The most basic coffeemakers make at least a decent cup. But you might want more features than a simple on/off switch. A little more money buys you conveniences such as an automatic timer, a thermal carafe to keep coffee hot longer, and settings that allow you to adjust brew strength. Use this coffeemaker guide to find the best coffee machine for your needs.
How many cups do you drink?
If one cup is enough to jump-start your day, choose a one- or two-cup drip model or single-serve pod machine. You'll probably use less coffee than you would with a full-size model. If you like multiple cups, choose a bigger machine. Most large models make 10 to 12 cups. Be wary of manufacturers' capacity claims. Most makers measure a cup as a scant 4 ounces.
Over how long between cups?
If you space your coffee-drinking throughout the day, consider a model with an insulated mug or carafe. Those keep coffee hot and fresh-tasting for hours. The warming plates that come with glass pots can cause coffee to taste stale and burnt if it sits around for too long.
Can't see straight in the morning?
For some people, even filling the coffee machine and turning it on is too much to handle in the a.m. If that's you, consider a unit with an automatic "on" switch. For the forgetful who rush out of the house in the morning, an automatic timed "off" feature is also important.
You'll want a clearly marked water reservoir so that you can see how much water you're putting in, a swing-out filter basket that's easy to use and clean, and simple, intuitive controls. Don't forget to factor in counter space. Some expensive models stick out a foot or more, but side-mounted controls mean that you can turn the machine sideways to occupy less space.
Espresso requires a special machine
Espresso is made by a different process--forcing hot water through packed, finely ground coffee--so your regular coffeemaker won't cut it. Espresso makers range from a simple two-chamber pot to fully automatic machines.
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