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Bunn Velocity Brew BT review: A no-frills coffee machine that brews up tasty pots in a flash

The next step is to drop a special Bunn paper filter into the brew funnel, and measure out the proper amount of coffee grounds. There's a lot of leeway here. While it's annoying that the Velocity Brew BT lacks a special measuring scoop, the manual recommends using "one to two heaping tablespoons of drip grind per cup," which is a forgiving recipe.

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Other than closing the lid, the only control is a vacation switch.

Colin McDonald/CNET

Another oddity about the Brew BT is it doesn't actually have an on switch, just what Bunn calls a "Vacation" switch that lives on the base of the water tank. To begin the brewing cycle you simply close the coffee maker's plastic lid, propped up and help in place by a small, clear, rod. This stick essentially functions as the Brew BT's only "on" button. Word to the wise; don't flip the BT's lid shut without its carafe in place under the brewing funnel or risk steaming hot water streaming all over your countertop.

Performance

While physical beauty certainly isn't the Bunn Velocity Brew BT's strong suit, impressive coffee making performance is. Not only does the Velocity Brew live up to its name by blasting out 10 cups of coffee in the shortest time I've ever experienced from a drip machine anywhere, the results were consistently very tasty.

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The Velocity Brew BT uses special Bunn-approved filters.

Colin McDonald/CNET

So how fast can the Brew BT produce a full pot of Joe? Try 3 minutes and 33 seconds. Putting this in perspective, that's well below the 7 minutes, 45 seconds it took the Capresso MT600, and even faster than the Melitta 10-Cup Thermal, which needed 8 minutes or 9 minutes.

Another key area where the Velocity Brew BT delivered enviable performance was temperature.

The brew chamber hit its max temperature (195.7 degrees Fahrenheit) within 60 seconds. That's slightly under the optimal 200 degrees (give or take 2 degrees), but the Bunn maintained that temperature for most of the brewing cycle. By contrast both the Capresso MT600 and Mellita 10-Cup Thermal only spent the tail end of their brewing process in this sweet spot.

In terms of flavor, the drip that the Velocity Brew BT created was quite good. Our panel of CNET editors and lab technicians agreed that coffee brewed from the exact same beans as the Capresso and Melitta products (Costco House Blend, medium coarseness) was very smooth, rich, even chocolatey. I even picked some pleasantly bright fruitiness. It also lacked any of the bitterness I tasted in the Capresso's and especially Melitta's brews.

Using a refractometer, a tool that measures the percentage of total dissolved solids (TDS) in a liquid, I confirmed that the Velocity Brew BT coffee does scientifically pack lots of flavor. The coffee came in at 1.2 percent TDS, approaching the 1.25-percent TDS ideal (as determined by the Specialty Coffee Association of America).

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The thermal carafe pours well and keeps coffee hot for hours.

Colin McDonald/CNET

Also nice is that the coffee maker's thermal carafe, which Bunn claims will keep its contents hot for at least 2 hours, surpassed the company's own estimate. It held the coffee to 150 degrees F for over 4 hours. It wasn't until about 4 hours and 45 minutes that the internal carafe temp dropped below this 150-degree mark.

Conclusion

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who prize coffee-making performance over head-turning appliance appearance. If you're one of this no-nonsense breed, then you'll certainly find a friend in the $170 Bunn Velocity Brew BT. Preheating its supply of water in advance and boasting the hardware to pump out a fully brewed 10 cups of high-quality coffee in less than 3.5 minutes, to say this machine is a workhorse is an understatement.

Sure the Brew BT isn't cheap ,but you'd be hard-pressed to see this level of beverage made by the likes of a budget $20 Mr. Coffee machine or the Capresso MT600 ($130) and Melitta 10-Cup Thermal ($70) for that matter. You can spend more for the likes of the Bonavita BV 1800TH ($180) or Technivorm Moccamaster ($300), but right now the Bunn is our drip brewer to beat.

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