From French press to pod machine, there is a ton of choice when it comes to types of coffee makers. The die-hard coffee aficionado will extol the benefits of devices like the French press and the AeroPress. On the other hand, the coffee drinker looking to emulate their favorite Starbucks drink will sing the praises of the espresso machine or even the pod machine, but which is best for you?
Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle of this scale. Sometimes, I love the manual nature of creating a cold brew or grabbing the French press. Other times, usually first thing in the morning, I want the convenience of pressing a button and getting coffee.
Types of Coffee Makers
There are some truly innovative types of coffee makers on the market, like the AeroPress, which has gained a mass of followers in a relatively short time. There are also those that we believe are largely unnecessary – there is nothing wrong with the cold brew coffee machine, but there’s a good chance you already have everything you need in order to be able to make this refreshing, cool drink, already. Below, we have covered all of the major types so that you can choose the right one for you.
The French press was once the coffee maker of choice for dinner parties and after dinner beverages.
Place the grounds in the bottom of the carafe and pour hot water over it. Allow the mixture to steep for the desired time (four minutes is optimal) and then slowly push the plunger down.
The plunger is complete with wire mesh which pushes the grounds to the bottom of the carafe.
Four minutes is widely considered the optimal time. This is enough time for the coffee to steep adequately but not so long that you’re left with lukewarm sludge. If you prefer a stronger flavor, leave it to steep for longer. If you want something milder, steep it a little less.
<<Read our guide to the best coffee grinder for French press coffee makers>>
Users love this type of device because it provides a strong flavor. You also control everything from water temperature to the amount of coffee you use and how long you leave it to steep. Cleanup is a bit messy with the French press, though, and it can take some time to master the best combination. No kitchen cupboard should be considered complete without one, though.
- Makes strong coffee
- Give you control over almost everything
- Make multiple cups
- It’s not as easy as pressing a button
- Coffee grounds can be a nightmare to dispose of
- Takes practice to master
The AeroPress is another manual device. It works in a similar manner to the French press, except that the plunger requires much greater pressure. Prepare yourself for a mini workout with this type of coffee maker.
Rinse the filter before adding coffee and hot water, wait two minutes, and then press down on the plunger.
Although similar to the French press, the AeroPress uses force, which negates the need to wait four minutes. It’s also much easier to clean. The pressure applied creates a puck from the spent coffee grounds. This is more easily removed and disposed of. The Press sits on top of your mug or other jar, and it is extremely portable.
Many buyers swear by this device because it can be used to make coffee, espresso, and Americanos, and because it produces a well-rounded and great tasting brew.
- Easy cleanup
- Great tasting coffee
- Can make espresso and Americano
- Only designed to make one coffee at a time
Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Cold brew has taken the world by storm and proponents happily sing of the virtues of cold brew. It has lower acidity levels and a fuller flavor than iced coffee, and as well as being used to make cold coffee drinks, the resulting brew can be used as a concentrate and mixed with hot water to make a warm coffee. The concentrate can even be stored for up to two weeks in the fridge.
Add ground coffee and cold water to the machine and leave it overnight. You’re left with a strong coffee concentrate.
You can use a mason jar or French press to create cold brew. It is just as easy and gives the same results. This type of machine might be a little easier to clean It also does away with the slightly fiddly filtration of the mason jar technique.
We fully support the cold brew movement currently underway. But, we’re not entirely sure that there’s a need for these types of coffee makers. Most kitchens already have everything that’s required to make a great tasting brew.
- Easier to filter than DIY
- Makes great tasting cold brew coffee
- Set it and leave
- Unnecessary if you have a mason jar
- Cold brew process take noticeably more coffee
Stovetop Coffee Maker
Stovetop coffee makers, or Italian moka pots, are inexpensive and are used to make very strong coffee. The resulting drink is comparable in strength and robustness to espresso, but because it doesn’t use pressure to brew the drink, it can’t be officially considered an espresso.
Place coffee grounds in the top compartment and water in the bottom. Boil the water, which pushes the steam up through the coffee grounds. As the water passes through the coffee it returns to the bottom compartment and the process continues.
The continual passing of water through coffee creates a very strong drink, which may not be to everybody’s taste. Although not strictly an espresso, it can be used as a great tasting base for cappuccinos and other espresso drinks. However, the process requires monitoring to avoid scorched coffee.
- Cheaper than espresso machines
- Creates a drink akin to an espresso
- Fairly quick brewing time
- Requires careful monitoring
Turkish Coffee Maker
The Turkish coffee maker, or Ibrik, is another stovetop coffee maker. Making Turkish coffee is simple, although you will have to master the timing to avoid scorched coffee. However, Turkish coffee isn’t for everybody because it has sediment at the bottom created by the unfiltered grounds. You can add ingredients like cinnamon to the pot, giving the coffee flavor as it brews.
Mix very fine coffee grounds with water and place it on the stove. Heat until the coffee starts to boil and then remove it. Pour the drink in a cup and let the grounds settle at the bottom of the cup.
The process is simple. All you really have to worry about is turning the stove off in time, to avoid scorched coffee, which can be a problem with these types of coffee makers. You also need to become accustomed to having grounds in the bottom of your drink. We advise not downing every last drop.
- Easy to make
- Small and portable
- Add flavors to the pot while brewing
- Leaves grounds in the cup
- Needs removing before coffee scorches
Vietnamese Coffee Filter
The Vietnamese coffee filter, or Phin, is a small and convenient filter that you place on top of the cup. It uses very finely ground coffee but does a decent job of removing the grounds from the liquid. A traditional Vietnamese brew is finished with condensed milk.
Remove the top screen and pour the coffee in the device. Replace the screen and turn until it is snug. Place the filter on top of the coffee cup and quarter fill with hot water. Place the cover on and wait until all water has dripped through, usually about five minutes.
It does take some practice to get the process right. First, you need to get the right level of coarseness for your coffee. If you’re new to using a Vietnamese coffee filter, go with a coarse grind because it’s harder to get it wrong.
You also need to master the tightening of the screen lid. It should be snug but not tight. If it is too tight, the water won’t be able to pass through and you’ll get a bitter tasting drink. If the lid is too loose, the water will run through rather than drip. It won’t have time to steep, which means you’ll end up with nothing more than mildly colored water.
Fortunately, the end result of Phin mastery, is a strong and great tasting cup of coffee.
- Great tasting coffee
- Small and easily portable
- Takes mastery
- Only makes one cup at a time
- 5 minute brew time
Espresso is a more concentrated coffee than is produced by a drip maker. It forms the base of drinks like cappuccino, Americano, and latte, and is produced by running hot water through fine ground coffee at pressure. If you like strong coffee or specialty coffee drinks, this is one of the best types of coffee makers for you.
Espresso makers can vary in their complexity and the coffee making process is determined by the type of machine you have.
The most basic leave you to control everything from water pressure to tamping the coffee grounds. Fully automated machines only need to be filled with coffee beans, water, and even milk for frothing, and then press a button to create your perfect caffeine-laden coffee.
Pod machines might also be considered a form of espresso machine and are even easier. Open the pod container, add the pod, press the button, and you get a great tasting and easily prepared shot of espresso.
- Produce strong, espresso style coffee
- Can be highly automated
- Some models come with built-in coffee frothers and bean grinders
- Manual machines require some mastery of tamping and measuring
- Can be expensive
Drip Coffee Makers
The drip coffee maker creates from one to a dozen or more cups of filter coffee. They are easy to use and can incorporate extra features like a pod machine. They also have a hot plate, which keeps the coffee warm and you may find models with digital settings to increase or decrease strength.
Fill the container with hot water and ground coffee to the filter. Choose the number of cups and press the button. The machine then warms up the water and passes it through the grounds. Coffee is then dripped into the carafe at the bottom, where it is kept warm on the hot plate.
Drip coffee makers create good tasting filter coffee. They are especially useful for families or for use in offices because you can brew several cups at once. They don’t create espresso, though, so if you want cappuccino or other espresso-based drink, you will need to look elsewhere. Some hot plates tend to scorch or stew the coffee if it is left to stand for too long, as well.
- Can brew up to a dozen cups at once
- Keeps coffee warm on the hot plate
- Easy to use
- Doesn’t make espresso or other coffee drinks
- Hot plate can scold the coffee if left on too long
Grind and Brew Coffee Maker
The grind and brew coffee maker is a drip coffee machine with a built-in, automatic coffee grinder. This enables you to add whole coffee beans, which are ground only when needed. Other than this, the grind and brew coffee maker offers the same features and benefits as a drip maker. It can brew up to a dozen cups at once, keeps your coffee warm, and is still easy to use.
Add coffee beans to the hopper and water to the reservoir. Choose your coffee setting and hit the button. The machine then grinds the beans before running water through the resulting grounds and into the carafe on the hot plate.
Grind and brew coffee makers can include a burr or blade grinder. Burr grinders are considered the better of the two, but also tend to be more expensive. If you’re not picky over the size or consistency of your ground coffee, a cheaper blade grinder will still yield good results.
- Freshly ground coffee gives a fresh and clean flavor
- One machine that does it all
- Brew up to a dozen cups at once
- Keep coffee warm on the hot plate
- The hot plate can scorch coffee
- It needs routine cleaning
Siphon Coffee Maker
The siphon coffee maker is a unique looking coffee machine that creates great tasting and full bodied filter coffee. We love the way the siphon looks and it isn’t all just for show. The brewing process means that water is just the right temperature to get the best combination of caffeine and flavor from your coffee, and it will excite guests when they pop round for a coffee.
Add coffee grounds in the top section, above the filter, and water in the bottom carafe. The machine then heats the water until it turns to steam. The steam passes through the coffee and into the top chamber where it turns back to water and passes through the grounds. Your coffee then settles back into the carafe at the bottom, ready to drink.
Lets face it, the siphon maker is equal parts unnecessary and really cool. It also creates a great tasting and highly aromatic cup of coffee.
Electric versions are automated enough to control the temperature throughout the process, but more manual options require that you keep an eye on them to prevent scolding and burning.
- Looks amazing
- Great tasting, aromatic coffee
- Takes some serious cleaning
- Manual version can be difficult to control
The percolator has been used for centuries and early versions could be used anywhere where there was a heat source, including over a camp fire. It is a simple machine, boiling water and then passing it through a pipe and over coffee grounds to create a strong flavored coffee. They do tend to rely on boiled water, which is great if you like your coffee hot but it can produce a very bitter tasting coffee, because the ideal water temperature for making coffee is slightly below boiling point.
Unless you like very hot, very bitter coffee, we suggest steering clear of these types of coffee makers. The siphon is a better alternative that uses a similar technique but executes it better.
- Can be used on a campfire
- Makes really hot coffee
- Produces a very bitter tasting coffee
Pour Over Coffee Maker
The pour over coffee maker is a simplistic and manual coffee maker that is great for those that enjoy the manual operation. They are inexpensive, come in some great looking designs, and make a full-bodied, rich cup of coffee.
Place the pour over coffee maker on top of a cup or carafe. Insert a paper filter and add medium ground coffee. Run a small amount of hot water through the grounds to activate the coffee and then a second load of water to make it. Once done, simply throw the paper filter away and give the coffee maker a quick rinse.
You will either love or hate the single cup pour over coffee maker. If you enjoy the manual nature of adding the coffee and pouring the water over, and you only ever make single cups of coffee then you’re likely to love the simplicity. If you want a more complex drink, like a cappuccino, or you want all the work done for you to ensure that you get it right, you won’t enjoy the experience.
- Makes a rich cup of coffee
- Some people enjoy the manual nature of pour over coffee making
- Takes some effort and time
- Only makes one cup at a time
Coffee Pod Machine
We go from one of the more manual methods of brewing coffee to arguably the most automated – the pod coffee machine. The filter is located in the pod itself, rather than the machine, which gets thrown away after use, and all you have to do is ensure the reservoir is filled with water and that you’ve added the pod before brewing your favorite cup of coffee.
Pod machines like Nespresso and Keurig work in a similar fashion to drip machines, except you don’t have to measure coffee. You also don’t need to clean or replace filters. Add the pod, fill the reservoir, and click the button. The machine then pierces the pod, warms the water, and runs the warm water through the coffee grounds.
Pod machines create very uniform drinks. If you like the flavor of a specific pod, buy the same one again and you will enjoy exactly the same results. They also require little in the way of cleaning and maintenance and create minimal mess.
- Very easy to make great tasting coffee
- Produces uniform results every time
- Easy to clean
- No room for experimentation
- Coffee doesn’t always taste that strong
- The machine and pods can be expensive
When it comes to convenience, the coffee bag is the way to go. They work in the same way as tea bags and allow the coffee to steep as long as you leave the bag in the water. They can fit in your bag and ensure that you can enjoy a decent cup of coffee even when travelling.
Place the coffee bag in a cup and add hot water. Leave the brew to steep for around five minutes before removing the bag and enjoying your drink.
Coffee bags are incredibly convenient, but they don’t always give the best tasting results. Find a bag that you like and stock up with enough for the next few weeks. They are especially ideal for those that travel and stay in hotels, where the room coffee making facilities can be questionable at best.
- Extremely convenient
- Highly portable
- Make stronger coffee by increasing the steep time
- Still not as readily available as beans and ground coffee
- Can be pricey
- Doesn’t give as full a flavor as other methods.
Choosing Types Of Coffee Makers
These are the main types of coffee makers that are available today, but others do exist, and there is an increasingly wide and assorted array of the different types of coffee makers available.
Generally, the machine you choose will depend on whether you prefer manual or automatic operation, but you absolutely shouldn’t overlook the importance of flavor. If you like a strong coffee that gives all the secondary and additional flavors, cold brew might be your best bet, but if you like cappuccinos and milk drinks then an automatic espresso machine will give you the drinks your heart desires.
Of course, owning one type of machine doesn’t mean that you can’t buy a second machine, giving you the freedom of creating the type of coffee you want, when you want it.