- Simple, beautiful design
- Makes quality coffee
- Allows for recipe customization without overwhelming
- A bit expensive
- Offers less control than some other coffee makers at this price point
The Wilfa Performance coffee maker brews a delicious cup of coffee and looks great doing it. Solidly constructed with a minimalist design, it feels like a machine you'd find in a luxury apartment. And, while it's a bit pricey at $245, it does a good job delivering on that value.
The Wilfa Performance lands in an odd spot on the spectrum of coffee makers CNET has tested. If you're looking for more than a basic drip machine, you'll be hard pressed to find anything for less than $100. But many coffee makers at this Wilfa's price and higher offer a few more features that allow you to customize the way you brew your coffee. The Wilfa Performance instead aims for simplicity and quality, and it hits both marks.
Does the Wilfa Performance justify its price? That depends on what you want from your coffee maker. If you're looking for a straightforward machine that brews great coffee, no other machine that I know of does it as elegantly or as beautifully.
What you get with the Wilfa Performance coffee maker
With the Wilfa Performance coffee maker, what you see is what you get: There's a hefty base with a warming plate, a detachable reservoir for water, a detachable filter basket and an all-glass carafe with a plastic lid.
Because it's small at just over 5 pounds, the base feels surprisingly solid. Its matte black finish looks and feels sophisticated and high-quality. The water reservoir is printed with lines for 8, 16, 24, 32 and 40 ounces and the corresponding amount of ground coffee Wilfa suggests -- a convenient touch.
The filter basket, which fits No. 4 paper filters, easily lifts in and out of its mounting bracket. Its lid just rests on top, but it's a secure enough fit. The filter basket also has the Wilfa Performance's only brew customization feature, a flow regulator. By twisting a ring around the bottom of the brew basket, you can increase or decrease the flow rate for various pot sizes. If you turn it all the way to the right, you can shut the spout for stopping drips.
Both the filter basket and the water reservoir stand upright on their own. If you're one to weigh your coffee and water, you can do so directly into them.
The final component is the carafe. It's entirely glass with a black plastic lid. Visually, it's a nice complement to the machine's matte black body. Since the measurement lines are on the reservoir, the surface of the carafe is empty, adding to the Wilfa Performance's overall clean look.
A streamlined machine that's easy to use
The Wilfa performance coffee maker strikes a nice balance between straightforward, easy use and flexibility. Besides an on-off switch in the back, there are really only two controls: a brew button and a flow regulator.
The brew button simply starts the brewing process. The flow regulator speeds up or slows down the rate at which coffee drips through the brew basket. To brew a 40 ounce pot of coffee, add 40 ounces of water to the reservoir, add your preferred amount of coffee grounds and turn the flow regulator all the way open. To brew 20 ounces, add 20 ounces of water, the corresponding amount of coffee and set the flow regulator to the 20-ounce setting. Closing the regulator acts as a drip stop.
While I didn't try this, you can imagine dialing in a recipe for your favorite coffees, adding a bit more water or coffee or opening or closing the flow regulator to improve extraction. The basic controls go a long way to fine-tuning your home coffee brewing, without sending you off the deep end into a morass of technicalities. While other machines offer more control, I personally found the simplicity of the Wilfa refreshing and approachable.
Strong, simplified performance
On top of good looks and simple controls, the Wilfa Performance makes a nice cup of coffee.
In our tests, it performed well by several key measures.
One is its speed. It brewed a full, 40-ounce pot of coffee in just under 6 minutes, one of the faster times for the coffee machines CNET has tested. You can find machines that will brew faster, but with the Wilfa Performance, you can be sure that your grounds won't be over-extracted and the resulting brew bitter.
The other is temperature. Some coffee makers take their sweet time heating the water to an ideal extraction temperature (197 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit). In test runs, the Wilfa got to the ideal temperature quickly and maintained a maximum temperature right around 197 degrees. Across my three tests, the temperature maximums were 195.1 degrees, 197 degrees and 198.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
I also measured the resulting strength of the brew using a coffee refractometer. Here, the Specialty Coffee Association says the ideal range is a total dissolved solids percentage of 1.15 to 1.55% using a set ratio of grounds to water. In my tests, the Performance brewed coffee at 1.18%, 1.26% and 1.47%, firmly within the ideal range.
On top of all those technical marks, the end result was tasty. Because I burn through a lot of coffee testing machines, I don't use the most delicious beans. However, even with the test coffee, I could taste a difference. The result was smoother and juicier than the typical result, which is bitter and a bit harsh. I brewed my morning coffee in the Performance while it was in my house for testing, and it produced a nice, even cup that highlighted the flavors of some higher quality roasts.
The name Wilfa Performance makes a claim that this coffee maker delivers on. It performs well, brewing tasty pots of coffee that also meet technical standards. It allows some customization in your brewing process, without overwhelming you with options. Still, the customization will let you dial in your home brewed coffee to your specific tastes. Its simple and elegant design is easy to understand and makes this a machine you won't mind leaving out on the counter.
If you're a design-first shopper who still wants good coffee, you can't do better than the Wilfa Performance. If you have other priorities, other options might serve you better.
For example, the Oxo Brew eight-cup coffee maker, which another CNET reviewer tested, is our top-rated pick, and costs nearly $70 less. It's less to look at, but brews excellent coffee on the (relative) cheap. The Cafe Specialty drip coffee maker allows greater customization of your brew and performed just as well in our tests, though it costs about $40 more.
None of that is to say I don't recommend the Wilfa Performance. My experience with it says that it's a carefully crafted and thoughtfully designed machine that makes great coffee.