SHORT VERSION: The buzz on this Russell Hobbs coffee maker is that it makes great coffee and brews really fast! Unfortunately, that buzz comes from 32 Amazon reviewers who all got their coffee makers for free. The one person who actually paid for his Russell Hobbs coffee maker gave it a mediocre 3-star rating. With a carafe warming plate that stops after 40 minutes and very little input from paying customers, I’m going to pass on this one. I don’t say “Don’t Buy” very often, but right now I’m just not convinced that this coffee maker lives up to its hype or its price tag. That might change after some actual buyers voice their opinions, so I plan to update this review later this year.
Why am I reviewing this Russell Hobbs coffee maker? Because it’s different! I’ve written a lot about all the usual suspects…Cuisinart, Bunn, Bonavita, all those cool SCAA certified coffee makers. Etcetera, etcetera. Russell Hobbs is a British company whose roots date back to the 1950s when, according to Wikipedia, they allegedly invented the first coffee percolator. I say “allegedly” because other sources claim the coffee percolator was first invented by James H. Mason or Hanson Goodrich or some other nerd. Ok, you know what? Who cares! The point is, Russell Hobbs is a British company that is now owned by some big conglomerate called Spectrum Brands. Also, according to at least one Amazon reviewer, this Russell Hobbs coffee maker is made in China, not the U.K. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s worth knowing just in case you’re falling in love with the idea of drinking your morning coffee from a British-made coffee maker.
REASONS TO BUY THIS RUSSELL HOBBS COFFEE MAKER (CM8100GYR)
First and foremost, there are numerous reviewers who say this coffee maker makes great coffee. It’s not unanimous (one reviewer called the coffee “flat”) but there’s a sort-of consensus on the taste. I say “sort-of” because…well, you’ll see. Anyway, here’s something else to consider: If you like bright, shiny objects (really, who doesn’t?), this Russell Hobbs coffee maker is bright and very shiny. According to Spectrum Brands, the exterior is stainless steel. This is cool and looks pretty, but do not confuse this with the elusive “plastic free coffee maker” that I wrote about a while back! If you’re looking for a coffee maker with a stainless steel reservoir, go here. But stainless steel on the outside of a coffee maker is still a nice feature. Check out the picture below! “Sleek” isn’t a word that’s usually associated with coffee makers, but it seems appropriate here.
Some of the other big selling points that Russell Hobbs likes to tout are a fast brew time, a “brew pause” feature, “advanced showerhead technology,” and the ability to program it.
As far as the fast brew time goes, the claim is that this coffee maker is “40% faster!” The caveat here is that this coffee maker is 40% faster than an older Russell Hobbs coffee maker, the CM7000S. One reviewer of that model pegged the brew time at 5 minutes, and another estimated it to be 7-8 minutes. As far as the CM8100GYR goes (clever name, btw!), one Amazon reviewer says that it’s “not slow, but not truly fast” (by awesomely-named CodeMaster Talon on Dec. 17, 2017). Several others, meanwhile, have said the following:
It’s gorgeous, fast and makes a great cup of joe. (Blake Fraina on Jan. 5, 2018)
This brews a pot of coffee turbo-fast! (DeeDee Fox on Jan. 18, 2018)
I was actually skeptical it was working correctly it brewed so fast. (j. sistin on Dec. 16, 2017)
It was so fast [my friend] was amazed. (Mocha’s mom on Dec. 14, 2017)
The only drawback is that I wish the carafe was a bit larger, but it brews so fast – no biggie! (DonMac on Jan. 15, 2018)
These are all very promising comments, but they should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Again, I’ll explain why later!
As for the other features…programmable, advanced showerhead, brew pause (which they call “Pause and Pour”)…yawn. These are all nice features to have, but they’re not exactly unique in the world of coffee makers. On the plus side, CodeMaster Talon posted a little video showing the Pause and Pour feature which seems to function quite nicely and in a very drip-free way.
One not-universal feature that this Russell Hobbs coffee maker has is a self-cleaning function. This is a much bigger deal than the average consumer would think. Sorry if I sound like your mom here, but cleaning your coffee maker is really important if you expect to still be using it six months from now. I wrote a whole thing on how to clean a coffee maker, and for good reason. Here, let me put this in all caps, just to drive the point home: IF YOU DON’T CLEAN YOUR COFFEE MAKER, IT WILL DIE AN EARLY DEATH! Russell Hobbs recommends running a vinegar & water dilution through the coffee maker, and it will remind you to do so every 60 brewing cycles. If you buy this coffee maker and want to keep using it, heed the reminder.
Oh yeah, and another not-unique-but-nice-to-have feature is the permanent filter that’s included. Some say it’s a little tough to clean, but that’s just the nature of fine wire mesh. The tinier the holes, the tighter they hang onto whatever is stuck in them.
REASONS TO NOT BUY
We’re going to start this section off with something I alluded to earlier, twice. If you read the part above about the fast brew time, I mentioned taking it with a “grain of salt.” That means you should be a little suspicious of all those positive reviews. The reason is that this Russell Hobbs coffee maker has, as of this writing, been reviewed by 33 people. The cumulative score for this product on Amazon is 4.3 out of 5 stars. Great, right? Well, sort of. You see, 32 of those 33 reviews are from people who got their Russell Hobbs coffee maker for free. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, there’s a reason that Amazon, bless their little hearts, is very good about telling you who got free stuff in exchange for a review. And it seems that Russell Hobbs has given away 32 of these coffee makers in order to get reviewed. Does this mean you should assume that all of these 32 reviewers are just spewing lies? No, I definitely wouldn’t say that. Several of them, in fact, seem quite objective in their assessments of this product. Still, it stands to reason that *some* reviewers might be inclined to rave about the product because it didn’t cost them a cent. So how do you know who’s just blowing smoke ‘cuz they got a freebie? You don’t! Heck, maybe all of them genuinely love their new Russell Hobbs. I dunno! Just keep it in mind. For what it’s worth, the lone reviewer who actually paid for this coffee maker gave it 3 stars.
And that brings us to the two major complaints about this coffee maker. Wasn’t that a smooth segue? God I’m cool. So here we go!
Big complaint #1: The carafe warming plate stays on for 40 minutes and no more. Free coffee maker or not, just about everyone who reviewed this product either mentioned this or outright complained about it. Most warming plates on coffee makers will run for at least an hour, and some will go for two hours. Some even offer a range of warming times. Not this one! If you don’t empty the pot within 40 minutes, you’re outta luck. And no, you can’t just push a button and get 40 more minutes. It doesn’t work that way. Booooo.
Big complaint #2: The lid to the water reservoir is unhinged. No, I don’t mean it’s batsh*t crazy, it literally does not have a hinge on it. This may not sound like a big deal, but WHY??!! Why couldn’t Russell Hobbs just put a hinge on this thing and make your life easier? The hingeless design might make the lid easier to clean, but most of the 33 reviewers feel that it’s just an inconvenience.
Another issue that some reviewers have complained about is its size and configuration. It’s almost 14 inches tall (or 35.5 cm, for you Brits). That’s not excessively tall, but measure the space under your kitchen cabinets before buying! Oh, and it’s also set up so that it has to be placed lengthwise (or sideways?) on your kitchen counter. A lot of coffee makers are designed to minimize their countertop footprint (like the Bunn Velocity Brew line, for example). This Russell Hobbs coffee maker, however, has to be placed “sideways” if you want the buttons to be accessible. There are other coffee makers that also do this, such as the SCAA certified Cuisinart CPO-850. I suppose this configuration isn’t a dealbreaker for most people, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re short on counter space.
This Russell Hobbs coffee maker isn’t what I’d call “special.” It has some popular features built into it, but right now I think it’s mostly getting by on its looks. The 40-minute limit on the carafe warming plate is inexplicably stupid. It wouldn’t be so bad if you could push a button to turn it back on, but Amazon reviewers say that’s not possible. The no-hinge reservoir lid is cause for some eye-rolling. The height may be prohibitive depending on your kitchen, but 14″ high shouldn’t be an issue for most people. It’s not unusual for coffee makers to stand around 14 to 15 inches in height, and some of those require additional clearance space for a flip-up reservoir lid. The must-place-sideways configuration, however, increases this coffee maker’s countertop footprint considerably.
Keeping in mind that 32 out of 33 reviewers got their coffee makers for free, it’s still somewhat reassuring to see that the comments are mostly positive here. The longest and most thorough reviewers had plenty of positive things to say, including “it makes great coffee,” so that’s worth noting. Still, I remain leery of the fact that only one reviewer actually paid for his coffee maker. In addition to that, the oldest review of this coffee maker is from December 7, 2017. That was less than two months ago. Granted, this coffee maker just became available on Amazon about three months ago, but that doesn’t make the freebie reviewers any more credible. Also, it seems that none of the Amazon reviewers have had this unit for long enough to really put it through its paces. Certainly none can comment on its longevity or durability (yet). Hopefully those people will report back in later on. Some Amazon reviewers actually do that, which is really nice of them.
DON’T BUY, at least for now.
This review marks only the third time I’ve ever said “don’t buy” on a coffee maker. The other two times are here and here. That’s because I generally try to research units that provide a reasonable balance of quality and price. Truth be told, I doubt this Russell Hobbs coffee maker is “bad.” It might even be as good as the reviews say. I just wouldn’t buy it based on my research so far because I’m still unconvinced that this is a great product at its current price of $129.99. That might change after more actual buyers weigh in, but right now I would suggest looking at SCAA certified coffee makers instead. Several of the best ones are considerably more expensive than this Russell Hobbs coffee maker, but a couple are only slightly more costly. Or, if fast brewing time is a big concern, I’ve got two words for you: Velocity Brew (read about the Bunn BXB Velocity Brew here). Sorry, Russell Hobbs! I’ll revisit you later to see if anything has changed.