The Brew Central 12-Cup is a midpriced programmable coffeemaker with adjustable burner settings and a cool industrial look.
A few of the design features are weak.
This is a solid coffeemaker without a lot of bells and whistles. It looks good and performs the basics well.
Cuisinart introduced the food processor to America in 1973, and the company has traded on its associations with good design and pro-level function ever since. The most striking thing about the Brew Central 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker is the way it looks. It’s trim, compact, and has understated switches and buttons (the Cuisinart website uses words like “bold,” “elegant,” and “tech-industrial”). It’s available in the kind of cool-looking colors you’d expect to find on sports sedans: matte black, metallic purple, and brushed metal (pictured), among others.
This is a machine that won’t stick out on the kitchen counter, literally or otherwise. The housing for the relatively large 12-cup carafe is svelte: just 7 3/4 inches deep, roughly the same depth as a cookbook. And it’s 9 inches wide, so it’ll fit a kitchen with modest dimensions. The face controls are scaled down, too: unobtrusive buttons, knobs, and a toggle switch, under a small LCD clock window. Even the Cuisinart logo—raised letters on the control panel—is restrained.
The filter basket comes with a gold tone filter (and a few #4 filters, to get you started if you prefer paper), a coffee scoop, and a charcoal water filter pod that fits into a dipsticklike holder. Water drips onto the grounds via a showerhead rather than a single drip. There’s an Auto On setting to program the brew to begin at a time of your choosing. The heating plate has three settings (Low, Medium, and High), and there’s a self-cleaning feature for decalcifying the water chamber (plus a light that goes on when it’s time to clean). Cuisinart has a trademarked mechanism called Brew Pause, which halts the cycle for 30 seconds if you get impatient and pull the carafe out before the cycle ends. And five beeps tell you when the coffee’s done.
We tested the Brew Central 12-Cup by making multiple batches of coffee with an eye on three primary features: the Auto On setting, the Brew Pause feature, and the adjustable heating plate.
Auto On: Programming was simple, and the brew time was accurate. But the small knob is janky: too little to grab comfortably, and with a ribbed surface that feels cheap. For a machine mostly about design, it’s a fail. Score: B.
Brew Pause: This worked exactly like it’s supposed to: The brewing ended precisely when we pulled the carafe out—no random coffee stragglers dripping onto the heating plate. Score: A.
Adjustable heating plate: This is an important feature for a coffeemaker, since brewed coffee that sits for any length of time on a standard burner overheats and can taste burnt. We brewed with the carafe temp set to High—the temperature of the brewed coffee was 181 degrees Fahrenheit, which is quite hot. Then we set the heating plate to Low. It took nearly an hour for the temperature to settle on a mellow 140 degrees: a decent holding temp, but the time it took to get there was a little long. Score: B+.
Overall: The reservoir cover feels solid, but we don’t like how small the opening for the reservoir itself is. When you’ve got a half-full carafe of water, it feels like you’re aiming a big volume of water at a very small hole—not easy to do first thing in the morning before you’ve had that first cup of joe.
Photos by Chris Rochelle