Kitchenaid Precision Press Coffee Maker review: KitchenAid adds some tech to its French press with a built-in scale

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The Good The KitchenAid Precision Press comes equipped with a scale to weigh coffee grounds and hot water. The Precision Press also features a timer to track brew time and a stainless-steel carafe to retain heat longer than glass containers.

The Bad For $50 more than even premium steel French press coffee brews, the Kitchenaid Precision Press is expensive. If you're not fast enough, the Precision Press' scale times out and resets to zero. The coffee maker can't heat water on its own.

The Bottom Line The $150 Kitchenaid Precision Press features a built-in scale to measure coffee grounds and water but its high price doesn't translate into extra convenience.

6.6 Overall
  • Performance 7
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Maintenance 6

French press coffee has been respected for ages for its uniquely delicious taste, but to the uninitiated, this manual brewing method can be an intimidating challenge. The $150 KitchenAid Precision Press Coffee Maker is designed to remove much of the mystery from creating pots of French pressed coffee. Stamped from shiny stainless steel, the gadget features a built-in scale to precisely measure both coffee grounds and hot water. Additionally the Precision Press comes equipped with its own timer to count down exact brew times.

Of course the KitchenAid Precision Press can't do all of the work for you. You'll still have to supply it with properly ground coffee beans and fill it yourself with hot water. It is, after all, still a French press. For that reason, while the KitchenAid Precision Press flaunts some slick abilities, you're better off shelling out for a cheap $20 scale and basic steel French press gadget separately.

Design and features

The KitchenAid Precision Press looks like any number of stainless-steel French press coffee makers from companies such as Bodum and Frieling. Sculpted in a traditional jug shape, the kettle's stainless-steel walls are double-lined for improved heat retention. While not as insulated as a robust vacuum-sealed thermal carafe, the Precision Press is designed to preserve coffee heat longer than basic glass-walled French press coffee makers.

At first glance the Precision Press looks like any other French press brewer.

Chris Monroe/CNET

If you're familiar with how a French press machine operates, the main mechanical components of the Precision Press won't look out of place. Covering the kettle's contents is a steel lid with a round plunger handle at its center. The plunger assembly is essentially a thin rod attached to a circular handle at its top and a metal filter at its bottom. Pressing down on the plunger (via the handle) causes both the rod and filter to travel down within the inside of the kettle.

If the container is empty or merely filled with water, air or liquid will pass through the filter until it reaches the bottom of the carafe. When the kettle contains a slurry of coarse coffee grounds and hot water, pushing (or pressing) down on the plunger forces the filter to squeeze all the large coffee solids together (packed at the carafe bottom) while coffee liquids pass through the filter to remain in the space above. It is this separation which results in the concoction known as French press coffee.

The process certainly sounds simple enough but there are key parts of the French press equation the Precision Press can't tackle. Specifically the device lacks a bean grinder, so you'll either have use your own or have your coffee preground at the store. Neither can KitchenAid's appliance heat water you supply it with. Hot water is critical to extracting all the delicious flavor compounds (and yes, caffeine) from coffee grounds in order to become that drink so many of us crave.

A closer look at the handle uncovers this brewer's unique abilities.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Examining the Precision Press' black carafe handle reveals this product's uncommon capabilities. On the topmost surface of the handle, the flat section where your thumb naturally falls, is a cluster of three tiny buttons and a small LED screen. The biggest key is a power button for activating the device's display. Below and to the left of this sits a "timer" button, to the right you'll find the "scale" button. The screen itself contains readouts for weight (in either grams or ounces) and time (in minutes and seconds).