What is the best coffee maker under $200? And...
...can you tell a difference between the over $200 coffee makers?
A $20 mokapot, French press, Aeropress, or a $5 ceramic filter holder with Chemex paper filters.
Ceteris paribus, yes. Auto-drip machines and sub-$200 "espresso" machines make at their very best, a competing cup to a manual drip or a mokapot. Normally, they are far worse to drinkable.
Cuisinart makes a decent drip coffee maker. I have the 10-cup one with the metal carafe that does not come with a grinder. It has a timer, however, which does come in handy. It cost $80. I prefer it to the Bodum french press though I spent the first few weeks fiddling with different measures of coffee v. water to get the brew I prefer.
ManhattanLawyer, as our former president might say, it all depends on what "best" is.
For non-espresso coffee, undoubtedly, the best TASTING coffee is coffee brewed in a vacuum pot, If you regularly drink vac-pot coffee (as we do every day of the week), it is quite addicting. We find that ordinary coffee shop coffee, when we are traveling, no longer is palatable: we have been spoiled by the taste of vac-pot coffee. The Gold Standard of vac-pots is the British Cona, http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.brewe... which comes in close to your $200 threshhold.
We are happy with a Hario Nouveau 5-cup (a discontinued model), all of the individual component parts of which -- but not the complete coffee maker sold as a package -- can still be purchased mail-order from Vancouver, B.C. http://www.avenue18.ca/OTHERINFO/OTHE... for about half the price of a Cona. We have a complete set of "replacement" parts for our Hario Nouveau, because, if and when we break it or lose it, we will be totally devastated.
The Yama vac-pot is pretty good, also, and it will make better-tasting coffee than you can get from any drip coffee maker.
OTOH, if you are just looking for an automatic drip coffee maker, and you want one that is a cut above the rest, then you want a Capresso MT500: http://www.jr.com/capresso/pe/CP2_441...
Second the vac pot. It's a hands-on experience, but gives you better coffee than any other traditional brewing method. I have a couple of Yamas (<$50 each), and recommend them without hesitation.
If you want drip coffee, you have two options. The Technivorm is slightly over your maximum price, but is the only automatic drip machine that consistently makes very good coffee. Or you could buy a filter cone for less than $10. If you can boil water, you can generate results that are just as good.
A third option is the french press. Very good coffee, and the equipment cost is minimal.
If you're interested in espresso, forget about it. The grinder alone will consume most of your budget.
Do you mean an espresso machine? Or a commercial coffee maker? If a regular drip coffee maker cost $200 I would expect it to bring the coffee to me after brewing it.
How do you like your coffee to taste? Thick and sludgy or not? Mild, acidic? How many people do you want to serve or how much do you want to be able to make at once? Do you want it to do fancy gadgety things and have an attached bean grinder, or are you wanting just *the best tasting coffee*?
Zojirushi makes a great carafe, for sure. And a carafe is definitely the way to go; those little built-in hot plates can ruin your coffee before the first cup is poured.
The problem is consistency of brew temps. And while I agree with you that some expensive drip machines are like little shrines to rampant consumerism, the Technivorm is more than just "counter bling."
For starters, anybody who's into bling like this is in serious need of a style consultation. Technivorms are fairly unattractive pieces of machinery. They're driven by function, not form.
And function is what they do well. One of the biggest problems with automatic drip machines is the brew temperature. To get a proper extraction, water should hit the grounds at around 200F. Most home brewers - even expensive ones - max out around 185. The Technivorm is designed (and certified by the SCAA) to deliver near-boiling water to the grounds.
Personally, the whole automatic drip thing doesn't appeal - I'm too picky for a Mr. Coffee and too cheap for a Technivorm. But if that's what the OP wants, a machine that consistently makes really good coffee is worth consideration.
This is 100% true. Technivorm if you want an automatic coffee maker, a kettle and a french press otherwise. Don't forget to get a good grinder and good coffee. If you're going to work with beans from Starbucks, it doesn't matter what kind of coffee maker you have, you're always going to have bad coffee.
Though I'm not using temp sensors, I find the Zojirushi cranks out more, hotter water than any other affordable drip machine I've used. Vastly better all round than the junk machines sold around that price point. Suspect the difference is the heating element design that's evolved from their rice cooker experience.