Filter coffee machines, or drip coffee makers, are a common household appliance providing the means to home-brew a pot of coffee large enough for multiple servings. Coffee produced in this way is generally preferable to ‘instant’ coffee and may be more convenient than the french press method.
All filter coffee makers share the same basic components and operate in the same way. Water is contained in a reservoir with a heating element; hot water is dripped over coffee grounds contained in a filter-basket, and brewed coffee is collected in a jug beneath the filter. Frills can include digital features such as a clock and timer, dials to adjust the strength of the brew and a warming plate to maintain the coffee at drinking temperature in the jug.
Drip coffee has the advantages of low cost and convenience; the disadvantages are the need to either use paper filters or to wash reusable filters. Another potential problem is that the brew can taste ‘burned’ when a carafe is left for too long on the warming plate.
Filter coffee makers generally work best with a medium ground coffee: the grinds need sufficient surface area to brew but should be appropriate to the filter.
Best Filter Coffee Machines
Tower T 13001 Coffee Maker
This Tower unit is a basic but practical drip coffee maker. It features a 1000 watt heating element and a 1.25 litre glass carafe. The machine’s body is black plastic but the front of the reservoir is designed with a stainless steel panel. A hot plate keeps the coffee warm for up to 25 minutes before turning itself off. A see-through window on the side of the reservoir is marked as a water gauge and a spring-loaded valve on the bottom of the basket prevents dripping when the carafe is removed.
The coffee maker is equipped with a washable nylon filter and a red, ‘power-on’ warning light. It stands 34cm high on the counter, on a 28 x 21cm base. This is a no-frills, well-priced coffee maker that represents good value for money.
Andrew James Filter Coffee Machine
A lower-priced machine with digital features, the Andrew James brewer has a large 1.8 litre carafe and a reusable mesh filter. A delay-timer can be set for up to two hours to begin brewing and, once brewed, the warming plate will keep the carafe warm for up to 30 minutes. The front of the machine and the reservoir have a brushed nickel finish, and the control buttons and a small LED time-indicator are arranged across the upper face of the unit.
We like the arched design of the carafe-space. The Andrew James Filter Coffee Machine requires 21 x 22 cm of counter-space and is 37cm tall; it is sold with a two-year manufacturer’s guarantee.
Russell Hobbs ‘Buckingham’ Filter Coffee Machine
Russell Hobbs ‘Buckingham’ coffee maker is a popular pick combining digital features and a clean, functional, black-and-silver design. The 1,000 watt heating element has been engineered to bring water to brewing temperature 50% faster than comparable machines and the ‘shower-head’ drip delivers the hot water over the more of the grounds than a conventional nozzle.
The unit has a 1.25 litre carafe but can be programmed to deliver 1-, 2- or 3-cup brews. A ‘fill-level’ window is installed in the side of the reservoir and the bottom of the basket is fitted with a spring-valve that engages the carafe’s lid for the ‘pause-and-pour’ feature. Rectangular button controls are arranged in a panel beneath a blue LED display, and a 24-hour timer is available. We like this feature because the machine can be set-up the previous evening to deliver a fresh pot of coffee in time for breakfast.
A blue ring around the front base of the machine is illuminated when it is brewing or in the keep-warm mode. This coffee machine is designed to match other appliances in Russell Hobb’s ‘Buckingham’ range (such as their excellent kettle and toaster) and requires 21 x 23cm of counter-top real estate; it is 32.5cm high.
Igenix IG8250 Digital Coffee Maker
The IG 8250 is finished in wipe-clean stainless steel and features a 1.5 litre carafe and a 24 hour-timer. The user-friendly design includes an easy-clean, ‘dismantle-able’ filter, a 40-minute keep warm feature and an external water gauge. Four control buttons are arranged around a blue LED on the front of the unit: the power button is back-lit to show when the unit is in heating or keep-warm modes. The coffee maker draws 800 watts of power.
This is a solid, practical coffee maker that will suit many households seeking a good looking, simple-to-use machine at a reasonable price.
Morphy Richards 162008 Pour Over Filter Coffee Maker
This coffee maker has an unusual block-shaped design that encloses a large 1.8 litre carafe. The manufacturer claims the ‘shower head’ evenly disperses hot water over the coffee grounds to deliver maximum flavour, and a unique innovation mimics a barista’s brewing method: “A small volume of water (is dropped) over the grounds and allows the coffee a few minutes to ‘bloom’ (releases carbon dioxide and extracts the flavours), before….the rest of the water (is dispensed)”.
The machine has a six-button control panel with a bright, square LED display: the timer and coffee brew-strength can be pre-programmed. The warming plate’s ‘keep-warm’ feature runs for twenty-five minutes after brewing. The 162008 draws 900 watts of power and has a base measurement of 19 x 23 cm; it stands 33.5cm tall. It is sold in black, red, or brushed stainless finishes to match other appliances on your kitchen counter.
The Morphy Richards 162008 represents something of a step-up in quality over cheaper machines: it is sturdy, easily programmed and versatile, and deserves consideration.
Melitta 1011 Look IV Therm Coffee Filter Machine
This is a 1,000 watt machine with a 1.0 litre jug. It is delivered ready for use with a packet of Melitta paper filters. It lacks digital features but has an ‘Aroma Selector’ dial set in the lid for an adjustable brew strength, and an insulated carafe. The 1011 is a simple, robust machine with a great look but, for us, the jug is the ‘selling point’: it keeps brewed coffee hot for at least two hours, without the use of a warming plate (and without the consequent degradation of the coffee’s flavour).
The 1011’s base measures 21 x 23 cm and it is 35cm tall. Melitta’s ‘Look’ range also includes machines in black or silver finishes, some with a descaling mode, and with or without digital features. This is a more expensive, well-designed filter machine that justifies its extra cost with the insulated carafe.