Coffee aficionados can’t get enough of coffee, so there’s no surprise that there are a lot of ways to make coffee. In this post, we’ll check out the different types of coffee makers available and discuss their pros and cons. You may be surprised how many kinds there are!
Broadly speaking, you can categorize coffee makers into automatic and manual brewing methods. Automatic usually involves electricity and automation in some way, and manual requires mostly everything to be done by hand.
All of these coffee makers are available to buy and use at home.
Types of coffee makers: automatic and manual
1. Drip coffee maker (automatic)
Drip coffee makers are the classic coffee makers you’ll find in most offices, diners, and homes. Drip coffee makers brew coffee by slowly dripping water over coffee grounds in a filter. As the coffee grounds become wet and saturated, the water absorbs the flavors from the coffee and drips down by the pull of gravity.
The result is a really balanced cup of coffee – not too light and not too strong. You can enjoy it black or add some milk, cream, or honey to flavor it.
Drip coffee makers are automatic because the amount of water to drip is controlled by the machine. Most machines also have a function to control how many cups to brew.
- These coffee makers are great to brew coffee for a family at once
- Most of these coffee makers have timers that can have a cup ready for you by the time you wake up
- You can’t go wrong with drip coffee – it’s a classic method of brewing
- Inexpensive drip coffee machines don’t have a means of keeping coffee hot after it’s brewed. This can result in it going stale.
2) Espresso machine (automatic and/or manual)
An espresso machine uses high-pressure steam to brew a very intense shot of coffee. Coffee grounds are packed tightly (or tamped) into a puck, which is placed in a device called a portafilter which is fitted into an espresso machine.
The machine then forces hot water turned into steam at multiple bars of pressure through the puck, and the result is a frothy shot of coffee which is very bold and intense.
Espresso machines come in all shapes and sizes, from manual machines where you have to generate the pressure by hand using a pump, all the way to fully automatic machines that do everything from grinding coffee beans to pulling the final shot.
Espresso is very intense, and quite small: a typical shot is just 1.5 to 2 ounces.
- Espresso is an incredible coffee and can be enjoyed in many ways from just a shot to lattes and cappuccinos
- There’s an espresso machine for almost every kind of budget
- There’s a bit of a learning curve to get espresso right
- The flavor may be too intense for some people
3) Single serve coffee maker (automatic)
Single serve coffee makers have become really popular amongst the different types of coffee makers available today. A single serve coffee maker brews a single serving (one cup) of coffee, and very fast. Coffee makers from Keurig and Nespresso can usually brew a single serving in under one minute.
Single serve machines are really good because they are incredibly convenient and quick.
- Wide variety of flavors available and in easy to use pods
- Brews very quickly and machines can be quite compact
- Something for every budget
- Pods generate a lot of garbage and are not always recyclable
- Pods can have stale coffee
- Cost of pods can add up over time
4) Pour over coffee maker (manual)
A pour over coffee maker is the next one on our list. Pour over coffee makers are another classical form of brewing coffee. Like the drip coffee machine, a pour over brew utilizes gravity and a paper filter for brewing.
Since you have to pour manually, you’ll need a gooseneck kettle or something similar to be able first heat the water to the correct temperature and then to pour the water at the correct consistency and speed.
- Very easy to use and can be set up anywhere
- Brews a very balanced cup of coffee
- You need a gooseneck kettle for best results
- Mastering the pouring technique can have a learning curve
5) French press coffee maker (manual)
French press coffee makers utilize immersion to brew coffee. You need medium-coarse ground coffee which you’ll steep in hot water for about 4 minutes. Then, a plunger will push the grounds down and a mesh filter attached to the plunger will separate the ground coffee from the water.
French press takes very little effort to brew and is rather foolproof, so it’s a great way to get started.
- Easy to brew and easy to use
- Can make multiple cups at once in the same amount of time
- Coffee tends to be a bit muddy as grounds don’t fully get filtered
6) Aeropress (manual)
Aeropress is a relatively new entrant to the coffee maker scene, but it’s taken everyone by storm. With brews that compare in intensity and speed to that of an espresso machine, but the portability and ease of use of a french press, it really captures the best of both worlds.
Additionally, you can make small adjustments to your brew to make your coffee taste more like an espresso or more like a drip coffee.
There are tons of Aeropress recipes and accessories available online which will help you make the most of this device.
- Very versatile and portable
- Easy to use
- Easy to clean
- Requires special paper filters
7) Percolator/moka pot (manual)
A percolator or moka pot uses steam pressure to force water through a bottom chamber filled with coffee grounds, up through a pipe, and out into an upper chamber as coffee.
Percolators are a very old method of brewing coffee and they’re very popular as camping coffee makers. They brew a bold cup of coffee comparable in taste to an espresso, but the amount brewed is more like a regular cup of dripped coffee.
- Very portable and can be taken anywhere
- Brews a strong cup of coffee
- Entire coffee maker gets very hot on the stove
- A little difficult to get the hang of initially
8) Siphon or vacuum coffee maker (manual and automatic)
Siphon coffee makers are more of a cool factor or wow factor than anything else. The coffee they brew is comparable to a regular pour over coffee. The look and feel of the machine is very futuristic and advanced(or retro, depending on your tastes), and looks like something you’d find in a chemistry lab rather than on a kitchen counter.
- Excellent conversation starter
- Very delicate and hard to maintain
9) Turkish coffee maker (manual)
You could actually get away with not even listing Turkish coffee makers as a different kind of coffee maker since you can produce similar results in a regular saucepan. However the traditional method of brewing Turkish coffee requires using a special brewing cezve so we’ve listed it here.
Essentially, you use superfine ground coffee, sugar, and some spices such as cinnamon and let the mixture boil over a couple of times and then let the grounds settle to the bottom of the pot before pouring the coffee out.
- Ancient and time-tested brewing technique
- Rich and flavorful coffee
- May be difficult to achieve superfine ground consistency unless using a very special or specific grinder
10) Cold brew coffee maker (manual)
The last coffee maker on our list is the cold brew coffee maker. While you can make a cold brew in anything from a french press to a mason jar, there are specialized cold brew coffee makers available which take the hassle out of filtering.
Essentially, you just steep the coffee in water using a fine mesh filter which lets the water interact with the coffee grounds and doesn’t let any of the coffee grounds out, resulting in a very clear and smooth coffee.
- A hassle-free method of making cold brew
- Takes longer to brew than other methods(12-16 hours)
How to brew good coffee no matter the type of machine you use
No matter what machine you prefer for your coffee, whether it’s a french press, a moka pot, espresso machines, or heck, even if you like iced coffee, there are a few key points you need to remember before you brew.
Use freshly roasted coffee beans
The most important factor into brewing good coffee is using freshly roasted coffee beans. There’s a huge difference between stale coffee and fresh coffee, and once you taste fresh coffee, you’ll never go back to pre-ground supermarket coffee again.
Coffee beans retain peak freshness for about 2-3 weeks from the time they are roasted, so order from a craft roaster and start drinking immediately. Plan on reordering whenever you’re about to run out.
Grind just before brewing
Once you’ve gotten yourself some freshly roasted beans, the next key to making good coffee is to grind just before you brew.
While coffee beans lose their aroma and flavor in about 2 weeks, once you grind them and increase the surface area, the gases and flavors will escape even faster – some estimates say that coffee grounds only remain fresh for about 1 hour.
Use the correct grind size
The last thing to consider is grind size. You need to make sure that you’re using the correct grind size for the kind of coffee you are planning on brewing. If you mismatch the grind size, you will end up with over or under extracted coffee, which is no good!
Conclusion: Which type of coffee maker is best?
There’s no straightforward answer, unfortunately. For beginners, I suggest using a french press or drip machine, both of which are very easy to use.
For people who like specialty coffee, an espresso machine/latte machine would be excellent. Pour over and Aeropress also make great coffee but are more geared towards coffee enthusiasts.
Last update on 2021-10-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API