Buy It For Life: Bialetti Moka Stovetop Espresso Maker

The Bialetti Moka Espresso Maker, has a polished-aluminum octagonal design has been available in Italy since 1933. In the 30s, Italy was in an economically difficult time, which made making coffee at home appealing. This simple little device crafted from aluminum was extremely popular and is still crafted by Bialetti, the same firm that produced it in the 1930s.

Moka Pot stovetop brewers produce a dense concentrated cup that’s something between espresso and Turkish coffee. Coffee is placed into a filter between the lower chamber (that you fill with water) and the upper chamber that will contain the finished beverage after brewing.

It works by passing hot water that has been pressurized by steam through ground coffee beans and produces a hot beverage similar to espresso.

Over 200 Amazon reviewers rated this espresso maker an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars.

The Bialetti Moka Espresso Maker is available on Amazon for $25.

Stainless Steel French Press by Bodum

Bodum, the Danish kitchenware maker, is world-renowned for their French Presses. Most Bodum presses are made with borosilicate glass, which is tough glass, but it is still prone to breakage (I broke three glass presses in two years). However, Bodum does make a double-walled, Stainless Steel French Press. Because it made with 100% stainless steel, this press can withstand drops and rough handling.

With its double walls,  Stainless Steel French Press also acts like a insulated thermos. The coffee enthusiasts at Sweet Marias say this French Press is their recommend choice. However, they do not recommend leaving the brewed coffee in the press for longer than 5 minutes, because:

The double-walled polished chrome “thermo press” keeps the water hot during brewing, which is a definite advantage, though we really don’t recommend that you store your coffee in it after you have pressed the pot.

Why? Because to some degree the coffee continues to brew, and after about 15 minutes it will start to have a “over-extracted” flavor. So buy this press because you are as clumsy as I am, and are tired of breaking the glass on other presses. (Now that Bodum makes an unbreakable beaker, you have that option too.)

You can buy the Bodum Columbia Stainless Steel French from Amazon for about $50.

(In our “Buy It For Life” posts we feature products that are built to last a lifetime. We also give preference to products that are very durable, are warrantied for life, and are made in the U.S.)

Buy It For Life: Small Kitchen Appliances

In our “Buy It For Life” posts we feature products that are built to last a lifetime. We also give preference to products that are very durable, are warrantied for life, and are made in the U.S.

Breville BOV 800XL Smart Convection Toaster Oven

Breville BOV800XL The Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven

Breville BOV800XL The Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven

This 1800 watt convection toaster oven by Breville comes highly recommended by professional chefs and home users alike. It features 9 pre-set programs that can be programmed for personal preference and automatically adjusts individual heating elements for consistent cooking. Energy efficient, the convection oven speeds cooking time by 30%. It has the capacity to hold a 13-inch pizza or six slices of toast.

Manufacturer warranties are hard to come by with toaster ovens. Breville says they design their products with durability in mind and that their products can last up to 20 years. The company offers a 1 year replacement warranty.

Over 630 Amazon users have given the Breville an average 4.5 out of 5 stars. The Breville BOV 800XL Smart Convection Toaster Oven is for sale on Amazon for $250.00.

KRUPS BW500 Electric Kettle

KRUPS BW500 1.8 quart Electric Kettle

KRUPS BW500 1.8 quart Electric Kettle

KRUPS has a long-standing reputation of quality and this 1.8 quart cordless electric kettle is one of the most durable on the market. Made of stainless steel, the 3-pound weight may be off-putting to some, but this adds to the sturdiness of the kettle. The 1500 watts heats water quickly and efficiently. There is an automatic shut-off once the water reaches the boiling point.

Simple to use, the KRUPS doesn’t feature all the bells and whistles of some other programmable electric kettles, which is why we like it. Simplicity often translates into reliability.

Most electric kettles have a 1 year limited warranty, but KRUPS offers a 2 year limited warranty. The KRUPS BW500 received an average 4.4 star rating from 14 Amazon customers. It sells for about $58 on Amazon.

If you find the design of this electric kettle a bit too utilitarian, you might consider the “Krups BW600 Silver Art Collection Electric Kettle” which features a polished chrome finish.

Zojirushi NS-LAC05 Micom 3-Cup Rice Cooker

Zojirushi NS-LAC05 Micom 3-Cup Rice Cooker

Zojirushi NS-LAC05 Micom 3-Cup Rice Cooker

Zojirushi manufactures some of the most top rated rice cookers on the market. Worth the investment, Zojirushi rice cookers not only stand the test of time, but they produce perfect rice every time. The Zojirushi NS-LAC05 Micom rice cooker features micro-computerized Fuzzy logic technology, menu selection, and an automatic keep warm function. The clear-coated stainless steel exterior is a unique process for rice cookers and makes for a more durable product that is easy to keep clean.

Like most rice cookers, there is a 1 year limited warranty. Out of 298 Amazon reviews, this model boasts an average 4.7 out of 5 stars rating. The Zojirushi NS-LAC05 Micom 3-Cup Rice Cooker sells for about $130 on Amazon.

Cuisinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker

Cuisinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker

Cuisinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker

Cuisinart, a name synonymous with high quality kitchen products, makes this fully automatic and 24-hour programmable coffee maker with a separate hot water system for tea, cocoa, and soup. Though it’s difficult to find an drip coffee maker without plastic parts, the Cuisinart is made with all BPA-free materials. Included is a charcoal water filter to remove chlorine and other bad tastes from the water, as well as a gold tone filter for brewing.

Cuisinart offers a 3 year limited warranty, typical for high-end coffee makers. Over 160 Amazon reviewers have given this coffeemaker and average 4.3 out of 5 stars. The Cuisinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker sells for about $88 on Amazon.

Another durable small kitchen appliance that is still made in the USA is a Bunn coffeemaker. The Bunn products are high quality and are well reviewed by users, however the design of these systems keeps the reservoir of hot water heated at all times which translates to high energy costs. There is a vacation switch that can turn off the tank heater, but it will take roughly 15 minutes to heat back up in order to make coffee. While we can’t recommend the Bunn as the most efficient option on a daily basis, it might be a consideration for those who entertain a lot. Since it can brew a cup of coffee in about 3 minutes, it would be great for parties.

Cheatsheet: The Top Rated Kitchen Products Of 2011

Below is a compilation of the top rated kitchen products of 2011, based on the most credible reviews available.

To compile this list we consulted the following review sites: Consumer Reports, Cooking.com, Real Simple, Money Magazine, Sweet Maria’s and Coffee Geek.

Small Appliances

Coffee And Tea

Major Appliances

Cookware

Cutlery

Water Filters

Kitchen Gadgets