Drip coffee makers are so convenient, especially when you need to make several cups of coffee at a time. The programming option on some of them is also great for those who need to have a cup of coffee as soon as they wake up before they can do anything — like make coffee.
There are other coffee makers, though, that require more hands on time to create a cup of coffee. Many people would argue some of these coffee makers are worth it because they create a superior cup of coffee, including me. What are your choices if you want to customize your cup of joe?
The French press is my favorite way to make coffee. I use a drip coffee maker first thing on weekday mornings because of its ease of use, but on the weekend when my mornings are more relaxed or on workday afternoons when I need a little pick me up, I turn the kettle on and get out the French press. The same coffee tastes so much better when steeped in boiling water in the French press instead of simply having water run through it in the drip coffee maker.
Coffee grounds are put in the bottom of the carafe and boiling water poured on top. The coffee is allowed to steep, usually for about five minutes, and then a mesh plunger is pushed into the carafe, holding back the grounds and allowing the coffee to be poured out. French presses come in various sizes — from those that make only a single cup to those that can make 12 cups. Traditionally, the carafe is glass and the coffee inside does not keep hot for very long, but there are now versions with double-walled stainless steal carafes that hold the heat in for an hour or more.
According to Amazon's customer reviews, the Secura Stainless Steal 34-ounce French Press Coffee Maker is dishwasher safe and one of the best. It has a 4.5-star average rating and some reviewers say it holds the heat for hours.
The pour-over method is not new but it's very trendy at coffee shops right now. It takes a little longer to get your coffee when a coffee shop uses this method, but the results are worth the wait, and you can get the same results at home.
Place the brew basket on top of your coffee cup, add a filter and your desired amount of coffee. Then you slowly pour boiling water over the grounds until they are all wet, stop for about half a minute to get rid of the gas in the grounds, then finish pouring the hot water over slowly, evenly and steadily.
Pour-over brew baskets don't have to be expensive to be great. On Amazon, customers give the Tanors Ceramic Coffee Dripper a 4.5-star average rating, and it currently sells for much less than its $15 suggested retail price. They say this little gem makes the best cup of coffee.
Pronounced with a hard "C" (like chemistry), the Chemex has been around since the late 1950s. It works similar to a pour-over brew basket, but it's an all-in-one coffee maker shaped like an hour glass and uses its own, proprietary filters. The filters are "20-30% heavier than competitive brands and remove even the finest sediment particles as well as the undesirable oils and fats," according to the manufacturer. The thickness also regulates the speed that the coffee pours through the filter, giving it a richer flavor.
There are other coffee makers designed like the Chemex by manufactures like Hario and Bodum, and they get fine reviews on Amazon, but the Chemex is by far the most popular choice based on number of reviews and customers give it a 4.5-star average rating. The glass Chemex can even be kept on a glass stove or gas stove (on low) to be kept warm, and Chemex sells a wire grid that goes on top of electric coils for the Chemex to sit.
If you're going to take this much time and interest in the vessel you brew your coffee in, then you probably should take care to buy good beans, too. I always make sure the coffee I buy is Fair Trade, organic or Rainforest Certified (or a combination of the three). My current favorites are Lacas Fair Trade Organic Mexican Dark, roasted at a local facility, and Marley Coffee's Organic One Love.