Coffee makers can prepare not only Americano but also latte, espresso, and even Turkish coffee. It is advisable to understand the features of this technique before buying and take into account your preferences. We tell you what coffee makers are, who they are suitable for, and give answers to the five most common questions.
How is a coffee maker different from a coffee machine?
Any coffee machine is designed for fully automatic coffee preparation: the user does not even need to measure out a certain amount of beans or ground coffee. The device does it by itself. Coffee machines (except capsule ones ) are equipped with built-in coffee grinders, coffee makers with built-in coffee grinders – a rarity. A microprocessor controls the coffee machine with many settings and programs: what kind of coffee to brew (espresso, Americano, ristretto, latte, cappuccino, etc.) and how much? The temperature and strength of the drink are programmable and often selected with one touch. Modern coffee machines also provide self-diagnosis of malfunctions and automatic cleaning, and more and more often – remote control via Wi-Fi and personal user settings (memorizing favorite recipes).
In coffee makers, most of the settings must be done manually. Nevertheless, many coffee connoisseurs prefer this kind of preparation, as it gives a wide range of creativity. Also, coffee makers are not universal and are usually “sharpened” for different types of coffee.
What types of coffee makers are there, and how are they different?
Electric coffee makers come in carob, drip, and geyser types. Electric Turks and coffee pots can also be classified as coffee makers.
To prepare espresso and coffee drinks based on it (latte, americano, cappuccino, etc.), you need a coffeemaker – she’s an espresso machine. The principle of its operation is as follows: ground coffee is poured into a metal filter, inserted into a holder horn, under which there is a cup. Hot water passes through a filter with ground coffee at a pressure of at least 15 bar. The outlet produces a fragrant drink with a characteristic for espresso foam – “cream,” a high degree of extraction of aromatic compounds. Simultaneously, it is not as strong as is commonly thought: the amount of caffeine in a cup of espresso is always less than in a portion of Turkish coffee of the same size. Remember: the longer the coffee powder is in contact with the water, the more caffeine is transferred into it, and for espresso, this time is relatively short. Depending on the model, carob coffee makers often provide for milk foam preparation using a particular device – a cappuccinator. An espresso machine’s advantages are obvious: it brews real Italian coffee using classic technology, and this drink can be the basis for any experiment. Minus – it needs periodic descaling.
Geyser coffee makers or mochas are also suitable for making espresso: they can be electric and non-electric – for making coffee on the stove. The principle of operation of a geyser coffee maker is reflected in the name. The device consists of an upper and lower chamber connected by a tube. Water is poured into the lower part, ground coffee is poured into a special chamber located between the upper and lower parts. When boiling, the water rises, under pressure passes through the coffee powder and, like a geyser, through a unique spout enters the upper bowl. Geyser coffee makers are top-rated in Italy and are there in every kitchen. Their advantage is their low cost and compactness: you can take your favorite coffee maker (non-electric) with you on trips. The disadvantage is the limited number of servings (1-6 cups, the “cup” volume is 35-50 ml). By the way, there is one more advantage: in geyser coffee makers, you do not need to make sure that the coffee does not run away:
Drip coffee makers are designed only for preparing Americano coffee. In carob coffee makers, it is also prepared – by adding portions of hot water to espresso. A drip coffee maker does differently. Water is poured into the tank, ground coffee is poured into a special cone-shaped filter. When heated, water is converted into steam, which, in turn, into droplets with a temperature of about 90 ° C. They pass through the ground coffee in the filter, and the resulting drink enters the jug. The advantage of drip coffee makers is the ease of use, a large amount of beverage “at the exit,” keeping the coffee hot for a long time, and availability. Among the disadvantages is the need to buy paper filters for coffee or purchase several reusable ones, but they will need to be washed. Also, not everyone is satisfied with the taste and consistency of Americano, cappuccino maker, or milk frother.
Electric Turks (cezves) work in the same way as ordinary Turks for a stove, just the way of heating in them is electric. These devices are not needed at home, but there is no stove in the office, but you want oriental coffee. The process of making coffee in an electric turk must be monitored: stir it and turn it off in time; otherwise, it will be “the coffee ran away – under the Propellerheads, ah!”. There are models with a sleep timer, making it easier to keep track of your coffee. An alternative is electric coffee pots: they turn off automatically, have a large volume (1.6 liters), and a heating function. From the pros – simplicity, and accessibility, from the minuses – the sediment of coffee at the bottom of the turkey, coffee pot, and cup.
Capsule coffee makers are no different from capsule coffee machines: the only question is what the manufacturer calls them. These devices make drinks from ready-made capsules, and with all the advantages, ease of use and care, and full automation of the process, they have one significant disadvantage: the user is “tied” to one capsule manufacturer, and the cost of a cup of coffee prepared in these devices is relatively high.
How to choose an espresso machine?
There are several important parameters:
- Pressure not lower than 15 bar.
- Adjustment of temperature, strength, portion size of the drink, and the ability to prepare two portions of coffee at once.
- The presence of the function of interrupting coffee delivery (suddenly, you made a mistake with the settings, forgot to add coffee to the filter, etc.).
- Possibility of making coffee in pods (unique compressed ready-made portions of ground coffee).
- Built-in coffee grinder (rare, but it happens ).
- Control type. It can be mechanical, electronic, or touch-sensitive. Also, it will not hurt to have a display showing the operating parameters. Note that electronic control provides high accuracy and flexibility of settings and a wide range of functions.
- The water tank volume: up to 1 liter – not suitable for a large family: you will often need to add water, but there are carob coffee makers with a reservoir from 1 to 1.9 liters and even more than 2 liters.
- The ability to prepare milk foam will not interfere – for this, an automatic, semi-automatic, or manual cappuccinatore can be provided. Note that the automatic cappuccino maker is easier to use and gives more consistent results.
- The usable cup’s maximum height is the distance from the drip tray to the bottom of the coffee horn. If you want to use tall latte glasses, not just any coffee maker will work.
- Cup heating function (the heated platform on top). It is considered correct to pour the drink into a warmed cup.
How to choose a drip coffee maker?
You need to pay attention to:
- Power: the higher it is, the faster the coffee will be prepared, and the stronger it will be. Normal power is considered to be from 600 W for compact models and 700 W for coffee makers with a large water tank (from 1.1 l).
- The volume of the water tank and coffee jug: count on enough for the whole family: there are compact models with a tank up to 1 liter, there are – designed for higher coffee consumption, with a tank from 1.1 to 1.9 liters.
- The presence of a reusable nylon filter for coffee in the kit: this helps to do without consumables – disposable paper. However, for most models, you can buy a reusable filter, even if it is not included in the basic configuration, but this issue needs to be clarified.
- The coffee jug’s material: glass (optimal) or quality certified for contact with hot heat-resistant plastic.
- Time to warm up the coffee jug. For home, the optimal time is 30-40 minutes, for the office – up to several hours. In advanced models, the heating time is adjustable.
- Mechanical, electronic, or touch control and the presence of a display that displays operating parameters. A built-in grinder is also helpful.
- Possibility to adjust the number of cups for one preparation.
- The “Drop-stop” system overlaps the “dripping” if the jug of coffee is removed from the stand.
- A filter for water in the tank: if there is one, then there must be a way to notify about the need to replace it – for example, a clogging indicator or mechanical setting of the date of cartridge change.
- The presence of indication of inclusion and heating.
If the coffee doesn’t taste good
Anyone who has failed is wondering: Is this coffee machine so bad, or am I doing something wrong? Of course, it can be different. Let’s consider the most common cases:
No crema will form on the espresso. The coffee maker may not be supplying the correct pressure, or the coffee selected may not be suitable for espresso grinding. There is usually a label on the package for which type of coffee maker the coffee is suitable. If you grind coffee beans yourself, then keep in mind that “in the dust” is for the Turks, and with large splashes – it is permissible only for a drip coffee maker. For carob and geyser – only fine (but not “flour”), they are even grinding and appropriate roasting: dark, “Italian,” starting from the fourth degree.
Milk foam does not work. The tube and nozzle of the automatic cappuccino maker could be clogged – then you need to clean them carefully. Milk should be taken chilled. Its fat content is not as fundamental as the protein content – not less than 3.5% per liter. Too fatty milk, cream, and diet milk will not foam.
The coffee is not tasty, although I bought an expensive product. The type of coffee plays a significant role—Arabica – coffee with sourness, Robusta – bitter. Few people like very sour or very bitter coffee. An optimal blend contains most of the Arabica and is balanced with a small portion of the Robusta. Roasting can be 4-5 different degrees – from light to almost black. For espresso coffee makers and geysers, only the fourth and fifth degrees are suitable for Turks – starting with the third. The lightest roasts are not for everybody’s taste; this coffee has an earthy flavor. You may also need to filter the water or use bottled water: often, poorly treated tap water spoils the coffee.