Coffee is, without a doubt, the Elixir of Life for the modern human. It helps us wake up when we’d rather do anything other than wake up. It helps to jump-start our brains when we really have zero motivation for anything. Coffee is the magic potion of productivity, creativity, cramming sessions, social contracts, and first dates. It also functions as a perfect clock for annoying get-togethers: “I’ll just stay for one (smallest possible) coffee and then I really have to go!”
For many of us, the preparation and consumption of this blessed liquid is a daily ritual of immense importance, and damned be all who dare disrupt it. How many times have you growled “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee!”? This drink appears in countless forms and variations, which you can get a little glimpse of on HomeKitchenary. So, if you are going to make it at home, it makes perfect sense to invest in proper equipment to make the best possible cup. Start by answering these orientation questions.
How do you like your coffee?
Pure black, dark and bitter like a grumbling ex-spouse? Thick and creamy for rich mouthfuls? Milky and sweet like a gentle fairy drink? Do you take your time with leisurely preparation and languid drinking, savor it with no clocks allowed nearby? Or do you make your brew expressly, down it hastily and dash out the door into a new busy day?
Depending on your habits and tastes, you will naturally gravitate towards the machines that can match those requirements the most effectively. For example, an Italian-inspired piece of hardware will suit those coffee aficionados who like to perform their brew ritual at a slow and relaxed pace. In contrast, a pod machine or a capsule coffee maker would be more suited to busy bees who need a quick and hot cup of brain fuel to get them started when hated Monday rolls around.
How many different types of coffee drinks do you want to be able to make?
Not everyone fits the stereotype of the apartment-dwelling workaholic who depends on espresso shots to function, and that’s perfectly okay. Why not enjoy a nice cafe latte on a weekend morning, or prepare a macchiato in the afternoon, or play with new tastes every now and again without worrying about getting judged by baristas?
Take a few moments and really evaluate your coffee drinking habits. Are you stuck in a flavor rut? Getting a new coffee machine is a great opportunity to experiment, so consider getting a combined appliance that will permit you some versatility of preparation. If you are wondering how to start being more adventurous with your mug, you might find some palatable ideas here.
How much do you intend to use your coffee machine?
Obviously, if you are considering purchasing a coffee maker for your own kitchen, you do drink the drink relatively frequently. But how frequently, exactly? Will you be making a brew of your own every day? How many times a day? Do you plan on having coffee-loving guests in your home often?
This is an important factor to keep in mind because it will help you make sense of your budgeting. Caffeine addicts and casual consumers will definitely not be willing to invest the same amount here. If you have your coffee as an irregular or sparse booster in a work week, then it wouldn’t really make much sense for you to purchase some expensive and elaborate machinery.
On the other hand, if you are a true coffee connoisseur, then a run-of-the-mill filter contraption befitting a disheveled college student will hardly produce a cup that could ever please your palate. You are going to need to open up a bit more and invest in some quality coffee making hardware.
How much kitchen space can you afford to set aside?
Alright, now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty of the topic. Let us give you a fair warning, this is the single trickiest factor upon which you are likely to stumble and mess up. Unless you’re okay with having your coffee machine on your floor (which we, as your fellow coffee lovers, most sincerely hope you’re not!), you will need to be careful and smart with your real estate.
How large your kitchen is as a whole doesn’t really matter all that much, beyond aesthetics. If you introduce a large and clunky appliance into a cramped or cluttered space, then yeah, it won’t look all that attractive, but that’s just about it. Instead, you should look at your available working space: kitchen counter, bar, cupboard tops, even the stove if you want to consider stovetop coffee makers.
Depending on the particular model you opt for, the size of your new appliance can vary drastically. For example, bean to cup coffee machines are a widely popular choice for home offices and the kitchens of busy people who can’t really afford to mess around with grinding the beans and fine-tuning the ingredient ratios themselves. Depending on the precise features and options that you want yours to have, you’ll see tall but narrow ones, long and broad ones, bulky big ones…
Frankly, the safest method to manage your space would be to literally measure it. Figure out the length, width, depth, and surface area of the spot you want your coffee machine in. Write that down somewhere and take that memo with you when you go appliance shopping. Most of them will have their dimensions listed on the machine or its packaging, or an employee can quickly find that information for you.
How committed will you be to cleaning? Be honest.
If you buy a new coffee making machine, you are effectively introducing a whole new category of dishwashing into your home maintenance routine. You have to maintain this new machine too. You have to wash it, dry it, store it properly, keep track of all the parts that ever might need to come off for whatever reason. And unfortunately, not all of these handy dandy home helpers are low-maintenance ones!
Some of these devices have specific, and even special, requirements in order to function properly and persist in a usable state for a relatively long period of time. So, just how much time are you going to take out of your day to properly clean your coffee maker machine?
Be very careful with this if you are a busy or impatient individual. Make a point of informing yourself, to the tiniest, grittiest, most obnoxious little details, about the kind of care required for a coffee maker that has caught your interest. This tedious research task will save you tons of trouble and money in the long run. The better you are able to care for your appliance, the longer it will last you. You will reduce expenses for repair or replacement, not to mention how badly its performance is likely to suffer if you allow rusting, accumulation of dirt, calcification etc.
How big of a budget do you intend to dedicate to this expense?
Now, you might be wondering why we left budgeting for last in this little examination, the reason is really quite simple: do not go anywhere near your money until you understand A) what shapes the price of the product and B) what is the price range for what you want.
The price of a kitchen coffee machine will be determined by its manufacturer’s brand strength, the model (its design, age i.e. release date, marketing appeal), available functionality, working capacity, materials, dimensions, weight, aesthetics, customer demand, and competitor offer. And we probably still forgot to list some other factors.
The price range for what you want is susceptible to more or less the same determining factors. The important facet here is the infamous gap between “I want this thing but I can this much.” The more you want out of your machine, the more complex it will be and the more its price will grow. On the flip side, if you’re on a tight budget, be prepared that your available money will not be able to afford you all the features that strike your fancy. Most of the time, you are going to have to make some kind of compromise.
And this is why we are addressing budgeting last. Now, after you have answered all of the issues we listed above, you should have a more or less defined idea of what you are looking for. First, consider your ideal coffee machine and find its closes real world equivalent. How much does it cost? Too rich for your blood?
That’s okay! You have a clearer idea of what you want now, so you will not be so easily swayed by price tags. If an appliance that matches your ideal comes at too steep of a cost, use your answers tot he questions above to reevaluate your priorities. What are the features and functions you absolutely can’t do without? What are some you can compromise on or outright give them up?
As far as possible without sacrificing your core intentions for the coffee maker, adapt your requests to reality in order to find the most reasonable option. Always do everything you can to make sure you get your money’s worth. Balance cost with long-term functionality.
As a matter of fact, you may also want to look into used appliances, second-hand coffee makers. Just make sure (personally!) that they are fully functional and make sure you thoroughly clean them before your first use. Also inform yourself with the seller who is their go-to technician in case of any issues with the coffee maker. On that note, whatever instructions and warranty papers the previous still has lying around, make a point of getting those too!
So, let’s do a little recap for the sake of convenience. Before you go and pick one kitchen coffee maker to bring home with you, you have to know what kind of coffee you make most often and how much of a ritual that is for you. You need a machine that can match your established processes and will not disrupt your daily routine.
You need to recognize the frequency and volume of use that your new appliance is going to get in its everyday life. Depending on that, it might be alright to go for a cheaper one, or it might be best to make a larger investment up front and then be set for a good long while.
You have to have a good grasp on the available kitchen surface that can house your new brewing solution. Remember, it is perfectly okay to take accurate measurements and then save that info somewhere for when you shop. If anything, it demonstrates your smart planning abilities and your dedication to the art and culture of coffee life.
You need to evaluate your daily routine and figure out how much maintenance time you can take out to devote to your new coffee machine. Complex, high-maintenance ones are going to be a crick in the neck if your planner is packed by the hour. Simple, straightforward systems will save you some dishwashing time and/ or space, and there will be less of a chance of them malfunctioning, because they have fewer nuts and bolts that you have to think about.
Finally, you can plan for your budget. Define your priorities and decide how much you are willing to compromise in order to adapt to the price range of your target product. Only after all of this can you focus on the fun part: choosing the design and aesthetic of your new coffee maker. Why not? After all, having a beautiful appliance will make using it that much more enjoyable!
Regarding coffee machine design, the Internet has tons of ideas and images to browse. In general, you’ll find the styles grouped into “modern” and “rustic” with many variations of each. Employees can usually offer some pretty insightful customized suggestions!