For regular use, a 4 cup coffee maker is the right size. Home use rarely requires those larger 12-cup coffee pots that are so popular. It could be classified as a small coffee maker, but the convenient size is what does the trick. These coffee makers generally are faster, easier, and more compact. Let’s take a look at some points to consider when buying a coffee maker.
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Your Guide To Choosing The Right Coffee Maker
Consider The Brewing Temperature
The ideal temperature for brewing coffee is 195°-205°F. That sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised at how many coffee makers struggle to reach and maintain this temperature. You’ll find that the best rated 4 Cup Coffee Makers make it a point to reach that temperature.
Simply heating water to this temperature isn’t enough. The machine should be able to hold to that temperature when it starts brewing. Most machines start losing temperature as the brewing process begins, so the extraction is often not optimal.
Favor Compact Size And Small Coffee Maker
What good is a bulky 4 cup coffee maker? Instead, Machines that use cone filters can be bulkier simply to accommodate the filter assembly. The size difference between a machine with a cone filter and one without it can be quite striking. A compact-sized machine is better for the modern household and kitchen.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with choosing a cone style coffee maker. The only problem is that it can end up being bulkier. Speaking of bulk, if you intend to pick an espresso maker, expect it to be bulkier than its drip coffee maker counterpart. These machines tend to be bulkier and often include additional accessories like a steam wand. If you favor espresso and enjoy the extra functionality, this might be a worthwhile trade.
Look For Programmable Features
Hey, it’s the modern world, and we absolutely do expect the coffee maker to do some extra work! Programmable coffee makers are convenient and feature-rich. The simple convenience these features offer usually makes a big difference.
It is perhaps one of the reasons that the Mr. Coffee DRX5-RB 4-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker is so well-liked. It’s a feature-rich machine and you’ll find it hits the spot on several of the points I’m listing here. Though not all of them, so yeah, this machine is not flawless.
Anyways, programmable machines have real benefits. While it is thrown around as a marketing term way too often, for most small coffee makers, it is mostly a timer. Coffee makers generally allow for a 24-hour cycle. You can set the machine to brew you a fresh cup at specific times during the day. For example, setting the timer to have the coffee ready to go when you wake up in the morning can be quite convenient. It’s time-saving and convenient, especially if you are in a hurry. Many coffee makers use the timer as a clock as well, which could be useful in several cases.
Some machines also include other features like controlling brew strength, number of cups to brew, and flow rate. Having a ton of features seems rather pleasing, but it can also drive up the cost of your coffee maker. It is wise to consider economy and look for features you absolutely need.
Picking The Carafe
Choosing a carafe depends on your habits and intended use of the machine. Popular choices are metal and glass, though heavy-duty plastic carafes are also available. Metal carafes have the advantage of keeping the brew hot for longer. Made out of metal, these carafes usually last longer than their competition. The downside is that they are also more expensive, sometimes significantly so.
Glass carafes are practically ubiquitous. They’re cost-efficient, clear, and usually easy to clean. Though glass is prone to breaking, a good quality carafe can last a very long time with some care. Good quality steel carafes and glass carafes do not add any flavor to the coffee, thus keeping your brew pristine.
About Plastics And BPA
To remain cost-effective, many manufacturers extensively use plastic in their coffee makers. Many modern coffee makers even use plastics in the heating chamber. Fact is, there are a very small number of machines where the coffee does not come in contact with plastic. This is especially true for budget coffee makers, where users will often notice a “plastic” smell in their brew for the first few cycles.
Given the popular use of plastics, it is only natural for customers to worry about possible health effects. The first rule here is to avoid BPA. This chemical is an additive used in a wide variety of plastics and it can affect your health negatively. Any plastic that comes in contact with your beverage must be BPA-free. If a coffee maker cannot give you a clear answer on this, it is not the coffee maker to buy.
Ease Of Cleaning
Coffee makers need regular cleaning. When you are considering ease of use of a coffee maker, consider it as important as ease of cleaning. Regular cleaning/descaling must be easy to perform, and necessary components for cleaning should be easily accessible. While not all components can be dishwasher safe, the more components that fit into this category, the better.
Consider your choice of filters and their effect. Some machines use permanent or metallic filters. These are convenient since no additional components are required and they do not add flavor to your coffee. Although more effort may be required in cleaning your coffee machine’s filter assembly.
Other machines use disposable or paper filters. This is the more conventional approach and can be easier to manage. However, paper can absorb oils from your coffee and thus impact the taste. Some may also consider questioning the wisdom of using disposable filters in a world where conservation is of increased importance.
A heating plate will help keep your beverage warm for longer after it has been deposited in the carafe. Personally, I don’t think heating plates are that important for a 4 cup coffee maker. There rarely is an opportunity where you would want the coffee to sit in the carafe for a long time. Try not to leave brewed coffee on a heating plate for more than thirty minutes, as it can start affecting the flavor and make your coffee more bitter. Though these are small coffee makers, a fair number of the machines have heating plates.