Pros: Great coffee; convenient filter basket, easy to clean
Cons: Pricey, lack features for this price point, frother sputters water as much as it steams
Braun FlavorSelect/AromaSelect 12-Cup Coffeemaker KF 190
Flavor select (adjust to get milder to more full-bodied coffee; not tested)
12 cup capacity
Auto 2-hour shutoff
Filter (a feature for some; neutral for others)
Pause & serve
Visible water level indicator for coffee maker & frother
Frother water reservoir is removable
Swing out filter basket (easy to fill/clean)
Very modern design
Cord of adequate length (~3 ft)
Missing features (for this price point):
Adjustable hotplate temperature
Small batch setting (for brewing 1-3 cups)
Audible alert (to let you know when the brewing is done)
With a little gift money in hand, I recently decided to upgrade my old coffee maker. The carafe was cracked (& patched with glass cement), the Teflon hotplate was all scratched up, and, since it was white, it was of course coffee-stained. My dream machine would be a pump-driven espresso maker/coffee maker combo, but those are very expensive. I was ready to buy the Braun KF187 when the Braun KF190 caught my eye. It is a coffee maker with a frothing attachment. I am very partial to steamed, frothed milk with coffee and hot chocolate, so the Braun KF190 seemed like the answer for me. Although a little pricey, it froths!
From the feature standpoint, it doesn't have a clock/timer, small batch setting, or some other features I expect on an expensive machine, but I usually grind my coffee fresh in the morning, and it does have a frother(!), so I decided to be forgiving of the missing features. I personally was very glad to see the water filter. Even though I filter my tap water, the water where I live has so much calcium that it still will clog up a coffee pot, so a 2nd filtration seems like a great idea (I had to run vinegar through my old machine all the time--makes my kitchen smell like a pickle). If your water is of good quality, the coffee maker comes with an attachment to fill the area where the filter goes so you can save on the expense of buying filters. The Braun KF190 also has an easy to clean design with a removable water container for the frother, and it has a swing-out removable filter basket. All the removable parts are dishwasher safe.
Testing out my new Braun
I really liked the look of it on my countertop. It is a little on the larger side, but the pearl black color makes it look very modern, and the design is sleek. In addition to looking sharp, the coffee maker is also designed to be easy to operate. It has a switch that is clearly marked to indicate the off position and the frother or coffee maker functions. If you are planning to make coffee and froth, you can make your coffee first, then make your froth, and just flip the switch back to "coffee" to keep the hot plate warm. It has an red indicator on the front to let you know it's on.
After admiring, I made my first batch of coffee. I tasted--Yumm! Coffee perfection! Then it came time to froth. I noticed that the frothing seemed to be very inconsistent (I have made very nice froth before with a steam-driven espresso maker). To see what was happening, I took my milk away from the frothing wand and just decided to watch the steam. The frother would produce great steam for a minute, then it would sputter out water drops, then it would steam again, and sometimes it even sputtered out a stream of water. I watched until I used up the water.
Later on I tried to just test out the frother again. Maybe it would work better??? On the second trial, I was excited because I had a steady stream of steam for about a minute, but then, the intermittent sputtering began. The sputtering wouldn't be so bad if it didn't produce so much water, but it definitely squirts out quite a bit. After a 3rd trial with inconsistent frothing, I gave up on my machine and returned it. What's the point of paying a little extra to get a frother?that doesn't even froth well?
I can't say that all the Braun KF190s will froth as poorly as the one I bought did, but I'd be hesitant to recommend it for a purchase, and I definitely would not recommend it as a gift. Since you are giving up features to get the frother, the frother needs to work! Although my Braun made great coffee, you can spend a little less and get a full-featured machine. If you need to froth, too, a cheap espresso maker (>$30) could make better froth than the Braun I bought, or perhaps you may want to test out one of the competing models by Saeco or Delonghi.