Filter coffee is the simplest and most popular way to brew coffee worldwide. Also known as drip coffee, brewed coffee and pour-over coffee, this simple process deserves it’s popularity. It is so popular that when the majority of people say ‘coffee’ they are referring to filter coffee.
Filter coffee gets its name because ground coffee beans are placed in a filter. The filter is held above a container and hot water is poured on to the filter and drips down into a container below. As the water seeps through the ground coffee it absorbs the chemicals that make up the flavour of coffee. The filter retains the coffee grounds leaving clear coffee in the lower container.
Unlike espresso that makes one or two shots of coffee at a time, filter coffee makes a large quantity although you can adjust it to make only one mug if you want. Espresso forces pressurised water through coffee whereas filter coffee uses gravity to let the water gently seep through the coffee so it is quieter and requires less energy. The taste is different with espresso being intense and concentrated while filter coffee is not as strong but brings out the complex flavours more. Filter coffee is often drunk black (although milk can be added) while espresso is usually mixed with steamed milk to make drinks like cappuccino and latte. If you are interested in espresso machines, take a look at our guide to make sure you find the perfect choice for your tastes.
The two main ways to brew filter coffee are with a filter coffee machine or with a cone. Using a cone is the ultimate low-tech way to make coffee and is also called pour-over. However, a filter coffee machine is definitely the easiest and best way to make a cup of coffee. Using a machine means you can guarantee each time getting a cup of coffee the way you like it whereas pour-over is much more variable. Modern advances have added convenient features such as timers and carafes that stay hot. A good filter coffee machine is an essential investment for any coffee lover.
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Features to Look For in Filter Coffee Machines
There’s a wide choice of filter coffee machines available with ones to suit all budgets and lifestyles. Coffee is the most popular drink in the world so it’s not surprising that designers are constantly coming up with new ways to improve the taste. Here are some features to look out for when you are choosing a machine.
Becoming popular in the last few years, this delivers the water onto the ground coffee through small holes that spray in different directions, making sure all the coffee gets wet. Older machines where the coffee comes out of one central hole can leave the edges of the filter dry so your coffee is weaker and you are wasting some of your ground coffee.
As mentioned above, blooming makes a lot of difference to the taste of your coffee and some machines have blooming time built into the brewing cycle. This is ideal as otherwise it can be fiddly to do manually. If there is no blooming cycle it is worth seeing if you can pause the cycle manually to allow time for your coffee to bloom.
A timer lets you set your coffee to start brewing at a specific time so it is ready and waiting for you. If you need a coffee to kickstart your day then this is a feature you want as it means you can set up your machine the night before and when you stagger into the kitchen half asleep in the morning your coffee is ready and waiting for you. If you can afford it then invest in a bean-to-cup filter coffee machine as then the beans are freshly ground and have lost none of their flavour sitting in the machine overnight.
It is important to look at the size of the machine and think about where you are going to put it. Filter coffee machines are usually left on the side and not put away as they can be heavy and it is a chore to empty them out. If you have wall cupboards then you need to check the machine will fit underneath. The majority of filter coffee machines have lids on top so you need to allow room for them to open and for you to tip water or coffee into them. You may want to check the height of the machine when it is sat on the countertop as well. I have a friend who has to stand on a stool so she can see where to pour the water into her machine.
It is vital to regularly clean your filter coffee machine, both to improve the taste of your coffee and to make sure it doesn’t break. The more removeable parts there are then the easier it is to clean. Machines that remind you when to clean and descale are also useful.
One of the newer trends is for filter coffee machines to have an inbuilt water filter. Not only does this reduce the need to descale the machine but it also gives a more consistently good flavour to the coffee.
Practical Water Tanks
This might just be a personal bugbear but it is worth having a good look at the water tank. Many of them can be very awkwardly designed, making it hard to get the water in without spilling it in the wrong place. Water gauges are frequently put in places difficult to view them or are non-existent. Ideally, the water tank should be removable to make it easy to clean and fill but this is very rare.
Because filter coffee is usually made in larger quantities it is traditional to have a hotplate to keep it warm. However, if coffee is left stewing on a hotplate for more than half an hour it starts to develop a bitter, unpleasant taste. For this reason, few filter coffee machines made today have hotplates that stay on longer than 40 minutes. Many allow you to program how long you would like the hotplate to stay on. Instead of a hotplate, some machines now use insulated jugs that keep the coffee warm for several hours without affecting the taste.
Most machines will have some kind of anti-drip function so that if the carafe of coffee is removed before the coffee has finished filtering the coffee won’t continue to drip out. It is usually best to wait for the coffee to completely finish it’s brewing cycle before drinking it but if you haven’t had a coffee for a while you might not be feeling that patient! Just be careful as some machines just stop the coffee dripping out into the jug and don’t stop it entering the filter so if the jug is removed too long water could overflow from the top of the filter.
Best Filter Coffee Machines
If coffee is an important part of your life then it is worth investing in a good filter coffee machine. In the long run a good quality filter coffee machine will save you money and last you for decades. We had our filter coffee machine for over twenty five years and we have passed it on to some friends and it is still producing excellent coffee.
For such a simple method of making coffee it is surprising how much choice there is when it comes to filter coffee machines. New advances have made many improvements and there is now a coffee machine to suit everyone’s lifestyle. These are our recommendations of the best machines available.
1. Sage SDC450BSS the Precision Brewer Coffee Maker
Sage have deservingly built up a reputation for making excellent coffee machines and this filter coffee machine is no exception. Like all Sage products you get a solid, quality machine. They call it a Precision Brewer because they have given you detailed control over every part of the coffee making process so you can get precisely the taste you want. One of the innovations that gives this flexibility is the unique coil heater and pump that means the temperature can be precisely controlled to a single degree with a range between 197 to 204 degrees.
The Sage Precision Brewer comes with a pre-set ‘Gold’ option calibrated to the recommendations of the experts. Ironically this setting is so good that many who brought the machine for the adjustability have found they just use the Gold setting. Other options are ‘Fast’ that will make 1.8 litres of coffee in 7 minutes, ‘Strong’ that uses a higher temperature and a longer brew time to make more intense coffee, ‘Cold Brew’ that makes cold brew coffee with a choice of 4 – 24 hour brewing time, ‘Over Ice’ that makes stronger coffee to compensate for the dilution of melting ice cubes and ‘My Brew’ which allows you to adjust the blooming time, brew temperature and flow rate to your personal preference. You can also buy an adapter so you can use it with the ‘Pour Over’ option which lets you use something like a Hario V60 or Kajava dripper.
You have a choice of filter baskets. There is a cone shaped basket that you will have to buy paper filters for and can be used to make up to 1.2 litres of coffee. You can lift out the cone filter and use the flat bottom container instead. You can either line it with a paper filter, 10 of which are supplied, or use the metal mesh basket. The flat bottom filter is needed is you want to make the full 1.8 litres of coffee. The Cold Brew and Over Ice options both require you to use the flat bottomed mesh filter.
Other useful features are an AutoStart function so you can set it up the night before and have your coffee ready and waiting when you wake up. Even the length of the time of the Standby function can be adjusted to suit you. It has a Child Lock feature to give you peace of mind if you have younger ones. There is an integrated Water Softener and you get water hardness strips that you use to set up the machine before using it. This machine even lets you choose whether to use Celsius or Fahrenheit. A coffee scoop is included and one flat scoop generally makes 150ml of coffee.
One of the clever features is the that you can brew just one mug of coffee. Fill your mug with water and tip it into the water tank. As long as it is less than the Single Cup Line (20oz or 600ml) the machine will adjust to make sure you get a tasty cup of coffee. You will need the cone filter basket and make sure you have measured the appropriate amount of coffee.
Instead of the traditional heating plate you might be expecting, the Sage Precision Brewer has a thermal jug. The jug will keep your coffee hot for several hours. The advantage of a thermal jug over a hotplate is that the coffee stays with the same flavour instead of getting the acrid, over-brewed that the traditional hotplate is notorious for. Just be aware that the bottom of the thermal jug will be hot so don’t put it down on any surface that could be burnt.
The Sage Precision Brewer is designed to remind you of the things you may forget. It beeps three times when the coffee is brewed, it will tell you if you have the wrong basket and it reminds you when it needs cleaning, descaling or the water softener changing.
- Can be adjusted in every, possible way
- Temperature controlled, showerhead water delivery
- Allows blooming time
- Integrated water filter
- Thermal jug to keep coffee warm without affecting the taste.
- Can make from a single cup up to 1.8 litres of coffee.
- The water tank can’t be removed to be filled or cleaned.
- It’s big, 36 x 17 x 40 cm, and it’s functional brushed steel and black plastic trim is not as stylish as it could be.
- No timer function.
- It’s expensive but there are plenty of spare parts and it will probably last you a lifetime.
- The Sage Precision Brewer Thermal is a 1.7L drip coffee maker with thermal carafe that allows you to brew third wave speciality coffee at home, automatically; Experience your favourite coffee at its...
- AUTOMATIC PRESETS AND CUSTOMISABLE: 6 unique brewing modes ensure you enjoy the perfect balanced coffee every time; Preset modes include Gold, Fast, Strong, Iced, Cold Brew and My Brew, all so you can...
- PRECISE & ADJUSTABLE TEMPERATURE: Coffee maker with precise digital temperature control (PID), 3 different flow rates to optimise contact time and Thermo Coil Heating System delivering water that is...
The Sage Precision Brewer covers all your filter coffee needs, gives you full control of every step and produces excellent coffee. A bit expensive but you get your money’s worth.
2. Ariete 1342/05 Retro Style Filter Coffee Machine
If you like the retro vibe then this is the filter coffee machine for you. It would look completely at home in a 1950s kitchen but it has all the 21st century functionality. You get a choice of blue, green or beige and there are other matching appliances available.
There is a round LCD display in the centre with clearly marked buttons underneath. You will need to set the clock but this is easily done using the ‘HR’ and ‘MIN’ buttons. A handy feature is that you can use the ‘Auto’ button to set a time for your coffee to start brewing.
The Ariete Retro Style Filter Machine also allows you to adjust the strength of your coffee. For a normal strength coffee simply press the picture of the coffee cup and it will start dispensing. However you can press the ‘MODE’ up to three times, each press increasing the intensity of your coffee. If you press the ‘MODE’ button four times you activate a feature that allows you to filter a smaller amount of coffee, between two to six cups. Bear in mind that when says two cups that’s what most people would call one mug.
The manufacturers recommend cleaning your filter coffee machine once a month. They suggest filling it with a mixture of white vinegar and water. Pressing the ‘MODE’ button five times will start the self-cleaning cycle that will last about an hour. Descaling will also need to carried out regularly with the hardness of the water where you live determining how often.
How to Use
The Ariete Retro Style Filter Machine is simple to use. There’s no way to see how much water there is in the tank so it’s best to use the carafe to check you have the right amount. The lid hinges up from the rear of the machine. The water goes down the back and your ground coffee goes on the middle. You have to put in a minimum of two cups of water and a ratio of a scoop of coffee to a cup of water is a good starting point. You get a flat-bottomed mesh filter basket that is washable or you could also use an additional paper filter. Once two cups of coffee have dripped into the carafe you can remove it and the flow of coffee will pause for 30 seconds. When you replace the carafe it will start again immediately. A hot plate will keep your coffee warm for 40 minutes then it will beep to tell you it is turning off.
- It looks really cool!
- Timer function allowing to program up to 24 hours in advance.
- Strength of coffee adjustable and half jug option.
- It’s fiddly to clean.
- It’s big and heavy, 21 x 23.5 x 35 cm, but did I mention it looks good on your counter-top.
- You can’t see how much water is in the reservoir so you have to be careful to measure how much to pour in.
- Retro design will bring a quirky style to your kitchen
- Allows you to make up to 12 cups of coffee at a time
- 24 hour programmable timer means you can wake up to a fresh brew every morning
If you like the retro look then this is the machine for you. Well made with a timer and adjustable strength settings to get coffee just the way you like it.
3. Smeg DCF02RDUK Drip Coffee Machine
Instantly recognisable as a Smeg appliance, this is a very good-looking filter coffee machine. It is available in red, grey, green, white, black, cream, blue and stainless steel so it will fit in with any colour scheme and it matches the rest of the Smeg range of appliances. More to the point, it make a good cup of coffee.
Set up involves setting the clock, choosing your time format, enabling or disabling sounds and choosing between three levels of water hardness. While there a number of buttons besides the oval LCD screen at the top of the machine, adjustment is actually performed by a lever on the lower right side of the machine. Whichever mode you are in, pushing the lever either up or down will provide options and pushing it in will select your choice.
How to Use
It’s a bit tricky to fill the water tank as the lid restricts the space where you need to tilt the jug. A scoop is provided and one flat scoop needs one cup of water. There is a gauge on the righthand side of the machine so you can check you have the right quantity of water.
This is a decent size machine. It measures 25.6 x 24.5 x 36 cm and it feels solid with generous metal trim. It makes 1.4 litres of coffee, that the manufacturer says is 10 cups. It has a handy option to only make 4 cups for when you just want one mug of coffee. If you choose the 4 cup option the heating plate is disabled.
The Smeg Drip Coffee machine comes with a plastic mesh cone filter that fits into a removable filter basket. Both the filter and basket can go in the dishwasher. You could choose to use a different filter instead of the mesh one supplied.
There is a button with a picture of a coffee bean on it. This is the ‘Aroma’ button. On left of the LCD you will see a similar image of a coffee bean. The default setting is ‘Delicate’ represented by one coffee bean. To choose the stronger ‘Intense’ setting press the button and you will now see two coffee beans on the display.
The water is delivered by a wide area spray, similar to a showerhead, and drips down into the glass carafe. When the machine has finished filtering a hotplate comes on for 40 mins. The Smeg Drip Coffee machine has a handy timer feature so you can set your coffee to start brewing when you choose.
The machine will flash to indicate to when it needs cleaning and descaling, according to the water hardness level you chose. You can ignore it and carry on making coffee but it will need regular cleaning. The cleaning programme is simple to run.
- Iconic Smeg styling
- Wide water delivery similar to showerhead
- Makes a generous 1.4 litres but has an option to just make one mug.
- Timer function so you can set a time to start your coffee brewing.
- Very loud beeping but there is an option to disable this.
- The jug’s handle is very flimsy and cracks easily.
- It’s very awkward to fill the water tank fully.
- FILTER COFFEE ON DEMAND: prepare a deliciously aromatic, richly-flavoured coffee with the option of selecting the aroma intensity you prefer, to satisfy both the most delicate palates and those in...
- HIGH PERFORMANCE: This machine combines high levels of performance with a unique design, making it an object to show off
- DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY: The filter coffee machine is equipped with an aroma intensity selector (from intense to delicate) with a Digital LED display and Clock / Timer and the Auto Start function to set...
It looks as cool as you would expect from a Smeg appliance but also makes a good cup of coffee with a water delivery system similar to a showerhead and choice of coffee strength.
4. Morphy Richards 163005 Verve Pour Over Filter Coffee Machine
If you would prefer a sleek modern look then this is the filter coffee machine for you. Housed in a square frame elegant frame with rounded edges it looks very different from a traditional filter coffee machine. It is part of the Verve range that aims to combine modern silhouettes with surface textures reminiscent of ceramics. Matching appliances are available in a choice of black, red, white or stainless steel. It is certainly a distinctive look. More important though, they have incorporated the most up to date methods of making coffee.
The Morphy Richards Verve Pour Over has a very straightforward interface that is easy to use. Set up requires little more than setting the clock. The ‘Strength Selector’ button gives you a choice of three levels of intensity. The lid opens from the top and the water is poured into the back of the machine. There is no external water gauge but there are steps internally to indicate how many cup-worth’s of water you have poured in. This is an issue as this is a tall machine and it isn’t easy to see the internal gauge and the machine uses all the water you pour in. The work around is to use the carafe to measure the water accurately.
The filter is in the middle. Morphy Richards describe it as a unique cupcake shape but I would call it a flat bottomed filter. It had a removeable filter basket and a mesh filter. You can replace with a paper filter. The recommendation is 7g of ground coffee per cup of water. Then you just close the lid and press start.
This is where the clever bits come into play. First of all the water is delivered via a showerhead so all the coffee is covered. More unusually, the Morphy Richards Verve Pour will then pause and allow your coffee to bloom! Only a few filter machines have this feature but it makes a big difference to your coffee. The machine will then carry on to quietly brew your coffee. A hot plate will keep the coffee warm for 25 minutes before going into standby mode.
Other useful features are a timer programable up to 12 hours and a smaller 4 cup option obtainable by holding down the ‘Strength Selector’ button down for 3 seconds. This is handy as it makes what most people would consider a single mug of coffee. The full capacity is a generous 1.8 litres that the machine calls 12 cups. There is a cleaning and descaling cycle but the machine will not remind you when it is needed. None of the parts can go in the dishwasher but need washing by hand.
- It pauses to allow blooming.
- Showerhead water delivery to give more even coverage.
- Generous 1.8 litre capacity but also has a function to brew one mug.
- Timer allowing to pre-set up to 12 hours in advance
- It’s taller than average, 32.5 x 24 x 40 cm, so make sure you have enough clearance if you are planning to put it under a cupboard.
- No external water gauge and the internal one can only be viewed by tall people.
- Some people have reported a lot of internal condensation that can be fixed by leaving the lid open after you have finished brewing.
- Programmable timer that allows you to wake up to a fresh coffee
- Pour over technology shower head to create a fuller flavour
- Reusable permanent 'cupcake' filter to create a smoother flavour
A sleek, modern-looking machine with all the latest innovations such as showerhead water delivery and blooming time, to give you an excellent cup of coffee.
5. Melitta Filter Coffee Machine with Insulated Jug
You may remember that the Melitta company was started by the German lady who invented the first paper filter. They have been refining the filtering of coffee for over two hundred years so as you would expect, they make great filter coffee machines.
The Melitta Look Therm Time feels solid and well made. The design has won awards for its looks and it is available in brushed stainless steel with either black or white trim. It’s not small, measuring 29.5 x 30.5 x 47.8 cm but it does make 1.2 litres of coffee.
One of features that make the Melitta Look Therm Time worth paying a bit extra for is the jug. Instead of sitting stewing on a hotplate the insulated thermal jug will keep your coffee warm for hours. It has a clever lid that seals the central valve on top automatically when the coffee has finished filtering. The lid is held firmly in place so it doesn’t come off when you are pouring but can easily be removed by squeezing the clips on the side. To actually pour the coffee you need to press the button on the top of the handle. Grooves have been added to the spout to reduce the chance of the coffee spilling so it can be poured one-handed. There is an antidrip function that stops the flow of coffee when the jug is removed.
There’s also a handy timer feature so you can programme when you want your coffee to brew. There is a back lit LCD display that is easy to view and the control buttons are a little small but easy to press. Before using the machine you need to set the clock and input your water hardness. The Melitta Look Therm Time will then remind you when you need to run a descaling programme to keep the machine running efficiently. It is also designed to shut-down after 15 minutes if you forget to turn it off.
How To Use
Melitta suggest using the jug to fill the water reservoir tank that is marked on one side with small cups and on the other with large cups. Just bear in mind that a small cup is 85ml and a large 125ml. The recommendation is 6g of ground coffee per large cup but that may need adjusting according to taste. The filter basket pivots out to allow access. This machine is designed to work with Melitta number 4 paper filters. However if you are only making half a pot you will need to use number 2 paper filters. Also bear in mind that Melitta make high quality paper filters and if you use cheaper version your coffee may be weaker.
Another extra feature of the Melitta Look Therm Time is the AromaSelector button that adjusts the intensity of your coffee. This appears to work by changing the width of the flow of water into the filter but it’s a handy feature that lets you customise the strength of your coffee.
- Cleverly designed thermal jug keeps your coffee hot without stewing and pours easily and safely.
- Timer function allows you set your coffee brewing remotely.
- You can adjust the intensity of the coffee
- It’s not very easy to clean.
- It doesn’t seem to handle very hard water well despite the cleaning cycle, with many otherwise happy customers reporting that it break after a few months. Customer service is excellent but if you have hard water it would probably be a good idea to filter your water before using it in the machine.
- A mild or strong cup of coffee from the best automatic coffee machine, Indicator on water tank for 10 large cups (125ml) or 15 small cups (85 ml)
- Exceptional taste: Optimal temperature preparation, Adjustable coffee intensity thanks to Aroma Selector, Keeps coffee hot for 2 hours thanks to robust insulated jug with reinforced double wall...
- Coffee ready at the right time thanks to the Timer Feature, Easily handle jug with one hand, Lid and detachable anti-drip filter, Compatible with 1 x 4 filters, Time display, Cable storage...
Two centuries of experience with filter coffee has produced a great machine with a well-designed thermal jug that will keep your coffee warm without ruining the taste.
6. De’Longhi Active Line Drip Filter Coffee Machine
A handy little machine ideal for a couple. The De’Longhi Active comes in black, white and red and you can get matching toaster and kettles. It has a simple, straight-forward design and it is compact, just 28 x 26 x 22cm.
How To Use
Use the glass carafe to fill the water reservoir at the back of the machine. A scoop is included and one level scoop makes one cup of coffee. The ground coffee goes in the filter in the middle. The De’Longhi Active comes with a nylon mesh cone filter but many choose to use a paper filter as well. There is a simple on/off button and the machine will beep when it starts and give three beeps when it has finished beeping. A hotplate will keep the coffee warm for 40 mins before automatically turning off.
The feature that elevates the De’Longhi Active above other similar filter coffee machines is the Aroma button. This feature will slow down the flow of water increasing the contact time with the coffee and improving the taste of your drink and the manufacturer recommends using it if making less than the full jug of coffee.
- Small and stylish with matching toaster and kettle available.
- Aroma button to adjust the taste.
- Simple to use.
- Both the filter and carafe can go in the dishwasher.
- A little bit flimsy.
- It has a maximum capacity of 650 ml that they say is 5 cups but most people would say it’s just 2 mugs.
- The filter needs to be set just right and it can take some fiddling to get right.
- The Anti-drip function only stops the coffee from flowing into the carafe and doesn’t stop the water entering the filter so it can overflow.
- Aroma function - 2 different brewing speed regulations to set the brewing performances.
- Jug warmer base to keep your coffee hot for up to 40 minutes
- Anti drip system - no dripping when carafe is removed. "
If you are looking for a smaller machine that still has full functionality and makes a great cup of coffee then this is the machine for you.
Best Budget Filter Machines
If coffee isn’t something you need every day (I am told there are people who don’t view coffee as a daily essential!) you may want to consider a cheaper machine. Budget machines tend to be quite basic but they can still produce a good cup of coffee.
1. Aigostar Filter Coffee Machine Drip Coffee Maker
For a budget filter coffee machine the Aigostar is a generous size with a 1.25 capacity that the makers reckon is 10 cups. That makes it bigger than you might expect, measuring 31.8 x 28.3 x 21 cm.
How to Use
It’s a straightforward design. You use the carafe to measure the quantity of water you require and pour it into the tank at the back of the machine. Helpfully it has a gauge on the right of the machine so you can check you have the right amount. In the middle is a removable filter basket that takes a nylon mesh cone filter. If you get a plastic taste you could replace the nylon mesh filter with something better. There is a simple on/off button to start your coffee brewing.
The thing that elevates this filter coffee machine above similar machine is that it uses showerhead technology to deliver the water onto the coffee grounds, creating a fuller, more consistent flavour.
A hotplate will keep your coffee warm for 40 mins before the machine turns itself off. There is no cleaning cycle so you will have to remember to clean and descale it yourself, especially in hard water areas.
- Cheap and simple
- Showerhead delivery of water to give a fuller coffee flavour
- No cleaning cycle
- Flimsy construction
- 【Better Coffee Taste】 The filter coffee maker uses latest shower head technology, ensuring flavour is fully extracted. The water is sprayed out over the ground coffee so the whole batch gets the...
- 【Keep Warm & Anti-drip Function】 The nonstick warming plate will keep coffee warm up to 40 minutes after brewing finished. If you just want to grab a quick cup of mid brew, the 30 seconds...
- 【Easy to Use】 A simple on/off button, the drip coffee machine is easy to control. And it will switch off automatically when the coffee is finished. The BPA free carafe has an comfortable grip...
It might be cheap but it has showerhead technology so it makes a great cup of coffee.
2. Morphy Richards 162501 Equip Filter Coffe Machine
This is another basic filter coffee machine. It makes 1.2 litres of coffee is a simple straightforward way.
How to Use
Water goes in the back and Morphy Richards have given you a handy gauge so you can see how much you have put in. There is a filter basket that is supplied with a nylon mesh cone shaped filter. The recommendation is 7g per cup and the machine makes 10 cups but obviously tweak this to your taste. A basic on/off switch sets it going. Left to itself it will activate the hotplate and keep your coffee warm for 40 minutes before switching off automatically.
The Morphy Richards Equip has a couple of features that makes it better than it’s competition. It has the latest showerhead technology which improves the taste of your coffee. It also claims to have an ‘Aroma blender’ that circulates the coffee to improve flavour although it is difficult to see where this feature is or how it works.
There’s no in-built cleaning cycle so you need to remember that yourself. It looks quite smart in black and stainless steel but it’s not small measuring 22 x 21 x 32 cm.
- Cheap and simple
- Showerhead delivery of water to give a fuller coffee flavour
- No cleaning cycle.
- Coffee is not very hot.
- Pour over technology shower head to create a fuller flavour
- The permanent filter is easy to clean and no need to buy filter papers
- The Heat resistant glass carafe and hotplate allows you to keep your coffee warm
A well designed machine, with features like showerhead water delivery some more expensive machines lack, so you can be confident of getting a good cup of coffee.
Bean to Cup Filter Machines
As I am sure you know, freshly ground beans make the best coffee. A brilliant innovation in coffee machines is the bean-to-cup concept. If you can afford one, a bean-to-cup filter machine is an investment you won’t regret.
1. Cuisinart Grind and Brew Plus, Bean to Cup Filter Coffee Maker
This is a great filter coffee machine. It looks and feels like a quality machine and is designed to make you a great cup of coffee.
You get six buttons and a knob clustered around a LCD screen. The screen doesn’t isn’t back lit which might be unhelpful if you have it in a dark corner. The controls are straight forward to use. You will need to set the clock when you first set up the machine and the ‘Programme’ button lets you program your coffee to start brewing at the time you choose. The knob controls the quantity of beans ground, from 4 – 12 cups, but does not control how much water is used. The ‘Strength Control’ button gives you a choice between Mild, Medium and Strong and the screen will display which you have chosen. This works by increasing or decreasing the amount of beans ground slightly. The ‘Grind Off’ button lets you use pre-ground coffee.
A button on the left side of the Cuisinart Grind and Brew Plus releases the filter basket which pivots open from the right side of the machine. A Gold Tone, metal mesh, flat bottomed filter is supplied. This is an excellent filter that just needs rinsing although you can put it in the dishwasher.
How to Use
The water goes in the back of the Cuisinart Grind and Brew Plus and there is a gauge on the righthand side of the machine so you can see how much you have put in. You need to make sure you only put in the amount of water needed as the machine will use all the water. Set the number of cups needed and press start, or set the timer to brew later. The filter has a notch that it has to be lined up correctly or the machine will not work. If you are using pre-ground coffee, choose the ‘Grind Off’ button and put your coffee directly into the filter. The Cuisinart Grind and Brew Plus will beep five times when it has finished brewing. If you can’t wait you can remove the jug and the drip of coffee will pause briefly for 20 seconds.
One of the best things about the Cuisinart Grind and Brew Plus is that it comes with an insulated jug. The jug will keep your coffee warm for hours without overheating it, especially if you warm the jug first by rinsing with hot water. You also get a decent burr grinder. This machine also comes with an inbuilt water filter holder. You get two charcoal filters to get you started but it is easy to buy more. The charcoal filters will need changing every 90 days or less if you have hard water.
Even with the charcoal filters it is still recommended that you descale the Cuisinart Grind and Brew Plus monthly. The filter basket, filter and bean hopper can all be removed for cleaning and can go in the top of your dishwasher if you can’t be bothered to wash them by hand. Once you have removed the hopper you can wipe around with a damp cloth. The cover over the coffee chute flips back so you can clean the chute out. It’s worth giving your machine a good clean weekly to prevent a build-up of ground coffee that could clog up the machine.
- It comes with a high quality Gold Tone, metal mesh filter and a burr grinder.
- The insulated jug will keep your coffee warm for hours without stewing it and ruining the taste.
- It can be fiddly to clean.
- The jug doesn’t pour well and the shape makes it difficult to pour out the last cup and awkward to clean.
- Makes 2 -12 cups of filter coffee
- Automatically grinds whole beans before brewing with the built-in professional burr grinder
- Strength control with strong, medium and mild settings
Probably the best cup-to-bean filter coffee machine currently available. It is designed to make a great cup of coffee with quality parts and a three year guarantee for peace of mind.
2. HAUSWIRT K6 Automatic Grind and Brew Coffee Maker
This is a very stylish machine. It’s an unusual cube shape and is made of white plastic giving it a space-age vibe. It’s smaller and more compact than most filter coffee machines, measuring 25 x 21 x 29, and making just under a litre of coffee.
The controls are very simple and intuitive to use. There’s a screen in the centre with 5 buttons on the righthand side. There’s no timer function so there’s not clock to set. The top button puts it in whole bean mode and the next in pre-ground coffee mode. The next button sets how many cups you want to make between 2 and 6. Unlike most other coffee machines this controls the amount of water used, not the amount of beans ground. It will grind all the beans you put in so you have to measure them correctly. The next button lets you use the machine to make tea (which I have to be honest is a bit weird!). The big button at the bottom is obviously the on/off switch.
The HAUSWIRT K6 comes with a cylindrical stainless steel mesh filter that the ground coffee goes in and then another small metal mesh filter on the output of the coffee before it drips into the carafe. It’s an unusual design but it seems to work well.
How to Use
You need to measure the amount of coffee beans or powder using the scoop provided, not the amount of water. The water tank is removeable, which makes it easy to fill, but make sure you don’t overfill it. There is an overflow hole at the back but this will spill water onto your countertop. If using whole beans press the top button and put the coffee beans into the grinder. You can press this button up to three times to adjust how finely the beans are ground. If you are using pre-ground coffee press the second button down and put the coffee directly into the filter. Press the cup button to set the number of cups you want. There is an ‘F’ option that allows you to customise this so you can measure the amount of water in the tank and it will use it all. Press the start button and in about five minutes you will have a carafe full of delicious coffee. The display has icons to let you know how far along in the process you are. When it has finished it will beep twice and display a tick on the screen. The hotplate will keep your coffee warm for about 30 minutes.
It has a showerhead to deliver the water and it pauses to allow your coffee to bloom, both essential to make excellent coffee. The grinder is a blade grinder but it does a good job. I guess the Tea mode is an extra feature but I can’t imagine when I would use it.
This is a really easy machine to clean because everything lifts out. The water tank, the grinder, the filter, the filter basket – they are all detachable and easy to rinse. Be careful when rinsing the grinder to make ensure it is completely dry before you put it back in the machine. It will need regular descaling, the manufacturer suggests between one or three monthly depending on how hard your water is.
- It’s small and compact and looks very cool
- It has showerhead water delivery and it pauses to allow your coffee to bloom.
- It’s very easy to clean.
- You need to make sure the grinder is completely dry before putting it back in the machine.
- It doesn’t have a timer so you can’t pre-set your coffee to start brewing.
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It’s a cool, dinky, little machine that will make you an excellent cup of coffee.
Not all filter coffee machines are the same, so to help we have put together a buyers guide to make your life a little easier and ensure you get exactly what you are looking for.
How to Improve Your Filter Coffee
Obviously the better your filter coffee machine is then the better your coffee will be. But even with a basic machine there are steps you can take to improve your coffee.
Firstly it is important to clean your machine. Some machines will tell you when they need cleaning or descaling but many don’t so you may need to put a reminder on your calendar. Regular descaling is needed as there are small pipes and holes you don’t want to get furred up. Descaling tablets are easily available and you usually just drop them in the filter basket and run a cycle with water but no coffee. Depending on how hard your water is this needs doing every one to four months. You need to clean both your filter and the filter basket each time you use them. They usually can be removed from the machine, the used grounds deposed of and then run them under a tap. Ideally they would be air dried before being replaced but this isn’t essential. The jug should also be washed after each use and the hot plate wiped over once it is cooled down. About once a month you should give everything a more thorough clean. This would involve scrubbing the jug, the filter and it’s basket, maybe with some baking powder or white wine vinegar is it is very stained. The water tank should also be emptied and rinsed out well. When you have cleaned everything, let it dry and then run a program with no coffee just to give everything a final rinse.
Filter coffee has only two ingredients and the higher quality these are, the better your coffee will taste. Filtering brings out the nuances and subtleties of coffee better than any other method. It is therefore worth investing in some high quality coffee. Filtering single source, small batch roasted coffee beans will bring out all their flavour. If possible, freshly grind your beans before making your coffee as this makes a huge difference. Make sure you store your coffee in an airtight container, out of direct light. Despite it being a popular option, it’s not a good idea to freeze your coffee beans.
The water you use can almost be as important as the coffee. Highly chlorinated water will affect the taste of your coffee. How hard or soft your water is will also change the taste. It just depends on where you live and what your water is like but it is worth running a couple of experiments and seeing if different water improves your coffee. Trying using preboiled water and bottled water and see if you can taste a difference. Some people like to use bottled water all the time but it is more practical to use a water filter.
A lot of filter coffee machines come with a plastic mesh filter. You may be perfectly happy with this but on the other hand you may want to think about changing it. The cheapest option is to use a paper filter. If you are using a paper filter, wet it before you put the ground coffee in. You could also choose to replace the plastic filter with a metal filter, maybe even treat yourself to a gold one! The main difference between the two is that paper is most effective so you get a clearer liquid but some of the flavour is lost, whereas metal may leave a little grainy sediment in the bottom of the cup but you get all the flavour. Paper is quick to clean up as it goes straight in the bin but as you have to keep buying fresh filters it works out more expensive in the long run. Metal takes a little longer to clean but it is not that much more work and they rarely need replacing. Halfway between the two is a cloth filter but it requires more cleaning than metal or paper.
Sometimes you just want a quick cup of coffee. However if you have the time to put in a little preparation then you will be rewarded with a better cup of coffee. It can be worth running a brewing cycle with no coffee to clean out all the tubes and to warm up the machine, especially if you haven’t used it for a while. Running the jug under the hot tap or filling it with boiling water means that it doesn’t instantly cool your coffee when it drips into it. This helps keep your coffee warmer for longer and improves the taste. If you are using a paper filter wet it before putting the ground coffee in.
Some filter coffee machines include blooming time but the majority don’t. Blooming is a process that occurs when hot water hits ground coffee. If you watch, you will see bubbles on the surface. This is carbon dioxide being released. Blooming greatly improves the taste of coffee. One reason is because carbon dioxide has a sour taste. The other reason is that if gas is being released then water is not being absorbed, in fact it is being repelled. For the process to complete fully the water needs to stop flowing until the reaction is finished. In practical terms, if your machine does not have automatic blooming it is worth pausing the cycle manually. Thirty seconds after the water starts flowing pause the cycle for a minute, then restart. If you can’t pause your machine you could try blooming manually by pouring a little hot water over the ground coffee in the filter although this is a bit trickier to manage. If you are doing it by hand, pour in a circular motion from the outside of the filter in a spiral to the middle.
Make sure you have the right proportion of coffee to water. Most machines come with a scoop or spoon to measure your ground coffee. Usually one flat scoop equates to one cup of water. However when they say water they mean whatever the manufacturer has defined as a cup of water. This is not an actual cup of water. It definitely is nowhere near a mug of coffee. To give you some idea, the measurement of one cup on a filter coffee machine tends to range between 100 – 200ml. An average teacup is about 200ml, the cup you use at home will be about 250 – 300ml and a mug is usually between 350 – 500ml. A medium coffee from Costa or Starbucks is about 350ml. So don’t use a normal cup to measure water into a filter coffee machine. If you would like to make your coffee by throwing a mug of water in the machine and the appropriate amount of coffee you need to know that it is roughly 60g of ground coffee to 1 litre of water. I like it stronger so for my big 500ml mug I would use 40g of ground coffee and from experience I know how many spoonful’s that is. When buying a machine, don’t rely on how many cups the manufacturer says it makes but look at how many litres the water tank will hold to get an accurate idea of how many mugs of coffee you will actually get.