After many years of trying to brew that elusive cup of "perfect" coffee, I have stumbled onto the Capresso drip coffemaker. The unit I have has been replaced by the CoffeeTeam series, which I imagine make equally good coffee. Some of these new models have built-in grinders, but I'm not sure how they compare to the separate grinder that I currently use (also by Capresso).
The reason Capresso makes such excellent coffee is that unlike 98% of the other makers (including Cuisinart, Krups, Braun, etc.), it has a heating element that gets water to the optimum temperature-- about 200 degrees.
The other brands only heat the water to 180 degrees or so, according to the coffeegeeks at coffeegeek.com Apparently, the cooler temperature doesn't extract the same flavor from the beans.
The other advantage from Capresso-- and many other brands feature this option as well- is that it uses a thermal carafe. You absolutely cannot use a glass carafe on a heated element and not expect to burn the coffee. With a thermal carafe, you won't destroy the perfect pot you just brewed.
However, thermal carafes shouldn't be used with the automatic timer to make coffee, especially on cold mornings when the carafe is chilly. What you really want to do is pre-heat the carafe with hot water for a minute, empty it, then start the brew cycle. The carafe then will do an excellent job of keeping the coffee piping hot for 90 minutes or so... maybe up to 2 hours.
And of course you should get fresh whole beans and grind them at home. This is absolutely essential. If you live in the boonies, then mail order whole beans from Peet's.
The best grinders are burr grinders, as opposed to those rotary grinders that sell for $19. Capresso makes an burr grinder for about $50, but I bought a Capresso conical burr grinder for $100, which is a bit more heavy-duty and very adjustable. I am so happy with this combo, and everyone raves about our coffee. Perhaps the new Capressos with the integrated grinder is a good way to go, since the total cost is just $220. However, sooner or later the coffeemaker will die, then you'll also have to throw away the grinder... so, ultimately, I'd recommend getting the separate units, even if that's initially a bit more expensive.
I admit that I am a bit of a geek about brewing java, but it's very satisfying to have attained perfection, at least in this field!
This message was modified Dec 21, 2009 by amazer98