Before you invest in a coffee maker think about what sort of coffee you like - filter, espresso or cappuccino; how much of it you want to make and how often you plan to use your machine. Prices vary enormously depending on the type of coffee and ease of use.
Many people when they want to make coffee at home start with a coffee plunger before graduating to a coffee or espresso machine. Coffee plungers make good strong coffee, but don't have the crema of an espresso machine made coffee. It's more an american style filter coffeethan a european coffee - the difference is in how the coffee is extracted from the grounds. With espresso machines, hot water is forced through compacted coffee and a tiny hile in a metal filter to extract coffee. With a plunger, hot water is added to loose coffee grounds and allowed to soak, extracting all the oils and coffee flavour from the beand before the grounds are strained or "filtered" from the coffee.
What is a coffee plunger?
Cafetières, or coffee plungers, take the form of glass containers incorporating a wire or mesh filter attached to a plunger. To make the coffee, put in one or two spoons of coarse ground coffee per cup required and pour boiled water into the glass container. Stir thoroughly, leave for a few minutes, and then push the plunger slowly down. Coffee plungers are ideal for just as many people as you like as you can make exactly the right amount of filter coffee you want. With espresso machines, you can only pour two shots at a time. Plungers are also great value when comparing them to coffee machines.
What brands of coffee plungers are good?
There are many different brands of coffee plungers you may want to consider: at the lower end (but still good) you have Avanti. Next step up is Bodum, who seem to use both wire and mesh filters, which (to me anyway) produces a much cleaner cup of coffee. The upper end is Tupperware - more expensive than the others, it produces a great cup of coffee. Occasionally, you might be able to find a coffee plunger made by Italian kitchenware manufacturer Alessi, but they are more reknowned for their stovetop coffee/espresso makers than their plungers.
Caring for your coffee plunger
Make sure you rinse the grounds from the filter of your plunger every time you use it, otherwise your coffee will begin to taste musty and rancid. Every third time you use it (if you use it daily) you should pull apart the filters and wash them gently with hot soapy water to remove the coffee oil residue from the filters and stainless steel press. leave to dry completely before reassembling your plunger. If you use it less frequently, wash it with hot soappy water every time you use it.
How much should you pay for a coffee plunger?
You can pay anything from $10 for a 2 cup generic coffee plunger to $300 for an 8 cup stainless steel Alessi french press (another name for coffee plunger). Luckily, most coffee plungers fall into the lower end of that gap!
For my money, I really think you can't go past Bodum for a great coffee plunger. They last for years, the filters don't get gummed up with coffee grounds and they consistently make good coffee. RRP on a Bodum plunger ranges from $55 for an 8 cup plastic and heat resitant glass model to $120 for a 12 cup stainess steel french press. Of course, you can buy them for much less than that on eBay.com.au!