Bunn My Cafe MCU review: Who knew a hunk of steel could be so flexible?

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The Good The Bunn My Cafe MCU is the most affordable, most versatile single-serve coffee maker we tested, brewing K-Cups, pods, and ground coffee alike.

The Bad The My Cafe runs a little on the noisy side, and its unapologetically industrial look might not be for everybody. Also, its four interchangeable brew heads require a bit of extra storage space.

The Bottom Line It’s affordable, it’s versatile, it’s durable, it’s easy to use, and most importantly, it makes a reliably mean cup of joe. The Bunn My Cafe MCU was, unanimously, our favorite single-serve coffee maker.

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8.1 Overall
  • Performance 9
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Maintenance 8

The Bunn My Cafe MCU promises quick and easy brewing of whatever coffee you want, however you want it. Its clever design can adapt to pretty much any coffee-making situation, from K-Cups to fresh ground beans and everything in between, and it scored at or near the top of the class in each one of our taste tests. The look of the machine is distinctively industrial, which isn't terribly surprising given that the majority of Bunn coffee makers are designed for restaurants, cafeterias, and industrial kitchens. However, style aside, in terms of sturdiness and usability, the design of the My Cafe does an admirable job.

Making coffee with the My Cafe is a simple process. The machine only takes a minute or two to heat up after you first plug it in, and from there, brewing your beverage is as easy as pushing a button. With a suggested retail price of $169 -- the lowest among the higher-end, single-serve coffee makers we tested -- the Bunn My Cafe MCU is an outstanding value for any regular coffee drinker.

Construction and design
Design-wise, you might think that the My Cafe isn't much to look at. The minimalist design seems almost intentionally dated, as if it would feel more at home in a mid-1980s urban diner than in a contemporary kitchen. Other modern kitchen counter appliances incorporate glossy finishes and sleek curves into their designs, but not the My Cafe. There's no brushed chrome or brass knobs, no LED lighting or digital display. The My Cafe is just metal and plastic. It's not without a simple charm, but look elsewhere if you demand more contemporary looks from your home appliances.

That said, anyone who writes the My Cafe off on its appearance is making a mistake, because what it lacks in style it more than makes up for in substance. With a set of detachable brewing heads that slide in and out of the machine (Bunn calls them "drawers"), the My Cafe can brew just about anything you throw at it. There's one drawer for K-Cups, another one for teabags and coffee pods, another drawer for ground coffee, and a fourth that works as a quick hot-water dispenser -- perfect for your morning oatmeal. No matter what you're craving, the My Cafe has you covered. It's a level of built-in flexibility that's totally unmatched by any other single-serving coffee maker in this price range.

It's a sturdy little thing, too, with a simple, compact design that feels rugged and durable in every way. Holding it in your hands, you get the sense that you could toss it down a stairwell and still plug it in and brew a fresh cup at the bottom. Amid a field of bulkier competitors that often felt a bit flimsy for our liking, this robust construction is a major plus.

The My Cafe's minimalist simplicity translates to its interface, too. There are just two buttons: the brew button, and a "pulse" button that you press if you want the My Cafe to brew your drink in slow, controlled bursts to increase the steep time and strengthen the flavor. When you plug the My Cafe in, it will automatically turn on and begin heating up. When it's ready to go, its one light will change from red to green. The My Cafe doesn't store any extra water (which helps explain its compact size), so you'll need to pour water in before each cup. This isn't nearly as inconvenient as it sounds -- if you simply fill your mug with water and pour it straight into the machine, you'll get the perfect amount without ever needing to measure ounces. Some of our testers actually preferred using fresh water each time, as opposed to water that might have been sitting in a reservoir overnight. I also greatly appreciated that you can tweak the strength of your drink, watering it down if it's too strong for your tastes or using a little less if the brew seems a bit weak.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Each of the drawers is intuitive and easy to use, as well. The ground-coffee drawer lifts open to reveal a compartment with a mesh filter -- just toss two spoonfuls of your favorite grounds into it, slide it into the machine, and you're good to go. Pods and K-Cups are even easier than that, and no matter what your method, your beverage will brew at the touch of a button, and it will brew faster than with any other machine that we tested. Cleanup is a breeze, too -- just toss the used K-Cup or pod, or dump out the used grounds, and give the drawer a quick rinse.

Our only minor quibble with the My Cafe's usability is that, oddly enough, there's a bit of a learning curve to the one-button operation. The light will flash green when the machine needs water, flash red if it needs to heat back up, and flash red and green if you haven't clicked a drawer in all the way. The brew button can flash red, too, if the internal hot-water tank needs to be refilled. If you try and use the My Cafe without reading the instructions first, or if you simply haven't used it in a while, little screw-ups such as these can be a tad stressful, as what you're doing wrong won't necessarily be obvious. You'll get the hang of it after just a few uses, though, and once you do, making a standard cup of coffee is a cinch.