February 1, 2012

Breville YouBrew Review

Dennis O'Donnell
Breville YouBrew

Breville YouBrew with Carafe

We’re pretty serious about the coffee we drink here at Clear-Coat – a few of us are downright coffee geeks.  So while we normally don’t do product reviews, we really wanted to do a full-blown review on the Breville YouBrew since we purchased one for our office about a week ago.  We love great products, we love coffee, and we love great blog posts…so this seems like fair game.  Now, onto the review:

Model: Breville YouBrew BDC600XL

Price Paid: $279

Why we bought one:  We bought the YouBrew for our office – there’s a lot of people drinking coffee throughout the day here.  We’ve tried several different methods in the past, because we hate bad coffee:  AeroPress (Good coffee, but too much work, too messy, and too slow for an entire office), Clever Dripper (same problems as AeroPress), and Mr. Coffee (I don’t even want to talk about it.)  We needed a coffee delivery system for our office that would give us great-tasting, fresh-ground coffee throughout the day for up to 10 people, with minimal mess and maintenance. Keurig and other single-serve cups were ruled out because they make bad coffee – sorry if you disagree, but that’s a fact.  An espresso machine was ruled out because it’s a lot of mess, a lot of work, and we’d basically have to train everyone in the office how to make espresso….keep in mind we are a cell phone accessory manufacturer, not a coffee shop.

What else we considered:  Technivorm + a separate burr grinder, or the Capresso CoffeeTEAM

First Impressions:  The YouBrew is foolproof, and built like a tank.  Construction is absolutely fantastic.  The exterior is solid stainless steel, hinges are beefy, and even the plastic pieces are made of tough plastic.  Gaskets are made of a nice silicone – really some of the best construction I’ve seen on a consumer kitchen appliance.  As far as the foolproof part, I say that because every part has a label on it like “wash me”, or “put water in here” – and the LCD display itself will walk you through the process of making a cup of coffee.  Couldn’t be easier.

Breville YouBrew LCD

LCD Display showing “Single Cup” Mode

The Select-a-Size Feature:  The YouBrew can make a small cup of coffee up to a 12-cup pot.  It grinds and measures beans on its own according to the amount of coffee you select as well.  We found this feature to be really useful – you don’t always want a huge pot of coffee – and the YouBrew executes brilliantly.  Between a single cup and a full pot, we found no loss in coffee flavor or quality.  To be clear, you don’t have to do anything special like measure out the beans or water – if the bean hopper and water tank are both 100% full, but you only want a 6-oz cup, you simply select the 6-oz cup, and that’s all it will dispense.

YouBrew Review

YouBrew with 16oz Mug

Coffee Quality:  This is the part everyone wants to know – but before I dive into the results, I’m going to give our test criteria.  We used La Colombe Corsica Blend beans that were roasted 3 days before the review, and stored in an airtight, UV-proof container.  We don’t use pre-ground, and we don’t store our beans in the fridge or freezer.  Now that you know the test criteria, the YouBrew made an exceptional cup of coffee, especially if you factor in the ease of use.  The coffee was hardly bitter at all, and definitely not over extracted.  The flavor profile is about 90% there – it could be fuller-flavored or more complex, as achieved using a Clever brewed right below boiling point….but 90% is really, really good.  Some people say that the YouBrew is brewing too cold – around 155 degrees – I’ll be the first to say this is patently false.  If you pre-heat your mug, you’ll find the coffee is around 180 degrees, which means it’s definitely in the 200’s while brewing – there’s thermal loss between the brew head and the cup – it’s science.  So, objectively speaking, if the best coffee I’ve had is a 10, I’d give this a 9 – it’s that good.  Also, I was curious about the thermal integrity of the carafe – there is no heating element, so it works purely on insulation, and it works really well.  We made a pot of coffee at 10am, and at 1pm (!) it was around 150 degrees – not super hot, but surprisingly warm considering that it was sitting out for 3 hours.

Cleanliness:  Anyone who owns a coffee brewer, from a simple pour over to a $1000+ espresso machine, knows that cleanup can be the worst.  If you’ve ever owned a Mr. Coffee, then you know after 4 weeks the inside of the machine smells like a sewer, no matter how well you maintain it.  The YouBrew makes cleanup easy.  The mess is completely confined to 3 areas:  the brew unit, a drip tray, and a wheel to stop moisture from reaching the beans.  None of these parts have tiny nooks that are impossible to clean, and the brew unit and drip tray are 100% removable, so you can just wash them in the sink.  After a week of constant use the YouBrew is staying very clean, and thankfully, very sanitary.  Every time you use the machine, expect 2 actual minutes of cleanup – rinsing the brew unit, and wiping the wheel down.  Considering the machine eliminates all other work related to grinding and brewing, we’re happy to make the trade off.

YouBrew Cleaning

Brew unit removed for cleaning

Final Score: 9 out of 10, overall.  The carafe is a little awkward in pouring, and as I said, you’ll get better coffee from a $1000 espresso machine or pour over brew method + a lot of manual labor.  If you want a fast, clean, super convenient machine that brews truly great coffee (and who doesn’t), then Breville made a hands-down winner.  I’m 100% recommending this machine – whether you’re a total coffee geek, or just want a low-maintenance, easy to use machine, the YouBrew does it.  As a fellow consumer product manufacturer/designer, we’re taking our hats off to Breville on this one – they seemed to really put the consumer first, and take the time to make a great product – well done!

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