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You may believe that brewing superb drip coffee at home isn't possible unless you splurge on a super kitchen gadget like a Technivorm Moccamaster . Fortunately, you'd be wrong. Not only does the new $190 Bonavita BV1900TS offer the same level of vaunted coffee-making performance, it costs $100 less than fearsomely good rivals such as the Moccamaster 741 KBT . With far fewer parts, it's also more compact and easy to clean than its Dutch-built counterpart.
Additionally, this appliance from Bonavita is a breeze to use, which puts it way ahead of complex drip brewers from Cuisinart and Breville. Likewise the BV1900TS produces more enjoyable pots of coffee than the nimble Bunn Velocity Brew BT . All of this adds up to the Bonavita winning our Editors' Choice seal of approval and my hearty recommendation.
At first glance I didn't think much of the Bonavita BV1900TS. That's because this machine doesn't go for a lot of flash like expensive LCD panels, blinking LED-lit buttons or striking modernist designs. Instead, similar to the spartan Bunn Velocity Brew BT, the BV1900TS downplays its coffee brewing abilities or even its physical controls. In fact you'll find just one button on the Bonavita, an on-off switch.
This utilitarian approach extends to the coffee maker's basic shape and no-frills industrial design. Up top sits a flat oval plank that on the left houses a circular lid for the water tank, and on the right consists of the brewer lid and conceals the shower head. Directly under this you either place the plastic filter basket, thermal carafe, or both depending on whether you're actively brewing coffee or merely storing a hot pot of coffee.
Aesthetically speaking, the BV1900TS is attractive though not overly conspicuous or ostentatious. The machine's shiny steel skin and black plastic accents are right in line with other modern drip coffee makers and contemporary kitchen decors. One big upside to Bonavita's minimalist craftsmanship is the BV1900TS's compact footprint. Measuring 11.5 inches high by 10 inches wide, and 6.75 inches deep, the appliance is sure to find a home even on the most cramped countertops.
The Bonavita BV1900TS's straightforward ethos extends to the coffee maker's dead-simple operation. Whipping up a fresh pot of coffee is as easy as opening the circular water tank lid, decanting a portion of water (the machine maxes out at 8 imperial cups, 44 oz, 1.3 L), then adding coffee grounds into the brew basket and positioning it over the thermal carafe. The final step is to flip the on-off switch and sit back while hot water from the tank travels over to the brewing lid and showerhead-style spout, raining down onto the grounds.
Unlike the Technivorm Moccamaster 741 KBT , the BV1900TS doesn't treat you to an entertaining sideshow of bubbling liquid while it's brewing. Water just drains from the BV1900TS at a speedy rate; there's no other indication brewing has begun except for a red light on the power switch and the soft sound of water dripping into the carafe.
One welcome difference between the Moccamaster and this appliance is the BV1900TS' fewer number of parts which require cleaning. While Technivorm's device has two removable lids along with a detachable brewing arm, plus destratification tube which screws into its thermal carafe, the Bonavita machine has just one element (besides its carafe and tank) which needs hand cleaning --- its filter basket.
Bonavita added another feature to the BV1900TS that both its predecessor the BV1800TH and the Moccamaster 741 KBT lack. This is the ability to automatically preinfuse (a fancy term for soak) its coffee grounds with water before the full-blown brewing cycle. You kick the machine into preinfuse mode by holding down the on-off switch for 5 seconds. The switch's red light will then flash alerting you the special brewing function is active.
Why preinfuse? Bonavita says it will help round out overly acidic or other less pleasant flavors from freshly roasted coffee beans. The Moccamaster technically allows owners to accomplish the same feat, just with a manual drip control lever instead.
In terms of coffee drip brewing prowess, the Bonavita BV1900TS performs like a champ. It holds its own blow for blow, and in some cases packs more of a coffee-making punch than Moccamaster machines. In terms of brewing time, the BV1900TS matched its Technivorm rival exactly, taking a fast 6 minutes or less to create a full 45-ounce pot of coffee.
This is well under the 8 minutes or less recommended by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). The Bonavita runs very hot, too, an excellent capability for any coffee maker's resume. I logged temperature within the brew basket and found it typically hit the sought-after 200-degree mark (Fahrenheit) after about 2 minutes, and parked the needle there (between 200 and 201 degrees) for the rest of the brewing cycle. That's in line with the Moccamaster, though it can reach 200 degrees slightly faster. That said I noticed the BV1900TS ramped up its water temp more quickly to just below 190 degrees by the first minute of brewing. By comparison at 1 minute, readings from the KBT 741 were usually anywhere from 100 to 130 degrees.
Heat numbers aside, the Bonavita BV1900TS consistently served up potfuls of delicious coffee, even from our challenging test coffee (Costco House Blend whole bean, medium grind), which if not handled just right yields a very bitter brew. As a matter of fact the Bonavita created the best drip coffee I've tasted so far, though from pricey beans (double the cost) sold by a local gourmet roaster (Heine Brothers of Louisville, Ky).
Refractometer testing confirmed that BV1900TS is a star coffee brewer. It turned in an excellent TDS (total dissolved solids) percentage of 1.28 percent. That translates to an extraction percentage of 26.8, with the ideal commonly said to be between 18 and 22 percent. On the surface this may sound high and that the machine is overextracting, but like the Bunn Velocity Brew BT ( 30.4, 1.4 TDS) its coffee was tasty, rich and exceedingly drinkable.
The Bonavita's thermal carafe keeps its contents warm for an acceptable amount of time as well, for almost 4 hours above the 150 degree mark (what I consider still hot). That said, after 4 hours had passed, carafe temps fell to 146 with a regular cooling curve of about 10 degrees per hour. The Moccamaster KBT 741, however, wins the prize in this department since its carafe kept coffee hot for an impressive 6 hours.
The simple act of pouring hot water over coffee grounds sure sounds easy enough, but using that method to yield an excellent beverage at the end is anything but. Asking this task from a machine, it turns out, is an even greater challenge. Up until recently only two consumer coffee makers sold in the US have been able to claim this coveted mantle: Technivorm Moccamaster appliances and the upstart Bonavita BV1800TH (both approved by the SCAA). Bonavita's latest drip brewer and follow-up to the BV1800TH has arrived, and I'm happy to say it's every bit as worthy as those earlier models.
The device not only matches the $299 Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741 in terms of physical performance, brew time and heat, it consistently conjures java that's just as delectable to drink. At $100 less than its fancy rival, though, it's money much better spent, which is why it's a clear Editors' Choice winner.