When it comes to electric coffee makers, you have three main options: automatic drip or filter coffee machines, which are the most common type in the United States; "pod" systems, which are a newer variation on the filter coffee makers; and percolators, the most traditional style.
- Affordable and easy to use
- Make enough cups for most households
- Difficult to customize blends for individuals
Automatic drip coffee makers became popular because they brew quickly and can be easily cleaned. These coffee makers have baskets that either are fitted with a mesh filter that can be removed for cleaning or are lined with a disposable paper filter. Water heats up in a separate tank, then drips through the coffee grounds and goes into a plastic, glass or stainless steel carafe. Usually the carafe sits on a hotplate that keeps the coffee hot.
Automatic drip machines make anywhere from four to 12 cups of coffee and cost from $15 to $200. Optional features that add to the price but may also add to your enjoyment include: settings that allow you to schedule the brewing time, built-in grinders or temperature controls, automatic shut-off switches, and a thermal carafe instead of a hot plate.
Pod systems are the newest way of making coffee. Instead of placing grounds into a filter basket, the user inserts a pre-packaged pod of ground coffee. Each pod holds just enough for one cup of coffee. Most systems have their own line of pods, but many brand-name coffees also sell their coffee in pods. Pods come in a variety of coffee blends and flavors. Most pod brewers cost between $40 and $100, but some machines run upward of $400.
- Good for households with only one coffee drinker or coffee drinkers who prefer different blends
- Pod coffee costs more than standard grounds or beans
Percolators look like metal pitchers and can make from two to 10 cups of coffee depending on the size. Inside is a small metal basket for the ground coffee. After filling the pitcher with water, you either heat it on the stove top, or, if the percolator has an integrated heating element, turn the percolator on to heat the water. As it heats, it is drawn up a tube that leads to the coffee grounds, where it then drips over the coffee. The brew is ready when all the water has passed through the ground coffee. Prices range from $25 to $100 except for commercial-style urns, which can cost several hundred dollars.
- Coffee is fast and hot
- Urns make enough coffee for large parties or meetings
- High temperature
- Too many circulations of the water can lead to bitter flavor