Rockin' good looks but low brew temperature make this reasonably priced drip brewer a disappointment.
Positive Product Points
Model # 2350 - This beauty caught my eye when it was on Coffeegeek.com Christmas gift list. When the Christmas craziness was over, I started researching this gem. Here's what I discovered: Solid all die cast aluminum housing makes for stylish looks. This modern design has dual heating elements, one for the warming plate and one for the brewing element. The warming plate temperature is adjustable and the brew strength is adjustable as well. A #4 cone filter makes for a 3 - 10 cup pot of coffee. There is a movable piece of plastic on the filter cone. This tab can be used to lock the carafe in while brewing and support the filter cone upright on the counter. (Nice little touch.) The water reservoir is right up on top for easy filling. The cup marks are accurate - what you put in, is you get out. You can brew from 3 - 10 cups (these are the coffee industry 5 oz cups).
Auto drip stop, pour while brewing ability.
The biggest strength of this brewer it that the water brews at 197F (measured personally). As a result of this, my home roast, fresh ground coffee extracts at just the right temperature.
Negative Product Points
I wouild like to have seen a vacuum carafe instead of the glass carafe. However, since I brew just the amount I use, coffee on the warming plate is not a problem. If I do brew more, I use a stainless Thermos to keep the coffee hot.
The machine is a little light up top and I brace the machine with my free hand when pushing on the filter cone. This is why I rated the quality at 9 instead of a 10.
Out of the box - This product came well packed and the product box is informative, explaining who/what/when/where Villaware is. The contents are well packed.
Set up was easy and intuitive. (Duh, it a drip coffee maker!) I read the manual and it never uses the term #4 for the filter size and refers to a 1"x4" filter. Not being familiar with cone filters, this took a little research to get it that the 1x4 and #4 are the same size. The filter folks use #4 and not 1x4. Also, the manual did not explain the support tab on the filter cone and I discovered this after a couple of weeks. Until then, I was complaining about the fact the cone wouldn't stand up by itself.
First use - After a couple of runs with plain water, it was time to try a pot of coffee. I do have a vac. pot and really like the coffee out of a vac. pot, BUT, I do enjoy the ease and convenience of a drip brewer. (And of course, not much beats my Isomac Tea for espresso.)
First up, I brewed 10 cups. Brew time was around 10 - 12 minutes. The time is dependent on grind and how you have the strength adjustment set. I chose the middle #3 position (Lite or #1 through Dark or #5) and the same grind setting I use for my vac pots. The coffee came out full of aroma and a little dark for my taste on drip. I have since used a little courser grind and still leave the brew setting at 3. I guess this comes from keeping all things constant and changing the grind on my Mazzer Mini when making espressos.
I then made my usual 4 cups which really is enough to fill my vacuum travel mug. This came out really good.
One thing to note is that the water reservoir is right up top on the machine. It is east to see, fill and clean. It actually adds to the visual appeal of this machine.
This machine makes really good drip coffee. Why? Before getting another drip brewer, I started exploring proper brew temperatures. One of the things I discovered is the "sweet spot" for brewing is 192F - 197F. Machines that use only one element for warming and brewing often don't have enough juice for hitting this brew temperature. I measured the temperature of the water coming out of the Villaware and it is 197F. I had real hopes that this would be the case because of the dual heating elements and it is!
The result of the proper brew temperature is a proper extraction of the coffee. This produces a good cup of coffee for a drip brewer.
I have used this brewer for several weeks now and am still pleased with its performance. It's a drip coffee maker. They have the specs right so it does what a good drip brewer does - make coffee fast and convenient.
Specs - UL Listed, 750 watts, 120 volts, 60 Hz, Size (HxWxD): 17.25" x 9" x 9.5, Made in China, shipping weight 7.7 pounds.
I bought this from Kitchen and Home Gadgets off the internet. (http://store.yahoo.com/dotcoms/diecascofmak.html) The ordering was easy as they are tied in with Yahoo shopping. This vendor has high marks with Yahoo and Bizrate. The 1 -2 days to shipping didn't hold and after a week I e-mailed them wondering about my order. I received a prompt (same day) note back saying I would recieve shipping/tracikng information in a few days. 2 days later and I received notice. 5 days for shipping (+ one extra due to the bad weather on the east coast - not Kitchen & Gadgets fault) and I had the brewer. I would do business with them again.
Three Month Followup
See one year followup...........
One Year Followup
After a year, I have replaced this maker. What I thought was a machine that brewed coffee at the proper temperatures turned out to be a disappointment. It really brewed coffee at the lower temperatures of most of the low end drip makers.
It did look good but the stream stop device broke off and could not be replaced. That was all I neded to replace this pretty but inefficient brewer with a machine that brews hot and keeps the coffee hot in a thermal stainless carafe. I recommend spending a little more and getting a Capresso CoffeeTEC or MT500 if you really want a drip brewer that will make coffee at the correct temperature.