Quality Coffee Maker at a Reasonable Price: Cuisinart Brew Central

Apr 3, 2009 (Updated Feb 7, 2012)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:@ $49, it's a very good coffee maker!
Variable temperature hot plate.

Cons:Stair step water gauge can be hard to see.
Only a glass carafe.

The Bottom Line: Want a good, hot cup of coffee?  Need a timer function? If so, this moderately priced coffee maker may be the best pick! 

Looking for a quality coffee maker at a reasonable price can be a big challenge, but finding the Cuisinart Brew Central DCC-1200 12 cup cofee maker for $49 at Sam's Club was an easy solution.  It all started when a real cheapie Chineese made coffe maker decided to die.  It had served me well for a couple of years and the stainless carafe made the $20 cost a "no brainer".  But, with its demise, it was time to think about getting a better coffee maker.  Due to previous poor experiences with Black & Decker small appliances, I eliminated their products from my search.  And, it seems recent makers from Mr. Coffee haven't been too stellar.  So, I started narrowing my search to coffee makers from Braun and Cuisinart. After finding the Cuisinart Brew Central DCC-1200 for $49 at Sam's Club, I decided to purchase one and give it a try.

Product description:
This particular Brew Central features a brushed stainless steel and black plastic construction.  I wouldn't call it a work of art, but just looks like a nice coffee maker that doesn't draw a lot of attention as it sits on the counter next to the sink.  It has a glass carafe with a black plastic lid.  The front panel has the display for the time, control button for setting the time and auto brew feature, on/off button and a knob for adjusting the hot plate temperature.  The top opens to reveal the water chamber, which is basically divided into two sections.  The section on the left side of the pot has a removable water filter holder.  A small filter mounts at the bottom of the plastic holder. The reservoir on the right side features a "stair step" water guide i.e. each step is marked for the appropiate number of cups of coffee that will be made when water is added to just cover the step.  Front and center is the removable basket for a paper cone filter or optional reuseable filter. 

Operation of the coffee maker:  Inserting a filter and coffee into the basket is a snap.  Because of the water filter, adding water to the left side of the water reservoir is a bit tricky as the filter can get in the way.  It's much easier to add water to the right side.  I find it much easier to use the water markings on the glass carafe much easier to use than the "stair step" water guide in the reservoir, as you have to have a clear view down into the reservoir.  Seeing the upper steps for 8, 10 and 12 cups is fairly easy if the lighing is good.  Trying to see the steps for 4 and 6 cups requires a little more effort and one tends to want a flashlight!  A clear gauge visible from the outside of the maker would be a better design. 

The display screen is adequate, and the controls for setting current time and brewing time work about the same as most makers.  The knobs are on the small side, and I can see where those with poor eye sight and/or problems with finger/hand desterity may have some difficulty.  I don't use the timer function....one of the joys of being retired as I just make the coffee at whatever time I get up!  So, if you use the markings on the pot for gauging the amount of water, making the coffee is easy, especially for us right handed folks. 

After the coffee has brewed, the coffee maker let's you know it with a short series of beeps.  And, I'd say that the coffee is brewed with an average amount of brewing sounds. The hot plate has an auto shut-off feature. And, there is the mechanism that allows you to pour some coffee before the brewing cycle is completed.

The temperature control for the hot plate seems to work nicely.  However, anyone that really likes coffe knows that coffee doeen't do to well sitting on a hot plate for more than a few minutes.  So, I transfer the coffee to an insulated carafe.

So, how's the coffee?  I like mine black and straight, and this maker gives you a nice hot cup of coffee.  I'm not one for buying exotic beans, so I can only report that using decent commercial ground coffee results in well brewed coffee. 

I've been experimenting with using a reuseable mesh filter and comparing it with paper filters.  Either method results in good coffee, but the mesh filter allows a lot more sediment and coffee grounds to drip into the pot, and emptying the mesh filter and rinsing off the grounds is more time consuming than just using a paper filter.  So, I've decided to use paper filters and save the mesh filter for emergency use when I've run out of papaer filters.

For a few dollars more, I would have preferred an insulated stainless steel carafe.  Cuisinart has some models available, but any that I could find were priced over $100. I believe that Cuisinart has a stainless carafe for sale that will work with this maker....that will be another search mission!

Recommendation: I really like this coffee maker.  It's not perfect, but it seems to be made well enough to last quite a few years, and it has all the features that I would use in a pot.  If I want to use whole beans, I would just as soon use a separate grinder, which I already own.  My biggest criticism would be the lack of an easily visible water gauge and the design of the water filter holder which interferes with pouring water into the left side of the water reservoir.  At around $50, the Cuisinart Brew Central DCC-1200 12 Cup Coffee Maker is a very good combination of quality and features at a moderate price.  At the $79 ticket price I've seen it sell for in some department stores, it may not be the best buy for the price. 

But, most importantly, it makes a fine cup of coffee!

February 6, 2012
Ok....I've actually owned two of these coffee makers, and both ended up failing due to the on/off switch.  After a certain amount of time, the coffee maker would simply turn itself off before completing it's brew cycle.  It got very annoying.  I have seen that Cuisinart has started using a different switch (flip type rather than rotary) but my son had a model with the flip switch and it failed in the same manner.  So...I can't say that I'd be in a hurry to buy another Cuisinart coffee maker.

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