If you appreciate drinking great coffee, you’ll need a high quality coffee maker for your home. There’s currently two top rated coffee makers that dominate the market, the Bonavita and Brazen.
Picking a winner between the Bonavita coffee maker and Behmor Brazen Plus is difficult – and depends on your taste and kitchen. I’ll review the best coffee makers on a comparative basis to help make your decision easier.
If you are in a hurry, use the comparison table below to help choosing the best coffee brewer. To be honest you can’t go wrong with either models.
Drip Coffee Maker Reviews
Both of these machines produce great coffee. The Brazen has a better boiling mechanism, so if you like your coffee especially hot it’s perfect. But the added temperate does come at a cost, approximately double the brewing time of the Bonavita. The Brazen has a lot of flexibility with its electronic controls, while the Bonavita is simple to operate and produces coffee fast. If I had to pick a winner – I would give the nod to the Bonavita because of it’s simplicity and speed. If you prefer flexibility in brewing temperature and pre-soak timing, then the Brazen will make a better choice.
Best Auto Drip Coffee Makers
Coffee Maker Specs
The Bonavita coffee maker is an exceptionally well constructed, compact machine. It’s perfect for smaller kitchen counter tops as the height is much smaller than the Brezen which requires at least 17”. The Bonavita shares that space perfectly with room to open the top and pour water into it. The Bonavita takes up about 7″ deep by 10″ width of counter space, the Brazen takes up 9″ square. A bit deeper, and similar on the width. The big difference is the height. The Brazen is tall. It can not be kept under a shelf. With the lid up, the Bonavita is just over 15″ high – and the top of the water tank is just under 12″ high. The top of the Brazen is about 16″, and that is the top of the water tank. You will need to have a minimum of 21″ height to be able to fill this machine. Open space above is better!
Comparing carafe dimensions on the Bonavita is significantly larger than the carafe of the Brazen, although the capacity inside is almost the same. When making 8 cups the Bonavita has very little extra room inside, while the Brazen is completely full. The Brazen carafe is constructed from stainless steel, both interior and exterior, with no warnings other than not washing with a dishwasher. Bonavita carafe on the other hand has a glass interior, and includes a warning not use abrasive cleaners or brushes. It comes with a foam sponge on a handle for cleaning. The Brazen carafe brew-through lid stays on while brewing, the Bonavita lid is closed after brewing and has a spring-loaded sealing lever. You will need to pour carefully with both units, if you pour too aggressively leaking will occur, but are fine if you pour at a medium speed.
How Do They Brew?
The Bonavita works like any Coffee drip machine, with a few minor improvements which makes it a joy to use. The Bonavita machine is essentially is an automated pour-over system. The conical (Melitta #4) filters are placed in a separate filter holder which sits over the top of the carafe. If preferred, you can use the filter holder on top of the carafe as a manual pour-over with warm water.
The carafe and filter holder are placed under the shower-head. Water is heated like most drip coffee makers, using the geyser principle, which uses steam pressure to bubble up to the shower head and pour via the filter. At the end of the process, there is a minimal amount of steam, but not too much.
The Bonavita system uses a higher power heater than most coffee makers on the market. This achieves faster water heating and hence quicker brewing. This also keeps the temperature higher than low quality coffee makers. When the brewing is finished, which you can tell by the lack of bubbling noise, remove the carafe with the filter holder on it, dispose of the filter, rinse the filter holder, fit the lid on the carafe and you’re finished.
The only real difference between this and a manual pour-over is that you do not hold the kettle and pour into the filter.
The Brazen machine feels high-tech by comparison. Water is heated to your pre-set temperature in a stainless steel reservoir located on the top of the machine. When it reaches the programmed temperature, it is slowly released through the filter holder into the carafe.
The filter holder slides out, so that you can easily insert the supplied gold-mesh filter or paper basket filters. Brazen’s carafe sits under the filter holder. You need to use the Brazen carafe if you are using the built-in filter holder, since the filter holder is fitted with a spring-loaded anti drip valve that opens by the carafe underneath.
There is a manual water release mode which allows you to use the Brazen to shower the heated water into a different carafe or even a French Press. To use this feature you will need to remove the filter holder.
Which is the Best Coffee Maker to Use?
The Bonavita is simple to use even for beginners. It has a single ON switch that powers the heating element. There are no moving parts to this system, which theoretically means it should be very durable and a long life. Water is pumped via steam pressure up to the shower head. After 15 minutes, once it’s ready the switch pops into the OFF position. There are no electronic controls so no programmed start time. This isn’t a problem for me since the machine brews quickly, but I imagine this would turn off some buyers. Personally I prefer fresh coffee and my morning schedule is flexible – so I don’t plan down to the minute!
The Brazen is a mini-computer with many programmable options. To set up the Brazen initially it requires calibration for temperature and altitude. The MODE button cycles through automated start time, clock time, brewing temperature, pre-soak time and calibration. I suspect that the calibration is ensuring that the temperature sensor is accurate at brewing temperatures. In calibration mode, you set your altitude and it takes the water in the reservoir to boiling, holding it there for a brief time.
Since boiling temperature is very predictable vs. altitude, this calibrates the temperature sensor very accurately. After calibration, the front-panel readout and a separate thermometer in the reservoir matched perfectly.
Water release temperature is programmable from 190F to 210F. Owners living in high altitudes will be unable to achieve temps in the upper limit.
The Brazen can be set to brew automatically at a set time. It’s relatively simple to set up – press the MODE button once to get to the start time, use up and down arrows to set the hour, press the SET button to programme in the hour and move onto minutes. Press the AUTO button to start at the programmed time.
Brazen designers included a re-soak function – variable from 15 seconds to 4 minutes. The owners manual recommends longer pre soak for freshly roasted coffee, with little or no pre soak for pre ground coffee.
Coffee drinkers who also enjoy a cup of tea will find the manual release button helpful. Once the button is pressed it opens the reservoir valve and allows water through the machine. Pressing the button a second time stops the water, allowing you to fill any type of container that you are using. This is perfect for green and herbal tea drinkers.
Which Coffee Maker is Easier to Clean?
Both coffee makers are cleaned easily with a commercial descaler and wiping down the shower head after use. I noticed a slight amount of coffee dust on both shower-heads after several cycles.
The Brazen top reservoir is very easy to wipe down, with a stainless bowl and strainer covering the outlet. The Bonavita reservoir is a typical design that drains into a geyser chamber. With no buttons or LED display, the Bonavita is easier to wipe down and achieve a ‘clean’ look, but realistically there isn’t much difference in the time or effort for cleaning.
Carafes for both models are very similar in their temperature holding characteristics, with the Bonavita carafe retaining temps slightly better. Starting out 2/3 full of 185 degree water, after one hour the Brazen was at 168 degrees, while the Bonavita was 172 degrees.
Powering the coffee makers on with a full 8 cups of 62 degree water in the reservoir but no coffee in the filter. The Bonavita by comparison completed a brew cycle before the Brazen had even finished heating the water.
The Bonavita delivers piping hot water almost instantly, and finishes in five and a half minutes – while the Brazen started releasing water to the filter after six and a half minutes.
Time taken to complete a cycle on the Brazen was slightly more than 11 minutes. Both coffee makers have approximately 5 minutes of water in contact with the coffee. The Bonavita starts faster since it heats water incrementally, rather than taking the whole reservoir to temperature before starting. Both makers have almost identical heating elements.
Comparing the Finished Brew
I tested both drip makers using a medium roast Kona.
- Bonavita produces a very pleasant coffee with some bright notes.
- Brazen however was able to smooth out the coffee some more – likely from a bit higher brewing temperature.
- Side-by-side the Brazen has a smoother more balanced taste, bringing out the potential of the beans.
Which is Our Top Rated Coffee Maker?
Both of these machines are rated as the best drip coffee makers on the market – and for good reason.
Since both makers have about 5 minutes actual brewing time for 8 cups of coffee, the biggest difference is: