Differentiating Drip Brewers
Drip coffee brewers may not all look the same, but telling them apart features wise can be a bit of a challenge. With so many brewers offering wild stylistic differences but still boiling down to only having a couple of buttons, it can be tough to know what to look for. We’re here to help!
The core of a good drip brewer is temperature stability. Brewing great coffee requires water that is ~200 degrees fahrenheit, with about 5 degrees of give on either side. This means any drip brewer needs a heating element capable of maintaining temperature in this narrow band throughout the brewing process. Cheap drip brewers tend to skimp out on this. They might burn the coffee by overheating it so that consistent temperature isn’t applied, or just fail to maintain hot enough temperature to brew with.
So for this reason, the first thing you should ensure is that your prospective drip brewer has a heating element that provides the right water temp. This can be achieved with less expensive brewers like those from Bonavita, which offer value and quality performance. The other basic part of differentiating these brewers is whether they use a glass carafe with a warming plate or a stainless steel option. This is entirely a preference issue. Glass carafes have less heat retention, which is offset by the warming plate, but extended use of a plate can scorch the coffee. By contrast, stainless steel carafes can impart a taste difference that bothers some palates.
Control and Options
Once you’ve secured a set of options that you know will be temp stable, the real fun begins. The big differentiator at this point is control options. What you’re looking for is going to be based on preferences largely. One important thing to look for is blooming. In pour over brewing, the bloom is the first step in brewing. You pour a smaller amount of water to saturate the grounds, which releases acids, aromas, and flavors. Great drip brewers do this as well, usually with options to disable the bloom based on preference.
Otherwise, what you’re looking for is largely up to you! Do you want a machine that will simply make a great pot of coffee when you turn it on? A Ratio or Technivorm brewer might be perfect for you. If you’re looking for the ability to tweak your brew, you might be more interested in something like a Breville Precision Brewer.
The Precision Brewer has numerous settings that allow you to customize your coffee. You can alter the temperature, bloom time, amount, and other settings. You can even set it up to brew iced coffee, or use a pour over dripper. While this range of options might be overwhelming for some users, the control here is unparalleled.
While the process of differentiating drip brewers is more simple than with espresso machines, it’s still worth doing some research. With that in mind, ensuring temperature stability, blooming, and that you get the right style carafe for you is the most important thing!