The Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Brewer is a powerful coffee maker that is ideal for every day use. It makes exceptional coffee and is incredibly simple to use. This is one of the home coffee machines recognized by the Specialty Coffee Association of America as part of its Certified Home Brewer Program, and it certainly deserves the title.
Quality of The Brew
The most important element of a coffee brewer for me is the quality of the brew, and the Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Brewer brews exceptional coffee. As it is an 8-cup brewer, my initial reservations were whether it would be able to handle the everyday grind (no pun intended) by brewing an amount of coffee more suitable for one or two persons rather than a pot of coffee to serve at brunch. So I tested the coffee maker with 4 cups, 6 cups and 8 cups; all the brews were delicious.
Without getting too technical, the machine does the core things right when it comes to producing consistent and excellent brews. It sets the water temperature to the appropriate level of 195°-205°F (91°-96°C) and holds it steady. When the water reaches the right temperature, it will go through a pre-infusion process (optional setting, but I recommend using it), which means it will disperse a tiny bit of water over the coffee grounds before the full brew cycle. This helps with degassing the coffee and getting an even dispersion of the coffee grounds during the brew cycle.
We used to make our coffee with a V60 handbrewer and because there are so many variable factors (water temp, water dispersion, etc.), it could be a little bit hit or miss in terms of the coffee purity. With this Bonavita, when set up correctly, it produces a clean taste every time and gives you a good chance of actually tasting those coffee notes we all often wonder about.
The stainless steel of the Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Brewer fits the look of many kitchens and gives it a modern feel. Its neutral color complements the style of our kitchen, and as a plus, even matches our refrigerator. It's a no-frill design with only one simple on-and-off switch that turns the machine off as soon as the brew is done.
Unlike more traditional coffee machines, the filter basket sits on top of the coffee carafe, and doesn't fit into the machine on its own. That means, when you remove the carafe from the machine, the filter basket comes out with the carafe. You'll need to find somewhere to place the filter basket while you serve your coffee (we compost the grinds and put the filter basket directly in the sink or dishwasher).
There's no "keep warm" option on the Bonavita, but the coffee is brewed directly into a thermal carafe that will keep the coffee warm for hours. I always recommend drinking your coffee fresh, but I have left coffee in the lidded carafe for up to 3 hours and it has stayed warm.
My one complaint rests with the carafe. The carafe is difficult to pour out of without putting on the cap. There's no natural spout on the carafe itself, meaning it spills unless the cap is on. Additionally, it's impossible to get the last bit of liquid out of the carafe. This means, you need to brew a bit more coffee than you need, and when you wash the carafe, you need to use a cloth to dry the inside. It's also a bit of a pain to have to wash the lid every time we use the carafe, even if we aren't using it to keep the coffee warm.
That being said, it's convenient to have a carafe that keeps the coffee warm rather than a heating element on on the bottom of the coffee pot, as is the case with many coffee pots that are made of glass. It's a great option to be able to serve breakfast in bed - just bring up the entire carafe and you can have hot coffee refills, or to set the carafe on the table during a brunch gathering.
Bonavita calls this the 8-cup coffee brewer. I was a bit concerned that the brewing capacity was too large for us, but this coffee maker is actually perfect for our two person household. As it seems standard in the industry, Bonavita considers 1 cup as 5 oz. (152 ml), not 8 oz. (which is what is used in cooking measurements). The mug that I use every day comfortably holds 8 oz., with room for milk, or 10 oz. to the top for black coffee (how I normally drink it). Jonathan takes his coffee to-go every morning in his medium-sized Keep Cup, which holds 12 oz. That means, for the both of us, we would need to make at least 20 oz. in the morning (or four Bonavita cups).
Of course, we make a bit extra, so we can have a few sips together before topping off our respective cups and heading to our workstations (me to my desk, and Jonathan to his office). On its website, Bonavita recommends using this coffee maker to brew 6-8 cups at a time under the FAQ section. We brew exactly 6 cups every morning, and that works for us perfectly.
I did test out the coffee brewer at 4 cups capacity, and 8 cups capacity too. The brew is great at both those capacities too. When Jonathan has coffee on his own*, we regularly brew 4 cups.
The Recipe For Filter Coffee
To make the coffee, Bonavita suggests 10 grams of coffee for every cup of water. Remember, one cup is 5 oz. (152 ml); this is equivalent to 60 grams of coffee to 0.91 liters of water. From my experience as a barista, we brew coffee at the ratio of 60 grams to 1 liter of water. While there is some difference, you have to keep in mind that every coffee will vary in the optimal brew recipe. I generally go with Bonavita's recommendations on this machine - it's easier to just follow the Bonavita line markers for water.
Other tips to make delicious filter coffee at home: use filtered water, use quality beans, use a good grinder, preheat the thermos jug before brewing and regularly clean and descale the machine.
Do I really need to weigh the coffee?
Yes! Weighing out the coffee grounds is much more accurate than using a tablespoon. Different coffees have different densities, and different grind sizes will also affect how much coffee is in a tablespoon. A scale is the only way to get an accurate dose of coffee.
The Final Away
The Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Brewer is an exceptional machine that consistently brews clean and delicious coffee. It is perfect for everyday use in our two person household, but can also accommodate the brunch gatherings that we love to host on the weekends. It's easy to use (there's only one button on it) and simple to clean since several of the parts are dishwasher safe. The neutral minimalist design makes it a welcome addition to our worktop.
My only qualm is with the stainless steel carafe. While the stainless steel carafe is nicely portable and keeps the coffee hot, it is difficult to pour out of without putting the lid on. That simply means one extra piece of equipment that needs to be washed. In addition, it's impossible to get the last drops of liquid out of it. You'll need to brew just a tad more coffee than you need, and dry the inside of the carafe with a cloth after washing.
I would highly recommend the Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Brewer. Just keep in mind that even though it is an excellent coffee brewer, to achieve quality results, it requires the user to accurately measure the water and weigh the coffee grinds. At the end of the day, it is still only a machine that uses exactly what you provide.
Bonavita has kindly agreed to sponsor a giveaway for your chance to win your own Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Brewer With Stainless Steel Lined Thermal Carafe. Open to legal residents of all EU countries, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Ends November 22, 2015.
*There are a lot of thoughts surrounding the issue of consuming caffeine when pregnant. I've gotten a lot of questions about whether I drink coffee during my pregnancy. The general recommendation is that pregnant women should not consume more than 200mg of caffeine a day, which is equivalent to about 1 mug of coffee. I didn't have any coffee during my first trimester, but now enjoy coffee every now and then, especially coffee that is well brewed!