I can’t function without coffee. And as any coffee enthusiast knows, a handcrafted cup of coffee — such as what you get out of a pourover or French press — is the best way to go. Unfortunately, that’s not always practical. Some people might be able to carve out an extra 20 minutes for coffee zen during the morning rush, but I’m not willing to part with that much sleep.
For the past few months I’ve been testing a handful of coffeemakers that promise to come close to manual-brew quality while adding the convenience of an automatic drip. A far cry from your average $50 Wal-Mart coffeemaker, all of the coffeemakers in this group have to meet four criteria:
Bunn has a long history of building indestructible industrial-strength coffeemakers. You see them everywhere: restaurants, travel plazas, hospitals, convenience stores … anywhere coffee is a critical part of day-to-day operations, you’ll find a Bunn.
A few years ago, Bunn entered the home market. Back then I actually purchased one of their earlier models — the Bunn Velocity Brew. At the time, I wasn’t impressed. The coffee was good, but it lacked a lot of basic features that we take for granted such as auto-off and a drip stop. But that was a good six years ago, so it was time to see if the Bunn HB had improved anything.
Yup, that Bunn. The same company that literally every truck stop, diner, restaurant, and convenience store is legally required to buy their coffee makers from, is now making home equipment.
Before you laugh, consider this: Bunn knows their stuff. Since the 1960s, they’ve been making some seriously heavy-duty brewers. Their gear takes whatever abuse the real world throws at it and keeps going, because nobody wants a world without coffee. In the commercial world, Bunn is synonymous for “that coffee maker we bought 40 years ago that refuses to die”.
This is the first in a series called “Everyday Coffee”, in which I put four highly-rated coffeemakers through everyday, real-world testing.
We have a long-lasting love-hate relationship with coffeemakers.
Your great-grandparents likely used a French press, siphon, or pourover. Probably involving fire. They’re all great brewing methods with their own strengths and weaknesses. They take a bit of effort to do correctly, but they can easily coax out the rich, full-bodied flavor of coffee.
Your grandparents likely used an electric percolator. And it was terrible. It produced hot, dark liquid that contained caffeine. Technically, it was “coffee”. But if you weren’t careful, it would burn and over-extract the coffee, resulting in a bitter pot of awfulness. Most electric percolators have a window of roughly 30 milliseconds between “still brewing” and “LOL RUINED AGAIN”.