My coffee maker broke a few days ago and I set out to search for a replacement. I am not a huge coffee fan, but I do crave the aroma of fresh brewed coffee every morning and appreciate the caffeine jolt along with the sugar and cream (I sometimes think it is really the sugar and cream I crave, not the coffee, but that’s another article). As anyone with even a passing interest in coffee knows, coffee makers come in a dizzying selection of styles and types, from the most basic, no frills models to the ultra-complex machines that must, to justify their high price tags, do more than make a good cup of coffee. When I set out to replace my own basic, no-frills model, energy efficiency and reliability were the only two requirements I had in mind. My old keurig coffee makers were only three years old and I was surprised when it quit. It seems that few things these days are actually made to last longer than a few years. When these things quit, it’s tempting to throw them in the trash, but I could not bring myself to send the appliance to the landfill. I retired the coffee maker base to the clutter corner in the garage (who knows, maybe it can be fixed) and relegated the carafe to use for making tea. We are big tea drinkers in our house and always have a fresh pot, usually flavored with mint from our garden, resting on our kitchen counter.
EnergyStar.gov, on its website, lists a variety of home products that have earned the EnergyStar rating due to their energy efficiency, however, the site focuses on large appliances and does not give a list of energy efficient coffee makers. But the U.S. Department of Energy, on its Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy site estimates that the average coffee maker can use anywhere from 900 to 1,200 watts of electricity every time it is turned on. That’s nearly as much as an energy efficient dishwasher, which can wash load of dishes for about 1,200 watts (without the drying feature). Toasters are also big wattage gulpers, using anywhere from 700 to 1,400 watts per use, according to the site.
To help shoppers know how much energy a particular appliance uses, the wattage is generally listed on the bottom of the appliance. My old, broken coffee maker used 950 watts of energy every time it was used, placing it in the not-so-bad category, as far as small appliances go. An electric tea kettle we use for heating water for tea uses 1,500 watts per use, but heats up more than enough water for more than one pot of tea.
In the end, I decided not to bring a new appliance into the house, settling instead for a French press coffee maker. The French press uses no electricity but does require hot water. It works much like brewing tea (in fact, the device can also be used for tea). Freshly ground coffee is placed on the bottom of the pot, hot water is poured in, then a specially-made plunger-like device that comes with the pot, is used to push the coffee grounds down to the bottom of the pot. What comes out is smooth, fresh coffee. Since the process is much like tea, we now only heat the electric tea kettle up just once with enough water for one pot of tea and one small pot of coffee, saving time and a bit of energy. There is one draw back to the French press coffee maker. As it is completely manual, it can not be preset the night before, so no more waking up to the intoxicating aroma of brewing coffee.