The process of shopping for the right thermal carafe may not be as complex as choosing a high-tech computer, or as impactful as finding a good school for your kid, or as costly as buying a home, but the decision nonetheless deserves a good portion of time and consideration. But if you get it right the first time, you can be sure to enjoy your favorite beverage at the right temperature for several years to come.
We all know how essential a good cup of coffee can be to a gathering. It’s what can make or break the event. But, to get a perfect cup of coffee, you need to use a great brew kettle
and serve it the right way, at the right temperature – which is where a thermal coffee carafe comes into play.
The most basic and perhaps the most important consideration when choosing a thermal carafe is its capacity. Most models will hold two liters of liquid, which is adequate for a big pot of tea, coffee, or other beverage. Note that carbonated beverages should not be stored in sealed carafes due the high pressure that can build up and cause spills or even propel off the cap. A portable beverage refrigerator
will work better if you’re going to spend long hours outdoors.
Generally, a good thermal carafe will be of a suitable capacity, design, shape, and style. But something that can’t be overlooked is the aesthetics. Carafes will typically be used at parties, during holiday celebrations, and at any other occasion where many people gather. You definitely don’t want to ruin the already-established, elegant and stylish décor by throwing in an awkward-looking carafe that clashes with your flatware, bowls, and the associated trimmings. The look is important too!
One final word! Always check if the coffee carafe you’re about to purchase will be compatible with your coffee maker, otherwise you may have to manually pour the coffee into the carafe. Most models will work with a variety of coffee makers
, while some brands have specific compatible models for every product category or series.
With that advice in mind, it’s time to delve deeper into the features to look for when shopping for a thermal carafe, then you can jump straight to our top picks.
Perhaps you’re wondering whether you really need a thermal carafe as long as you have a decent coffee maker. You certainly do, especially if one cup of coffee just never cuts it for you, or when you want to serve your guests cup after cup of hot coffee throughout the occasion. But again, you won’t have to sell an organ to acquire a great thermal carafe. A good model will cost between $20 and $80. The price will differ depending on the capacity and the insulation level. Although you can still find cheaper thermal carafes on the market, we’ve deliberately kept such models off our list due to quality concerns. They may be made of low-quality materials that may fail at the most inconvenient time.
A few comparison features that make one thermal carafe stand out from the rest:
- Ounce Capacity – One ordinary cup of coffee carries six to eight ounces of liquid. You need a carafe with a higher ounce capacity if you want your coffee to stay hot for several hours. However, if you only take two cups of coffee per day, a 20-ounce capacity carafe should be adequate. If you’re going to serve many guests at a party, larger capacities that hold up to 50 ounces or more will be appropriate.
- Temperature Keeping Time – How long your thermal carafe keeps the liquids hot also matters. Most models will keep beverages hot for up to 12 hours before it begins to cool, but cold beverages can be kept cool for as long as 24 hours. Check the manufacturer specifications and choose a model that works best for you.
- Shape and Size – The physical shape and size matters when it comes to portability and whether or not they can fit in your car’s cup holders. Some designs are slender and tall and can easily slide into your cup holder when on the go. Others are wider and more stable on the countertop. This is important in high-traffic areas, like an office setup, or a picnic table, since the wide base prevents tipping over when jostled or bumped.
Construction and Design
Apart from the physical construction, insulation is the primary objective in the construction of a thermal carafe. An insulation layer ensures there’s no cooling or warming of the fluid. It simply prevents heat loss or heat gain. In the scientific world, however, there’s nothing like “coldness.” Something can only have varying degrees of heat or lack of heat, if you will, for cold drinks.
Most thermal carafes maintain insulation around beverages through protecting against loss of internal heat by using variations in design. A double-walled structure is created with a space left between the interior and the exterior linings. The gap is then vacuum sealed by mechanically removing all the air and sealing it air-tight. This ensures that the rate of heat transfer is kept to a minimum, and this applies in both directions – from the ambient temperature of the room and from the temperature of the beverage. Extra insulation materials like foam can be stacked between the walls of some thermal carafes for even better insulation.
Performance and Ease of Use
Thermal carafes are pretty straightforward to use. If you frequently like pouring drinks with one hand, you’ll probably want a carafe that is designed for single-hand use. Such thermal carafes have automatic lids that open and close without using a lot of elbow grease.
As good as the thermal carafes are at maintaining the temperature of your favorite beverages, one simple way to keep your drinks cold or hot for longer is by ensuring that the drink is as hot as possible or as cold as possible when you pour it in. To cool your drinks to the lowest temperature without fear of freezing, set your refrigerator temperature to about 34 degrees Fahrenheit, or keep a thin container of plastic or glass in an ice bath for approximately one hour before decanting it.
Another helpful tip for keeping coffee at your desired temperature after brewing is to preheat the thermal carafe. This will prevent the beverage from losing heat when it enters the carafe. Every coffee-lover understands the concept of preheating, especially with serving cups. Cold cups can quickly suck up the warmth and cool down your coffee before it even gets to your lips. A thermal carafe can be preheated by placing it in hot water for about half a minute before you pour in your coffee.
In terms of cleaning, most thermal carafes are not dishwasher safe and will require manual hand cleansing. However, they are generally easy to clean, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
The right thermal carafe can keep your hot beverage from getting bland or cold all day. However, to get the right choice, there are some critical aspects to look at. For instance, double wall insulation can provide optimal heat retention for up to 12 hours for hot drinks and as long as 24 hours for cold drinks. With that knowledge in mind, it’s time to dive into our individual reviews and pick a model that suits your style and budget.
Founded 90 years ago, Zojirushi began its operation by launching a glass-lined vacuum bottle that set the industry standard for vacuum insulation technology in ordinary household products. The company has firmly established itself as a brand that uses innovative technology to bring ease, vitality, affluence, and comfort to the lives of thousands of its customers. Their range of products includes convenient and easy-to-use rice cookers, electric water boilers, elegant beverage dispensers, and various stainless steel vacuum bottles.
To continue with their philosophy of improving the quality of life of their customers, Zojirushi created a Stainless Steel Vacuum Carafe. The carafe has the ability to hold up to 51 ounces of coffee and comes in either a copper or stainless steel finish, that is bound to add a bit of elegance and class to your kitchen space. With the inside covered with a stainless steel liner, you are assured of excellent heat retention capabilities, 163°F for 10 hours or 136°F for 24 hours. Yes, your liquid will remain piping hot for 10 to 24 hours!
The Zojirushi Stainless Steel Vacuum Carafe has an extra-wide mouth (2 1/2"), allowing for a one-touch pour and ensuring that there are no spills or drips when pouring. Its pinch-release stopper allows easy removal! Even though this carafe is not dishwasher safe, the wide mouth enables easy cleaning and the stopper can be disassembled for thorough cleaning.
Hiware is a pioneer of e-commerce industry in international business, providing numerous products for global shoppers. With buyers from the US, Australia, Asia, and Europe, this online purchase channel boasts more than a million product listings from their factory. With the corporate mantra, “Trend-setting,” hirewares.com collects superior products and offers an excellent and fast online shopping experience for their clients.
Boasting a 68-ounce capacity (2-liters), the Hiware Stainless Steel Thermal Coffee Carafe has impressive heat/cold retention, thanks to its double-wall insulation. This carafe lets you enjoy your hot or cold beverage at your preferred temperature, 24 hours a day. Just ensure the lid covers tightly! And, with its decent and elegant appearance, this piece of art will surely decorate your kitchen and table.
Another notable feature of the Hiware Stainless Steel Thermal Coffee Carafe is its spill-proof design. You will be able to carry this carafe in your book bag, backpack, or anywhere else, without worrying about the content getting spilled. The opening design makes cleaning this appliance easier and, with a push-button lock, one-handed pouring is also made simpler. Also note that Hiware provides a two-year warranty – you are 100% guaranteed a refund or replacement if you are not satisfied with your product.
Founded in 1914, Alfi is a German company that began its operation by creating insulated containers. These products became so practical that a company that started very small grew quickly to become a worldwide premium brand. Their products are available in over 90 countries and have become indispensable to the catering business, hotel trade, and specialty retailers throughout the world.
As a show of their constant innovation, Alfi came up with the Gusto Glass Vacuum Insulated Carafe. This one-hand control carafe has a harmonious shape with a stunning, lacquered, plated, metal finish and splashes of color that are sure to enhance any ambiance. Choose from six colors including white, apple green, aquamarine, black, red, and space grey. This carafe is not only stylish, but practical and durable as well.
Designed by Martin Hauenstein, the Gusto Glass Vacuum Insulated Carafe is both functional and adaptable, and a perfect companion for any occasion. The best part is that this carafe has excellent temperature retention and insulation capabilities. Your hot beverages will remain hot for 12 hours and cold ones cold for 24 hours. The screw stopper ensures easy use, with just a few turns, and closing it is also a breeze. This thermal carafe is not dishwasher friendly and should not be immersed in water – clean the outside with a wet cloth.
Whether you’re planning to serve beverages at the right temperature on the go or at a party, a good-quality thermal carafe will keep your liquid cold or hot for several hours. We’ve reviewed small models that are convenient for someone on the go and larger-capacity models for meetings and parties. Hopefully, you found the best thermal carafe from our top picks. If you didn’t, feel free to sample other alternatives from these same brands.