This is part of my Everyday Coffee series, in which I review four affordable SCAA-certified coffeemakers. For the last week, I’ve been using the KitchenAid KCM0802 as my daily go-to coffeemaker. Read on to find out how it held up!
The whole point of this review series is to find an easy way to make better coffee. Don’t get me wrong: I love my French press and pourover. But here in the real world, I don’t always have time to craft that perfect cup by hand — especially when I’m rushing around before work first thing in the morning.
Enter the KitchenAid KCM0802 automatic pourover. It’s an SCAA-certified coffeemaker, which means it makes a better cup of coffee than your average automatic drip. It heats the water to that magical 195-205 range, then brews in waves to simulate the pourover process. For the past week I’ve been putting this retro-future-looking-thing through its paces. And for the most part, it did a consistently spectacular job! There’s just one minor issue that I couldn’t overlook.
KCM0802 Review: Flavor Before Everything
These coffeemakers have one job: brewing a damn good cup of coffee. If it can’t do that, none of the other features matter. It’s an automatic fail.
Fortunately, the KitchenAid KCM0802 brews a great cup, and it does so consistently. Cup after cup, the results were predictable — a wonderful thing when it comes to coffee. But “great” isn’t “perfect”. It tasted like the KCM0802 was consistently failing to bring out the full body of the French Roast, and definitely didn’t deliver on the subtle high notes of the Sidamo.
To be clear: the coffee was great. It’s vastly superior to any automatic drip I’ve ever used. But a pourover it isn’t.
Daily Usage: Pushing The Buttons
Now that we know it delivers a great cup, it’s time to look at the secondary features.
Unlike other coffeemakers, which brew based on how much water is in the reservoir, the KCM0802 allows you to select between 3 and 8 cups. Once that limit is reached, the brewing stops — even if there’s water left in the reservoir. That’s handy, but if you aren’t brewing daily, be cognizant of stale water building up in the reservoir.
And let’s talk about the design of that reservoir. The unique lid mechanism does a good job of keeping heat and steam contained in the unit. While it’s never a good idea to put a coffeemaker under kitchen cabinets, you can probably get away with it on occasion with the KCM0802.
Both the brew strength (medium or bold) and warming time (zero to four hours, in one-minute increments) are adjustable. Drinking it immediately after brewing is always best, but we’re talking about the real world here. How many of you sit there and watch your coffee brew? Yeah, didn’t think so. 30 minutes is a good real-world compromise.
A Closer Look at That Brew
Remember, the KCM0802 simulates a pourover. That means it alternates between sprinkling (or “jimmying” if you’re from Philadelphia) water over the grounds, then pausing for a few seconds to let them rest.
This not only helps to prevent overextraction, but also gives the grounds a nice presoak. The presoak allows the grounds to bloom, which helps extract full flavor from fresh beans. Just be aware that the usefulness of the presoak diminishes with the age of the grounds.
Like the other SCAA-certified coffeemakers, the KCM0802 heats water to that magical 195-205 degree range before brewing. What’s especially noteworthy about this is that as the water cools in the reservoir, the unit will sense the temperature drop and re-engage the heater for a few seconds. This causes a small bump in power consumption, but it’s all good. This just means the unit is keeping water at the correct temperature for the entire brew cycle!
This pulse brewing method isn’t critical to brewing great coffee, but it’s an excellent approach that I’d love to see in more coffeemakers.
Just One Little Thing
The KCM0802’s retro design has one noteworthy drawback.
The control panel is crammed onto the unit to the right of the brew bulge. This means the display and buttons are relatively compact, and mildly annoying to use if you’re left handed. Similarly, the left-opening brew basket is mildly annoying to use if you’re right handed. Kudos to KitchenAid for mildly annoying both groups equally!
It’s a minor issue, but if you’re going to drop $150+ on a coffeemaker, its user interface shouldn’t be outclassed by a $25 coffeemaker from Wal-Mart.
Every high-usage part of the KCM0802 is dishwasher safe. Yeah, I know — hand-washing everything is the only way to go, all the time, forever and ever, because reasons. That’s nice; I live in the real world, so into the dishwasher it goes.
Brew time for a full carafe averaged about 11 minutes. That’s about 6.5 minutes for heating, and 4.5 minutes for the pulse brew cycle. This makes it slightly slower (by about a minute) than the rest of the group, but not by any significant margin. If you’re using the program feature, then this is a total non-issue anyway.
Power consumption is relatively low for the test group: about 1200 watts while heating, about 45 while brewing or keeping the carafe warm, and < 1 watt while idle.
Should You Buy It?
The KitchenAid KCM0802 is a decent coffeemaker that delivers consistently good cups of joe. My only complaints are the cramped control panel, the awkward brew basket, and the fact that it consistently seems to fall just a tiny bit short on extracting the full body of the grounds.
I’ve found it as low as $130 (on sale at Macys), and at that price, it’s a very good purchase. There’s also a version without the digital display or timer available on Amazon for just over $100. That version — the KCM0801 — is still SCAA-certified, and goes for just over $100 on Amazon. If you can live without the extra features, it’s a steal.
If you’re paying the typical retail price of around $180, you might want to hold off and see how my next two units — the Behmor Brazen Plus and the Bunn HB — compare. It’s not that this is a bad coffeemaker (not by a long shot), but in that price range, there may be better options.