There is nothing like a fresh, hot cup of joe in the morning. But the prices at your corner big-name coffeehouse can leave a bit to be desired. So what do you do? The answer is simple: You become your own barista. But whether you've been drinking coffee for years or have just started your journey into java, it can be difficult to figure out which type of coffee you want to start brewing at home. This guide will help you figure out which type of coffee maker is your morning soul mate.
Espresso machines: If you're looking to make your own lattes or cappuccinos, this machine is the one you want. When looking for espresso machines, keep in mind that there are different levels of automation. Some are fully automatic; they do pretty much everything for you other than putting the cup in the machine. They grind the beans, heat the water, steam the milk, and then deliver the drink into your waiting mug. If you're looking for an espresso machine that gives you more control, make sure you have a separate, good grinder to grind your beans well. And unless you've used a steamer before, you will also want to practice steaming your milk before you add it to your espresso.
Drip coffee machines: Drip machines are popular because they are easy to use and relatively inexpensive. Like espresso machines, there are drip machines that will grind your beans for you. If you prefer to go with a less-automated model, you can buy a grinder yourself or purchase pre-ground beans. You can also buy programmable drip machines, so you can wake up every morning to a freshly brewed pot right out of bed. Another plus to drip coffee is that you can pick your strength. Unlike espresso, which can only be brewed to one strength, a drip coffee machine lets you decide just how strong you want your coffee.
Percolators: A percolator is a multi-chambered pot that uses steam pressure to force boiling water into the top chamber. The water then seeps through the filter and the grounds, and the process is repeated until the percolator is removed from the heat; some percolators have a thermostat that turns off the heater when the entire pot reaches a certain temperature. You will need an outside heat source, but you don't need electricity for many of these pots, so percolators are popular in campsites or other areas where electricity is not readily available. The percolators can recirculate the brewed coffee through the beans, which can result in over-brewing, though percolator fans consider the result a robust flavor that can only be achieved through percolation.
French press: Also known as a "press pot," a French press can deliver some of the richest coffee that you can make in your home. French presses are more portable and self-contained than other machines and, like percolators, do not require electricity. They do, however, require that you heat the water yourself. You will want to use a coarser ground bean than the pre-ground beans you find in the stores. This means you will either have to grind the beans yourself or request that a coffee shop grind the beans for you. You should also expect a more hands-on experience with a French press. You do most of the work, in that you pour the water, let it brew, stir it, and then press. But you also have more control: Depending on how long you let the grounds brew in the water, you can brew your French press coffee to any strength you choose. Since the water and the coffee grounds have more contact with each other than they do in other brewing processes, the resulting coffee contains more coffee flavor and essential oils, which would normally be trapped in the paper filters of drip coffee machines.