Brand: Keurig K75 Platinum Brewing System, $179.99
Type of Coffee Maker: K-cup Pod-style, Automatic Drip (Basic, No Cappuccino or Frothing Function)
Pros: This Keurig unit is sturdy and easy to use, offering lots of flexibility in terms of programming (both size of cups–4-12 ounces– and the temperature to which water can be heated are adjustable). It can also make several different kinds of drinks besides coffee; Keurig sells K-cups for a variety of teas and hot chocolate, and the machine can make cold tea and coffee drinks, too. When bought through Keurig, the machine comes with a 12-pack sampler of K-cups.
Cons: As with several machines we reviewed, this is not the machine for you if you're regularly making multiple cups of coffee or tea for family or guests; it works best for daily use for one or two people. Also, if you're the type of coffee connoisseur who enjoys buying and grinding your own beans, skip the pod-style coffee makers.
Overall Impressions: A solid option among pod-style auto-drip coffee makers, at a moderate price point.
Brand: iCoffee, $169.95
Type of Coffee Maker: Traditional Automatic Drip (Basic, No Cappuccino or Frothing Function)
Pros: This coffeemaker has a 12-cup capacity, so it's ideal if you want a basic drip-style coffeemaker that uses freshly ground beans and can yield multiple cups in a single brew cycle. It also delivers on its core marketing promise, namely, that it produces a cup of non-acidic, non-bitter coffee that outshines rival drip makers.
Cons: You may need to experiment for your first few brews to find the coarseness of ground beans that works best for this machine, as the coffeemaker tends to yield a grainy cup of coffee if your beans are ground too finely. Overly fine grounds also make for more difficult cleaning of the filter. The design of the machine is a bit bulky at the top (but doesn't take up loads of counter space); hopefully, this aspect will improve in future iterations.
Overall Impressions: The manufacturer markets the iCoffee machine by positioning it as an alternative to other drip coffee makers and to the French press. The iCoffee maker delivers on its technological and taste claims, but design-wise, it lacks the same level of attention.
Brand: Keurig Rivo, $229.99
Type of Coffee Maker: Pod-style Espresso, Cappuccino, and Latte Maker
Pros: The Rivo pods take up much less space than Keurig's K-cups and the coffee it produces is rich and delicious. You can adjust the settings to make two different espresso sizes: short (1.4 ounces) or lungo (2.8 ounces). The frother works very well (and quietly, too!), and clean-up of its plastic parts is much easier than the usual metal straw-style frother on traditional espresso and cappuccino makers.
Cons: It's a shame the Keurig Rivo makes such a great cup of coffee because it has several cons that may make it impractical for certain users. First, it's a fairly bulky machine and takes up quite a bit of counter space at nearly 12 inches high and 11 inches wide. Also, the sturdiness of the machine is questionable. Some parts of it seem very durable, while others feel incredibly flimsy by comparison. Finally, if you're switching or upgrading from another Keurig machine, the K-cup pods can not be used in the Rivo, which has its own pod system.
Overall Impressions: Mixed. A great cup of coffee, but perhaps at the expense of other conveniences and overall sturdiness. If space isn't a concern for you, then this machine is worth taking a chance on.
Brand: Nespresso VertuoLine, $299-$349
Type of Coffee Maker: Pod-style espresso machine
Pros: This machine is sturdy, sleek, design-conscious, and it does what it should: produces an exceptional cup of espresso. It also beats out every other machine in its class when it comes to space. Also a plus: this was the easiest of all the machines we tried to operate straight out of the box without reading the directions carefully. And price-wise, it's totally competitive with other makers in its category.
Cons: All the pros come at a price: the cost of the Nespresso pods, which aren't cheap, as well as the exclusivity of where you can buy them. Sold through the Nespresso website and at Nespresso boutiques and Sur la Table stores, you can't just run out to the corner store for some more if you haven't kept an eye on your supply and ordered or bought ahead.
Overall Impressions: Designed exclusively for the venti-loving North American market, theVertuoLine is a pretty perfect machine. The price is right for what it is and what it makes, but keep in mind that expenses may build up over time, given the cost of pods.
Type of Coffee Maker: Traditional espresso machine with frothing function
Pros: Compact, space-saving machine that's easy to use and produces reliably good espresso and cappuccino. You can brew two cups simultaneously, and-bonus feature!-there's a cup warmer on the top of the machine that heats your cups to a perfect temperature as the coffee is brewing. The price of this machine is quite affordable compared to more expensive machines in its same category.
Cons: The only real con of this machine is the fact that some of its parts seem flimsy. The drip tray and the water container seem cheap and vulnerable to breakage compared to the rest of the machine, which feels much more durable.
Overall Impressions: This machine gets major points for its affordability, made all the more attractive by the fact that it's compact and produces a solid cup of espresso. The cup warmer is a neat bonus feature, and the whole machine is easy to use and clean.
Brand: KRUPS XP5620 Precise Tamp Espresso Machine, $199.95
Type of Coffee Maker: Traditional espresso machine with frothing function
Pros: Like the Capresso, the KRUPS pump espresso machine is compact; thankfully, it doesn't require too much counter space. The machine is easy to use and we love the evolution of the tamping hand; in addition to tamping the espresso itself (no smooth and tamp on your part required while you still have sleep in your eyes), the tamping hand has a button you press after brewing to release the grounds into the compost or garbage, a feature we appreciate after having dug the brew basket of our former KRUPS out of the garbage on multiple occasions. The KRUPS also has a nifty cup warmer and a measuring spoon is included; it stores neatly inside the top of the unit.
Cons: Compared to the Capresso, the KRUPS is $100 more expensive. The machine is also a bit noisy at the beginning of the brew cycle and the grounds tend to be a wetter than normal (but since that handy release button is a built-in feature, you don't have to worry too much about that).
Overall Impressions: Though more costly than some of the other machines in its class, the KRUPS is comparatively durable and dependable, so consider it an investment in longevity.
Brand: Primula Classic Coffee Press 8-cup, $24.99
Type of Coffee Maker: French press (8-cup capacity)
Pros: The Primula is a standard French press and does exactly what it should. Repeat tests with the press consistently produced a cup of coffee that was smooth and grounds-free.
Cons: It would be helpful if the manufacturer would put measurement lines on the side of the press to indicate fill levels based on the number of cups the user wants to make.
Overall Impressions: We like that Primula has eschewed the trend toward plastic parts and keeps a classy, classic design. Competitively priced, with durable parts, it's a super option if you're in the market for a French press. Consider purchasing along with a Capresso Coffee Burr Grinder, which retails for $49.99, so you can grind your own beans.