Bonavita BV1500TS review: A high-end brand's step-down coffeemaker brews with bitter results

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MSRP: $140.00

The Good The Bonavita BV1500TS brews a maximum of five cups of coffee so you drink more and waste less. The machine takes up a minimum of kitchen counter space and is easy to use and clean.

The Bad The BV1500TS doesn't brew coffee as well as Bonavita claims, often resulting in pots of joe that are much too bitter.

The Bottom Line Disappointingly harsh pots of coffee make the Bonavita BV1500TS hard to recommend over the Bunn Velocity Brew BT or Bonavita's flagship BV1900TS brewer.

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6.3 Overall
  • Performance 4.5
  • Design 7.5
  • Features 7
  • Maintenance 8

If you find yourself habitually brewing huge pots of coffee each morning only to down just a few cups before rushing out the door, you're not alone. Bonavita, maker of our Editors' Choice award winning BV1900TS , hopes its new creation will help put an end to this wasteful behavior. Priced at $140, the Bonavita BV1500TS is smaller and more affordable than its bigger sibling. And equipped with a scaled down water tank, Bonavita's new drip brewer makes a maximum of just five cups at a time.

While the company claims the BV1500TS handles its coffee grounds with the same ability and respect as the more expensive $190 BV1900TS, my testing proved otherwise. Indeed, the compact machine consistently over-extracted its beans, resulting in truly bitter and tannic pots of joe. You're better off saving up for Bonavita's own flagship model or choosing the Bunn Velocity Brew BT , which makes much tastier coffee for about the same price.

Design and usability

Viewed on its own, the BV1500TS could easily be mistaken for its pricier predecessor, the BV1900TS. A spitting image of the older appliance, this machine sports the same polished metallic body, compact footprint and overall layout as Bonavita's previous coffeemaker. That's a good thing, since the BV1900TS' few parts and simple, functional design are among its key strengths. As a result, both products are a breeze to clean and to operate.

The Bonavita BV1500TS is compact and takes up less space than other coffeemakers. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You won't find any flashy LCD panels or blinking LED-lit buttons here either. Instead, the BV1500TS has just one physical control, a switch. A quick flick of the switch turns the device on or off, while holding it down for 3 seconds toggles the pre-infusion mode in the same way. The special mode, also from the BV1900TS, is meant to improve the flavor of fresh-roasted coffee by holding hot water within the brewing basket for 30 seconds before kicking off the brew cycle in earnest.

Bonavita's spartan design philosophy is also evident in the BV1500TS' basic shape, which is more akin to a stainless steel fire plug than a work of mid-century modern art (like the Technivorm Moccamaster KBT-741 ).

With a minimum of moving parts and just one button, this machine is simple to use and clean. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The top edge of the BV1500TS consists of a flat oval plank that on the left houses a circular lid for the water tank. The reservoir holds a maximum of eight coffee cups, or more precisely 27 fluid ounces (0.8 liters). This capacity is quite a bit less than what the BV1900TS's 44-ounce (1.3-liter) tank can tackle. On the right side sits the brewer lid and concealed 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. Unlike the BV1900TS, however, the BV1500TS uses conical type-4 paper filters, not the flat-bottomed basket-style filters.

The BV1500TS is slightly smaller than the BV1900TS. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Measuring only 10.5 inches tall by 5.8 inches deep and spanning 10.3 inches wide, this appliance is noticeably smaller than the BV1900TS (11.5 by 6.8 by 10 inches). That said the difference isn't dramatic, coming to about an inch shorter footprint all around. Compared with the massive Bunn Velocity Brew BT (15 by 13 by 7 inches), the BV1500TS is positively lilliputian.