The Braun KF-187 is loaded with features like a small-batch button, adjustable hot plate temperature and shut-off time, and includes a gold-tone filter
Negative Product Points
However, the flavor select brewing system is flawed, resulting in a dilluted cup.
I have heard for years that the Braun FlavorSelect KF 187 is a top-rated coffee maker, but never needed a 12-cup unit. I had been using the Krups Aroma Control with the thermal carafe for a while, but grew tired of losing 10 degrees for lack of a hotplate.
Also, the carafe and its lid take extra time to wash and dry, and there are parts in the filter basket that can never be cleaned throroughly. However, the Krups does make a fine small or medium-size serving because it briefly soaks the coffee in the basket before releasing it into the carafe.
I was looking for a 12-cup hotplate machine I could use to brew a decent 4-5 cups for myself, then max out for guests. With proven high water temperatures and a small batch switch, I thought the Braun would be up to the task. I should have paid closer attention to the reviewer who said it is not.
The Braun KF 187 is well designed overall and loaded with features. It has a wide water reservoir opening, and the filter basket stands upright on the counter when transferring beans from the grinder. The carafe and its lid separate easily for cleaning. The spring mechanism in the filter basket that activates the pause and serve feature is precisely engineered, so the carafe doesn't need to be forced on and off the hotplate.
The 1-3 cup switch ensures water is properly heated before being released over ground coffee, and the adjustable hotplate temperature is a nice touch. The hotplate can be set to turn off after 20 minutes. There are features I would never use, like the programmable brew timer and water filter. The five-beep coffee ready signal is truly annoying - as bad as hearing a second alarm clock go off in the morning.
However the most glaring deficiency is that the FlavorSelect brewing system is flawed. I couldn't figure out why this machine required more coffee and a finer grind just to approach the full flavor afforded by my Kitchen Aid four cup, Black and Decker Brew-n-Go, and the Krups. With the flavor selector set on robust the brew was weak.
I checked the water temperature and found it to be over 190 degrees. I thought that because I wasn't using the water filter, water may have been passing through the machine (and ground coffee) too quickly. I installed the filter and got the same dilluted cup.
Then I discovered that even with the flavor selector on its strongest setting, water was trickling from the diversion spout at the edge of the filter basket. This is how a strength selector works: more or less water is diverted around the ground coffee in the basket.
I did a test run of 4.5 cups and captured nearly a quarter cup of hot water coming from the diversion spout when set on robust. Brew a whole pot and figure you're dilluting your coffee with at least a half cup of water.
I called Braun and they said this is normal operation. Then I took another look at the box and saw this described (with an illustration) as the Multi-Path Brewing System for "even saturation". Bogus. For even saturation drip all of the heated water ON the ground coffee.
I will be sending the FlavorSelect back. I will not increase the amount of coffee and grind to overextraction just to take advantage of the features offered by the Braun. I can't comment on the durability of this machine. If you like to adjust the strength of your brew, this full-featured unit may be for you.
I'll be taking a look at the Krups Premium, and avoiding any machine that has a brew strength selector. Meanwhile, I'll return to the little Kitchen Aid - a great four-cup machine.
Ordered by phone at theessentials.com and got free shipping around holiday time. The KF 187 was $10 cheaper at Amazon, but they were out of stock and you can't get anybody on the phone there.