Choosing a coffee machine for the home might be a challenging process as it takes a long time to learn about all the differences in functionality and features. But once you decide exactly what you need, it will be much easier to choose.
Image by Soner Köse from Pixabay
First, let’s define the term “coffee machine”. The coffee machine is an automatic espresso coffee maker that can automatically brew anything from espresso and café crème to full-fledged cappuccino or latte make-up.
Functionality – “with milk” or without
If you prefer classic espresso-based drinks – the espresso itself and the cream cafe, then choose a coffee machine without automatic milk frothing. A lot of coffee machines fall into this category. One way or another, usually on any of these coffee machines there is an additional opportunity to manually whip milk with steam and get the whole range of drinks based on espresso and whipped and heated milk. True, there are very rare examples of coffee machines without a steam supply function at all. When choosing this type of coffee machine, we recommend that you pay attention to this point if you plan to sometimes prepare coffee drinks with milk.
If you prefer drinks based on espresso and milk, we recommend that you consider the options for coffee machines with a so-called cappuccino maker or milk jug.
In models with auto cappuccinatores, the process of making drinks with milk is usually automated – steam is supplied to the auto cappuccinatore from the steam generator, cooled milk is drawn in from any suitable container, then it is whipped and heated, after which it is fed into a cappuccino cup, a latte make-up glass, or into special utensils for frothing milk (a pitcher). In this case, the espresso is already prepared in advance or you prepare it after frothing milk directly into the container. Such coffee units are more complex in design and production. Yet you can get the best coffee with coffee press.
Accordingly, the cost is higher than conventional coffee machines without automation of the preparation of frothed milk.
In the models with the so-called “milk carafe”, the preparation of espresso and milk drinks is fully automatic. In this case, the program of the coffee machine usually includes several variations of drinks and, accordingly, the sequences of preparation. You just have to fill the coffee machine with all the ingredients you need: coffee beans (or ground coffee), fresh milk, and water. Such a coffee machine will do the rest by itself. The choice of this type of coffee machine is preferable in the case of regular consumption of coffee drinks with milk and the lack of any skills in their preparation.
There are rare examples of coffee machines with a built-in compartment for fresh milk or with a milk module removed in a separate item. But those are rather exceptions. One way or another, if you don’t use it, you will have to take out the container with milk and put it in the refrigerator.
2. Interface – buttons or touch control, display, or LED indication
According to the interface, coffee machines are usually subdivided into models with push-button or touch control. For the choice here, only your choice matters – as it is more convenient or pleasant for you – to press the buttons on the control panel or simply touch it in the desired zone. Sometimes coffee machines are equipped with so-called “touchscreens” (touch screens) or even hybrid control (both touchscreen and regular buttons). One way or another – here only one factor influences the choice – how you like best.
By indication (the coffee machine by means of the indicator gives you various messages) – usually, the models are subdivided into samples with a display or with an LED display panel. Displays are graphical and textual. Graphic displays are usually more ergonomic and easier to understand than text displays. Simpler models – with LED indication of the status of the coffee machine. Here sometimes it is necessary to study the instructions many times to remember all the signals that the coffee machine gives you. There is also a kind of LED indication – symbolic – a little more understandable and user-friendly – ready-made drawn symbols for signaling the state of the coffee machine and its needs are illuminated on the display panel.
In addition to interface features, it’s important to choose the color of the coffee maker to fit the design of your kitchen. For example, if your kitchen is designed in a traditional style, buttons will be more appropriate than touch control. But if you have a contemporary high-tech style, the color of the coffee machine might add an additional trait to it. For example, a pink coffee maker might be a fine bright detail in your kitchen.
3. Functionality – “with ground coffee” or without
Simpler models of coffee machines have the ability to brew espresso-only with grain coffee. Models of coffee machines are a little more complicated – they have the additional opportunity to prepare espresso using pre-ground coffee, for example, decaffeinated coffee. This expands your options in choosing the type of coffee without removing all the beans from the coffee grinder built into the coffee machine.
4. Additional features
There are models of coffee machines with 2 built-in coffee grinders – this makes it possible to get espresso with different types of coffee, both of which will be brewed with relatively freshly ground coffee. Also, in this case, the function of the simplest blending (mixing) of ground coffee from different coffee grinders is usually available. Such models are usually more expensive to buy and do maintenance.
There are also coffee machines with smart control functionality to start the process of coffee making right from your smartphone.