Ristretto vs Espresso: What’s the Difference?

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The menus of most coffee shops will always include a host of espresso-based beverages. From latte to Americano, macchiato to cortado, we’re used to expecting the difference between these drinks to stem from how much hot water, steamed milk, or froth they each contain – if any. Their common unifier is always that full-bodied shot of espresso.

But now, all of a sudden, you hear about ristretto. How is a ristretto different from an espresso? In this case, the difference boils down to the process of coffee extraction. Let’s see what each of these beverages is, and how they’re made. In the end, it’s these factors that account for the final difference in flavor.

What’s an Espresso?

An espresso is usually the basis for most coffeeshop drinks, like all the ones we mentioned above. More recently, however, baristas have taken to using ristrettos as the basis for these same, milky beverages – but we’ll get into that a bit later.

So an espresso is a 30 ml shot of coffee made with a (surprise!) espresso machine. High-pressure, piping hot water goes through about 7-9 grams of finely ground coffee beans for anywhere between 25 to 30 seconds. The result is an intense, strong shot of coffee that can be drunk on its own or added onto. A lot of coffee shops that make big drinks use double shots of espresso or doppio.

Some people that drink espresso straight like to add a bit of sugar to soften the strong flavor.

An espresso has three layers: the bottom is the darkest, and also known as the “body.” The middle is lighter, and is referred to as the “heart.” Finally, the top of an espresso is adorned with a thin, light-brown layer referred to as “crema,” which accounts for the almost creamy finish and deep aftertaste of an espresso shot.

What’s a Ristretto?

The main difference between a ristretto and an espresso is in the brewing process. Namely, the time and the amount of water used for each beverage differ, while everything else in the method is the same. So to make a ristretto, you use the same process and the same amount of coffee as you would for an espresso. However, you only use half the amount of water that you’d use for an espresso, so a ristretto is only about 15 ml per shot. Plus, the extraction time is shorter, lasting only about 15 seconds.

The resulting shot is not only different from the espresso in quantity, but also in flavor.

The main difference between ristretto and espresso is the amount of water and extraction time.

What Are the Differences Between a Ristretto and an Espresso?

So because of the shorter extraction time and smaller amount of water, a ristretto is different from an espresso in overall quantity, caffeine, and flavor.

Quantity-wise, we already covered that a ristretto is half the size of an espresso, about 15 ml. Some coffeeshops which have started using ristrettos to make milky coffee drinks as well, usually use a double shot.

In terms of caffeine, the shorter extraction process yields a shot with a bit less caffeine than an espresso. The variance in caffeine content is quite small, however.

The most important difference, of course, is taste. Due to the shorter extraction time and smaller amount of water used, the taste of a ristretto is stronger, bolder, and more concentrated. However, a ristretto has a sweeter finish than an espresso.

While a ristretto must sound quite beautiful by now, it’s also, unfortunately, easier to mess up than an espresso. As the extraction process is shorter, beans that are not finely ground may result in an under-extracted cup of coffee, which is sometimes unpleasantly bitter.

Ristrettos In Milk-Based Drinks

Some coffee shops prefer using ristrettos in milk-based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos since the milk and cream complement the sweet finish and bold flavor of the ristretto really well. They come together as a flavorful balance between strong and sweet. If you prefer a sweeter finish in your coffee, you may ask your barista to use a double ristretto instead of an espresso, and see what happens!

In fact, some popular coffee shops already use ristretto for certain beverages. Starbucks, for instance, prepare flat whites with ristretto shots rather than espresso shots.

If you want to enjoy good coffee in your home, but aren’t ready to sacrifice money and kitchen counter space for an espresso machine, you can always experiment with flavors and beans using a great pour-over coffee maker.

Cortado vs Latte

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Most urban coffee shops offer the same array of coffee drinks on their menu. And in this broad, seemingly never-ending list of caffeine-infused deliciousness, it’s always a couple of variables that are dancing around the same, main component of the perfect cup of joe: espresso.

Today, we’ll take a look at two espresso-based beverages that often get confused: the elegant, laconic cortado and the smooth, velvety latte. We will learn what makes them similar, and what sets them apart so that you know exactly what to order on your next trip to the local café. Or, you’ll know exactly what to do if you’re trying to recreate these coffeeshop classics at home.

What Is Cortado?

A cortado gives a Spanish twist to the usually Italian-crafted array of espresso beverages. You see, “cortado” means “cut” in Spanish. The drink is named cortado, or cut, because you cut that wonderfully acidic shot of espresso with some steamed milk. Unlike most Italian milky takes on the espresso, the cortado contains less foam and is generally made without any frothed milk. Any thin layer of foam that adorns a cup of cortado is the result of steamed milk.

The taste of the cortado is a beautiful balance between coffee and milk, combining that flavorful espresso punch with the smooth, silky taste of steamed milk. It’s the ideal choice for coffee lovers that like a strong cup of java, but don’t want to be knocked to the ground by the bold taste of an espresso shot.

How Do You Make a Cortado?

A cortado is made of equal parts espresso and flat steamed milk. This makes the drink quite short – when you add the espresso and steamed milk, the drink averages a total of 3 – 4 ounces.

As you can see, this cortado contains a very thin layer of foam. And if we’re being honest – it’s a bit on the milky side.

While frothed milk, or foam, in lattes is often optional, cortados are traditionally made without any foam. The most you’d get is a thin, foamy layer that’s come out of the steamed milk.

What Is a Latte?

The word latte, as you may have suspected, means milk in Italian. The name makes perfect sense, as a latte is one of the milkiest espresso-based beverages you’ll come across. One of the main differences between a cortado and a latte is the amount of milk. A latte uses twice as much steamed milk as a cortado. Another difference is that while frothed milk (foam) isn’t a must in a latte recipe, it’s an optional ingredient that baristas often choose to add. Cortados never really come with additional foam – unless you specifically ask for it.

As you can see, lattes come with more milk than cortados, and a nice, foamy finish.

Lattes are the perfect choice for people who prefer experiencing the intense flavor of the espresso through a veil of silky, velvety-smooth steamed milk. A lot of coffee shops also offer lattes with different flavored syrups, like mint, vanilla, caramel, and so on. (But why would anyone ruin their coffee with a syrup? What am I, twelve?)

How Do You Make a Latte?

A latte is generally made with one part espresso and two parts steamed milk. The steamed milk is also slightly aerated in the process, so it comes with a thin layer of foam on the top (perhaps a bit thicker than a cortado). If you prefer having foam on your latte, you can specify this to your barista, or you can create it at home using an affordable, handy milk frother.

As a latte comes with more milk than a cortado, it’s also a larger cup of coffee. The size of a latte starts at 6 ounces, but can also go all the way up to 20 ounces in coffee shops like Starbucks, where a coffee drink seems to count only if you can barely carry it. Of course, in these cases, baristas also add a second shot of espresso to maintain the balance between espresso flavor and silky-smooth milk.

Recapping the Differences Between Cortado and Latte

So, what are the differences between cortado and latte? Let’s recap:

  • A cortado has a 1:1 espresso to milk ratio; a latte has a 1:2 espresso to milk ratio;
  • A cortado usually has no foam; a latte may contain anything from a thin to a generous layer of foamy, frothed milk.

Frothed Milk vs Steamed Milk: What’s the Difference?

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A lot of espresso-based beverages you can get at any coffeeshop (or recreate at home!) include warmed milk. But the milk doesn’t always have the same taste or texture. That’s because not all milk is prepared the same way. So, why do some cups of coffee have a rich layer of foam, and others simply a thin layer of lonely bubbles?

The answer to this question lies in the difference between frothed milk and steamed milk. Let’s take a look at the difference between these two forms of milk in terms of how they’re prepared, how they taste, and what espresso-based beverages use one, the other, or both.

What Is Frothed Milk?

Frothed milk is that beautiful, velvety foam that regularly adorns cappuccinos. The way it’s created is by aerating the milk, or injecting air into it, to create tiny bubbles which constitute milky foam, or froth. The perfect foam, or froth, shouldn’t have large bubbles and shouldn’t be dry – it should taste and feel dense, yet creamy.

Cappuccinos are one of the most famous barista drinks that come with frothed milk

A cappuccino isn’t a cappuccino without a beautiful, silky finish – froth. Coffee art, for instance, where baristas draw flowers, hearts, and so on, on the top of your coffee requires perfectly made froth.

How Do You Froth Milk?

There are several ways to froth milk, and you can froth both hot and cold milk, depending on the method. Generally, baristas and folks who have espresso machines in their homes use a steam wand to froth the milk. The milk is placed in a frothing pitcher and the steam want is inserted near the surface of the milk, and near the edge of the pitcher. As the top layers begin to froth, you slowly move the wand lower inside the milk to froth the rest. Once you’ve reached the desired fluffiness, and the milk has grown about twice its original size, it’s ready to top off your coffee!

You don’t have to own an espresso machine to get perfect, silky froth. There are a lot of great milk frothers that are intended for home use and easy to operate. Most of them are handheld and work either through manual pumping of the milk or through an electric whisk.

Which Beverages Use Frothed Milk?

Some espresso-based beverages that always come with froth, or foam, are cappuccino, flat white, café breve, and macchiato – although a macchiato uses very little of it.

For a lot of other espresso-based drinks, foam is optional. This includes café au lait and café latte.

What Is Steamed Milk?

Steamed milk is what you get by exposing milk to high-pressure steam. Usually, the steam is introduced to the milk through a steam wand. Steamed milk is less dense than frothed milk, but it’s still quite creamy thanks to the expansion of milk fats that occurs during the steaming process. Steamed milk has a really silky, velvety taste which complements the initial espresso shot perfectly.

Unlike frothed milk, steamed milk isn’t completely turned into foam. Rather, the structure remains liquid yet creamy, containing only a very thin layer of small bubbles at the top.

This is a cortado – espresso with flat steamed milk

As you can see from this image of a cortado, which is made with flat steamed milk, the foam that accompanies steamed milk is much, much thinner than the rich foam that comes with frothed milk.

How Do You Steam Milk?

The high-pressure steam is slowly introduced to the milk (usually through a steam wand), which causes the fats in the milk to grow and produce a thin layer of tiny bubbles on the top. You can steam milk by again placing the tip of the steam want just below the milk’s surface, and adjusting it until you find the right angle at which a vortex is created inside the pitcher. To make sure the milk reaches the perfect temperature, which is about 55–65°C (139–149°F), you can use a frothing thermometer.

While usually you’d need a steam wand to steam milk, there are also some home appliances which can HadinEEon Milk Frother, Electric Milk Steamer Foam Maker for Capuccino, Latte, Hot Chocolate, Automatic Hot Cold Milk Frother Warmer w/Two Whisks, Silent Milk Heater Coffee Frother(4.4/10.1 Oz),120V.

Which Beverages Use Steamed Milk?

Almost all espresso-based drinks that include milk use steamed milk. This includes latte, cortado, macchiato, café au lait, flat white, and mocha. Some drinks, like cappuccinos and macchiatos, are made with both steamed milk and frothed milk.

Best Milk Frother For A Frothsome Coffee

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Disclaimer: Although I personally have developed an aversion to puns over the years, the word froth is simply too resourceful to ignore. So get ready for some awful, awful wordplay (unfortunately, that title is just the beginning).

There are several stops on the long, winding path of the coffee enthusiast. The journey begins when you realize that instant coffee is, well, crap. So you start seeking out methods to recreate the perfect cup of joe in the convenience of your own home. You start off with a Moka pot, you upgrade to a drip coffee maker, you get a bit lost in the woods by purchasing a French press, but eventually, that gets tucked away in a cupboard and you find your way again, and then maybe, just maybe, you go and get yourself an espresso machine.

After you master the basics, like different types of grind, however, the road begins descending into the valley of finesse. You’ve spoiled your taste buds to the point where your palette will be having none of that Robusta nonsense, which is a hop, skip, and a jump away from realizing you really need a milk frother.

Because without that layer of perfect, silky foam, a cappuccino is basically just espresso with milk. You see, Froth Gild’st the Even (may Shakespeare forgive me for this atrocity), for without froth, your coffee, at best, would take on an unattractive brownish color after you’ve added a bit of that straight-out-the-fridge milk.

Of course, not having an espresso machine doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get in on that frothy goodness. Froth can turn any old cup of joe into a coffeeshop-worthy product. With that in mind – how do you get the full coffee shop experience in your home? Why, by getting a milk frother, of course! Fear not, young padawan, we have scoured the market and rounded up the best milk frothers for any home, budget, and preference, so you needn’t look frother than our product reviews to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Make sure you read our buying guide below the products, to get our advice on how to choose the best milk frother for you.

Best Milk Frother: Reviews of Our Favorites for 2020

Before we take a tour through our favorite milk frothers for 2020, here’s a quick look of what we have in store for you:

Best Overall: HIC Milk Frother

HIC Milk Creamer Frother Cappuccino Coffee Foam Pitcher with Handle and Lid, Stainless Steel, 14-Ounce CapacityThe HIC milk frother isn’t just our favorite – it’s been a customer favorite, too, for a couple of years now. It’s our top recommendation for most people since it’s durable, easy to use, and provides truly beautiful results.

The HIC works with all kinds of milk, including non-dairy alternatives, and allows you to create thick cream that will last. It has a 14-ounce capacity and is quite easy to clean. The HIC is a manual frother, which means you’ll have to put some elbow grease to pump the milk and transform it into froth. However, this also gives you the opportunity to control just how thick your cream should be.

Pros:

This milk frother offers excellent performance, without fail. The featured double-mesh aerator provides thick, creamy foam that will look beautiful on your cup of java and will taste just right. Some frothers make the foam too aerated, others fail to make it thick enough. The HIC strikes the perfect balance. Plus, the stainless steel pitcher keeps the milk warm.

The HIC milk frother is quite versatile. It allows you to create rich foam from both hot and cold milk. As we’ve mentioned, it works just as well with all kinds of milk, from dairy options like whole, skimmed or goat milk, to non-dairy alternatives, such as soy, almond, hemp, and cashew milk. This makes the HIC a wonderful choice for lactose-intolerant people and vegans, as they can achieve the same creamy results as dairy lovers.

This frother is quite easy to use. The pitcher comes with a plunger and a lid. Once you’ve filled the pitcher with milk, you need to secure the lid and pump the easy-grip handle on the plunger to turn that milk into foam. Officially, the process takes anywhere between 30 to 60 seconds, depending on how frothy you want your cream. Unofficially, it may only take a couple of seconds for the milk froth to rise to 2 to 3 times its size. You can experiment and see how much pumping provides your desired frothsistency.

The HIC is super easy to clean. You can wash the parts separately once your coffee’s ready. Plus, as it doesn’t have any electric parts, you can always stick it into the dishwasher after use.

Last but certainly not least, this frother is quite durable. For one, it doesn’t feature any electric parts that could break down or malfunction. For another, it’s made of sturdy stainless steel that won’t get damaged.

Cons:

One drawback is that even if you secure the lid properly, some milk may leak out of the hole on the top which holds the plunger. Two tips we can give you if this happens are one, don’t overfill the pitcher, and two, do the pumping in the sink.

Best Portable Milk Frother: Aerolatte Handheld Milk Frother

Aerolatte Milk Frother with Travel Storage Case, The Original Steam-Free Frother, Moo PrintIf you’re looking for something versatile, easy-to-use, and effective, you’ll love the Aerolatte handheld milk frother. The Aerolatte is battery-powered and lightweight, which makes it the ideal portable choice. It even features a travel storage case, for those of you who want coffeeshop-quality cream when you camp, travel or go to work. This is one of our most affordable recommendations.

Pros:

Considering its price and size, the Aerolatte brings its A-game. The powerful mechanism will provide you with lovely froth in no time. It’s also quite versatile, as it works with both hot and cold milk. You can even use it to whisk eggs on days when you want them nice and fluffy.

Without a doubt, the Aerolatte is the perfect portable choice. It weighs only 4.6 ounces, and doesn’t require a power source to function – all you need are working batteries. As we’ve mentioned, the travel storage case that comes with the frother will make carrying it everywhere you go even simpler.

The Aerolatte is one of the easiest-to-use frothers on the market. All you do is turn it on, stick it in a cup of milk, and wait for 20-60 seconds, depending on how foamy you want your cream. It’s quite powerful, but not so powerful that it will have the batteries popping out. It’s also easy to wash – requiring only a bit of soap and warm water. Once you’re done washing it, you can just stick next to your cutlery – it takes up next to no space. Keep in mind that it’s not dishwasher-washable, as it features electric parts.

Although it’s small and lanky, the Aerolatte is surprisingly sturdy. It’s made up of stainless steel and plastic. The materials used are free of lead, cadmium, phthalates, and BPA, which makes it a safe choice for consumers. Additionally, this little frother is backed by a 2-year warranty.

Failing to mention how cute the design is would be a damn shame. You can get the Aerolatte in an adorable cow-print design, in black– if you’re a serious person, or in Union Jack design (the UK flag) if you’re a UK national that’s feeling patriotic, or simply have a thing for all things British ever since you read Harry Potter. Or should we say, Harry Frother (I’m so sorry, but you were warned).

Cons:

While you could use the Aerolatte for all sorts of milk, it doesn’t work very well with non-dairy alternatives like almond or soy. It will give them some bubbles, but not much creaminess.

Best Electric Frother/Steamer: HadinEEon Milk Frother & Steamer

HadinEEon Milk Frother, Electric Milk Steamer Foam Maker for Capuccino, Latte, Hot Chocolate, Automatic Hot Cold Milk Frother Warmer w/Two Whisks, Silent Milk Heater Coffee Frother(4.4/10.1 Oz),120VThe HadinEEon is a great choice for those looking for a frother that doubles as a steamer. We really liked the versatile features and excellent performance of the HadinEEon. Although it’s a bit pricier than our other recommendations, the HadinEEon comes with one of the best warranties on the market and a friendly, helpful support team that won’t leave you hanging. You can use it for anything from milk to hot chocolate, and it froths both cold and hot beverages.

Plus, you can both heat your milk and turn it into perfect cream for your cappuccino all from one place! This is an electric, corded model so you’ll probably permanently need to sacrifice some space on your kitchen counter (unless you prefer stowing it away after each use).

Pros:

In terms of performance, the HadinEEon will give you exactly what you want: perfectly dense, velvety foam to top off your coffee with, so you can skip Starbucks altogether. Whether it’s to froth milk, heat it up, or both, the HadinEEon will do it in no time – taking only a minute or so to get the job done with minimal input on your part. Plus, this frother features whisper-quiet operation, so no one in your household will be awakened by your early bird rituals.

The HadinEEon is one of the most versatile milk frothers we came across. In addition to it being a frother and a steamer at the same time, it can froth both hot and cold beverages, along with all kinds of milk, dairy and non-dairy.

We especially recommend the HadinEEon for busy people and households that need their coffee ready yesterday. You can just adjust the settings for what you want (cold froth, hot froth, or steaming/heating) and let this little gadget do the rest. As we’ve mentioned, it only takes about a minute or two. For heating and hot frothing, HadinEEon measures the temperature of the milk automatically, and always brings it up to 140℉, which is the ideal milk temperature for lattes and cappuccinos. Once it reaches 140℉, it automatically shuts off.

Operating and cleaning the HadinEEon is quite simple. There are intuitive LED-lit buttons on the handle that let you choose between cold frothing and heating/frothing. Once you’ve chosen a setting, the featured froth whisk or heating whisk will do their job. The jug is detachable from the heating element, so it will be easy to pour that foam with the elegance that your coffee deserves. Cleaning is super easy thanks to the non-stick coating on the inside of the jug that won’t allow grease to stick and make washup a nightmare.

Although customers have some doubts when it comes to electrics, the HaddinEEon is quite durable. The jug is made of stainless steel which provides excellent insulation. What will really make you comfortable about this purchase, however, is the 3-year warranty that the company offers along with the 1-year money-back guarantee, which has been tested and proven to be true, not just an empty promise.

This frother has a 4.4 oz frothing capacity for frothing and a 10.1 oz heating capacity.

Cons:

One possible drawback is that the HaddinEEon won’t heat your milk past 140℉, so if you like piping hot coffee or chocolate milk, you may be disappointed.

Another thing you should keep in mind is that the volume markers are placed on the inside of the frother, which makes it a bit difficult to read. So beware of overfilling the jug – it may result in spilling.

Best on a Budget: Bellemain Hand Pump Milk Frother

Bellemain Stainless Steel Hand Pump Milk Frother, 14 oz. capacityOur favorite frother for those on a budget is the Bellemain Hand Pump Milk Frother. It’s quite similar to the HIC in design and functionality. You can use the Bellemain to both froth and heat up the milk, thanks to the durable stainless steel build. The froth it produces is long-lasting. Of course, you can manually adjust its creaminess. It has a 14 oz capacity.

Pros:

The Bellemain brings coffeeshop-quality froth to your home workstation. This pump-based frother will allow you to produce delicious, creamy foam with a density that’s to your liking, as you’ll be doing the work manually, by pumping. Like the HIC, it can take anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds to get the ideal amount of thickness for your taste.

Along with the Aerolatte, the Bellemain is another great option for travel, and specifically, camping. It’s light and sturdy, so you won’t worry about it when you’re throwing around your backpack on airplanes, cars, or campsites. Although it’s a bit bulkier than the Aerolatte, it has the edge when it comes to versatility. This is because the Bellemain can be used to heat up your milk before frothing it, too, thanks to its durable stainless steel build. Of course, you’d want to steer clear of overheating it, as that can also damage the container.

The Bellemain’s versatility doesn’t end at heating. Not only can it be used for frothing cold and hot milk, but it’s also a great choice for preparing eggnog, salad dressing, cocktails, and hot chocolate, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. You know what, go crazy with it. Do anything for froth’s sake.

Cleaning the Bellemain is quite easy. You can quickly wash it by hand, or stick in the top rack of the dishwasher.

The Bellemain offers great value for your money as it’s a durable little frother. It’s made of stainless steel that can withstand wear and tear, and it’s backed by a 2-year warranty.

Cons:

While the stainless steel is indeed durable, the rubber piece on the lid which holds the plunger is a bit flimsy. It may grow loose after a couple of months of rigorous frothing. The worst that will come of this is some milk splashing about when you pump, in which case, as we recommended above – pump in the sink.

Conclusion

The HIC Milk Frother is our overall top choice for the delicious, dense, creamy foam that it can help you create. It’s the perfect choice for most froth-lovers as it strikes the perfect balance between price and quality. Yes, you’ll need to work a bit for your froth – but it’ll only take a couple of seconds to get a consistency that’s tailored to your taste. We especially recommend the HIC for non-dairy kinds of milk, as it’s uniquely successful in making the frothy.

Our favorite portable milk frother is the Aerolatte Handheld Milk Frother. This little machine comes with a lot of power that will turn your hot or cold milk into the foamy cream you desire for a beautiful finish to your cup of java. It’s tiny, lightweight, and comes with its own travel storage case! It will fit as well in a suitcase as it would into your kitchen’s top-shelf. It’s also quite affordable.

If you’re looking for more than a frother, the HadinEEon Milk Frother & Steamer is a great combination of frother and steamer. It can be used to froth hot or cold milk, but also just to heat your milk or hot chocolate. It’s a corded, electric model that does everything on its own – no hand-holding is necessary to get creamy froth for your coffee. Fill it up and tell it what to do, then come back for your foam a minute later. Keep in mind that this is our priciest recommendation – but it is durable and backed by a great warranty.

Our best budget-friendly recommendation is the Bellemain Hand Pump Milk Frother, a pump-based, stainless steel frother not unlike the HIC. The Bellemain is humble, straightforward, and durable. You can pump it as much as you like to achieve the desired density of your froth. It’s a great choice for campers that want a frother which they can also use for heating up the milk.

How To Choose The Right Milk Frother

Alright, so we’ve gone over what the best milk frothers are on the market – but which one is the right choice for you? Let’s take a look at the main factors you should consider when choosing.

What kind of milk do you drink?

As you may have realized, while all milk frothers do just fine with dairy milk, not all of them do as well with non-dairy alternatives. If you’re a vegan or lactose-intolerant, make sure you pick out a frother that works with almond, soy, and oatmeal milk, like the HIC.

Are you stationed, or on-the-go?

Some milk frothers, like the HadinEEon, are only good for homes and offices. As this model is corded, you can’t exactly take it with you wherever you go. On the other hand, if you prefer something portable that you can take with you when you travel or camp, you should consider one of our handheld, portable recommendations.

What’s your budget?

Consider how much you’re willing or able to spend on a frother. While all our recommendations are reasonably priced, there is a broad-ish range. The HaddinEEon is the priciest option, costing $39.08. The HIC comes second at a bit over $21.79. The Aerolatte and the Bellemain are priced at Price not available and $29.95 respectively. Still, follow the links to these products to check their current prices.

A Few Words Before You Go…

Hopefully, our reviews and buying guide have been helpful on your journey to becoming a full-on coffee guru. And you don’t need to spend a lot of money on an expensive espresso machine to have a frothy cuppa coffee.

If you’re interested, you can check out more of our product reviews and guides, along with some tasty recipes that will help you convert your home into a make-believe coffeeshop. Especially if you’ve been cooked up in quarantine, trying something different can transport you – or at least your taste buds – to a simpler time (so like, last year).

In the end, all we’d like to say is may the froth be with you, and also, since we’re not picking sides, live long and frothper. :/

Want to see our favorite milk frothers one more time before you go? Here they are!

Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker

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Whether it’s to stir up your brain or to stir up your bowels, you drink coffee. And once you start drinking coffee, it’s hard not to end up loving coffee. And once you love coffee, it’s impossible to just leave it at one type of coffee and coffee maker. They say that getting tattoos is addictive – once you get one, you gotta have more. I don’t know about tattoos, but as a coffee lover, that has been my exact experience with coffee makers.

So anyway – as you’re not a brute that drinks instant coffee, or at least you’ve decided to leave your philistine ways behind – you need to pick your first (or next, in my case) coffee maker. This time, we’ll look at percolators and drip coffee makers – what their similarities are, what their differences are, how they work, and what sort of coffee they produce. With all this knowledge under your belt, you’ll know exactly what you want for your next caffeine fix.

Here’s a quick overview of what to expect:

Coffee Maker Strength Nuance in flavor Portability Cleaning
Percolator Usually stronger and bolder (can be adjusted to taste) Generally less nuance Easily portable Easy
Drip Coffee Maker Milder taste Notes in flavor more detectable Not very portable More difficult

How Do Percolators Work?

The beginnings of the humble percolator were conceived by the Parisian tinsmith Joseph-Henry-Marie Laurens, then moved to Franklin, Massachusetts via James Nason, for it finally to be patented in the modern, stove-top version we know today by Hanson Goodrick from Illinois in 1889.

The percolator had its glory days in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century – but its glory was somewhat diminished after the 1950s. Throughout Europe, it was being quickly replaced by the Italian Moka pot. In the States, siphon brewing was becoming increasingly popular. And in the 1970s, the booming success of drip coffee makers pushed percolators further in the background.

Some new models of percolators resemble Moka pots – but they’re quite different!

Still, percolators maintain their place in the coffee-loving community and remain a favorite among campsites and church gatherings. So how does the modern percolator work?

Percolators rely on gravity to recycle the water through the coffee as many times as needed to achieve the desired strength. They have two chambers – an upper and a lower one. The two chambers are connected through a thin, metal tube and divided with a porous metal tray that contains the coffee grounds.

You start off by putting water in the bottom chamber, coffee beans in the upper chamber, and placing the percolator on a heat source (stovetop or a portable gas burner/stove). As the water heats up and turns into steam, it moves to the upper chamber through the metal tube. In the upper chamber, it turns back into a liquid and drips onto the coffee beans (this is the extraction process), and through the porous tray back into the bottom chamber.

After a single cycle, you basically have a ready cup of coffee waiting for you in the bottom chamber. However, you can allow the coffee to repeat the cycle as many times as you like, depending on how strong you want your coffee. The more concentrated you want your cup of joe, the more cycles it’ll need to go through.

What Size Coffee Grounds Should I Use with a Percolator?

Percolators don’t use paper filters, but only the porous metal tray where the coffee is placed. This means that if you use medium or finely ground coffee, you’ll end up with a lot of unpleasant sediment in the end result. That’s why it’s best to use coarse grounds with percolators. Plus, as coarse grounds are slower to extract, you’re less likely to end up with an over-extracted, bitter cup of coffee even if you let the water repeat the cycle a few times.

Who Do We Recommend Percolators For?

Travelers. You don’t need electricity to make coffee in percolators – all you need is fire. Plus, they’re quite lightweight and easily portable.

Parties. If you’re looking for something big that can fit a lot of coffee for a lot of people, you can also find some pretty large percolators, which are often used for symposiums and weddings.

How Do Drip Coffee Makers Work?

Drip coffee makers are kind of like a cross between pour-over coffee and percolators. Except, unlike these two contraptions, modern drip coffee makers are automated. Drip coffee makers are super easy to use and simple to set up, which is why they’ve been adorning kitchen counters in homes, offices, and hotels in the US since the 1970s. If you remember our short history lesson on percolators from earlier, you’ll remember that drip coffee makers are one of the main new products on the scene that pushed out percolators.

So, how do they work?

Drip coffee makers consist of a water reservoir, a metal tube (similar to the one that percolators use), a shower-head-like valve, a coffee tray, and a carafe. The water is placed in the water reservoir and heated until it turns into steam, which then travels up the thin tube (like in a percolator). At the end of the tube, the steam turns back into liquid, which is dripped over the coffee beans that are placed in the tray – usually on a paper filter (like in pour-over coffee!). The water drips through the filter into a carafe, which is usually placed on another heating element to keep the coffee warm.

We are all chasing that perfect cup of coffee…

While we’ll outline the differences between drip coffee makers and percolators in more detail, the main difference between the two is that when using the former, water goes through the coffee grounds only once, while a percolator recycles the same water several times – although this, too, can be adjusted.

The elegant simplicity of a drip coffee maker is what makes it so popular. All you have to do is put water in the container, add coffee on the tray, and turn the machine on. You can walk away and get ready for the day, or do some work, and return half an hour later with still warm, still fresh coffee waiting for you.

What Size Coffee Grounds Should I Use with a Drip Coffee Maker?

As drip coffee makers use paper filters, you can use medium or medium-fine grind. A good rule of thumb is choosing medium-fine grind for a flat-bottomed funnel and medium grind for a conical funnel. In addition to paper filters, the fact that the water is cycled through only once makes it a good idea to use a finer grind than you would with a percolator. A single cycle means that the coffee won’t be over-extracted, but the finer grind ensures that it won’t come out tasteless, either.

Who Do We Recommend Drip Coffee Makers For?

Homes, offices, dorm rooms. Drip coffee makers are great for any place where they’ll be stationed for a longer period of time. All you need is electricity! They’re especially a good choice for multi-person households and offices. The machine will do everything on its own, and supply everyone present with a cup of coffee. Keep in mind, however, that large drip coffee makers are still usually smaller than large percolators.

What Are the Differences Between a Percolator and a Drip Coffee Maker?

You can already see that there are some differences between a percolator and a drip coffee maker in the way they work:

  • A drip coffee maker has a separate reservoir for water and a separate carafe for the end product – coffee. A percolator only has one reservoir, which starts off as water and ends up as coffee.
  • A drip coffee maker cycles the water only once, while a percolator can recycle the water as many times as you like.
  • Drip coffee makers are automatic, while percolators generally need a separate heat source (stovetop or gas burner). Of course, there are also electric percolators available today.
  • A percolator doesn’t use paper filters, while drip coffee makers do.

The way these machines work naturally has an effect on the difference in taste that we get from the coffees they produce. As percolators recycle the same water over and over again, the coffee is bolder and stronger. Of course, you can get a milder taste from your percolator by letting the water cycle through only once. The longer the coffee brews, the more cycles it turns, the more extracted the beans and the bitterer the taste.

In all honesty, no matter how strong you like your coffee, you probably don’t want that kind of bitterness, so it’s best to pay attention to your percolator as it brews, lest your coffee become undrinkable.

Drip coffee makers produce milder-tasting coffee because they only cycle the water through once. This allows for more nuanced notes in the coffee beans to be detectable, a joy for the palate. If you want your drip coffee to be stronger and a bit more bitter, you can use very finely ground coffee beans.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee in a Mason Jar

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Summer is here, and while the temperatures are rising, it’s hard to imagine something better than an ice-cold and refreshing dose of caffeine. Making a hot cup of coffee is convenient and tempting, considering the intense aroma of freshly-made coffee, but, there are far better alternatives, even for people that don’t own an expensive coffee-maker. Did you know you can make a delicious cold brew coffee in a mason jar? The whole process is insanely easy and straightforward.

While cold brewing may take longer, it will deliver a strong and full-bodied flavor, fit for a hot summer day. Keep reading to find out what exactly the cold brewing method constitutes, what you’ll need to do it, and how to make the best cold brew coffee in a mason jar, step-by-step. You’ll have a smooth and refreshing beverage ready for you in no-time.

What Is a Cold Brew?

The most common question regarding cold brewing is “What’s the difference between cold brew and iced-coffee?” Well, the difference is the way in which they’re prepared.

Iced coffee refers to a regularly brewed coffee with hot water that’s chilled afterward. In fact, the process of making iced coffee isn’t different than making hot brewed coffee. You can use a coffee-maker or boil the water yourself, and once the coffee is made, let it cool at room temperature, or pour it over ice-cubes.

Cold brew, on the other hand, it’s an alternative method to make coffee without using heat at all. The reason for this is because different temperature levels affect different flavor-releasing chemicals in the coffee. Cold brewing coffee results in a more harsh and bold flavor, while iced coffee tastes the same as regular coffee, only diluted because of the ice.

For anyone who enjoys a strong coffee drink and prefers the bittersweet flavor rather than the diluted and sweet aroma of iced coffee, cold brewing coffee at home is a perfect solution.

What Coffee Is Best for Cold Brew?

There’s a whole science behind how flavor is extracted from coffee grounds while brewing and there are many factors that affect this process – heat, bean freshness, and quality are just a few one of them. So, how do you choose the right coffee for a cold brew?

Technically, you can use any type of coffee beans/grounds for cold brewing, but freshly coarse-ground coffee delivers the best taste. Depending on the taste that you prefer, you should also consider the roast – light, medium, or dark roast.

Check out our article “Best Coffee For Cold Brew” to find a lot more on how to choose the right coffee beans/grounds for cold brewing.

Materials

Before we get into the details of how to make cold brew coffee in a mason jar, here’s everything that you’ll need so you’re prepared.

  • Quart mason jar – make sure the mason jar has a wide mouth, otherwise, you won’t be able to fit a filter in it.
  • Filter – there are many different types of filters you can use when cold brewing or you can improvise with a DIY filter. You can also find high-quality specialized filters for mason jars on Amazon.
  • Coffee grinder – for those who prefer to buy whole beans and have a freshly ground batch each time. However, keep in mind that you can always buy pre-ground coffee or simply grind the coffee at your local coffee shop.

***If you make a big batch and you plan to refrigerate the coffee, it’s not a bad idea to label the jar with a date, which can be a useful reminder to drink the coffee before it goes bad. Already brewed coffee becomes more bitter with each passing day. Don’t make batches that you can’t finish within a week.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making the Best Cold Brew Coffee in a Mason Jar

For some people, cold brewing is simply mixing ground coffee in cold water and leaving it in the fridge overnight. The next morning, they strain the mixture and drink it. It’s definitely one way to go about this, but if you want to have more control over the taste, concentration, and strength, here’s a step-by-step guide to guide you through.

Step 1: Pick the Beans

Regardless of which coffee you choose, make sure the ground/beans are fresh and good quality. Higher water temperature can extract flavor from a variety of chemical compounds in the coffee, while lower water temperature affects only certain types of chemicals, which limits the flavor potential that the beans have. If you buy stale coffee with compromised quality, chances are you’ll end up with a watery, washed up coffee that’s undrinkable.

Step 2: Grind the Coffee Beans

Once you find the perfect beans, it’s time to grind them. We’ve already discussed that the perfect coffee for a cold brew is coarsely-ground coffee. Most at-home coffee-grinders have a time indicator for coarsely-ground, medium-ground, or fine-power. Don’t overdo it! You can also grind the coffee beans at your local supermarket or coffee shop.

Of course, you can always buy ground coffee, but in this case, keep in mind that the grind size is an important factor for cold brewing. When buying ground coffee, search for brands that offer coffee specifically for cold brew.

Step 3: Coffee-to-Water Ratio

Cold-brew coffee results in a very strong drink with a smooth consistency that sometimes can feel watery. This is why it’s important to find the balance between the coffee strength and concentration. Besides a precise coffee to water ratio, you also need to consider the strength of the coffee itself.

Some coffee beans are stronger (higher caffeine concentration) than others, and while stronger beans are great for espresso shots, they can be overwhelming for a cold brew. This also depends a lot on your personal preference, but generally, milder coffee works better.

When it comes to coffee to water ratio, the 1:3 ratio (1 cup of ground coffee for 3 cups of water) usually works well for most people. You can try and make it a little more condensed, as you can always dilute it with more water after it has steeped overnight. Diluting it after steeping is not the best solution, but it works until you learn what’s the right ratio for you.

Step 4: Steeping Time

Cold brewing coffee is insanely easy, but it’s an incredibly long process. To get the best taste, you should steep the coffee for at least 12 hours, but not more than 24 hours.

Some people leave the coffee in the fridge overnight (8-9 hours) and they’re satisfied with the taste. If you drink your coffee milder, this time frame might work for you, too. However, the 12 to 24-hour marks are a safer bet for passionate coffee aficionados.

Don’t leave the coffee steeping for more than 24 hours, as it can get very bitter. Even if you make a weekly batch, make sure to strain the coffee after the steeping time has passed.

If you use a cold brew, mason jar filter, you only have to remove the filter and you can even drink directly from the mason jar.

Step 5: Drinking Time and Storage

We know that the devil is in the details, so make sure you invest a few minutes into research before drinking it. Most coffee lovers drink cold brew coffee black and without sugar, but this might be a little too harsh and strong for some. Adding ice, sugar, and milk is no sin.

Don’t be shy and try out different recipes, as there are plenty on the internet. The simplest way to enrich the flavor and make the coffee more refreshing is to add ice cubes and just a little bit of milk froth or milk cream.

Before You Go

Now that you know how easy it is to make cold brew coffee in a mason jar, there’s nothing stopping you from turning it into a wonderful summer ritual. You can surprise your friends and family with something different than the old well-known ice-coffee.

Hopefully, our guide was easy to follow and motivated you to start cold brewing. If you’re interested to find out more about coffee, check out some of our other articles on the subject. Feel free to also visit our blog where we regularly share articles covering kitchen appliances reviews, guides, as well as delicious recipes that will go perfectly with a cup of coffee.

The 10 Best Coffees Around the World

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Have you ever wondered what the most elite coffee beans in the world are? From unique flavors to intense aftertaste and fresh aroma in the air, if you’re a true coffee enthusiast, you would probably want to try everything that the coffee industry has to offer.

If that sounds like an impossible feat, we did the research for you. We compared and reviewed 10 of the world’s best coffee-growing countries that produce the most famous coffee beans that are enjoyed worldwide.

Keep reading to find out more about how the most exotic types of coffee are produced, the specific coffee taste each of them has, the brands that sell them, and the best brewing methods for each country.

What Are The Most Exotic Types Of Coffee Around The World?

Brazilian, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Greek, or Turkish – which are the countries that produce some of the world’s finest coffee beans and unique coffee flavors? Let’s break down the top 10 countries all over the world and their best coffee brands.

Brazilian Coffee

Brazil is easily associated with high-quality coffee and that is not without reason – their climate is ideal for growing coffee beans. In fact, Brazil is the world’s largest coffee exporter, accounting for the production of one-third of all coffee in the world. So, having these figures in mind, it’s understandable why some of the best coffee beans come from Brazil.

The majority of coffee plantations are located in the southeastern states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo, and Paraná, where two coffee species are grown, arabica and robusta. Arabica dominates the plantations (70%), while robusta is produced more exclusively. Coffee manufacturers sell coffee in two forms – ground/roasted coffee beans and instant coffee. Robusta is mainly produced as an instant coffee and some coffee gurus consider it to be of lower quality.

Taste: Depending on the species, bean variety, and brand, the flavor varies, but you can expect high-quality Brazilian coffee to be of low acidity with a nutty and sweet chocolatey flavor. It’s not very intense, which means it’s a great addition to most blends as it serves as a balancing note.

Where To Find And Buy Brazilian Coffee?

Thankfully, Brazilian coffee is easy to find, and you can order it online through many websites, or even on Amazon. Brazilian coffee blends are often found in supermarkets, although single-origin coffee beans and ground are best purchased from highly-rated sellers on Amazon or other online stores. Most specialized coffee stores have Brazilian coffee beans and grounds. The one thing you should keep in mind is to always buy fresh coffee beans. Since Brazilian coffee is mild, stale beans might be completely flavorless.

The Best Brazilian Coffee Brands

Mundo Novo, Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, Typica, Acaia, and Icatu, are just some of the most popular coffee varieties grown in Brazil. Most of them are used as a base rather than the main driver of flavor, which is why despite the numerous brands Brazil has, only a few offer premium specialty coffee. Café Pilao, Café do Ponto, Brazil Santos Coffee, Cafe Melitta, and Santa Clara are just some examples.

How To Make Brazilian Coffee?

Brazilians drink their coffee black with a lot of sugar. It’s always a good idea to have Brazilian coffee beans when you want to make your own unique blends, as it’s a great foundation and offers a mild balancing flavor. Espresso is also a specialty for many Brazilians, as it is Brazilian coffee with chocolate or vanilla, and/or milk.

Kenyan Coffee

The coffee industry is very important in Kenya even though around 70% of the coffee is produced by small-scale companies. Some of the major coffee-growing regions in Kenya include Mt. Kenya, Kisii, Nyanza, the Aberdare Range, Nakuru, Kericho, Bungoma, and some other smaller coast provinces.

Most of the coffee grown in Kenya has the Strictly High Grown (SHG) status as the beans are grown between 1,400 meters to 2,000 meters above sea level. The volcanic soils and optimal climate in Kenya allow a lot of coffee varieties to be cultivated, like Batian, Ruiru 11, K7, SL 28, etc.

Taste: The coffee in Kenya resembles the famous Colombia coffee flavor and has a full-body aroma. We can also describe it as crisp and vibrant, with a very rich taste with bitter-sweet cocoa notes. Although, you should note that the flavor and taste vary greatly between regions.

Where To Find And Buy Kenyan Coffee?

You can buy Kenyan coffee in big coffee shops, as well as online shops and markets like Amazon.

When buying Kenyan coffee look for the class label, which grades the quality from 1 (worst) to 10 (best). You may also notice another grading system (Kenya E, Kenya AA, Kenya C, etc.) describing Kenyan beans’ size. The Kenya AA beans are grown 6,600 feet above sea level and are considered one of the finest specialty coffees.

The Best Kenyan Coffee Brands

Because of the high elevation, Kenyan coffee plantations produce some of the best premium gourmet coffees in the world. The best-known brands include Kenya AA Coffee Beans and Kenya Peaberry by Volcanica Coffee, Green Mountain Coffee, Fresh Roasted Coffee, and Coffee Bean Direct, among others.

How To Make Kenyan Coffee?

To fully enjoy the rich taste of Kenyan coffee beans, you should make Kahawa Chunghu (Kenyan Bitter Coffee) as many of the natives do. You can also brew the coffee through the steeping rather than the drip method, which is the best way to savor the subtle aromas. You can use a French Press or an Aeropress to do this.

Guatemalan Coffee

Guatemalan coffee would appeal most to hard-core coffee lovers that want a unique and robust flavor. Although small, Guatemala is one of the top ten coffee producers in the world and delivers some of the finest coffee grounds/beans well-known among coffee experts.

There are eight regions in Guatemala responsible for almost all of the coffee production – Antigua, Acatenango, Atitlán, Cobán, Fraijanes, Nuevo Oriente, and San Marcos.

The coffee plantations are located at an altitude varying from 500–5,000 meters (1,600–16,400 ft) above sea level.

There are three types of coffee beans grown in Guatemala, which are known all over the world – the Antigua Santa Barbara, Huehuetenango, and San Marcos.

Taste: The three types of beans offer three different flavors. San Marcos beans offer a nutty flavor with floral notes. Huehuetenango is sweeter with a caramel-like flavor and a very light aftertaste, while the Antigua Santa Barbara beans produce a sweet and creamy coffee flavor with chocolatey notes.

Where To Find And Buy Guatemalan Coffee?

There are many online websites that offer high-quality Guatemalan coffee grounds, like CafeCampesino, although you can also find some well-reviewed sellers on common marketplaces like Amazon. No matter where you choose to buy from, make sure the seller has good reviews and the coffee beans are fresh.

The Best Guatemalan Coffee Brands

When shopping for the best of the best Guatemalan coffee brands, look for Guatemala Peaberry (Volcanica), Guatemala Finca Nuevo Vinas, Guatemala Antigua (Volcanica), Cooper’s Cask Guatemalan, and Pablo’s Pride Guatemala.

How To Make Guatemalan Coffee?

The best thing about Guatemalan coffee is that it’s highly versatile, so you can enjoy it as a hot brew, cold brew, drip coffee, or pour-over coffee. The best methods to make Guatemalan coffee include French Press, Pour-over, and long steeping time for Cold Brew.

Peruvian Coffee

Peru is the third-largest coffee producer in South America, after Brazil and Colombia. In the world, Peru is in eleventh place with around 192,000 tons of coffee produced yearly. Peruvian coffee is considered to be one of the best in the world because most of the production comes from small plantations, where farmers have no access to chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Coffee plantations can be found in the regions around the Andes mountain range, as the climate there is ideal for growing specialty coffee. The major Peruvian coffee regions are Chanchamayo, Cajamarca, Cenfrocafe, Amazonas, Ayacucho, Cusco, Huánaco.

Taste: Peruvian coffee offers a variety of flavors and tastes but most coffee beans have strong aromatic qualities with a fruity or nutty sweetness. The coffee profile is very rich, so you can expect a pleasant experience even when drinking it black on its own.

Where To Find And Buy Peruvian Coffee?

Single-origin Peruvian coffee might be harder to find in local coffee shops, although you have plenty of options online and on Amazon. When buying, make sure you choose 100% Arabica coffee beans that are grown at least 1,200 meters above sea level. No matter where you’re in the world, you can enjoy high-quality Peruvian coffee beans, and here’s what you should look for.

The Best Peruvian Coffee Brands

The most popular premium Peruvian coffee brands are Volcanica Peruvian Coffee, Fresh Roasted Coffee Peru, Café Altura Peruvian Coffee, Java Planet Decaf Peruvian Coffee, Cubicao Coffee’s Peru, and AmazonFresh Organic Peruvian Ground Coffee.

How To Make Peruvian Coffee?

Most Peruvian coffee beans have a dark roast with smooth and nutty flavors, so you can make a French Press, pour-over coffee, or espresso to make sure you bring out as much flavor as possible. Using these methods, you’ll create a rich and saturated cup of coffee that will overwhelm your taste buds in the best possible way.

Nicaraguan Coffee

Right after Peru comes Nicaragua, which produces more than 130,000 tons of coffee a year. Nicaragua may be a small country, but the coffee industry plays a big part in the country’s history and economy. Some of the regions that produce great coffee are the Managua Department, Diriamba, San Marcos, Lake Nicaragua, Nueva Segovia, although the best coffee is believed to be produced in Matagalpa and in Jinotega.

Coffee in Nicaragua is grown between 1097 and 1600 meters above sea level, although there are some regions with much lower sea levels that grow coffee successfully. Although the coffee isn’t grown at a very high elevation, it’s still considered high-quality and premium because Nicaragua grows mainly organic arabica beans. You can expect to find the following types of coffee beans: Caturra, bourbon, red and yellow Catuai, Maragogype, Pacamara, and others.

Taste: Nicaragua coffee delivers a mild taste and a flavor of smooth and medium body with mild acidity and fruity, crisp notes.

Where To Find And Buy Nicaraguan Coffee?

The best place to find and buy Nicaraguan coffee is at a trusted local store where you can be sure you’re getting fresh coffee beans/grounds. However, you also have a variety of options online where you can find the most famous brands from Nicaragua. Make sure you buy from a website that delivers within a week once you place your order. Don’t buy from off-the-shelf brands because the coffee might have been produced a long time ago and the flavor might be mostly gone.

The Best Nicaraguan Coffee Brands

Some of the best Nicaraguan coffee brands worth your attention include Matagalpa – Nicaragua Coffee (Volcanica), Finca El Bosque (Rave Coffee), Nicaragua Dry Process Java Cultivar (Sweet Maria’s), and Tiny Footprint Coffee – Fair Trade Organic Nicaragua Segovia.

How To Make Nicaraguan Coffee?

If you like to roast your coffee at home, Nicaraguan coffee beans are a pretty safe and easy bet. Use elephant beans to make a medium roast, while dark roasts create richer but more subtle taste. Beans from Jinotega and Matagalpa are great for dark roasts and espresso. Elephant beans should be used only for light to medium roasts.

To fully enjoy the flavor of Nicaraguan coffee, use an espresso machine or a cold brew method with room temperature filtered water.

Cuban Coffee

If you prefer strong coffee, then you’re surely familiar with the Cuban coffee brands, but in case you’re not – you’re missing out a lot. While Cuba has been a major player in the coffee production industry in the past, today it exports less 6,000 tons of coffee yearly. However, the smaller production hasn’t affected the quality and strength of the coffee grown in Cuba, which is why Cuban coffee is known all around the world, making it even more exclusive.

90% of the coffee plantations can be found in the Sierra Maestra mountains where a variety of arabica and robusta coffee beans are grown. The most famous coffee types in Cuba are Cortadito, Café con Leche, and Colada.

Taste: Cuban coffee has a strong and intense taste, darker tones, and thicker consistency. Most of the beans are entirely organic and hand-picked. However, the single-most defining characteristic of Cuban coffee is the unique sweetness that comes from the hydrolysis of the sucrose in the demerara sugar. The coffee is usually pre-sweetened before brewing, which results in the familiar taste. It’s not the same as sweating the coffee while brewing it after, which is why Cuban coffee is incredibly unique.

Where To Find And Buy Cuban Coffee?

Unfortunately, sourcing original Cuban coffee in the USA can be difficult because of the complex trade relations between the two countries. If you’re in Europe or Japan, on the other hand, you might even find Cuban coffee in some local coffee shops. Online websites and marketplaces like Amazon might be a good alternative, although you might have to compromise on the freshness of the coffee. Another possible solution is to buy coffee from Cuban-style coffee brands, which are not sourced from Cuba but are suitable for making Cuban-style coffee.

The Best Cuban Coffee Brands

The best brands that offer coffee grown in Cuba include Supreme by Bustelo Whole Bean, Mayorga Organics Cafe Cubano, and Café La Llave Espresso.

How To Make Cuban Coffee?

If you want to follow the Cuban tradition, the first thing you should acquire is a Moka pot, in which Cubans make their coffee. The pot is made from stainless steel material and the coffee is brewed by pushing water up through the coffee grounds with the help of steam pressure.

Vietnamese Coffee

After Brazil, Vietnam is the second-largest coffee producer in the world. True coffee aficionados are probably familiar with the cà phê đá, the most popular Vietnamese iced coffee, although Vietnam has a lot more to offer. In fact, up to 90 – 95%  of the coffee production in Vietnam is being exported all around the world. Today, Vietnam is considered to be one of the most competitive producers of robusta coffee.

The majority of the coffee plantations in Vietnam produce robusta coffee, which is considered to be more bitter and less aromatic than arabica. Robusta is generally used for making instant coffee and low-quality blends, although most people are drinking Vietnamese coffee without even realizing it. Nescafé, Starbucks, Boncafé, and other major coffee brands use Vietnamese coffee for some of their most popular coffee drinks.

Taste: Vietnamese coffee is twice as strong as other arabica coffee beans, and has a distinctive flavor due to the high acidity and thick lingering taste. Most of the time, some of the beans in the blend are over-roasted, which results in a unique aroma.

Where To Find And Buy Vietnamese Coffee?

Vietnamese coffee is distributed all around the world, which means you can find it at local coffee shops, some larger supermarkets, or even common online marketplaces fairly easily. When buying Vietnamese coffee, make sure the beans/grounds are fresh and fair-trade sourced.

The Best Vietnamese Coffee Brands

Some of the best Vietnamese coffee brands you can find online and in-store are Chestbrew – Moon Bear Premium Vietnamese Coffee, Trung Nguyen -Premium Blend, Dalat Peaberry Robusta, Lang Thang – Saigon Phin Daklak, and VN Roaster – Butter Roasted Coffee.

How To Make Vietnamese Coffee?

While Brazilian, Kenyan, and even Guatemalan coffee are more suited for the French Press method, Vietnamese coffee is almost always made using the drip method. However, there are other characteristics that make Vietnamese-style coffee unique.

Generally, the coffee is prepared in single-cup filters/brewers known as phin. The coffee is served while still brewing and it’s mixed with sweetened condensed milk instead of fresh milk. Most famous Vietnamese coffee recipes include Coffee with milk (ca phe nau), Yoghurt coffee (sua chua ca phe), Egg coffee (ca phe trung), Coconut coffee (ca phe cot dua), and many more.

Greek Coffee

Have you ever heard of frappé coffee? If you have, then you’re already familiar with the most popular greek iced-coffee. As opposed to all other counties that we mentioned so far, Greece doesn’t grow their own coffee. Greeks are famous for being among the world’s 20 biggest coffee drinking nations, with 5.4 kg of annual coffee consumption per capita.

Greece imports coffee from Latin America’s countries like Brazil and Colombia, as well as African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia.

The Frappe was invented through experimentation with instant coffee by Dimitris Vakondios, who was a Nescafe representative back in 1957 in Thessaloniki. This is why the Nescafe brand offers a special Nescafe Frappe instant coffee. Frappe basically means “a drink chilled with ice” which is exactly how one can describe the famous Greek coffee.

Taste: The Frappe has a distinctive mild taste, with a subtle nutty flavor. It’s really sweet since it’s made with sugar and milk. Some recipes use melted chocolate, which makes the frappe even sweeter. Without sugar, the frappe has a strong, bitter taste.

How To Make Greek Coffee?

To make Greek frappe iced-coffee, you need to buy granulated instant coffee from a brand that you trust (in Greece, Nescafe is what’s generally used, milder and sweeter blends in particular). You’ll also need a cocktail shaker or an electric milkshake maker.

First, add the coffee, sugar, and 50-70 mg of water in a high cup and blend until you create a thick foam. Take a high serving mug or glass, add two or three ice-cubes, and pour the blended coffee mixture over. Then fill the rest of the glass with milk (if you like it stronger, use less milk), and you’re done.

Turkish Coffee

Just like Greece, there isn’t a single coffee tree in Turkey, although the whole world has heard about the famous Turkish coffee. It’s a unique and distinctive style of preparing hot brewed coffee, without filtering. Turkish coffee made our list because it’s hard to call yourself a true coffee expert without trying the traditional Turkish coffee.

Taste: Turkish coffee has a very thick consistency and a grainy taste since it’s not filtered. The flavor is bittersweet with bold smokey notes. It has a distinctive and rich aftertaste because you’re drinking the unfiltered coffee itself. Depending on the coffee beans used, there will be some subtle variations in the taste.

Where To Find And Buy Turkish Coffee?

Since Turkey doesn’t grow its own coffee, to make Turkey-style coffee, you’ll need finely ground arabica coffee that has a powder-like consistency. If you can’t find some Turkish coffee brands, you can ask your local coffee shop to have your arabica coffee ground for Turkish coffee.

The Best Turkish Coffee Brands

On Amazon, you can find some of the best Turkish coffee brands, which are Mehmet Efendi – Kurukhaveci, Nurettin Kocatepe (known as the Ataturk’s coffee), Cezbeli, Dunyasi, Tugba, and more.

How To Make Turkish Coffee?

To prepare authentic Turkish coffee, you’ll need an ibrik – a small coffee pot in which the coffee is boiled.

Turn the stove on, and add 1 cup (as much as your serving cup) room temperature water in the ibrik. After this, add 1 to 1 ½  tsp of coffee, and one tsp of sugar (although this depends on your personal preferences and taste). Mix the coffee mixture with a spoon and place the ibrik over the stove. Boil until there’s a thin foam over the coffee. Once the coffee starts to rise, remove it from heat and pour it in the serving cup. Don’t mix, because it’s not filtered and you’ll ruin the consistency.

Ethiopian Coffee

Ethiopia has an incredibly diverse variety of geographical sub-regions, from depressions to mountains with 4,600 meters above sea level peaks – the Semien mountains. Considering its geographical variety, it comes as no surprise that Ethiopia is the origin of all coffee, as arabica was first found there and then distributed around the world. It all began around 1,000 years ago, in Ethiopia’s southwestern highlands, specifically the region named Kaffa, which is where the name of this beloved drink actually originates. However, ancient texts give evidence that coffee drinking might have even begun as early as the 9th century in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia enjoys an ideal production environment for growing some of the finest coffee beans in the world. The major regions where coffee arabica is grown include Sidamo, Genika, and Harar. Genika is arguably the most famous, as “Ethiopia Genika” has become an elite type of arabica coffee of single origin grown exclusively in the Bench Maji Zone of Ethiopia.

When it comes to coffee bean variety, Ethiopian coffee can be divided into three categories: Longberry, Shortberry, and Mocha. Longberry is considered to be of the highest quality, while Mocha beans are known for their distinctive chocolatey and fruity notes.

Taste: Depending on the region where it’s been grown, Ethiopian coffee varies in taste. Sidamo regions are famous for their strong lemon and citrus notes that follow their strictly high grown beans. Genika coffee beans have more chocolate-like taste, while the Harar coffee beans are known for their mocha flavor.

Where To Find And Buy Ethiopian Coffee?

Buying single-origin Ethiopian Coffee is not a hard task, although you should be careful and buy only from trusted sellers, to ensure you don’t end up with a blend of beans with compromised quality. A lot of online coffee-shops offer coffee from famous Ethiopian coffee brands, and some of them can even be found on common marketplaces like Amazon.

The Best Ethiopian Coffee Brands

The best Ethiopian coffee brands are Volcanica Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Stumptown Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Mordecofe, Sweet Maria’s Ethiopian Coffee Beans, Organic Sidamo – FreshRoastedCoffee, Oromia Gomma Microlot Coffee – Cooper’s Coffee Company, and Bekama Solinté Organic Coffee.

How To Make Ethiopian Coffee?

When searching on the internet, you’ll get a lot of results referencing a “ceremony” or “the importance of the ritual” when making Ethiopian coffee. This highlights the specific process when brewing Ethiopian coffee. The first step is to wash the fresh Ethiopian beans to remove the skin. After this, the beans are roasted over a tiny charcoal stove. The next step is grinding the beans, which traditionally is done with a pestle and a mortar. Finally, the coffee powder should be boiled in a jebena – a traditional coffee boiling pot. Here’s a more specific recipe you can follow.

Before You Go

Hopefully, our article will be of use to you the next time you go shopping for a new coffee or at least motivate you to start experimenting with new flavors. You can now make an informed decision on how to combine the beans to make a delicious personalized coffee blend or filter the good from the low-quality beans.

To find out more about coffee, coffee products, and recipes that go perfectly with a cup of coffee, make sure to visit our blog.

Best Coffee for Cold Brew: Choosing the Right Coffee Grounds

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Summer is coming, temperatures are rising, and suddenly, cold brew coffee is everywhere. It’s refreshing and wakes up your body, giving you the strength to get through another busy day in the heat.

Sure, you can buy cold brew coffee in any coffee shop or local supermarket as a ready-to-drink refreshment, but for the true coffee enthusiasts, that’s not good enough. Brewing at home comes with many advantages, and the unique and intense aroma is definitely one of its biggest advantages.

Additionally, when you make coffee at home, you can control its quality, strength, and sugar level (as opposed to ready-to-drink coffee from the supermarket). However, there’s a learning curve for brewing a rich and sense-pleasing cup of cold coffee perfectly. So, where do you start, and what’s the most important thing you should consider when cold brewing?

The first step to a flawless cold brew is the coffee quality. Are you roasting at home or buying roasted whole beans? Are you buying coffee grounds, or you want to make the most out of your instant coffee? In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about cold brewing, so let’s start with the best coffee for cold brew.

What Is a Cold Brew?

Before we dwell on the specifics of cold brew coffee, let’s talk about the characteristic of the method itself and what separates it from regular brewing and ice coffee, especially.

Cold brewing is an alternative brewing method that’s used to make coffee without using heat at all. While regular brewing uses water between 91 – 96°C (195 – 205°F) to extract coffee, cold brewing is a long process where the coffee is extracted in cold water from 2 to 22°C (although these numbers are just loose guidelines, not strict rules). Because the water is cold, the compounds in the coffee take a long time to extract. In fact, the coffee is left in the water for at least 12 to 24 hours. Think about cold brewing as a long process where the coffee grounds are steeped in cold filtered water until the coffee is completely extracted.

Typically, people mistake cold-brewed coffee with iced coffee. They’re both cold, refreshing drinks, but iced coffee is made through regular brewing with hot water, after which the coffee is cooled, or it’s poured over ice cubes.

The Effects of Temperature on Taste

Iced coffee and cold brew coffee differ in taste as well. This is because the temperature affects the chemical compounds in coffee that release flavor.

Iced coffee is similar to regular brewed coffee, but the taste will be with milder, more diluted flavor, because of the cooling period and the ice cubes.

On the other hand, cold brew coffee will have a distinct taste. This is because certain flavor-releasing compounds are only extracted at close to boiling temperature. For example, some lighter floral and fruity notes in a coffee can only be extracted through hot brewing. Cold brew coffee is considered to be less acidic and easier on the stomach.

Сan You Use Regular Coffee for Cold Brew?

Technically, yes, you can drink cold brew coffee from any kind of coffee beans/grounds. However, when it comes to taste, not every coffee produces optimal results when steeped in cold water. Different coffee beans deliver different flavors.

If you find yourself without the right beans, you can always run to the grocery store and buy coarse-ground coffee. The grinding size is really important, which we’ll discuss in detail in the next section.

Nonetheless, if you want to learn how to cold brew a sense-pleasing cup of coffee, then the first step is to choose the right coffee beans or grounds.

Factors That Affect the Quality of Cold Brewing: Choosing the Best Coffee for Cold Brewing

There are several factors that affect the quality of cold brewing, the grind size, roast type, and homogeneity of the coffee being the most important ones.

Where the bean is grown, the elevation at which it is grown, how it was picked, processed, and stored, are additional factors that can affect the flavor.

Grind Size

Whether you buy pre-ground coffee or you ground whole coffee beans yourself, you should make sure the coffee is a coarse grind because size does matter. In fact, the chemical components that release a hard and bitter flavor are easily extracted in cold water, and when the coffee is finely ground, you might end up with overly-extracted harsh aromas.

Light Vs. Dark Roasts

There’s quite a debate whether light, medium, or dark roasts are better for cold brewing. This somewhat depends on personal preference, so don’t be afraid to try either way.

The proponents of light or medium roasts argue that light roasting retains most of the beans’ original flavor profile, making light roast beans especially acidic. And, since cold brewing somewhat eliminates acidity, it might give you a well-balanced taste without being too mild.

On the other hand, some experts believe that darker roasts outperform lighter roasts because they’re rich in nutty, chocolaty, or earthy aromas that are better felt in cold brew coffee.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to your personal preferences. Just keep in mind that if you think the taste of your cold brew is a little off, you might want to try a different roast.

Single-origin Vs. Coffee Blend

Here the experts are unanimous – single-origin coffee is better for cold brew.

The reason for this is not that single-origin coffee offers some major benefits, but blends are usually selected to balance the bitterness and sweetness of different coffee beans.

Unfortunately, since cold brewing eliminates some flavor-releasing compounds, the coffee blend won’t be as balanced and won’t taste the same as when it’s regularly brewed. In fact, it might be harder to balance out the taste of unique coffee blends in a cold brew.

However, single-origin coffee beans are usually more expensive. This is why some people still prefer coffee blends, rather than single-origin beans.

Black Coffee Vs. Milk Coffee

Another factor that affects the taste of cold brew coffee, obviously, is adding milk. However, the final taste might not be what you expect. Keep in mind that cold brew coffee is milder and with more subtle taste than regularly brewed coffee. Diluting it furthermore with milk might be overkill. This is why many hard-core coffee enthusiasts recommend drinking black cold-brewed coffee. But, it’s still a personal choice, and you shouldn’t be afraid to try different things and experiment to see what suits your taste the most.

Tips For Optimizing Your Cold Brew

Here are some useful tips to keep in mind when cold-brewing coffee:

  • Buy coffee manufactured for cold-brewing. Everything is easier today, as there are many options available on the market that sell coffee grounds or whole beans specifically produced for cold brewing.
  • Don’t settle for anything less than ultimate freshness. Cold brewing delivers a milder and subtler taste, so buying coffee that’s stale is a sure way to end up with dull and undrinkable coffee.
  • Use the 1:1 ratio for best consistency – that is, for each cup of water, add one ounce of coarsely ground coffee.
  • Steep the coffee for at least 18 hours. It’s best to leave the coffee overnight or work out something that best fits your schedule. However, to get the most out of the taste, you shouldn’t steep the coffee less than 12-15 hours. Fun fact: Starbucks steeps their cold brew coffee for 20 hours.
  • Don’t steep for more than 24 hours. Balance is everything. Steeping it for more than 24 hours will make the coffee more bitter.
  • Use filtered water. Tap water will alter the flavor of your coffee.
  • Use coffee ice cubes. When the hot summer days peak, instead of diluting the coffee with regular ice cubes, make coffee ice cubes by freezing one batch of coffee.

Before You Go

Cold brew coffee is not the same as ice coffee, and the taste between these two coffee types varies significantly. Although some people might think cold brewing is inferior to regular brewing, we’ve discussed its advantages. At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with experimenting with alternative brewing methods and trying new flavors. Hopefully, our article will be useful on your cold-brewing journey and will help you make a nice cold brew that you’ll enjoy.

Once you’ve got the hang of this, check out our article on “how to make a cold brew coffee in a mason jar.” We also have many other interesting articles covering food and kitchen appliances, as well as delicious recipes that will go perfectly with a cup of coffee.

Does Coffee Go Bad? Shelf Life, Storing Tips And Tricks

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The question of whether coffee goes bad is quite common, especially among irregular coffee drinkers. It’s not uncommon to find a bag of ground coffee in your kitchen drawer, but then what? Is it safe to consume it?

Passionate coffee drinkers would be strongly against that idea since freshness is a major determinant of whether coffee is good or bad. But, what does “bad” mean? Can expired coffee make you sick?

In this article, we’ll break down these questions and answer when it’s okay to consume the coffee that’s been sitting in your kitchen for quite some time. Furthermore, we share some essential tips on how to store coffee properly, to ensure you keep the fresh and intense taste as long as possible.

Can Coffee Go Bad & What Does “Bad” Really Mean?

The short answer is both yes and no, depending on what you are really asking.

If you’re asking whether coffee can make you sick, then no, coffee doesn’t go bad like some other food items (dairy products, for example). Coffee, like other dry, packaged food, has no firm expiration date, so consuming it after the expiration label stated on the package is safe – under the condition that you’ve stored it properly. Coffee is unsafe only if it comes in contact with humidity or water. In this case, throw it away without thinking much about it.

Having said that, coffee does go bad in terms of taste. Just because it’s safe to consume it, it doesn’t mean that it will be worth it. Old coffee becomes stale and most of its flavor does go away over time, so the drinking experience won’t be very pleasant.

So, how do we know whether our old coffee is drinkable?

In the next paragraph, we’ll discuss the shelf life of coffee and give you some guidelines that can help you determine whether you should drink or toss the coffee. Just keep in mind that these guidelines aren’t strict rules and, at the end of the day, a lot of different factors affect the freshness and flavor of coffee, which we’ll go over in a bit.

Shelf Life Of Coffee In Different Forms

When we talk about the expiration date of coffee, we must make a difference between coffee beans, coffee grounds granules, k-cup pods, and brewed coffee.

Can you use coffee grounds past the expiration date?

How can you extend the shelf life and freshness of your coffee at home?

Let’s break it all down and help you minimize your coffee waste.

How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

The more processed the coffee is, the shorter its shelf life. Therefore, raw coffee beans last longer than ground coffee. If you buy coffee beans and ground them yourself, it’s best to ground only as much as you plan to drink that day and keep your coffee as whole beans. Stored in a dark and dry place, coffee beans will last for six to nine months if not opened, and around four to five months once opened.

How Long Does Ground Coffee Last?

The shelf life of ground coffee is a little shorter than whole coffee beans. Once the coffee beans are ground, the chemical compounds that make coffee what it is are much more vulnerable to environmental factors that affect the quality. Try to ground only as much coffee as you plan to drink that day or week for optimal flavor. If you buy ground coffee, try to drink it in the next two to three months.

How Long Does Instant Coffee Last?

The expiration date for instant coffee varies greatly depending on the brand, so it can last from two up to twenty years (sealed/unopened). However, once opened, the coffee in the package will generally stay at the best quality for around 12-18 months.

How Long Can Brewed Coffee Sit Out?

Finally, what happens after you prepare the coffee? How long can you leave it to sit at room temperature before becoming acidic and bitter?

According to EatByDate, you should drink brewed coffee as soon as you can, preferably on the same day, otherwise, it will become stale. You can keep it in the fridge for two or three days, but keep in mind that the flavor will slowly evaporate, and the more you wait, the staler it will be.

In What Case Can Coffee Make You Sick? – Telling The Difference Between Rotten Or Spoiled Coffee

We’ve mentioned that even if the taste is poor, expired coffee won’t harm you. Are there exceptions? This depends on how you store the coffee. While the coffee itself isn’t harmful, there is one exception where you should just throw away the package.

If the coffee package was in contact with spoiled food or moisture after opening, you shouldn’t consume the coffee. In this case, bacteria overgrowth from spoiled food might have contaminated the coffee, making it unsafe. Also, moisture aids bacteria growth which can spoil coffee as well.

Considering coffee can last a relatively long time when it’s stored properly, in the next paragraph we’ll share some tips on how to store and keep your coffee fresh.

How To Store Coffee To Last Longer?

To better understand how we can take care of our coffee beans, we should first learn what degrades the quality of the coffee.

Factors that can affect the quality of coffee:

Oxygen

Oxygen negatively affects coffee beans and ground coffee because of something called VOCs (volatile organic compounds). When oxygen comes into contact with the coffee beans, the VOCs inside the coffee become unstable and evaporate, causing the coffee to lose its aroma.

Moisture

Coffee already contains a certain amount of moisture, depending on where it comes from and how it was processed, as each coffee is different. However, it’s important that the moisture content isn’t above 12.5%. Apart from the fact it affects the taste, the problem with moisture is that high levels can cause mold, and in severe cases, fungi. The main reason why this happens is that coffee is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air.

Sunlight

Just like with oxygen, ground coffee as well as whole coffee beans are sensitive to light. Light will make the compounds in coffee unstable and prone to evaporation. This will make your drink stale.

Heat

Yet another killer of high-quality coffee is heat. Don’t expose coffee beans or coffee grounds to heat before brewing or you’ll make the coffee lose all its flavor and taste.

Tips For Extending Coffee Freshness

Follow these tips to ensure a heavy-bodied, robust coffee flavor, each time you make a new brew.

    • Buy high-quality coffee beans/grounds. First things first, before you think about storing it, make sure your coffee is fresh and of good quality when you buy it. It’s a good idea to find a brand or a local merchandiser you trust.
    • Transfer the coffee into a safe container. Immediately after opening the package, transfer the coffee into an airtight, non-transparent (dark) container, and store it at room temperature (in a cool location). If drinking coffee is a daily habit for you, you might want to invest in storage canisters with an airtight seal.
    • Consume the coffee 15-20 minutes after brewing. To take the most out of the coffee flavor, consume it 20 minutes after brewing. The cooler it gets, the more aroma is lost.
    • Never reheat coffee. Re-heating will destroy the coffee’s aroma and flavor completely.
    • Only certain parts of the pantry or kitchen cabinet are good storage places. Don’t place the coffee canister in the kitchen cabinets if it’s right next to the stove or if the cabinet is exposed to sunlight. Only cool, dark, and dry places are okay.
    • Don’t refrigerate brewed coffee. Although placing brewed coffee in the fridge can extend its shelf life, it will make the taste very dull and diluted.

Before You Go

Hopefully, we managed to answer all of your concerns and you can continue to enjoy your favorite coffee blend without worrying it might make you sick. To enhance the flavor and ensure you’re drinking high-quality brew, follow our advice on how to store and extend coffee freshness.

If you want to learn more about coffee, like what’s the best coffee for cold brew or the top 10 most exotic and delicious coffee beans, make sure you visit our blog. We have many other interesting articles covering food and kitchen appliances, as well as delicious recipes that will go perfectly with a cup of coffee.

The Best Single-Serve Coffee Maker Reviews

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As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Mornings can be hard, but a great cup of coffee while you rush to get ready is crucial and can set your mood for the rest of your day. Fortunately, k-cup coffee makers were invented and perfected to quickly give your daily dose of caffeine and make it delicious, too.

By having the best single-serve coffee maker for your needs, you’ll have an efficient way of quickly making a professionally brewed coffee in the comfort of your own home. And since there are so many different options available on the market today, you can always match the coffee maker to your taste and preferences and get impeccable results every time. But, how do you find the best single-serve coffee maker?

The truth is, the market is littered with products varying in shape, size, functionality, and automation level, among other aspects. We understand that the filtering and choosing process can be daunting and time-consuming. Plus, even if you buy a great coffee maker, it can still be wrong for your specific needs.

Luckily, we decided to compare and share our honest opinion about the best single-serve coffee makers in four different categories. We also shared a lot of valuable information you should consider before making a buying decision, so keep reading to find the best single-serve coffee maker for you.

The Single-Serve Coffee Maker

Best Overall
Best Quality
Best on a Budget
Best for Espresso
Keurig K-Cafe Single-Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker, Latte Maker and Cappuccino Maker, Comes with Dishwasher Safe Milk Frother, Coffee Shot Capability, Compatible With all Keurig K-Cup Pods, Dark Charco
Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker, with 50 oz. Thermal Carafe, Black and Stainless Steel Finish
AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker - Quickly Makes Delicious Coffee Without Bitterness - 1 to 3 Cups Per Pressing
Breville BNV250BKM1BUC1 Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine, 19.25 x 11 x 15.25 in, Matte Black
Features: 60-ounce water reservoir (6 cups capacity), 3 different brew types, cold brew option, 1-year limited warranty.
Features: 50 ounces (10 cups) capacity, 6 cup sizes, 4 different brew types, cold brew option, SCA Certified, 1-year warranty.
Features: 1-3 cups capacity, 2 brew types, BPA free plastic, 350 microfilters, 1-year warranty.
Features: 1350 watts, 40 ounces water reservoir, 5 cup sizes with 5 different brew types, 2-year warranty.
Best Overall
Keurig K-Cafe Single-Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker, Latte Maker and Cappuccino Maker, Comes with Dishwasher Safe Milk Frother, Coffee Shot Capability, Compatible With all Keurig K-Cup Pods, Dark Charco
Features: 60-ounce water reservoir (6 cups capacity), 3 different brew types, cold brew option, 1-year limited warranty.
Best Quality
Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker, with 50 oz. Thermal Carafe, Black and Stainless Steel Finish
Features: 50 ounces (10 cups) capacity, 6 cup sizes, 4 different brew types, cold brew option, SCA Certified, 1-year warranty.
Best on a Budget
AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker - Quickly Makes Delicious Coffee Without Bitterness - 1 to 3 Cups Per Pressing
Features: 1-3 cups capacity, 2 brew types, BPA free plastic, 350 microfilters, 1-year warranty.
Best for Espresso
Breville BNV250BKM1BUC1 Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine, 19.25 x 11 x 15.25 in, Matte Black
Features: 1350 watts, 40 ounces water reservoir, 5 cup sizes with 5 different brew types, 2-year warranty.

Best Overall: Keurig K-Cafe Coffee Maker

Keurig K-Cafe Single-Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker, Latte Maker and Cappuccino Maker, Comes with Dishwasher Safe Milk Frother, Coffee Shot Capability, Compatible With all Keurig K-Cup Pods, Dark CharcoThe best single-serve coffee maker overall is none other than Keurig’s K-coffee maker. Keurig is the inventor of the K-cup coffee maker and a true game-changer in the industry. The K-Coffee model is a well-rounded, high-quality device that’s fully automated and very easy-to-use and maintain. It’s a smart choice for most people, both experienced coffee maker users as well as first-time buyers.

Pros:

Since coffee makers are here to offer us convenience and constantly give us delicious results, we’ll start by praising the automated functionalities of Keurig K-Cafe that make the device really attractive.

The unit has a smart start functionality, which means you don’t need to wait for the water to heat before selecting your cup size – simply turn it on, insert the k-cup pod, and select your program.

Another great functionality is that the Keurig K-Cafe is programmed to turn itself off two hours after the last brew. This feature makes the unit energy-efficient, saving you money on electrical bills.

Keurig K-Cafe also features a maintenance reminder functionality, meaning it will remind you when it’s time to descale your coffee maker. Descaling is a very important process that prevents the build-up of calcium deposits to damage the device or interfere with the coffee flavor.

Since it’s fully automated and your next coffee cup is just a touch away, the Keurig K-Cafe is a perfect device for first-time buyers and people who appreciate convenience before anything else. Plus, most parts of the unit are dishwasher safe, which means cleaning it won’t be a problem either.

Finally, the Keurig K-Cafe is great for families as well as people living alone. The unit comes with a  60 ounces removable water tank that can make approximately 6 cups before it has to be refilled.

Cons:

The Keurig K-Cafe coffee maker isn’t very versatile, as it’s only compatible with K-cup pods. It doesn’t support pods from other brands, nor K-Carafe pods, K-Mug pods, Vue pods, or Rivo pods.

Some customers have complained that they didn’t like that the device is made of plastic and feels very light, although its performance doesn’t seem to be affected by this.

The Verdict:

The K-Cafe is one of the best k-cups coffee makers from the Keurig brand as well as our choice as the best single-serve coffee maker overall. The unit is the latest brewer innovation that has incorporated some great automatic functionalities, guaranteed to make your life easier. It’s a smart choice for most people who want to enjoy a fine cup of coffee quickly, with practically no effort.

Best Quality: Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker

Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker, with 50 oz. Thermal Carafe, Black and Stainless Steel FinishOur highest quality choice is the Ninja CM407, as the unit is exceptionally well thought out and will perform reliably even after years of use. The Ninja CM407 coffee maker is versatile, automated, environmentally friendly, and comes with an SCA certificate. It’s the perfect coffee maker for hard-core coffee drinkers who don’t mind spending an extra buck for the best coffee maker on the market.

Pros:

One of the best qualities of the Ninja CM407 model is that it’s highly versatile. It features 6 cup sizes (cup, XL cup, travel mug, XL multi-serve, half carafe, and full carafe), and it gives you a choice of classic, rich, over ice, & specialty brewed coffee, plus a program for making travel-mug size coffee. You only need to place your travel mug under the spout, press the button for that option, and you’re good to go.

The unit can satisfy even the biggest nitpickers, as the coffee maker offers a choice between glass or thermal carafe.

Just how perfect this unit is for home-brewing speaks the SCA certification that accompanies it. The device has earned the Golden Cup of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) for its thermal flavor extraction technology through which it delivers the highest quality home-brew standard.

Yet another great aspect of Ninja CM407 is that it’s environmentally friendly, as it doesn’t require k-pods. Using this device, you’ll cut your footprint significantly and even save up to $200 on pods annually. Plus, if you’re worried about the amount of coffee for making a perfect cup, you’ll be pleased to know there’s a measuring tool that mounts to the side of the machine, so you can make precise measurements for every coffee cup.

On hot sunny days, you can enjoy a cold brew coffee with just the touch of the button because the Ninja CM407 comes with this functionality. It also comes with a removable water reservoir and a built-in frother for turning milk into a silky froth in a matter of seconds.

Cons:

The only drawback that we noticed about the Ninja CM407 is that it doesn’t brew real espresso. Instead, it makes a coffee concentrate. Considering the fact that espresso is really hard to make right, and espresso machines are expensive, this might not be such a big deal – unless you’re a passionate espresso drinker. If this is the case, Breville Nespresso Vertuo is a much better choice.

The Verdict:

The Ninja CM407 is definitely one of the best single serve coffee makers that can be found today – the device is versatile, highly-functional, and has an amazing design. On top of that, it comes with advanced automated functionalities that will especially be appreciated by coffee aficionados.

Best on a Budget: AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker

AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker - Quickly Makes Delicious Coffee Without Bitterness - 1 to 3 Cups Per PressingCosting just a fraction of the price of most high-end single-serve coffee makers, the AeroPress model is a real refreshment for people who don’t want to dip into their savings but still want to enjoy a high-quality brewed coffee. We chose it as the best on a budget choice for many reasons, some of them being the device’s portability, ease of use, and travel-friendliness.

Pros:

The AeroPress is a simple and straightforward device. It’s made from BPA-free plastic and comes equipped with 350 microfilters, meaning you only need your favorite coffee blend to make the perfect coffee cup in a matter of seconds. Given that you can use your own coffee mix, you can easily adjust the coffee this machine makes to your taste.

Another thing we like about the AeroPress is that it’s very fast. It works similarly to Fresh presses but with a patented AeroPress mechanism. You can make up to three cups of American coffee in just one minute. According to the manufacturer and thousands of customer reviews, the difference is that with AeroPress you don’t have to wait for the coffee to steep, which removes the acidity and bitterness.

Best of all, you can also brew espresso-style coffee, which you can use to make lattes, cappuccinos, and other espresso-based drinks.

Cons:

Since it’s made of plastic, some users have expressed concerns about the durability of the device, especially the seal on the first unit. The good news is that you can order a replacement, but you have to contact the manufacturer directly.

The Verdict:

The AeroPress is a great manual single-serve coffee maker, that has the potential to make a lot of people really happy – especially those who can’t afford to invest in a high-end electric coffee maker, or those who want an additional machine for the office or while traveling. The unit is easy to use, easy to clean, and most importantly, makes high-quality coffee.

Best Smart Features: Breville Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine

Breville BNV250BKM1BUC1 Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine, 19.25 x 11 x 15.25 in, Matte BlackWe know how hard it can be to make espresso just right. Fortunately, the Breville Nespresso Vertuo makes this process a piece of cake. It’s the best single-serve coffee maker when espresso is the number one priority. The Breville Nespresso Vertuo follows high brewing standards and it’s versatile, fully automated, and a great choice for people who want to experiment with flavors.

Pros:

The Breville Nespresso Vertuo makes delicious espresso and other coffee styles consistent in temperature and volume every time. Thanks to its extraction technology titled Centrifusion, the unit’s capsule spins up to 7,000 rotations per minute producing creamy and intensely flavored espresso.

The machine is fully automated and everything is just a button away. You can make up to three cup sizes (14 ounces – Alto, 8 ounces – Coffee, and 1.35 ounces – Espresso) by clicking a button. The capsule for Alto and Coffee is the same size, while it uses a different capsule for espresso for better results. You can also adjust the machine for Gran Lungo (5 oz) and Double Espresso (2.7 oz).

We were especially impressed by the automatic blend recognition. The Vertuo uses an intelligent extraction system that is capable of recognizing each Grand Cru blend thanks to the barcode. Once it recognizes the blend, it adjusts its settings for delivering the best possible coffee flavor.

Finally, people who love to try out new flavors will appreciate the welcome set that’s included in the package. The device comes with 12 Nespresso Vertuo capsules containing individual aromas. You can try all of the unique flavors and know exactly what you want next time you’re buying capsules.

You can also register in a Nespresso Club through which you can order your Nespresso capsules online (24/7), receive personalized advice, and obtain technical support for your machine.

Cons:

Some customers have complained that while the taste is amazing, the coffee was always warm instead of hot. Anyone who enjoys a super hot coffee might be a little annoyed or disappointed.

Another thing that espresso virtuosos have complained about is that because the device is fully automated, there’s no control over the process whatsoever. While some might consider this an advantage, for others it’s quite frustrating.

The Verdict:

Breville Nespresso Vertuo Coffee made our list because of the brewing quality – simply put, it makes an amazing espresso. Even though the device is quite expensive, some of the reasons that can persuade you to invest in it are the automatic functionalities, great customer service, and capsules with unique flavors.

Conclusion:

The Keurig K-Cafe is the best single-serve coffee maker overall as the model comes from the most influential pioneer in the industry (Keurig), offers amazing performance and functionalities, and is affordable for most people. It’s a good choice for first-time buyers as it’s easy to use and clean. At the same time, it’s a good choice for experienced coffee makers as it comes equipped with advanced automated features.

The best single-serve coffee maker for diehard coffee lovers is the Ninja CM407, as the machine is reliable, well-equipped with advanced functionalities, fully automated, and incredibly versatile. Furthermore, the unit doesn’t require k-pods, meaning it will cut your environmental footprint. It’s a great choice for people who are willing to splurge for the perfect cup of coffee.

The best single-serve coffee maker on a budget is the manual AeroPress #83R20 coffee and espresso maker. It’s an amazing device for offices, travelers, and people with small kitchens that prefer something simple. Its size shouldn’t be underestimated, though, as the device is perfectly capable of producing high-quality brew just like many high-end machines.

Finally, the Breville Nespresso Vertuo Coffee is the go-to coffee maker for espresso lovers as the unit is unbeatable at making the best espresso shots. Aside from that, the unit features some advanced automated functionalities and unique flavors that appeal to curious coffee drinkers.

Everything You Need To Know About Single-Serve Coffee Makers

If you’re not really concerned about how your coffee tastes and can drink almost any kind, then you might believe brewing coffee is a simple and straightforward process. Experienced coffee masters, however, would strongly disagree. There are many things you should consider and know to be able to make gourmet coffee.

If you’re interested in more coffee-related content, check out our more detailed articles on whether coffee goes bad, and how to make a cold brew coffee in a mason jar.

Types of Single-Serve Coffee Makers

There are four different coffee makers that make single-serve cups of coffee.

Pod Coffee Machines

Pod coffee machines, or more popularly known “k-cup coffee makers”, use pre-packed coffee pods (plastic or paper) that contain coffee grounds to make the coffee. They’re the most well-known and frequently used coffee makers nowadays. The downside of using k-cup coffee makers is that most devices use non-recyclable, single-use plastic pods, which means they’re not environmentally-friendly at all. Additionally, finding high-quality pods can be a challenge and an expensive quest.

Espresso Machines

Espresso machines are designed for making single-serve coffee since you can only make one at a time. This is because espresso is the strongest coffee containing up to 80 milligrams of caffeine in a 2 oz serving-cup. However, espresso is also considered to be the most difficult coffee to get right, so espresso machines are among the most expensive coffee makers on the market, even though many of them are manual.

Manual Machines

The term “manual machines” refers to all the coffee makers that are operated manually. While they’re not as fast as electric machines, and a little experience is required to be able to make the perfect cup of coffee, professionals and coffee-enthusiasts sometimes prefer them because they give them the opportunity to play with the coffee’s flavor. On top of that, many people enjoy the ritual of brewing coffee just as much as actually drinking it, so fully automated machines might not be that appealing to them.

Single Cup Drip Coffee Makers

Although drip coffee makers are known for brewing large quantities of coffee at once, there are variations and models designed to make single-serve coffee. These types of coffee makers represent a great balance between a fair price, high-quality customizable coffee grounds, and user-friendliness.

Cold Brew vs. Hot Brew Coffee

A hot cup of coffee feels so nice in winter, but when the temperatures rise above 80°F, you have to find an alternative. While ice-coffee sounds tempting, there are a few things you should know to make the perfect cold brew.

Since hot brew is what you get from typical and popular coffee makers (although there are specialized devices that make cold brew), there are a few brewing methods to get cold coffee.

The first method is by using room temperature water. You can make the cold brew by steeping coarsely ground coffee in room temperature water for around 12-24 hours (the longer the steeping period, the better the taste). The advantage of this method is the taste and quality of the coffee, while the downside is the brewing time, which some people don’t have.

The second method is using ice to cool a hot brew. You can pour hot water over coffee grounds or granules, and mix until the coffee is completely diluted. After this, add a few ice-cubes in your cup and the coffee will cool in just a few minutes. Unfortunately, the ice-cubes will melt in your coffee and make it taste blander. You can also place the ice in a vessel below the coffee container, and wait for five to then minutes.

Finally, the third method is to leave the hot brew in the freezer and wait for it to cool. However, this is not recommended since there’s an oxidation process happening which can make your coffee more acidic and bitter.

To find out more about cold brewing and which coffee is the best for this process, check out our article on “Best Coffee for Cold Brew.”

Tips For Brewing The Perfect Cup Of Coffee

Choosing the best coffee maker is the first step, but knowing how to brew delicious rich-in-flavor coffee is the second, equally important step. Here are a few tips that will help you on this journey.

  • The water you use affects the taste. Don’t use home drinking water. Instead, use filtered water at room temperature or between 195 – 205°F (never boiled or you’ll “burn” the compounds that release the taste).
  • Specific measurements are crucial for consistency. If you use k-cup pods you only need to find a brand you like, but if you insert coffee grounds manually, then make sure you measure how much coffee you put. Use 2 tbsp for 6 ounces of water.
  • Take good care of your coffee maker and make sure the filters are clean before using it.
  • Experiment with different brands and flavors of k-cup pods. This way you’ll get a better chance of finding what works best for you. You can check out our article on the most exotic and delicious coffee around the world for more info.
  • Go for drip-style single-serve coffee makers if you prefer customized coffee blends or you have a particular mixture that you already love.

How To Find the Best Single-Serve Coffee Maker?

Different types of single-serve coffee makers can satisfy different coffee needs, however, regardless of the type of coffee maker you’ve chosen, there are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for the best single-serve coffee maker.

Brew Speed

Coffee makers are manufactured to make our life easier and help us get gourmet coffee fast. While some people might prefer a slowly brewed coffee, the truth is that for most customers speed is an important factor. To make sure your coffee maker can brew coffee quickly, look for models with a powerful heating mechanism that can brew coffee in less than a minute.

Temperature Consistency

This is probably the most important factor to look for in coffee makers, as it directly affects the coffee’s quality and flavor. Different compounds in coffee dissolve at a different temperature rate and some of them (chlorogenic acid lactones and phenylindanes) can make your coffee bitter. If you’re buying a manual machine, then you’ll control the temperature of the water, but automated single-serve coffee makers have heaters that control the temperature inside the device. Make sure you choose a machine that’s praised for its stable brew temperature.

Convenience And Ease Of Use

Coffee makers should be convenient and easy to use, but this can vary depending on the type. For example, manual machines are the least convenient and hard to figure out for complete amateurs when it comes to using coffee machines. There’s a learning curve for espresso machines, too, while single cup drip and k-cup coffee makers are beginner-friendly and incredibly convenient. They do put some restrictions on the brewing process, which professionals might dislike. If you’re confident in your coffee-making skills, go for manual and espresso machines, otherwise, look for single drip and k-cup coffee makers.

Before You Go

Coffee lovers will agree that buying a high-quality coffee maker that brews coffee to your taste is a life-changing experience, especially if you rely on caffeine to get through your day. You’ll be surprised how a simple and small device can make you feel so happy when you smell the intense aroma of your freshly brewed coffee.

Hopefully, our detailed reviews were useful in your search for the best k-cup coffee maker for your specific needs. But, if you’re still undecided, feel free to follow the links we’ve provided and check current prices, in-depth specifications, and customer reviews for each product.

Don’t forget to also visit our blog because we have many more product reviews, product guides, even delicious recipes that go hand-in-hand with a nice cup of coffee.

Want to see our favorite single serve coffee makers one more time before you go? Here they are!

Best Overall
Best Quality
Best on a Budget
Best for Espresso
Keurig K-Cafe Single-Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker, Latte Maker and Cappuccino Maker, Comes with Dishwasher Safe Milk Frother, Coffee Shot Capability, Compatible With all Keurig K-Cup Pods, Dark Charco
Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker, with 50 oz. Thermal Carafe, Black and Stainless Steel Finish
AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker - Quickly Makes Delicious Coffee Without Bitterness - 1 to 3 Cups Per Pressing
Breville BNV250BKM1BUC1 Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine, 19.25 x 11 x 15.25 in, Matte Black
Features: 60-ounce water reservoir (6 cups capacity), 3 different brew types, cold brew option, 1-year limited warranty.
Features: 50 ounces (10 cups) capacity, 6 cup sizes, 4 different brew types, cold brew option, SCA Certified, 1-year warranty.
Features: 1-3 cups capacity, 2 brew types, BPA free plastic, 350 microfilters, 1-year warranty.
Features: 1350 watts, 40 ounces water reservoir, 5 cup sizes with 5 different brew types, 2-year warranty.
Best Overall
Keurig K-Cafe Single-Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker, Latte Maker and Cappuccino Maker, Comes with Dishwasher Safe Milk Frother, Coffee Shot Capability, Compatible With all Keurig K-Cup Pods, Dark Charco
Features: 60-ounce water reservoir (6 cups capacity), 3 different brew types, cold brew option, 1-year limited warranty.
Best Quality
Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker, with 50 oz. Thermal Carafe, Black and Stainless Steel Finish
Features: 50 ounces (10 cups) capacity, 6 cup sizes, 4 different brew types, cold brew option, SCA Certified, 1-year warranty.
Best on a Budget
AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker - Quickly Makes Delicious Coffee Without Bitterness - 1 to 3 Cups Per Pressing
Features: 1-3 cups capacity, 2 brew types, BPA free plastic, 350 microfilters, 1-year warranty.
Best for Espresso
Breville BNV250BKM1BUC1 Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine, 19.25 x 11 x 15.25 in, Matte Black
Features: 1350 watts, 40 ounces water reservoir, 5 cup sizes with 5 different brew types, 2-year warranty.
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