People love coffee. In the UK we drink around 55 million cups a day and with every cup needing 42 beans that is a lot of beans that have to be grown and harvested. Instant coffee used to be the main way coffee was consumed in the UK, but ground coffee or roasted beans have enjoyed a surge in sales in recent years. With this in mind, we’re going to look at coffee machines and what you should be looking for when buying one.
Filter coffee machines
Filter coffee machines are the most basic of coffee machines. They are simple to use and relatively cheap. The machine works by dripping hot water through ground coffee, held within a filter, into a cup or jug. Usually, they can make up to 12 cups at a time, so are good for families or people who drink a lot. They come with various levels of features including hotplates to keep your coffee warm or thermos jugs to serve the same purpose. They only produce basic, black filter coffee.
Capsule or Pod coffee machines
These machines are designed to use coffee pods from a certain manufacturer. The pods usually contain coffee grounds and other things like powdered milk, to create concoctions of drinks that you might find in your coffee shop (flavoured lattes, fat whites etc). They work by inserting the manufacturer’s pod and adding water to create your drink. These only work with the manufacturers pods so work out more expensive per cup than other machines. It will still be far cheaper than overpriced cafes though.
When you go to an “American style” coffee shop they make all of their drinks with an espresso maker. This is the building block that all your favourites are made from including American (add water) Latte (add steamed milk) and Cappuccino (add frothed milk). They work on a similar principle to filter coffee machines except they compress the coffee beans. Water is dripped through it and caught in a cup below.
Other things to look out for
On more expensive machines you’ll find a range of features that will be useful to some and not to others. Some offer built-in grinders for grinding coffee beans (if you own your own grinder or buy ground coffee you won’t need this) and milk frothers so that you can make drinks like Cappuccino. These features can add a substantial amount to the cost of a machine and are available in standalone machines if you really desire these features.