What coffeemaker is best for making a great affordable cup of coffee?
Choosing a Coffeemaker
by Dollar Stretcher Contributors
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Choosing a Coffeemaker
I love a good cup of coffee, but I can't afford to drive through Starbucks every day on the way to work. I'd make my own, but even if I grind my own beans, my coffeemaker produces coffee that's undrinkable. I'm thinking it's the cheap coffeemaker that I have, but I really can't afford to buy anything fancy. Can anyone point me to a reasonably priced coffeemaker that produces a good cup of coffee?
Make Sure Your Coffeemaker Is Clean
Before you invest in a new coffeemaker, try giving the one you have a really good cleaning. WiseGeek reports, "Using a dirty coffee maker can make even the most expensive coffees taste bitter or stale." The article recommends cleaning the carafe with either hot water and soap (by hand or in the dishwasher) or a mixture of ice, coarse salt, and lemon juice, swirled around to remove residue.
Clean the machine itself by running a brew cycle with a 2-to-1 solution of water and vinegar and repeating until you get all the grime out. Then run plain water through the brew cycle a couple of times to rinse out the vinegar. You'll find the full article here.
Keep in mind, also, that the quality of the beans makes more difference than whether you grind them at home. If you are buying the cheapest coffee you can find at the supermarket, try picking up some Starbucks beans instead (since you say you like their coffee) and see if that gives you the flavor you want.
Try a French Press
As someone who works at Starbucks and loves coffee, I can tell you the best coffee comes from a press pot or a "French Press." When we prepare tastings of various coffee blends, this is the method we use to extract the best flavor. You simply boil some water on the stove, fill the pot with your desired amount of coffee grounds, add hot water, and let the coffee steep for about three minutes. Since the coffee grounds are soaking in the water, the coffee oils are left in the finished product and not in a paper filter. The best part is that a press pot usually costs about $20 and can be easily stored in a kitchen cabinet when not in use.
Follow the Fundamentals of Home Brewing
I have never had an issue making a decent cup of coffee in any coffee maker by following these fundamentals for home brewing.
- Water: Use the best water you can find (filtered water whenever possible).
- Proportion: Use 2 heaping tablespoons per cup (6 oz.) of water. You can adjust this amount according to your own taste, but this is the recommended amount of ground coffee to water.
- Freshness: Use an opened bag of roasted coffee beans within seven days. Personally, I think it's worth investing in some good quality beans.
- Grind: Grind the beans just before you use them. The brewing process determines the coarseness of the grind. French press is the coarsest, followed by drip coffee with flat bottomed filters, then drip coffee with cone filters, and finally espresso. If you have questions about how to grind the coffee, I suggest stopping by your local coffee shop and they can show you the difference in the grinds.
It might be worth trying to follow these fundamentals before investing in a new coffeemaker.
Have It Your Way!
My wife and I found the Keurig® coffee maker the best! We have a large one in our kitchen and carry a small one with us, because we don't like the motel room coffee. I drink espresso and she drinks French roast. With the Keurig®, we can both have our own coffee!
Love My Bunn
My Bunn coffeemaker makes the best coffee. We bought one well over 25 years ago and it still works. We also bought two of them at garage sales for other purposes. When you have a crowd, they are a lifesaver.
It's the Coffee
It's not your coffeemaker. It's the coffee. I use a $10 off-brand drip coffee machine and good coffee that is actually as cheap or cheaper than the major brands. I buy mine at WinCo and it's called Rocket Java. I grind it on the Turkish setting and measure it out like ordinary coffee, one scoop to two cups. It's strong, bold, and very tasty. I've also used Medaglia D'Oro as well as Cafe Bustelo (both espresso coffee) in the same way and it's always a superb cup of coffee in any coffee maker. Walmart has a Great Value coffee that's good and I particularly like the Sumatran of this brand.
So before you spend a lot of money on a new coffeemaker, try changing your coffee. Avoid the major best-selling brands and look to different ones. Buy an ounce each of different beans in the store and grind them. Then try a different one each day. You'll also find that the brand that's $10 a bag is no better than the cheaper one at $6 a bag.
Press to a Great Cup of Coffee
If you want just one or two cups of coffee, instead of a full pot, try an AeroPress. We own a Keurig that we use for the single, quick cup of coffee in the morning, but when we want a really yummy cup, we use our AeroPress. We bought it at Amazon.com where it currently sells for about $30. It makes a beautifully smooth, strong cup that plays well with cream and flavored syrup. One of the best things about it, we can easily take it with us when we travel. All we need is hot water and ground coffee to make a really good cup of coffee.
We are happy with our Keurig, but we seldom buy the single brew coffee packs for it. My husband roasts and grinds his own coffee, which we brew with the Keurig® My K-Cup® inserts.
When Choosing a Coffeemaker, Keep It Old Fashioned.
My husband and I have switched to a stovetop percolator coffeepot with a stainless steel basket (1960s style) and love it. It takes a little longer (once the water comes to a boil, I let it boil for 10 minutes), but it's nice and hot and makes a strong cup of coffee. I put in hot water to cut down on the time it takes to boil. The ceramic pot keeps the coffee hot for a good while once you take the basket out. It's also easy to clean. We got ours at Goodwill for $3.
Make Rich, Aromatic and Flavorful Coffee
I am the only coffee drinker in my house. Years ago, I started making coffee by the cup with a filter. I giggle that now there are trendy coffee bars doing the same thing for a small fortune. No coffee maker required if you use a filter at home. You can pick up a plastic or porcelain filter holder at most kitchen-type stores for a few dollars. I just use two scoops for my big mug and pour boiling water through the filter for a great cup of coffee.
Since I rarely treat myself to a cup of coffee at a coffeehouse, I don't mind splurging on good quality coffee. It only takes a minute to boil the water and filter it through, and it really does taste better. When I remember, I put a small pinch of salt in the coffee grounds, which is a trick I learned from a Columbian friend. Also, the coffee grounds and filter can go right into my compost bin.
Jen in Rio del Mar
Enjoy a Manual Coffee System
We have flirted with various brands of electric and/or programmable coffeemakers but always return to the original Melitta pour-over filter. We have three sizes from single cup to 10 cup pot and purchase filters cheaply either online or in warehouse clubs. We now use an electric kettle (more frugal!) to boil water for our coffee, tea, cocoa and other uses but have used a stovetop kettle. Melitta manual coffee systems are available online and at most grocery stores.
Comes Highly Recommended
Consumer Reports is a great resource for evaluating the cost and features of a new coffee maker. On their "best buy" recommendation, I purchased a Mr. Coffee machine about five years ago, and unbeknownst to me, my parents bought the same model when they received their magazine. We've had it for over five years and have not had a single problem. It's programmable. You can set a timer or set the strength of the brew. It's very customizable and it was under $30.
Crazy about My Cuisinart®
We have found that the Cuisinart® (about $70) is the best. It has a long lasting pot with great features (automatic timer, small pot, long warming time), and it makes great coffee.
Maybe It's the Water
Try using bottled water instead of tap water in your current coffeemaker. It should taste better and you'll save the cost of buying a new machine.
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