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Years ago, brewing coffee meant pouring the grounds into a percolator and flipping the switch. About the only thing that this method guaranteed was that you could get consistently bad coffee that was really hot. Now, the options for home­brewed coffee are staggering. You can go retro or you can go ultramodern when you choose a method of making your coffee, but what you choose should reflect how you like your coffee to taste, how much control you want to have over the types of coffee you can brew, how much you are willing to spend, and how much time you have to invest. Here is a look at how to choose a coffee maker that is right for you.

Taste

If taste is important to you, than you want to have a method of controlling the types of beans you are using as well as the temperature of the water that you use to brew. Water that is too hot will burn the beans and make the coffee taste bitter. All of today’s coffee makers generally do a great job of making coffee that isn’t too hot. That said, you’ll get the most control with a more conventional system, like a Chemex or other “pour­over” system, that allows you to heat the water separately and then pour it over your grounds.

Cost

When you are deciding what type of coffee­making system you want to use, and cost is a consideration, don’t forget that the price of the machine is only a part of the cost of making coffee. If you are serious about this, you want to factor in the cost of the beans, coffee pods (e.g.Starbucks Verismo Pods), filters, grinders, and so forth. Whatever components you need to get the coffee from bean to liquid happiness need to be factored into your cost calculation. The Chemex is probably the least expensive option, followed by conventional drip brewers and then the more elaborate brewers for coffee­pod systems. Don’t forget about options and accessories, like milk frothers, when making your calculations.

Control

How important is control over how much coffee you make, what types of coffee you can use (bean variety), water temperature, and so forth? If you want to be able to use a variety of different coffees, then single­serve coffee makers may not be the right choice for you. Even a drip maker will give you more options in terms of beans, though it will restrict your options in terms of quantity of coffee you can brew and water temperatures. The most versatile systems include French presses and pour­over systems like the Chemex.

Convenience

There is a lot to be said for not struggling to make coffee early in the morning before your eyes are fully opened and your brain is fully functional. If you aren’t a morning person or mornings are rushed, hectic times for you, then convenience may be your top priority. Single­brew systems are the most convenient by a wide margin. They are followed, in terms of convenience, by drip system and percolators. The least convenient options are pour­over methods and French presses.

Add It Up

Rank the factors above in terms of importance to you and then use that information to guide your purchase decisions. Remember that while some of the options mentioned are very close to each other in certain categories, they are on opposite ends of the spectrum in other categories.Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the value of convenience and don’t forget to include everything you need to make coffee when you are calculating price.

Deborah Hunter has tried a number of coffee makers over the years. When she finds something that excites her, she likes to share it on the web. You can read her helpful articles on various home living and cooking websites and blog sites.