If you’re in a rush and just want to find out our top pick of the best Cuisinart coffee makers, then we recommend the Cuisinart SS-15 Coffee Maker as the best all-rounder.
Cuisinart has a well-deserved reputation for producing a wide variety of high-quality kitchen appliances.
It’s also made a name for itself as one of the best producers of coffee makers, covering all budgets.
There’s a lot to choose from though. Do you need a drip coffee maker or the convenience of a coffee pod? Grind your own beans, or use pre-ground coffee instead?
I’ve reviewed plenty of these machines over the years, and in this article I’m going to walk you through the whole process of finding the Cuisinart coffee maker that’s right for you.
In this article, I’m going to review the following Cuisinart coffee makers:
- Cuisinart DCC-3200 14 Cup
- Cuisinart DGB-850 Grind and Brew
- Cuisinart SS-15 Coffee Maker
- Cuisinart DCC-3400 Thermal Coffee Maker
- Cuisinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus
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Buying a Cuisinart coffee maker
Cuisinart makes coffee makers to suit a number of different purposes. In this guide I’ve picked the best in each category
Before we move onto the reviews it’s important to understand the different factors that should influence your final decision.
What kind of machine do you need?
Make sure you know exactly what you need your machine for before choosing it:
K-Cup Compatible: These machines use single-serve coffee pods and are designed to produce pretty good quality coffee very quickly. You get hundreds of different pods to choose from, but the costs can mount up. Still, they’re extremely convenient.
Grind and Brew: If you want to start with whole beans and end with very flavourful coffee, grind and brew machines are the way to go. You add the beans to the hopper, choose your grinding settings, then let the machine do the hard work.
Ground: If you have some favourite ground coffee brands that you want to use, look for a machine designed for simple ground coffee brewing.
Hybrid: Within the Cuisinart range you’ll find machines that take a “pick and mix” approach to all these options. Make sure you’re not paying for something you don’t need, or just won’t deliver what you want!
Is a thermal or glass carafe better?
Whether you choose a glass or a thermal carafe is down to your own preference. There are pros and cons to using both:
Glass Carafes: These are designed to sit on a hot plate and stay hot for a very long time. The flipside of this is that the coffee flavour degrades over time as it’s continuously heated. Machines with glass carafes tend to have a bigger maximum serving capacity though, and they’re dishwasher-safe too.
Thermal Carafes: Because of the way they’re insulated, thermal carafes typically can’t hold quite as much coffee as a glass carafe. The coffee doesn’t continue to heat over time though, and I reckon you’ll get about three hours of hot-enough coffee using one of these. You’ll need to wash these by hand.
How big is big enough?
This touches on a few issues I’ve already covered, but it’s important to think about how many cups you’re likely to serve. You don’t want to keep your guests waiting forever, after all…
Are you happy brewing a small pot of coffee that’s good for four or so cups? Will you ever entertain and need to brew a much bigger carafe of coffee?
I recommend picking a machine that’s good enough for your daily needs (and won’t waste coffee), but can also scale up easily when you have friends around.
Consider also the overall size of the machine.
Look at the specs carefully but make sure you allow for enough space on the top so you can actually load the thing!
Most machines come in the bog-standard black, white or stainless steel finish. If you prefer a colourful kitchen though, you may be restricted to certain machines that are available in brighter designs.
Do you need a timer?
I’m no good to anyone until I’ve had my first cup of coffee in the morning. If you’re the same, look for a machine that can be set to a timer.
That way you can set your brew up before you go to bed, and have a fresh cup of coffee waiting for you when you wake up. Heaven!
How strong do you like your coffee?
You won’t be frothing your own cappuccinos with this sort of coffee maker. Still, it’s worth checking if you have the option to set different brew strengths, for example.
This is especially important if you have a household of different tastes.
You might also want a stronger coffee at the start of the day yourself, but wind things down a bit as the day progresses.
Not every machine comes with this sort of functionality, so decide if this is going to be an important feature for you and your family.
Cuisinart Coffee Maker Reviews
Cuisinart’s DCC-3200 coffee maker produces up to 14 cups of coffee at a time.
Unless you host particularly large gatherings, I think you should find that about as much as you’re ever likely to need. Note that the DCC-3200 comes with a glass carafe.
If you’re not making masses of coffee, then you do have the option to scale down to a one or four-cup setting.
That means you can grab a cup before work, or brew a slightly bigger batch for those lazy Sunday mornings with the papers. Either way it’s always good to minimise waste.
It doesn’t have the most advanced brewing options, but you do get the choice of brewing a regular strength coffee or a much stronger one.
You might find that useful if you like a weaker cup towards the end of the day, or have people in your household with differing tastes.
The coffee it produces in either case is pretty good! A gold tone permanent filter is included in the box – as well as a water purifying filter – and using these means the quality of your coffee only improves with ongoing use.
It’s also got some clever Cuisinart brewing tech built-in. This heats the coffee at a suitably high temperature – at all stages – without damaging the flavour.
The DCC-3200 also has some basic programming functions. You can set things up in advance with 24 hours notice. That might be useful if you like to prepare a brew the night before, and get started with a coffee as soon as you’re up.
With a young family I am always in a rush first thing, so I find this kind of feature very helpful.
There’s a pretty good selection of finishes to choose from too:
- Light Grey
- Sky Blue
If you’ve got a colourful kitchen you should be able to find a bright addition you like from those. If you’re like me and have quite traditional appliances, you have the usual grey, black, white and stainless steel options to choose from.
The DCC-3200 is my personal top pick if you want to be able to scale up and brew really good coffee for larger gatherings.
- Produces much more flavourful coffee than earlier machines in the DCC range.
- Cup sizes are so variable that I find the extra capacity of this machine to be very helpful.
- The hot plate can be set to keep the coffee heating for up to four hours (I wouldn’t leave it much longer than that though!)
- No issues reported with coffee grounds clogging up the machinery. All in all, it’s pretty easy to keep in top condition.
- The audio indicators on this thing make quite a racket! You might prefer to disable them altogether if they start to annoy you.
- Because of the higher brewing temperature, it’ll take you a little but longer to get used to the amount of coffee you should use on each brew setting.
- There’s a tendency for condensation to build up on the rear of the machine after finishing the brew. Try to remember to wipe it down after a few uses.
If you enjoy having more control over your coffee brewing, then I recommend taking a look at Cuisinart’s flagship DGB-850 grind and brew coffee maker.
Machines like this take the fresh beans you supply it with and then grind them before starting the brew. Coffee starts losing its flavour right after grinding, but by minimising the time between bean and cup you get a richer drink, with deeper flavours.
As a bonus, the DGB-850 uses a burr – rather than a blade – grinder. That means you get a much more consistent grind, which will help ensure even brewing. Those grinds are then rinsed through the machine before the batch starts, so nothing gets wasted.
You can actually bypass the grinding feature if you wish. If you’re ever in a rush and just want to throw some of your favourite pre-ground coffee in, you can do so easily enough.
The DGB-850 is available in either a 10 or 12-cup maximum capacity (with a minimum batch of four cups). I’d recommend the 12-cup version if you like the look of this machine. There’s not a lot of difference in the size of each one, and you might as well have the extra capacity in case you need it.
You can also choose between a glass or thermal carafe, depending on your own preferences. See the Buying Guide towards the top of this article if you’d like more insight into why you might prefer one over the other.
When it comes to brewing strength you can opt for either a regular, bold or extra-bold flavour. Just remember that the minimum serving is four cups, so that’s the smallest amount of each strength you’ll be able to make at a time.
This one’s for those of you who want to grind truly fresh coffee…but also have the ability to fall back on pre-ground when you want it!
- Air-tight bean hopper keeps your beans fresh until they’re ready.
- Offers flexibility between whole beans or ground coffee.
- Option to have either a glass or a thermal carafe.
- Carafe pours well without making the usual mess.
- Handles even oily beans without clogging up, making it easier to maintain.
- Produces coffee with very deep flavours, not merely strong.
- Rather a slow coffee maker, but the end results justify the extra time.
- A relatively large machine, so make sure you’ve enough space (and allow enough extra room on the height!)
- A rather industrial-looking thing, but this will largely be a question of personal taste.
- It can be quite hard to judge the water levels when peering into the tank.
- You should plan to spend a little bit of time cleaning the various components.
If you’re still trying to wean yourself off of your K-Cup addiction, Cuisinart’s SS-15 is one of the company’s most popular pod machines.
The glass carafe supplied with it is good for around 12 cups of coffee, although you can get a 10 cup version if you prefer.
Just be aware that this smaller version comes with a thermal carafe instead. You’ll have to decide for yourself which of those design choices are more important to you.
If you just want to make a smaller brew then you can opt for single-cup servings in 6, 8 and 10oz servings. I reckon that’s a decent range, although I tend to go for 8oz as a minimum (I like a proper drink when I’m having one!)
Your ground coffee will only taste as good as the brand you buy, of course, but Keurig’s made a big name for itself in the coffee pod market.
Those pods don’t make the best tasting coffee in the world, but you do get to choose from hundreds of different flavours. It’s a trade-off between quality and convenience really, and even then it’s still pretty good stuff.
To help improve the brewing, the SS-15 also comes with a gold tone filter which slowly improves the coffee flavour over time. You also get a charcoal water filter, which helps with water purity.
As well as being compatible with the full range of Keurig pods, you also get Cuisinart’s own-brand reusable coffee filter in the box. That way you can carry on using your favourite ground coffee right away.
The cost of those pods can certainly mount up over time – and they’re not great for the environment either – so you might like having that as a fallback option.
The SS-15 is a great option if you want the convenience of K-Cups, but still hold onto the option to brew regular ground coffee too.
- K-Cup brewing is super-convenient for when you need a quick cup.
- Water levels are really easy to read.
- Very hot coffee for a machine of this kind.
- Nicely designed overall, and the stainless steel wipes down easily too.
- Provides the best of both worlds in one machine.
- Be prepared to undertake a little bit of maintenance. You’ll have to clean the pod needle every now and then.
- Filling the water is a little bit fiddly, but a little practise will help.
- It’s fairly big for a pod machine, but remember you’re getting the option to brew ground coffee too.
- Be careful when opening the glass carafe edition as it comes loose in the packaging and could fall on the floor.
There’s not a huge amount of difference between this machine and the DCC-3200 featured further up the page.
This coffee maker, however, is designed to accommodate a thermal carafe. That’ll keep your coffee warm more naturally, and you might prefer this if you’re not a fan of having glass carafes stew the brew for hours.
One other difference to be aware of is that the 3400 has a slightly smaller maximum capacity at 12 cups (down from the 14 cups on the 3200).
Is that a problem? I don’t think so unless you’re entertaining all the time, or you have a very thirsty household of coffee drinkers.
Apart from this you’ve got the same features: a 24 hour timer, options for smaller brewing sizes, different brew strengths, and things such as filters right out of the box.
If you’re dead set on having a thermal carafe over a glass one, I think this is probably the best choice from the Cuisinart coffee maker range.
- Thermal carafe holds the heat well and coffee continues tasting great for at least a few hours.
- All the other benefits of the DCC-3200!
- You’re losing a little in capacity here, with a 12 cup maximum rather than 14.
- Takes a little longer to pour as the carafe includes an insulating seal near the spout
- You have to practically turn the carafe upside down to get the very last cup of each brew.
- I’ve not experienced it myself but I know some owners have found the carafe can make a bit of a mess.
The final machine I’ve reviewed for this round-up is the Cuisinart CHW-12. This one stands out from the rest of the pack by offering the most functionality of all the machines I’ve looked at.
First of all, you get to choose a High, Medium or Low heat for the heating plate. That will help you mitigate some of the flavour issues that are part and parcel of using a glass carafe.
Further versatility comes from a hot water function that draws on a 54 oz water reservoir.
That’s quite a nice thing to have when you’ve got limited space in the kitchen, but want to make other drinks like tea or hot chocolate. All you have to do is press the lever down and whoosh – your drink’s done.
Just make sure you empty and refill the reservoir from time to time if you’re only using this feature occasionally. The water will go nasty if it’s left sitting for more than a week, and you definitely won’t want to drink it. As it’s quite a big tank this could happen more often than you think.
Design-wise you have a choice of a black or red finish with the CHW-12. Like the DC3400 there’s also a stainless steel edition which uses a thermal carafe, rather than glass. You drop down even further to a maximum 10 cup capacity if you go down this route though.
If you want the most control over your coffee brewing (with other drink options too), then the CHW-12 has the best range of functions.
- Piping hot water function means you can make all sorts of drinks quickly.
- You can set the maximum plate heating time if you’re worried about the coffee brewing too long. Anywhere between one and four hours is possible.
- The hot water reservoir has a safety lock mechanism to help you avoid accidental burns. With young children in the house I find this reassuring.
- A brew-pause function cuts in automatically and lets you grab a quick cup of coffee before the rest of the brew finishes.
- Make sure the machine has completely finished brewing, otherwise it can make a bit of a mess
- The lettering on the front panel wears off quite quickly, so you need to be gentle when cleaning it.
- It’s a little bit fiddly to fill the water reservoir that feeds the coffee.
- Some people have experienced leaks in the carafe and machine, but this tends to only happen after a few years of use.
All of these Cuisinart machines have their different strengths and weaknesses. It really does depend on what exactly you want from one!
If I had to own just one of them though, my top pick as an all-rounder is the Cuisinart SS-15.
With it you get the best of both worlds in terms of K-Cup convenience and regular ground coffee. The ability to increase the brew strength is really useful as well, and it adapts well to different occasions.
It’s one of the most popular coffee machines out there (not just from Cuisinart), and I think its popularity is well-deserved.