Bonavita Connoisseur review: Bonavita's improved coffee maker is its best one yet
It's been three years since the Bonavita BV1900TS coffee maker hit the scene. Back then it won our Editors' Choice award. I loved it for its comparatively low price and hassle-free design. That and the delicious pots of coffee it made. Now Bonavita has a follow up brewer it calls the Connoisseur. Snobby name aside, the coffee maker has the same reasonable $190 (converts to £140, AU$245) price tag as its predecessor. Bonavita tweaked this new model, too. The result, the Connoisseur makes coffee every bit as delicious plus easier to use.
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This machine might not be a work of art like the hand-crafted $299 (£220, AU$380) Technivorm Moccamaster. Neither is it as sophisticated as the $329 (£245, AU$ 420) Behmor Connected or $300 (£220, AU$380) Breville Precision Brewer, both equipped with smarts and electronic controls. On the other hand the Connoisseur is just as competent yet costs a whole lot less. That's why it's an outstanding buy, and worthy of our Editors' Choice award. Of course you can always take a look at other high-end coffee makers we've reviewed and decide for yourself.
Still simple but slightly better
The new Bonavita Connoisseur cuts an almost identical identical profile as the BV1900TS. Both brewers consist of a flat oval section up top and a matching oval base below. Sandwiched between the two are the coffee maker's main components. A water tank (and heater unit) sit on the base's left side. A filter basket is to the right of the tank with a thermal carafe directly below that.
Like its predecessor, the brewer looks attractive but isn't what I'd call stunning. For that you'll have to shell out big bucks for the $299 Technivorm Moccamaster. Hand-built in the Netherlands, the coffee maker's classic design is striking yet highly functional. Still the Connoisseur's stainless steel body and black plastic trim blends well with contemporary kitchen decors.
The brewer uses standard 8 to 12 cup basket-style coffee filters. They're the same filters called for by the BV1900TS. There is one notable difference between the two coffee makers . The Connoisseur's filter basket slides in and out of its own dedicated slot.
It's a definite improvement over the previous design. The older brewer balanced its filter basket precariously in place on top of the carafe. The new suspended basket also lets you brew into your own containers like mugs and travel cups if you'd like.
Just press one button
Bonavita resisted the urge to add extra complexity to this new model. Filling the Connoisseur's tank is a snap. Just flip open the tank's flap and pour water directly into its wide mouth. The reservoir has a maximum capacity of eight 5-ounce cups (1.2 L, 40 ounces).
The coffee maker is simple to operate, too. There's one button, that's it. It's more of a switch that's small, round, and button-shaped. Flipping it on kick-starts the brewing process. Pressing the switch down for five seconds activates (and deactivates) the pre-soak function. Pre-soaking is a useful way to remove excess gas from fresh grounds. Freshly roasted beans, toasted within a few days, typically contain lots of CO2 that can create off-putting flavors.
Bonavita says it improved how the carafe pours. That's not the case in my view. To me it feels, and pours, the same as the old pitcher. For instance you can decant the pitcher without its screw-on lid. Pour too quickly, slowly, or tilt the container too much right or left though and it will spill. The carafe does retain its thermal construction designed to keep its contents hot for hours.
Performance and taste
The BV1900TS is a tough act to follow, but the Bonavita Connoisseur succeeds. In terms of simply brewing coffee grounds, the scrappy little appliance handled itself extremely well. In terms of total brew time, the Connoisseur was slower than its predecessor. It took an average of 6 minutes and 25 seconds to brew my test pots of joe. For the record I used a brewing ratio of 40 ounces (1.2) of water to 2.3 ounces (66 grams) of medium ground coffee. I also tested with my default whole bean coffee sourced from Costco (Kirkland Colombian Supremo).
The Connoisseur's brewing time is much shorter than the 8 minutes or less the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) recommends for excellent drip. I also noticed that the machine was done actively brewing at about the 5 minutes, 30 second mark. By this point I heard the familiar gurgling sound drip brewers make when their tanks run dry.
Besides speed, correct water temperature (197F, 92C to 205F, 96C) is vital to making great coffee. This coffee maker exerts great control over its water temperature, too. Thermocouple readings inside the brew basket confirmed the Connoisseur hits its grounds with plenty of hot water quickly. Within the first minute the average temperature inside the grounds was 147.9 degrees Fahrenheit (64.4 Celsius). By minute 2 that leaped to 194.6 F (90.3 C). From there the Connoisseur kept a firm hand on the tiller. After minute 3 the average temperature never fluctuated greater than 4 degrees (F).
Refractometer tests reflected this consistency with the Connoisseur achieving tightly grouped TDS (total dissolved solids) percentage results across three runs (1.3, 1.3, 1.4 percent). This translates to an average extraction percentage of 20 percent. That's smack dab in the middle of the ideal range. That's commonly thought to be between 18 and 22 percent.
Numbers are nice but I'm happy to say the Connoisseur delivered on taste as well. The machine transformed my lowly beans into delicious joe every time. I immediately noticed the depth of flavor and lack of bitterness in each sip. I specifically detected chocolate and cinnamon notes present, flavors only quality brewers can coax from this roast.
Just like the BV1900TS, this brewer's thermal carafe keeps it contents hot for hours. I logged 3 hours and 31 minutes before coffee inside the pitcher dropped below 150 degrees Fahrenheit (66 Celsius). Still, it's a slightly shorter run than the 1900 which hung on to its heat longer (almost 4 hours). The thermal carafe king though remains the Moccamaster (6 hours).
A brewer that's worth buying
When you break it all down, the new Bonavita Connoisseur is a great buy for all the reasons the 1900TS was. It's priced lower than competing home drip machines yet brews coffee just as well. And thanks to its revamped filter basket, the coffee maker is easier to use than its predecessor.
That's why it's easy to recommend this new Bonavita brewer over other elite coffee makers including the vaunted $299 Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741. I certainly respect the craftsmanship and beauty of Technivorm's products. It's also tough to justify spending $100 more for a gadget that doesn't brew any better.