Review Of The Best Cuisinart Coffee Maker – 4, 12 & 14 Cup

cuisinart best coffee maker guide

Throughout every shift in modern coffee-making trends, automatic drip-brew machines remain a popular choice for any kind of coffee enthusiast. Their convenience and accessibility for the everyday consumer are hard to beat.

Trusted brands like Cuisinart continue to fine-tune what they offer with each model in order to capture as many varied preferences as possible. They don't always get it right each time, but when they do hit all the marks, their coffee makers brew a mean cup of joe. 

That's why we're about to take a deep dive into the world of Cuisinart coffee makers and show you how we decide which ones may be most worth your time and money. 


We love this Cuisinart 14-cup coffee maker because it has a great balance between features and functionality. Nothing about this model will complicate your simple wish for a well-brewed cup.

The PerfecTemp technology heats water from the filtered reservoir and showers grounds evenly for smooth extraction. 

Both the power control and small batch setting are calibrated to deliver a consistently tasty cup of coffee at the push of a button. While we'd love a thermal carafe instead of a glass one and a hot plate, we're not letting that get in the way of stamping this coffee maker as fully approved and best of Cuisinart's line of automatic drip-brew makers.

Why pick this one over the rest? We'll go over the basics of using a Cuisinart coffee maker so you understand how we would get the most out of the cup it brews. Then, we'll compare the different models and talk about what we like best, or least, for each one. 


How to Use a Cuisinart Coffee Maker 

We know that even inexperienced coffee-drinkers can find their way around a standard drip-brew machine without much trouble, but it's not always as simple as scoop, press, brew and go.

Understanding how each step in the brewing process works and which components have the biggest impact on flavor will help you make the most out of any Cuisinart drip-brew maker you choose.

Fresh, cool water is key
Whether or not the model in question has a built-in filtration system, you need to make sure you're using fresh water at room temperature. Cool doesn't mean cold, it simply means unheated water. Save the preheating for your mug while the coffee brews.

Keep in mind that water from the tap can vary by region so some areas may be more prone to mineral build-up than others. If you want to double down on removing anything that could alter the flavor of your coffee, use a refillable pitcher with filter insert or bottled spring water to produce the purest brew. 

Grind size and consistency
Even the best Cuisinart coffee maker will depend on you using beans ground to a consistent, medium-coarse size in order to brew a tasty cup of joe. Proper extraction requires the right brewing time and water temperature, which these machines are calibrated to achieve according to industry averages. 

The only variable that remains is the coffee you choose and how evenly it's ground. Check out our special section on Cuisinart brewers with built-in grinders for all-in-one functionality. 

Using a permanent filter
Cuisinart favors a gold-tone mesh filter for its drip-brew coffee makers and we're perfectly fine with that. Permanent filters give you some important options when it comes to playing with the flavor profile of different extractions. Volatile oils give coffee its unique flavor, but they cling to paper filters and thus never make it to your cup. 

Even an inexperienced coffee-drinker would notice a difference between a paper and permanent filter. If you're not sure which you prefer, we talk more about when and why you might use a paper filter or permanent one later on. 

How to measure coffee per cup
We have an insider tip to share with you. The standard volume of a cup as defined by drip-brew manufacturers and the usual culinary measurement are not the same. What a coffee maker brews and what you pour into your mug typically have nothing to do with the actual culinary cup that equals 8 fluid ounces.

As a reference, Cuisinart measures its cup at 5 fluid ounces, which means a 12-cup coffee maker is expected to brew 60 ounces. If a 5-ounce serving of coffee sounds short of the mark to you, check out our frequently asked questions section for answers on standard serving sizes. 


Cuisinart Coffee Makers: How They Perform 

The deciding factor between one drip-brew coffee maker and the next comes down to nitty-gritty details. Our review focuses on taking a close look at the features, or lack thereof, for competitors to the Cuisinart DCC-3200 in this brand's line.

We also take it one step further and show you some options with built-in grinders. Make sure to read up on the rest of our tips, tricks and answers to common coffee-making questions down below. 

IMAGE
MODEL
FEATURES
cuisinart 3200 stainless steel coffee machine
Cuisinart DCC-3200
Brew Capacity: 14 Cups 
Strength Control: Yes 
Charcoal Filtration: Yes 
DC1200 stainless steel
Cuisinart DCC-1200 Brew Central 
Brew Capacity: 12 Cups 
Strength Control: No 
Charcoal Filtration: Yes 
DC3000 with temperature control
Cuisinart DCC-3000 Coffee-on-Demand
Brew Capacity: 12 Cups 
Strength Control: No 
Charcoal Filtration: Yes 
stainless steel 12 cup coffee maker
Cuisinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus 
Brew Capacity: 12 Cups 
Strength Control: No 
Charcoal Filtration: Yes 
1100BK one of the best cuisinart coffee makers
Cuisinart DCC-1100BK 
Brew Capacity: 12 Cups 
Strength Control: No 
Charcoal Filtration: Yes 
SS gold tone 12 cup coffee maker
Cuisinart SS-15 
Brew Capacity: 12 Cups 
Strength Control: Yes 
Charcoal Filtration: Yes 

Cuisinart DCC-1200 Brew Central 

Aside from a few minor cosmetic details, the DCC-1200 and DCC-3200 could be twins. Like the DCC-3200, the DCC-1200 has the same black and chrome build and narrow, rectangular shape.

Their countertop dimensions are the same down to the last inch, though the DCC-1200 weighs a little less. We'll assume it's a combination of holding less volume and missing some internal upgrades for its slightly more expensive sister.
PROS
  • Temperature settings for the warming plate 
  • Lightweight but sturdy build with classic design 
  • Convenient brew pause feature or faster service 
CONS
  • No brew strength selection 
  • No LED display or backlit buttons 
  • Self-Clean indicator light can malfunction 

Cuisinart DCC-3000 Coffee-on-Demand 

There's a lot to love behind the idea of this brewing device, but we think some of the execution in its build may be lacking. Within any brand's line, some machines aren't going to perform at their peak potential even if others maintain their standard of quality.

Cuisinart took cues from convenience store dispensers when they put this model out, but we're not quite sure if that was the best source for inspiration.
PROS
  • Internal coffee reservoir keeps coffee hot 
  • Easy single-serving dispensing 
  • No glass carafe 
CONS
  • The gauge may become stuck or misread levels 
  • The dispensing handle may loosen and cause drips or spills  
  • Difficult to keep clean 

Cuisinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus 

While this model shares some details in common with the DCC-3000, the changes between the two make all the difference in what we think works for the CHW-12 that didn't for the DCC-3000.

A separate, water-only reservoir for dispensing hot water answers the demand for more versatility in a drip-brewing machine. You can brew coffee on the drip-brew side and steep tea or make instant hot cereals with the other. That's innovation we like to see. 
PROS
  • Small batch brew setting 
  • Indicator lets you know when water is hot 
  • Generously-sized water reservoirs on both sides 
CONS
  • No strength control setting
  • No backlighting for buttons or display
  • Exterior gets hot to the touch 

Cuisinart DCC-1100BK 

The entirely black and BPA-free plastic body of this model doesn't have the same classic look of its other DCC cousins, but that doesn't mean it can't hold its own when brewing a standard cup of coffee.

It's more of a traditional, workhorse style of coffee maker so the fancy features are few and far between. Cuisinart manages to squeeze in a few brand-favorite settings while keeping it in an affordable price range. 
PROS
  • Small batch brew setting 
  • Brew pause function for convenient service
  • 60-second recall function in case of power loss
CONS
  • The plastic body isn't as sleek as other models 
  • No strength control setting
  • Hollow carafe handle can be hard to dry

Cuisinart SS-15 

If this model had a built-in grinder, the SS-15 would be a one-stop brewing virtuoso. We're not sure where Cuisinart would fit it given this model's two water reservoirs, but we'd like to see them try.

This is a great choice for households who want to mix traditional brewing methods with trendy pod-style brewing. Large batch or single-serve needs lets you serve a crowd or just yourself.
PROS
  • Brew strength selection for a bolder flavor 
  • Single-serve side is compatible with K-Cup pods 
  • Three choices for single-serve sizes 
CONS
  • More expensive than traditional drip-brew machines
  • The drip-brew water reservoir is not removable 
  • The single-serve removable reservoir may leak 

Cuisinart Coffee Makers with Grinders 

When it comes to setting standards in the kitchen, Cuisinart has a long and rich history of upping the game. By offering a range of brewers with built-in grinders, they're determined to give every aficionado an option to love. These combination devices may not be the right fit for every household, but take a look at our review for these three before reading the rest of our best practices guide.

Cuisinart DGB-550BK 

As one of the more affordable models of any brand that offers a built-in grinder component, we give high marks to the DGB-550BK for doing a decent job of grind and brewing in one somewhat seamless series of steps.

The spring-loaded and latched filter door is a little unnecessary when most drip-brewers simply pull open as needed, but this may be to prevent the vibration from the grinder causing it to slip open midway through the process. Any combination of coffee maker and grinder is going to be a little fiddly to clean, but the narrow mouth of this grinder is a little more fiddly than others. 


Cuisinart DGB-650BC 

Cuisinart went for a sturdy, no-frills build with this model and employed some basic industry standards when it comes to the design of the body and the grinder's seating. Fully recessed, beans won't see the light of day while they grind. Since light can impact their oils quickly, this is a thoughtful detail from the brand.

The mouth of the grinder is still narrow and naturally, not as easy to wipe down between uses, but it's not a deal-breaker when it comes to choosing a combination brewer and grinder. There's a sensor that won't let the grinder run if the top isn't latched in place properly. If the lid breaks or warps due to an accident, it will need to be replaced in order to continue operating. 


Cuisinart DGB-900BC 

This model sits on the higher end of price ranges for Cuisinart's brewers with or without a grinder, but it also combines so many of the brand's most popular features in one device. The grinder's motor and capacity is taken up a notch with this brewer, so that means more consistency and better coffee in the end.

The hopper's lid seals to prevent moisture and air, which helps keep beans from spoiling quickly even though the clear plastic does let in more light than we might prefer normally. Cuisinart lets you master your grind settings and brew capacity with a few key controls, though, so you can make smaller batches and keep the hopper clean and residue-free between uses. The thermal carafe is another step in the right direction when it comes to maintaining the integrity of a fresh batch of coffee. 


How to Clean Cuisinart Coffee Makers 

Take good care of your drip-brewer and it will take care of you. Fortunately, when it comes to most drip-brew machines, there are just a few steps and some straightforward tips to keep in mind.

Exterior Cleaning
Wipe down all exterior components with a warm, soapy cloth as often as necessary. It's important to use mild soap and non-abrasive material both plastic and metallic pieces to avoid scratches. Make sure water or soap isn't left to seep into the crevices of the machine, especially for models with a warming plate. These can be prone to rust if left wet. 

Filter and Carafe
Cuisinart considers their gold-tone permanent filters and glass carafes dishwasher-safe, but you may wish to hand wash them separately with a mild, unscented soap to prevent filmy build-up from dishwasher detergents. If items in your dishwasher tend to have a mind of their own, this may put a glass carafe at risk of breaking. 

If you find your filter clogs up with finer grounds, try gently scrubbing the mesh with a brush whose bristles are made of plastic. Special cleansers designed to break down coffee's oily residues may also help preserve the life of Cuisinart's gold-tone filters. 

Reservoir and Descaling 
Unless you've chosen a Cuisinart model with a removable water filter, you shouldn't be using soap to clean it. Even so, sending the machine through a few water-only cycles with a descaling solution should do the trick for cleaning both the reservoir and the pump system. 

When you use a descaling solution, remove the filter if your model has one. See our notes down below for answers about how long a typical charcoal filter might last. 


Things to Consider Before Buying Cuisinart Coffee Maker

Cuisinart's line of automatic drip-brew makers varies by minor but ultimately important details. Your preferences make the difference between which one works best for your needs. Consider these factors, then check out our answers to other frequently asked questions to help you choose the perfect brewer.

Capacity Versus Consumption
We mentioned earlier that your mind is not playing tricks on you, there really is a difference between what drip-brew brands call a cup compared to the standard kitchen cup. To make matters even more confusing, there's even a difference between the brewed cup and the served cup. 

Even though Cuisinart defines its cup as 5 ounces, you're likely more used to pouring yourself anywhere between 6-10 ounces for each serving of coffee. Knowing how much you or your household will consume helps you decide which device's brew capacity works best for your personal use. 

If you're the kind of coffee-drinker who likes to make a big pot of coffee all at once and wonder why the third cup isn't as good as the first, take a look down below to get our thoughts using a warming plate. 

Automatic Features: Benefit or Bust?
With the purpose of a drip-brew machine built around hands-off convenience, a number of automatic features reinforce the concept of convenience that's often associated with these devices. These features range from the standard programmable clock display to a shut-off function that reduces energy consumption and safety risks. 

Other automatic features may not be as necessary, however. While regular descaling is important for any brewer with a reservoir or pump dispenser, the automatic indicator on Cuisinart's machines does little more than guess at when it's time to run a cycle. It's not sensing build-up, it's simply timing cycles. 

Because of this, you may be a better judge of when you should send your brewer through a descaling cycle than an automatic indicator. If you're a coffee-drinker who knows your stuff, you may also be equally unimpressed with a brew pause function. It's convenient, but pouring a cup from a batch before the brew cycle has finished can result in an uneven and unsatisfying taste profile. 

Have a look at some other interesting drip brewers as well in this article https://coffeegeek.tv/best-drip-maker-review/

Versatility's Impact on Durability 
Cuisinart's reputation as a brand is solid and they earned it by making long-lasting products and pushing the boundaries of all-in-one versatility. With that being said, it's hard to promise a long lifespan the more varied a device is expected to perform. 

We're still a fan of Cuisinart programmable coffee makers with built-in water filters, single-serve dispensers and top-loading grinders. They're answering a lot of demands all at once and that's an impressive feat. It's just important to note that this multi-functionality simply means there are more parts vulnerable to breakage. 

While certain environmental factors definitely add to the potential wear and tear of a coffee maker, the frequency with which you use any given function will determine how long it lasts. Look back through our cleaning tips and best practices for using a Cuisinart to help you keep yours in top shape. 


Frequently Asked Questions 

Still deciding which Cuisinart model will work best for you? We're here to wrap up all those loose ends and last questions so you know everything you need to make the right choice.

How often should charcoal filters be changed?
Most brands will tell you that a charcoal filter is designed to last about a month. If you're brewing multiple large batches each day in your home or office, you may want to change the filter more often.

Automatic indicators for a cleaning cycle isn't really telling you much about the state of the filter, so don't confuse the brewer's internal counter as a sensor for build-up or loss of filtration quality.

Do Cuisinart's warming plates burn coffee?
They're a hotly contested component of any drip-brew machine, so not everyone is a fan of the warming plate and glass carafe combo. Even the casual coffee-drinker can tell that taste degrades quickly when a pot is left to sit on a hot plate for too long.

This change is really noticeable about half an hour after brewing, so if you want to make large batches but keep the integrity of a fresh brew's flavor, consider a coffee maker that uses a thermal carafe instead. To help mitigate this common issue, many of Cuisinart's models allow you to change just how hot the carafe stays to reduce a loss of quality. 

Alternatively, you can have a backup thermal carafe to pour the contents of the glass one into, just be sure you never put a thermal carafe onto a hot plate. 

Should a paper filter be used with a permanent mesh filter?
While the permanent mesh filter is meant to provide a more environmentally friendly and flavorful alternative to the common paper filter, there's no rule against using both at the same time. Coffee enthusiasts who aren't used to the paperless filter method may be in for a bit of a surprise with their first cup from a brewer that uses a mesh filter. 

More of the coffee bean's volatile oils will make it to the finished cup, which is a distinguishing characteristic of brewing methods like a French press or Madras filter coffee. If you've ground your coffee a little too fine, a paper filter can help keep your mesh one from clogging and spilling over during a brew cycle. 

Which is better, a flat-bottomed or cone-shaped filter?
Unlike the debate between warming plates and thermal carafe's, there isn't as clear-cut of an answer when it comes to the better choice between flat-bottomed or cone-shaped filters. If the hot water's dispensing mechanism has even distribution that is also timed appropriately, then the shape of the filter doesn't matter much. The grounds are steeping and extracting properly either way. 

With that said, some swear by the cone-shaped filter for the best brew results no matter what style of water dispenser a drip-brew machine uses. The reasoning for this relates to the volume of grounds that remain in constant contact with the hot water as it moves through and drips into the carafe. 

How does Cuisinart's strength control setting work?
Drip-brew machines time the release of hot water according to industry standards that assume an average consumer's taste preferences. Depending on the roast or depending on the person, this may not be extracting coffee as desired even if it's correct based on technicalities.

Selecting a "strong" brew (which may also be called "robust" or "bold") slows down the release of that hot water so the coffee has time to bloom and develop a more pronounced flavor. Remember that the ratio of water to coffee should remain the same even when selecting a strong brewing cycle. 

The standard ratio range for most drip-brew makers is 1-2 tablespoons per 6 ounces of water. Given Cuisinart's 5-ounce standard for a cup, a heaping tablespoon of medium-coarse coffee should produce a properly extracted coffee. If you want the freedom to experiment with the flavor profiles that different roasts produce, check our comparison chart for Cuisinart coffee makers with strength control settings.