Monday, January 24, 2011

Daily Coffee Tip::If not Mr. Coffee, then what?

After posting about how to make the best of your glass-pot, Mr. Coffee style coffee brewer without burning your brew I received a lot of questions about what brewer you should buy if you're planning to upgrade. Personally, I always lean towards manual brewing methods such as the Chemex, a Bodum Press or a siphon pot, but admittedly, I don't brew coffee at home every morning because we always have coffee at the roastery. Manual brew methods tend to present the very best flavors in the cup but they tend to be messy and time consuming--two factors most folks don't want to have to navigate before work while getting the kids ready for school and ensuring the recycling gets to the curb. For those of you living that section of the American dream, it makes sense to have an automatic coffee brewer so I've put together a few options to give you the best cup of coffee at home with the least amount of cost.

My favorite home coffee maker is the Cuisinart 12 Cup Digital Brewer sold at most retail establishments with kitchen products. This brewer is at the top of my list because is simple and highly functional. The water temperature gets up to around 195F (most home brewers don't), it uses a thermal carafe instead of glass+burner, the digital timer functions are easy to use and the design is unobtrusive and compact. At an average price of $100-120, it is on the more expensive side for a home brewer but my personal experience is that this machine lasts for many years and brews consistently as long as you keep it clean and use filtered water for each brew.

Of course, no one likes to purchase a product without having options so here are a couple more home brewers that get the job done consistently and embody most of the same features and benefits as the Cuisinart. The Melitta 10 cup thermal brewer is a good option at a slightly lower price. Melitta is a well respected company in the coffee world but at this point, the Melitta coffee equipment company that garnered such respect is not actually making these machines; the company has expanded so rapidly over the past several years that they outsource all of these small machines to some large manufacturer. The machine works well but I find it doesn't have the long-term life span of the Cuisinart.
I happen to love the BUNN BTX-B thermal coffee maker because it is the closest you can get to a commercial pour-over brewer without actually buying one. This brewer is about the same price as the Cuisinart but boasts a notable advantage; a standing water reservoir which provides much more stable and consistent brew temperatures. Unfortunately, it is ugly as sin and most folks wouldn't want it in their garage, much less on their granite counter tops!

The most important thing to consider when choosing a home coffee maker is to treat the purchase as an investment; not only in the equipment that you hope will last several years, but in the quality of the coffee you brew. Sub-par equipment is ok if you're brewing Folgers out of the can, but when you're investing your hard earned money in high quality coffee it only makes sense to ensure it is being brewed correctly so every cup is as good as it can be.


  1. In the other post, you suggested not buying a coffee machine/grinder combo but your first pick on this post is just that. Explanation?

  2. Gene
    Woah! Wrong link! Sorry about that, should be fixed now. Thanks for the heads up.