The total dissolved solids (TDS), often referred to as “the amount of coffee” in your coffee, was a little high, but as Reyna noted, we could fix it by adjusting the amount and fineness of the grounds.
Finally, we switched the large brew basket out for the smaller one and brewed a smaller 4-cup batch. Reyna stuck to the 1-to-17 ratio of coffee to water she’d been using all day, with a medium grind. A four-minute brew cycle made for a cup with a TDS of 1.35, right in Olympia’s sweet spot for this coffee, and caused Sam to declare, “This is really quite delicious,” which Reyna and I realized was the highest praise he had ever given a cup in all of the testing we’ve done together. We had similar success with the 2-cup size.
One thing that became clear is that you’ll be rewarded for tinkering with both the amount of coffee and the grind size, beyond the suggestions in the manual, and if that’s not your jam, you might want to lower your standards and look for something a little simpler.
We did find some flaws, mostly relating to the smaller brew basket, but nothing fatal. That post-brew dribble I’d encountered with the small insert continued to be annoying and messy, particularly as this is a fault you can literally switch off with the 8-Cup machine. We also agreed that the #2 filter it uses for the smaller batches is really too small to make 4 cups of coffee without a mess. In my kitchen, I regularly ended up with grounds on the showerhead and along the sides of the basket, something that would be avoided with a slightly larger insert using a bigger #4 filter. Finally, while the small insert nestles neatly inside the larger basket in the 8-Cup model, it doesn’t on the 12-Cup, meaning you need to find a home for one basket while using the other, and you can’t store the two together.
Sam also wasn’t a big fan of the Oxo’s looks. “So much thought and intention, then this,” he lamented. “There are certainly uglier brewers, but there’s so much stainless. Could we back that up a bit?”
I had hoped that combining some of the best parts of my two favorite models might mean I’d write my first-ever perfect-score review, but it wasn’t to be. Alas! Still, the quality of the machine and the coffee it makes for all three batch sizes easily outweighs those downsides.
This being a 12-cup coffee maker, large but not ridiculously so, we conferred about who this is for, and it ranged from intergenerational families to, as Sam put it, “offices with people who care,” to semi-commercial uses, to people who just drink a lot of coffee. I really appreciated how you can start off the day with a pot, then dial back to a cup or two in the afternoon with no loss of quality, a rare bird in coffee-dom.
If you’re one of those people who don’t mind dialing your way to a good cup or 12, this could be the brewer for you.