The Best Coffee Maker For Even 2 Cups-Cuisinart DCC-1200

The World’s Best Scented Alarm Clock

*From Our Readers: “Paul, I’ve been through three coffee makers in the last three years.  Some were expensive ($200+.) and some very cheap (under $50.00). None of them made good tasting coffee consistently and some required a training course just to operate.

Why is it so hard to find a coffee maker that just makes great tasting coffee, is simple to use and easy to keep clean?

Can you please help?”   Sarah G. NH

PG: “Sarah, it is amazing how many versions of a “coffee maker” are available today.  Some perk, some grind before they drip, others do one cup at at time with pre-measured coffees, and still others also do expresso, cappuccino, foam milk, seemingly everything but drink it for you (nice they still left that part to us.)

When it comes to creature comforts, like coffee, most of us don’t want take an IQ test each morning just to get it. We  simply want it delicious and simple.  That means the product that creates it needs to be the same, or it won’t be “The Stuff You’ll Love To Live With.”

Our research found a proven coffee maker that does all this, is attractive and takes up very little space on the counter.

So grab a cup of “Joe” and get ready to really enjoy both your coffee and your coffee maker, maybe for the first time.”

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Cuisinart DCC-1200 Coffee Maker in Stainless Steel Finish

The Short Story:

Video Clip

 

How To Choose A Coffee Maker

 


Cusinart DCC-1200  Coffee Maker

(about $79.00)

Product Features:

  • Classic Stainless Design (also available in 3 other color finishes, Red (MR), Bright Chrome (BCH), and Black (BW) textured)
  • 1 to 4-cup mode (double cycles water heating to assure full brewing temperature / great flavor with fewer cups)
  • 12-cup carafe with Ergonomic Handle, Dripless Spout and Knuckle Guard
  • Brew Pause™ feature lets you enjoy a cup of coffee before brewing has finished
  • Adjustable Keep-Warm Temperature Control (Keeps coffee hot for up to 4 hrs. Low/Med/High selectable temps)
  • 24-hour brew programming
  • Quiet brewing (no loud gurgling)
  • Soft 5 beeps tone when coffee ready and at shut-off
  • Time-to-Clean Monitor with indicator light and Self-Clean mode
  • Programmable Automatic Shut-Off 0-4 hours (auto-off default at 2 hrs. if you don’t set it)
  • 25″ Cord stores inside base
  • Charcoal Water Filter (removes impurities)
  • Gold tone filter and measuring scoop
  • #4 paper coffee filter starter kit
  • Instruction book
  • Limited 3-year warranty
  • All materials that come in contact with water or coffee are BPA Free
  • Product Dimensions: 7.75″ x 9.00″ x 14.00″

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Coffee is one of the most universally enjoyed products on this planet.


So why is it so hard to sort out one really great coffee maker?

Hundreds of different models, dozens of different function and feature combinations.  But in the end, all we want is a great cup of Joe!

When we began researching these life altering appliances (you know how bad coffee can mess up your morning), we found there were seven primary criteria to look for, no matter how many cups you want to make:

1.) It must make great coffee consistently. (amazing how many don’t)

2.) Easy to operate intuitively. (Really, who could even read a manual BEFORE coffee?)

3.) Will keep coffee hot and tasty for a long time.

4.) Turns on and off by itself. (will wake you up and never forgets to shut off)

5.) Easy to maintain daily.

6.) Takes up little counter space.

7.) Appearance works with many kitchen styles.

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Praise the Java gods,our research founda coffee maker that does all these things and is proven to be a coffee maker people continue to praise for years. (almost 10, from its original introduction!)

The Cusinart DCC-1200  Coffee Maker came to the top of the list, first and most importantly, because it consistently makes great tasting coffee.

Cuisinart DCC-1200 on counter under cabinet

With so many “one cup” coffee makers out there, many have felt making a pot of coffee was more than they needed.

Now there’s no debating that for one quick cup of coffee, the “one cup” system wins for convenience.

But many I speak with are realizing that they are throwing away multiple K-cups or individual packages per day. Our research found that because each cup is a combination of coffee grounds, plastic, paper and metal, they cannot be recycled.

In 2009 alone, more than 1.6 billion K-cups were sold, with the numbers predicted to have doubled in 2010. (the not so good environmental impact of “one cup” systems.)

However, one of the other reasons many went to the “one cup” system was because their coffee maker wouldn’t make just a few cups and still have it taste  good.

They were right. Because with most all coffee makers, when you make less than the full pot, the heating elements and therefore the temperature of the coffee, is below what it needs to be for proper brewing. This is because the heater takes time to heat up, just like the elements on an electric stove.

The Cuisinart DCC-1200 solves this problem.

In it’s 1-4 cup mode, it automatically double cycles the water through the heating chamber to be sure it always hits the coffee hopper at full temperature.

Cuisinart DCC-1200 1-4 Cup Selector

By simply pressing the 1-4 cup button on the front panel, you can make a small amount of coffee and not sacrifice flavor.

But you say “I don’t drink 4 cups of coffee in the morning!”

Well, that depends on how you measure them……..

Most medium size coffee cups are at least 8 oz. Most coffee mugs are about the same. The Cuisinart DCC-1200 is designed around what many coffee makers use as standard: A 5 oz. cup of coffee.

The reality is if you normally have 2 cups of coffee in the morning, you would fill the carafe to the 4 cup line and it would be pretty close to perfect.(2 8oz cups plus room for steam loss in the brew process).

Cuisinart DCC-1200 4 Cups Measure

I set up coffee for my wife each night and her morning cup plus her travel mug empty the pot. (She leaves for work earlier, so I get my own later.)

Some coffee maker systems use a thermal carafe to keep the coffee hot after it’s made.

Our research found that many people who had previously owned the Thermal carafe systems and then used the Cuisinart DCC-1200, said coffee simply tasted better when its kept hot in the glass carafe.

Cuisinart DCC-1200 w/Freshly Brewed Coffee

And to keep it hot and tasty for a long time, the DCC-1200 lets you set both the Carafe Temperature heat level (Low, Med. High) and program the coffee maker Shut-Off time. (1-4 hours) (Nice)

Cuisinart DCC-1200 Carafe Temp Settings

Cuisinart DCC-1200 Auto On & Off Brew Controls

This feature is one that a large number of users praised and my wife and I can also vouch for.

You might never microwave your coffee again.

If you don’t set the shut off timer, (ie. if you just leave it in the Brew setting), the DCC-1200 will automatically keep your coffee hot at your desired temperature for 2 hours, then shut off.

When it comes to taste, one big factor (other than your choice of coffee) is what makes up 98% of coffee:

Water.

And brewing coffee using unfiltered tap water will add flavors you weren’t intending, like chlorine, minerals and impurities that can significantly alter the taste.

The Cuisinart DCC-1200 incorporates a charcoal filter into the water flow to remove chlorine and other items that detract from achieving coffee Nirvana.

Cuisinart DCC-1200 Charcoal Filter Holder

If you already (wisely) filter the water you consume, just remember to use that water for your coffee too and you can save money on the charcoal filter replacements.

If the minerals do start to build up, the DCC-1200 will flash the light next to the “Self-Clean” button to tell you it’s time to clean it. (where’d I put the white vinegar?)

Cuisinart DCC-1200 Self-Clean Light & Control

This feature not only helps you maintain the best coffee flavor, (calcified elements don’t transfer heat well) but helps extend the life of your coffee maker.

Once the proper mix of white vinegar and water is installed,(4 cups white vinegar plus 8 cups water) the “Self Cleaning” cycle is activated by a button on the front to make cleaning easy. (instructions for that process are in the well written manual linked at end of this review.)

Cuisinart also builds in an easy to use, 24 hr. Turn-On timer. It’s simple to program and will make your wake up call the great scent of fresh brewed coffee.

Cuisinart DCC-1200 Timer Setting Controls and Clock

Then the Auto-Shut-Off will happen on schedule whether or not you started the coffee by the timer or manually. (Nice! How many times have you run out of the house and then worried you forgot to turn off the coffee maker?)

Also, in the “Saved my butt” category, if you unplug the DCC-1200, it should give you about 30+ mins (when the unit is new, less as it ages) before it loses that programming.

So brief power failures and clean ups that require unplugging, should not require reprogramming.

In the “There are no perfect products” category, there are two issues some people had with the DCC-1200:

1.) They would like to see a back light added to the clock display. I agree. However, a light On/Off button would make it perfect so it doesn’t burn the midnight oil continually, only when you want it.

2.) The water ladder inside the water chamber is not very useful.  Unless you get a flashlight and are very tall, this auxillary way to see how much water you just poured in is not of much help until you get to at least the 8 cup level.

Cuisinart DCC-1200 Water Ladder

But this issue is really easy to solve. Ignore the ladder.

Why, you ask?

Since most of us are using the glass carafe to fill the water chamber anyway, simply use the cup markings on the side of the carafe when you fill it. It is much more accurate and a lot easier to read.

Cuisinart DCC-1200 Cup Measurements on Carafe

The Cuisinart DCC-1200 gives you 2 choices to make filtering your coffee easy:

1.) They include a very nice gold filter basket right in the package.  Just scoop in the coffee, add the water and brew. When your coffee is done, simply dump the grounds, rinse the filter and you never have to dispose of paper filters again.

Cuisinart DCC-1200 Using Gold Mesh Filter

2.) They also give you a starter pack of No. 4 paper coffee filters, which make clean up a bit quicker, but, of course, requires regularly buying filters.

Cuisinart DCC-1200 Using Paper Filter Only

If you choose to use the paper filters, remember to remove the gold filter and place the paper filter in its place.

Be sure to use only the gold filter Or the paper filter, but not both at the same time.

Why?

If you put the paper filter inside the gold filter, it can slow down the water flow too much and cause water and grounds to back up and spill over the basket. (timing is everything)

Another factor to water flow speed is the grind of the coffee itself.

Cuisinart recommends using a Medium-fine grind.  This density will allow the water to spend the right amount of time in contact with the grounds to maximize flavor and keep up with the drip rate of the coffee maker.

If you just gotta have a cup right now, the “Brew Pause” feature let’s you pull the coffee pot mid-stream and the No Drip Pour Spout kept things consistently dribble free. (FYI: you’ve got up to 30 seconds to put the carafe back in before the water backs up too much).

Cuisinart DCC-1200 Brew Pause Lid and No Drip Spout

Now, you get the best flavor by waiting for the DCC-1200 to beep, telling you the brew cycle is completed.  Cusinart knows that by letting the total cups your making blend in the completed pot for a short time, it evens out the flavor.

This is because the coffee in the filter saturates progressively as the water hits it.

The first water that hits the coffee draws through at one strength of flavor, whereas the fully saturated grounds pass through a different flavor and strength. When they all rest in the pot for a few moments, everything blends together perfectly.

So for maximum taste, wait for the 5 beeps and you’re good to go.

The glass coffee carafe is easy to clean and the “no-drip” spout works well. The drip through lid is also easy to snap on.

If you clean the carafe in the dishwasher, Cuisinart recommends putting the glass pot and lid on the Top rack of the dishwasher when not cleaning by hand.

We usually clean the pot by hand to help preserve the life of the water level markings on the side.

Ours still looks good after four years and counting.  We’ve not had any problems with our DCC-1200.

For maintenance, we normally do a vinegar cycle cleaning once a year to help maintain the heating elements.

In our experience, if you use filtered water for coffee, you may never see the “clean me” light come on.

The Cuisinart DCC-1200 will make great coffee from 2 cups to 12 consistently, keep’em hot at your temperature for up to 4 hours, turns On and Off when you want it to and looks good in even a very small counter space.

I also hunt to find you a great price with a quality merchant for the products we research.

Click here or on any of the highlighted product names to see the discount you can get today!

Buy the Cuisinart DCC-1200 coffee maker and sleep well knowing you have the world’s best scented alarm clock……and its name is “Joe.”

Cheers,

PG

FYI-1: When you first get your Cuisinart DCC-1200, you need to run it through an initial first use cleaning cycle. This gets the the system cleaned and ready to make great coffee.  You can read about it in the manual I linked for you in FYI-4. A quick set up of the timer and coffee and you’ll be ready for your java scented wake up call in the morning.

FYI-2: If you find none of your programming is working, check to see if the light next to the “Self -Cleaning” button is on.  If that light is on all programming is disengaged in Cleaning Mode. But no worries. Press the Self -Cleaning button once to turn off the light and all your programming should return to normal.

FYI-3: Save your receipt, as the Cuisinart DCC-1200 has a Three Year Warranty. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but if you do, Cuisinart has a reputation of taking care of customers well. During our customer service check, they were responsive and helpful.

However, as good as they are, without some proof of purchase, you have no warranty.

I recommend everyone take a moment and Register your stuff. I know it will connect you with some marketing, but having spent a number of years overseeing service operations for a major retailer, at least registering your product many times will allow them to cover the repair /replacement of a product, even if you’ve lost the receipt.

I also suggest stapling the receipt into the back of the owner’s manual and putting the manual wherever you keep product manuals (hopefully that’s somewhere you’ll remember to look).  It’s always good to hedge your bet whenever you can.  PG

FYI-4:Here’s a link to the Owner’s Manual for your reference:

Owner’s Manual for Cuisinart DCC-1200 Coffee Maker

FYI-5: Here are the colors the Cuisinart DCC-1200 comes in and their direct product links at Amazon:

 

 

Cuisinart DCC1200MR Red Metal Finish

Cuisinart DCC-1200MR Red Metal Finish

Cuisinart DCC-1200 Black Stainless Finish

Cuisinart DCC-1200BCH in Bright Chrome FInish

Cuisinart DCC-1200BCH Bright Chrome Finish

Cuisinart DCC-1200 in Brushed Stainless Finish

Cuisinart DCC-1200 in Brushed Stainless

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Best Water Saver Shower Head: Rohl BI00037

Change Your Shower Head, Change Your Life (at least your mornings)

Rohl BI00037 2.0 GPM Shower Head

Rohl BI00037 (APC) Shower Head

Video: How To Pick The Best Low Flow Shower Head

The Short Story

About $79.00 in Polished Chrome (APC)

To help you get a great price with a quality merchant, we also work to track that down.
Click on any of the highlighted product names to see your discount today!

5 great spray patterns (3 unique plus 2 combination)

2.0 gallons per minute water flow (.5 lower than EPA standards)

Superior quality construction

Easy to operate, easy to install

European styling

Exceptional price value

2 yr. Warranty

About $79.00 (polished chrome-APC)

The Details:

Honestly, there aren’t a lot of easy things we can do that will get our day off to a better start.

If you’re like me in the morning, I stagger toward the shower seeking  redemption by full immersion…….

But most showers are just not a religious experience.

Either they pee out a highly restricted, mini stream that feels more like you’re standing under a leaky gutter.  Or they spread the stream out so wide, you feel like the soap will never come off.

Now, all that has changed.

Today’s GreatStuffThatWorks product is a shower head that “jumped out like a trout” for its balance of benefits, performance and human engineering.

It’s the Rohl BI00037 APC Shower Head. (Catchy name.)

Rohl is a high quality plumbing distributor that built its company originally on seeing value in a new design, the pull out sink faucet and being the first to market it back in the 1980’s.  A family run company, they have been discovering and distributing quality innovative plumbing products ever since.

This aquatic marvel serves up 5 different patterns of spray, 3 unique and 2 blended, that make waking up a whole lot more enjoyable.

Since I’m a bit daffed, I’ve named the sprays, as each has become a new best friend, depending on my mood.

The first spray I call (wait, this is deep) Steady Rain.” Imagine an even, drenching rain flowing over you just where you want it.  The firm fingers of water are wide enough for most shoulders and targeted enough to keep your hair almost dry, if you’re in a rush.

Rotate the front no-slip rubber ring and the Goddess of the Mist” emerges.  This is an atomizing, air mixing, body caressing mist spray that you’ve probably never experienced in a shower.

In the winter, just tweak up the heat setting on your shower valve and create your own mini steam shower.

In the summer, it can offer a cool mist that’s gentle on those sunburned shoulders.  Neat, huh?

And then there’s “Thumper.” This is the pulse mode that helps smooth out the kinks.  It won’t beat you like a drum, it’s more civilized.

But if you have reasonable water pressure, it gives a smooth throbbing pulse that feels especially good on a tense neck and shoulders. Not many of us out there with that?

The other two modes are blends of Steady Rain with either Goddess of the Mist or Thumper. As in wine, sometimes a blend just hits the spot.

Rohl packed a couple of other great benefits inside:

It’s a miser when it comes to water use, only letting 2.0 gallons per minute slip through its fingers.

The head also has a broad swivel, so tall and short humans can get the most from it. Nice.

Superior benefits, performance and human engineering make it a shower head you’ll love to live with!

And that’s why this shower head qualified as a GreatStuffThatWorks product.

This Rohl BI00037 (APC) high quality, multi spray, shower head is probably the easiest route any of us can take to a real “good morning”.

Actually, the real reason this shower head qualified as a GreatStuffThatWorks product is because every day I get to shower with a Goddess and Thumper.

I’m never going back to showering alone.  Enjoy! PG

Oh, yes, did I mention its under $79 in polished chrome?

To help you get a great price with a quality merchant, we also work to track that down.
Click on any of the highlighted product names to see your discount today!

Buy the Rohl BI00037 (APC) if  you’re looking for one more way to have fun in the shower. Other finishes available at additional cost.

About Us: At GreatStuffThatWorks, you may have noticed we have fun researching and showing you the best products of their type.

But you’ll only hear it from us after we’ve done the hard part:

Letting our extensive research find the chosen few, the products proven to be the ones people love to live with.

We always take that Very seriously.  Thanks for letting us earn your trust. Cheers, PG

www.GreatStuffThatWorks.com

The Stuff You’ll Love To Live With tm

Here’s the Rohl Spec Sheet for your files:

5-Function Value-Flow Showerhead

Model: Rohl BI00037(APC)

FEATURES:

  1. 5-function spray patterns —
  2. Classic Spray —
  3. Massage —
  4. Mist
  5. Classic/Massage
  6. Classic/Mist
  1. 1/2” female connection • Swivel connection

• Restricted to 2 GPM

Exceeds EPA standard of 2.5 GPM

  1. Anti-calcium components
  2. Cleaning wrench included

COLORS/FINISHES:

  1. Polished Chrome (APC)
  2. Polished Nickel
  3. Satin Nickel
  4. Tuscan Brass (TCB)

WARRANTY:

• 2 years on manufacturer defects

* No Warranty on Tuscan Brass Finish (TCB)

FYI’s:

1.) If needed, you can use either the 6” or 8” shower arm pipe (see specs below).

2.) It’s usually best to leave the removable restricter in the shower head, not only to save water, but to keep the head output pressure as high as possible.  It adds more fun to each setting! PG

 

For More GreatStuffThatWorks, Click Here!

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Best Toaster Ovens: Breville 800XL & 650 XL

TWO GREAT TOASTER OVENS THAT BAKE, BROIL AND MAKE TOAST WITH SKILL AND GRACE

Today’s research request came from Alison R. of Wellesley, MA.

“Paul, I’m fed up with the poor quality toaster oven I have… and now we have to open the door with a knife since the handle fell off!  I’ve been looking for a new one for almost a year, but can’t figure out which one will work well and won’t fall apart.  Can you help?”

You bet, Alison! Thanks to you and others, I’ve had many requests recently for research in this category.

I called my experts and we went to work!

Our research uncovered 3 models, by two quality manufacturers, that meet the GreatStuffThatWorks criteria for superior benefits, performance and customer satisfaction.

Any of the three choices below have proven themselves to be the stuff people love to live wIth.  As always, let me know what you think.  We’re all in this together.

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Summary: GreatSuffThatWorks Toaster Ovens

Video: How To Pick The Best Toaster Oven

Most Complete Performance / Benefits / Customer Satisfaction

Breville 800XL

The Short Story:

About $249.00
To help you get a great price with a quality merchant, we also worked to track that down.
Click on any of the highlighted product names to see your price today!

Beautiful, stainless steel design that integrates exceptional performance with exceptional human engineering. Large, easy to read display, Intuitive design, Crumb tray pulls out from front, Intelligent power management system tailors heat to task, Toast rack pulls forward when door opens, Selectable Convection cooking reduces cook time by 15%-20%, while crisping outside, Defrosts then toasts bagels automatically, High capacity in small space, Interior walls are non-stick, Top designed as food warming area, plus more. Comes with baked enamel broiler tray/pan and non-stick 13” pizza pan.

(See “The Details” below)

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Same Excellent Performance, Few Less Features, Smaller Size

Breville 650XL

The Short Story:

About $179.00
To help you get a great price with a quality merchant, we also wotk to track that down.
Click on any of the highlighted product names to see your discounted price today!

Compared to Brevelle 800XL, Similar beautiful stainless steel design and performance, smaller size, 4 slices vs 6, no convection,, Settings move to the knobs vs display, but display still has large, visible numbers, same Intelligent power management system, Crumb tray removes from front, Toast rack does not pull forward when door opens, no Warming feature, (but you can simply set the oven to a low temp an accomplish the same), internal wall surfaces are non-stick,  plus more.   (See “The Details” below)

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Quality Performance, Excellent Value

Cuisinart TOB-155

(about $139.00) Now Discontinued

The Short Story:

About $139.00
To help you get a great price with a quality merchant, we also work to track that down.
Click on any of the highlighted product names to see your discounted price today!

Attractive stainless steel face, other surfaces matte black, Crumb tray removes from back, Mono-panel touchpad controls on unit threshold below door, Smaller display.  “Exact Heat™ sensor” system for even cooking and toasting, Easy-clean interior wall surfaces, integrated clock and oven timer, up to 6 slice toasting or 12″ pizza, one touch Bagel, Reheat and Defrost buttons, two position rack with safety stop feature, cord storage, Limited 3 yr. warranty,

(See “The Details” below)

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Behind The Story:

For decades, my trusted companion, an ancient GE Toaster-R-Oven, with its finger worn face plate and unhinged crumb catcher, has stood by my side.

But like an aging tribal chief, it’s ready to pass on its wisdom to a new generation.

Enter the Counter Top Oven: The new fangled way to toast, bake, broil, warm and in some models, use convection, to cook faster, more efficiently and brown at the same time. Toaster oven, my eye!

In fact, now most two to four portion meals can be made without ever powering up our “real” oven at all.

It Ain’t no “Easy Bake”tm Oven

When I began the search for a toaster oven that would meet the GreatStuffThatWorks criteria, my first thoughts went back to why I originally bought my current toaster oven.  I wanted it to be a small, fast way to warm up food and do toast.

But the more I looked at how my wife and I were using it, the more I realized that our little counter companion had become the first place we’d try to cook anything.

Chicken breasts, pork, individual portion tenderloins, fish, crescent rolls (one of my favorites), mini muffins, you get the idea. We were willing to accept over cooked food and unevenly toasted bagels because it was fast and easy.  Sad, isn’t it?

We had never considered using it for any of that when we bought it 15 -20 years ago. And neither had the engineers who designed it.

But, human beings life styles have evolved from wanting their “Toast-R-Ovens” to primarily toast and warm, to in many cases, being the better alternative to microwave cooking.

Statistically, during the 1950’s only about 10% of American households were single people.  By the end of the 1990’s that number had grown to 26%.

Nowadays, only about 52% of American households are married couples.  That means there are a lot more people out there whippin’ up dinner for one or two.

And with the number of empty nesters growing, so is the number of people considering the new age “Toaster Oven” as an everyday cooking appliance.

This should be causing a change in what companies are designing to meet that need.

Yet, our research found most toaster ovens today let people down. There is a jungle of low end, poor performing, cheaply constructed units out there.  Most can’t even toast bread evenly!

But we found 2 quality manufactures and 3 GreatStuffThatWorks qualified products, that emerged from the research.

These units provide great user benefits, superior performance and have proven themselves to be the ones people love to live with.

Remember that since price, although definitely important to each of us, is not a criteria for qualifying as a GreatStuffThatWorks product, you’ll ultimately decide what makes sense for you to spend vs the benefits it provides.

But the 3 models we found cover a span of price points that will hopefully fit your budget:  $249.00, $179.00  and $139.00 average street price as of this review.

Unfortunately, our research showed that low cost in this product category (under $100.00) translated, for a high percentage of people, into both short and long term user dissatisfaction.

.

Now for the GreatStuffThatWorks!

.

Breville BOV800XL


The Smart Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQ

(average selling price: about $249.00

 

The Details:

The Breville BOV800XLemerged as the most comprehensively designed toaster oven on the market.

It’s really a “Counter oven that automatically bakes, broils, browns, warms, convection cooks and does anything a larger oven will do faster and more efficiently, just with smaller portions” oven. In a word.

Brevelle designed both the BOV800XL and the BOV650XL (see below) from the ground up specifically for the American market. They clearly asked the right questions first.

The look, fit and finish is superior.  There are no perfect products. But, based on our extensive research, there are few products on the market that have as strong a positive customer reaction as the 800XL.

It also does an excellent job evenly toasting bagels and bread! (Who’d a thunk it?).  It’s so smart, it warms both sides of a bagel, but only toasts it on one side!

Using Breville’s Element IQ system, this 5 element design automatically adjusts the number of elements, their power and location, based on what you’re cooking.

This not only allows it to evenly toast your bagels on just one side, but for each cooking task it uses energy only where it’s needed, bringing up to 1800 watts to the party only when necessary.

For toast, something our research showed most “toaster” ovens do poorly, you simply dial the number of slices, how dark you want them and the 800XL adjusts the heat and number of elements to make it perfect.

I tested multiple settings and each accomplished an incremental, even level of darkness. Very cool.(hot actually).

Speaking of hot, one of the complaints about toaster ovens is about being burned by the hot metal case and door.  Now Breville engineers haven’t solved this issue completely, but they did add design features that help make it safer to use and to take advantage of the heat.

Such as:

1.) The grab bar door handle is large, easy to grip and sweeps up and away from the door for safer hand clearance.

2.) Control knobs, although silver in color, are not made of metal (one of the few components in this unit not of brushed metal) for good reason: The knobs need to remain cool to touch when the oven is hot.

3.) The top of the unit is designed with reinforced ribs for use as a food warming area. A nice help while waiting for the other tasties finishing inside. (The oven also has a “warming” setting for the inside, too.)

4.) A custom bamboo cutting board (optional accessory) stores perfectly covering the top of the oven. This keeps the hot top shielded from hands and keeps whatever’s on top of the board cool, even when cooking.

And with bamboo being renewable, harder than most hardwoods and naturally antibacterial, it’s a very handy cutting board for quick prep at the counter.

The human engineering in its design (vs gadgets) makes control very intuitive. Really.  You won’t need a course to use it.  My review and its included videos will probably be all you need to know.  The rest will be just getting used to how quickly it cooks and the settings you prefer.

First, unlike the majority of toaster ovens on the market, Breville designed the crumb tray to pull out from the front! No need to spin the unit around or lift it up as you jockey the tray from its guides.

Controls are next.  On the right face of the unit are three dials that display their settings clearly on the soft blue / amber LCD display. (Being over 40, I can actually read the temperature and time settings without my reading glasses! Nice.)

To start, you simply turn the smaller top knob to tell it what type of food you want to cook or toast.

It then makes a temp / time recommendation on the display for that item. If you decide you want a different time or temperature, a twist of one of the two larger knobs below quickly changes either.  The next time you select that item setting, it also remembers your last temp / time setting. (Also, Nice.)

Another helpful feature is the “pull forward” cooking rack.  When the 3 position rack is in the center “Toast, Cookie, Bagel, Pizza” position, (clearly marked on the glass door) the door integrated magnets automatically pull the rack forward as the door opens. This makes removal of toast and other items on the rack much easier and safer.

This pull forward rack feature does not work in the other two “Bake/Roast” or “Broil” rack positions. However, items in these categories are usually cooked in Pyrex or metal containers and would likely be too heavy to allow the rack to slide.

It’s easy to quickly change the rack height positions, but be aware there are no stops on the back of the rack to keep it from coming out when you reach the end.

On the control panel, there are three additional buttons that allow you to toggle settings on / off:

Convection: One of its benefits is it can reduce cooking time by 15%-20%.  Another advantage is it allows food and baked delights to be crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. And its convection fan is quiet.  You probably won’t even know it’s running. Compared to a full sized oven, this oven it is often at temp faster, with a lot less heat in the kitchen.

Defrost: When engaged, the Brevelle will automatically add time to the clock to defrost your frozen Toast or Bagel as part of the total toasting cycle.  FYI-The Frozen setting is only designed to be used in the Toast and Bagel settings, even though it may illuminate on the display in other modes.

Temperature Display: Toggles between either Fahrenheit or Celsius scale.

Even the 3 foot power plug was designed with an easy to grip finger hole to help safely plug and unplug the power. No more yankin’ the cord from the wall by the cord.(Bad!) (However, if you do unplug the unit or have a power failure, your last preference settings reset to default.)

When the unit is not in use for several minutes, all display backlighting turns off. Although the LCD display is still barely readable, there are no lights of any kind that remain lit, so the unit can disappear into the kitchen background as much as possible.

Although you might expect current time to display, the backlighting would need to remain on to view it.  It appears Breville chose not to waste more power or add to the lighting landscape.  (Most of us probably have plenty of clocks.)

It would nice if Breville could add an LED light to the interior, but none of the other toaster ovens we found had this feature either.

The display also provides visual cues when using the oven.

Two colors back light the display, depending upon the function operating at the time.

1.) A soft Blue backlight displays when adjusting the settings.

2.) An Amber backlight indicates the cooking mode is active. When the oven requires pre-heating, the temperature and word “Preheating” will flash while the unit is ramping up to speed. It will signal with a beep when its time to put the food in and then immediately begin to count down from there. It does not preheat and hold the timer.

And that pretty much covers it! You now know more about toaster ovens than you probably ever imagined, but you’ll look at any other toaster oven knowing what elements a quality human engineered design can have.

If you’re looking for a well designed counter companion that has the most versatile range of cooking options in the smallest space, the Breville BOV800XL makes the cut as a GreatStuffThatWorks qualified product.

Nothing’s Perfect-FYI’s:

1.) Due to the oven’s ability to pull up to 1800 watts when needed, if your kitchen has several appliances on the same circuit, you may trip a 15 amp breaker if the toaster oven runs simultaneously with another high draw appliance.

2.) When cooking with convection, be sure to reduce standard recommended heating times by about 20% or you will over cook your stuff!  I do the quick math like this:  If it says “10 – 15 minutes,” set the Breville at 10 mins and check it..  If it says 20 minutes, use 20 x .20 = Reduce cooking time setting time by 4 minutes, ie. set at 16 minutes and check it..

3.) Disposable aluminum trays are not recommended for use in the oven. According to Breville, any standard baking vessels, Pyrex, Baked Enamel, or other oven safe cookware works fine.

PS: My sister was one of the people who requested we research toaster ovens.  Because both my sister’s family and mine needed a toaster oven rescue, both she and I now have Breville’s.

We have the BOV800XL with convection and my sister bought the BOV650XL, the smaller unit without convection and a few other feature differences (See below).  We purchased both units at the prices listed with the units.

Both units have the benefits, performance and human engineering you’d expect from a GreatStuffThatWorks qualified product.

When I did my company Customer Service Check, I called shortly after Breville opened on the west coast (11: 05 EST).  In December my wait time was 25 mins, but when they answered they apologized for the delay and were helpful, knowledgable and friendly.

Warranty: 1 Year Parts and Labor (per Breville customer service, this is a replacement warranty, vs repair. They said they also pay for the shipping in both directions.)

Dimensions: Width: 18.5″  Depth: 16.25″ (including handle approx. 2”) Height: 11.25″

Customer Service Contact Information: Breville USA. Consumer Services Dept.

Ph: 1 866 273 8455 | Fx: 1 310 755 3039  (Hrs. 8-5 PST M-F)

Tip: If you know you need to speak to a customer service agent, wait until the first message completes and asks you to select 1 for product questions. Select 1, then hit * to immediately enter the cue for an agent and skip listening to other options.

Alternate contact: askus@brevilleusa.com They say email response is 24 hrs.

Breville USA, 19400 S. Western Avenue, Torrance, California, 90501, USA

www.brevilleusa.com

Included Accessories are:

 

1.) A two part enamel coated broiler pan, with a slotted top pan and a bottom catch pan that can also be used by itself for other cooking.

2.) A 13” non-stick, solid pizza pan. (Per Breville, the non-stick coating is a higher temperature, not Teflon, coating.)

Optional Accessories available:

Cutting Board for Smart Oven™

BOV800CB

$39.99

Bamboo cutting boards are ideal as they absorb very little moisture and have natural antibacterial properties. They are also harder than most cutting boards and are less prone to knife markings over time.

Recessed handles on the sides make it easy to pick up and transfer directly to the table for serving. As a tray, it replaces the need for a trivet or heat mat to protect the table surface from heat damage.

13″ Pizza Stone

BOV800PS13

$29.99

The pizza stone distributes heat evenly across the pizza base to maintain constant baking temperature. The pizza stone’s porous surface absorbs moisture from the pizza dough, resulting in a crisp brown pizza crust.

Pre-heat the pizza stone in the Smart Oven™ for 15 minutes at 450°F (230°C). It may also be used with traditional household ovens.

13″ Non-Stick Pizza Crisper

BOV800PC13

$19.99

13″ non-stick pizza crisper pan with 1/3 inch crisper holes for supreme golden-brown results. Designed for use with the Breville Smart Oven™, the crisper may also be used with traditional household ovens.

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Breville BOV650XL Compact Smart Oven

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Breville BOV650XL Compact Smart Oven with Element IQ

(average selling price about $179.00)

Brevelle BOV650XL video demo:

The Details:

 

The Breville BOV650 is the little brother (or sister) to the Breville BOV800XL.

As the name “Compact” indicates, it’s smaller in footprint with a frameless glass door, no convection option, with a smaller display.  It has the same great looking, stainless steel brushed finish.

Due to the frameless door design, the one feature I miss is that the door does not pull the center positioned toast rack forward when you open the door. It still has space for up to a 12” (vs 13”) pizza capacity and up to 4 (vs 6) slices of toast.

The core cooking functions that make the Breville BOV800XL exceptional are also still in the Breville BOV650XL.

It uses the same 5 Element IQ system with up to 1800 watts. It defrosts, has front crumb tray access, selection of 8 different  types of cooking / toasting settings using two large, straight forward knob controls. The missing 9th selection, present on the 800XL is Warming, but you can create the same effect by putting the Bake function on low.

Although the easy to read display is smaller in area, it retains the same large number format, for quick glance viewing across the kitchen.

A custom Bamboo cutting board is also available, downsized for its smaller top.

If you have the convection feature in another appliance or just need a smaller unit to fit your space, the Breville BOV650XL will give you the design and performance elegance of its big sister, but in a smaller space.

 

Warranty: 1 year parts and labor (Same as above)

Dimensions: Width: 16.5”  Depth: 14.25″ (including handle approx. 2”) Height: 10″

Included Accessories are:

 

  • 10″ x 10″ enamel baking pan
  • 10″ x 10″ enamel broil rack

 

Optional Accessories:

Bamboo Cutting Board for Compact Oven

BOV650CB

$39.99

Bamboo cutting boards are ideal as they absorb very little moisture and have natural antibacterial properties. They are also harder than most cutting boards and are less prone to knife markings over time.

Recessed handles on the sides make it easy to pick up and transfer directly to the table for serving. As a tray, it replaces the need for a trivet or heat mat to protect the table surface from heat damage

Breville12-Inch Non-Stick Pizza Pan / Baking Pan for Compact Smart Oven

BOV650PP12

$29.99

12¨non-stick pizza pan that doubles as a baking sheet.

Designed for use with the Breville Compact Smart Oven, the pizza pan may also be used with traditional household ovens.

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The Cuisinart TOB-155

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The Cuisinart TOB-155 Toaster Oven w/ Stainless Steel Face

(Average selling price $139.00)

 

The Details:

Cuisinart has been building quality appliances for years.  So, it didn’t surprise me when the research uncovered this lower priced gem.

Although not at the level of the Breville units in human engineering and elegance, it solidly qualified as a GSTW product and it costs about $100 less.

It has stainless steel front panels, matte black sides and top, and  a wide, easy to grip, brushed chrome handle.

This toaster oven does a very good job of evenly toasting, you guessed it, toast!

It uses what they call the “Exact Heat™ sensor” temperature control to prevent long spaced, hot and cold cycling of the elements that occurs in the lesser quality products.   Something my “Toast-R-Oven” could have really benefited from! It brings 1500 watts of cooking power to the task.

Toast is evenly toasted, the Bagel setting toasts a bagel properly and bakes a pizza quite evenly.  Its not as fast as the Brevelle convection oven for cooking, but for most toasting and cooking, you will not be disappointed. It does a great job.

Keep in mind, that although it may not have all the benefits of the most complete units, if it wasn’t proven to be a product people love to live with, you wouldn’t be reading about it as a GreatStuffThatWorks qualified product.

The Cuisinart TOB-155 provides Bagel, Reheat and Defrost buttons on the mono panel area and can be accessed with a single touch. Due to the placement of the control panel beneath the front door, the crumb tray pulls out from the rear of the unit. (oh, well)

Because this unit is slightly larger than the Breville 650XL, it will accommodate up to 6 slices of toast or a 12” pizza.  It has a 2 position interior rack with a safety stop feature that prevents the oven rack from pulling straight out when it sliding it forward. This is a nice safety feature, but does makes the racks slower to adjust.  (The Brevelle’s racks pull straight out without a stop, but are faster to adjust.)

The display, incorporated into the panel below the door is small, but legible. The over 40 gang may need their glasses for this one.  It does however incorporate a feature not in either of the Brevelle’s: a clock and oven timer.  It also has an easy to clean interior, comes with a stainless steel, two piece broiler pan and the longest warranty, 3 yrs.

(Note: As of this review, the Cuisinart website did not list the stainless steel broiler pan and tray as an included accessory, but my call to Cuisinart customer service confirmed they are always included.  I requested they add this, as the broiler pan combo shows in the picture.)

For a toaster oven that is well made, cooks and toasts consistently and does it at a moderate price, the Cuisinart TOB-155 is a very good value.

When I did my company Customer Service Check, I called in December around 8 pm.  Cuisinart answered in under 3 minutes, had wide customer service availability hours, especially for the holidays and were both helpful and courteous.

Warranty: 3 year limited warranty

Dimensions: Width: 16.14″  Depth: 15.75″  Height: 10.03”

Customer Service Contact Information:

1-800-726-0190

customerservice@cuisinart.com

Optional Accessories: None

Here’s the Cuisinart TOB-155 spec sheet for your files:

Stainless steel front panels with brushed chrome commercial style handle

Matte black exterior

Easy-clean interior

Functions: Pizza/Bake, Broil, Toast

Total Touch® touchpad controls

Always Even™ shade control

Exact Heat™ sensor maintains precise oven temperature

4-6 slice toasting button

Bagel, reheat and defrost buttons

Clock and oven timer

Automatic shutoff after four hours

Two-position oven rack with safety stop features

Cord storage

Slide-out crumb tray

Instruction/Recipe book

Limited 3-year warranty

FYI:  Cuisinart’s alternative with convection: Cuisinart TOB-195 priced around $179.00.

Same basic unit with convection feature. The front, top and sides are also stainless steel finish. However, although people really like living with it, it didn’t make the cut because the side mounted convection fan breaks up the design and is noticeably noisy when cooking.

That’s the results for GreatStuffThatWorks Toaster Ovens!

Any of the 3 recommended units, the Breville BOV800XL with convection, the Breville BOV650XL compact oven without convection or the Cuisinart TOB-155,  should make your life easier and tastier without the frustration of inconsistent results, complex controls or low quality construction.

Remember, to help you get a great price with a quality merchant, we also work to track that down.
Click on any of the highlighted product names to see your discounted price today!

As always, let me know what your results are. We’re all in this together.

Until next time, I’ll be out here looking for more of the products you’ll love to live with!

Cheers, PG

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Best Flushing, 1.28 GPM Toilet:Toto Eco-Supreme

Today’s subject is near and dear……. to the REAR.

Why? Because today we’re talkin’ Toilets.

Other than Dorothy’s little dog in the Wizard of Oz, you may not have heard of TOTO.

However, your water closet education begins here with one of the top quality manufactures of toilets in the world.

TOTO is a highly respected Japanese toilet manufacturer with years of experience in low water designs and attractive styling.

To also help you get a great price with a quality merchant, we also work to track that down. Click on any of the highlighted product names to see your discounted price today!

 

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Video: How To Pick The Best Flushing 1.28 GPM Toilet

 

The TOTO Eco Supreme model #MS864114E #01, is overall, one of the very best toilets on the market currently.  Why has this one model ranked high enough to qualify as a GreatStuffThatWorks product?

Here’s why. Not only have three of my plumbing experts, Master plumber Mitch Shair, Douglas Lavelle and senior plumbing sales professional Kathi Abacherli, ranked this a top choice, but after 1.5 years of my own, in home, bottom tested use by both males and females, it has all the benefits, performance and human engineering qualities that make it great to live with everyday.

Now here’s the poop:

This TOTO is a one piece, low profile, all porcelain design with an elongated bowel that gives it a contemporary style.  It also incorporates their patented G-Max™ flushing system,  a powerful way to flush without using much water.

Some of the technical things your plumber or you will need to care about are that The Eco Supreme MS864114E, has a 12″ offset from the wall.  This is the distance from the wall to the center of the toilet drain.  Since moving a drain already in the floor is not usually easy, the odds are high this toilet will fit into most standard plumbing configurations.

For all of us concerned with our planet, it is also being registered to carry the EPA’s High Efficiency Toilet WaterSense© label. Many of TOTO’s new models will earn you one point in the LEED US Green Building Standards rating system.

All this is jargon for “save the planet and be rewarded with potential tax credits.”

One of the great features of this TOTO model MS864114E is that it only uses 1.28 gallons per flush (GPF).

For reference, a standard toilet today commonly has a GPF of 1.6.  Older toilets can be as high as 3.5-4 GPF!  So, replacing a frequently used old toilet with one of these at 1.28 GPF could save you from using as much as 7,900 gallons Per Year. The math on this is simple at an average of 6-8 flushes per day.  Amazing, isn’t it?  Good news also for your water bill or septic system.

Some low water toilets choose to use noisy, high pressure to flush, but this marvel flushes unassisted, quickly, quietly and completely.

An alternate design in conventional toilet systems is called “dual flush.” It allows you to choose from two flush water amounts, depending upon what you’ve just deposited. This can potentially save you even more water, but there are a few things to consider with this innovative design.

A dual flush system mechanically requires a split flushing system internally.  Externally, there are two levers or buttons the user chooses depending upon their current “deposit.”

Being a relatively new design, it is difficult to know about their long term reliability.

Since each manufacturer appears to have created their own special design for this dual system, finding parts 5-10 years down the road for that special, no longer made, design may be more difficult.

That said, the “pee” flush usually uses only .75 GPF vs a “poop” flush of 1.28 or higher on most models. Since we tend to pee more than we poop, over time the water use can add up.

I am researching the dual flush designs to see if there are models that meet the GSTW standards of superior benefits, performance and human engineering and will report back.

However, this TOTO MS864114E single flush, very low water use toilet, also incorporates features you would likely never know about until you lived with it.

Some lessor quality designs use plastic in the internal water channel vs a full porcelain design, either to cut costs or to allow adjustability from the wall.

A drawback to this design is significant water noise during every flush.

Even if you have an all porcelain design, the completeness and quality of the glazing is critical to long term performance.

TOTO not only computer designed and perfected a unique internal bowel design to assure a complete flush, but also baked in a durable, super smooth glaze finish throughout the toilet, and specifically within every inch of the water channel, were you would never see.

Lower quality toilets often leave rough surfaces in the internal places you can’t see to save money and manufacturing time.

One of my experts told me before he installs a customer supplied toilet he runs his hand up into the dry, clean water channel and feels for roughness.  If its rough, he asks the customer to pick another toilet.  He knows it will only be a source of long term aggravation.

This is because the rough areas in the channel begin to collect debris over time, slowly choking off the water flow and reducing the velocity of every flush.  Your toilet plunger soon becomes your trusty toilet sentry.

Bottom line, this TOTO G-Max™ model flushes everything it’s designed to flush, 99% of the time, First Flush.

Only once in this last year and a half of daily use did we have to make a toilet brush adjustment and re-flush.  We have never had to plunger the bowel.

First Flush is all that counts.  A low GPF toilet has no value if it requires two or three flushes or sends you running for the plunger.

Disclosure: We did not test toys, stuffed animals or other non-human byproducts.

This TOTO also comes in several colors to make coordinating it with your color scheme easier.

Remember to Click on any of the highlighted product names to see your discounted price today!

And now a Bonus Feature!

Topping (or I should say “Lidding”) off their superior design is an equally superior toilet seat design referred to as a damped or “Soft Close” design.

The design finally brings to an end the dropped lid sonic boom by slowly, quietly closing both seat and lid, once set into motion!

This TOTO model MS864114E comes with this seat as part of the package.  So, no running out to the “depot” to get a new seat when you change the toilet.

In fact, co-habitating women may enjoy another side benefit:

Guys are so fascinated watching the seat and cover slowly close, that the 2:00 am, sleepy lady splash could be a thing of the past!

Two other toilet models my experts feel match the GSTW standard of this TOTO model are:

The TOTO UltraMax II MS604114CEFRG with the option for specifying Left Hand or Right Hand flush lever location.

The TOTO Carlyle II MS614114CEF with decorative side skirting (at a premium cost).

Final Considerations:

1.) If you have a “back to back” plumbing installation, meaning you have two bathrooms that are on opposite sides of the same wall, Ask Your Plumber if you are able to use a low flush toilet on both sides. Because of the draw the lower water toilets create, some “back to back” on the same vent stack installations have been known to pull the water from the opposite toilet when the other is flushed.

2.) Another option in toilet design is side skirting, a cosmetic design that covers the water channel bend moulded into the porcelain base.  If you want an even more designer look, it’s an upgrade to consider.

3.) Once you live with a Quiet Close toilet seat, you’re likely to change your other toilet seats soon after. I came home one day and my wife had “upgraded” our other two seats to the BEMIS seat listed below.

BEMIS, a quality toilet seat manufacturer, makes a GSTW qualified seat that has the best combination of benefits, performance and human engineering we’ve found in this type of product.

Their “WhisperClose with Easy Clean & Change and Tight Grip” seat not only closes quietly, but its EasyClean & Change feature makes everyday cleaning around the hinge side of the seat fast and simple.

The seat installs using two large plastic bolts that fit through the holes in the porcelain base. Bemis now includes the Tight Grip plastic bolts that automatically break off the excess thread when the bolts are at the proper tightness. This means the toilet seat is always installed to the proper tightness and shouldn’t loosen up on you.

The head of these bolts above the rim are round with a groove below the top of the head.  The hinge side of the seat has two slide locks that move from a left (open) position to a center (closed) position.

To complete the install, simply position the hinge locks in the open position over the bolt heads installed in the base. Press down to snap in place and move the side locks to the center locked position. Done.

Now, anytime you want to clean the hinge area grime, simply slide both locks to the left (open) position and gently pull up on the rear of the seat.  The seat completely removes for cleaning. Nice.

Remember when ordering the BEMIS seat to specify whether you need:

Round style (Bemis 200SLOWT) or Elongated style (Bemis 1200SLOWT), depending upon your bowl shape.  The links above will automatically take you to the correct version you choose.

Remember, we always work to find you a quality merchant with a competitive price.  Click on any of the highlighted product names to see what your discount is today!

And that’s a wrap on the crapper! Quality design, low water use, great flushing toilets and friendly toilet seats that don’t go boom in the night. Now you’re living the good life!

Happy flushing!

Cheers,

PG

For More GreatStuffThatWorks, Click Here!

Find This Information Valuable? I’d be honored if you’d

Share my Work with Your Family and Friends. All the best, Paul