PROS / This streamlined coffee maker is a breeze to use.
CONS / You do not get a water filter with this device.
VERDICT / This one-button smart coffee maker produces hot, good-tasting coffee into an insulated stainless steel pot.
If you love quality coffee but hate to mess around with fussy, hard-to-program coffee makers, the OXO Barista Brain is certainly worth investigating. This large dual-sided coffee maker looks imposing at first, with its water reservoir on one side and the coffee brew basket and carafe on the other. But it operates with just one button and a minimal number of control settings for you to adjust.
The manufacturer prides itself on the built-in "intelligent microprocessor" that controls the internal operations, while you simply have to do such things as push or turn the button to find a few settings. The microprocessor determines the water temperature and volume and the brew time depending on the handful of selections you make. For example, when you turn the button as a dial for the number of cups of coffee you want, the machine automatically sets the brew time.
This 9-cup drip coffee maker heats water in its reservoir to what the company has determined is the optimal temperature, ranging between 197.6 to 208.7 degrees F. The water bubbles in a rather entertaining aquarium-style manner as it is heated and released in intervals onto the coffee grounds. The device uses a "rainmaker" showerhead with holes arranged so that it distributes the hot water evenly over the grounds. Unlike some coffee makers, you do not get a water filter with this coffee maker, which would be useful in communities that have off-tasting water.
Our tests showed that it is quite simple to operate, ranking well in our ease-of-use scoring. The coffee it produced was among the hottest of the coffee makers we tested. The temperature dropped 4 degrees F while sitting 15 minutes in the stainless steel thermal carafe, but it was still hot enough to be invigorating.
The Specialty Coffee Association of America has recognized the OXO Barista Brain coffee maker for meeting its standards for quality, water temperature and coffee brewing time, which is considered an honor in the world of coffee makers.
Our tasting test panel ranked this coffee's flavor, aroma and overall quality as about average, with some individuals liking it quite a bit while others wanted stronger flavor. The aroma, in particular, got a good response.
The OXO Barista Brain is so streamlined with its built-in smart features that making fine coffee is easy, as opposed to some competitors' time-consuming and complex programming requirements. The coffee is hot and the thermal carafe is durable and works well. You do not get a filter for the water the machine uses to make coffee, but overall, the results are good.