfortably over a single coffee cup or mug. A filter is placed in the cone-shaped top where a medium to fine grind of coffee is placed. The temperature of the water can be easily controlled by the pourer allowing for a perfect pour each time no matter who is using the maker. A cone coffee maker is usually a one-piece contraption making it easy to clean by hand with soap and water or, if directions allow, putting through a dishwasher.
Drip Coffee Makers, Manual Brew, Chemex Style
A larger, pot-sized, version of the cone coffee maker is the drip coffee maker, also known as manual brew or Chemex-style coffee maker. The premise is the same: a cone coffee filter is fit into the top of the coffee maker, and a medium to fine ground is put in the filter depending on the strength the user would prefer.
The acidity level of the coffee is easily manipulated by the coarseness of the grind and the temperature of the water being used. This style of coffee maker is for a more hands-on approach to coffee making which can be easily controlled with a few small tweaks to the process. Drip coffee makers are almost always made of glass and are therefore easily cleaned with warm soapy water and a scrubbing sponge.
Stovetop Coffee Makers
Also known as percolators, this was the most common type of coffee maker in the 1800s. The percolated usually has a chamber for water and a second chamber within the first one which holds coarse coffee grounds and potentially a filter as well. The bigger chamber is filled with water, while the smaller one is filled with coffee grounds and placed over the fire or on a stovetop.
As the water heats to a boil, it bubbles up into the chamber holding the coffee grounds, mixing the boiling water with the coffee. It is harder to control water temperature with this method of brewing, but for many people, the convenience outweighs the control.
The French press is one of the easiest to use coffee makers on the market today. It is elegant and allows for maximum control of the coarse grind and water temperature of the coffee, making it one of the most preferential coffee makers around. To use a French press, you fill the bottom with coarsely ground coffee and pour the desired temperature water over the top.
Keeping the press filter at the top of the pot, let the coffee steep for as long as desired. When ready, push the plunger on the press to the bottom and pour. To clean a French press, simply empty the ground into a compost bin and rinse out with soap and warm water. Many French press accessories can be thrown into the dishwasher as well.
Vacuum Coffee Makers
A vacuum coffee maker is a somewhat complicated machine that works almost the opposite of a drip or Chemex-style brew machine. Water is placed in the bottom of the pot with a filter place in the centerpiece, and grounds poured on top. A heat source is added to the bottom of the coffee pot where the water is heated into steam.
The steam rises and passes through the grounds producing a robust brew. When the heat source is removed from the bottom, the brewed coffee falls back through the filter to the bottom of the pot, allowing for a precisely timed and delicious brew of coffee.
The Aeropress is much like a French press in reverse. The coffee grounds are still poured first with the water over the top, but the pressure mechanism is slightly different. Instead of pressing the coffee grounds down into the pot, the Aeropress utilizes a small filter to keep the coffee grounds away from the bottom of the cup. This makes dumping the grounds easier.
Cold Brew Coffee Makers
Cold-brewing coffee has been a long-enjoyed classic among coffee connoisseurs. It is known to provide a less acidic or bitter cup of coffee with a longer shelf-life than tradition hot water methods. Fine ground coffee is placed into a usually metal mesh filter in the center of a carafe.
Fresh, cold water is poured into the carafe, and the cold water is left to blend with the coffee grounds for between 12-24 hours. Afterward, the coffee can be re-heated or served cold with added water to achieve the desired concentration of coffee. The remaining coffee can last in the fridge up to a week for re-use, and the container itself is usually dishwasher safe. If not, just clean it with warm, soapy water before the next use.
Automatic/Smart Coffee Makers
Automatic and smart coffee makers are among the most popular in the industry today. With this machine, you put the grounds into a filter in their own compartment. The water is either filtered from a freshwater source or poured into a compartment near the back of the machine. A carafe is placed in the front of the machine where hot water is filtered through the coffee grounds into the carafe.
This process can be set on a timer with a predetermined amount of coffee grounds and water to be processed at a certain time of day, assuring you have fresh coffee as soon as you wake up. Unfortunately, this method does not allow for as much control, but many people prefer the convenience. To clean this machine, filter white vinegar through the brewing process once a month or as desired. Run two clear-water brews after the vinegar to rinse out any unwanted flavors.
Regardless of which brewing method you use, it is important to remember to follow the steps in your particular coffee maker’s instructions religiously. Learning how to use a coffee maker properly will result in a great cup of coffee every time, as well as a machine that functions as expected with every brew.