In a world of molded plastic, lightweight, cool looking, low cost coffee makers, that are all starting to look like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Cuisinart Brew Central 1200 stands out, and apart. Not only is it resolutely boxey in shape, but it is clad in stainless steel – not stainless steel look alike plastic, the real thing.
It also exudes a quality feel in all respects, from the fit and finish of its controls, which are all “analog” in feel and lacking a welter of modes and digital settings, to the plastic base which somehow manages to look like “quality” rather than “cheap” plastic. The glides on the base allow the unit to be smoothly slid on the countertop, and the large top lid and interior plastic section also have a good feel and firm fit and construction.
The carafe is likewise solid in feel, with a large opening and well designed cover. Despite numerous attempts to pour recklessly, we have still not managed to drip all over the counter while pouring normally.
People seem to expect coffee makers to cost under forty-dollars, and many may balk at paying one-hundred or more for what is basically a straightforward machine. But this one is worth it.
But, how does the coffee taste? In short: as good or better than any “best” or “smooth” cup we have brewed with any other machine. At some point a machine can only contribute so much to the process, but this machine takes away less or intrudes the least on the natural process of adding steaming water to ground coffee and putting the result into a carafe.
You can do the same thing with and for less, but this machine is just so smooth in operation, and provides such a quality feel to the human doing the operating that the result is enhanced nevertheless.
We found that, like other reviewers of this machine there are a couple of points to get used to and watch out for:
The water pouring area is relatively small, in the right rear corner, and it does help to take the filter basket out before pouring, just in case you aren’t awake yet or get sloppy.
The filter basket is snuggly fit to the chassis of the machine, and must be pressed down all the way with a good thunk to seat it or else the carafe may not mate with the just in time valve correctly.
Although some reviews had commented that the top lid dripped when opened, we have-not found this to be the case. Perhaps it is a detail that has been fixed in production.
The two control knobs have a style which may or may not suit all tastes.
The interior, under lid area of the machine is all black, and without enough available light can take some practice to be sure of the topography of the filler/basket layout.
The machine come with a gold tone permanent filter, but for our taste the paper filters provide a better cup with this machine.
The replaceable water filter definitely makes a subtle but discernable contribution to the quality of the brew.
Some reviews have commented that the stainless steel fingerprints easily, but anyone with other stainless steel finish appliances, past or present, has probably gotten over the trauma of “stainless” not meaning “mark less” by now. The machine cleans up easily and well.
Finally, the non illuminated digital clock is pretty useless except in a well illuminated environment. A red illuminated LED readout would have been nice.
It’s worth noting that Sears sells a unit under its own brand name that appears to be identical to this model, except for the shape of the digital readout, and so although the Cuisinart name is on this unit for marketing purposes it would be interesting to know who the actual manufacturer is.
All in all this a great unit, and worth the average $100.00 selling price.