Plenty of Grounds for Choices Among the Many New Coffee Makers

Times Staff Writer

With an enormous number of new coffee makers popping up every month, confusion increases. Individual life style or day-to-day pace, family size, design and function all affect the important final choice. And of course, last but not least, there is the cost.

In the Coffee Drinking Study-Winter 1986 released by the International Coffee Organization, it was found that eight out of 10 cups of coffee consumed are ground roasted coffee. The report also showed that 53% of coffee-making households use automatic drip coffee makers, whereas 15% use manual drip and filter cone methods.

At the most recent international housewares show in Chicago, rampant displays of automatic coffee makers indicated strong consumer interest. The trend has increased cost with only a slight improvement in design and function. Although manual coffee systems like the French press or plunger have maintained a following because of the excellent flavor they produce, excitement still lies with the electric coffee makers.

The following are some of the newer coffee systems. Many already are on store shelves, and the rest will be rolled out in the spring. We're not even going to mention the espresso machines, which could jump into another big area of discussion.

Some of the newest coffee makers to watch out for come from Philips Home Products Inc., which is introducing a new line of sleek, upscale European-style goods. New in this country, the company is a subsidiary of N.V. Philips in Holland, considered Europe's largest manufacturer of small appliances.

Thermal Containers

Coffee makers with thermal containers are brewing a lot of appeal. The insulated carafes keep the coffee hot for hours without change in flavor, and some have the advantage of being toted anywhere. On the high end in this category is the slim-designed Cafe Therm coffee maker from Philips Home Products Inc. ($120). The base unit features an indicator light that signals brewing. The unit has a gauged detachable water reservoir in clear plastic to simplify water measurement.

Rowenta's Filtermatic Coffeemaker ($55) has a two- to eight-cup thermal carafe with an automatic shut-off system. It stands out in store shelves with its unique Villeroy & Boch Trio pattern, which matches Rowenta's waffle maker and toaster.

Oster added a 24-hour digital timer to its insulated 10-cup coffee carafe called Thermo-Cafe ($76.95). Coffee strength can be regulated with its Selecta-Brew control feature.

Another development is Rowenta's new Goldfilter Coffeemaker ($75), which has a permanent integrated filter that's electroplated with 23-karat gold. Eliminating the use of messy paper filters, the permanent filter is also an attraction for people who are leery about any chemical contamination in their paper filters. The common problem of overflowing and dripping when the carafe is removed is eliminated in this 10-cup coffee machine. When the carafe is removed, the unit shuts off and the swivel filter has a little mechanism that stops coffee from dripping.

Digital Carafes

Braun Inc. improved its insulated carafes by adding a new line of digital insulated carafes, the 12-cup Aromaster KF90 ($129.95), which features a 24-hour programmable digital clock timer. Non-insulated, the 12-cup Aromaster KF80 has the same 24-hour digital clock/timer. Both continue to operate 20 minutes after the unit is unplugged, a good feature in case power is shut off.

The units also have a drip-stop system to prevent dripping when the carafe is lifted out from the hot plate. Unlike other insulated carafes that stay hot for hours, the Braun product will only keep hot for one hour. However, it has a warming plate in the unit with a calibrated thermostat for maintaining the flavor and heat for several hours.

Compact coffee makers are mushrooming into a major business as the small-scale market continues to expand. Taking advantage of the growth of the personal-size or two- to four-cup segment are: Black & Decker's Cup at a Time drip coffee maker ($26.98) with a permanent coffee filter, which also makes hot water for tea or soups; Rowenta's four-cup coffee maker ($40) with a permanent coffee filter that also makes up to one pint instant boiling water in 90 seconds. Another entree is Krups Brewmaster Jr. ($45), a four-cup coffee maker. This smaller edition of Krups Brewmaster features the same double-wall filter holder that holds both heat and aroma, a hinged water chamber lid for easy filling and a lighted on/off switch and hidden cord storage.

Philips Home Products will be joining the small-scale market with its Cafe Compact coffee maker ($70), which has an unusually designed spout and filter holder. The latter rests on top of the carafe during the brewing process, yet stores inside the carafe after use.

Another miniature version to watch for in the near future is the Cafe San Jr. ($39) from Sanyo Electric Inc., which brews up to three cups of coffee in six minutes. Perfect for tiny kitchens, the easy-to-operate white and red unit has a see-through water reservoir and a built-in thermostat.

Globe-Shaped Reservoir

Melitta decided to be different with its new AromaArt 10-cup automatic drip coffee maker ($59.95) in white and pewter gray. The European-style unit has a cone-filter system that allows the coffee grounds to steep before brewing for a richer extract. What makes it unique is its globe-shaped water reservoir with an integrated water level indicator that rises as the water level rises, taking the guesswork out of measuring.

Travel units are also getting some interest: Melitta's new Travelmate ($49.95) immediately attracted interest with its lightweight, collapsible design. The components contained in a compartmentalized canvas case include: a one-cup automatic drip coffee maker, a large mug, coffee filters, coffee, cream and sugar canisters.

These products are available at most major department and discount stores.

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