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Just about everyone needs a coffee maker, but most people aren’t interested in paying out the nose for one. With that in mind, we wanted to find the best drip coffee maker you can get on a $75 budget. I did some research to narrow down the options (since there are so many coffee makers out there) and ultimately selected two to compare in more detail.
Hamilton Beach BrewStation — Review
The BrewStation is a 12-cup coffee maker from Hamilton Beach that you can get for around $49 on Amazon[check current price on Amazon]. It’s programmable and has options for brew strength, keep warm, and auto turn-off.
Instead of a traditional carafe like most coffee makers have, the BrewStation has an internal coffee tank. Because of this, I think this has the potential to be cleaner-looking than your standard coffee maker — no stained carafe or burnt coffee-covered hot plate. To dispense the coffee, you push your mug against the lever under the spout like you would with the water dispenser on a fridge door. It’s all very neat and easy. However, a taller travel mug probably won’t fit nicely under the spout. You could get it under there if you tilted it, but that’s like trying to fill up a water bottle at a drinking fountain. It just doesn’t work that well.
D-Payne gettin’ his caffeine fix from the BrewStation.
Also, the tank that is supposed to be used to fill up the reservoir is a bit awkward. Dillon says that’s a me problem and not a design problem, but I think that’s arguable. It’s large and has a huge opening because it’s the size and shape of the top half of the coffee maker. It isn’t totally unmanageable and you could always use something else to fill the reservoir, but a regular carafe is less spill-prone.
The BrewStation is very quiet. It’s so quiet, we weren’t even sure it was brewing (especially since you don’t see a carafe being filled). So if you don’t want to hear your coffee maker, you’ll appreciate this aspect of the BrewStation. And, despite being held in a plastic tank, the coffee didn’t taste plastic-y at all. It wasn’t too watery and it didn’t have any grounds floating in it either. No coffee complaints.
Even though you don’t see a carafe being filled, you can check the coffee tank’s fill line.
Ironically, what makes the BrewStation look so clean is what makes it harder to actually clean. Since the coffee tank and reservoir are internal and not all of it is removable, cleaning it out isn’t as straightforward as it is with a regular carafe. To clean it, you have to run water through the coffee maker and dispense it out through the spout. However, you don’t have to do it too often and it will tell you when it’s time to clean.
Cuisinart’s Brew Central is a 12-cup programmable coffee maker, listed on Amazon for around $70.99 [check current price on Amazon]. Like the BrewStation, it comes with brew strength control, carafe temperature control, and auto turn-off.
Like a lot of carafe-style drip coffee makers, the Brew Central says it comes with an interrupted drip feature so you can snag a cup of coffee before it’s finished brewing the whole pot. Unlike a lot of other coffee makers, though, its steal-a-cup feature actually works. When we tested it, only one drop hit the hot plate when we pulled the carafe out mid-brew – Not bad!
The Brew Central brewed coffee quite a bit faster than the BrewStation and we count that as a plus because no one wants to wait longer for their coffee. However, it is much louder than the BrewStation, and while I enjoy the sound of coffee brewing, not everyone does. So if that bothers you, you may not be happy with the Brew Central.
Cuisinart Brew Central
We also noticed that this coffee maker does let off a decent amount of steam, so you may not want to put it under your cabinets. And when you lift the lid after you’ve made coffee, the condensation drips down the back.
On the plus side, the Brew Central makes good coffee and cleaning is a breeze, just like any other standard drip coffee maker. You can even run a convenient self clean cycle. And, (based on my parents having owned this coffee maker for a few years), it will last you a while, whereas I can’t make any promises on the BrewStation’s longevity.
Settings on the Cuisinart Brew Central
Conclusion — Hamilton Beach vs Cuisinart Coffee Makers
Overall, these are both good coffee makers. Personally, I like that the Cuisinart brews faster and lets me wake up to the sound of coffee brewing. I think its convenient features and easy, practical design make it the best coffee maker on this budget. But I think a lot of people will still like the BrewStation because the single-serve feature is pretty neat, it’s very clean-looking, and it’s cheaper.