The question is, how do you make the best coffee? Like everything in life, the answer is not clear cut. Here's a handy guide to the different ways of making coffee and what each method can offer you.
The home coffee bar: This is a smaller version of what they use to make coffee in proper coffee shops. It gets major points for its professional appearance, although not all models are aesthetically equal. Some are downright ugly.
It's also the most expensive type of coffee maker (expect to drop a few hundred pounds/euros). And it runs the risk of making you look like a pretentious arsehole or bring out the instagramming hipster in you.
The best way to own this machine? Discreetly. Don't talk about your coffee bar, offer people a coffee without mentioning the coffee bar, don't talk about the process of making 'the perfect cup of coffee', don't diss other brewing methods, and never talk about your beans because you will, I repeat will, make your friends hate you.
The drip coffee machine: This brewing method once ruled the coffee world and it's my personal favourite on appearance. I love the classic glass pot that slowly fills with coffee and the way it evokes memories of favourite American TV shows. It fills your kitchen with a coffee aroma within minutes which lets the entire house know that the coffee is ready.
A decent machine is highly affordable with most of the top brands selling for under £60/€80. You can brew a large amount of coffee at a time which is good for multiple drinkers...or, let's be honest with ourselves, an outright coffee binge. There's also a hotplate which will keep your coffee warm until you're ready for a top-up.
Most modern machines use reusable plastic filters, although I myself own a machine which takes the disposable paper ones. The biggest drawback with this is that filters can be difficult to buy these days, but on the other hand they require less cleaning and are biodegradable so I throw mine onto the compost heap (coffee grounds are excellent for your garden).
The drip coffee machine brews a nice cup of coffee, but it's not as flavourful as other methods. You can always add in more coffee to boost the flavour but it does end up being a bean eater.
Also, if you're going to use this brewing method expect to wait up to 10 minutes for a full jug to brew. Some machines come with a timer option, which is handy.
The cafetiere: Perhaps the easiest way of brewing fresh coffee is the humble cafetiere. Prices range from dirt cheap to...cheap (you're looking at maximum £20/€25). It's the most time efficient method of brewing and can be easily tucked away in a cupboard.
If I'm being completely honest, and I don't want to be because I LOVE my old-school drip machine, the cafetiere makes the best tasting coffee. It really lets the oils from the beans mingle and infuse with the water.
Drawbacks? You don't yield the massive batch of coffee you do with the drip machine, although that can be ideal for one person, or two people who aren't as addicted to coffee as myself. In saying all this, it's always possible to make more coffee and the cafetiere is fairly easy, if a little messy, to rinse out.
The pod machine: I want to love this method, I really do. The branding that has gone into these machines is fantastic, it's an impressive bit of kit for your kitchen, it beats all other brewing methods on speed, there's no technical skill required, the novelty factor alone had me counting my pennies to see when I could afford one...but, and there's always a but, if you're looking for a quality cup of coffee they rank last.
I was heart-broken when I found this out because I so wanted one of these beautiful beasts in my kitchen. I so wanted to be the girl with the coffee pods. I craved easy, barista style coffee with a spoon of novelty. Alas, it wasn't meant to be.
However, if you want a latte, cappuccino, hot chocolate or something with sugary caramel syrup then this is for you. Basically, as long as there's something to cover up the taste of the bad coffee then this is a good coffee machine. In one way it's for the best, the pods are an environmental nightmare, and the machines themselves are expensive to buy and expensive to run.
The stove top percolator: This was the first type of fresh brewing kit I ever owned. I was lucky enough to be given a rather expensive one by a former Gaggia worker, but they've been known to roam Amazon for under £10/€10. They're darling to look at, whether you opt for a funky brightly coloured one or a classic Italian style.
They can make a good cup of coffee, although I found there to be a lot of trial and error. They take about as much time as a coffee machine, with a fifth of the yield. It does fill your kitchen with that delicious coffee aroma though, which (besides from actually drinking the coffee) is my favourite part about brewing.
However, they're extremely annoying to clean. First of all you have to wait for the pot to cool enough to be able to disassemble it without causing second degree burns (mine is made of thick, good quality metal so this takes ages) which means it's sitting on the side, staring at you, waiting to be washed. Then you have to disassemble the entire thing and wash each part thoroughly. Then dry it and reassemble. It's not as simple as bunging it all together, there's a little rubber ring that has to face a certain way (and I never remember which) otherwise your next cup of coffee will be a total failure.
It's no good for multiple brews because it takes too long to cool.