Best Mid-Range Brewer – Bonavita Connoisseur

The Bonavita Connoisseur BV1901TS Coffee Brewer is the lowest priced SCA certified home brewer at around about half as much as a Moccamaster. It offers bare bones, no frills one touch operation with great results and, like the Moccamaster, has an almost cult like following. It only offers one setting and cannot be programmed and also cannot be used with a timer switch due to the spring-loaded power button that cannot be left in the “on” position.

This is their latest model that offers a hanging basket which is easier to use than their older models where the filter basket awkwardly sat on top of the carafe. There is no drip stop on the filter basket so watch out for dripping when rinsing the filter paper or dumping the grounds, what I do is just leave an empty mug under the dripper after I remove the carafe and then dump the grounds when it fully stops dripping.

The Bonavita Connoisseur has a 1.3 liter (just under 44 fluid ounces) capacity and comes with a thermal carafe. It uses standard type flat bottom basket filters. Moccamaster, Braun MultiServe (review) and the Cuisinart PerfecTemp (review) all use #4 cone filters. You can read all about the latest research here into flat bottom vs. cone filters.

It has a showerhead for even water distribution over the grounds and the only thing you can set on this machine is the pre-infusion option which mimics the bloom process we do in pour over. Hold the power button down for 5 seconds until you hear two beeps and the LED flashes. You will know it is working because the light will flash during brewing if pre-infusion is enabled, the light will be solid if it is not. It will keep the pre-infusion setting until the machine is unplugged. This is highly recommended if you are using fresh roasted coffee to help the grounds degas as part of the brewing process. If your coffee was roasted 6 months ago it won’t make a big difference.

With a 700 ml (about 24 ounces) brew size the coffee temperature was 178F in the carafe and the coffee tasted great and well extracted. The carafe has a little bit of the same issue as the PerfecTemp with pouring the last bit of coffee, but it wasn’t prone to dripping which made this a non-issue. The PerfecTemp issue was that you had to turn the carafe almost all the way upside to get the last bit of coffee out, which caused coffee to drip all over.

Another machine I took a close look at was the OXO Brew 8 Cup Coffee Maker for and I almost bought it. It has roughly the same capacity as the Bonavita Connoisseur at 40 ounces, however it uses a combination of a flat bottom basket filters and a specialty filter for single servings (20 ounces or less). Excuse my nickel and diming, but a standard basket filter is about 1 cent each, a #4 cone filter is about 3.5 cents each, a Hario V60 filter is about 6 cents each, the Kallita Wave 185 that you need to use with the OXO is 13 cents each. I started this process with cost in mind and just felt 13 cents per brew for a paper filter seemed high and I also didn’t want to deal with two different filter types with two different filter baskets. You can check out a video comparing these two machines here.

Check out the Bonavita Connoisseur manual here.

I’m Ready to Ditch Pods, Now What?

The most common reasons people cite for using pods is that it’s convenient or they need to be able to make only one serving at a time. Let’s try to tackle these:

I just don’t have the time to make coffee in the morning. If you’re willing to grind your coffee the night before and place it in the coffee maker before you go to bed, you have many great options available to you. You can basically use any coffee maker that has a timer or the ability to be used with a timer. The Technivorm Moccamaster series is an excellent coffee maker that is highly recommended, however it doesn’t include a timer. Since its power switch can be left in the on position, a workaround for this is to hook it up to your smart plug and set it to turn on and off at certain times. You can even set it up to turn on by saying “Alexa, turn on coffee maker” while crawling out of bed. If you don’t want the trouble of that the OXO Brew 9 Cup is an excellent choice with a timer function, if you have one of their other kitchen appliances the look and feel will be familiar to you. Both of these brewers are great machines, check out all our reviews and recommendations for other options.

Here is a full list of home brewers that have been certified by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). Any of these will brew excellent coffee from your excellent beans. Unless you plan to transfer your coffee to a travel mug or cup within 20 minutes of brewing, pick a model with a thermal carafe over a warming plate.

They make brewers that have built in grinders, but those have mixed reviews and reliability issues. For best results you should have a standalone grinder. Those brewers will make better coffee than using pods, but for that extra effort of a separate grinder the results will be better and offer a lot more versatility for other types of brewing also. Also some of the lower end models don’t even offer grind adjustment which is a big part of making good coffee.

Make cold brew. Cold brew is easy to make in large batches and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Use a coarse grind with a 1:8 ratio of grams of coffee to milliliters of water and let it in steep for 24 hours in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally. After that use a sieve to remove the large grounds then run it through a paper filter. Add milk or water to taste. This is one brewing method where you don’t need to use your best and freshest beans, for many this is actually the way they use up stale beans without wasting them. Reduce the ratio to 1:4 for cold brew concentrate and add water or milk to taste. I did another post with more detail about cold brew if you want to check it out.

I need the option to make only one serving. All of the coffee makers mentioned above have the option for making different brew sizes, however for most of them that means adjusting the amount of water in the machine as most will brew until the water runs out. For a multi-serve brewer where you can select a brew size, check out the Ninja CM401. If you are willing to spend a little more time you can look into the pour over process which is my personal favorite. Brewers such as the Hario Switch (makes about 14 fl. oz) or AeroPress (makes about 6 fl. oz) are great at making single servings and easy to use at the office. Your pod machine doesn’t offer size choices, only selections for how diluted you want your coffee to be. So if you think the Keurig is making you a 12 fl. oz. cup, it’s actually making you a 6 fl. oz. cup with twice the water.