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Popular coffee makers put to the test

November 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
While sales of most appliances are down, coffee maker sales are perking right along. They're up five percent this year. Many of today's coffee makers tout fancy features and high price tags to match, but do you need to spend a lot to get a great cup of joe? Lots of people wouldn't think of giving up coffee, but a lot fewer people are buying their coffee out these days. In fact, sales at Starbucks are down six percent.

"I used to be a Starbucks' junkie, and I was going everyday and it got to be too expensive," said Consumer Reports' John Macchia.

"I usually make it at home now because it does save me a little bit of money," Macchia added.

Consumer Reports tested more than 50 coffee makers to find ones that do a good job and save you money.

"Our brew test measures a coffee maker's ability to reach 195 to 205 degrees. That's the temperature you need to extract the most flavor from the coffee," explained Macchia.

Testers looked at traditional drip coffee makers and brew stations, too, which let you fill your cup directly from the machine.

Prices ranged from $20 all the way to $265 for a Technivorm, heavily touted by coffee connoisseurs.

But do you need to spend a lot to get a good coffee maker? The Technivorm did ace Consumer Reports' brew tests, but it's not all that easy to use.

"The Technivorm has a lot of parts and takes some patience to put together. And then you have to slide the carafe in the right spot or else it won't brew," said Macchia.

And while the $165 Bunn BTX-B was fast, its brew performance was just mediocre.

However, of the dozens of coffee makers Consumer Reports tested, there were several very good, less expensive ones.

The top-rated $100 Cuisinart Brew Central is easy to use and rated excellent in Consumer Reports brew tests.

A close second was a new coffee maker from Kalorik. At $80, it costs just a third of the price of the Technivorm.


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