Braun's elegant PureMix should pump up its food blending muscle.
With sleek styling, modern LED-lit controls plus a smattering of stainless steel, the $130 (£100 in the UK, roughly AU$174 in Australia) Braun PureMix JB7130BK certainly looks like it can blend up a storm on your kitchen counter. Unfortunately underneath its fancy chassis in an underpowered motor chained to an outdated blade and jar design. As a result the appliance struggles with difficult ingredients and it's harder to clean and assemble than it should be.
Because of these annoyances, you're better off spending a little more on the $149 KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond Blender which may cut a 1950's-esque profile but is surprisingly capable for its price. The same is true of the $260 Ninja Ultima especially if you can find a good discount on a refurbished model.
If you've spent time around kitchen blenders you know they tend to be large, heavy and loud. True beasts of the home appliance world, blenders such as the Ninja Ultima, KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond and Vitamix 7500 are all over 9 inches (24 cm) deep and eat up plenty of counter space. With heights of 17 inches (43.2 cm) or more, like Ninja's machine which towers 18 inches tall, they're hard to squeeze under low-lying cabinets. That's not the case with the Braun PureMix.
Standing 16 inches tall and spanning 6.5 inches wide by 7.5 inches deep, the PureMix is tiny by comparison. Tipping the scales at a scant 7.1 pounds (3.2 kg) the Braun blender is also much lighter than the Ninja Ultima (11.4 pounds, 5.19 kg), KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond (11 pounds, 5 kg), Vitamix 7500 (12.5 pounds, 5.7 kg), and Blentec Wildside (8.3 pounds, 3.8 kg). Of course the most monstrous blender we've taken for a spin to date is the KitchenAid Pro Line Series. Staggeringly massive, the Pro Line weighs 22 pounds (10 kg) and dwarfs them all.
What helps the PureMix appear even smaller are its sleek lines and smoothly tapered edges. This plus the blender's piano-black and stainless steel color scheme translate into an undeniably handsome appliance.
The only physical button is a power button on the machine's front face. Running along the top lip of the blender is a membrane-style control panel. Here you'll find flat keys for "pulse", "crush ice", along with five speeds each labelled for its function. They start at a slow "stir" and "chop" and climb to "mix", "puree" and "liquify" at the blender's fastest mode. All keys are backlit in bright green when active.
Under its slick exterior, the PureMix is quite basic. The blender's jar and blade assembly are particularly old school. Just like classic blenders from decades past, the blades sit freely inside the jar's base separated from the food above by a thin O-ring gasket. By contrast the sturdy jars on the Blendtec Wildside, Ninja Ultima and KitchenAid Pro Line all have attached blades that connect their containers.
I'm sorry to say the Braun PureMix's weak motor and old jar design didn't handle our gauntlet of blender tests well. Whether I asked the appliance to process soft, hard, wet or dry items the blender took its time to produce the final product. I also had to stop and remove the jar many times throughout blending to either hand mix, chop or prep my ingredients.
One bright spot, although this is likely a factor of its underpowered motor -- for a kitchen blender the PureMix is relatively quiet. By this I mean the machine emits a whine a few notches lower than the typical earth-shattering din made by many other blenders.
The PureMix required 15 pulses on high speed mode to completely crush two cups of supermarket bag ice. It's an adequate result though far from stellar since powerful blenders can zip through the task in as little as 10 pulses. I don't recommend using the PureMix's "crush ice" setting since at the end of its 30 second automatic cycle, most of the ice in the top remained unchanged.
Blending frozen strawberries and orange juice into drinkable smoothies isn't the PureMix's forte either. After a full 15 pulses on its highest setting, called "liquify", only the lower half of the pitcher's contents were smoothly blended. Ingredients in the top half, which were also out of blade reach, remained untouched.
This isn't to say smoothies are entirely out of this machine's reach. I managed to cajole the PureMix to produce the drink eventually. I had to remove the jar from the blender more than once and manually mix between my blending attempts.
When you're blending, subjecting any ingredient beyond 15 pulses feels like an eternity. Unfortunately, the PureMix needed a marathon 22 pulses at its highest speed setting to turn one cup of heavy cream into a credible whipped cream topping.
The fibrous greens and hard nuts our pesto recipe calls for can be challenging but a blender worth its salt will take 15 pulses to complete the ordeal. Unfortunately after 15 pulses on high only ingredients in the bottom of the PureMix's blending jar were mixed. After two minutes, more of the mixture was liquefied though items in the top half of the jar were still solid. Not much change happened after another minute running at full speed, "liquify" setting.
Running for two more minutes, slowly starting at the lowest speed then gradually ramping up to high, eventually did the trick. That said, a lot of material still stayed stuck to the walls of the jar.
It took a good two and a half minutes to blend dry pancake mix and water into usable batter for flapjacks. The KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond managed the task in 25 seconds flat.
One of the worst torture tests we subject blenders to is letting it have a go at an 8 ounce block of cold supermarket cheddar cheese. We understand it's not something ordinary consumers would likely do. Few machines can pass the trial since the gummy substance demands so much of their blades and motor systems.
Sadly the PureMix couldn't mince a block of cheddar cheese after 15 pulses on high speed and remained unsuccessful even when left it running. I had to chop the cheddar block into bitesize pieces for the machine to shred the cheese properly.
You can forget using the Braun PureMix to make nut butters. It took a decent 12 pulses on high to turn two cups dry of almonds into powdery flour, and there were a few sizable bits in the jar that were relatively untouched. Even after a full 23 minutes alternating between blending at high speed, then stirring and tamping, the machine could only create a wet mealy paste.
I'm not a fan of traditional blender design which typically has a blade assembly detached from its jar and the Braun PureMix is no exception. Not only are this blender's blades annoying to clean and best washed by hand, manual scrubbing increases the risk of injury.
If you don't make sure to properly assemble the blades, jar and base, the blender can leak liquid too. That's precisely what happened to me when a small gap in the gasket caused heavy cream to flow all over my test counter.
While you might be tempted by the $130 (£100 in the UK, roughly AU$174 in Australia) premium look and compact size of the Braun PureMix blender, it's not an appliance I can recommend you buy. Unlike the company's BrewSense coffee maker which I liked, this machine handles its primary mission poorly.
To whip up smoothies, sauces, dips and other blended confections, go with the $149 KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond Blender. It's bigger, heavier, costs a little more and it's styled to match a 1950's diner, but it will get the job done and do it well.