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When I was eighteen, I was hired as a barista at Riley’s Coffee and Fudge, a small family owned coffee shop in the mall near my college. It was the greatest job ever. There I learned responsibility, I made lifelong friends, and I met my first true love: coffee. Coffee, as it is for so many, has become part of my daily routine. It’s more than just the caffeine fix; it’s the aroma, the warmth, the comfort. But, as a busy adult, I don’t often have the time or luxury to sit and relax in a coffee shop where the barista does the work of brewing the perfect cup for me.
My love affair with K-Cups
I fell in love with the convenience of the Keurig machine almost immediately. I have been through three different machines since my parents gifted me my first one in 2009, and I even have one in my classroom, for those days when two cups just won’t cut it. At first I worried about the cost of the K-Cups versus a bag of coffee beans, but with coupons, creative shopping, and buying in bulk, I make sure that I never pay more than 50 cents a cup. That’s definitely cheaper than a trip to the coffee shop!
The search begins
Lately, however, my husband has grown a bit tired of the Keurig, and we have set forth on a mission to find a machine that can brew not only an excellent cup of strong coffee, but the perfect shot of espresso as well. My sister recently purchased the Ninja Coffee Bar Auto-iQ Programmable CoffeeMaker and she raves about it. It has six brew sizes and five brew options, which really does make it a perfect choice for families like mine that don’t get up and drink their coffee at the same time.
The other advantage to the Ninja over the Keurig is that it uses regular coffee grounds, which means you save money and waste by not purchasing special pods. I love that it also includes a milk frother, and the different brew options means that it not only makes the perfect strong, full-bodied cup of coffee, but it also brews the perfect iced coffee as well. With a price tag of around $145, it’s within budget. My husband is intrigued, but as a former barista, my concern is that a strong shot of coffee does not a true shot of espresso make. If we want an espresso machine, I want REAL espresso.
Another kind of pre-packed capsules
Next, my search led me to investigate the Mueller Espresso Machine for Nespresso compatible capsules. I like the idea of prepacked capsules, as opposed to packing and tamping your own espresso grounds, and the incredibly reasonable cost of under $100 makes it look even more appealing. Amazon’s customer reviews gave it an average of 4.5 stars, but it does not brew regular drip coffee. We have a limited counter space, so I’d really prefer to stick with one device that can do both espresso and drip.
But I want “real” espresso!
In an attempt to find one machine capable of brewing espresso and drip coffee, my search led me to the AICOOK Coffee 3 in 1 Combination. There are plenty of big machines with big price tags that can do both, but as we are searching for a small footprint along with a reasonable price tag, this machine is currently looking like it might be our winner.
It not only makes both drip and espresso, but it also has a frothing wand (and comes with a travel mug!). I tend to be slightly wary of brands that I am unfamiliar with and I have never heard of AICOOK before, and the language in the product description definitely suggests that it is not an American company. These concerns, however, are slightly assuaged by the fact that Amazon’s customer reviews have given it 4 out of 5 and it is under $150.
I want to make a decision by Christmas…my husband is so hard to buy for and this would be the perfect gift! So, do you have an opinion on any of these machines? Or, better, yet, do you have a coffee maker that you love that I haven’t even discovered yet? Leave your suggestions in the comments!