Tags: burr grinder

Kenmore Conical Burr Grinder, Programmable 12-Cup Coffee Maker

08/05/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Uncategorized, Hot Buys

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

Kenmore Coffeemaker/Grinder
Item: Kenmore Conical Burr Grinder, Programmable 12-Cup Coffee Maker with Stainless Steel Trim
Item number: 00894006000 (Model #239401)
Retail price: $149.99
Frequent sale price: $104.99
Target price: $104.99 or less
Item Link (not available)

Click here to read the web page version of this review. Updates will be made to the web page only.

With this review we’re setting precedence in two ways—first, we’re introducing our reviews of a Sears™ product from their Kenmore™ line. Of course we’re dedicated to the ultimate tool-review, but sometimes a guy just needs a decent cup of coffee to get him started on that next big project. This review also breaks precedence for another reason that only those who know me well personally would appreciate—it’s a review for an automatic coffeemaker. Why is this second point so unusual? Well, I haven’t used an automatic coffeemaker since around 1978! Nothing personal, I just don’t like the quality of coffee they brew and therefore opted-out of the standard American practice of using an automatic drip coffeemaker. (I did use an automatic coffeemaker for providing coffee in my research laboratory from late 1987 to around 1994.) So how do I usually make my coffee?—one cup at a time. And therein lies the point of this review.

I started using a drip-style coffeemaker in the early 1970s when most Americans were using percolators. I discovered that I liked restaurant coffee, usually made with the Bunn™-style drip basket, but not home-brewed coffee. My mother found an old 1940s electric coffeemaker that used a direct immersion method of brewing coffee which was very similar to the drip-style found in many commercial coffeemakers. Of course when Mr. Coffee™ came on the seen I was one of the first to line up and begin brewing my coffee with their revolutionary machine.

This Kenmore coffeemaker is so convenient and so good that it brews a cup of coffee that even I find satisfying. Push the little button and let the grinding begin. Or for those of you who get up on a regular schedule, you can set the automatic timer to have your coffee ready and waiting. I like my coffee very strong so I have to use a couple of tricks to brew just the right cup of morning refreshment. This Kenmore coffeemaker allows me to customize my brew. I make individual cups by using the fine grind with the strong setting brewed for 4 cups with only 2 cups of water added. An unbleached paper filter is also usually used although unnecessary if using the gold-mesh filter included with the coffeemaker. (Bleached paper filters are also fine when the unbleached variety is unavailable.) This ‘recipe’ makes a robust cup of coffee just short of the quality obtained with the single-cup Melita™ filter method most often preferred for the very best coffee. It propels one from the typical café Americano to a truly European-quality brew.

Having my morning coffee ready waiting for me doesn’t really work with my personal habits. My schedule is too variable and my coffee can’t sit very long without become bitter and undrinkable. When coffee made by my formula simmers on the hotplate for a while it becomes a really nasty syrup.

Combining the coffee grinder with the brewer in a single package is an innovation that allows those picky about our coffee to be satisfied with minimal effort. The beans are ground just before use and automatically fall into the filter basket awaiting the hot water brought to just the right temperature. The process is then the same as with any other coffeemaker, this model has perhaps a few other convenience features but the brew process is basically the same.

Americans drink a lot of coffee but they drink it weaker than most other countries in the world. My normal morning or evening coffee has about the same amount of coffee used for a single cup as most Americans would use for a pot. Americans tend to favor coffee quantity over quality, drinking their favorite brew throughout the day, whereas Europeans (and myself) tend to punctuate the day and evening with real coffee breaks, where the coffee (and often good conversation) is the center of their activity. In other words, when they’re drinking coffee they’re drinking coffee and little else.

Americans drink a coarser grind of coffee than do Europeans. The finer grind common elsewhere releases more of the coffee's flavor and aroma producing a much higher quality of coffee. It also requires considerably less coffee to produce this more satisfying product.

Why the courser ground coffee? There are probably several reasons. First, it’s a holdover from the days of percolators where anything but coarsely ground coffee would pass through the holes in the brew basket. Second, it sells more coffee, much more coffee. Without getting into conspiracy theoriesB), let’s just acknowledge that the coffee manufactures are well aware that pound-for-pound the finer the grind the less coffee is required to produced a satisfying cup of coffee. And thirdly, not unrelated to the ‘conspiracy theory’ that we’re not exploring here, grinding the coffee to a fine grind is considerably more wear on the coffee processor’s machinery (not to mention that fact it requires more time and electricity). So there you have it – the one, two, three’s of why American’s brew their coffee with a coarse grind. A combination of habit (what Americans are use to and what they will accept) and economics (less cost, more money for the coffee industry).

Too many people are hung up on silly discussions about which coffee is the best—Arabian, Colombian, African. They often ignore the fundamental basics necessary to make a great cup of coffee. (Personally, I like all of these coffees, each having its own unique characteristics.) There are really three components to making a great cup of coffee which are often overlooked in this “higher-level” discussion of which coffee is “best.”

Start with fresh coffee beans. It doesn’t matter what kind of coffee you are using, it must be fresh (and I’m presuming properly roasted) coffee beans. Next it needs to be finely ground (not burned by friction in a cheap [not really a] coffee "grinder"), and it should be ground just before use. Coffee beans start to loose their important oils shortly after grinding and will dry out rather quickly. Lastly, the actual brewing method is important but there are several choices for an excellent cup of coffee. Like the various coffees, each has its own distinctive characteristics and each can make a great cup of coffee.

  1. drip basket (American)
  2. pressed (French)
  3. high-pressure (Italian espresso)
  4. direct brew (Turkish)

And of course the water has to be at just the right temperature, slightly under boiling. If it's too cold it won't release all of the flavor from the coffee beans, and if it's too hot, well that's not 'cool' either.;) Most commercial automatic coffeemakers have been designed to provide the correct water temperature for brewing.

Cheap coffee "grinders" don't really grind the coffee; they chop it up more like a piece of celery. This doesn't produce a very uniform "grind" and it certainly doesn't produce a good cup of coffee. A quality coffee grinder uses a burr- or mill-method of truly grinding the coffee beans and they're expensive.

The Kenmore conical burr grinder/coffeemaker is a fully programmable grind-before-you-brew coffeemaker. The grinding is by a burr and performs well, with an even fine grind obtainable with negligible spillage. This method of grinding coffee beans is essential for a proper grind and coffee grinders using this method are pricey themselves. A tight seal on the hopper keeps the coffee beans fresh until they are ready to be ground.

Certain things I’m very picky about, coffee being one of them. I can’t give a coffeemaker a stronger endorsement than to say that I personally use it to produce a very satisfying cup of coffee. My rank-ordered preference for the perfect cup remains espresso or cappuccino made with my Pavoni™ Professional, followed by coffee made with the French press method or, you guessed it, one cup at-a-time using my single cup Melita™ filter holder. This latter method is particularly good for making the extra strong coffee needed for a great cup of Irish coffee!

My Irish coffee recipe: four scoops of finely ground coffee, two shots of John Jameson™, a touch of sugar, and an inch of so of French vanilla creamer, all reheated for about 20 seconds in a microwave. Cheers:D, I think it’s time to break and have one now.

The convenience of an automatically brewed cup of satisfying coffee out weights my quest for the perfect cup these days. I discovered the Kenmore™ grind-before-you-brew coffeemaker at just the right time as the reality of aging overcomes the desire for perfection. Therefore, this machine sees a lot of use as my daily coffeemaker while the Pavoni™ and other instruments of coffee making usually sit idly by on the kitchen counter-top. It’s that good.

Bottom line: One of the best automatic coffeemakers on the market meeting the requirements of a fresh grind with automatic brewing. If you've learned to appreciate fresh-ground coffee and need automatic brewing, this is the machine for you.

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