If you haven’t noticed, coffee maker manufacturers have been greatly capitalizing on our intense love of coffee and providing us with coffee makers that are continually becoming more expensive. So how do we determine what we really want and what we really need in order to find a coffee maker that’s well made, practical for us, and perhaps most importantly, within our price range? Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be well on your way to a confident purchase that won’t break your bank.
- Basic Requirements
You should always start by determining what your basic, bottom line needs are. Set firm requirements and put them down on a list. These are what you need or require, no matter what. It can look something like this:
- Delayed Brew Option
- Thermal Carafe
- Pause ‘n Serve Function
- Adjustable Brew Strength
- Automatic Shut-Off
- Boil Dry Protection
- Price Research
After you know your basic requirements, do some price research for coffee makers with just the minimum of what you want. This will give you an idea of what you’re looking at as you start to do the rest of your research.
- Consider the Brand
When you’ve got a list of your requirements and a price idea, then you can break down the field by brand. Some brands will automatically be out of your price range, but this just makes the field smaller and easier to navigate. Different brands will also offer you different warranties, and knowing this information is crucial. For example, most Cuisinart coffee makers come with a 3-year warranty. A Black & Decker coffee maker will most likely have a 2-year warranty, and a brand like Proctor Silex will usually have a 1-year warranty. Look for brands that include the needed accessories in the purchase itself. Perhaps there are some brands’ styles that you prefer over others. Sometimes one brand is simply more user-friendly than another.
- Consider the Additional Purchases
After you know the brand of choice, then look at the coffee makers in terms of what kind of money it will potentially cost you in the long term. Does it come with a permanent filter, or is it going to require a constant supply of paper filters? Does it have a water filtration system that will need to be continually maintained? Does it work only with certain grinds of coffee (espresso, Turkish fine, etc.). Does it work only with coffee pods? Does it require you to buy special cleaning products? These little details are incredibly important because even the most inexpensive coffee maker can become just the opposite in a short amount of time.
- Consider the Amount of Coffee You Drink
If you’re going to go through 12 cups a day, don’t attempt to go for the cheaper 4-cup coffee maker, making three pots a day. You will quickly lose any money saved on the extra energy and filters. If on the other hand, you only make one cup a day and often find yourself making an entire pot that gets wasted, it may be more cost-effective for you to buy a 1-cup machine or even a pod coffee maker.
- Re-Evaluate Your Price
Once you’ve got a definite feel for what you’re looking at, you can do a little re-evaluating. Maybe you have more room in your budget than you thought, or maybe you need to cut a feature to accommodate for a brand with a better warranty. But before you add room for more features or cut some of those that you already have, finalize a price point. This way when you actually do go in to the store or start browsing an online store, you’ll have a limit point and the temptation to go higher when you see that “extra-special” feature won’t be such a problem. You might also find something on sale, which will allow you to get something even better but under your max point.
Guest contributor Tara Alley is a coffee fanatic who prefers to start every day with an Americano. She currently works alongside Coffee Home Direct, researching the best coffee makers on the market.