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Recommendations for an inexpensive coffeemaker for guests?

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  • arvi Nov 9, 2010 08:49 AM
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I don't drink or make coffee, but I would like to be able to offer guests coffee. Any recommendations for a relatively inexpensive, easy to use coffeemaker for such occasional use? Thanks so much.

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  1. french press (sweet marias will have recs and pricing)

    1. While I use mine almost every day, a Melitta is a good fit for occasional use, too. As examples, see https://shop.melitta.com/search.asp?S...

      1. If you have a 8-12 cup brewer already, my recommendation would be to pick up a large thermal carafe that pumps the coffee (I saw one a week or so ago at World Market, and have seen at Sam's Club et al.) You will need to make several batches to fill it up ahead of time, but the coffee stays hot for awhile (longer if you rinse ahead of time with boiling water.) They are pretty reasonably priced, and often come in pairs (regular and decaf).

        If you're brewing capacity is more limited, consider picking up coffee at a coffee or bagel shop -- they often have large sized containers for catering business meetings and the like. The containers generally hold heat well, so nothing special to buy.

        1. Easy to use and cheap = Mr. Coffee auto drip coffee makers, or Krups. The cheapest is Mr. C. For simplicity, buy an insert "gold" filter to the fit the basket so that you don't have to fish for filters. All you'll have to do is bang the old grinds down the drain and you are done. Melitta may also have an inexpensive drip maker.

          These are fool proof once you get the water/coffee proportions right, but you can spend more if you want to upgrade to niceties like thermal carafes. If you are not completely clumsy, the glass carafes are standard and with Mr. Coffee, easy to find replacements. Further, I find having a water fill guage helpful, and I know my last two (Mr. C and Krups, in that order) have water fill gauges.

          Do these make coffee as well as French press? Not really, but since you don't drink coffee, the lowest common denominator is these easy to use machines.

          Now, if you are in the mood to spend more, the single serve options out there like Keurig will always guarantee that you will have fresh coffee in the house to brew, have the proportions right, and an actually offer varieties. To a coffee drinker, months-old preground in an open can is blech, so if you are really only going to do this for guests, and don't want to be bothered with filters, you will win some admiration for your efforts with a single serve system. It will probably pay for itself in about ten cans of unused and stale coffee that you are likely to throw away if you go the standard drip route. More money, but it won't break the bank if you shop around or use a coupon.

          1. A Melitta filter in a cone, or some other form of pour-over drip brewing would be the least expensive method and it’s one I’ve used for myself for 40+ years. I drip my coffee directly into a thermos and it stays hot all morning. I recently spent quite a bit of time at a home that had a French Press and gave serious thought to switching over to that method. I thought it made a better-tasting cup of coffee on the whole. But the French Press coffee needs to be decanted into another container to keep it warm and I just didn’t feel like adding yet another kitchen gizmo that would have to live on my very limited counter space.

            What I absolutely would not consider would be any kind of automatic unit that will either take up counter space or will have to be hauled out from dead storage every time you need it. You can make a very good cup of coffee without that.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JoanN

              JoanN, I used the pour-over drip brewing for many, many years and got great results. I drink an entire 8/10 pot of coffee every morning. I have some dear friends who have a French Press, and when I stay with them I enjoy it but I know what you mean about keeping it warm.

              Right now I have a Melitta "Mill & brew" that I bought 7 years ago at a Tuesday Morning for $32. That was an absolute steal and it makes a nice cup of coffee. Hope it never "dies".

            2. Another option: rather than buying a machine that will take up space and require maintenance (such as cleaning), you could just buy a box of "coffee singles" (they are like tea bags, but they have coffee in them). They primarily contain actual coffee grounds, and they have some instant coffee in there too, and coffee made from them tastes much better than any instant coffee I've had. In fact, it tastes as good as a typical cup of coffee from a Mr. Coffee type machine.

              My father who is a lifetime daily coffee drinker (mostly from Mr. Coffee type drip-brew machines) thinks the coffee bags are pretty good too. He doesn't like instant coffee at all.

              Another advantage of the coffee bags is that each bag is individually wrapped in its own foil packet, so they can keep for a long time (with a can of coffee grinds for a coffee maker, once you open it, the clock is ticking). As a test, I just made a cup of coffee from a coffee single that has been sitting in the cupboard for ~2 years, and it tastes fine. I drink coffee black, so any off-flavors are more readily noticeable than if the coffee flavor is being covered up with cream and/or sugar.

              Edit: Make sure you use a standard sized coffee mug with them (1 cup / 8 oz.), as that is what they are designed for. Some coffee mugs are oversized and hold 12 oz. or more (especially the screen-printed novelty mugs that are often given as gifts).

              1. What if your guests include one coffee drinker and one tea drinker? In European hotels they provided a good-quality water kettle and a variety of teas and instant coffees. There are some pretty good instant coffees out there now. A "Hot Shot" style hot water dispenser is only going to heat 16 oz. of water, which isn't enough if you are hosting a couple.

                1. There are some good suggestions above. A few thoughts, though...

                  You may want to avoid a French press; they tend to leave some solids (my brother refers to it as "sludge") in the bottom of the cup. Not a problem for those who are used to it, but it might be off-putting for guests who are used to filtered coffee.

                  Avoid electric coffeemakers like the plague. They all take up too much space for occasional use, and the good ones tend to be expensive.

                  If you want to serve your guests good coffee, avoid anything that's pre-ground (including "coffee singles"). Coffee's only at its best for a week or so after roasting, and deteriorates very quickly after grinding. Rather than brewing up some stale nastiness, serve a good instant coffee. Starbucks VIA is passable if expensive (one tube makes a cup and costs about a buck). Cafe Bustelo instant espresso is very good. And Nescafe Clasico has its fans throughout the world (even in places where they grow good coffee).

                  But if you want to do it up right, use a filter cone and a box of paper filters. Buy bulk coffee (preferably fresh-roasted) the day of and grind it (or have it ground for you) right there in the store. Don't buy more than you're going to need, but don't short the amount of coffee you use, either - one quart of coffee takes two ounces of beans.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    ====================================================================
                    "If you want to serve your guests good coffee, avoid anything that's pre-ground (including "coffee singles"). Coffee's only at its best for a week or so after roasting, and deteriorates very quickly after grinding. Rather than brewing up some stale nastiness, serve a good instant coffee. Starbucks VIA is passable if expensive (one tube makes a cup and costs about a buck). Cafe Bustelo instant espresso is very good. And Nescafe Clasico has its fans throughout the world (even in places where they grow good coffee)."
                    ====================================================================

                    Brewed coffee (from a typical drip or percolator machine) from pre-ground beans almost always has a slight acidic and/or bitter taste to it. Coffee singles do not. An absence of bad = good as far as I'm concerned.

                    I'm skeptical of your claims regarding certain brands of instant coffee, since all instant coffee I've ever had was nearly undrinkable. Granted, it has been a long time since I've had instant coffee (close to 20 years), and it was ordinary Maxwell House or Folgers. If I can find "Nescafe Clasico" at my local store I'll give it a try though. However, even if it is good, it doesn't mean that coffee singles are bad. Coffee singles do contain instant coffee BTW, but also actual coffee grounds. I don't know what the ratio of instant coffee to coffee grounds in them is.

                    1. re: MaximRecoil

                      If you're going to choose an instant coffee by which to judge the genre, make it Cafe Bustelo instant espresso or Starbucks VIA. Or at least don't write it all off until you've tried one of them. Nescafe has its advocates, but IMO is inferior to the other two.

                      Speaking of variations on a theme, the coffee singles I've tried were pretty terrible. That's not to say, however, that there aren't singles out there that are equal to or better than the best instant java. But I'll stand by my assertion that neither is going to be hold a candle to high-quality coffee brewed from fresh-ground beans.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        I'll see what I can find locally. I might not be able to find any of them; I definitely won't find Starbucks-anything (I don't really want to bother with ordering anything online).

                        What specifically did you dislike about the coffee singles you tried? I've tried two different brands of coffee singles, regular Maxwell House and regular Folgers. Both brands tasted exactly the same to me (there is no way that I would be able to distinguish between them in a blind taste test). What I like about them is that there is not even a hint of bitterness, or otherwise "off" flavors to them. They just taste like ... coffee.

                        1. re: MaximRecoil

                          The coffee singles I've had tasted slightly musty and stale, but not offensively so. More significantly, they really didn't have much coffee flavor. That may just be a matter of personal taste, though - my mom thinks the coffee I make is too strong, and adores the singles.

                          A little internet research gives a possible explanation. Looks like a coffee single contains about 4.5g. But I use 20g of coffee for a 12-ounce mug. And I roast the beans fresh twice a week and grind them minutes before brewing, so I'm getting maximum flavor from them. It makes sense that using one-fourth the amount of coffee is going to result in a cup that's a lot weaker than I'm used to.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            One coffee single bag is only recommended for 6 to 8 oz. of water, so using it with 12 oz. of water would result in weak coffee by most anyone's standards. For 12 oz., try 2 bags.

                            I don't think the weights of the coffee itself are directly comparable, since your 20g figure is for just coffee grinds, and the coffee singles contain both coffee grinds and instant coffee. In other words, doubling the amount of coffee grinds used in a brewing process will increase the strength, but not by 2x (i.e., the increase in strength is not linear), while doubling the amount of instant coffee does double the strength.

                            1. re: MaximRecoil

                              Weak coffee by most anyone's standards but my mom's, that is. She's fond of hot brown water.

                              Good point about the instant stuff changing the effect of the net weight. Maybe I'll try singles again the next time fresh-brewed isn't an option.

                              Instant still maintains the advantage of being directly edible when backpacking. It's not particularly palatable, but when it gets to that point the caffeine is the only thing anyway, it works...

                              PS - where in the world is there no Starbucks? I think I want to move there...

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                I live in a small town in central Maine (population of about 4,000 people). According to their online store locator, there is a Starbucks in Waterville and in Bangor. Either place is about an hour's drive (one-way) from where I live.

                                1. re: MaximRecoil

                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcDsd_...

                                  (credit to Passadumkeg: http://www.chow.com/profile/93538 )

                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                    I like this one - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyZXnp...

                                    That one has a "Downeast" Maine accent (I don't have an accent like that, but I know people who do) and some Maine lingo ("adult language" warning though).

                                    1. re: MaximRecoil

                                      I. Am. Not. Worthy.

                                2. re: alanbarnes

                                  alanbarnes: "where in the world is there no Starbucks? I think I want to move there..."

                                  Enter this into the search bar of maps.google.com: -15.949846,-5.699894

                                  Oh, the irony. There you will find -- arguably -- the very finest coffee on Planet Earth.

                                  1. re: Politeness

                                    Well, there is that...

                              2. re: alanbarnes

                                Alan, do you have a device for roasting your beans, and do you do it in your home? Fresh roast smells so good when it's done, but can be such a stinky process along the way.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Youbetcha. https://www.i-roast.com/pro_01.asp

                                  There's sometimes a bit of stinky smoke during the roasting process, so I usually do it on the back patio. When it's cold I'll set up on the stovetop and run the vent hood.

                      2. Moka pot (Bialetti makes these, among others) or french press for cred points. Cool people buy these!

                        1. I agree that the best approach would be a melitta or single cup drip brew cone. Definitely avoid instant coffee. I would rather not drink coffee at all than drink instant coffee and I'm probably not alone in this opinion.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: taos

                            There are plenty of people who share your opinion. Instant coffee has a deservedly bad rap; historically it's pretty vile stuff, and most of what's out there now isn't very good. But there are exceptions. And while good brewed coffee is far better than any instant product, **good** instant coffee is an acceptable substitute, and far better than the brewed swill that's poured so many places.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              Right. I've always hated instant coffee but at work I keep a small bottle of Cafe Bustelo to mix in with regular coffee to give it some actual coffee flavor. And Starbucks Via is a perfect inexpensive solution for someone with a tea kettle and a guest.

                              This wouldn't be the CH boards if we didn't snub our noses at instant coffee and resolutely declare that the only way to treat your guests properly is to serve them freshly ground kopi luwak brewed in a flannel filtered Hario V60 with the kettle at 198F degrees.

                              Until the plumber or firewood delivery guy says he prefers Folgers.

                              1. re: GraydonCarter

                                Hario V60? Gack! That great big hole at the bottom is a recipe for underextraction! You need the grounds to stay in contact with the hot water for at least 30 seconds and, um, well, I think I see your point. ;-)

                          2. I don't grow my own coffee, I don't roast my own beans and I'm perfectly happy with Eight O'Clock Coffee 100% Columbian. So if you're looking for the average-jane perspective on coffee makers, I recommend you pick up a Black & Decker DLX1050B drip coffee maker at WalMart for about $15. It's easy to use, and makes a respectable cup of coffee. And I won't hold it against you if you use paper filters, even if they're not the unbleached kind.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: janniecooks

                              jannie you're in good company, consumer reports rated it as the best tasting. We've been trying it in our french press and like it. I find it a bit mild for my tastes but we just may need to tweak the amount we're using and the grind coarseness.

                              To the OP, for guests, I'd go with the advice of an electric kettle (major multi-tasker) and a small 4- cup french press or small and cheap Mister Coffee or B&D. Don't buy a coffee grinder but don't buy pre-ground coffee. The day before the guests arrive buy a bag of whole beans from a reputable coffee vendor and get the vendor to grind it. Or go with the grocery store 8 o'clock columbian whole bean option Your local supermarket will have a grinder and it's perfectly OK for you to open the bag, grind it there right back into the commercial bag and then pay for it. If you need help anyone of the store clerks "ought" to be able to help you out. If the staff are truly hopeless, look for someone else buying coffee and ask them to give you a hand. Explain you're not a coffee drinker but want to accommodate guests who are. They'll think you are a saint. They will help you. There is a little dial to adjust the coarsness of the gounds to the type of coffee maker you are using. I'd steer clear of the bulk bins as, they may or may not be fresh, and if your market is like mine, you may find the choices overwhelming. Keep it simple.

                              Now, include a tea (yes bags are Ok, but opt for the foil wrapped versions as they will be/stay fresher) and decent instant coffee singles ( like the Starbux variety that was mentioned but I find them really strong and somewhat harsh) in caf and decaf and you are covered for coffee and/or tea drinkers. One type each, don't go nuts.

                              Do have some half and half and milk in the fridge along with sugar and possibly a non-sugar sweetener option (important if you don't typically have these on hand). The true coffee or tea junkie will often bring their own stash but will love and adore you for the thoughtfulness and the gear. I once visisted were there was coffee, barely, and a maker but unless you wanted bad coffee black you were out of luck. Seriously, no milk, no powder creamer substitute, no SUGAR, no fake sugar, nuttin'. Ack.

                              You are a great person and your decision to accommodate your coffee drinking guests is wonderful. Hope they had/have a great time.

                              1. re: aggiecat

                                aggicat: "... you're in good company, consumer reports rated it as the best tasting."

                                As with all tests conducted by Consumer Reports, the first question must be, "Against What?"

                                Budget does not allow Consumer Union to test every coffee, brewed with every method, against every other coffee, brewed by every other method. So any test reported in Consumer Reports is of a very, very limited sample of a very wide selection of possible test subjects, compared to a very limited field of other test subjects that met the same filter criteria. The test reports are valid only within the very narrow sample.

                                Moreover, the CU testers are dominated by engineers, dazzled by numerical results. On matters of taste -- and the differences among coffee brews are nothing, if not matters of taste -- CU test efforts are notoriously ludicrous. How would your favorite pasts sauce compare on a numerical scale against somebody else's favorite pasta sauce?

                                Our own experience shows the difficulty of trying to dictate a one-size-fits-all for coffee.

                                When we brewed primarily with drip method, we favored Sumatran coffees (actually blends in which coffees from Sumatra were dominant). When we graduated to vacuum pot brewing, Sumatra Mandehling no longer floated our boat. In a vacuum pot, Yirgacheffe (from Ethiopia) is far and away superior to Sumatra Mandehling. But, if the brewing method is drip, Yirgacheffe is middle of the pack and Sumatra rules. Degustibus non disputandum est.

                                1. re: Politeness

                                  pros use numbers too. Have you checked out the cupper scores for coffee?

                                  I'm not sure I could compare a good yirg with a good mandehling... one's fruity, the other's loamy. comparison makes quaysle.

                                  1. re: Politeness

                                    The CU ratings are a good place to start for someone who doesn't yet know what they like; you clearly have learned through trials what your preference is in coffee. Many people don't know what a good cup of coffee should taste like, others don't always seek the ultimate coffee experience and are satisfied with coffee that is easily available at the grocery store. Really when it comes down to it there is no truly reliable rating of any food stuff because of the difficulty quantifying objective criteria. But a reader can review the criteria and determine if those match with the reader's own important or relevant criteria and thus whether the test/rating provides a meaningful rating to the reader or, as you determined for your taste, meaningless. Personally I find the CU tests a good starting point, to at least identify subjects to eliminate. I don't follow them slavishly, and do find them informative.

                                    1. re: janniecooks

                                      Yep, that's what I was going for, a good starting point for a non-coffee drinker. They compared with the major brands, Starbucks available in grocery stores, etc. And I was looking at the comments I found helpful and descriptive.

                                      Very good meant fragrant with floral, fruity and earthy notes, very good meant good even when drunk black and good meant fewer or weaker favorable flavors or flaws that milk and sugar might help, and fair meant even more undesirable flavors and flaws that milk and sugar might not even help.

                                      "Based on blind taste tests by coffee experts....Desirable flavors include earthy, like baked potato skins; fruity, like aroma of ripe noncitrus fruits; and nutty, like toasted nuts. Less desirable: woody, like wet ice-cream sticks; papery, like wet cardboard; burnt, like charred beans."

                                      So I think these are very useful descriptors and yeah, we are talking lowest common denominator beans here and not high end exotics. If you want to find something reasonable and drinkable it's a helpful starting point. The OP is unlikely to take up gourmet coffee drinking.

                                      They tested, 8O'clock, Caribou, Kickapoo, Starbucks, Bucks Co. Archer Farms, Gloria Jean's, Chock Full O'Nuts, Peets, Maxwell House, Folgers Gourmet, Millstone and Folgers Coffeehouse. They only looked at basic 100% Columbian coffees. Want detailed rating, you need a subscription.

                                      Caribou and Kickapoo both did well but at about 2x the cost.

                                      Ok, Now I want a cup of coffee and it's too lat in the date for anything but Decaf, which is uniformly awful at the office. Aw man!

                                    2. re: Politeness

                                      I had never heard of vacuum pot brewing. The things you learn here!

                                      At Thanksgiving my niece served coffee in a nice new electric percolator. Today I pulled our ancient stove-top mini percolator, ground some coffee to a larger than my usual grind, and brewed my coffee. I enjoyed watching the coffee perk up into the little glass dome. It seems similar to the vacuum pot, except the percolator re-circulates the same liquid several times, and the vacuum pot just once.

                                      1. re: GraydonCarter

                                        The water temps in a percolator are far hotter than in a vac pot. Similar idea, but the results are significantly different.

                                2. The coffee maker and the coffee for it are different subjects. My 4-cup Mr.Coffee is inexpensive, compact, lightweight, requires no filters, brews quickly, and it travels with me.
                                  Where have you gone, Joe Dimaggio? Our nation turns it's lonely eyes to you.

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    Hide it in a hiding place
                                    Where no one ever goes.
                                    Put it in your pantry with your cupcakes.

                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      :)......oh, and it is made mostly from ...plastics.

                                    2. re: Veggo

                                      Thanks, Veggo, for bringing this thread back to the OP's original question. Someone who doesn't drink coffee would probably have no interest in roasting their own beans or spending time perfecting an elaborate brewing process. Keep it simple and easy. Yes, it will never meet the standards of those who roast and grind their own beans, and own semi-pro machines or fancy pots, but the objective here is a gesture of hospitality to the OP's guests, not a major commitment. There is something to be said for simple and consistent, but it does not have to mean settling for instant or coffee "tea bags". You can consistently brew a decent pot of coffee provided that you use fresh coffee in a cheap drip machine.

                                      1. re: RGC1982

                                        "There is something to be said for simple and consistent, but it does not have to mean settling for instant or coffee "tea bags". You can consistently brew a decent pot of coffee provided that you use fresh coffee in a cheap drip machine."

                                        "Fresh coffee"? So someone who doesn't drink coffee themselves is going to do what, run to the store for some freshly roasted and ground beans each time? Beans that have been roasted are fresh for about a week; and once they are ground, they are fresh for about a day.

                                        As far as cans of pre-ground beans in a cheap drip machine go, the coffee that results from that combination is usually no better than, and often not as good as, coffee singles.

                                        1. re: MaximRecoil

                                          I'm guessing that the OP periodically entertains and puts up out of town friends and relatives, and would buy coffee and other groceries as appropriate. In between guests, the modest unused coffee maker sleeps in the pantry, as JoanN suggests.

                                          1. re: Veggo

                                            What I'm saying is that fresh coffee can't be stored for any length of time before it becomes stale, i.e., no longer fresh; only about a day once it is ground, so that means a trip to the store for fresh ground coffee every time guests show up.

                                            On the other hand, if you want the convenience of being able to make coffee on demand at home (without an impromptu trip to the store each time for freshly ground coffee), then you need something that can be stored; which gives you the following options:

                                            1. Preground coffee beans in a can plus a coffee maker
                                            2. Instant coffee
                                            3. Coffee singles

                                            Option #1 isn't necessarily any better tasting than option #3 (and is often worse), and according to someone else on this thread, there are certain brands of instant coffee that beat option #1 also. The advantage of options 2 and 3 is that you don't have to buy, store, or maintain a machine.

                                            1. re: Veggo

                                              The OP can keep on-hand a sample-size of good ground coffee in a pre-measured vacuum-packed pouch. A normal, non-obsessed coffee drinker would enjoy the end-product.

                                              An obsessed coffee drinker would understand.

                                              1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                And appreciate the host's thoughtfulness.

                                                1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                  The coffee I brew at home from beans ground fresh just before brewing tastes very similar to "coffee singles". The stuff I brew tastes slightly "cleaner" I would say. I'm not completely convinced that I could tell them apart in a blind taste test.

                                                  However, brewing in a machine does have the advantage of having a better reputation than the more "instant" methods, and the sound and smell of coffee brewing is nice. Additionally it is usually easier to make a large amount of coffee at once and keep it warm for a while with a machine than with more "instant" methods.

                                                  1. re: MaximRecoil

                                                    I think brewed coffee has a useful life of about 30 minutes, and that is partially why I prefer to keep making more in small batches. The other part is I live alone. The other other part is solving the super tough sudoku on one pot, like clock chess. And the cost of failure is yucky but I sometimes pay the stupid tax.

                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                      I'm not too fussy when it comes to coffee. As long as it doesn't have any significantly objectionable flavors, and is roughly strong enough, I'm all set. One can drive themself crazy trying to follow all the "rules" for good coffee; i.e., beans roasted less than a week ago, ground less than a day ago, where the beans were grown, arabica vs. robusta, brewing method, water quality, brewing temperature, grind size, and on and on and on.

                                              2. re: MaximRecoil

                                                fresh for about a day? nah... maybe if you get 'em vaccuum sealed. or are doing french press.

                                                coffee noticeably degrades in about 15 min after ground.

                                          2. I'm late to this discussion but I can't say enough about this Clever Coffee Dripper for occasional or every day use. http://www.sweetmarias.com/clevercoff...

                                            It works like a French press to let you steep the grounds to your taste but then instead of pressing the grounds down, you place the dripper on the cup Melita-style and the coffee filters down through a paper filter and arrives in your cup delicious and pristine. You throw out the filter & used grounds (or better still, put them in your compost pile) and throw the coffee dripper into the dishwasher.

                                            It takes up little space. It's lightweight. It's virtually unbreakable -- at least ours has given us a year of steady use. It's about $15. It will make a couple conventional cups of coffee or one 16oz insulated tumbler full. It's ready to brew a second batch in minutes or spring for a second one at that price.

                                            We have one at home and my husband keeps a second one at the office to pass up the simmering coffee pot and brew his own coffee.

                                            If you're a tea drinker there's a model that brews tea as well: http://www.adagio.com/teaware/ingenui...

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: rainey

                                              Similar to the device used in this CHOW demo?

                                              http://www.chow.com/videos/show/all/6...

                                              1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                Yes, similar (tho infinitely shorter) brewing concept and action but there's no cork to remove. There's some anti-gravity valve in the clever coffee dripper that keeps the water contained in the cone until there's upward pressure from the rim of a cup on the bottom of the dripper. Then the brewed coffee flows as it would from a Melita-type filter holder.

                                                Dead simple. Enormously reliable. Great coffee. Cheap hardware.

                                                Actually in the second video on the link I provided above he brews a couple cups of coffee. He is making it about as precious and anal as he possibly can. If you ignore all that you can see that he puts grounds in the cone, let's it steep and then moves the dripper to the top of a cup and coffee evacuates from the filter into the cup. That's all there is to it -- the steeped quality of French press with the simplicity and filtered quality of drip coffee.

                                                Notice that when he moves the dripper from the table top there is no pool of leaked coffee (tho it comes with a small saucer to catch the occasional drip + the lid he refers to). When he has it in midair there is no dripping. When he places it on the cup there is no plug to remove or switch to activate. The value is released automatically by gravity. When you remove the dripper the value is activated again and dripping ceases.

                                                1. re: rainey

                                                  +1 on the Clever Coffee Dripper. I have one at home and one at the office. Not only does it make a good cup of coffee, it's actually *easier* to use than a standard Melita dripper (no precarious balancing of the dripper on the cup during filling, no slow and careful pouring to attempt to regulate the strength of the brew, no drips when you're done). Highly rated at Sweet Maria's: http://www.sweetmarias.com/clevercoff... .

                                                  1. re: tanuki soup

                                                    Apparently this is our little secret. I don't understand why this doesn't catch on but after having every appliance and piece of hardware possible for brewing coffee over the years this is what we've settled on as a permanent solution.

                                                    ...altho I do pull out the Chemex when we have company and I'm making 6 or 10 cups.

                                                    1. re: rainey

                                                      You can spread the word by giving them as gifts to "coffee geek" friends. That's what I did this last Christmas ;-)

                                            2. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/din...