Best Espresso Machine Reviews
Coffee Maker Selection: Choices, choices, choices?
Choosing the best coffee maker to suit you may not be the most easy endeavor. There are many factors about the maker itself to consider as well as your own coffee-making proficiency level. The more advanced you are, it's more likely that you want to control more variables in the coffee-making process. And the less proficient you are, it's more likely that you want the maker to work harder for you.
Then there are also questions of which types of coffee you prefer. Do you prefer espresso, latte, cappuccino, americano, or coffee with more or less essential oils? What about the price as well? If it seems like I am making a coffee machine buying harder than it is, that's because it actually is. And unless you are the type who lets your money do the talking and lets the product's price point inform you about the product's quality, you will want to get the most bang for your buck, and that's understandable.
But before moving on, let's first understand how your coffee flavor is influenced by the many factors.
Factors that Influence your Coffee Flavor
1.Bean Origin and Roast Profile
Coffee beans that came from India will be different from beans that came from say Honduras or Brazil. (Though this may seem obvious, not many can tell you why exactly.) That's because, besides which coffee species it was from, each batch of beans from different country will come from different soil, with it being exposed to different climate with different amounts of rain and shade. In addition, each one will also be roasted differently by the roaster, who will tailor a roast profile to suit that set of beans. More often than not, the roaster will either caramelize it or make it more or less bitter.
When we talk about variety, we're really talking about the different types of coffee species. In this regard, according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), there are about 100 species of the genus coffea---which is the only genus we are interested in because it's responsible for producing the coffee we love. And within these 100 species are Arabica and Robusta, which are the two main types of beans cultivated for drinking. As if that's not confusing enough, within the Arabica and Robusta species, there is also a multitude of varieties---with each having a unique flavor profile. Well, now you know.
3. Farming Practices
You may think the way a farm is being planted, treated, pruned, and harvested is one and the same, but it actually differs from farm to farm. As such, each farming practice can influence the coffee flavor. Of particular note is the practice of picking, which can be done either by machine or by hand. Since a machine does not discriminate in picking the ripe and unripe cherries in one go, this will create a batch of coffee that's very different from being picked by a trained laborer who will be selective in the picking process. Simply put, cherry picking will always yield the better coffee.
Once picking has been conducted, the beans have to be processed before being transported and roasted. This can be done in several ways: (1) natural or dry processed; (2) washed or wet processed; (3) honey processed. The first method involves drying out the coffee beans while they are still in their cherries, which are where the beans came from. The second process involves fermenting the cherries and then removing the beans from them. This reduces the risk of spoilage, as opposed to the first method, as the outer layer of the cherry skin is removed. Lastly, in the third method, the beans are dried with some but not all of the outer layer of the cherry skin removed. It goes without saying that each processing will produce a different flavor outcome. Natural processed coffees generally possess low acidity, low clarity, and strong fruity undertones; washed processed coffees generally possess higher acidity and more clarity; and honey processed coffees generally possess a balanced acidity with fruity undertones.
Last but not least, how you brew your coffee will influence your coffee flavor, too. To bring out the best in your coffee, you should really take into consideration the many variables in the coffee-making process along with which coffee you brew and the brew method you choose. Some important variables to note are water temperature, water pressure, grind size, brew ratio, and extraction time.
Selecting the Right Type of Coffee Maker
Many don't know this but espresso is not a roasting method, nor is it a bean nor a blend. It is simply a method of preparation in which highly pressurized hot water is forced through coffee grounds to produce a very concentrated, intense coffee drink. It's no surprise, then, that an espresso machine is designed to do just that: to force hot water through a fine bed of coffee grounds. There will be several variations of it, namely a pump, semi-automatic, and super-auto maker; but its essence will remain the same. You should get this maker if you love espresso or milk-based espresso drinks.
Drip Coffee Coffee Makers
A drip coffee maker mainly consists of a water reservoir, lid covering the reservoir, filter basket, carafe, an on-off switch. To brew a cup of coffee with this type of maker, you simply pour water into the reservoir, put your grounds into the filter basket, place this basket into the brewing chamber, and finally press the ON button. Hot water will drain into the filter basket containing coffee grounds, causing coffee to drip into the carafe in which you then pour into your cup. Best of all, this maker usually comes with programmable features that make brewing more convenient than it already is. You should get this maker if your family loves coffee and if you entertain frequently.
Single Serve Coffee Makers
While the drip coffee maker will be more suitable for families due to its tendency to brew coffee the size of a pot, the single serve maker will be more suitable for individuals due to its tendency to brew coffee the size of a cup. More often than not, this type of maker will also be able to brew coffee pods, K-Cups, coffee grounds, or all of the above. By being able to brew K-Cups in particular---which are either coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or cappuccino sealed inside a cartridge for a single serving---the maker will allow you to brew a cup by skipping the grinding process, spooning out the coffee grounds, and boiling water with a kettle. Simply slot the K-Cup into the machine, push a button, and the coffee you love will be directly poured into your mug or travel cup.
French Press Coffee Makers
The French Press coffee maker is the most basic coffee maker out of the three, but surprisingly it's the most regarded among coffee aficionados. That's because it's said to brew one of the most delicious cups of joe. Consisting mainly of a carafe, plunger, and filter screen, it brews coffee in just a few steps. You first add coffee grounds into the carafe, pour hot water into it, and then push down the plunger. Coffee grounds will then be set at the bottom while the strained coffee will be above the filter, ready to be poured. Because the essential oils of the coffee grounds will not be completely filter out by brewing this way, this, when done right, tends to give the coffee a fuller, more robust flavor. You should get this maker if you love doing everything yourself, or if you are on a tight budget, as this type of maker is also the most affordable.