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Daily Archives: October 22, 2009

Kitchen tool of the day – coffee maker

I have three “coffee” makers (if you don’t count various pots and pans that can be used for “cowboy coffee”).

The first that I’ll discuss is my Krups espresso/cappuccino maker.


This is a steam-driven espresso machine and the biggest drawback is the fact that it just doesn’t have the “juice” to produce an acceptable crema. The espresso that it produces is just average at best. The crema is thin and doesn’t last very long. For those of you who don’t know, crema is the brown “froth” on top of a properly made espresso. A cheap, steam-driven machine will rarely, if ever, produce a great demitasse of espresso. It just doesn’t have enough “power” to drive a crema and the result is often anemic (that’s not specific to Krups but is a function of any steam machine). That’s what you get when you spend less than $100 for such a machine. To get a restaurant-quality product, you have to go pump or lever – it’s as simple as that. I recommend that you don’t even bother if you only occasionally like a cup of espresso or cappuccino unless you just have deep pockets and money to burn. Better to just wait until you’re in a cafe or restaurant that can produce a quality product.

Braun drip coffee maker.

Braun coffee maker

This is my second Braun coffee maker. I’ve also had a similar Krups, one that was identical to one that I used when I lived in Germany. I wasn’t unhappy with it – I just ended up with Braun for some reason. I prefer the German-made coffee machines. One reason is that Germans know coffee and have spent a lot of time maximizing things like proper water temperature, ease of cleaning and proper filter shape and design, clean, modern styling and eschewing bells and whistles that I don’t need (timers, clocks, etc.) This 10 cup model (actually only about 4-5 American style mugs) also offers a replaceable water purifier/filter. It’s attractive, simple to use and delivers a top-notch cup of coffee. Unlike some American models, the gold mesh filter that I use instead of paper filters is easy to empty and clean (who ever thought that a flat bottom filter performed better than a conical one, much less made it easy to clean a gold mesh version?). A conical shape creates the best way to deliver hot water to all of the grind. I highly recommend either the of the inexpensive no-bells-and-whistles Krups or the Braun, having used them both. they are similar in form and function. They usually run less than $40 and will last a long time.

Bodum Chambord 8 French coffee press (8 cup/ 4 American mug capacity)


This makes my favorite cup of coffee. many coffee purists feel that the French press delivers the most flavorful cup of coffee. It works by adding just-short-of-boiling water to a predetermined amount of grounds in the bottom of the flask. You add the top, which has a filtered plunger. You leave the plunger where it is for about 2 or 3 minutes and then you depress the plunger, which lets the infused liquid pass while keeping grounds and particulates stuck in the bottom.

This allows the grounds to steep in the water, allowing more of the flavor to remain.

There are two major downsides. The first is that the temperature of the coffee is a little less than when you use a drip or percolating machine. Couple that with the fact that there’s no burner for the coffee to sit on means that you need to drink up quicker. You can extend the time by putting the coffee in a thermos-type dispenser, but the coffee still won’t be as hot. The second downside is a deal breaker for coffee drinkers that are used to a “clean” cup of coffee. The filter on the plunger doesn’t completely eliminate particulate matter. There is almost always some very fine “grit” (almost as fine as talcum powder) left in the coffee. I actually like this, but I understand why some people just don’t like it.

Personally, I think that the quality of the flavor profile of the coffee overrides these considerations.

Oh yeah, there’s one other drawback and that’s the fact that it’s more labor-intensive to clean. You basically have to clean the whole thing every time. But it doesn’t bother me. It might bother you, though.

As far as drip machines go, both Braun and Krups have their share of “bells-and-whistle” models. I like the simpler machines. About the only bell-and-whistle that I might appreciate is an insulated carafe. But I can live without it.

I love a good cup of coffee. When I drink it black, I need to have a flavorful cup. both of the above coffee makers deliver. In spades. when I want an espresso, I just go to a place that has a “real” espresso machine.