You’ll get a great cup of coffee from the Cuisinart Brew Central, with one potentially serious problem
SHORT VERSION: The Cuisinart Brew Central DCC-1200 is an all-around great coffee machine with good looks and all the features you could want. It makes great coffee and thousands of buyers are delighted with it. But here’s the thing: dozens of owners have reported it as a potential fire hazard. With so many positive reviews, should you worry about a handful of people who found the machine producing smoke? I would.
The Cuisinart Brew Central is a full-featured Cuisinart coffee maker designed to brew high quality coffee and look great while doing it. Available in chrome finishes that are either brushed (silver), black, or metallic red, this coffee maker has a nice retro look to it, complete with an old-timey toggle switch that flips up and down to turn the coffee maker on or off. At 14 inches tall and 9 inches deep, this is a fairly large coffee machine; if you’re putting it beneath kitchen cabinets, you will need approximately 22 inches of clearance in order to fully lift the unit’s flip-up lid in order to pour the water in.
REASONS TO BUY THE CUISINART BREW CENTRAL
Brewing is relatively fast at 5 minutes for four cups of coffee, so a full pot (12 cups) should take about 15 minutes. Virtually all of the reports on the actual taste of the coffee brewed by the Cuisinart Brew Central say that it’s somewhere between “very good” and “great,” especially in comparison to cheaper coffee makers. Many owners report that this unit does, indeed, justify its price tag on taste alone. The “most helpful” review on Amazon.com (by customer Elaine Corwin) declares that “This coffee tastes smooooooth!” It seems fair to say that Elaine really likes the coffee this Cuisinart coffee maker produces, as do thousands of others. One of the factors influencing the superior taste this coffee machine provides is the charcoal water filter which removes bad-tasting elements such as chlorine and calcium from the water you pour into it, and this feature is especially desirable if your tap water doesn’t taste so great on its own. The showerhead design also contributes to great tasting coffee as it distributes water evenly and prevents loss of heat as water is passed through the coffee grounds.
Another feature that owners of this Cuisinart coffee maker enjoy is the permanent gold tone wire mesh filter, but a few have said that the filter is too difficult to clean out so they still choose to use conical paper filters. Using too fine of a grind could be the cause of this issue, but if that’s how you like your coffee then the paper filters are an easy fix. A word of warning though: using a paper filter with the gold tone permanent filter could cause overflow, spewing coffee and grounds all over your counter top. Whether or not this will be an issue for you may depend on the coarseness of your grind and the quality of your water.
The adjustable heating plate has also been mentioned as a nice feature, as has the 1 to 4 cup function which “double heats” the water when making a small quantity of coffee. The significance of this feature is that, when making a full pot of coffee, the first few cups are usually not as hot as the rest. This is due to the fact that water, when making a full pot, is typically still in the process of being heated when it goes through the coffee grounds. The double heating ensures that coffee for one is just as hot as coffee for many.
“Brew pause” is another nice touch that prevents coffee from dripping all over the heating plate for 30 seconds while you grab a cup before the pot is finished, but if you’re serious about the taste of your coffee it is generally advised to let the entire pot brew and then give it a quick stir before serving. The flavor profile at the beginning of a brew cycle is usually different from at the end, but if you’re pressed for time you can get a cup of coffee without the drippy mess.
Overall, the vast majority of those who own this Cuisinart coffee maker are quite happy with their purchase.
REASONS TO NOT BUY
As mentioned earlier, a few customers have complained that the wire mesh filter can be difficult to clean, so some buyers may choose to continue to use paper filters. It is possible that difficulty in cleaning the filter could be the result of using coffee that is too finely ground. Cuisinart recommends using a medium-fine grind in order to avoid this issue.
It has also been noted that pouring water into the reservoir of this Cuisinart coffee maker can be a bit of a challenge since the reservoir is located at the right-rear of the machine after opening the flip-up lid. This can be especially challenging for left-handed pourers.
The lid on the carafe isn’t a flip-up (only the lid on the unit itself flips up), and as a result some have reported having trouble with removing the lid for cleaning.
The digital clock is not illuminated. Bummer.
A handful of owners have complained that, after anywhere from one to twelve years of use, this coffee maker began to “leak” coffee all over the heating plate. Some have cited a brittle rubber hose as the cause, and others have claimed that the filter basket not being properly aligned is the reason.
A few others have had a much more serious complaint which is that, after anywhere from a few months to a few years of use, this Cuisinart coffee maker began to behave like a potential fire hazard. One user reported that she found her coffee at a “hard, rolling boil” and that the kitchen smelled like smoke, and a handful of others have made similar reports. Thankfully there aren’t any known reports of actual fires having been started by the Cuisinart Brew Central, but this is an issue to certainly consider.
The Cuisinart Brew Central DCC-1200 does a lot of things right. It has plenty of convenience features and, above all, pretty much everyone agrees that it produces great coffee. A couple of design decisions are puzzling… the placement of the reservoir at the back of the unit seems a bit inconvenient, and the lid on the carafe should flip up for giving it a quick rinse. And the non-illuminated digital clock? Come on, Cuisinart. That’s just lazy.
The one characteristic that stands out in this review, however, is the potential fire hazard this Cuisinart coffee maker may pose. Not just a few, but dozens of owners of this coffee maker have reported similar events with the unit starting to smoke, etc. (these claims are easily found on Amazon.com’s Cuisinart Brew Central product review pages). If you have children this should really scare you, and even if you don’t I would think you’d at least be a little concerned.
Other “product review” blogs and “coffee maker review” sites will tell you that this machine is great and you should “buy now,” but let’s be honest: they just want to make a commission from your Amazon.com purchase. Of course, I want to make that commission, too, but I can’t recommend this Cuisinart coffee maker. If not for the fire hazard allegations, this coffee maker would be a must-buy but the serious malfunctions reported are too big to ignore. Judging by the relatively small number of fire hazard complaints versus the thousands of positive reviews for the Cuisinart Brew Central on Amazon, it seems that buying this coffee maker probably won’t burn your house down… but do you really want to risk it?
Don’t buy. Pick a different coffee maker. If you really want a Cuisinart coffee maker, consider the Cuisinart DTC-975BKN with the thermal carafe.