Top critical review
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Good, but not for a coffee enthusaist
on December 11, 2011
Let me firs say, I used to work for Starbucks and was a Coffee Master. I am a bit of purist so I grade a machine a bit harder than the average joe.
What I love:
Cuisinart is one of the few companies that makes a coffee maker that brews at 190 degrees. (This is important because the flavor from your beans doesn't fully extract if the water isn't hot enough. This is usually one of the differences between a cheap coffee maker and a more expensive one. Cheap makers will heat the coffee hot with the hot plate, but it did not "brew" the coffee at the temperature it eventually gets to.)
It doesn't leak and the light when you fill a mug is a nice feature. All the parts come out for easy filling, rinsing, etc. YOu won't be able to put this under a cabinet though because the top still has a lid that would be blocked.
No leaks if the inside over flows or spills either! Any internal overflow drains into the drip tray which is a very nice feature.
The spray head is one of the best I've seen. It fully covers all the coffee grounds. It also brews a whole pot in about 7 minutes without flavor loss. (Machines that brew too fast usually don't get all the flavor out of coffee. Bunn for instance, brews a pot in just 3 minutes and at the right temperature, but the water is forced through too fast and doesn't have enough contact time with the coffee. Coffee is a bit like tea in that it does need to steep a bit, just not nearly as long unless using a French Press, the best method of brewing but the most inconvenient.)
It comes with a permanent flat filter, which saves you from buying one or paper ones. However, and this is a picky issue, cone shaped is much better. The coffee and water contant better with cone and make a better cup. Cuisinart generally uses only cone shaped for that reason, but the design of the machine doesn't allow for that unless they'd make it taller, and it's already almost too tall.
The design is a nice addition to your kitchen counter, and it looks better in person than it does in the picture.
What I don't like:
I was led to believe when the redid this model that the chamber inside was thermal and used "soft heat" to keep the coffee hot for up to four hours. (Soft heat isn't hot plate hot, but keeps just enough each to help a thermal unit stay hot far longer without scorching) This is NOT at all the case. The inside is just a plastic tub with a big hot plate in it. So if you are like me and you hate "baked" coffee that's been on the heating element too long, you won't be happy with the taste of the coffee after the first hour or so. (I'm one of those people who despises mircowaving coffee because it breaks the coffee down and turns it into awful, syrupy sludge... this is also why I generally go with thermal carafes.)
The Coffee Gage is useless. Because there is no carafe, that gage that looks like a gas gage is really needed. With a carafe, you can either see or feel by weight when it's low. I have exchanged this model twice because it doesn't work, and it's going back a third time (and probably for good.)
If you have a household that can tear through a pot of coffee quickly, then this would probably be a great machine for you. With no disrespect to the Folger's drinkers of the world, this machine would probably also be a good fit for you. If you are someone who spends the extra money on better gourmet coffees, this machine will not be your friend. Your first cup or two will be fabulous, but it's will be burnt and gross soon after from the heating plate inside. After this time, you can't tell if you brewed a nice Citusry African, an earthy Indonesian, or cheap Chock Ful O Nuts. It's just burnt sludge.
Maybe next time they update this model, they will spend a little extra effort on the coffee tank inside that replaces the carafe. It's plastic, and the heating element will give a plastic taste over time too. You also have to be careful when taking out the tank because it will burn you if you don't use the cheap plastic handle to lift it out.
Had they made a thermal tank inside with soft heat, I would be giving this 4 stars (it needs a gage that actually works to get 5.) The old model had a cut out in the front to physically show you the coffee level, and something like that would have been better, especially since the coffee isn't enclosed in a thermal housing.
I do recommend Cuisinarts machines with the thermal carafes. They do a great job of holding heat, especially if rinse them with hot water before brewing.
Someday, someone will make the ultimate carafe-less machine... but today is not that day.