The Honest Truth from a Tree-Hugger about What Matters Most When Buying a Coffeemaker

Susanna Sisson's picture
Black and White photograph of clock and coffee pot

Here’s the God’s honest truth from a tree-hugger about what matter most when buying a coffeemaker, and the answer is, it’s what is important to the individual consumer. Why? Because we all have our own experiences with coffee that determine our emotional attachment and what coffee maker features we prefer.

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When I was growing up we had a percolator. It did a great job of making coffee but also had a few drawbacks. For one, it was hard to clean. Eventually the cord which was covered in some type of cloth got frayed and it probably got thrown out because my mom thought it was a fire hazard.

My mom liked convenience, so, she was an instant coffee drinker, and to tell the truth I don’t care either way. Personally, I would just as soon make a cup of coffee from a good brand of instant since I’m only going to drink one cup than to make a pot that either gets thrown out or burns. But, I have owned my share of coffeemakers, and here’s what I looked for in features.

1. Price – a decent coffeemaker doesn’t have to cost hundreds of dollars and if anyone tells you differently they’re probably a coffee snob or maybe just a snob. Honestly, people who spend that kind of money on a coffeemaker to have at home have got to have more money than they have sense. Just sayin’. And my opinion is they really should just go to Walmart, buy a coffee maker for under $50 and give the rest to a soup kitchen. Even if I was a millionaire, which I’m not, if I were to spend $400 or more bucks on a coffeemaker it had better come with a butler or a cabana boy who would rub tanning oil on me poolside. If you’re like most consumers these days a decent price with a few good features is important. My first coffeemaker made coffee. Period. No clock, no timer, nothing. You had to put the water and a paper filter in, add coffee, and turn it on, then remember to turn it off or at least drive around the block to go home and turn it off before going to work so the house wouldn’t burn down.

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2. Safety – When I was a kid I can’t tell you how many times we started to leave the house and either didn’t make it out of the driveway or turned around a block away for my mom to make sure she hadn’t left an iron, the stove, or when we had one, the coffeepot on. And at night she unplugged everything, too, including that old percolator. So, one of the most important features in a coffeemaker for me is an automatic shut-off. Only a few other things really matter as long as the darn thing shuts itself off.

3. Automatic on – I have never really needed coffee to get going before work, but, I found it was nice to have a cup before heading out for a long run. So, the second coffee maker I purchased had a clock and timer so that I could set it to have a steaming pot of hot coffee ready when I got up. Of course that one also had an automatic shut off so I didn’t have to run home to make sure the house wasn't on fire.

4. Being green - When I say green, the next feature I find important is a built in filter. I’m a tree-hugger from way back, so, tossing out coffee grounds and filters goes against the grain. Heck I even re-use paper towels when I actually have them. I can still compost my grounds but I’m not killing a rain forest for the sake of filtering a cup of coffee. The other thing I’m definitely not going to do is buy any kind of coffeemaker that uses pods. While saving water by making one cup at a time with a refillable pod is a great idea, the realization that billions of tiny plastic containers go into landfills and potentially the oceans makes me one crazy coffee drinker. And don’t get me started on individual serving condiments! In fact, if I drank coffee from those overpriced coffee shops and found out they were using paper filters I’d boycott them for, oh, probably forever.

5. Looks – I guess some people shop for a coffee maker as if they were buying a Maserati. They don’t shop at big box or discount stores (once again the coffee snob thing). Oh, no, they shop at overpriced kitchen supply stores with names like “Kitchen Impossible” because they can valet. Okay, I’m being my own kind of snob but trying to make a point, and I get wanting something that looks good sitting on the kitchen counter but honestly most coffeemakers are nothing more than an kettle with a cord. While the saying that the clothes make the man may be true, it doesn’t go for the coffeemaker makes the coffee.

Choosing a good coffee is the key here, and the coffeemaker you use is really secondary. The best coffee I ever had my friend made with hot water from a stainless steal kettle and an antique coffee press followed by great conversation sitting in her garden watching the bees. If you haven’t tried it, maybe you should. And some 50 years since my mom gave up using the percolator in preference to an old whistling tea kettle to boil water to make a cup of instant, I’m doing the same thing. Oh, she also talked to trees and bees too, so I guess I came by my love of nature as honestly as I have my coffee preference. So, that’s the honest truth from a tree-hugger about what matters most when buying a coffee-maker. Next up: How to clean up the oceans and save the bees.

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