Munich - From plain black to cappuccino, espresso or iced coffee, coffee is an essential daily luxury for many people. But the range of different machines on the market for coffee preparation is enormous, and can prove daunting for coffee lovers. Product expert Christian Kästl from TÜV SÜD knows about the advantages and disadvantages of the various automatic, filter, pad and capsule machines, and can advise consumers on which coffee machine is the best for them
When planning the purchase of a coffee machine, consumers should always consider what exactly they expect the machine to do. The main focus is on the prospective purchaser’s coffee-drinking habits. Do they drink coffee often or rarely? What are their preferences? The location planned for the machine is also important; some types and models take up a lot of space and may not fit into every kitchen. Once a particular type of machine has been decided on, buyers should turn to the ecological aspects involved and the ease of cleaning the device. Coffee machines with an automatic switch-off function in compliance with the Ecodesign or ErP Directives should be given priority over machines without enhanced energy efficiency. By choosing a machine with individual parts that are dishwasher-safe, new owners are likely to get more enjoyment out of their new purchase and use it more often.
Fully automatic coffee machines – all-rounders that take their time: These versatile machines brew coffee in all varieties, strengths and cup sizes at the press of a button. But potential purchasers with big families or large numbers of thirsty office staff should allow for plenty of time – or choose a different type of machine; fully automatic coffee machines can only brew a maximum of two cups simultaneously. That said, they include an integrated coffee mill and often also a milk frother, presenting coffee aficionados with freshly ground, freshly brewed coffee with a delicious dense cap of foamed milk. These versatile machines take up considerable space and need a lot of time-consuming care and attention where cleaning and maintenance are concerned. The coffee grounds container should be cleaned at frequent intervals to prevent the formation of mould. In addition, the machine must be descaled regularly. Cleaning cycles of automatic coffee machines are extremely lengthy and may often be complex or fiddly. As TÜV SÜD expert Christian Kästl points out, “If the machine has a milk frother, hygiene is particularly important. To avoid unpleasant odours and residue build-up, hoses and nozzles must be cleaned daily after use. Ideally, the brewing unit is detachable and can be washed out by the machine owner.” While customer services take care of repairs if the machine develops a fault, maintenance and repair are usually a time-consuming and costly business.
Capsule and pad machines – flexible and easy to use, but expensive: TÜV SÜD’s product expert, Christian Kästl, lists the benefits of these machine types: “Coffee machines that take capsules or pads mainly stand out for their simplicity of use and speed of brewing.” However, like fully automatic machines they are only capable of brewing a maximum of two cups at a time. Pads and capsules are available in a variety of strengths and flavours, including mixed varieties like latte macchiato or cappuccino with chocolate flavour. Capsules are particularly useful for occasional coffee-drinkers, as they keep for a long time and retain their full depth of taste even after long storage. A downside is the amount of waste involved in a capsule machine, which is a problem for the environment. Furthermore, the machines themselves and the capsules and pads they use are relatively expensive in comparison with coffee beans or ready-ground coffee, and they may not be universally available; depending on the brand, customers may be forced to seek out specialist stores or buy the coffee products online.
Filter machines – reasonably priced coffee but no frills: Classic coffee machines using standard paper filters are among the simplest machines available. Although unable to prepare mixed coffee drinks, they are a good option for brewing large quantities of coffee without breaking the bank. This type of coffee machine can be cheap to purchase, depending on the brand of machine and the features it offers. Models with or without thermos jugs and with or without hotplates are available. However, Kästl warns, “Coffee should not be kept on a hotplate for too long, as it often takes on a burnt or sour taste in time.” Coffee fans that like to enjoy their favourite wake-up beverage as fresh as possible are best advised to choose a filter machine with built-in grinder. The grinder is easy to clean using a brush, and apart from regular descaling the machine requires no further maintenance.