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Bonavita BV01002US Coffee Maker review: This cheap-looking coffee maker brews better than you might expect

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Automatic drip coffee makers worth your money tend to cost an arm and a leg, typically two to three hundred dollars. Our Editors' Choice winner, the $190 Bonavita BV1900TS, came in just under that price barrier, brewing pot after pot of fantastically good coffee. Now the company has a new model, the $140 BV01002US, which Bonavita promises will make java every bit as good yet is even more affordable.

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7.7

Bonavita BV01002US Coffee Maker

The Good

The Bonavita BV01002US coffee maker brews as well as premium machines but costs much less. It's also compact and easy to use and clean.

The Bad

With mostly plastic parts, the Bonavita BV01002US is less attractive and feels less durable than its more-expensive competition. Instead of a thermal carafe, this coffee brewer comes with a glass pitcher and electric hot plate.

The Bottom Line

Those who crave an outstanding coffee brewer at an attractive price should look to the Bonavita BV01002US, but only if plastic parts aren't an eyesore.

True to Bonavita's word, this coffee machine whips up superb batches of drip that are in line with those of its fancy sibling. Bonavita had to cut corners somewhere though, and here you'll find a cheaper build as well as a hot plate and glass pitcher rather than a thermal carafe. All this makes Bonavita's latest coffee maker perfect for frugal shoppers who seek quality drip coffee. If you'd like a machine with more elegance plus brewing chops, a $299 Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741 or Bonavita BV1900TS will be more your speed.

Design and features

Those who've used previous Bonavita brewers should find the BV01002US very familiar. Its shape is similar to the company's previous BV1800 line right down to the tall, rectangular tower and trapezoidal water tank that both products share. Unlike the BV1900TS, this appliance is equipped with a glass carafe and not an insulated thermal container. That's another characteristic in common with the base BV1800 brewer model.

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This Bonavita has a shape similar to the BV1800 series.

Chris Monroe/CNET

To keep the carafe's contents warm, the coffee maker relies on an electrically heated metal hot plate. The plate itself sits on top of the machine's thick base. Additionally, the filter basket here is conical and designed to accept Type-4 paper filters. Again, this matches the filter setup of Bonavita's BV1800 series brewers, but not the BV1900 series which use flat-bottom filters.

The button layout on the BV01002US, however, is entirely new. Up until now, Bonavita coffee makers came with just one button or switch to control brewing. Outside of other keys for programming a brew in advance, this button turned the machine on and off. The BV1900TS' power switch also enables and disables its presoak function.

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The button layout is slightly different.

Chris Monroe/CNET

This brewer has a dedicated presoak button in addition to one for power and another labelled "Clean." Hitting presoak before the power button tells the device to drip just enough hot water into the filter basket to saturate your coffee grounds. After the presoak cycle completes, roughly one minute, brewing begins in earnest.

As you might have guessed, the clean button kicks the coffee maker into descaling mode to help scour away any lime deposits that may have built up over time. The button is linked to an internal cycle counter, too, and will glow red when it thinks you're due for a descale. Keep in mind you must use special descaling agent for the task, sold in a powder or liquid solution.

Other than these differences, the Bonavita BV01002US is cut from the same cloth as the company's other products. The coffee maker is an eight-cup brewer and accepts a maximum of 1.3 liters (44 ounces) of water. Depending on what coffee you use and your preferred grind size, you can expect between 38 and 40 ounces (1.1 to 1.2 liters) of coffee in each pot.

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The water reservoir holds up to 1.3 liters (44 ounces).

Chris Monroe/CNET

Like all Bonavita brewers, the BV01002US uses very few parts, which translates into a coffee maker that's simple to use and a breeze to clean.

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Since its parts are few and big, the Bonavita coffee maker is a snap to use and clean.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Performance and taste

Based on my experience with our Editors' Choice winning Bonavita BV1900TS, I expected the Bonavita BV01002US to brew coffee like a champ. I wasn't disappointed. To eliminate as many variables as possible, I used my usual test beans (Costco Colombian Supremo) ground medium-coarse through my burr grinder. I also brewed with an identical water-to-coffee ratio, 40 ounces water (1.2 liters) to 2.3 ounces coffee (65 grams).

Based on reflectometer readings I took of coffee that I made, the average percent of TDS (total dissolved solids) of my samples came in at 1.4 percent. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America's strict guidelines, it should have a TDS percent of between 1.15 and 1.35. Likewise the liquid should also demonstrate an extraction percentage between 18 and 22 percent. The BV01002US' TDS translates to an average extraction percentage of 23 percent. Both of the Bonavita's results are merely a hair outside of the ideal range.

SCAA research has determined anything outside this range yields unpalatable results. Coffee that's under-extracted (less than 18 percent) is likely sour, weak or both. Over-extracted coffee tends to be unpleasantly bitter and tannic.

Each of my three test runs had extraction percentages that were closely grouped (24, 23 and 23 percent). I found this particularly impressive since it indicates consistent brewing performance.

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Drip coffee brewed by this machine was always excellent.

Chris Monroe/CNET

My tastebuds were in line with my lab testing. Pots of coffee the Bonavita made were always rich, full of powerfully good coffee flavor, but never bitter. If you make coffee in the morning and drink from the same batch all day, this machine isn't for you. The hot plate heats the glass carafe gently but shuts off after two hours.

Conclusion

Whether the $140 Bonavita BV01002US is the right drip coffee maker for you ultimately depends on how much you're willing to spend. Though it's $50 less than our Editors' Choice for automatic drip coffee machines, the $190 Bonavita BV1900TS, this appliance has the ability to brew a pot of joe that's just as tasty. The fact that the coffee maker is constructed from cheaper plastic materials doesn't impact its performance.

That said, its lightweight parts feel less sturdy, which is disconcerting when you're spending over $100 on any electric coffee brewer. Unless you happen to be pinching pennies though, I strongly suggest splurging on the BV1900TS, since it's more durable by comparison and it comes with a thermal carafe. The premium $299 Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741 is a shrewd investment as well due to its superb performance; it keeps coffee hot for hours, and is built like a tank.

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7.7

Bonavita BV01002US Coffee Maker

Score Breakdown

Performance 8.5Design 6.5Features 6Maintenance 9