When you're shopping for a coffee maker, it's handy to know what features are available in typical machines so you can look for the bells and whistles that you need.
Pause n' Serve
A very popular feature that even the least expensive machines often have. You can remove the coffee pot before the brewing cycle is complete, without having coffee dribble all over the heating plate. The opening under the filter is low and touches the top of the pot. The valve closes when you take out the coffee pot.
The lastest thing in coffee making are pods. These little pre-packed discs of coffee grounds make coffee preparation a snap with no mess. Some of the newer models of coffee makers can take pods as well as regular loose coffee grounds.
This encompasses a variety of little features, such as LCD display screens, clocks, and a timer (a necessary feature, in my book). Another popular part of the controls package is the auto-off. A fabulous feature for absent-minded people who are tired of scorched coffee pots. Also, lighted buttons can be nice if you make coffee in the early (and still dark) morning. Easier on the eyes than lighting up the room to find the ON button.
Higher-end coffee makers have built-in water filters to take out any chlorine or iron tastes from your tap water. A nice addition, but it also adds extra maintenence and cost (replacing the filters).
Permanent Coffee Filter
Now, a permanent coffee filter is something that you can buy separately if your coffee maker doesn't come with one. I still consider it a feature. These fine-mesh plastic or metal filters are cheaper than paper in the long run, and are more environmentally friendly. People with delicate palates will notice an improvement in taste too. No paper flavour.
Integrated Bean Grinder
Not a typical feature, but you can buy coffee makers that have a built-in grinder. These types of machines will usually grind just enough coffee with each use, for the freshest brew around. You'll pay for this advanced feature though.