Top Drip Makers under $100?
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05-04-2004, 10:38 AM
Top Drip Makers under $100? water temp and filters
The main criterion is whether the machine heats the water hot
enough, to ensure proper extraction. Brewing temperature should
be 92 to 96 degrees C; I believe the Cuisinart machines, as well
as some of the Capressos, meet this standard (as well as the
I wonder how to go about determining what temperature a coffee
maching is actually heating the water to before dripping it through
the coffee since most machines have hotplates under the carafe?
Also, does any company other then Braun specifically claim that
their machines properly heat the water?
Why bother with gold-tone filters since, in my experience, they
increase the likelihood of the machine to overflow during brewing?
Is the flavor of coffee improved by not using a paper filter? And
regarding paper filters, any idea why the cone type cost about 3X
as much as the basket type?
The hot plate under the carafe is designed to keep the coffee hot after
brewing. It does not effect the brewing temperature in most models, with
the possible exception of some of the cheapest models where the same heating
device serves to both heat the water for brewing and keep the coffee hot in
the carafe after brewing.
MOst of the brand lines that have been traditionally considered to be among
the better brands have people who claim they all heat the water to the
optimum reccommended brewing temperature.
I have seen ads and statements from Bunn claiming that they make the only
machines for the home market that get the water hot enough to brew a good
cup of coffee. The last three times that Consumer Reports tested
coffeemakers and actually listed the temperature of the coffee of the tested
models in the carafe immediately after brewing stopped, the Bunn machines
were among the coolest machines tested. They usually measured the temp in
the carafe right after brewing, not the temperature of the water at the
point where it leaves the nozzles just before going into the ground coffee.
I tried two different KitchenAid machines, I believe it was either KCM-200
or DCM-200 12-cup models a couple of years ago. I liked their rounded body
styling, and I liked the way the controls were mounted midway along the
front of the machine, well above the warmer plate. When I saw the nice
heavy-duty three-prong electrical cord, I felt reassured that this machine
just might be a good hot brewer. No matter what variety of coffee I used,
how I ground it, or whether I used a permanent filter or a paper filter, I
could only get rather bland, nondescript brew out of those machines. Almost
none of the distinctive characteristics of a given origin of coffee bean, or
a given roast profile stood out in the output from those KitchenAid
machines. I did not keep either one long enough to determine whether the
problem lay with water not hot enough, or contact time not long enough, or
water not agitated enough inside the filter basket, or some combination of
any or all of those things was the cause of the insipid output.
My old early 1990's-vintage Krups Cafe Aroma 12-cup model, and my 12-cup
Braun FlavorSelect models brew a good enough cup of coffee that I have a
hard time trying to justify spending $185 to $225 plus shipping and handling
to see if those Philips Technivorm models are any better at all.
As for paper versus gold-tone or other permanent filters, the big strike
against paper is that it tends to soak up and blot out from your carafe and
your cup, a large percentage of the volatile oils that carry the components
that give good coffee much of the aroma and flavor characteristics that set
good coffee apart from the older, cheaper, more stale run-of-the-mill stuff
that most people drink most of the time.
The cone-shaped or modified-cone-shaped filters are considerably more
expensive than the flat pleated cupcake-style filters used in machines from
the likes of Mr. Coffee and Black and Decker, and Sunbeam, and
Hamilton-Beech. The quality of the paper is better and thicker, and in the
case of the Melitta brand filters, they actually have what Melitta calls,
"flavor pores" that are supposed to allow more of those volatile oils to get
through the paper and into the carafe or cup.
Some of the price difference may be due to quality of materials and extra
production costs, but I'm sure some of it is also due to smaller production
runs, and even a certain amount of hype and snob appeal. After all, it's
those more expensive European-brand models that use the cone type filters.
Even a few "Euro-styled" Mr. Coffee models now use those cone type filters.
As for the issue of the gold filter holding water in the basket longer and
overflowing the brew basket, you have to play around with different grind
settings any time you change filter brands or types, or machines, and
sometimes even different types and roasts of coffee beans to get your
machine's optimum combination of filtration and drip rate for a given filter
type or coffee type.
Brent Reynolds, Atlanta, GA USA
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