Excellent performance and workmanship justify its high price for those not on a tight budget.
Positive Product Points
An exceptionally well made machine that delivers 200 degree water to the brew basket and finishes a 12 cup cycle in under 7 minutes. It has a convenient front fill location and a built in water filter and operates in near silence until the brew finish chimes.
Negative Product Points
*There is no "pause" valve on the brew basket to allow removal of the carafe during the brew cycle. *For 3 Bens, they should have included the permanent gold filter as part of the package. *Water filters (good for 25 gallons, or 45 full pots, or about 4-6 weeks for most) are expensive at $12.95 from Kitchenaid.
OVERVIEW This is the KPCM050 model that has some minor upgrades to products reviewed previously including a 1350 watt heat pump and the redesigned carafe. The new carafe lid seems to have eliminated the problem earlier reviewers had with condensation and dripping. I purchased the KitchenAid brand gold/stainless mesh permanent filter (sold separately) and I have used it almost exclusively in lieu of paper filters. Also, my unit did not come with the extra warmer and carafe; those were sold seperately and I had no need for them. It is a handsome machine, and its elegant aesthetics are evident as set designers on the TV series NUMBERS used this machine in the show's FBI office.
DETAILS & FEATURES From the die cast housing to the heavy stainless brew basket and its fat handle, this machine lives up to its "pro" designation. The fit, finish, and quality are better than any other consumer drip coffee maker I have seen on the market. Of course, at 1 1/2 to 2 times as much as most of the competition, one should expect a high end machine.
The ProLine offers all the basic convenience features of modern consumer coffee brewers including a hot plate with 2 settings, a timer to track the time elapsed after the completion of the brew, and a program feature that allows you to start the cycle up to 24 hours in the future. Other bells and whistles include volume-adjustable audible alarms and visual icons for reservoir water level, brew finish, filter replacement, and an auto-shut-off at 2 hours. These features are pretty much wasted on me, as they probably are on most coffee fanatics. One common feature that's MIA on this unit is a valve on the brew basket to interrupt the outflow of coffee when the carafe is pulled from the warmer. This pause feature is also handy to keep stray drips off the warmer when pouring from the carafe. For me this is a relatively minor ommission, but for those who like to "steal" a cup in mid-cycle, this might be a real inconvenience.
There are some features I do appreciate, such as the built in water filter (now my Britta is reserved for drinking and other cooking) and the convenient, up-front location of the filler grate (no pulling the coffee maker out from under the cabinets to fill or brew). A note on the water filters: They are available at retailers who sell the ProLine appliances like Williams Sonoma and Whole Latte Love and direct from Kitchenaid at $12.95 each (yikes). However, one can purchase a 3-pack of Capresso Charcoal Filters, Model #4440.90 on line from Capresso direct or The Gourmet Depot for about $10 and they fit perfectly in the reusable plasic housing of the Kitchenaid factory supplied filter. Just carefully snap off the top and replace the charcoal element and snap the top back in place.
PERFORMANCE Using an instant read probe thermometer, I measured the water temperature as it is dispensed from the head. During the brew cycle, the initial water temperature began at 193 degrees F and at 2 minutes into the brew cycle had straight-lined to a peak of 202 degrees that it held through the remainder of the cycle. The entire cycle for a 12 cup pot took 6 minutes 40 seconds (from first drop exiting the shower head to 99% drip through--entire cycle from switch on to finish alarm sound was 0:8:05). Immediately after the brewing completed, I measured the temperature of the brewed product at 188 degrees. Normally I transfer the brew to a thermos for dispensing, but on two occasions I left the coffee in the carafe with the heating element on low and measured the temperature of the coffee after 30 minutes at 191 degrees.
As one would expect, a speedy brew time and 200 degree filtered water deliver a fine cup of coffee. My standard of comparison for taste is my French press. I brewed a 12 cup pot of my favorite roast in the new KitchenAid and compared it to the same roast ground and prepared in a 10 cup French press, and the results were quite favorable. The press does deliver a subtly more complex flavor, and the ProLine brew seems overly bright and a bit thin in comparison, but these are minor points. The convenience and easy clean up of the KitchenAid make it a pleasure to use and it delivers a very satisfying product. For those that prefer an even brighter cup, use paper filters in lieu of the gold-tone.
After calling all over Dallas looking for this machine, I finally fournd one in stock at Williams Sonoma, in late January. As is typical for this retailer, the service was attentive and the salesman was knowledgeable. No discounts, but still a good value considering the quality of the retailer.
Three Month Followup
MAY 4, 2007 UPDATE I had to leave for work late today in order to make a meeting at my home and decided to check temperatures and brew times. After 3 months this machine shows no signs of water temperature drop or lengthing brew time. Still performing like new.