Brew Central is one of the prettier machines, Newco is maybe the ugliest, looks don't mean much...
Positive Product Points
Aesthetics. Looks sharp on your countertop. The housing is nice and uniform. As opposed to the Technivorm, which looks like a chemistry experiment. The craftsmanship of the unit seems solid, nothing really feels or appears to be cheap. With the exception of possibly the on/off switch and the two control knobs. They're a bit flimsy. The carafe has a good weight and feel to it. The pour is smooth and mess free. Charcoal filter and gold cone included is also nice, along with all the timers, if you so desire.
Negative Product Points
The end result. In terms of the minor issues I agree with many others -- the reservoir opening is too small and perhaps the carafe could have a hinged lid. These are things one can easily live with. A weak brew is not.
The machine is rugged and equipped with a maximum amount of features, but in the end, it doesn't pack any punch. I've only tried a couple different beans, though. Mainly, Coffee Klatch -- Organic French Roast. Klatch roasts out of San Dimas, CA. Their most recent espresso blend won best in the World (WBC-Tokyo). They don't fool around.
I tried 4 different medium-grind settings on a Capresso Infinity grinder and kept increasing my bean amounts in search of a decent brew. Nothing. It literally came out like a cup of McDonalds. Before they switched to Neuman's Own. I was shocked a French roast could taste that bland. Especially with beans of that quality. On my final attempt I set the Infinity to the finest of the 4 medium settings. I used 5 tablespoons of ground coffee and about 12oz of Brita filtered water. The SCAA recommends 4 tablespoons of grinds for that amt. of water. I was also using a Swiss Gold filter. End result was the same. Complete garbage. I gave up on it.
I felt as though I was doing something drastically wrong. It didn't make sense how the coffee could taste that thin. But I kept thinking of an earlier review where someone referred to the coffee from this machine being like lukewarm mediocrity. I found this to be quite accurate. I checked the temperatures multiple times. In the cup was 160. Midway through the brew cycle I got about 175-180 in the basket. This was only with 10-15 oz of water, however. Perhaps a larger pot would get a bit hotter. I was using the 1-4 cup "double heater" setting on all my attempts.
I noticed in a previous review someone had trouble with fresh beans and thought older beans may suit this machine better. The beans I used were 9 days from the roast date. Yet another person thought the Brew Central was a decent machine for a medium or darker medium roast. The French roast I used was maybe not ideal. In any case, for me, the machine is unusable. Of course, many others are happy with it. Just depends on your tastes, I guess.
I may try the Technivorm or the Newco next. They're a little strange looking but both apparently brew at around 200 degrees. The key to a top machine.
No hassles. LNT 20% off coupon. Retail price was $79.99.