Buying the girlfriend a coffee maker for Christmas, but I don't know what makes a good coffee maker. Suggestions, please!
It's probably not the fashionable answer but I use a Cuisinart CHW-12 and never have any complaints. It has a coffee brewer and hot water station and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. But I'm the kind of guy who just grinds his beans and makes a pot. If she's a serious coffee drinker, Bonavita and Breville both make really good, high quality machines.
My roommate and I used a coffee maker with an integrated grinder, which was a feature I didn't much care for; I found it a bit tedious to clean out the grinder part every time (as the coffee maker's internal moisture caused the grounds to get caked-on and gross), so I much prefer using a standalone grinder.
I know that's not a brand recommendation (I can't remember my brand off-hand), but hopefully it's useful advice if you end up considering one that has a grinder built in.
[Edit:] I found a couple of threads over on Tested's coffee forum you might find useful (as I was trying to find my own model)
Reusable filter and makes however much coffee you want (as long as you don't overfill the water reservoir). The one in our house has been going strong for 15+ years and my mom still uses it for her daily coffee. The only poor thing I can say about it is that the little plastic handle you use to get the filter out broke off like a year ago.
@epicsteve: I got my girlfriend a Keurig single serving coffee maker and she adores it. It actually makes really good coffee and is quick and easy with no cleanup. Depends on what you think she would like, but even I find myself drinking more coffee when I'm over at her place since it's so convenient.
The downside is that the KCups aren't cheap, but I also got her a couple of reusable filter cups that she can pack with her own fresh ground coffee, and even those work really well. If your girlfriend isn't a coffee snob this may be the way to go.
Does she like the taste of black coffee, or does she just need coffee as a pick-me-up? If she loves coffee, consider a french press and a grinder. A cheap start to get into the world of coffee as something to savor. Buy her a bag of whole beans, too, to set the precedent of not buying pre-ground coffee.
If she just needs a cup of coffee before leaving the house, take the advice of someone with a coffee machine they enjoy.
@epicsteve: Not enough information. It's like asking recommend me a game to buy. What kind of coffee does she drink? Does she care enough to actually have to work to make a great single cup of coffee, does she want to press a button and boom coffee, does she want a pot of coffee, does she want an espresso maker, how much are you willing to spend?
Aeropress is great but it doesn't really have to wow appeal to make a great gift. French press is classier but I prefer the cup of coffee an aeropress makes. I also think Tasimio is better than Keurig.
Go whole hog. Rancilio Silvia is widely considered the best personal espresso machine on the market. Or for a bit cheaper, you could get a Gaggia Classic which is also up there. My wife has the latter and a decent Gaggia grinder as well, but she's a coffee fiend.
Another vote for Keurig if you don't mind the price of the k cups (they do go on sale from time to time and Bed Bath and Beyond lets you use their coupons on them, so if you're a savvy shopper you can find the deals).
We also have a regular Cuisinart coffee maker like this one which I like a lot.
If you don't mind spending hundreds of dollars on coffee, I would suggest an automatic espresso machine. I bought a Philips Saeco Intellia a year ago and it's just a wonderful thing. You can make espresso, coffee, cappucino and everything in between. It's easy to clean, since it rinses itself and separate the coffee from the water after each brew. You can use beans or pre-ground coffee. The machine won't make the best espresso in town, but it's good enough.
If you just want a regular coffee brewer, Moccamaster make some of the best.
If you don't want to spend a whole lot, a french press, Don Pedro or aeropress are quite nice.