This is a no-frills, minimum moving-parts machine that brews wonderful coffee and keeps it HOT without scorching. Highly recommended. (NO longer recommended... See update)
Positive Product Points
Heats water to above 195° F
Thermal carafe keeps coffee drinkably HOT
Easy to use
Negative Product Points
Can be difficult to snap grinds basket back in place
One has to be certain that the carafe is lined up correctly under the basket
A little tall; may need to pull-out or use sink-sprayer to fill under cabinets
I roast my own coffee. I'm a coffee fanatic. In fact, most of my friends call me a coffee snob. When it came time for me to replace my Braun coffee maker, I did A LOT of research and settled on the Cuisinart DTC-975BKN (black with stainless trim).
I had been using a succession of Braun coffee makers because they would brew at the correct temperature of 195-205° F. These model I liked has not been available for years and I'd taken to buying them at thrift stores and purchasing new carafes online as necessary. I finally decided we needed something that wasn't ten years old and leaked, so hence the Cuisinart.
I considered going with a grind-and-brew unit, but felt the complexity would eventually come back to bite me and something would break. Additionally, I already have a nice Cuisinart burr grinder and wanted to keep that portion of the operation separate.
The big feature I was looking for was an insulated carafe so that the coffee wouldn't "cook" on a burner and get bitter if I couldn't get to it right away. I like to set everything up the night before and have fresh coffee when I get up in the morning. Additionally, I wanted a 12 cup carafe. That meant that I really only had to or three units to choose form. I read up on all of the brands and saw many positive (and some negative) reviews for this model. I like the fact that one does not need to loosen the lid of the carafe to pour coffee.
I prepped the machine by running plain water through it the first time and then set it up for the next morning. Set up and programming is easy. I had read that the unit would overflow onto the counter, but this only happens if one fills above the overflow hole in the back of the reservoir. The resulting coffee was hot and robust. I like the fact that there are no "strength" settings. I simply add more or less grounds to get the flavor I want. Brewed coffee temperature measured in the carafe is over 190° F. Temperature measured 5 hours AFTER brewing, with only a partially-full carafe, was still 142° F, still hot enough to drink without resorting to a whirl in the microwave. The later brew tasted almost as good as the fresh, not stale at all.
The machine is too tall to raise the water reservoir cover all the way to fill under my upper cabinets, but I simply raise the lid part way and use the spray hose to fill.
A few caveats: One must be certain that the basket is snapped securely in place. Also, the setting indicators on the LCD screen for "program" and "auto" are quite small. You need good light to see them. (Or at least that's the way it works with my 51 year-old eyes.) :) I have read reviews that say the machine flowed water all over the counter, not in the carafe. The carafe MUST be lined-up properly under the filter basket for coffee to enter the carafe.
Other than that, I'm very happy with this machine and hope it lasts a long time. The Cuisinart DTC-975BKN comes with a three-year limited warranty which is nice. I hope I won't need it. Most units only come with a one-year warranty.
List price at BB&B (and everywhere else) is $99.99. I managed to use a pre-Christmas $25-off coupon and scored for $75 + tax out the door. A great deal, as an insulated 12-cup stainless carafe alone would be $45 or more.
Three Month Followup
We have been using the Cuisinart now for 3 months and have been generally pleased, with a few small exceptions:
Coffee stays warmer when brewed if the carafe is pre-heated before
LCD panel is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to read in poor light with older eyes, especially the teeny-tiny "AUTO" setting confirmation
The nearly horizontal control panel collects dust and splashes. Raised buttons make it harder to clean
There is an overflow "hole" in the back of the fill tank, much like on a lavatory sink. The problem is, if you over fill the unit,, the water runs down the back of the unit and on to the counter under the machine.
It still works wekk for our purposes. I think like some others, I've been disappointed with the temperature of the coffee if I assemble everything the night before, as I usually do. It's very drinkable, but not piping hot. I have forgotten ONCE to empty the carafe when gettinng everything ready the night before, which meant that the thing overflowed and I had coffee over-run the carafe and on to the counter.
The real issue is, if you need an auto-brew machine with a 12 cup thermal carafe, your choices are really pretty limited. I would still purchase this unit in the future given my needs, but my wish-list to Cuisinart would be that they do a couple things:
Use membrane switches o the control panel to make it easier to clean
Add an LED backlight for the control display so it's easier to read. Come on, how much can a single blue LED cost?
One Year Followup
This machine died after about 9 months. I returned it to BB&B, who were very kind to exchange it for a Krups Dahlstrom, which I love. Scoring has been adjusted accordingly. I would NOT buy this machine again.