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What to look for when buying a smart coffee maker

For many people, coffee is the essential first step to turning their brain on in the morning. In just as many instances, that first cup is something simple and straightforward, a vessel to ferry caffeine to the bloodstream. Later cups of coffee can be more fancy. A smart coffee maker can help you make the perfect cup of coffee first thing in the morning, even if you don’t feel smart yourself. You just have to know what to look for.

Smart coffee makers run the gamut from simple drip coffee machines to more advanced models capable of dropping the perfect cup of espresso. The price point ranges from affordable to “should I mortgage my house for this?” This guide will help you figure out exactly what features you need to look for in a smart coffee maker, from customizable brew strength to scheduling options.

What should I look for when buying a coffee maker?

You should  choose a coffee maker based on its settings and features.

Ease of use and setup: Your coffee maker should be both easy to setup and maintain. For example, the Hamilton Beach Alexa-compatible coffee maker is simple to set up and clean. It operates a lot like a standard coffee maker, but allows you to issue commands through your smart assistant.

Mr Coffee Optimal Brew 10-cup Programmable Coffee Maker
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Capacity: Do you live alone? If so, you probably don’t need a huge coffee maker (and if you’re drinking 12 cups a day on your own, wow. We can recommend some heart monitors.) The capacity of your coffee maker should be one of the main factors in your choice. You don’t want a coffee maker that only brews a cup at a time, but you also don’t want a machine that has a minimum brewing requirement of 10 cups or more.

Features: Smart coffee makers have many different features. Do you want one that brews through voice commands, or perhaps one that starts brewing when a motion sensor in your bedroom notices you’ve gotten out of bed? Take the time to look at the features on any smart coffee maker you’re interested in and decide if it’s the right fit for you. Some pod-based machines automatically scan the bar code on the individual pod to deliver the perfect cup each time, like the Nespresso Virtuo. Some machines can even make cold brews.

Accessories: Depending on the model and kind of smart coffee maker you buy, there might be additional accessories you can use. For example, a milk frothing wand might be included if your machine can make lattes. Some machines even have a built-in foam dispenser for cappuccinos.

Which coffee maker is best for home?

There is no “best” coffee maker for the home. Everyone’s tastes and preferences are different. Rather than searching for the overall best coffee maker, you should look for the machine that does everything you want it to and brews coffee the way you like.

Bonavita Connoiseur
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Bonavita Connoisseur is an amazing all-around machine that can brew a mean cup of coffee without demanding a lot of real estate on your kitchen counter. This machine looks like it could be part of a coffee shop’s lineup and brews by using the pre-infusion, method soaking the grounds before it starts brewing. Combine that with an eight-cup carafe, and you have a midrange coffee maker that has a little something for everyone.

Does the coffee maker make a difference?

You might think that, ultimately, a coffee maker is a coffee maker. But there is a huge difference between machines, especially in terms of taste and flavor. The main factor is in how each machine brews the coffee.

Drip coffee makers are the most common, and probably the type you’re most familiar with. These soak the beans and then drip the fresh coffee drop-by-drop into the carafe underneath. This method is fast, but the coffee itself loses flavor due to this speed.

Immersion brewing is ar method used by high-end coffee machines. This method soaks the grounds in water to fully extract the flavor. It’s a slower method, but results in a more full-bodied cup of coffee. It focuses more on the length of time the coffee needs to brew rather than speed.

Pour-over brewing is considered the ideal method. This involves pouring hot water over the grounds, allowing it to filter through, and then repeating the process until the entire cup has been made.

Many machines, especially budget-friendly models, use drip brewing. It’s not a bad way to make coffee, but it isn’t the best either. If you’re focused on achieving the best possible cup from your smart coffee maker, look for one that is capable of brewing through the pour-over method.

Does it matter what coffee maker you use?

In the end, no. Any smart coffee maker will deliver a delicious cup of coffee that will give you that jolt of caffeine you need first thing in the morning. However, the point of a smart coffee maker is to add convenience to your life. Take the time to choose one that brews coffee just the way you like so that you don’t just crave that cup of coffee in the morning, but actively look forward to it.

If you need more guidance, we have a roundup of the best coffee makers in different categories to help you choose the best one for you. A smart coffee maker gives you more options for scheduling and features than a plain, programmable coffee maker.

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Patrick Hearn
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Patrick Hearn writes about smart home technology like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, smart light bulbs, and more. If it's a…
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