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Behmor Brazen Plus review:

Lots of brewing control but makes smaller pots that cool too fast

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The Good The Behmor Brazen Plus features plenty of ways to control the coffee-brewing process, such as water temperature, presoak time and manual release into alternate brewing vessels. It also meets the SCAA's strict standards for making a golden cup of coffee.

The Bad The Behmor Brazen Plus has a long brew cycle and needs more coffee to make smaller pots of quality java. Contents of the included thermal carafe cool down quickly.

The Bottom Line If you're into constantly tweaking your brews, the Behmor Brazen Plus offers unmatched control but other coffee makers from Bonavita and Bunn deliver excellent java for less.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.8 Overall
  • Performance 8.0
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Maintenance 7.0

Building a quality drip coffee machine is not easy, especially one that meets the SCAA's grueling brewing standards. Behmor, however, with its Brazen Plus, manages to do just that. Even more impressive, though, is the amount of control over the coffee making process the Brazen Plus provides, from selecting the exact water temperature you want to choosing how long you'd like to presoak your grounds before full brewing begins.

But for all its outstanding abilities, the pricey $229 Brazen Plus is far from perfect. It takes a while to brew compared with other kitchen coffee machines and the pots it makes are smaller than average. To get the same caliber of coffee out of the Brazen Plus, you'll also end up using more grounds. That's why even though the Brazen Plus is compelling, particularly to people who love to play around with their coffee, more affordable gadgets such as the $190 Bonavita BV1900TS and $170 Bunn Velocity Brew BT are shrewder alternatives.

Design

With its cylindrical top, circular stainless-steel base and three-legged body, the Behmor Brazen Plus is no ordinary-looking coffee maker. Indeed, the contraption's odd tripodal frame reminds me of some sort of alien device of war, or perhaps an advanced fusion reactor. The bulk of the gadget positively towers over its squat thermal carafe too. This isn't entirely an optical illusion, either; the coffee machine's 40-ounce metal pitcher is on the petite side. In fact it holds less liquid than the carafes of competing models, which typically have room for about 45 ounces (approx 1.3 L).

The Brazen Plus makes an imposing sight for a coffee maker. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Another clue to this machine's unusual qualities is a large LCD panel placed in the center of its front face. Backlit by a bright blue LED and surrounded by a phalanx of square buttons (eight in all), this screen is hard not to notice. While not as futuristic as the Breville YouBrew's almost robotic control surfaces, the Brazen's console definitely conveys complexity and electronic smarts.

Beneath the display you'll find a wide (at least in relation to the small carafe) plastic filter basket. It either accepts the bundled gold permanent filter or optional paper filters of the flat-bottomed 10-cup variety.

Standing at 15.5 inches tall and 8.5 inches wide, the Brazen Plus isn't small, either, looming over shorter coffee makers such as the compact Bonavita BV1900TS (11.5x10x6.75 inches). That said, the Brazen's 8.1-inch depth translates to a smaller overall footprint than true countertop monsters such as the Bunn Velocity Brew BT and Cuisinart Burr Grind and Brew.

Much of the Brazen Plus' girth stems from its top-mounted water reservoir. Contained underneath a flat lid, unlike the clear or black plastic water tanks you'll find in most automatic coffee makers, the Brazen boasts one crafted from shiny stainless steel. It definitely adds a touch of class to an otherwise mostly plastic appliance.

The Brazen Plus uses a stainless-steel water tank. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Usability and features

As you might expect from such a complicated facade, using the Brazen Plus for the first few times is no walk in the park. This is definitely a machine with a learning curve and where reading the manual is not merely a shrewd move but a downright necessity. That's doubly so if you want to harness some of the Brazen's more unique abilities.

In fact the first thing Behmor advises new owners to do after unpacking the coffee maker is calibrate the device. Specifically the Brazen Plus will boil a set sample volume of water and simultaneously compare readings from its internal thermometer. Frankly it's the only machine I know which asks users to perform such a task. The same goes for entering your current elevation (in feet) since altitude (and as a result atmospheric pressure) will affect the boiling point of water.

You're greeted by a complex array of buttons and an LCD. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Additionally, within the Brazen Plus' menu screens is the option to select the brewing temperature -- i.e., how hot the water inside the tank will get before hitting the grounds (190 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit). Likewise you can set a timer for how long to presoak the coffee grounds prior to the full-blown brewing process (15 seconds to 4 minutes).

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