Brewer will disappoint both coffee and smart-home fans
The app-connected Smarter Coffee 2nd Generation coffee maker sounds great in theory. It automatically grinds and brews pots of drip from whole beans. It also works with Alexa and the Google Assistant to create coffee through simple spoken commands. It doesn’t make terrible coffee. It costs $250 in the US or £180 in the UK, which converts to about AU$310.
Unfortunately, it’s a pain to set up. Voice commands only turn it on and off. And worst is the brewer’s settings, which try to hide its critical flaw. It grinds far too little coffee when it brews anything. I’d steer clear of this product. If smarts are what you’re after, then choose the $329instead. It makes excellent coffee, and it is way more flexible and easier to operate. Of course, you could save money and get the $190 instead. It’s as simple as it gets, but creates truly fabulous drip, regardless of its lack of connected-ness.
A new kind of grind and brew
As coffee makers go, the Smart Coffee 2nd Generation is attractive enough. The few of its sections that are basic black plastic are balanced by shiny brushed steel. The appliance certainly has enough height. Its tall, boxy body is a throwback to old Cuisinart Grind and Brew models from decades past.
Like those early grinder-equipped machines, the Smart Coffee has a bean hopper on its top. Other appliances such as the took the same design approach. Instead of a complex, LED-lit control panel, the Smarter Coffee has just four buttons. Each key corresponds to functions on a small LCD screen they surround.
These options start the machine, select its “strength” level, and set the amount of coffee you’d like. Additionally you have two main brewing choices. You can grind and brew from the coffee maker’s bean supply, or brew directly from grounds inside the filter.
The grinder itself has a knob for choosing how coarse or fine you’d like it to grind your beans. The grinder’s feeding mechanism works well. Many automated coffee makers I’ve used needed an extra push at times from a human hand. Not so here. Beans in the hopper always found their way into the grinding chamber without added assistance.
Below the control panel is a compartment for the permanent filter and filter basket. You can use this cone-shaped fine mesh metal filter or supply your own paper ones. Underneath that sits the coffee maker’s 1.5-liter (51 ounces) glass carafe. It rests on a hot plate that keeps the pitcher hot for 40 minutes.
On the brewer’s back side is its 1.5L water tank. Be sure not to overfill it. If you do, a hole at the tank’s max fill line will overflow the excess all over your kitchen counter. The tank’s tiny lid is another spill hazard since it’s easy to miss.
Smart but just slightly
Getting the Smarter Coffee up, running and linked to a phone through its app is painful. Part of the process asks you to hold your handset’s screen up to a small sensor on the coffee maker’s front. The phone’s screen then flashes in coded bursts to communicate your Wi-Fi network details. It took four attempts before my Google Pixel XL ($499.00 at Amazon.com) could talk to the brewer.
On my home network it never successfully connected. Only when I brought it back to the office did it link back up to my phone and the application. That said, I had to create a separate account. The blinking sync method also refused to cooperate. Ultimately I had to use the app’s barcode scan function. Thankfully the coffee maker’s box — and printed barcode — were still nearby.