Consumer Reports

Coffee makers can be cheap

By Consumer Reports
As more and more consumers look for ways to save money, many may be trading their beloved drive-thru coffee for java made at home. Coffee-lovers take heart: Great coffee can be made at home at a fraction of the cost, according to Consumer Reports’ latest tests.
All of the 10 recommended 8- to 12-cup drip models with carafes cost just $100 or less. The new Kalorik CM25282 ($80) costs less than a third of the Technivorm Moccamaster ($265), a Dutch import touted by connoisseurs for its superior brewing. Though the Technivorm aced CR’s brewing tests, which gauges a coffeemaker’s ability to reach the 195 degrees F to 205 degrees F needed to extract the most flavor from the coffee, the Kalorik is one of the top picks that brewed comparably.
Also from Kalorik, the TKM-20208 ($45) is a CR Best Buy and has a thermal carafe that helps keep coffee warm without having to heat it. Other CR Best Buys include the Michael Graves 40304 ($40) and Mr. Coffee JWX27 ($40). Less-picky drinkers can opt for the programmable Black & Decker DLX1050B, which costs just $20. For a brew station that pours coffee directly into the cup, opt for the top-scoring Hamilton Beach BrewStation 47454 ($80).
Less is more
A good coffeemaker should be easy to set up and clean, with clear markings on the reservoir and carafe and an easy-to-see on/off light. Some models became cumbersome in CR’s tests. Handling the Technivorm’s array of parts and properly positioning the carafe for brewing takes added care, while the Espressione CM475 ($140) has a handle that was too small for some testers.
Paying more for a fancy coffeemaker doesn’t guarantee better coffee. The Kenmore Elite 237904 ($120) offers a copper-hued metal version of the brand’s $50 238002 model, but it produces the same mediocre coffee and has a thermal carafe that’s hard to empty. If there’s a need for speed, Bunn coffeemakers keep water hot all the time. But brewing was only so-so for both Bunn models CR tested.
For grind-and-brew models, which are typically a hassle to clean, the Mr. Coffee GBX23 ($50) has a blade grinder and is a CR Best Buy. It’s far less expensive than the Capresso Coffee Team Therm 455 ($295) and the Krups KM70-00 ($130), both of which have burr grinders with a bucket that accepts the freshly ground beans and automatically swings in place for brewing.
Among models that also make espresso, CR recommends the CR Best Buy Emerson CCM901 ($90) and the Krups XP1500 ($105). However, neither matched the best machines in coffee-brewing tests.
How to choose SUBHEAD
Multicup models with carafes can brew a full pot at once while brew stations refill a cup or mug directly. To-go models make a mug or two in about 3 minutes instead of the usual 6. Other features to consider:
— Programmable coffeemakers are widely available. Most models can have coffee ready at a specific time.
— Thermal carafes come with some machines, cost about $20 to $40 a la carte, and help keep coffee warm without heating, avoiding a burned taste.
— Brew-strength control adjusts brewing time or lets some water pass around the beans for milder coffee without underbrewing.
— Pod models brew neatly from a sealed packet. But many are limited to only the company’s coffee, which can be pricey per cup. What’s more, pod machines have been unimpressive in CR’s past tests.
Regardless of the price or special features, CR recommends starting with good coffee. Other tips for getting the best coffee include grinding at home, using filtered water and cleaning the machine as often as recommended.