There’s nothing better than waking up to a fresh cup of coffee in the morning to get going. But unless you have a personal assistant, you’ll first have to make that cup of coffee.
And that involves measuring out your coffee beans, grinding them, compressing the grounds and waiting for your coffee to brew.
The next best thing is a fully automatic coffee machine, which can make you a cup of barista-level coffee with just the touch of a button.
If you’ve been contemplating taking the plunge, here are 10 things you should consider before purchasing your coffee machine.
1. How do you like your coffee?
If you’re particular about the intensity of the flavour or the amount of crema produced, then you’ll need something more than your run-of-the-mill coffee machine.
Prefer having a variety of drink options to choose from, such as latte, americano or cappuccino? Your coffee machine should be able to froth milk or dispense hot water/hot milk.
2. How much coffee do you consume?
When choosing which coffee machine model to buy, you should consider how many people will be using the machine to ensure that you purchase one with the right capacity for the water tank, hopper and dump box.
You wouldn’t want a machine that makes too little coffee at one time, meaning you’ll have to brew coffee more frequently, or too much coffee, which leads to wastage of perfectly good coffee.
3. How often do you drink coffee in a day?
Do you just drink coffee in the morning or usually drink it throughout the day? If you fall in the latter category, having a coffee machine with a thermal carafe is a good idea, as it will keep your coffee at comfortable drinking temperature.
Some machines come with a warming plate to keep your brewed coffee piping hot, but if you leave it on for too long, it may cause your coffee to develop a “burnt” taste.
4. Where will the machine go?
Before you go out and buy a machine, make sure you have enough space for it! Set aside a dedicated area for the coffee machine and make sure it’s at a convenient and accessible location.
Based on the chosen location, you should be able to easily refill the water tank and dump used grounds.
5. How fast and how hot does it brew coffee?
Admittedly, there’s no point in getting a fully automatic coffee machine if you could make a cup manually in the same amount of time. So speed is important, especially if you’re pressed for time in the morning on your way out the door to go to work.
Another point to consider is how hot the machine brews the coffee. The optimal brewing temperature for coffee is around 91℃ to 96℃, so make sure you get a machine that can consistently brew at high temperatures.
6. How noisy is it?
Strangely enough, this isn’t something most people think about when buying a coffee machine, but it’s certainly something they’ll notice from the first time they use it.
If your machine includes a built-in coffee bean grinder, then noise is unavoidable, but some machines do a good job of keeping it to minimal levels. Ask for a demonstration so you can hear it for yourself.
7. How user-friendly is it?
Whether you’re an espresso purist who loves to customise your drink to the tiniest detail or you prefer a machine that will take all the hard work of making coffee out of your hands, the more user-friendly and intuitive your coffee machine is, the better.
Ideally, you should be able to get the coffee you want with a few simple buttons.
8. Does it have smart features?
The latest high-end coffee machines offer numerous smart features that make the coffee-making process easier than ever, such as auto-start (so it will have your coffee ready in the morning) and auto-stop (so you don’t have to worry about whether you turned it off).
Some even include customisable settings that allow you to program your preferred drink so that you can enjoy the perfect brew at the press of a button every time — this particularly useful if you live in a household of coffee drinkers, so each can set their own profile.
9. Is it easy to clean and maintain?
Getting down to the nitty-gritty of it, a coffee machine that is easy to clean and maintain is a keeper.
It should be a cinch to refill the water tank and coffee bean compartment, as well as disposing of used grounds and clearing out the drip tray. Some machines come with automatic descaling and cleaning programs, which does away with much of the hassle.
Once in a while, your machine will likely need a more thorough maintenance check — in this case, you should look to purchase a machine from a company with a good customer service track record, especially when it comes to warranty, repairs and replacement parts.
10. What do the reviews say?
Last but not least, be sure to check out what users have to say about the model you’re eyeing. Is it all that it’s cracked up to be?
This will save you the trouble of any surprises if the machine turns out not to be what you expected.
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