Category Archives: Coffee Makers

Crew Comparison: Chemex Ottomatic vs. Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup

How Does It Compare?

If you’re looking for hands-off brewing, then you’ve come to the right place. Sit back, relax and let the Chemex Ottomatic and Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup take the reins. The Bonavita Brewer acts like your typical drip brewer but the Chemex Ottomatic has branched off from the norm and married pour over with automatic functionality. What does that mean, you ask? Basically, the Chemex took their iconic carafe and created a brew system that pre-infuses and blooms coffee as you’d perform for a pour over. Traditional drip coffee makers feature a continuous drip and usually don’t pause to allow the coffee to bloom, which is the case for the Bonavita Brewer.

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The Chemex Ottomatic with the Chemex Classic Coffeemaker Series carafe.
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The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup features the updated stainless steel-lined carafe.

How does the taste compare? We were curious if the Chemex’s innovative automatic pour over would create a different tasting cup. Using a fresh bag of Zoka Coffee’s Tangletown Blend, we brewed a pot on each. Our first thoughts were the taste was the same. After a couple of sips, Gail noticed that the coffee from the Ottomatic was smoother while the Bonavita had brighter acidity. The bottom line is both brewers make a similar cup.

Brew

Now that we know the coffee tasted similar on the Ottomatic and Bonavita, we wanted to understand the brewing processes. The Chemex Ottomatic is a new way to brew and it does it rather elegantly—dinner and a show! There’s no clunky basket obscuring your view of the brewing process; you can see the brew head gently dispenses hot water and pauses occasionally to allow the grounds to bloom. With all that pausing on the Ottomatic, it took roughly seven minutes to get our coffee. The Bonavita Brewer got us a cup in five and a half minutes since it continuously drips. Bonus: The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup (model BV1900TS) is also SCAA certified, which means it went through rigorous testing on brew time, temperature, and overall quality.

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The Ottomatic’s shower head evenly wets the grounds and pauses to allow coffee to bloom.

Another well-known brewing step called pre-infusion is featured on both machines. The Ottomatic automatically pre-infuses before brewing, which we appreciate if it’s truly trying to replicate pour over. The Bonavita, however, needs to be manually started. So grab your manual! While it’s arguably not difficult to turn on, it’s not intuitive either. To turn it on, you press and hold the power switch for about five seconds (or waiting until the light flashes) then release and press it again to engage. The Bonavita will be in pre-infusion mode until you turn it off again—another press and hold situation. See? Not bad but we just skipped all the hullabaloo and went straight to brewing, which didn’t fully utilizing a great feature on the Bonavita.

Use this button to turn on and activate the pre-infusion.
Press and hold this button to activate the pre-infusion feature.

Brains

They might brew up the same cup, but they don’t think the same way. Besides the different brewing methods, the Ottomatic features a hot plate that’s automatically turned on after brewing. The carafe gets pretty toasty and pour over fanatics might scoff at the heating element—you know, we sort of turned our nose to it too. It’s great when you’re moseying around in the morning, grabbing a cup of coffee here and there, but if you accidentally leave the house—the Ottomatic won’t turn off. We tested it ourselves with a full carafe and gave it five hours to turn off. When we came back it was still on and the coffee was ridiculously hot. Why Chemex left out the auto shut-off is mind boggling. They included so many brainy automated pour over features in the brewing process that we expected the full automatic deal.

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The Ottomatic features a hot plate that turns off after brewing. The red light signals that it’s brewing.

The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup also switches off brewing—which we’ll add saves your boiler—and simply turns off. Thank you auto shut-off! There is no heating element, instead, it comes with a thermal carafe that can keep your coffee warm for about an hour give or take. For the best results, you’ll want to remove the basket and twist on the lid that comes with it. Speaking of the carafe, you might notice the new carafe is stainless steel lined. Bonavita has discounted the glass-lined and introduced this model instead. The coffee’s still hot and flavorful with the new carafe so it gets high marks from us! Overall, the brains of the Bonavita are not glamorous, but it’s practical and sufficient for getting a cup of coffee. And the Bonavita eliminates worrying about forgetting to turn the coffee pot off on hectic mornings.

The Bonavita's new stainless steel-lined carafe keeps coffee warm for about an hour.
The Bonavita’s new stainless steel-lined carafe keeps coffee warm for about an hour.

Beauty

Chemex is renowned for its elegant designs. The carafe’s iconic hourglass shape paired with the wood and leather makes a beautiful statement piece in your home. The history and following of the Chemex Classic Coffeemaker alone make it desirable. Looking at the Ottomatic brewing system without the carafe, the matte black and chrome will complement modern kitchens. It’s compact, smooth and designed to be seen from any angle—we had it lined up next to our Technivorm in the kitchen and then swung it around with the cord against the wall, it looked great either way. The one downside to its design is the plastic water reservoir, brew head, and hot plate surface. It cheapens the overall design of Chemex and one of the appeals of Chemex is the high-quality materials used in the carafe.

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The Ottomatic doing what it does best—making a pot of coffee.

The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup is wrapped in brushed stainless steel and matte black like the Ottomatic. And just like the Ottomatic, the water reservoir, brew head, and basket are plastic—but were you expecting something else from a conventional drip brewer? Technivorm’s coffee makers are nearly identical in the overall structure and feature a stainless steel body with plastic brewing components. It’s a look that works and the materials function to make a good cup of coffee—plus, the Bonavita is SCAA-approved—so you know this coffee maker holds ups.

 

The plastic components, such as the reservoir, are expected on a conventional drip coffee maker such as the Bonavita Brewer.
The plastic components, such as the reservoir, are expected on a conventional drip coffee maker such as the Bonavita Brewer.

Conclusion

Coffee is the most important feature you could ask for in a coffee machine and both machines deliver a robust cup. If you’re looking to replace your old, worn out drip brewer, then you’re probably not looking at the Chemex Ottomatic; it makes a great cup but you’re purchasing a coffee maker like the Chemex for the iconic design. The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup may be the least unique coffee maker on the market but its stainless steel body will look uniform with your stainless steel appliances—and the SCAA certificate pinned on it easily elevates its position.

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The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup (model BV1900TS) is SCAA certified, which means it’s been rigorously tested for brew temperature, time and overall quality.

Top Five Coffee Makers For Mom

We rounded up the best-of-the-best Mom-approved coffee makers. Between balancing making breakfast and ushering children out the door, Mom’s got to have some fuel—some caffeinated fuel we like to call coffee. These machines are ready to tackle Mom’s busy life and deliver a deliciously smooth cup of coffee. And these wouldn’t be true coffee makers for Mom without some features for the whole family. We’re all about giving kids espresso and a puppy—just kidding, but really some of these coffee makers can whip up creamy hot chocolate for the kids.

Jura Ena Micro 1 Automatic Coffee with the Breville Milk Carafe

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Jura Ena Micro 1 features a tall cup clearance that easily fits a travel mug.

Now this is one tall drink of water. For busy SuperMoms, the Jura Ena Micro 1 is fit with a tall cup clearance and capacity to fill a travel mug so Mom’s out the door with hot coffee in hand. Three programmable buttons make a sturdy lungo, ristretto or espresso and it’s all fresh, ground on-the-spot coffee. No pods or capsules here.

Pair the Breville Milk Carafe with the Jura Ena Micro 1 for a creamy latte.
Pair the Breville Milk Carafe with the Jura Ena Micro 1 for a creamy latte.

We paired the Jura Ena Micro 1 with the Breville Milk Carafe for Mom’s craving lattes and kids begging for a hot chocolate. The temperature control allows Mom to adjust the temperature a bit hotter for her latte and cooler for those little one’s fragile mouths. The Carafe also holds three cups, enough for all the kids to get a glass—no “me first” necessary!

Chemex Ottomatic

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The Chemex Ottomatic marries pour over with a drip coffee maker for the best of both worlds.

Moms are stylish, sophisticated and deserve a luxurious cup of coffee. The Chemex Ottomatic is all those things and more for Mom. Design with polished chrome and matte black, the brew system will complement the family’s kitchen appliances. The iconic glass carafe with the earthy wood and leather tie neck, on the other hand, will showcase Mom’s elegant taste.

The Ottomatic marries pour over with the automated functions of the dripper thanks to the brew head that regulates hot water to bloom and brew—essentially the cabana boy of coffee. Once it’s out of water, it’ll engage the hot plate to keep the coffee warm. So go ahead Mom, wrestle those kids into school clothes while making their breakfast and grabbing their backpacks, the Ottomatic will handle your pour over coffee for you.

AeroPress

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AeroPress’ compact design makes it an ideal traveling companion.

If you don’t already have one, the AeroPress will become a must-have for busy mornings. The rich, smooth flavor is savored by coffee professionals and professional Mom’s alike. The AeroPress only requires a bit of your time to add hot water, stir and plunge. That’s all there is to it. It’s so compact, Mom can easily pack it in her purse and take it to-go—all you need is ground coffee and hot water and you’re making coffee in the back of your van during soccer practice.

Breville Oracle

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The Breville Oracle offers manual and auto options so any level of barista can give it a go!

The Breville has a little something for everyone and it’s so easy to use the whole family can become coffee connoisseurs. The Oracle features a built-in grinder and tamper that can be adjusted for the perfect cup of joe. The digital display makes it easy for everyone to change it up to their preferences! Now twist on the perfectly tamped portafilter to the brew head and watch it create delicious espresso.

For anyone looking to add a little dairy to their drink, frothing steamy milk has never been easier with the Oracle’s steam wand. Set the wand to auto and adjust the temperature and let it do all the work. Prefer to get a bit barista-y? You can also froth it yourself and control all the milk steaming parameters. After steaming, push the wand back into place and it’ll auto-purge the milk for you! Fresh hot chocolate, anyone? With this impressive technology, you’ll never have to question if the kids properly cleaned the machine again.

The Ultimate Mom Machine: The DeLonghi PrimaDonna Exclusive ESAM6900.M Espresso Machine

The DeLonghi PrimaDonna comes with two carafes for Mom’s lattes and the kids’ hot chocolate.

The PrimaDonna will take center stage at your household once the kids discover Mom’s espresso machine can make hot chocolate! The PrimaDonna comes with a special carafe that whips chocolate mix with milk so all you have to do is fill up your kiddos’ cups. Put the carafe full of chocolate milk in the fridge and insert the second carafe for Mom’s latte. With one-touch technology, lattes are made right in the cup so Mom can kick her feet up as the PrimaDonna does all the work for once. When the bellies are full and the carafe’s empty, stick it straight into the dishwasher to breeze through clean up (now only if it did the laundry too).

Crew Review: Chemex Ottomatic Coffeemaker

How Does It Compare?

Introducing the iconic carafe to an automated coffee brewing system was probably the most ingenious move for Chemex. The Chemex Ottomatic Coffeemaker showcases the elegance of their pour over carafe alongside the unbeatable convenience of a dripper. But this is no ordinary dripper—the brew head on the Ottomatic pulsates with hot water to equally wet and bloom grounds for even extraction. When it’s done brewing, the Ottomatic switched from brewing to heating the hot plate, adding extra cushion for you to secure a hot, freshly poured cup.

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The Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker is the other brewing system that combines pour over with automatic functionality. The main difference here is the Ratio has no plastic components and doesn’t include a heating element to keep the coffee warm. Of course, the other noticeable difference is that the Chemex is much narrow and fits easily on the counter than the Ratio’s tall and round design. For our kitchen, the Chemex and Technivorm were designed more ergonomically to fit in on our counter. Check out our Crew Review above to see for yourself! 

Brew

The Chemex Ottomatic proved that speed wouldn’t be an issue. When we turned on the Chemex, it took about 45 seconds before the brewing cycle started. It brews between 15 to 40-ounces and while we can fit the smaller carafes under the brew head, make sure you add the right amount of water—we may have accidentally overfilled the carafe.

ChemexOtto_4

The stainless steel shower head evenly distributes the water, while the pulsing brew head helps achieve what you’d want from a pour over—a soft, steady flow of water with interruptions to keep the coffee blooming and extracting. The Chemex Ottomatic can brew up to the eight-cup carafe and when you think about it, it would be so time-consuming to stand around to pour for those larger carafes, so thank you Chemex!

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Brains

Once the Ottomatic is done brewing, it switches the heating element on under the carafe, keeping the coffee warm indefinitely (or until someone switches the brewer off, a major con for forgetful people). The heating element has divided us between labeling it a pro or con of the machine’s functionality. Our coffee connoisseurs relish a freshly pour cup of coffee and the heating element would overheat and potentially burn the coffee, essentially ruining the flavors. For the rest of our less indulgent connoisseurs, we love the convenience of going back cup after cup to warm coffee and can still enjoy the flavors that develop through pour over.

To back-track what we mentioned earlier, the heating element doesn’t turn off after it’s engaged. This machine is purely on and off. We tested it out and found the coffee to be extremely, even borderline, hot a few hours after brewing. So in conclusion, this machine needs to be monitored at all times when it’s turned on.

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Beauty

The Chemex Ottomatic comes with the shapely, hourglass carafe and is a welcomed sight for many coffee lovers. People recognize Chemex by their sophisticated design. The wood and leather tie around the neck add homey texture. If you’ve never owned a Chemex in any form, we highly recommend adding this timeless beauty to your kitchen.

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When it comes down the design of the Ottomatic, Chemex elevated their style with an equally elegant and sophisticated system. The polished chrome and matte black will complement modern homes effortlessly and we adore its smooth shape. The Chemex Ottomatic also has a plastic reservoir, so people looking to brew coffee without plastic will need to look elsewhere. We were surprised it had plastic, but we didn’t have that nasty plastic taste, so give the Ottomatic a chance. Alternatively, you can check out the Ratio Eight Edition, which features similar functions to the Ottomatic, but with no plastic and different style. The evolution of pour over has certainly caught on and we’re ecstatic that the Chemex Ottomatic is everything we wanted and more.

Crew Review: Rancilio Silvia M

Say hello to the latest version of Rancilio’s Silvia, the Rancilio Silvia M. Like it’s predecessor, it features an all-over stainless steel body, traditional steam wand, and non-pressurized portafilter, but with some technical (and rather handy) upgrades. Check out the Crew Review video below to see the new additions at work.

Rancilio Silvia M

For those of you new to the Silvia, the machine features a traditional steam wand with a hot water feature and comes with a 58mm chrome plated brass portafilter—the same ones found on their commercial machines, so you know it’s good stuff—and stainless steel single and double shot baskets. It is a durable machine with equally reliable accessories, and we only recommend upgrading that plastic tamper for a metal-bodied one.

So, what has changed? The Silvia M has a new green “on” light. It may sound trivial, but as the machine is heating up, the orange light (directly below the green) will be on and then it’ll turn off. Since the green light will remain on, when the orange turns off it’ll be easy to see when your machine is ready to brew.

The Silvia M is still a single boiler machine, which means you’re steaming and brewing one at a time, so the two lights will help you temperature surf from steaming to brewing to get you ready to brew!

Inside the machine, there is a new the lead-free boiler and insulation wrap around the boiler. The heating element is still removable in case you do happen to get burnout, which will reduce the costs to fix it (but no worries there, our techs got you covered!).

In short, the heavy duty materials that make up the Rancilio Silvia M complement this hard-working single boiler machine and is for someone looking for control and quality in their espresso.

Crew Review: Breville Oracle

Who says you can’t have it all? If you want the control of a semi-automatic and the programmability of a superautomatic, then you’re in the right place! We have the Breville Oracle here ready to change the name of the game for semi-automatics.

Breville_Oracle

Let’s walk through making your morning cup. The Oracle has a built-in grinder and tamper—you heard right, this machine tamps for you—that are both adjustable using the beautiful digital display. What makes the Oracle a hybrid machine are the automated features. You don’t see this sort of programmability in a semi-automatic and that makes it easier to brew a quality shot and spend less time dialing it in.

Are you an Americano drinker? Behind the brew head, you’ll find the hot water dispenser ready to deliver a piping hot Americano (programmable, again, for a shot and amount of water at the same time!) or hot chocolate for the kids.

Like everything else on this machine, the steam wand impressed us with its programmable milk temperature and texture. The display makes it easy to choose and achieve that quality cappuccino foam or perfect temperature for steamed milk drinks. Don’t feel like steaming yourself? No problem! The steam wand has an auto steam option that’ll do all the heavy lifting for you. After steaming, the steam wand will auto-purge to keep your machine nice and clean!

Breville really thinks of everything for home brewers and that’s why we highly recommend this machine. Check out the full review below to see the Breville Oracle in action!

Comparison: Bialetti Stovetop Espresso

Stovetop espresso. What is not to love? It is easy to use, looks great on your countertop, and produces an intense cup of coffee! Bialetti is probably what comes to mind when you think of a stovetop espresso coffee maker. Does this look familiar?Bialetti Stovetop Espresso

Bialetti stovetop espresso coffee makers come in three different models! The first is the iconic Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker. With it’s art deco style, the Moka Express is easily recognized. It comes in 12 ounce size and is constructed out of aluminum. As with all the stovetop makers in this comparison, brewing is a breeze. Simply add your ground coffee and water, apply heat, and watch as your brewed coffee bubbles up!

Next up in our comparison of the Bialetti Stovetop Espresso makersBialetti Stovetop Espresso is the Musa. At just 7.25 inches tall for the 6 cup version, the Musa is small enough to stow away when not in use. The Musa is built out of stainless steel, so if you are adverse to the aluminum construction of the Moka Express, this would be an option.

Bialetti Stovetop EspressoThe Bialetti Venus Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker is the next in our comparison. Similar to the Musa with it’s  stainless steel construction and 2 size options, the Venus’s look is slightly more refined. Be sure to take a look at our Crew Review comparison video below to see how the looks of all three of these stovetop espresso coffee makers compare!

 

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Comparison: Technivorm vs Bonavita

What do you get when you take two SCAA certified coffee brewers and put them head to head? You get our latest Crew Review Comparison!

That’s right folks we have another comparison for you, this time it’s the Technivorm vs Bonavita coffee brewers! The key to a great cup of coffee is optimal extraction time and a perfect brewing temperature. This is where SCAA, the Specialty Coffee Association of America, steps in. Both of these brewers, the Technivorm Moccamaster KBT741 and the Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Maker, have been tested and approved by SCAA which means they brew at the ideal brewing temperature- between 195F and 205F.

Technivorm vs BonavitaThe Technivorm Moccamaster KBT741 stands 15 inches tall and it the taller of the two brewers in this comparison. The thermal carafe is double walled stainless steel. It will keep your coffee hot, without burning the coffee which can easily happen with a glass carafe and hot plate warming design. We tested how long this carafe would keep the coffee hot and after 3 hours the temperature had only decreased by 24 degrees. Still piping hot! The Technivorm does brew 2 ounces more than the Bonavita, with a maximum of 42 ounces of brewed coffee per pot!

The Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Maker has a great feature not found on Technivorm vs Bonavitaall coffee brewers. What is that feature you ask? Pre-infusion! The Bonavita will bloom your coffee, allowing the grounds to off gas before the brew cycle. The result is a more evenly extracted cup of coffee! Standing at just 12 inches tall, this brewer can easily be stored under a cabinet. We love how simple the Bonavita brewer is, one simple switch to  master! The Bonavita can brew up to 40 ounces of coffee at one time. The double walled stainless steel carafe cooled 26 degrees after 3 hours. So no matter which brewer you decide on, a hot cup of coffee you will have!

Be sure to watch the full Crew Review Comparison below! Want to subscribe? Click here and never miss a video!

Crew Review: OXO Barista Brain 9 Cup Coffee Brewer

Continuing our review of OXO’s latest line of coffee related gear, we took a closer look at the Barista Brain 9 Cup Coffee Brewer! Although this is the smaller cousin of the OXO 12 Cup coffee maker, the  Barista Brain 9 Cup brewer still has all the brains!Barista Brain 9 Cup

First and foremost, the OXO Barista Brain 9 Cup coffee brewer is SCAA certified. What does that mean? It means that this brewer is certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America to brew at the optimal temperature, between 197.6 degrees F – 204.8 degrees F. When looking at any coffee maker, temperature stability is something that should always be considered. While bells and whistles are totally awesome, properly brewed coffee is really what we want (and good thing this brewer gives us both)!

Speaking of bells and/or whistles, the OXO  Barista Brain 9 Cup has some! The beautiful digital screen allows for intuitive control of your brew. Like to wake up to the smell of coffee? Well now you can with the wake up timer control feature! Simply program the brewer to begin brewing when you want to wake up and voilà!

We think OXO did a great job with the design of this brewer. It looks great and brews up a hot cup of coffee! Be sure to check out our full Crew Review in the video below!

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Crew Review: OXO Barista Brain 12-Cup Brewer

We got to play with a new toy! That’s right folks, OXO has released a  a new coffee brewer- but it does a whole lot more than just brew coffee!

The OXO Barista Brain 12-Cup Coffee Brewer is the largest coffee brewer to be certified by SCAA. 12 cups is a lot of coffee! The OXO Barista Brain 12-Cup brewer features a design we have never seen before. The water tank doubles as a hot water kettle! Depending how you have the kettle engaged, will determine if you will be brewing coffee or bringing up water for tea (or anything really!)

What really stood out for us was the microprocessor that is the brain in the Barista Brain brewing system. It monitors time, temperature and volume of the brewing cycle, which allows this brewer to deliver the perfect cup time after time. You can even brew a single serving,  leaving the extra water in the kettle. No more measuring (it does it all for you!).

The double walled stainless steel carafe keeps your coffee hotter for longer. We were really impressed with the design for both the carafe and the water kettle. Both were easy to handle, given their size, which made for seamless serving.

Check out our full Crew Review below! And don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and never miss a video!

 

Crew Review: Breville Grind Control

Grind Control to Major Tom

Grind Control to Major Tom

Take your coffee beans and get your caffeine on

Grind Control to Major Tom

….Now that we have that out of the way. We would like to introduce the latest from Breville, the Grind Control Coffee Maker! The next generation of the YouBrew Coffee Maker, with some excellent improvements.Grind Control

We all know that grinding your beans fresh is the most important step to great tasting coffee, which is why Breville put so much effort into creating the perfect internal grinder. This coffee maker features stainless steel flat machined burrs, which means they will be much more precise and sharp than the conical burrs on the old YouBrew machine.

The Grind Control allows for all the customization you could ask for.  Choose from eight different strength settings! Can anyone say good morning?! Brew a whole pot or just one cup, the choice is yours! The internal clock allows for auto start functionality (is there anything better than waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee?)

A little pro tip, be sure to pre-heat the stainless steel carafe, so that your coffee will stay hot as long as possible.  We are really impressed with this machine, you get a lot of control that you simply don’t find in other drip machines.

Check out the full Crew Review below! Are you subscribed to our YouTube channel? You can do so by clicking here, that way you will never miss a video! Thanks for watching!