With options ranging from single-serve pod machines to elaborate espresso setups, it's easy to get lost in a sea of features, price points, and brand promises when it comes to buying a coffee maker.
What's more, the best coffee maker to suit your needs will be very different from someone else's ideal machine and this can lead to pitfalls. Whether it's underestimating the importance of a machine's maintenance to being swayed by flashy features that you won't use.
In this guide, we attempt to save you from such pitfalls by explaining the mistakes to avoid when investing in a coffee machine, especially if you're on the hunt for one this Black Friday. We're also rounding up the best discounts on our Black Friday coffee maker deals hub - so be sure to save the page for quick access to the best up-to-date deals.
And if you're still not sure what you need, read our how to choose a coffee maker guide.
1. Disregarding your coffee preferences
Before you even start looking for a coffee machine, you need to consider why you're buying one and what you ultimately want or need it to do. This will come down to your coffee preference.
Not all coffee makers are created equal and they offer very different styles of drinks as well as coffee-making experiences. If you're an avid espresso drinker, for instance, you might regret purchasing a drip coffee maker just because it's on sale. If your morning routine includes a full pot of coffee, a single-serve machine may not be enough. If you're unsure of the differences between machine types, we explain it in more detail in our drip coffee vs espresso guide.
Taking the time to consider what types of coffee you want to make at home, and how much time you have to make them, will help you avoid buying a machine that doesn't suit your tastes or lifestyle.
2. Guessing how much space you have
Space is a premium in most kitchens, so don't let a discount or a brand promise lead you to buy a bulky coffee maker that clutters your counter or doesn't fit your kitchen's decor.
Similarly, consider the machine's brewing capacity, which is largely determined by its water reservoir size. If you entertain often or drink multiple cups throughout the day, frequently refilling a small tank will soon get on your nerves.
Measure and match the machine's size and capacity to your kitchen space and coffee habits to avoid over- or under-investing.
3. Ignoring ease of use
While the features of a coffee maker are likely to be the first thing you look for, don't ignore or play down how easy the machine is to use. If a machine is too complex or confusing, you won't get the best out of it and it could ruin your coffee-making experience.
Complex machines with multiple settings can be overkill for someone who prefers simplicity. Consider how much effort you're willing to put in and opt for a machine with an intuitive design and operation that matches your effort and skill level.
Customer reviews are a good place to start when trying to determine ease-of-use, as is the instruction manual which can usually be found on the retailer's website.
4. Not considering long-term costs
Your chosen coffee maker's price tag isn't the only cost to bear in mind. You need to think about ongoing expenses, such as filters, descaling solutions, and the cost of coffee beans, grounds, or pods.
Getting a great deal on an expensive-to-maintain machine might not be a bargain in the long run. Similarly, buying a cheap machine might mean it has a shorter lifespan and you'll find you need to replace it sooner than if you've invested in a more expensive, more robust model.
Do your research into the types of coffee you'll need, and see if there are any reports about common faults or pitfalls in customer reviews. This will help you calculate the total cost of ownership before making your choice.
5. Forgetting about maintenance
Maintenance is another cost-related factor to consider when shopping for a coffee machine. Not just in terms of paying for descaling solutions, parts, or repairs, but in the time costs.
Spending time cleaning and looking after your coffee maker will keep your coffee tasting its best in the short term, but also help extend the life of the machine in the long term.
However, some machines require more upkeep than others. Consider how much time and effort you're willing to dedicate to cleaning and maintenance. A machine that's easy to clean and descale may cost slightly more, but it will save you time and effort.
6. Overlooking the grinder
If you're a fan of fresh coffee, the quality of the grinder you use should be a priority. Whether that's the built-in grinder seen on bean-to-cup machines or the standalone grinder you buy alongside your coffee maker.
Poor-quality grinders can lead to uneven extraction, which will impact the taste and texture of your coffee. This can be particularly galling if you've spent a lot of money on the coffee maker itself only to fall at the first hurdle because of a poor grinder.
7. Taking brand claims at face value
Where possible, try before you buy. Visit a store and see a range of coffee machines in action. This can give you a feel for their operation and whether they meet your needs. Sometimes a machine's appeal can severely diminish once you've seen it in person, saving you from making a poor choice.
Similarly, don't buy a coffee maker purely on brand name and reputation alone. Assess each machine on its own merits to avoid spending more than you need to for a brand name.
8. Succumbing to fads
Don't be swayed by shiny features you'll never use, stick to what you need.
A coffee maker with a Bluetooth connection might sound cool, but if you're not going to use it, you're paying for features that are unnecessary. Focus on what enhances your personal coffee experience, not just what looks impressive.
9. Ignoring the warranty
A good warranty can be a lifesaver for electronics, including coffee makers.
Check the warranty length and what it covers. A longer warranty might be worth a slightly higher price, offering peace of mind and protection against future malfunctions.
Discover more coffee maker guides…