Very few things get my day off to a worse start than missing out on an early cup of coffee. That’s easily done as we race around to get our kids ready for the school day.
I’m busy all throughout the working day as well. Being able to set up my coffee the night before and then quickly dip back in for refills makes a real difference.
For just these reasons I wanted to review the Cuisinart DCC-3000 for the site. How good a job can it do of making my life that little bit easier?
(My guide to brewing coffee at home contains plenty more tutorials and buying tips!)
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What to look for in a coffee dispenser
Coffee dispensers like the DCC-3000 are designed to brew a batch of coffee, then maintain it at a good drinking temperature until you’re ready for your next cup.
They’re particularly useful if you like to set everything up first thing in the morning – or the night before – then take a refill whenever you need one.
With that said, I would recommend you only make as much coffee as you think you’ll need for the next three hours or so. After that point, it’s inevitable that the coffee will start to stew a little and become far too bitter.
It’s something to think about when deciding whether this sort of coffee machine is the right one for you or not. You can always make a smaller batch if necessary though.
Committed coffee connoisseurs may find the end result a little wanting. For the average coffee drinker in a large household though they’re a great option. They also work well in small offices.
Here are a few things to consider when buying a machine like this:
Water Reservoir: How big is the water tank? In my experience manufacturers tend to be a bit too generous when describing cup servings. Look instead at the raw capacity of the water and brewing tank, and consider the size of your own cups.
Programmable Features: I like coffee machines that let you set things up the night before. That way you can enjoy your first cup of the day nice and quickly. It’s worth buying a coffee dispenser that has an advanced timer feature for this reason.
Small Batch Brewing: If you don’t think you’re going to drink an entire tank of coffee in a few hours, look for an on-demand machine that lets you brew a smaller batch. That means less waste and a slimmed down coffee budget.
Cup Sizes & Carafes: There are very few on-demand coffee makers that allow you to easily fill carafes or coffee pots. They’re designed to accommodate something the size of a typical mug beneath the spout. On that note, make sure your own cups will fit before buying. Many of these machines have removable drip trays which extend the accessible height by an inch or two.
Pre-ground or Whole Bean: If you don’t already own a coffee grinder and want to enjoy freshly ground coffee, look for a machine that has a built-in grinder. If you’re happy with pre-ground, this obviously won’t be a concern for you.
Heat Retention: An important one! You of course want to make sure your coffee will remain drinkable for at least a few hours.
With all that in mind, what do you get from the DCC-3200?
Cuisinart markets this machine as a 12 cup on-demand coffee maker.
The water reservoir capacity maxes out at around 60oz though, so you’ll have to work out if a 5oz serving is right for your household’s needs.
The coffee it makes is very good though, and it retains the heat extremely well too. It’s one of the better machines in this category and it has a few very useful extra features as well.
There’s a cleaning alert light, for example, which is helpful for eliminating mineral build-up. Not only will that ruin your coffee, it’ll also damage the machine! Just run cleaning solution through it whenever this comes on.
I found the front-facing coffee gauge, indicating how much coffee remains in the tank, to be a little unreliable. Still it gives you a fairly rough idea of when you need to start thinking about the next brew.
You also get a lot of useful accessories out of the box, including a water, charcoal and gold-tone filter.
Finally, it has a pre-program function. That means you can set it up the night before, and have it automatically get the first brew going for when you shuffle downstairs in your slippers.
- As a general rule you want any coffee machine to be able to brew at 195 degrees Fahrenheit for around five minutes. The DCC-3200 hits those targets well.
- Very easy to use, and all settings are accessible with just a couple of button presses.
- Cleaning function makes it easy to care for. Make sure you respond to the alerts when they’re triggered.
- Features the kind of showerhead usually only found on higher-end machines. This does a great job of saturating the coffee.
- Programmable so you can set up your first brew of the day in advance.
- The first cup of coffee is excellent, and the rest remains perfectly drinkable for around three to four hours.
- Dedicated setting for making smaller brews at the optimal temperature and steeping time.
- Although I haven’t experienced this problem myself, I’ve read that some owners have experienced issues with leakage. You can avoid this by thoroughly, but very delicately, cleaning the interior sections of the machine that are accessible.
- No built-in grinder. I always recommend grinding from fresh whole beans for a better cup, so for best results you’ll need a grinder. This may or may not be important to you.
- The “fuel” gauge isn’t as accurate as I’d have liked.
Features of the DCC-3200
In this next section I want to highlight some of the specific features of Cuisinart’s Coffee On Demand machine.
I’ve included my thoughts on each one as well.
Brewing & Heat Retention
The most important part of the equation! The DCC-3200 does a much better job of producing quality coffee than many other competing machines.
Once brewed, the coffee is sent to a dual-walled reservoir within the main housing. There it sits, nicely warmed, until you dispense it.
The initial brewing temperature is right within the recommended guidelines as well. That means the quality of your coffee really only comes down to the quality of the beans you start with.
You should plan for around three to four hours of good coffee from this dispenser. After that the quality of your drink will deteriorate.
That’s not a direct criticism of the DCC-3200 itself. It just goes with the territory when you brew using these sorts of machines.
You’ll notice a panel at the top of the machine which shows how much coffee remains in the tank.
It’s a little like an old-fashioned speedometer, with the needle shifting from Full to Empty as you work through the tank.
Unfortunately, it’s not the most reliable indicator I’ve ever seen. It’s still helpful though, just as you long as you factor in a margin of error as you approach the final quarter or so.
There’s nothing very complicated about the DCC-3200’s control system, but on a machine like this you want to keep things as simple as possible.
A dial on the right-hand side of the machine lets you access the programming function. Alternatively, you can place the machine directly into brew mode. Finally, you can activate the Auto Off function which will turn the machine off after a while.
There’s also a “1-4” setting just below the dial itself. Hit that and you’ll make one to four cups of coffee. The machine changes the brewing temperature to match this smaller batch size, which really helps with flavor. All you have to do is adjust the amount of coffee you add first.
Finally, there’s the dispenser itself. This is a very easy to use lever on the front of the machine. Just hold it down until your mug is full!
Also below the control dial is the 3200’s Clean alert. When the light for this comes on, it’s time to give the machine’s interior a good clean out.
To do this you can either use a dedicated cleaning solution, or vinegar diluted with water. Once you’ve filled the tank, put the machine on a normal brewing cycle and all the gunk and calcium build-up gets flushed out.
I’ll make one personal recommendation here though. Once you’ve completed the cleaning cycle, run another tank of pure water through the machine. That’ll get rid of any lingering flavors or aromas from the cleaning solution you’ve used.
I wouldn’t say the DCC-3200 was the prettiest kitchen appliance I’ve ever seen, but it’s not quite as industrial as some competing machines are.
There are no color options beyond the very familiar black and brushed stainless steel that’s available as standard.
The upside of that of course is you don’t have to worry about it clashing with anything else in your kitchen!
More important is the feel of the thing. The construction of it is solid, and it feels like a sturdy piece of kitchen kit.
I hate adding to landfill unless it’s truly unavoidable, but the DCC-3200 feels like it will last quite some time. Just remember to clean it regularly and carefully to avoid the leakage issues I’ve already touched on.
Overall I was impressed by the performance of the DCC-3200.
There are some other machines that are worth looking at as well though. Here are some of my personal picks:
Mr Coffee’s earned a great reputation for its range of coffee machines in recent years.
- Brew It. Fill it. Go! - twelve cups of Coffee are stored in the sealed Coffee chamber where the Coffee is kept at the ideal...
- The zh series coffeemaker delivers one-cup convenience with a 12-cup brewing capacity. An internal chamber is sealed tight and...
- Easy pedal dispensing - One-handed dispensing of Coffee directly from the chamber into drinking mug.
- Removable Coffee chamber - seals tight to keep your Coffee hot and fresh. Allows for easy cleaning without the concerns of...
- Programmable control settings - allow you to set your coffeemaker up to 24 hours In advance to begin brewing at a specific time.
Its 12 cup dispenser model is a little more industrial-looking than Cuisinart’s. They’re pretty much equal when it comes to features and performance though
One bonus of the Mr Coffee machine? The dispenser itself is powered by a pedal you push back on with the cup. That means you only need one hand to refill, which might be useful if you’re buying for someone with limited control.
- Feature-wise it’s on a par with the Cuisinart machine.
- Mr Coffee machines have a good reputation for brewing excellent home coffee.
- Pedal dispenser is simple to use, and allows for one-hand refills.
- Some of the plastic components can be broken if you’re not gentle with this machine. Replacement parts are not easy to source either.
- A somewhat more industrial design. You’ll need to think hard about how this will look in your kitchen.
- You fill the water reservoir via a lid at the top of the machine. You’ll need more vertical space to situate it as a result.
Hamilton Beach’s BrewStation is another striking design.
It’s only available in standard red at the time of review, however, and that’s likely to be the first feature you’ll have to consider carefully!
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Still, the coffee it produces is very good. Like the Mr Coffee machine you dispense coffee by pushing with your mug, which makes using it very simple.
There are also a few extra settings for making smaller batches, and even iced coffee if you like.
- It’s a pro or a con depending on your perspective, but the color scheme will certainly brighten up your kitchen.
- Easy to dispense with a simple push.
- Small batch and iced coffee settings included.
- No permanent filter, which means you’ll have to continue buying paper filters.
- It’s a bit messy. You have to lift out the filtered section, then lift out the bit below that to add water.
- Doesn’t brew the hottest coffee in the world.
Although there are some alternatives on the market, Cuisinart’s DCC-3000 is pretty much the best coffee maker in this particular category.
It brews coffee at just the right temperature, and I think it’s more than drinkable at the four-hour mark. I’m not aware of any machine of this type that can adequately retain heat longer than that.
Although the brewing functions are limited, it provides the fundamentals you really want to see here: smaller batch brewing, 24 hour advanced programming and an auto-off function.
If you’re buying a machine like this it’s because you need a little more convenience in your life, and so the cleaning alert is the icing on the cake really. With a young family and a very busy day, I haven’t got time to pay close attention to my kitchen maintenance schedule!
Click here if you want to find out more and read other reviews of this reliable coffee machine.