How do you take your coffee? Whether you prefer a fancy espresso drink or a traditional cup of joe, small appliances are available to make your favorite beverage at home. Espresso machines and coffee makers will turn you into a barista in your own kitchen.
In addition to making bold espresso, espresso machines have features that allow you to make many specialty coffee-based beverages. Coffee makers are designed to brew basic coffee, though single-serve models like the Keurig K-Classic work with pods. This guide will help you decide which hardware is best for you and which ones our testers think are the best.
A home espresso machine is a smaller version of the espresso machines found in coffee shops. Espresso machines shoot almost boiling water under pressure through ground coffee. It is this pressure that gives espresso its bold, concentrated flavor. Nine bar pressure is often said to be the sweet spot for making espresso. Some individuals prefer more powerful 15-bar espresso machines.
- Espresso machines make rich shots of espresso that you can usually only get at a coffee shop.
- You can use espresso shots to make specialty drinks, add water for Americanos, or drink them as they come, so espresso machines are very versatile.
- Most espresso machines have a steamer arm to heat and froth the milk.
- You can have a cup of espresso in just 20 to 30 seconds, so there’s no waiting around for your drinks.
- Some espresso machines have a built-in coffee bean grinder.
- Using manual espresso machines can be tricky.
- If you prefer a standard cup of drip coffee, an espresso machine is overkill for your needs.
- Espresso machines can be expensive.
Coffee makers use a process where ground coffee is mixed with hot water, then the water drips through the coffee into a waiting mug (if you have a Keurig coffee maker) or carafe. The resulting coffee is often called drip coffee.
Some high-quality coffee makers grind the beans for you, but most are simple. You usually have some control over the strength of the coffee by using different amounts of coffee, or by changing the settings on the body of the machine. Many coffee makers use a hot plate to keep the pot of coffee warm after brewing it.
- Coffee makers give you a classic cup of black coffee, to which you can add milk, cream, sugar or sweetener. This is ideal for those who like their coffee simple.
- You can find coffee makers with timers so your coffee is ready when you wake up.
- Most coffee makers can make large quantities of coffee at once, which is great for households that drink a lot of coffee.
- Coffee makers tend to be reasonably priced.
- You cannot make espresso or specialty drinks with the coffee maker.
- Drip coffee makers produce coffee relatively slowly.
- When you leave coffee on a hot plate to warm up, it can burn and taste bitter.
You can choose between automatic and semi-automatic espresso machines that do the work for you, or manual espresso machines that leave control in the hands of the user. While an experienced user can make exceptional coffee with a mechanical device, any novice will be better off with an automatic model.
Many quality espresso machines have built-in milk frothers. These ingredients produce a warm, silky milk that foams over many specialty beverages. This feature is a must for any coffee lover who loves lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos and more.
While the appearance of an espresso machine has little bearing on the quality of the beverages it produces, many consumers prefer a premium-looking model. A machine similar to coffee machines looks great in a high-end kitchen.
Drip coffee makers are the most popular models and can make multiple cups of coffee at once. Single-use brewers brew one cup and work with prepackaged pods. In addition to these automatic brewers, manual options are also available, including pour-over, French press, and AeroPress models. Manual coffee makers are ideal for anyone who likes different brewing methods or to brew coffee without electricity.
Most drip-style coffee makers include a carafe that can hold up to 12 cups of coffee. Larger carafes are perfect for households with multiple coffee drinkers. Remember that you will need a cup or travel mug when using a disposable model.
Not all coffee makers have extra features, but they are useful when offered. These features include timers that allow you to set a specific amount of time for the machine to cook, a reusable strainer that does not require paper filters, and a brew strength selector that can be used to adjust the flavor from mild to full.
There is a pretty significant difference to consider when it comes to the cost of espresso machines compared to coffee makers. You can find some basic espresso makers for $100-$200, but the best models cost $500-$1500. Coffee makers are more affordable. They start at around $20 and rarely cost more than $150.
Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker. available on Amazon
Our opinion. One of Keurig’s most popular models, the K-Classic, is the one to buy for consumers who like the idea of a single-use model.
What we like. When we tested the Keurig K-Classic, we found that it brews quickly and offers user-friendly features. The large tank holds enough water for at least six glasses before refilling. It’s easy to use, makes a variety of cup sizes and brew capacities, and works with all K-Cups.
What we don’t like. Coffee lovers who prefer to make more than one cup at a time may find this single-serve model inconvenient.
Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer Coffee Maker. available on Amazon
Our opinion. This model offers the best of both worlds if you want an affordable drip coffee maker that will make a 12-cup carafe or a single serving cup.
What we like. The 2-Way Brewer lives up to its name, as it has one side that brews a full pot and another that works as a single-serving brewer. It has two cooking power options and is programmable.
What we don’t like. This model does not cook very quickly, but most owners agree that it is worth the wait.
Breville Barista Express espresso machine. available on Amazon
Our opinion. The many features and beautiful design make this espresso machine the ideal model for the avid coffee connoisseur who loves special brews.
What we like. This automatic model boasts 16 grind settings and digital temperature technology for perfect coffee drinks every time. It has a built-in milk frother and bean grinder. It looks great too.
What we don’t like. This espresso machine is an expensive investment that won’t work for all budgets.
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Jennifer Manfrin is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a unique mission to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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