Category Archives: Coffee Makers

Crew Review: Toddy Cold Brew System

How Does It Compare?

We’re always in the mood for cold brew! The Toddy Cold Brew System is one of our go-to brewers for making the perfect coffee concentrate. The magic of the Toddy is it requires little effort on your part and then does all the hard work (making your coffee) overnight. There are a handful of other cold brewers on the market, but there’s nothing better than the Toddy’s super-sized five-gallon commercial model—yes, five gallons! Both use the same convenient brew methods, but the smaller, counter-size Toddy feels at home in your kitchen whereas the big five-gallon would fit in just fine at a cafe or restaurant. Of course, you could always size up, but be aware that the commercial model uses different filtration system: a combination of a reusable mesh strainer and disposable filters. So when you upgrade, don’t forget your filters (trust us, you’ll soon be on a cold brew train that five gallons won’t be enough)!

The Toddy Cold Brew System makes about 48-ounces of concentrated coffee.
The Toddy Cold Brew System makes about 48-ounces of concentrated coffee.

Brew

Brewing with the Toddy Cold Brew System is probably the easiest things we’ve ever done. Measure out your coffee, add water (no waiting for it to boil) and brew for 12 to 24 hours. It makes about 48-ounces of coffee concentrate—the final product—and is designed to hold a pound of ground coffee and 72-ounces of water. Of course, you’re not drinking this coffee in a cup. Since it’s concentrated, you will definitely want to dilute it and that leaves plenty for more. In fact, Toddy estimates it makes about 32 (6-ounces) cups of coffee concentrate. It’s enough coffee that the Crew frequently has a Toddy steeping on the counter to caffeinate the whole office with enough for round two.

While the coffee steeps for 12 to 24 hours, the rubber stopper keeps the coffee in until it's ready to drink.
While the coffee steeps for 12 to 24 hours, the rubber stopper keeps the coffee in until it’s ready to drink.

What makes the Toddy so delicious is its efficient design. Created by Todd Simpson in 1964, the cold brew method removes “67% less acid” than hot brewing methods, according to Toddy’s website. The allure of cold brew is the deliciously smooth taste with less bite from the acids, so it holds up for us! Another important and sometimes forgotten factor in creating the smooth flavor is the Toddy’s filter (definitely don’t forget to put that in the Toddy). The filters are specifically designed for cold brewing to help remove the bitter acids and oils from the coffee. And for all you tea drinkers out there, we have good news for you—the Toddy is perfect for cold brewing tea too!

Beauty

One of the features we appreciate about the Toddy Cold Brew System is that it comes with a brew container and glass carafe. Once your brew has steeped for 12 or 24 hours, place it over the glass carafe and release the rubber stopper. The carafe makes it easy to pour a glass and store in the fridge for later—we recommend drinking it within two weeks—and eliminates trying to find the right container. Most importantly, since you can enjoy it for weeks, it stops the extraction process for that just right brew.

The Toddy comes with a brew container and glass carafe for serving.
The Toddy comes with a brew container and glass carafe for serving.

Unlike paper filters, the Toddy filters can be reused! Toddy recommends changing it out every 10 to 12 uses or after three months. The only catch is you’ll need to clean and store filters in the fridge or freezer. We recommend a good rinse, without soap, and squeeze out the water before storing. We typically toss ours in the butter holder so we can find it for next time.

While the Toddy’s white, plastic brew container won’t win any fashion awards, the ease-of-use and phenomenally smooth coffee more than makeup for looks! And the glass carafe is a nice touch. There are only a couple of design issues we have and those are 1. It doesn’t have a lid and 2. The handle is flimsy. We all know summer means bugs and it’s a bummer that without the lid, we could end up steeping flies along with our coffee. We usually cover the top with plastic wrap or foil to solve that issue. The handle, however, is too flimsy and we recommend using both hands to move the brewing container.

The glass carafe makes it easy to pour yourself a glass (or two) of smooth coffee.
The glass carafe makes it easy to pour yourself a glass (or two) of smooth coffee.

Conclusion

Cold brew is here to stay and we’re in love! The well-designed and affordable Toddy Cold Brew System makes it an easy option to add to your kitchen. And, as we mention above, if you need an upgrade, there’s a five-gallon commercial model available. Hands down, one of the features we appreciate the most is the Toddy’s reusable filters. These filters not only last for 10 to 12 uses (or three months, whichever comes first) but they help trap bitter acids and oils to create a smooth cup of concentrated coffee. And with about 48-ounces of concentrate to mix with, we bet there are plenty of amazing drink recipes out there.

What’s your favorite way to drink cold brew? If you got a drink recipe you love, share it in the comments below! We’d love to try it out.

Want to learn how to make better cold brew? Check out this Coffee On The Brain episode with Amber.

Crew Comparison: Chemex Ottomatic vs Ratio Eight Edition

How Does It Compare?

Everyone’s talking about the Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker and Chemex Ottomatic Coffeemaker, so we naturally have a Crew Comparison for you today! What’s all the buzz with these new coffee makers? These machines are a marriage of automatic drip and traditional pour over technique in a new brew method we’re calling automatic pour over. Both machines pre-infuse coffee and allow the grounds to bloom as you’d do for pour over making both a new class of brewer.

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The Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker features premium maple, borosilicate glass and aluminum casing to create one elegant machine.

One of the most debated topics we’ve seen between the Chemex Ottomatic and the Ratio Eight Edition is about plastic. We know the plastic debate is a big one in the coffee community and we hate to disappoint, but the Ratio Eight Edition does feature an internal plastic component. Before you stop reading this—we know some of you are die-hard no plastic fans—there’s a good reason for the component to be plastic. Plastic performs better when heated. Under the website’s FAQ section, Ratio mentions it is “FDA-grade silicone and a single BPA-free plastic component are used internally.” It’s clear that Ratio is dedicated to creating a high-quality product that people desire.

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Hello, Chemex Ottomatic Coffeemaker, you’re looking nice with an aluminum glow and matte sheen.

Brew

Both machine feature shower heads to evenly wet grounds for optimal extraction. The pulsing brew system allows grounds to bloom and rest before showering again. Back to our plastic debate, the Chemex Ottomatic is built with a plastic shower head whereas the Ratio Eight Edition is stainless steel. However, Chemex’s high-quality craftsmanship is not lost. The iconic hourglass carafe wrapped with the beautiful wood and leather tie sits delicately on the Ottomatic. The Ratio Eight Edition’s carafe is hand-turned from a heat-resistant glass as is the Chemex so both will withstand the heat.

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The Ottomatic’s shower head thoroughly wets ground to create even extraction.

Built with 40-ounce reservoirs, the Ratio and Ottomatic clock in at about seven minutes with a full tank. Ratio only offers one size carafe but we could totally fit any Chemex from a 3 to 8-cup carafe! If you wanted, you could squeeze your 10-cup under there, but remember the reservoir holds 40-ounce. Also, just so you don’t make the same mistake as we did, the Ottomatic comes with a 6-cup carafe, so don’t be overfilling your reservoir, if you like your coffee in the pot and not on your shoes. Fortunately, Chemex added intuitive markers to show the different water lines in cups.

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The 40-ounce reservoir holds enough water to fill the Ratio’s glass carafe.

Brains

Staying true to their automatic nature, the Ottomatic and Eight Edition perform all the handy work of pour over. Turn them on and let them brew! You can watch the lights on the Ratio as it takes your coffee from “Bloom” to “Brew,” which is a nice feature on an uncluttered interface. Both machines are incredible user-friendly since both only need to be turned on to start brewing. Oh! We should mention you can’t brew with the Ratio without their specially designed carafe. Ratio included a magnetic that engages the brew unit so you’ll never miss the pot again—keeping the coffee of your shoes.

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The Ratio features three icons with a soft white light to indicate the current brewing stage.

When the brew is done and the pot’s full of piping hot coffee, that when you’ll notice the machines start to differentiate. The Ratio Eight Edition automatically shuts off and a cool, white light shines above the “Ready” icon. Connoisseurs will enjoy the fresh and never overheated pot from the Ratio, but what about us busy folk? The Chemex includes a heating element to keep the coffee piping hot all day long—literally. The one downside to this convenient feature is it doesn’t include an auto-off functionality, which completely mystifies us since the Ottomatic has other tech-savvy qualities. The Chemex’s famous high-quality heat-resistant glass offers extra assurance if you leave it for a couple of hours, but just like your kitchen oven, don’t forget to turn the Ottomatic off when you’re done.

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The red light indicates that the Ottomatic is done brewing and is engaged in heating the hot plate.

Beauty

Easy on the eyes, both machines are a beautiful addition to a home brewer’s kitchen. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, the Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker is another elegant creation. It’s meant to be placed front and center in your kitchen and not hid between the pantry and plastic microwave. That’s where these two machines differ—the Ratio is built with premium hardwood accents, smooth aluminum body and borosilicate glass reservoir and carafe. The Ottomatic features aluminum design, but the shower head, body and water reservoir are made of plastic. The Chemex Ottomatic deserves love for its modern style, iconic carafe and lower price point—we often see the price as a hindrance when comparing machines, but in this instance, the plastic components compensate buyers.

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The light creates a soft glow on the aluminum brew head.

The iconic Chemex carafe is a staple of many home brewers and if it’s not already in your home, just look up #chemex in Instagram—you’ll quickly snag one of those elegant carafes. Chemex had to create an equally stunning machine for to match with their carafe and we think they hit the nail on the head. Crafted with a soft aluminum sheen and matte black, the Ottomatic is a sophisticated looking machine. Its sleek design smoothly integrates with the countertop and the salt and pepper look complements modern kitchen appliances.

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The Chemex Ottomatic comes with the 6-cup iconic carafe.

Thinking about the Ratio again, one thing we’ll add: The Ratio is designed to be the centerpiece of your dining room table like a family brunch. But trying to look over it will prove a bit challenging. It’s a massive machine that’ll quickly become the focal point in any room. With light maple wood arms and aluminum casing that glow beneath the chandeliers—people still have chandeliers, right—so we’re OK with it’s larger build. The Ottomatic’s smaller footprint and oblong shape are reminiscent of a Technivorm that could be placed lengthways against the wall or pulled out. Its style and size will easily incorporate into home brewers kitchen.

Conclusion

Side-by-side you couldn’t go wrong with either of these machines. Preferences in style and material will likely be the determining factor when choosing between these two. Glancing at the Ratio Eight Edition, the attention to detail, such as the two chambers in the reservoir that siphon water, is a testament to Ratio’s craftsmanship for coffee. The Chemex is there with Ratio with their iconic carafe that’s lasted through the ages. The recognizable hourglass shape and homey wood and leather tie create a look that’ll always be relevant. Whether you choose the Ratio or Chemex, if you’re looking for this new wave of automatic pour over coffee makers, we highly recommend either.

Crew Review: Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker

How Does It Compare?

Now there’s a handsome brewer! The Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker marries pour over with automatic functionality. We’ve categorized this coffee maker as a drip brewer, but we feel it deserves classification as an automatic pour over. What makes the Ratio stand apart from drip coffee makers is the automatic bloom cycles that occur during and just-right brew temperatures. We’ve seen this method of brewing on the Chemex Ottomatic, a fairly new machine too. Comparing these machines, pour over connoisseurs will take note of a couple important differences.

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To start, the Ratio Eight Edition performs a proper bloom that completely stops the flow of water for 30 seconds. The Ottomatic does the same, but occasionally water dribbles from the brew head for marginally earlier extraction than is intended. The Ratio also automatically turns off after brewing—no heating element here—so coffee is fresh and never overheated. Meanwhile, the Ottomatic’s hot plate design has no automatic functionality at all, continuously burning your coffee without end. Another pro, the Ratio Eight Edition only has one plastic component that is BPA-free and FDA certified for food-grade applications. Check out our Chemex Ottomatic Crew Review for in-depth pros and cons of the new Ottomatic.

Brew

You’re only seven minutes away from a full 8-cup carafe of crisp pour over coffee. Designed after the Fibonacci Spiral, hot water is evenly dispersed over grounds for equal extraction. Pour over connoisseurs will be happy to know that the pre-infusion and bloom process is about 30 seconds per pause. It’ll continue this process until it runs out of water and you have a whole 40-ounces to brew through, so it’ll take a few minutes depending on your grind. If you’re curious what grind setting to do on this new automatic pour over machine, we decided to use our standard pour over grind setting for the Ratio Eight Edition and found that setting was ideal. If the grounds were too fine, the coffee would overflow (yeah, that happened) and too coarse wouldn’t extract properly. We clocked the finished pot at about seven minutes with our grind.

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Brains

The Ratio Eight Edition is incredibly easy to operate. It has one on/off button at the front that automatically starts the pre-infusion and brewing process and is outfitted with lit icons that indicate where you are in the brewing process. For instance, “Bloom” is used for pre-infusion and “Ready” means the good stuff is served. You can press the on/off button again to stop your coffee, but once it’s interrupted you’ll have to start over.

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If you’re a bit forgetful, then you’re going to love these next two features. The Ratio includes a magnetic activator on the bottom of their carafe to engage the Ratio Eight. If it’s not there, then it won’t brew! Some people might view the special carafe as a double edge sword; it means you can’t use a non-branded carafe with the Ratio. If you’re not an 8-cup-a-day drinker, then you might find the large carafe a bit too much. Then, there are the clumsy people; fortunately for you, they sell the carafe separately if you happen to break yours.

Lastly, forgetful connoisseurs, there is no heating element on the Ratio Eight Edition. Once the reservoir is empty, the brewer turns off. We heard some complaints about the lack of the auto-off on the Chemex Ottomatic’s heating element, a similar machine to the Ratio, so we’re pleased to inform everyone that you don’t need to worry about the Ratio—rejoice! This also means that coffee-lovers don’t have to be concerned about the flavor of coffee after overheating on an element. It will be a fresh cup each time.

Beauty

Designed and assembled in Portland, Oregon, the Ratio Eight Edition is built from the highest-quality material. Its look says it all. Thick and tempered borosilicate glass is hand-turned for a smooth, seamless finish. The body is constructed from aluminum that reflects a rich sheen in the light. Being born in Oregon, the Ratio Eight Edition included premium hardwoods such as the maple found in the Silver Edition we carry.

Ratio_water

Its footprint leaves a lot to be desired. It’s a massive machine that’s designed with a wider base and arms that extender ever so slightly off the side. It’s a coffee maker that’s meant to stand out; it’s not meant to be situated next to a microwave or fridge. The hope is that an owner of a Ratio Eight Edition will treasure it’s elegant curves and edges no matter the size.

Conclusion

While we’re discussing high-quality material, the price tag is a frequent topic with a machine of this caliber. It’s nearly twice as expensive as the Chemex Ottomatic, so why would you purchase this machine? For starters, Ratio offers a beautiful 10-year limited warranty on manufacturer’s defects—Ten. Years. We think some coffee owners out there would agree that they could easily go through a handful of the lower priced coffee makers in that time. Then there’s also the fact that there are not many automatic pour overs on the market that are as elegantly designed and constructed from high-quality materials. If you love the look, love the quality and love pour over, it’s a worth while investment.

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’s pre-infusion, however, needs to be manually started. 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. See? Not bad but we could see people skipping this step and going straight to brewing and missing out on 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. 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.

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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!

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