Coffee shops, including the giant, use commercial coffee machines routinely. They produce drip coffee that can be rich, full bodied, and flavorful. The differences between a home coffee brewer (think Mr. Coffee, Cuisinart, etc.) and the commercial brewers are mainly temperature, agitation, and brew time. That means that a home coffee machine CAN produce good coffee, but has to fix those problems. In fact, there are a few that fit that bill.
Here is where Craigslist earned my love. Thanks to Craigslist, I recently scored a Bunn Thermobrew BTX with a thermal carafe. This machine is in the same league as the Bonavia and the class leader: the Technovorm. Of the three, the Bunn is the least expensive, coming in at a measly $170. I scored one at $20, plus some driving and poor coordination with the seller. For a cheapo like me, the time and effort were well worth it.
The Bunn Thermobrew works like its commercial big brothers (one of which I also scored on Craigslist!). It has an internal water tank that keeps one pot worth of water at approximately 200 degrees at all times. When you pour fresh water into the top and close the lid, the fresh water displaces the hot water into the filter. The truly hot water makes a huge difference, extracting the flavors as well as a machine can.
The Bunn completes a pot in 3-4 minutes, which means that the bitter components of coffee are mostly left behind. This fast brew, by definition, means that water is added more aggressively than in other machines. The faster shower head approach agitates the grounds in the flat basket, helping to achieve an even extraction. Temperature, agitation, and time requirements are met.
Of course, a hand crafted cup of coffee is still the king, but when you drink as much pour over coffee as I do, it is nice to have a little help. This baby is made right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., which is another big plus in my book.
The Bunn Thermobrew is not perfect. The flat brew basket and fast flow can produce a weak cup of coffee, but some tweaking of the grind size and amount of coffee can overcome that. My only other complaint is that the machine truly needs Bunn brand filter papers. They have taller walls, which you need if you brew a full pot at the proper strength. Shorter walled filters, like most you will find in the supermarket, can overflow and leave grinds in your pot.
In case it was not clear, I am very excited to have scored the Bunn Thermobrew, and will be starting many a morning 3-4 minutes after coming downstairs.