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How to buy the perfect coffee machine

May 29, 2018
How to buy the perfect coffee machine

From percolators to pods to pumps – investing in a coffee machine is not as simple as it used to be. Mercia de Jager from leading kitchen appliance and coffee machine manufacturer, Miele, offers some insight into what to look out for when making your purchase decision.

In the past, making coffee involved putting the kettle on and unscrewing a jar of instant coffee. However, with the recent boom in stores selling delicious, freshly-brewed coffee, consumers have developed a taste for something a little more high-end.

As a result, Mercia de Jager from leading kitchen appliance and coffee machine manufacturer, Miele, says that sales of coffee machines have experienced considerable growth: “Rather than heading to a coffee shop each day for your daily caffeine fix, more and more consumers have opted to rather invest in a coffee machine so that they can enjoy the perfect cup of coffee at home.”

She says that investing in a good quality coffee machine can be a sizeable investment, and she provides a list of things that you should consider when making your selection:

Bean-to-cup or pod

For coffee lovers around the world, the bean-to-cup machine might truly be the greatest thing since sliced bread. These ultra-convenient devices can produce high-quality coffee from freshly ground beans in short order, with no barista-level skill set required.

Not only that, but bean-to-cup coffee machines produce an unmistakably fresh flavour, which simply cannot be matched by capsule coffee or instant coffee grounds.  

Pod coffee machines on the other hand use pre-packed coffee capsules that you put into the machine. When you press a button, the pod is pierced and hot water is sent through it into a waiting mug.

These machines are typically easy to clean, and the pods are available in a variety of different coffee types and blends. A major benefit of these pods is that they are sealed, ensuring that the coffee remains fresh for a very long time.

Although there are many different makes of freestanding pod-type coffee machines on the market (including models from Miele), Miele is the only manufacturer that offers fully integrated Nespresso-approved pod coffee machines.

Freestanding or integrated

If your new coffee machine will be stored in your kitchen, then you have to take the layout of this room into account. Do you have ample counter space for a freestanding coffee machine, or would an integrated model be a better choice for a neat and streamlined overall aesthetic? Says Mercia: “Of course, if you are renting, or the machine will be kept in a room other than the kitchen, such as an office or bedroom for example, then a freestanding model is probably a better bet. This way, you can move it around at will.”

A good quality brew

Of course, the main reason for investing in a coffee machine is so that you can brew your own cup of delicious coffee whenever you want to. Features to look out for when looking for a coffee machine’s ability to brew the perfect cuppa, include:

  • A high-end grinder: Many coffee aficionados will attest to the fact that making good quality coffee is all about getting the grind right, which makes the grinder one of the most important elements of a coffee machine.To ensure the best coffee aroma, Miele for example, only fits the best grinding systems into its coffee machines - their conical grinding unit is made from high-quality, non-abrasive steel. Its design allows it to grind the coffee beans in a special flavour-preserving way, which results in even and precise grinding of the coffee beans.
  • The brew chamber: Look for machines that offer brew chambers that expand when the water flows in, as this allows the ground coffee to be mixed thoroughly with the water, allowing the coffee aroma to unfold better. Miele’ coffee machines for example, boast an AromaticSystem that ensure a more intensive coffee aroma.
  • A cappuccinatore: Any good quality coffee machine should boast a high-end cappuccinatore that will allow you to preparehot milk or milk froth in no time at all. In a few seconds, it should be able to heat and froth the milk, directly into the cup or glass being used, and it should also allow for easy cleaning. Miele’s cappuccinatore for example, ensure the perfect milk froth for all kinds of coffee specialities.
  • Individual settings and customisable profiles:The preparation parameters on your coffee machine should be abel to be set individually, which will allow you to customise the particular type of coffee and flavour intensity that you prefer. The grinder setting will dictate the amount of coffee used, and you should also be able to set the brewing temperature, pre-brewing method, as well as amount of water used. This will ensure that you can brew the perfect flavour for your coffee speciality from every type of coffee, every roast. Individual user profiles should also be able to be set – Miele’s coffee machines for example, allow you to save your favourite drinks as one of up to 10 user profiles for customised coffee enjoyment.

Maintenance and cleaning

Like all other appliances, owning a coffee machine is as much about convenience as it is about brewing delicious cups of coffee. As such, a machine that requires a lot of cleaning and maintenance will more than likely frustrate you and most likely be push aside in lieu of that pricey latte from the coffee shop on the way to work.

Easy maintenance and cleaning is therefore a major selling point that needs to be investigated, notes Mercia: “At Miele, we are well aware that time is precious, and let’s be honest – who wants to spend their leisure time cleaning their coffee machine? As such, you will find a number of features on all Miele coffee machines that will save you time and effort.”

Some innovative features to look out for include:

  • Automatic rinsing: Convenient cleaning programmes, together with the automatic rinsing function will achieve perfect results for handling and hygiene. Limescale and soiling are prevented before they can build up, which contributes to added longeity of your machine.
  • Automatic rinsing of milk pipework: After making coffee with milk, all components that carry milk should be rinsed automatically with water from a water container.
  • Easy cleaning: Any high-end coffee machine should boast components that are dishwasher-proof. Miele’sComfortClean system for example, makes hygiene very easy as many of the coffee machine parts, such as the water container and the waste container for example, can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher.
  • Easily removable brewing unit: The brewing component is the "heart" of any automatic coffee machine. As such, it needs to be removed for easy cleaning to ensures a hygienic brew unit, as well as consistently high coffee quality and the longevity of the machine.

Added convenience

Mercia provides some innnovative extra features that will make your life easier and the coffee-making ritual so much more enjoyable:

Ease of use:Be sure to check out how quickly and easily a machine is to use. All of Miele’s bean-to-cup coffee machines for example, are equipped with the OneTouch for Two function. This function allows you to make two delicious coffee specialities at the same time by simply touching a button. The programme starts automatically.

Pot function:This functionality allows you to prepare several cups one after the other. If you have visitors, a touch of a button is all it takes for your appliance to dispense up to eight cups of coffee one after the other into a coffee pot placed under the spout. Any high-end machine, such as Miele’s CM7 freestanding coffee machine for example, should also allow you to dispense water for tea in a single cup or a teapot.

CupSensor:Exclusive to Miele coffee machines, the CupSensor makes using your Miele coffee machine easier – it recognises the height of the cup and positions the central spout accordingly at a height between 8cm and 16cm. The ideal distance prevents splashes and ensures the perfect coffee temperature and the best possible crema. After the addition of milk, the central spout is moved upward by 1cm to prevent soiling.

Heated cup surface:Integrated heated cup surfaces provide extra convenience: pre-heated cups available at any time. Heated cups are necessary as the perfect brew of coffee needs to be at the correct temperature for perfect coffee enjoyment – only then can the aroma unfold and a wonderful crema form.

Timer function: You should be able to individually programme when your coffee machine switches on and off according to your needs. This way, your coffee can be made as soon as you get up as the machine switches on automatically; it also switches off automatically in the evening. To conserve energy, the coffee machine can be switched off completely after it has not been used for some time.