The KitchenAid 12 cup Ultra is a top notch auto drip machine
Positive Product Points
Produces a very good cup of coffee for an auto drip. Very easy to clean. Filter basket does not overflow when using fresh home roasted coffee and brewing the max cup capacity.
Negative Product Points
None. This machine is everything I had been looking for.
My wife and I seldom use an auto drip machine of this size, but we needed one for entertaining family and friends. My search for a good 10-12 cup auto drip started on the alt.coffee newsgroup. I have been roasting coffee at home for years, and my previous experience with large auto drip machines was not good. In my review of this KitchenAid machine I would like to inform people of what I disliked about other brands/models I tried.
My first attempt at purchasing a decent auto drip machine was a failure when I purchased a simple Braun Aromaster. Obviously this machine does not brew at the proper water temperature since the coffee was always just lukewarm and very dull in flavor just after completion of brewing. The KitchenAid machine produces a hot and very satisfying cup. I have not measured the water temperature out of the showerhead, but KitchenAid says it should be between 195-200 deg. The machine has a separate heating element for water and the warming plate.
The first failure led me to purchase a Philips 10 cup coffee maker from Target. The coffee this machine produced was a little better than the Braun, but it was also dull in flavor (I am comparing the coffee that these bigger machines produced to that of a 4 cup Melitta drip machine. The Melitta 4 cup is able to produce a very satisfying cup for an auto drip). After completion of several test pots of coffee, I found that the Philips machine was not wetting all the ground coffee in the filter basket. Instead, there was a large hole in the middle of the grounds that was in direct line with the output hole into the carafe. Although the KitchenAid machine has only one hole for the showerhead, it saturates all the ground coffee. This is evident after completion of brewing when it's time to dump the grounds. Back to Target went the Philips.
While returning the Philips machine I saw a Melitta FastBrew at Target. On the box Melitta (it is actually a Salton) advertises water temperature at 200 deg and a fast brew time. I inspected the machine that was on display and decided to try it at home. The coffee this machine produced was actually pretty good, but you cannot brew at the max cup capacity (7 grams coffee per cup) without water and ground coffee all over the kitchen counter and inside the unit's water tank. Even a 10 cup brew capacity resulted in ground coffee making it's way into the water tank. The Melitta is one of the many machines (including the Philips) that is designed to allow lifting of the showerhead for the filling of the water tank. This means there must be a somewhat flexible water cord from the tank to the showerhead that could pose a problem down the road. The Kitchenaid machine is not designed this way, the water tank has it's own lid and the filter basket is one of the swing-away types. I can brew the max 12 cup capacity of the KitchenAid using fresh home roasted coffee with no problems whatsoever.
The Kitchenaid is everything I was looking for in a 12 cup auto drip brewer. It's construction is top notch. The model I am reviewing has a 1-3 cup switch and allows you to see elapsed time after brewing is completed. Once I receive the gold filter for this unit from KitchenAid I may use it for my weekday morning brewing duties.