The best coffee machine - this is how to choose

Don’t let a bad coffee machine stand in your way of a nice cup of coffee

Daniel Haaf

Don’t let a bad coffee machine stand in the way of a nice cup of coffee. A good machine has the right brewing temperature, and increases your chances of a good result. It’s not always that easy to choose one when there are hundreds of coffee machines on the market to choose from. Let us guide you through some of the things to think about before you buy one.

Brewing temperature- between 92 and 96 degrees

It’s really important that the water reaches the right temperature when it’s brewing. For best flavour, the recommended temperature is between 92 and 96 degrees centigrade. If the coffee machine doesn’t reach at least 92 degrees not all aromas are released. If the water is hotter than 96 degrees, the coffee will end up tasting bitter.

Keep warm function for brewed coffee- 80 to 85 degrees

When the coffee is brewed and is kept warm using the ’keep warm’ function, the temperature should be around 80 to 85 degrees centigrade, an optimal temperature to keep the coffee nicely warm without burning it. Coffee machines with separate elements for heat retention are better at keeping the temperature at the right level.

Power when brewing – 1 100W or higher.

Coffee makers with high power (specified in watts) are better at reaching the right water temperature when brewing. A high power also increases the brewing speed. A coffee machine should preferably have an output of 1,100 watts or higher. Some manufacturers, such as Mocca Master, Melitta and Wilfa, have several models that can handle 1,500 watts or higher.

Auto-drip reduces the risk of water leakage 

Drip stop prevents the water from dripping out on to the brewing plate if you remove the water carafe or thermos during brewing. Simpler models just come with a physical barrier, while more advanced machines also stop the brewing so that the water doesn’t risk flowing over the edge of the filter. Drip stops are available on most coffee machines today, but not all.

Removable water reservoirs facilitate

Coffee machines with removable water reservoirs make it easier to refill with fresh new water without spilling. It also reduces the space needed above the coffee machine as you don’t need space to refill from a jug. Remove the reservoir, hold it under the tap. and fill it to the correct level. Done!

Don’t forget the shape and the design

When you’ve found a coffee machine that looks good on paper it’s important to check how it actually feels using it. How many parts that need cleaning after usage has the coffee machine got? Is the water carafe comfortable to hold and has it got a good design so that it won’t drip hot coffee on yourself while serving? It’s also easier to get a sense of how big the coffee machine is when trying it out in the shop.

The right accessories and spare parts increase the life 

If you buy a slightly more expensive coffee machine, it’s extra important that it has spare parts and other accessories that extend its life. If the water reservoir ​​breaks, it’s annoying to have to buy a brand new coffee machine just because there are no replacement reservoirs. Check the manufacturer's website for spare parts.

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Ecodesign with shutdown or power save mode - a requirement since 2015

Did you know that all coffee machines for consumer usage that have been produced after 1 January 2015 have to have automatic shutdown or power save mode? It reduces the energy consumption as well as the risk of damage if you forget to turn the coffee machine off.

  • Coffee machine with glass carafe: 40 minutes
  • Coffee machine with thermos: 5 minutes
  • Filterless coffee machine: 30 minutes

The times indicate how long after the brewing is completed that the shutdown takes place, or the power saving mode is activated.

Check for ECBC approval

The European Coffee Brewing Center is a test lab in Norway that conduct tests on coffee machines to ensure their functions. ECBC primarily tests six functions that should distinguish good coffee machines from the worse ones.

  • Grinding
  • Brew time
  • Water temperature
  • Filtering
  • Solubles concentration
  • Construction

The fact that a coffee machine is approved by the ECBC is not a guarantee that it’s right for you. But it’s an indication that the model is of high quality based on the functions that the test lab examined. Note that not all coffee machines are tested as it’s up to the manufacturers to send their products to the ECBC.

ECBC is part of the Norwegian Coffee Association (NCA). You’ll find all ECBC-approved coffee machines here

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Get a nice coffee with a coffee grinder

One tip is to grind the coffee beans yourself right before brewing. This way the coffee retains more of the oils that are released during grinding and you get a tastier coffee. In addition, you can choose the coarseness of the grind for different types of coffee.

Some coffee machines have a built-in coffee grinder that automates the grinding and brewing. The most common, however, is to buy a separate coffee grinder. You can then grind the coffee beans into different types of coffee and get more choices.

There are mainly two types of coffee grinders. Either they have blades that chop the coffee beans at high speed, or they use grind stones that crush them. Grind stones are considered to be the better choice because the coffee powder gets a more even degree of grinding.

Here you can read more about coffee grinders and how to choose the right model.

Add an additional coffee grinder to your coffee machines

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The right coffee filter for your coffee machine

There are several different sizes, colours and models of coffee filters. Before you get a filter for your coffee machine, it’s important to choose the right size so that the water doesn’t spill over the edge. Here are some of the most common sizes:

  • 1x2 = 100mm height
  • 1x4 = 125mm height
  • 1x6 = 150mm height
  • 101 = 95mm height
  • 102 = 115mm height

It’s recommended to choose white coffee filters over brown ones. The white ones are bleached and don’t affect the coffee flavour as some brown filters may do.

If you still choose brown coffee filters, you can rinse them with running water before use. This reduces the risk of the coffee getting an unwanted aftertaste from the filter.

White coffee filters were previously bleached with chlorine, but today an environmentally friendly acid is used. Check for Nordic Ecolabelling and FSC labelling if you want a coffee filter with a low environmental impact, or alternatively get a coffee filter that can be used several times.

 Don’t forget to always use fresh and cold water from the tap when brewing your coffee. Water that has been left for too long, for example if you fill the water reservoir the night before,  can have a negative effect on the taste.