For many, there are few better ways to start the day than with a cup of fragrant, freshly-brewed coffee. Buying a cup of coffee every morning, however, can be an expensive habit. A much more economical approach is to purchase a home coffee maker; even an elaborate, expensive model with a price to match will represent a saving over purchasing a fancy coffee hundreds of times over the course of a year.
Some home appliances have one basic form. Toasters,, for example, all operate on roughly the same principle and differ mainly in the special features they may offer. Coffee machines, however, can use a number of different brewing techniques. These include boiling, gravity feed, total immersion, and steeping under pressure. In addition, some types of coffee machines use a combination of these brewing processes.
Types of Coffee Machines
One of the first decisions a shopper should consider is the kind of machine that would suit them best. Understanding how each type of coffee maker works is important because it has implications for the time needed to brew a cup as well as the amount of work that will have to go into cleaning up the machine after use. Knowing about the various types will also help shoppers pick out the special features that may be of use to them.
One of the simplest types of coffee machines is the coffee press, which requires no electricity to operate. This type of coffee machine is also known as a French press. In order to make coffee, users combine ground coffee beans and preheated water in the machine's cylinder for a few minutes. When the coffee has brewed long enough, a metal plunger is pressed down through the mixture. This filters the grounds from the water so that the top layer will consist of coffee that is ready to drink. Coffee presses are generally used to make relatively small quantities of coffee at one time; they can typically produce one to two cups per operation. Clean up is relatively swift because the press itself is small and quick to wash. Coffee press users need to be careful about the coffee they purchase as this type of coffee maker functions best with coarse grinds. A final advantage of the coffee press is that it is a very inexpensive option even though it can produce a fine cup of coffee.
Drip Coffee Machines
The most familiar type of coffee maker for most people is the drip machine, which brews coffee by allowing heated water to drop through a reservoir filled with ground coffee beans. Fancy models are capable of grinding whole beans prior to beginning the drip brewing process, but most drop coffee makers require users to fill the reservoir with pre-ground beans. Drip machines run on electricity and require the use of a filter to keep grounds out of the final product. Disposable filters are convenient, but they add to the cost of using a drip machine. Permanent filters made of metal mesh may save money in the long run, but they must be rinsed clean after each use. Most drip machines direct coffee into a pot and can make four or even eight cups at once. Some drip machines, however, direct the coffee into a special cup instead. These insulated cups can then be capped for a commute to work. Fancy drip machines feature programmable timers so that users can wake up to find their coffee ready and waiting for them.
Some people regard percolators as a bit old-fashioned, but for others, there is no better way to produce a good cup of coffee. A percolator uses a mix of methods for brewing. Water is boiled in a chamber, creating pressure which forces it upward to a container filled with grounds. Gravity then causes the water to drip back down into the main chamber. This process repeats itself until the machine is switched off manually or by a timer. Percolators are available in both electric models and ones that brew coffee on the stove. Percolators can produce a cup of coffee that is considerably stronger than one in which the water only passes through the grounds once. Some people, however, find that percolated coffee to be excessively bitter. Modern percolators can feature convenience features such as fully programmable digital timers.
Pressure Brew Machines
Many types of coffee machines must brew an entire batch at once. A pressure brew machine, in contrast, features a reservoir with water that is kept hot and dispensed on demand throughout the day. Users make coffee by pressing a button that causes hot water to be forced through the grounds; they can make as much or as little coffee as they please as long as water remains in the reservoir. This type of machine, therefore, provides coffee on demand and does not require users to wait for water to slowly drip through the grounds. Most pressure brew machines feature digital controls that allow full programming. Some advanced models will both grind and brew the beans, allowing users to select the size of grounds preferred.
Pod Coffee Machines
In recent years, pod-based coffee machines have become a popular option. A pod machine is designed to brew a single cup of coffee at a time, but because they have a hot water reservoir, they can make several cups in quick succession. Instead of purchasing whole coffee beans or ground coffee in bulk, users typically purchase pre-made plastic pods that are filled with a variety of speciality and flavoured coffees. These pods can also be filled with tea or even hot cocoa, making a pod machine a versatile hot drinks maker rather than simply a coffee machine. Pod machines are highly convenient to use and since they brew directly into a standard coffee cup, there is never any pot to clean. Because the pods themselves are simply discarded after use, pod machines need almost no maintenance in terms of daily cleaning. On the other hand, the required pods are a bit of a specialty item and can be quite expensive; on a per-cup basis, pod machines are among the most expensive of coffee makers to operate. Still, the coffee they produce is still a remarkable bargain when compared to the alternative of purchasing a cup from a coffee shop each morning. For some coffee lovers, the best of both worlds is a pod machine combined with permanent refillable coffee pods, which have now become available. This adds an extra preparation step and requires more clean up time, but produces significant savings.
Specialty Coffee Machines
Fancy types of coffee such as espresso and cappuccino can also be brewed in machines intended for home use.
Espresso machines force hot water through a particularly fine ground of coffee to produce an extremely strong variety of the drink. Although pre-ground espresso is available in shops that carry fancy coffee varieties, many espresso machines also provide a grinding function that can produce grounds that are close to the consistency of powder. Home espresso machines generally brew either one or two shots at a time, but some models can make more espresso in a single operation. As with standard coffee makers, fully automated and programmable espresso models are available.
Many espresso machines can also produce cappuccino, which is a mixture of espresso and hot milk topped off with a foamy layer of steamed, frothed milk.
Find Coffee Machines on eBay
The online shopping site eBay features a large selection of most common types of coffee maker. Shoppers can search the site for the machine of their choice using the handy search bar, but a more systematic shopping approach involves navigating via eBay's organised system of categories. To find the coffee machine category, users should begin at Home & Garden and select the option labelled Furniture & Living. From there, select Cookware, Dining, & Bar and choose Small Appliances. This enables eBay shoppers to select Coffee Machines/Makers. Once the category page loads, users can browse the listings or use the left-hand pane to select machine types, brands, and features of interest. The coffee machine category also allows shoppers to filter listings according to the power levels various machines use and the number of cups they are able to produce in a single operation.
Coffee is not everyone's cup of tea, but those who love the beverage generally find a coffee maker a necessity. Coffee makers differ greatly in their brewing method and features. The online shopping site eBay is an excellent place to shop for coffee makers in part because the category typically has thousands of listings at any one time. To help shoppers make sense of the huge volume of coffee machines available, eBay provides helpful filtering tools that allow site users to quickly display the listings that interest them the most.