$200 coffeemaker lets you set time and temperature

The Brazen Coffee Brewer has lots of options, perhaps too many

Published: March 05, 2014 02:15 PM

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Brazen Coffee Brewer

For fussy coffee drinkers who like to customize their home brewing, the promises of the Brazen Coffee Brewer may seem like a dream come true. The manufacturer says its machine represents a “revolutionary new vision in coffee brewing” because of the level of control it grants. Consumer Reports put the claims to the test in its coffeemaker tests and found that the Brazen was a bit timid in its performance.

The 8-cup Brazen Coffee Brewer, $200, gives you defaults for how hot the water gets and how long the grounds stay immersed in the hot water. The machine’s attraction is the ability to set the temperature in one-degree increments between 190° and 210° F, and brewing duration from 15 seconds to four minutes. You can also compensate for how the water’s boiling point, typically 212° F,  lowers as the altitude rises.

We like the capability to adjust brewing temperature, especially with the added flexibility to account for higher elevations. But our brew-performance test measures to industry guidelines of brewing at 195° to 205° F for five to six minutes, which tends to extract the most flavor from the beans. Even with this broad range, the Brazen maxed out one to two minutes too soon. A manual-release feature, helpful for dispensing hot water into a teapot, theoretically lets you also release water incrementally into the grounds for a slower brew. For our test, we preferred at least an extra minute of brewing.

You might like the stainless-steel trim, which includes even the reservoir, designed to eliminate plastic tastes in what you brew. Yet other plastic parts, perhaps including the cupcake-style basket, may have contributed to the plastic taste our testers noticed in water heated in the Brazen after we’d already run a few water-only cycles. (You might not notice this in coffee, but it should take just a single water-only cycle to flush out residual plastic from the manufacturing process.) And while we tend to favor thermal carafes, this one poured sloppily and needed to be turned completely upside down to empty.

Overall, the Brazen scored only so-so, but we found many models to recommend in our tests of more than 100 coffeemakers. If you’re shopping for one now, check our coffeemaker buying guide, which includes a video on how we test.

—Ed Perratore

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