I have seen the future, and I can most assuredly tell you it isn\’t green tea. It\’s coffee. Coffee remains the preferred hot beverage of choice for most red blooded men and women in the states, and there are plenty of ways to brew a fine cup of joe. Some methods are low-tech and tasty, others are high-tech and lousy – and quote often, vice versa.
Here\’s a look of some of the new fangled gadgets and classic contraptions that are all competing for a place in the kitchen or office break room.
Keurig Coffee Maker
Everyone has seen the Keurig coffee maker, one of the latest and greatest leaps forward in turning the whole coffee experience into an individualized, easy-peasy high tech experience. Instead of a glass carafe, the Keurig\’s got space for the mug of your choice – and instead of making you go through the paces of grinding your coffee and pouring it into a filter; all that is needed is the drop of a single K-Cup pod into place, and a fresh cup of coffee will be brewing in no time.
Keurig coffee makers not only come equipped with the ability to brew up a cuppa joe, but also tea and hot chocolate, thanks to the aforementioned single serving K-Cup containers. Naturally, the disposable K-Cup packaging has stoked the ire of those crying foul over landfill irresponsibility, but K-Cup moved fast, and released a reusable filter that can be filled with any type of coffee. Problem solved. The final verdict: it certainly looks cool, even if the taste leaves everything to be desired.
Standard Drip Coffee Maker
You may know it by the name Mr. Coffee, but in fact that is just the name brand of a single manufacturer. Whatever you call it, the standard drip coffee maker has been a mainstay of most home kitchens and office space kitchenettes for decades already, and for good reason. When it comes to brewing a lot of coffee for a lot of people, the traditional drip-style maker is reliable.
It also does something else extremely well: it makes a very mediocre cup of coffee, which is just good enough to satisfy the majority of non-coffee snobs. In the right hands, with the right beans, some can do quite a bit with a traditional drip coffee maker that most people can\’t pull off. But the consensus is that when it comes to taste, you could (and should) do a lot better.
When it comes to basic methods of making coffee, it doesn\’t get much more old school (or tasty, for that matter) than the standard French press coffee maker. You may know it by other names, including a press pot or a coffee press, but the difference is just nomenclature.
Patented in 1929, the French press has withstood the test of time with respect to quality of brew. Throughout the course of the last 80-something years, it has stood its ground well against the likes of Mr. Coffee and the Bunn. Some people even proclaim that a French press — so simple that it has to be an inspired invention — can outdo everything even your neighborhood barista is capable of churning out.
To find out for yourself, all you need is about $20, some coarsely ground beans, and near-boiling water. It may not look like much in comparison to some of the gizmos you can get today, and with a design close to a century old you might as well go ahead and lump it in with the low tech goods. But a better cup of coffee is hard to find, especially one that brews without the need for electricity.
Senseo Coffee Maker
The darling of those who prefer a more automatic coffee making experience, the Senseo uses a similar system to the Keurig, whereby pre-measured and pre-packaged coffee pods are used to produce one cup at a time. High on the ease of use scale, the Senseo has been known to elicit cries of \”I\’d rather have had instant\” – but bear in mind, these are the complaints of bona fide coffee aficionados.
Those with discerning taste when it comes to java may discover there are in fact some things worse than early afternoon convenience store coffee. But for anyone that argues a cup of Folgers is just as good as anything from Starbucks, then the Senseo is probably a good option.
Bunn Coffee Maker
Some may look at a standard kitchen Bunn coffee maker and say that it \”Looks like a Mr. Coffee with a cooler name,\” but they would be wrong in that assumption. Bunn coffee makers differentiate themselves from regular drip coffee machines in two critical areas: first, by keeping a reservoir of water pre-heated 24/7, and second, by being able to produce a full dozen-cup carafe in about 180 seconds flat.
The technology at work here is not tricky; it\’s simply a difference in design and approach. Bunn\’s belief is that a hotter cup of coffee is a better cup of coffee, so by housing the water in a constantly warmed reservoir, half the work is done ahead of time. Bunn coffee maker fans will often say that speed and heat cut back on the acidity level, and they would be right in that assertion.
The only drawback to owning a Bunn is that cleaning the appliance can be an involved process that requires the brewer to be tipped on its side to empty it fully. Anyone willing to take those few extra steps to ensure the brew comes out rich and tasty will be able to impress others in zero time flat with their coffee making skills.
Espresso/Cappuccino Combo Machines
For those whose taste buds demand more than just plain old coffee — and who have grown tired of having to pay upwards of $5 for a quality cup of espresso or cappuccino brew — there\’s the combo machine. Before heading out to buy one of these, know that it will cost a pretty penny.
There are plenty of combination espresso and cappuccino machines available; some with traditional coffee brewers, some solo, and others that are a one-stop-shop for all caffeinated needs. Just remember that there is a big difference in difficulty level when it comes to these types of machines. Nothing that will cause anyone to lose a finger if they look away for a moment, but these machines are not as simple as the aforementioned Keurigs and Sensos of the world.
The Importance of the Grind
If there\’s one thing that all coffee aficionados agree on, it\’s the importance of a coffee grinder in the overall experience. Some people will say that to grind coffee beans a moment sooner than they will be used allows the taste to decay; while others dig their freeze-dried and couldn\’t care less. For anyone planning to sink money into a fancy coffee maker to get the best flavor for their buck, a coffee grinder and whole bean coffee will be important. The difference in taste between a cup made with freeze-dried grounds and freshly ground beans can be dramatic.