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Buyers' Guide to Coffee Makers

When choosing a coffee maker, the main consideration should be: how do you like your coffee? When brewing there’s a trade off between the clarity of flavours in the coffee and the amount of body it has. The greater the clarity of flavours the lighter the body and vice versa.

graph showing that as clarity increased, body decreases and vice versa

So the first question to ask yourself is: do you prefer your coffee bright and light; full-bodied; or somewhere in between?

Features in Coffee Makers which Affect Clarity and Body

There are three main features in coffee makers which dictate the level of clarity and body the coffee has:

1. Filtration

The most defining factor is the type of filtration the coffee maker uses to separate the coffee solution from the ground coffee. The finer the filter the more clarity the coffee will have. Whilst the size of pores does vary from brand to brand, the fineness of the filter is governed by the material it’s made from. Generally, paper filters have the finest pores, followed by cloth and than metal.

2. Pressure

Coffee makers that apply pressure during the brewing process usually have more body than those that don’t. For example, espresso machines and stove-top espresso makers will have a fuller body and less clarity than a cafetiere (french press).

3. Brewing Style

Broadly speaking, coffee makers can be divided into two camps: full immersion and percolation brewers (not to be confused with coffee percolators). With a full immersion brewer, the full amount of water is in contact with the ground coffee for the majority, if not the entire duration, of the brew. The cafetiere (or french press) is the most common full immersion brewer. With a percolation brewer, water is passed through a bed of ground coffee, usually quite slowly. A good example of this is a pour-over (drip filter) brewer.

Typically full immersion brewing lends itself to fuller bodied brews than percolation, although this isn’t always the case. Full immersion brewing is also much simpler than percolation, so it’s easier to get consistent results.


Clarity and Body Scale of Different Coffee Makers

scale of clarity and body each coffee maker produces

Further Information

Once you’ve seen a type of coffee maker you’re interested in, choose from the links below to find more information on it:

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