The Best Coffeemaker You Can Buy...Within Reason
Great coffee. Looks great. You can pour!
Price, but actually it's well worth it.
The Bottom Line:
An excellent coffeemaker. I demand you buy one. And one for a friend. They make great gifts! Not sold in stores! Errr...
I should say first off that I've had good coffeemakers, bad coffeemakers, and average coffeemakers. Anything that's not bad suits me just fine. My wife and I received a Krups thermal carafe version for our wedding, and that served the general purpose well for six years. It did the job, we were happy. We are coffee-aholics, but we aren't quite coffee snobs. We like the fancy stuff now and again, but we haven't quite gone over to 'L.A. Story'. We just want some coffee.
One day, I needed a new coffee-maker, and I did something quite bizarre... I read reviews.
I read reviews here, and at Amazon.com. This particular Cuisinart model had two things going for it before I even managed to start in on the reading. One, it was the most reviewed choice, thus I could weigh which reviewers were just loons, and which were fairly level-headed, yet disgruntled persons (among theoretical negative reviews of course). Two, it is really cool-looking. It is even moreso, by the way, on the counter.
There were a lot of negative reviews on this machine, but also a lot of positive ones. In the end, the positive reviews seemed to be written by a more fair-minded class. And, the major complaint I saw on the machine was that the fill-reservoir was A) hard to get to, and B) had no level measure of its own. As to the one problem, it has a hole you pour water into, what else am I really looking for in this area? As to the other, I fill the hole with water from the coffeepot, which does in fact have a level measure. Things on the complaint end seemed rather covered.
Now, the main negative (to me) this machine had right from the start was the fact that it cost $100. I like coffee somewhat more than the next person, but when there are many other choices struggling to get my attention that are half that much, or less, that's hard to overcome. It isn't that cool-looking.
That negative was solved at Amazon.com, because they offered a factory reconditioned machine (with 90-day warranty) for a bit less than half the normal price. That means we've got a slightly under $50 really cool-looking coffeemaker competing with incredibly uncool-looking coffeemakers which are only ten to twenty dollars less. Now we've got a game.
So, what else is going on with this particular coffeemaker?
It has a 12-cup carafe. That's actually quite important to me. More important than to many. Being that 12-cup actually means something like 2 or 3 cups of coffee, an 8 or 10-cup machine is right out. Also, this is a wonderfully elegant carafe. Easily the best-looking carafe of any coffeemaker I've ever had. It also has a really wonderful feature that is almost unheard of in the coffeemaker world. You can pour coffee out of it. Seriously, fast or slow, the coffee pours right out into your cup. It makes you almost certain someone was fired. I don't know about you, but every other coffeemaker I've had in my life required a certain 'learning the exact speed you can pour' period of adjustment. Not so here. Just pick it up and throw caution to the wind.
It also has a built-in, periodic replacement required, charcoal water filter. You can't stress the importance of this enough. Unless you're already using filtered or purified water to make coffee, a coffeemaker with a filter is a must. You can definitely taste the difference, and if your coffee, even when just brewed, has a bitter taste or any aftertaste, this could be your problem.
It has a self-cleaning setting, and it detects build-up so that it can tell you when you need to use it. At some point (theoretically, I haven't had it that long), the self-cleaning light will go on indicating that you should run a self-cleaning cycle. When this happens, you fill the reservoir with a mix of vinegar and water and run the special self-clean cycle which, according to the brochure, does something different than just turning the thing on. Wink. Wink.
You can adjust not only the auto-shutoff of the base heating element, but you can also set its temperature. This is really a great feature. You can set the temperature to low, medium, or high, and what you select should depend on how long your coffee is going to sit. It's the sitting and continually being heated that makes coffee 'old'. Those who use carafes will know that being actually old doesn't change the flavor. Thus, if your coffee is likely to sit and you set the auto-shut off for a long time (you can have it shut off any time up to 4 hours), you should set the temperature to low.
The machine also has the 'Brew Pause' feature, which is by now quite standard, so that you can get a cup while it is still brewing.
Now call me crazy, but that reservoir doesn't seem all that hard to get to. The top of the whole thing swivels up, and from the top you access the water filter, the reservoir, and the basket in which you put your filter and grounds. The basket pops right out, so that when you are changing the coffee you simply remove the whole deal and dump it. Pretty handy. The water reservoir is a bit small perhaps, but let's be honest here, this is using our 'pouring water' skill, right. We've either mastered it or we haven't, and there's no sense going about blaming coffeemakers.
The bottom line, after having it a couple of weeks, is that it makes great coffee, looks great, and is easy to use. I love it.
As for easy to use, let me clarify that a bit. What I'm referring to is the whole setting of the clock, setting the auto-start feature, etc. Setting the clock on some coffeemakers is along the lines of...
Hold down button A for two-seconds. Quickly push button B once the numbers on the clock start flashing. Now you may set the 'hour'. Hold down button A and button B for exactly five seconds, or until you hear a small 'chirp'. At this point the numbers on the clock may or not flash depending on which model you have purchased. When something happens that seems like it might correspond to setting the 'minutes' on the clock, you may err..., set them?
Now, to set the auto-start time, repeat steps 5-76 from the chapter 'Set the Time'. You will, however, need to reverse the order of the steps for steps 27-54. Also, it is advisable that between steps 73 and 74 you go and have a lie down. In fact, why not have a nice cup of coffee! Thank you for purchasing our product! Your credit card was approved!
The Cuisinart clock is actually very simple to set.
As you might be able to see from the picture, there are two dials, one on either side of a switch. These are below the stretched oval, which is the clockface.
There is a name for the type of switch this machine uses, but I don't know what it is. Toggle? Toggle-less? Gareth? Whatever you call it, it works like this. You set the dial on the left to 'Brew' and then push the switch up, but it doesn't stay there see, it just goes back to the center. When you've done that, the 'On' light goes on, and you're in business.
In the case of setting the auto-on feature, you set the dial on the left to Auto, and then flip the switch. At any point you want to turn things off, you flip/push the switch down.
Other features, such as setting the clock, setting the time for the Auto-on, setting the time for the heating element to switch itself off, etc., are handled by having the dials set at the appropriate spot. It's all very straight-forward.
I almost forgot (and with good, though personal, reason). This machine also has the much talked about '1-4 cup' feature, which means it brews in some special way if you want to make between one and four cups. That's coffeemaker cups mind you. I learned that this means it double heats the water. What on earth anyone would want to do with 1-4 cups of coffee I'll never know, but the feature is there for you if you want it. I mean, come on, 1?