I'm sure that as long as people have made coffee at home they've dreamed of a gadget that could tackle both sides of the coffee creation equation, a grinder-and-brewer combo. Cuisinart's DGB-900 Burr Grind and Brew Thermal Coffeemaker represents the latest in the company's long line of machines which strive to do just that. At $200, the Burr Grind and Brew is certainly no impulse buy. Still, promising to take the place of both a fancy burr coffee grinder and programmable drip coffeemaker at once, it's easy to be taken in by this product's potential charms.
Unfortunately it doles out weak pots of coffee and is a pain to clean. You'd be better served buying a standalone burr grinder or even a cheap blade chopper paired with a competent drip brewer such as theor .
The Cuisinart DGB-900 brings burr grinding and drip coffee brewing together (pictures)See all photos
If you ever cross paths with the Cuisinart DGB-900 Burr Grind and Brew, chances are you'll be struck with a strong feeling of deja vu. That's because this machine looks very much like every Grind and Brew coffee maker that Cuisinart has sold since the late 1990s. Taller than it is wide and with a blocky, squarish shape, the DGB-900 might not be the epitome of elegant industrial design as are, say Technivorm products.
That said, the appliance is handsomely clad in a shiny skin of brushed steel and black plastic accents. The result is the DGB-900 is sure to fit in among a wide range of modern kitchen styles and color schemes. Of course, finding a free spot in which to shoehorn this monster of a coffee machine might be your real challenge.
Towering over countertops at a height of 16.3 inches and sprawling 8.3 inches wide by 11.6 inches deep, the Burr Grind and Brew is even taller than other massive drip brewers such as the(15 by 7 by 13 inches) and the (15.5 by 10 by 6 inches). Weighing a full 9.5 pounds the Burr Grind and Brew isn't a lightweight either, though this stat also includes the product's hefty 2 pound, 2 ounce thermal carafe.
Usability and features
Understandably much of the Cuisinart DGB-900's girth is a direct result of its built-in burr grinder mechanism, which is what sets this gadget apart from traditional drip coffee makers. Designed to precisely crush coffee beans down to a preset size rather than slicing and dicing based on gravity and random particle motion, burr grinders typically yield more consistent coarseness (or fineness) than bladed grinders.
The trouble is buying one of these fancy bean-crunchers will likely set you back an extra $100 or more. By packing burr-grinding hardware for less than the cost of a pricey drip brewer alone, however, the Burr Grind and Brew attempts to offer the best of both worlds without any trade-offs. The downside of this approach is a complex contraption with an intimidating amount of moving parts and pieces.
On top of the DGB-900 sits a large, transparent hopper that can hold up to half a pound of whole coffee beans. Square, bulbous, and projecting about an inch above the machine's head, it's a hard feature to miss. Removing the hopper's lid exposes sloped sides that methodically funnel beans into the maw of the circular burr grinder and its gearlike teeth. Processed coffee grounds are then pushed down a coffee chute, past the rotating filter basket cover, and ultimately land inside the gold filter basket. There the material is subjected to a spray of hot water just like it would in any conventional drip coffeemaker for brewing.
As you might imagine, the DGB-900's array of components require a bit of extra care, cleaning, and maintenance compared with simple drip coffee brewers. Even streamlined machines such as Technivorm Moccamasters rely on just a few big parts that are easy to remove and wash by hand. For example Cuisinart strongly recommends that you clear the device's coffee chute, burr grinder mechanism, and hopper after every seven to ten uses. The company even provides a special brush/scoop tool to do this.
Be warned, though, that this task is more involved than you might expect. In my case I had to get pretty down and dirty, removing bits of broken beans by hand and brushing fine coffee powder from the chute to properly clear the coffeemaker's innards. Additionally I had to remember to remove the circular filter basket cover first and pull the grind chute lever open. Otherwise coffee debris won't land in the filter chamber as you brush, which can create an even bigger mess.
To its credit, though, Cuisinart kept the Burr Grind and Brew's control panel uncluttered and simple, which makes it a product relatively easy to operate. Cleaning aside, once you fill the hopper with whole coffee beans, activate and drop in the charcoal water filter (which sits in a special wand-shaped holder) inside the DGB-900's water tank, you're almost on your way to a fresh pot of joe.