great design paired with great coffee making capabilities make this an easy choice: get one!
Positive Product Points
- Aesthically beautiful - Simple to use and clean - Coffee brews hot
Negative Product Points
- Hard to see water level - Replacement Charcoal Filter is expensive
This is the first coffee maker I've owned that's not free (Gevalia) or under $30. I did a lot of research on drip coffee makers and it came down to two choices: Technivorm Clubline or the Cusiniart Brew Central. Given the huge price difference I decided to go with the Cuisinart.
My Brew Central has worked flawlessly in the six months I have owned it. My first three months, I experienced coffee with paper filters and the included gold-toned filter. Both methods brewed much better cups of coffee than my previous Krups or Gevalia coffee maker. I got more body in the coffee and less of the acid taste that I was getting. And the coffee was still hot after adding half-n-half! And the first three months I was grinding coffee beans with my Target purchased Black and Decker Grinder but I am now using a Capresso Infinity to get a finer, more consistent grind.
Since I only brew coffee for myself, I only make about 4-5 cups at once. It was good to see that they added the ability to warm up the water for a 4 cup brew. I always turn it on but to be honest I don't know if there's much of a difference with it on or off. With it off, perhaps the coffee is a few degrees cooler but not enough for me to feel the difference.
The water reservoir as many have mentioned is not always the easiest to get to. However, in the six months I've used it I have had no problems with it. I just use the coffee pot to measure how much water to pour and then I pour away.
The quality of water of course makes a difference in a pot of coffee and having the option to use a charcoal filter is a good feature. I have always used the expensive charcoal filters but I'm going to stop using it for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference. I already use Brita filtered water so I'm not so sure the additional charcoal filter is necessary.
Currently, I'm using a Swissgold filter with my Brew Central and this definitely has made a difference in the brew taste compared to the included gold tone filter and regular paper filters. I do get a trace of coffee sediment but nothing like you would get with a French Press. I use very fine grinds which seems to help with the extraction of the flavors.
Recently, I saw a Brew Central version with a thermal carafe at William Sonoma. An in store test proved that it's the same machine but with a different carafe. I switched carafe's between the different display models and the thermal carafe fit perfectly inside the glass carafe model. Now my search is for a spare thermal carafe.
Clean up with this coffee maker is also a breeze. Whether you're using paper filters or the gold tone filters you simply open the lid dispose of grinds and you're ready to make another cup. There is quite a bit of condensation on the lid which I duely wipe up after every brew, but it may be compulsive behaviour on my part. And if you ever need to wash the filter basket, it's as easy as lifting it up using the tab on one end and you're done. This has been a very easy machine to clean and maintain.
Overall, it looks great in my kitchen and I love the coffee it brews. And I can't imagine that spending an extra $100 for a Technivorm would grant me that much better coffee. I like a great cup of coffee but I'm also frugal.
Bought from Bed, Bath and Beyond using a 20% coupon. It's now dropped in price probably due to the new version that is now out with a thermal carafe.
Three Month Followup
- still working as expected - self-cleaning works well - still not sure Charcoal filter is effective - timer works well and helps when you have to wake up at 4am!