Here Is the Best Upgrade for Your Home Coffee Game, Whether You're Going Back to the Office This Fall or Not
For a lot of people, switching to work from home required some serious rejiggering on some fundamental daily needs: investing in some tech gear for Zoom, increasing home Wi-Fi speed, rethinking midday snack and lunch availability, and of course, coffee. But did you really tackle the home coffee game? Now, whether you are heading back to the office, sticking with work from home, or somewhere in between, it's time you took advantage of my latest discovery—the hands-down, best-ever, foolproof type of coffee maker. We are talking the bean-to-cup coffee maker.
Why you need a bean-to-cup coffee maker
Finally, after years of struggling to make a decent cup of coffee, I finally found the coffee maker that I can't screw up. If you are a coffee lover and in need of a faster, better way to brew, I have got some excellent news. Bean-to-cup brewers are now available for the home market, and they are foolproof and fast.
How to use a bean-to-cup coffee maker
The premise is simple, and they all function much the same way:
- Put whole beans in the hopper and water in the reservoir.
- Choose your style or size.
- Press button.
- Get coffee.
Your choices run from as simple as just espresso, double espresso, or coffee or as sophisticated as every possible choice from your local barista. But all have one fabulous thing in common.
They do all the hard parts.
No more buying whole beans and then having to grind yourself and store. No more measuring, tamping, worrying, and waiting. Cleanup is staggeringly simple. And you can literally have your hot, fresh coffee in your cup in less than a minute.
Advantages of a bean-to-cup coffee maker
But the most important thing about these machines is the quality of the coffee. They are as fast and simple as the pod machines, but with significantly better coffee. They grind fresh for every cup, heat the water to the perfect temp, and deliver a coffee experience that is truly exceptional with no qualifiers. Absolutely equivalent to the best coffee I have ever had, bar none. Plus, you get to fully customize your beans and not worry about pods stacking up in the landfill.
The cost of a bean-to-cup coffee maker
They are, to be clear, a much larger up-front investment—we're talking at least $300—but tech this awesome doesn't come cheap. But ongoing costs are only the beans you choose, no other special equipment or refills, and what you are likely to save on $4-6-a-pop coffee drinks you purchase, I argue that despite being pricey, they are a tremendously good value.
Added benefits of a bean-to-cup coffee maker
Lastly, even if you are not home all day, one of the things that I have come to really love about these machines is their use for company. Whether it is a friend who drops by for an afternoon chat, a little weekend brunch, or your parents coming for a visit, you can get everyone the coffee they most want in moments! I never used to offer coffee after dinner because it was such a pain to set up and took so long to brew and organize. Now I can confidently ask my guests if a post-prandial espresso would hit the spot and have one in front of them with thick rich crema in a matter of moments! Bean-to-cup brewers have turned me into a coffee maven, and I am never going back.
Three bean-to-cup coffee makers to buy based on your budget
There are a lot of them on the market, and it can be hard to decide. Here are the three top options I recommend.
Affordable and simple: Tchibo
Tchibo was my first introduction to this category of brewers and the one that flipped the script for me. It has the fewest bells and whistles, which means that the learning curve is practically nonexistent: You can take it out of the box and be brewing in less than 10 minutes. It makes three drinks: espresso, double espresso, and Americano style coffee. It will brew 10 cups before you need to empty the hopper of the discarded grounds, and depending on what you are making, the reservoir will make that number of drinks before needing refilling. It does not have a milk frother or steamer attachment, so if you love those cappuccinos, I recommend a separate unit like the Capresso to make that an easy upgrade. This machine is perfect for smaller households and takes up not much more counter space than other coffee machines.
Buy it: Tchibo Coffee Machine ($299), amazon.com
Investment for specialty drinks: Philips 3200
If you are a cappuccino, latte, frothy milk person, and want a little more control over things like coffee strength, the Philips 3200 is your new machine. With five drinks to choose from, plus a hot water feature for the tea drinker in your life, this machine will be a game changer for you. Not only is the coffee automatic, so is the milk, which is usually the extra-annoying messy part of home brewing. You fill the Latte Go attachment with milk and press a button and the machine does it all. You have a dozen grind options, an intuitive press button display, and you can make 5000 cups before you have to descale the machine with Philips's AquaClean water filter technology.
Buy it: Philips 3200 Automatic Espresso Machine with Latte Go ($799), amazon.com
The ultimate splurge: Jura WE8
Jura has been making coffeemakers for commercial use for a long time. Now, though, they're making machines for the home market. And if you are really into coffee and coffee drinks, you cannot get a better machine than this one. With 13 different coffee drinks to choose from, plus two levels of hot water (one regular, one specifically for green tea), and hot milk only options, it is the most sophisticated of the units I tested. It is literally like having a tiny at-home barista. And it was the only unit with the ability to brew two drinks at a time, so if you have a larger household, or want those quad shots on the go for your thermos, you can halve the time you wait. This machine is a major investment, but again, depending on your ongoing coffee usage, might just be worth exploring. Jura also has both simpler AND more advanced units available, so you might want to fully explore their range before pulling the trigger.
Buy it: Jura WE8 ($2,495.00), amazon.com