From breakfast through dessert, a good cup of coffee plays a major role in South Florida and other parts of the country. For many of us, that means buying a good coffee maker.
I like the Moka stove-top brewer -- a double-chamber metal coffee pot from Italy that brews a cup of espresso that rivals the best Cuban coffee shops in Miami. I learned about this $30 pot in The Joy of Coffee by Corby Kummer. (The smaller version of the Moka stove-top brewer is about $20 or less.) We've also used inexpensive French press pots. Here's a related story: A Coffee Recipe That Saves Me Thousands
Stephen Treffinger, the resident tester and contributing editor at Domino Magazine, sampled coffee from about 30 coffee pots and espresso machines for the February issue. I recently spoke to Treffinger and was impressed with his selection, which includes inexpensive or time-saving coffee makers. Here are a few of his top picks:
• The plug-in. Farberware makes an affordable old-school percolator for $40. Sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, this coffee maker plugs into any outlet. ''That's what I grew up seeing,'' Treffinger said. ''It's not going to win over a coffee snob.'' But nevertheless, this Farberware coffee maker provides "a surprisingly smooth, cup of coffee." It's perfect, Treffinger said, if you want to quickly brew hot coffee after a meal. Danger: the liquid is very hot.
• The crowd pleaser: If you've been to a diner, you've probably been served coffee brewed from a commercial Bunn coffee maker. For the home, the company has a 10-cup coffee maker sold at Target for $130. Treffinger gives this machine high marks for brewing 10 cups of coffee in three minutes. Beyond speed, this coffee maker has a spray action that soaks the coffee and produces a rich taste, Treffinger says. The downside: the machine is large and will eat up counter space.
• The no-brainer. Some espresso and coffee makers use pods -- pre-packaged circular filters stuffed with coffee. (You've seen them in hotel rooms.) Often the coffee flavor is lacking. One exception is Francis Francis, a 13-inch espresso machine from illyusa.com. Equipped with a milk frothing attachment, this espresso machine costs $900, but favorably compares to ones for $3,000. The pre-packaged pods make it easy to brew a tasty cup of espresso.
This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.