While we’re all about bean to cup coffee machines, there are a whole host of other types of coffee maker out there on the market. In this section, we’ll take a look at them in detail, as it’s important to be sure you know what you’re buying and why you’re buying it, not least because the machines we feature on this site in the reviews section can be quite a significant investment.
Bean To Cup
Let’s start with the bean to cup variety then, as that’s what we’re about and they’re quite easy to explain and define. To put it in its most simple terms, we’re just referring to a coffee machine that will take coffee beans, and grind them to go through an infusion process there and then. This ensures that nothing is lost, and appeals to those who pride themselves on enjoying a great cup of coffee. Here’s more about how bean to cup coffee machines work.
Coffee Pod Machines
These are relatively new in the home coffee market, and are often referred to as K Cup machines. This terminology is very much like people referring to a vacuum cleaner as a hoover, even when it’s a different brand, or searching online as ‘Google-ing’. The K stands for Keurig, and their K-Cup pods for their own brand of coffee pod machines. While some people argue that it’s an incorrect term, it’s important to understand that they’re often used interchangeably.
This type of machine is termed coffee pod because they use single use consumable capsules called pods to make a single drink. It’s intended to solve some of the problems associated with pre-ground filter coffee used by other types of coffee machine, namely to appease those who can tell that the coffee beans are not freshly ground. The coffee is ground in the factory and immediately sealed into these air tight pods, so that the flavour and aroma can be preserved as near perfectly as possible.
They’re also very quick to use and hygienic, as you simply insert the pod into the machine and switch it on. The machine then heats water (usually from a refillable and sometimes detachable chamber) which then passes through the contents of the pod. This brewing is usually done under pressure to extract the flavour into the drink as the water flows to the cup.
One of the gripes people cite with pod makers is that you are tied to buying the specific pods for your machine, and they’re all unique to the make of the product (although some are common across a manufacturer’s range). If you do choose to buy this type of machine, we’d highly recommend that you research the pods as well as the machines, as you might find that, for example, opting for a cheaper machine turns out to be a false economy if the pods are more expensive than more costly machines, as they’re the repeat purchases.
While many people swear by coffee pod machines, just keep in mind that bean to cup makers allow you to buy any beans you like to have your machine grind. If cost is a major consideration for you, remember to factor in the cost of making the coffee, as well as the machine itself.
There’s more on coffee pod machines here.
Filter Coffee Makers
These are the machines that exploded in popularity in the nineteen eighties and nineties. Typically they are popular as you end up with a jug containing enough ‘fresh’ coffee for several drinks, and the amount varies from approximately four drinks in the smaller machines up to a maximum of twelve (for home machines).
The way filter machines work is you have either a disposable paper or fixed filter built into the machine to hold the filter coffee. You can buy this in the supermarket, and it’s often packed in a foil wrapper for freshness. this is then placed into the filter and the hot water simply pours through to brew. You can control the strength to an extent by increasing or decreasing the amount of coffee you place into the filter, but there’s no pressure to really control the process, just gravity pulling the water down through the coffee and filter to drip into the jug, ready to serve. The coffee is then kept hot as the jug sits on a heated pad.
People that are fans of a quick caffeine hit are often drawn to espresso machines. We’re not huge fans of these machines, simply because they’re usually little more than a hybrid of two types of machine, or another variety, simply with less functionality. Because they’re marketed as speciality models, the end result is arguably that you’re paying extra for less.
For example, many of the machines are compatible with the coffee pods mentioned earlier, but if you’re going to use it in that way, why not get a dedicated pod maker, and have the option to make other types of coffee? Some models counter this by also offering milk steaming tools, so that you can drop an espresso shot into a bigger mug for a latte, but in that case, again why buy a machine specifically designed for espresso, when a bean to cup model can do both to a high standard?
The Last Word
Naturally, as we run a site dedicated to bean to cup coffee machines, we’re going to prefer these machines over the other types on the market, but we hope this quick run down on the other types has helped you to understand the differences and to compare and contrast what’s on offer.
Next, why not head over to our reviews section where you can find more information about specific machines and get a better idea of what you can expect for your money.