How To Choose The Right Coffee Maker For You

Molly GraceDecember 21, 2019

I love coffee. Actually, that’s an understatement. Like most Americans (64% according to one study), I drink at least one cup of coffee a day, whether at home or on the go. My day doesn’t start until I get my morning cup of joe.

However, because I also consider myself to be fairly money conscious, you won’t find me in line to buy a $5 coffee at a chain every morning. In fact, 79% of Americans, according to the same study, say they get their daily cup of coffee from home.

That means I rely on my at-home coffee maker to get me through the day, so I need one that works for my schedule, my needs and my budget. If you’re a fellow coffee lover looking for the best brewing system for your home, here are a few things to consider before you buy.

How Much Coffee Do You Drink?

The first thing you should consider before buying a coffee maker is how often, and how much, coffee is consumed in your household. For example, the needs of a household with two or more coffee drinkers will be different from a single-person household.

If you live in a home full of coffee drinkers, it would be worth the investment to buy a coffee maker that produces many cups at a time. An automatic-drip coffee maker is the most common type you’ll find in a home.

They’re fairly easy to use and clean, plus they’re affordable to buy and maintain. You’ll only need to purchase filters and preground coffee to use this machine. However, it usually doesn’t come with any features other than a heated pot system and automatic brew, so your coffee will be pretty basic in taste.

If you’re the only one in your house who drinks coffee, consider purchasing a single-serve coffee maker or one-cup model. Unlike a drip coffee maker, this machine will only produce one cup at a time.

Single-serve coffee makers are also easy to use, as they require coffee “pods” (prefilled, containing a single serving’s worth of coffee). The pods usually come in different flavors and are easy to clean up compared to coffee grounds or filters. However, the pods tend to be a little more expensive than bags of ground coffee and filters.

1.    Cuisinart 12 Cup Programmable Coffeemaker $66

2.     Keurig Single-Serve Coffee Maker $79

What Type Of Coffee Do You Drink?

The next thing you should consider is how you prefer to drink your coffee. There are some who can’t drink plain black coffee, and others who cringe at the thought of any cream or sweetener in their morning beverage.

If you prefer the taste of black coffee, you can stick with a traditional drip coffee maker. If you want something with a bolder flavor and a little more kick, you can also purchase a French press. French presses don’t require technology, but rather rely on steeping loose coffee grounds in heated water.

French presses are the most affordable option that is also easy to clean and use. Additionally, they won’t require filters or pods – just loose coffee grounds poured directly into the container. Because the coffee tends to sit longer (steep) in a French press than a traditional coffee maker, a bolder coffee flavor is produced. However, you might get floating grounds in your beverage.

If you prefer the taste of lattes, cappuccinos, and other espresso and milk-based beverages, you can unleash your inner barista and purchase an espresso machine. Espresso is for the hardcore coffee drinkers who are looking for the best taste and strongest flavor. Like single-serve cups, an espresso machine will only produce enough for one beverage.

However, these machines can be expensive – especially if you get one that allows you to steam milk for lattes and cappuccinos. Even if you do prefer milk-based coffee drinks over regular coffee, you need to evaluate whether you want to go through the trouble of making a specialty coffee beverage every morning.

1.    8 Cup French Press Coffee Maker $20

2.    Nespresso Espresso And Cappuccino Machine $209

How Much Room Do You Have?

The amount of counter space you have in your home may not allow for you to purchase an elaborate coffee maker, like an espresso machine. Make sure you measure the amount of counter space you have available in your home before you buy.

If you have overhead cabinets, make sure you also measure the height from your counter to the base of your cabinet. Based on the amount of space you have, you can narrow down the number of coffee makers that will fit in your space.

You’ll find that most basic coffee makers, like drips, single-serves and French presses, will fit on almost any counter space. You might not have enough space for an elaborate espresso maker, but there are some that come in smaller sizes that can easily fit on your counter.

If you have a smaller kitchen or apartment, however, there are still options available to you. Pour-over coffee makers are almost as small as your coffee mug and can be placed anywhere in your home.

Think of a pour-over as a combination of a drip coffee maker and a French press: They rely on coffee filters and grounds like a drip, but steep similarly to a French press. You place the pour-over device on top of your cup (most fit perfectly along the upper brim of a coffee cup) and you slowly pour hot water into the filter, which then steeps and slowly drains into your mug.

As you can tell, pour-overs aren’t great if you’re short on time, but if you lack the space and have a few extra minutes in your morning, they’re worth the wait.

1.    1 Cup Porcelain Pour-Over Cone Coffee Maker $20

2.    4 Cup Pour Over Coffee Maker $15

Other Things To Consider

Now that you’ve identified what you need out of your at-home coffee maker, based on how much coffee you drink, what type of coffee you enjoy the most and how much space you have, here are a few additional factors to consider before you buy.

What Features Do You Need?

You’d be surprised at how advanced modern-day coffee makers can be. Do you have a hard time getting out of bed? Do you find you’re rushing out the door in the morning? There’s a feature for that! Maybe you often forget to turn off your coffee maker when you’re rushing out the door. There’s a feature for that, too.

Based on the coffee maker, some features you can find attached are:

  • Scheduled brewing system
  • Coffee grinder
  • Auto shutoff
  • Heated potholder
  • Water filter
  • Steamer/frother
  • Brew strength
  • Pause and serve
  • Self-clean cycle
  • Self-serve

Based on your schedule and your coffee drinking habits, there’s no end to the number of customizations your coffee maker can have. Keep in mind that the more features a coffee maker comes with, the more expensive it will be.

Take time to read the features on the coffee maker to determine what you actually need. You might even be able to purchase some of the features separately and for a cheaper price. For example, you can buy a coffee grinder, steamer or frother as a separate device. You just have to decide if the convenience of an attached feature is worth the cost.

1.    Mr. Coffee Blade Grinder $14

2.    Handheld Electric Foam Maker $13

How Much Are You Willing To Spend?

The cost of coffee makers is another thing you’ll want to consider. If you’re not picky about your coffee and just need something caffeinated to get you through the day, you can pick up some basic coffee makers for as little as $30, like a Mr. Coffeebrand coffee maker.

If you’re looking for something more robust, with special brewing options or programmable features, you can pay as much as $300. In other words, the more features, the more digitalization and the more options there are, the more you will be paying for a machine.

However, whatever amount of money you decide to invest in a coffee maker will basically pay for itself over time as you can save hundreds a year making your own coffee.

Coffee Starter Pack

Whether you identify as a coffee aficionado or you just need the occasional kick to get you through the day, no at-home coffee setup is complete without this starter pack:

1.    27 oz. Porcelain Mug $6

2.    Creamand sugar serving containers $6 each

3.    Coffee Scented Candle $24

4.    YETI Insulated Tumbler $30

5.    Coffee Canister $29

Molly Grace

Molly Grace is a staff writer focusing on mortgages, personal finance and homeownership. She has a B.A. in journalism from Indiana University. You can follow her on Twitter @themollygrace.