Whether you start every morning with a cup of Joe or are an occasional coffee drinker, there's a coffee maker out there to fit your needs. In this guide we break down how each type of coffee maker works, maintenance tips, and more so you can easily decide which coffee maker is right for you. Read on to learn more about each of the four most common styles.
1. Automatic Drip
How it works: The amount of coffee brewed is determined by how many cups of water are poured into the reservoir. Water is heated and forced through a filter filled with the proper amount of ground coffee beans. Hot coffee is dispensed into a carafe, which rests on a hot plate.
Comes in sizes from 4 to 20 cups of coffee.
Automatic drip coffee makers must be plugged into a socket and permanently sit on the countertop, especially if it gets everyday use.
Ideal for when you need multiple cups of coffee at once. Families, offices, and those who host get-togethers often will find this style of coffee maker convenient.
On a daily basis the carafe should be rinsed and the coffee grounds should be removed from the filter. Every three months, you should give your coffee maker a thorough cleaning to remove mineral deposits and buildup.
2. Single Serve or Pod
How it works: If it is a pod-style brewing system, the coffee comes in a pre-measured container with the right amount of grounds for one serving. Insert the pod into its slot, add water to the reservoir, and press brew. The water is forced through the pod and the coffee is dispensed directly into your cup or to-go mug. Some single serve machines function the same as the automatic drip style.
This quick and easy brewing method is ideal for personal servings of one cup of coffee.
Single serve coffee makers must be plugged into a socket, so they generally live on the countertop, especially if they are used every day.
The air-tight pods are available in a variety of coffee strengths and flavors, including hot chocolate and tea.
On a daily basis there is very little cleaning and no measuring required with this type of coffee maker. Like an automatic drip coffee maker, this style should be thoroughly cleaned regularly.
How it works: Serving as the filter, a metal basket with a perforated bottom is filled with ground coffee beans. The basket is placed in the percolator above the water line. As the water is heated, it is forced up a tube, over the grounds, and back to the bottom of the pot.
Available in a variety of sizes (from 6 to 50 cup options), a percolator can serve as many or as few cups of coffee as you choose.
Percolators are available in stove top and electric models. This allows you to store the percolator in a cabinet or on the stove if you are short on countertop space.
Percolators are ideal for those who enjoy drinking strong and dark coffee.
Percolators and the basket should be rinsed daily and cleaned often.
4. French Press
How it works: Hot water is poured into a carafe, which contains fresh coarsely ground coffee. Once the water is in the carafe, a plunger contained within the carafe is pushed down. The plunger filters and forces the grounds to the bottom of the carafe. The grounds are held at the bottom of the carafe. This separates the grounds from the freshly brewed coffee.
French presses are available in 1 to 10 cup sizes.
French presses do not need to be kept on the countertop and can be stored in cabinets easily.
French presses produce strong, full-bodied coffee because of the direct contact between the water and the grounds. In small sizes, French presses are ideal for individuals. In larger sizes, French presses are ideal for gatherings and individuals as they can be brought to the table for easy serving.
The carafe and plunger should be rinsed daily and cleaned often.
There are many features to consider when purchasing a coffee maker. For instance, if you like to wake up to fresh brewed coffee, you'll want a programmable timer. Get more information on important features in our Automatic Coffee Maker Features Guide.