As PurelyCoffeeBeans knows, it really is not surprising many people are so confused over which are the simplest coffee makers among the dozens on the market. Most people look at all the different styles, options, and prices, then throw up their hands in confusion. I reckon most people simply close their eyes and point, hoping for the best.
So in this article I'd like to:
- Outline the simplest coffee making methods
- Look at the advantages, challenges & tips for each
- Help readers determine which is best for their own situation
Let's get on and look at the coffee makers I've used over the years! In fact, they have all been quite reliable as simple coffee makers go!
What Will I Learn? Table of Contents
Introducing Three Simple Coffee Makers
Three Unusual Simple Coffee Makers
I. Plastic Drip Cones
One of my first simple coffee makers was actually the simplest of all, a plastic drip filter or drip cone, rather like the Melitta Filter Cone which you see here. There are other models of coffee filter cones available, too.
The coffee cones are very affordable. For little more than $10, you could purchase a cone, some papers and then make some great coffee by buying a quarter pound of coffee from your local coffee roasters.
The coffee is quick to make and you can make a variety of coffee types from light to espresso, just by making sure that the grind is appropriate.
Overall, this device is a great coffee making entry point for beginners, those on the go, and travelers who like to make their own coffee rather than drink the instant coffee available in the hotel rooms. It's also extremely light! Better yet, you can buy small single cup cones for travel.
- Room for Improvement
The only real problems are that, balanced on top of a cup or small jug, they are prone to being knocked over and spilling messy coffee, hot water & coffee grounds everywhere. They also drip, so having a sink nearby is a solution, or at least an extra cup to put it on when it's done; that they are (obviously!) limited in their capacity; and you have to dispose of the paper filter & grounds, causing unnecessary garbage.
Tips On Using Coffee Cones
Just remember two things: use a tablespoon or coffee spoon to measure your coffee, and DON'T use boiling water! Try to keep the water about 85C or 90C, otherwise you risk cooking the grounds, and having a tasteless cup of coffee! And buy the bigger size for use at home or office, not the single cup model or the size 2, so you can treat your friends to some great coffee, too!
II. The French Press
Really the most elegant of all the simple coffee makers I ever owned, nice gleaming glass wrapped in gold plated metal, sitting on the work surface and begging me just to use it one more time! I have always loved French presses, even though the more modern ones no longer look like as classy.
Perhaps not as convenient to use as a Drip Coffee Maker, they make a great coffee in small amounts; just add hot water, stir, wait, then plunge!
Like the other simple coffee makers listed here, the french press can really handle any roast of coffee, any blend, too; just make sure that the grind isn't too fine, otherwise you'll end up with brown sludge at the bottom of your cup! The metal mesh is more effective if the grounds are slightly larger. Obviously this means you need to spend a little more time waiting for the infusion to work! They can be a little pricey to buy or replace. But buying a good one is highly recommended.
- Room for Improvement
If you live in a cold climate or make your coffee outdoors, you may find the resulting drink gets just a bit too cold before you add the milk. Also, the jugs (esp. if they are glass) are easy to break or crack rendering them useless.
Tips for the French press
Use a larger ground than fine ground. And let the water steep for a little while, too. When pressing the plunger, a gentle even pressure is needed. Don't use too much force! And serve the coffee immediately to prevent the remainder becoming too strong.
I love the French press, it really is a simple coffee maker to use, quick to make coffee (as quick as a hot water jug or kettle), and very easy to clean. It's long been my simple coffee maker of the year.
III. The Drip Coffee Maker
Pretty quickly, I got tired boiling the water, waiting and then manually filling the cone. It could be messy, time consuming and I was always looking for filter papers for the cone (and when you run out, and some substitutes - say, ahem, kitchen roll - just don't work). Then I broke one or two too many French press jugs, and it was time for a new coffee maker. Enter the drip coffee maker.
Admittedly more expensive than the cone or French press, it heated the right amount of water to the optimum temperature, then dripped the water through the coffee grounds into the jug. No waiting around, the coffee could be ready just before you left for work, within a few minutes, and you could make extra for the friend, the second cup or for the fridge!
I went through several models of those, and found that the cheapest just didn't last. Most prone to problems, the glass jug. I broke quite a few; so finding a replacement meant that I had to replace the entire unit. But I eventually bought two Braun coffee makers that lasted years, without a jug breakage! I still use one at home.
You can set up the machine and leave it while you get dressed in the morning or make breakfast for the kids, as it doesn't need much watching over. You can even buy models that have their own internal clock to get the coffee ready for you first thing! You just have to add the milk & sugar! They are affordable, and you can go forgo the paper filters for a gold drip filter cone (it's not really gold!) which will last ages, fit many models, and save you money, too!
- Room for Improvement
There is always room for improvement with these machines: they do need cleaning regularly; they may not get the water temperature right; and the hot plate may get the coffee too hot, spoiling the delicate flavors of the coffee, if it is left too long. Also, the jugs are unique, so finding a replacement glass carafe can be a challenge, if it is broken or cracked.
Tips for Using Drip Coffee Makers
Most tips are similar for the coffee cones about grinding & preparation. Be careful of the glass jug or carafe, they should not be knocked or dropped (even slightly); and if you wash them by hand, don't let them jostle against metal cutlery or other heavy crockery. If your hot plate overheats the coffee after a few minutes, then when the machine stops, just turn it off! I'm fussy, and I find that stewed coffee tastes much worse than warm coffee. Overall, the drip coffee maker is the most convenient of these simple coffee makers, decidedly low tech and reliable.
As you see, I have had a long affair with simple coffee makers, and even now I haven't persuaded myself that buying an expensive one makes much practical sense.
Which one do you have? What did you find to be the best coffee maker? What problems did you have?
Introducing Three More Simple Coffee Makers
I. HARIO V60 Coffee Maker: An Automatic Manual Coffee Maker?
PurelyCoffeeBeans knows that visiting Starbucks recently is not something I do a lot of; but I was surprised to see a Hario V60 Coffee Maker in the display shelf. It intrigued me because it didn't just look like another regular electric drip coffee maker. Closer inspection confirmed this.
Most coffee shops these days use semi-automatic or automatic coffee makers but for most coffee afficionados, the drip coffee maker allows gentler flavors to emerge, with better extraction and slower filtering of the water through the grounds.
Hario, of course, is well known for its range of manual coffee equipment, particularly its well-made coffee filters & cones. I was surprised to see this 'automated version'.
HARIO V60 coffee maker: Automatic + Hand Drip
While you can definitely get the machine in the States, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of Youtube Videos for this machine! I've included a Japanese version... and he demonstrated clearly how to use the machine.
Slightly slower than a regular machine, the device pumps out water at constant high temperature (not hot enough to scald!) through 21 holes in the dripper unit. As a result, all the coffee powder is properly exposed to the hot water, instead of filtering just through the center.
The only downside I can see to ordering this machine is the manual came in Japanese, and the hot pot looks a tad finicky to clean. If you're a perfectionist and like the pour over method, this is a very good substitute. In the end, if you decide to pour the water over manually, that's possible, too!
At Reddit BrewOnABudget talks about how to brew coffee in his Hario V60 system. It's a a good first step, and the rest of the discussion is pretty informative.
I'd like to try the Hario V60 Coffee King Coffee Maker ... I think it's an interesting machine, great for perfectionists... but the rest of us, perhaps not so much! You can check out the Vario V60 products below to see if it's a good fit for your lifestyle...
II. Can the Cafflano coffee maker make your coffee even more portable?
Oh! That is embarrassing, like PurelyCoffeeBeans was about to say...
I thought Cafflano was Caffiano! Whoops!
I was in the local Sogo department store here in Taipei. There is a little shop that stocks interesting and unique products from Japan and other parts of East Asia called Hands Tailung. Lo! And behold the Cafflano coffee maker!
It’s the middle of Chinese New Year, and very busy, still I managed to find a great coffee product that is perfect for your picnic or business trip.
At first glance, it looks like a large coffee travel cup, but once you open it, you realize it’s almost a complete system for measuring, grinding, and making the perfect cup of coffee.
Let’s take a look at the image below. The stand features the exploded view: a measuring cup on top, the grinder is in the middle, the filter cone is the light gray insert and the black base is the mug. Simple, elegant.
I’m not exactly sure what the meaning of the ‘drip kettle’ refers to, but the hand mill is an effective little grinder. Once you grind the coffee, the coffee falls into the dripper. Just add hot water, and wait a little. Voila!
The grinding unit has a folding handle that fits inside the case. Neat! You'll be able to grind upto 30 grams, enough for a decent strong cuppa, if the hotel coffee isn't upto scratch. More pictures here...
What people say about the Cafflano All in One Coffee Maker: in short, the Cafflano is great for portability a true one-stop coffee station from bean to fresh coffee. It is ideal in your tent, hotel or on the go. However, it's portability is flawed in one way: it leaks, so I recommend that you make the coffee, drink the coffee, then clean it out.
If you're looking for portable cups, this is not the one! That being said, it beats hands down any other coffee maker you'll find in a myriad of hotel rooms and restaurants! So if you're desperate, can't bear the hotel coffee, or just need a familiar routine while on your business travels, you won't go wrong with this coffee maker!
If you're interested in other Cafflano products, like the Cafflano Kompresso and the Cafflano Kompact, check out their website at Cafflano.com. You can find out more reviews, prices and order information at Amazon where it's on sale...
III. Perfect Pod EZ Cup - Is this the perfect way to make great coffee?
PurelyCoffeeBeans reckons that the Perfect Pod EZ Cup could be the ideal combination for fussy coffee lovers everywhere. Why? Simply because kcups don't always offer the best or freshest coffee you can buy. Perhaps you can't even find the brand of coffee that you like...
FYI: buying a product from a link on PurelyCoffeeBeans.com may earn me a small commission. Sincere thanks for your support!
Looking for my favorite coffee in a Kcup?
One reader was asking about MJB Coffee K-cups for the Keurig machine, which are simply not available, due to licensing reasons, though there are some K-cups available for some brands of coffee, for example, Folgers Coffee K-cups.
But the product is currently patented so any company wanting to brand their coffee with Keurig's system must sign a licensing agreement with Green Mountain Coffee.
K-cups come in a variety of brands, but there doesn't seem to be any MJB branded cups on the market, either in Canada or the US. As far as I am aware, MJB do not make K-cups at this time.
However, the owners of the K-cups systems (Green Mountain Coffee) may well sign agreements at some future date. You should keep an eye on their website for announcements.
Perfect Pod EZ Cup: Convenient, Affordable & Eco-friendly
In my search to help this newsletter reader, I came across the Perfect Pod EZ Cup system, which is a replacement cup for the system. But the trick lies in the fact that you can grind any coffee beans you like (or use pre-ground coffee) in your Keurig coffee maker.
One of the real issues (no matter what manufacturers like Green Mountain Coffee tell you), there is no way that you will get freshly ground coffee in those pods. Often the pods will have been roasted, ground and packed months before they are used.
However, if you are willing to experiment with your Perfect Pod EZ Cup, you will find that you can make your own cups to your own strength, grind, and roasting grade with the coffee you regularly use, instead of the limited selection available from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters or their partners.
There are really good reasons to use this system, not just the lack of decent coffee options on the K-cup system. So let's look at the advantages of the EZ Pod Coffee Cup.
- Your Favorite Coffee – obviously you get to drink your favorite coffee, made cup at a time. With the disposible filter papers, it really is the most economical way to enjoy coffee with little waste compared to traditional drip coffee makers.
- Your Garbage - When you throw away the paper filter, you are not adding single used plastic to your garbage. Really, we should all be trying to reduce our plastic garbage, but a traditional Keurig coffee maker will generate a lot of garbage in a year!
- Your Finances – The typical Kcups are costly, from $0.60 a cup. While this is definitely cheaper than buying a cup of coffee in Starbucks, that is hiding the real cost if you are trading up from a drip coffee maker. The cost of a pound of coffee in Kcup form is $27 or more.
- It's Fresh – when you grind your own coffee, you'll notice that the nuances of the coffee are more pronounced, and more pleasurable than the tendency of coffee packed long ago.
But there are problems with the Perfect Pod EZ Cup some of which are unique to this system, some of them to the type of device being used.
- Breakable- Several users of the system found them easily breakable, if you weren't careful.
- Watch the grind: Also, you need to be careful about the kind of grind that you put in. If you're not sure, start with pre-ground coffee before you start to grind your own beans. Don't expect to get it right at first... but once you know how fine the coffee needs to be you'll be making coffee like a true barista!
For more about the Keurig K-Cup system, check out BestKitchenReviews, and the links below.
YouTube Review by bestkitchenreviews
There are different kinds of Keurig machine these days, make sure yours matches. If you buy the Perfect Pod EZ Cup, don't forget to buy the papers, too. You can a wide selection of items through your order direct from Amazon.
Looking for new equipment, check out the coffee makers, coffee grinders, and bean roasters page.