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Breville YouBrew BDC600XL review:A drip coffeemaker that's too smart for its own good

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The Good The Breville YouBrew BDC600XL sports a premium brushed-metal body and a built-in burr grinder, and it makes single cups or full 12-cup carafes. The machine's water tank is both easy to reach and to decant into.

The Bad This machine is expensive, needs constant cleaning, and brews coffee that's bitter. It also takes up plenty of counter space.

The Bottom Line Breville's YouBrew really tries hard to please with its sophisticated design and brewing options, but for much tastier drip get the Bunn Velocity Brew BT or Technivorm Moccamaster 741 KBT instead.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

5.6 Overall
  • Performance 4
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Maintenance 5

Review Sections

Priced at $250, the Breville YouBrew BDC600XL has a high cost of entry, but it flaunts high style and premium build quality to match. In addition, the YouBrew boasts an integrated burr to crush whole coffee beans and brew either full pots or single cups of fresh java on demand. Breville also touts the brewing smarts of its creation which approaches an almost robotic level of personal coffee-tweaking skills

Sadly though, like the competing Cuisinart Burr Grind and Brew contraption, this kitchen appliance takes on more than it can handle. The coffee the YouBrew serves remains bitter no matter which combination of its complex settings you choose. It's also a bear to keep clean. For better drip coffee, the shrewder option is the Bunn Velocity Brew BT or Technivorm Moccamaster KBT instead.

Design

I admit that when I first unboxed the Breville YouBrew BDC600XL I was impressed. Much of my initial admiration for this machine has to do with its massive size and rock-solid feel. At 16.3 inches tall and 9 inches across by 14 inches deep, the YouBrew is a mammoth coffeemaker. A

The Breville's body is encased in a thick sheath of brushed metal that goes way beyond the design treatments of similar machines. For example both the Capresso MT600 and Cuisinart Burr Grind and Brew Thermal sport handsome brushed steel chassis, too, but their metallic skins are tempered by a smattering of black plastic. The YouBrew is clad completely in expensive-looking buffed metal.

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Clad in a brushed metal skin, the Breville YouBrew has a slick, premium look. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

I was also mesmerized by the YouBrew's high-tech front panel that features a big, backlit LCD screen and is surrounded by a halo of circular buttons. Not only are most of these keys crafted with reflective surfaces complete with radio-dial concentric circle patterns, they're even lit from behind by blue LEDs. Further enhancing this coffeemaker's robotic appearance is a spring-loaded water reservoir lid that pushes free and locks with a satisfying click as well as opening softly in slow motion.

Usability and features

Just like the Cuisinart DGB-900, much of the YouBrew's large size is a direct result of its most distinctive feature, a built-in burr grinder. At the top of the machine you'll find a clear plastic hopper which holds up to half a pound of coffee beans, and funnels its contents into the mouth of the YouBrew's bean-crushing apparatus. A twisting lock mechanism sits in the middle of the hopper and covers the actual grinding elements, a pair of ceramic rings that are notched with groove-like teeth.

I strongly advise clearing the hopper completely of beans and even freeing the set of grinders from any debris before trying to unlock the hopper tray. Otherwise the hopper's twisting lock could get stuck and prevent you from opening it, a frustrating fate that happened to me. I only solved this problem by running the YouBrew's grinder as part of a fake brew cycle. Breville urges owners of the YouBrew to clean the machine's grinder and coffee chute on a regular basis as well, recommending doing so every two to three weeks. The YouBrew even comes with a tiny brush solely for this purpose, though it's stored in a special receptacle under the bean hopper. That means if the hopper lock freezes shut you'll have to use another cleaning tool.

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On top of the YouBrew is a burr grinder and coffee-bean hopper. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

After you fill the YouBrew with beans, the next step is to add water to its reservoir. This can be a challenge on other burr-grinder-equipped appliances such as the Cuisinart Burr Grind and Brew. On that model I had trouble reaching around back of the unit to decant water comfortably or without spilling. I also had to aim my pour toward a narrow opening, either that or turn the big device around partially to improve my chances of success.

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The YouBrew sports a ridiculously high-tech control panel. Brian Bennett/CNET

Thankfully, Breville found a nifty way around the YouBrew's bulky hopper and burr grinder. Flipping open the tank lid reveals a wide, shallow, channel for pouring water into the machine. It's right up front and within easy reach. I also like the YouBrew's float (highlighted in red) that provides physical feedback regarding the water level. You can read the current water in the reservoir on the fancy LCD screen too. And if this wasn't slick enough, the contraption will sound a warning if it thinks you've poured too much into the tank.

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