"Pod" coffeemakers promise quick brews and no mess. We find out which are worth waking up for.
(MONEY Magazine) – Making a pot of coffee has never really been that much of a chore. Except that you have to clean out the coffee grounds (which always seem to get everywhere), and you rarely finish a whole pot, and each person in a family of coffee drinkers may have his or her own opinion on which kind of brew tastes best.
Okay, so maybe making coffee can be improved a bit. That's what the appliance industry is hoping, as more than a half-dozen new "pod" coffeemakers have shown up in stores in the past year. (Pod machines have already become commonplace in more commercial places, such as the office kitchen.) Unlike traditional drip machines, pod-based models brew one cup at a time from a single-serving packet or plastic capsule.
Brewing a cup of coffee with a pod machine couldn't get much simpler. You fill the tank with water, place the desired pod in the unit, press a button and, voilà, rocket fuel. It takes less than a minute to brew a cup. And since pods are individually packaged, there's no mess and no measuring. Variety is another advantage: You can switch flavors for each cup brewed. One person can have a cup of hazelnut while another can choose an organic decaf dark roast. Some machines also make tea, hot chocolate and cappuccino.
The most obvious difference among the many machines now available is price. Some models cost tens of dollars while others, such as a model from Miele that is built right into your cabinetry, can cost thousands. Price per cup is another issue, as pod machines cost more per serving than drip machines (around 30¢ a cup vs. around 3¢). Also keep in mind that some machines will take only their own pods, while other machines are compatible with pods from a number of coffee brands. To figure out which model would percolate to the top, I ran five machines through some early-morning paces.
HOW SHE DID IT I ran the machines at 3 a.m. to see how easy they were to use while I was at maximum grogginess. I tested for brewing time in one set of tests, and for taste in another.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The Braun Tassimo is like having a barista in your kitchen because it has:
• A wide variety of pods from gourmet coffee roasters
• Fast brewing time, so you get your caffeine fix when you need it
• Terrific frothing capability for cappuccinos and lattes
Are your machine's pods available at a supermarket or only through mail order? Nothing's worse than jonesing for a cup of joe and realizing that the beans are in the mail.