Kitchen Appliance Review: India's Best Automatic Drip Coffee Maker

 , NDTV  |  Updated: July 13, 2017 14:58 IST

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Kitchen Appliance Review: India's Best Automatic Drip Coffee Maker
It is not without reason that coffee has such an enormous fan following. The magical bean with its aromatic spell is like an elixir that can instantly stir up the soul and ignite the mind. So much so that it has become a way of life for many people, making it hard to kick-start a day without sipping into a piping hot cup of coffee. Have it as an espresso, cappuccino, latte, frappe, Americano – there are so many ways you can brew it up to make your favourite concoction. India, which was essentially a tea drinking country, has taken to this beverage in the recent years, establishing a notable coffee culture of its own.

But, making the perfect cup of coffee is not an easy task. It requires skills and some amount of practice. Yes, centuries have gone into perfecting the process of coffee making, which is almost an art form – right from roasting the beans and grinding them to brewing them to make the final liquor. A glimpse back into history will make you come across several intricate coffee making machines, each unique with their set of mechanisms and boosting of extracting the best flavour. Those designs are bound to make you awestruck. But for the urban folks, who constantly chase time, spending hours to make a good cup of coffee is hardly feasible. This is where modern coffee makers step in to make life easier for us. And how!

The Coffee Makers

There are various kinds of coffee makers available in the market. For a regular user, having to pick one from the numerous machines, each with different features, could be overwhelming and confusing too. Therefore, the trick is to first decide what kind of coffee would you like to make on a daily basis. Are you looking for something basic to start with or are you keen on getting an espresso and cappuccino maker? Or are you considering in investing in a superior, more advanced machine?

We are going to start right from the basic, which is the automatic-drip coffee maker.  If you are looking at low-range coffee makers, this machine is what you will come across in the market. This is the best machine for those who like stiff black coffee. With this machine, you can brew fresh coffee liquor from coffee beans and also control its strength according to your taste. The process is extremely simple, and more convenient than the traditional method of making filter coffee, as it takes only about 3-4 minutes to brew. You can then use the coffee liquor straight up or mix it with milk and sugar to tone done the intense flavour.

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How Does it Work?

The electric drip coffee maker consists of two prominent sections – a funnel-like part, which you need to line with a filter paper and then place the ground coffee in it; and a cylindrical water chamber, which you need to fill up with water according to the desired liquor strength. Usually, most brands have markings mentioned for 1, 2 or 4 cups measure. Depending on how strong you want your coffee, fill up the funnel with the ground coffee using the provided spoon. For two cups of coffee, two heaped spoons are good. Then, fill up the water chamber with water as per the marking for two cups. Hit the switch and sit back and relax.

What happens next is that there is a small nozzle at the base of the water chamber, through which the water travels to a heating chamber and by the principle of thermally-induced pressure, the heated water then travels upward through the siphon tube to a spray head placed over the funnel, from where the heated water showers onto the ground coffee. The water then extracts the oil and essence for the coffee beans, and by the force of gravity, the coffee liquor then drips down little by little and is collected at the carafe placed below the funnel. This is your freshly brewed coffee liquor, and it takes all of 2-3 minutes to happen.

Most coffee machines also contain a thermostat attached to the heating element so that it can turn it off to prevent overheating the water. There is also a one-way valve attached to the siphon to prevent water from entering back into the chamber. Safety is of utmost importance while operating a coffee maker, so make sure you read the instructions in the manual carefully and don’t leave the machine unattended.

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The Review of Coffee Makers

The basic mechanism of all automatic drip coffee makers remain the same across different brands. How they differ is in terms of the design, the compact structure, the glass carafe, the shape of the funnel, time taken to brew, the water filtration process, the flavour of the final brew, etc. All these factors together contribute to making a coffee machine better than the others. Some also have added features such as timers for automatic start and even in-built coffee grinding mechanisms, but these are hard to find as compared to the basic ones.

There are number of brands available in the market, both in retail stores and online portals. Our criteria for the review were based on the following –

1. Structure and design – whether the coffee maker is sleek and attractive, and how much space does it occupy. Nobody wants a bulky machine which occupies a large kitchen table top space or looks unattractive.

2. Simplicity – the simplest machine is always the best machine, with no complicated features to make it irksome to use.  It should be a foolproof machine with clear instructions and simple functions.

3. Safety feature – this is very important when buying a kitchen appliance. You need to ensure that the machine is safe to use and backed by safety features.

4. Value for money – Since we were reviewing the most basic coffee makers, we picked machines between the range Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,500. We noted the different features that each brand provided under this range.

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The Contenders

After several trips to the retail stores, connecting with the brands and analysing products available online, we shortlisted the following models –

1. Havells 1.25 Litre Drip Cafe Coffee Maker

The Havells coffee maker is sleek and attractive to look at, and is sure to add oomph to your kitchen set-up. The body is mostly made of plastic, with finishing metallic touches that lend to its appeal. The filter holder has a swing function, which makes it easy to operate and clean. The water chamber has clear markers for the water level, so that you could keep an eye out for the amount of water used. The carafe, accordingly to us, is very chic, especially the handle, which also provides a good grip. When we used it to make two cups of coffee following the given instructions, it took about two minutes for the brew to start dripping into the carafe. The strength of the coffee was good, with the flavours being extracted well. The auto keep warm function with the non-stick warming plate was an added bonus, that helped us keep the leftover coffee liquor warm for later use. It is a simple, basic, and easy-to-use machine. Compared to other brands, it consumes the most electricity, but it seems to make up for it by being able to make up to 12 cups of coffee at one go.

2.  Russell Hobbs RCM60 Coffee Maker

In terms of looks, the coffee maker is not as attractive as compared to some of the other contenders, but it is compact and easy to port around. The body is made of plastic and there are clear markings on the water chamber to help one make the desired strength of coffee. The good part about this machine is its simple functions, making it super easy to operate. You can make up to six cups of coffee with it, and it comes with a warming plate at the base to keep the brew hot. The filter is permanent and has a swing function, making it more convenient to use. Following the given instructions, it took us about three minutes for the coffee liquor to start dripping into the carafe. The strength of the coffee was comparatively lighter, and we therefore needed more coffee liquor to make a strong cup. For its price, which was the lowest among all - at Rs 1,795 as MRP, it seems to be equipped with all the basic functions, makes six cups of coffee at a time, and also consumes very low electricity. If you are not strict about looks, and want a basic coffee maker, this could be a good choice.
 


3. Usha CM3320 Coffee Maker

Usha scores high when it comes to looks. The design is modern, and the body makes smart use of plastic and metal. The carafe too is very stylish. It is bound to add appeal to your kitchen set-up or a coffee corner in your dining room. The coffee maker comes with a fixed permanent filter and the water reservoir placed beside it contains clear markings of the water level. The coolest part, however, is the inclusion of a LED display panel near the base that shows the brewing time. This was the only brand with this feature, and it helps because you get to know the exact time rather than waiting aimlessly. Another interesting feature is the lockable lid top which provides extra safety during the brewing process. When we tried to make our coffee, it took about two minutes from the brew to start dripping. The coffee strength was good, and when we added milk and sugar to it, it held its flavour. The keep-warm function kept the leftover liquor warm for later use. It is very competitively priced as well, at Rs 2,345 as MRP, and can make up to 12 cups of coffee, without consuming too much energy.
 

4. Kenwood Coffee Maker CM200

The Kenwood Coffee Maker stands out because of its distinct white colour, unlike the other brands which are mostly black or metallic in colour. The coffee maker looks sleek and compact, and the body is made of plastic, making it easy to port around. It is made for the modern kitchen. The carafe has an interesting looking handle, which also provides a good grip. The coffee maker consists of a fixed filter holder and a permanent filter that can be cleaned easily. The water reservoir placed beside it contains no external marking, and you need to measure the water by the carafe and fill it up. It makes up to four cups of coffee. When we tried it, it took about 3-4 minutes for the brewing process to start. The coffee strength was light and not as rich in flavour. It was also the most expensive of all the brands we tried, at Rs 4,750 as MRP, and didn’t have any standout feature to bowl us over.
 


5. Black & Decker DCM 600

Black & Decker, being a big International brand, has pedigree in this segment. You will come across their various models of coffee makers, some with really cool designs and features. We picked DCM600 because compared to the others under the selected price category, it has all the basic features, consumes less energy, and is reasonably priced at Rs 3,290 as MRP. The coffee maker is compact, light to port around and easy to handle. In terms of looks, it is smart looking but nothing extraordinary. The body is made of plastic and there are clear markings on the translucent water reservoir and carafe, which can hold up to 8 cups of coffee and has a drip stop system.  The permanent filter and the fixed filter holder are easy to clean. When we tried making coffee, we found that it made better coffee with larger proportions rather than for 1-2 cups. The coffee strength was good and it came with a non-stick hot plate to keep the coffee warm.
 

6. Philips HD7450 Coffee Maker

Extremely stylish in look, the Philips coffee maker is bound to grab attention. The compact structure equipped with smart features lend to its appeal. The body is made of plastic, and the metallic finish takes it many notches higher. The carafe too is sleek, wide, and the big handle helps to get a good grip. The coffee maker has just one compartment with two distinct chambers for coffee and water. The filter holder is fixed and has a permanent filter which is easily washable. There are clear markings on the carafe as well as the coffee maker to help you make your desired strength of coffee. Unlike other brands, the markings are strategically placed to keep with the aesthetics. When we used the machine, it took about three minutes for the brewing process to get started. The coffee strength was great and we really enjoyed the strong flavour of the freshly brewed liquor. The best part is that the coffee maker comes with a drip stopper to interrupt the brewing process, just in case you change your mind, or want to make your coffee a little later. There is also the warming plate to help keep your brew hot. The brand also mentions that all parts are dishwasher safe, and there is a cord storage facility at the back. It can make up to six cups of coffee and consumes less electricity.

7. Prestige PCMH 2.0-Drip Coffee Maker

As a brand, Prestige is famous for its range of pressure cookers in India, but it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to other appliances as they are created with much thought too. This coffee maker is  equipped with all the basic features required to make a steaming hot cup of the brew.  However, in terms of looks, it doesn’t impress at all. The body is made of plastic, and it consists of a swing filter holder and a permanent filter. The water reservoir is translucent with clear markings on the side. The coffee maker comes with a hot plate to keep the coffee liquor warm during the brewing process and it can make up to four cups of coffee. The glass carafe has a big handle, making it easy to hold. It took us about 3 minutes for the brew to start dripping into the carafe. In terms of the coffee strength, it was on the lighter side, lacking that strong caffeine kick.
 
  Left: Prestige PCMH 2.0-Drip Coffee Maker; Right: Philips HD7450 Coffee Maker
 
BrandCapacityFeaturesSafety featuresPower consumptionPrice
Havells  1.25 Ltr Drip Coffee Maker  
 12 cups
* swing filter holder
* clear markers
* auto keep warm
* warming plate
* anti-drip valve
* over heat protection
1000 WRs 2,695
Russel Hobbs RCM60 Coffee Maker 6 cups* swing filter holder
* clear markers
* warming plate
* permanent filter
*self-timer
* anti-drip valve
650 WRs 1,795
Philips HD7450 Coffee Maker 6 cups* drip stopper to interrupt the brewing process
* dishwasher safe
* warming plate
*cord storage
* one compartment
* anti-drip valve650 WRs 3,195
Usha CM3320 Coffee Maker 12 cups* LED display panel
* keep warm function
* permanent filter
* clear markers
* anti-drip valve
* lockable lid feature
 
800 WRs 2,345
Kenwood Coffee Maker CM200 4 cups* warming plate
* clear markers
* permanent filter
* anti-drip valve650 WRs 4,750
Black & Decker DCM 600 8 Cups*Translucent tank to view water level
*non-stick hot plate
*permanent filter
*glass carafe with drip stop system
 
* anti-drip valve600 WRs 3,290
Prestige PCMH 2.0-Drip Coffee Maker 6 cups*translucent water tank
*permanent filter
*handy glass carafe
*non-stick hot plate
* anti-drip valve500 WRs 1,995

The Result:

We used the same brand of ground coffee for our testing, and among all the coffee makers, the brewing time mostly took about 2-4 minutes but there were differences in the final brew, where some brands gave us stronger coffee and some lighter. The hot plate feature, permanent filter, glass carafe, see-through water reservoir and clear markers were common across all brands; which is why those brands that provided more added features scored higher. The capacity of the coffee maker and the power consumption were also taken into consideration to analyse whether the products met their worth in terms of value for money.

The three brands who stood out were Usha, Philips and Black & Decker. While Usha scored in terms of added features like LED display and lockable lid; Black & Decker gave stiff competition for its features and brand value; and Philips shone with its stylish design, low power consumption and added features like drip stopper, dishwasher safe, etc. And the winner in the category of basic, automatic drip coffee maker was ultimately Philips. Some may argue that Philips is priced higher at Rs 3,195 as MRP while there are other brands that are priced lower and come with all basic features. Our justification is that when it comes to home appliances, it is not always about the low pricing or the basic features. Ultimately, you want to have a machine that would add value to your everyday life, simplify the process and at the same time give you quality service and the feeling of satisfaction. Moreover, kitchen appliances should be such that they should also add to the aesthetics of your kitchen, provide safety and make life trouble free. From our experience, Philips HD7450 Coffee Maker lived up closest to our expectations. The coffee making process was simple and easy, and flavour of the coffee was nice and strong. Just the way we like it. Point to note: most online portals have really good discount offers where you can buy these product for a much cheaper cost than the mentioned MRP.

Things to keep in mind:

• Most of these coffee makers come with a permanent filter. They are easy to use and clean, but over a period of time, they tend to get stained. The best practise would be to use filter papers that have tiny pores as compared to the permanent filter, thereby giving you more flavourful coffee liquor by taking time to extract as much oil. However, the downside is that these filter papers are not easily available in the market.

• Most of these machines come with basic safety features such as anti-drip valve and over-heating control feature. But as a practise, make sure you switch off the machine after use. Any additional safety feature is an added bonus.

• Most of the machines also contain either transparent or translucent water chamber to keep a check on the water level so that you can accordingly make your brew as you desire.

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