The Bunn VP-17 may not be glamorous, but could it be the best coffee maker on the market?
SHORT VERSION: Calling the Bunn VP-17 the best coffee maker you can buy is a pretty strong statement, but this coffee maker does just about everything you would expect from a machine with such a lofty title. If you don’t mind a big commercial-grade coffee maker crowding your kitchen counter, and if you can live without the bells & whistles that most cheaper coffee makers come with, then step right up and buy this thing! To paraphrase many of Amazon.com’s reviewers, this might be the last coffee maker you ever buy.
Many owners of the Bunn VP-17 say it’s the best coffee maker they’ve ever owned and a few (very few) aren’t too impressed. Absolutely everyone agrees, however, that this coffee maker is huge! Several owners of this coffee maker say it’s 17 inches tall, but a few owners of this Bunn have estimated that you will need 18 inches of space under the cabinets for it to fit. Also, the footprint is 18 inches deep and about 8.5 inches wide, so be prepared to clear off some space. Water is poured into the top of the front of the unit, and it’s been reported that the unit sticks out far enough that the cabinets don’t interfere with the reservoir lid.
If you’re cool with the size of this coffee maker, the rest is just cosmetic. It’s very similar to the kind of Bunn coffee makers you see in restaurants and quaint little diners which means it could be viewed as kitschy or fugly, depending on your perspective. It’s a stainless steel, no-frills machine. It isn’t built to look all fancy like the Technivorm Moccamaster or the Star Trek-looking Behmor Brazen, but a lot of people like the way it looks on their kitchen counter.
And of course, this coffee maker uses the classic “cupcake” coffee filters that Bunn literally invented way back when. You can get 1,000 of them for less than $15.
REASONS TO BUY THIS COFFEE MAKER
First of all, it’s the best coffee maker out there! Just kidding…but it might be. As of this writing, there are 130 customer reviews of the Bunn VP-17 on Amazon and 119 of them are positive. That’s huge, which is fitting for such a huge coffee maker. That’s 119 people who gave this Bunn coffee maker either 4 or 5 stars which accounts for 91% of reviews. Compare that to the 4 and 5 star reviews for the $300 Technivorm Moccamaster KB 741 (87%, 110 reviews) and the $200 Behmor Brazen Plus (74%, 226 reviews) (read my review), and suddenly this Bunn seems like maybe its own $260 price tag isn’t so outrageous after all. These review numbers are pretty telling, especially since the Technivorm seems to have been unofficially dubbed The Best Coffee Maker in the World by just about everyone. Here’s a quick look at what some Bunn VP-17 owners are saying about their stainless steel darling:
- Very impressive construction, brews fast and reliably consistent. Worth every penny in this age of cheap, throw-away coffee makers. (Kurt in MT, May 2, 2016)
- The best and last coffee maker you will ever need. (The Goods, February 21, 2016)
- This is a commercial grade machine, so I expect it to last for years; my 3-month impression is that it could be the last coffee maker I’ll ever own. (Dichterliebe, July 14, 2015)
- Best coffee maker I’ve ever got so far. Thanks Bunn. (Mosa M., February 26, 2015)
- I know the price can be a little intimidating when considering it for home use, but let me just tell you it is well worth the money. (Ardad, April 28, 2013)
- The coffee is always perfectly hot (200F) and the big BUNN brews a full 64oz pot of terrific coffee in 3 minutes. (Hobbyhobbit, April 28, 2012)
- I’ve had mine since 1998! Still going strong. (lesd40, July 6, 2011)
And to cap it all off, CueBee 42 said, “I will never love a woman like I love this Coffee pot,” and no, I did not make that one up! Also, did you notice what Mosa M. said? “Best coffee maker”!
Reviews of this Bunn coffee maker, a.k.a. Possibly the Best Coffee Maker in the World, reveal two big things. First, the coffee is HOT. Out of all the thousands of coffee maker reviews I’ve scoured through on Amazon, coffee temperature is one of the biggest complaints out there. Sure, those complaints are usually from owners of cheap coffee makers (honestly, what are they expecting for $50?), but even owners of some more expensive models say that their coffee isn’t hot enough. Two of the 11 negative reviews said their VP-17 wasn’t producing hot enough water, but at the same time there were also a couple of positive reviews who said the same thing and got a free replacement which worked properly. The second thing to note here, and this is a biggie…is that not one of the reviews on this Bunn coffee maker, positive or negative, mentions plastic taste! Not a single one. Hooray for stainless steel construction. Also, if you’re currently suffering from this problem, here are some ideas on getting rid of that plastic taste.
At the top of this review, I wondered out loud if the Bunn VP-17 could be the best coffee maker out there. You know what? It might be. Here are some more things that people are saying about it:
- The Bunn VP-17 is well-built. Just a few of the 130 reviewers have said that they had a problem with their Bunn coffee maker, but those units were easily replaced by Bunn’s very competent customer service department.
- This coffee maker brews fast. Like Bunn’s Velocity Brew line, the VP-17 maintains a hot tank of water at all times. This means you can have a full 12 cups of coffee ready in about three minutes.
- This Bunn coffee maker will last a long time. This is kind of the same as saying it’s well-built, but that’s largely a subjective judgment based on look and feel. There’s nothing subjective about the owner (lesd40) who says his/her Bunn coffee maker still works “like new” after 13 years.
- This Bunn coffee maker is easy to use.
- This is the best coffee maker they have ever had. Again, this is pretty subjective, but many of the reviewers of this Bunn have had it up to here (hold your hand in front of your forehead) with “cheap junk” that’s made in China.
Perhaps even more impressive is what people are NOT complaining about. We already know that nobody is complaining about plastic taste. They’re also not complaining about early breakdowns or overflowing brew baskets! These are the most common complaints out there, and this Bunn coffee maker seems to be immune to all of them. Maybe it really is the best coffee maker you can buy.
REASONS TO NOT BUY
Even the best coffee maker on the planet is going to get some negative reviews. Since there are only 11 of them, I’ll paraphrase them all for you right here:
- No decanter/carafe. (Amazon Customer on May 23, 2016)
- No on/off switch, except for the one on the warming plate (Robert G. Vedder on September 2, 2015)
- Too big (Dan Webster on June 30, 2015)
- Too big, coffee not hot enough (E James Pappert on March 22, 2015)
- Too big, no on/off switch, warming plate not adjustable (Hernan Emilio Rebagliati on February 5, 2015)
- Defective warming element, twice (sounds like he/she is talking about the warming plate) (Ohio on January 27, 2015)
- Water heater was overheating (battle Page on January 10, 2015)
- No funnel included (I think he means the filter basket) (Sebastien De Groof on March 10, 2014)
- Funnel is made of cheap plastic (again, funnel = filter basket) (weida peng on January 24, 2013)
- No decanter/carafe (“Other than that, this coffee maker is great!”) (ZachW on January 23, 2013)
- Water not hot enough (Me on December 13, 2012)
And there you have it! Three complaints about the water heater. Two complaints about the warming plate. Two complaints about the “funnel” being either cheap or missing (sounds like the seller’s mistake). The rest complained about this Bunn coffee maker being too big and not coming with a carafe.
Yes, for over $200 you would think that a carafe would be included but beware…IT ISN’T! The (possibly) best coffee maker in the world doesn’t come with a carafe. I totally understand that this kind of sucks, but the good news is that you can get one for about $20-25 and it even says BUNN in big letters, just like the ones they use at restaurants. Keep in mind that this particular carafe is made of plastic, but even this thing has mostly 4 and 5 star reviews (24 out of 30). Bunn also sells a glass carafe for less than $10, which also very highly rated (95% positive). For the truly hardcore, there is also the Bunn 64 oz. Thermal Carafe by Zojirushi for $85.
As for the complaints about no on/off switch for the whole unit, that can be remedied with a timer if it’s really important to you. Some people feel bad about keeping water hot all day while they’re at work because it’s sort of a waste of electricity. The warming plate does have an on/off switch, but that’s it. Remember, this is a consumer model of a commercial coffee maker, so there is no warming plate auto-shutoff or temperature control. I think the main difference between this Bunn coffee maker and the ones found in restaurants is that this one isn’t designed to hook up to a building’s plumbing (you just pour water into it like any other coffee maker).
One last thing, and this is about the complaints regarding the funnel (aka, the filter basket). Bunn offers an optional stainless steel funnel assembly for the VP-17. You don’t HAVE TO buy it, but if you’re super paranoid about plastic taste in your coffee, you should think about getting it. I personally believe that plastic water reservoirs are the reason that a lot of cheaper coffee makers produce plastic taste in the coffee they produce. I even wrote a whole thing on that very subject. But there are still some who think that plastic filter baskets are responsible. Unfortunately, so many coffee makers are equipped with plastic everything that it’s hard to tell where the plastic taste is truly coming from! Quite frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a little bit of both plastic reservoir and plastic basket. Owners of the Bunn VP-17 don’t complain about plastic taste, even with the plastic filter basket, but you should know that this stainless steel funnel assembly is available. Buy or don’t buy (see what I did there?), it’s up to you. If you do choose to get the stainless steel funnel assembly, you should plan on calling Bunn to ask for a “funnel tip kit.” For some reason, commercial-grade stuff always seems to need miscellaneous parts. Shrug.
I feel pretty good about dubbing the Bunn VP-17 the Best Coffee Maker on the market, and I also like typing the words BEST COFFEE MAKER because, well, Google (sorry! haha). But seriously, if this isn’t truly the best coffee maker you can buy, it’s probably still up there in that same tier with other Best Coffee Maker candidates. Even though this coffee maker is more or less devoid of any convenience features, it does everything else right. It produces fast, hot coffee without overflowing, plastic taste, or any of the other issues that plague nearly every other coffee maker on the market. Yes, it’s expensive, but how much money have you already spent on coffee makers that are now living in landfills? Things that make you go Hmm.
BUY IT. It really might be the best coffee maker you can buy.
Also, damn you, Google, for making me do the keyword dance. *cough* best coffee maker *cough*. Wow. I hate myself.