[df-subtitle]Brew a pot of coffee via your smartphone[/df-subtitle]
Coffee and smartphones. Two my favorite things. What happens when you get to combine the two?
As somebody who regularly consumes coffee as part of his daily routine, you can often find me with at least one or two cups throughout the morning. Sometimes I need the caffeine jolt to get me going, other times I just like the taste and the familiarity. Either way, it has become a staple in my life.
Over the last decade our house has gone through a couple of different brands and models as we look to find the ideal coffee maker for our needs. Does it have a self-timer? Can you brew a full pot within a matter of minutes? Can you pause the brewing to pour yourself a quick cup? Indeed, there are many questions that come up and designing the best coffee maker.
When I learned that Behmor had introduced a “connected” coffee maker, I jumped at the chance to review one. I’ve known about its existence since last summer but haven’t been able to give it a go. Why? No Android app. Sadly, it was a tough few months waiting for that thing to show up in the Google Play Store.
I’ve spent the last two weeks with the Behmor Connected 8 Cup Coffee Brewer. In short, this unit is a no-frills, no clutter device that connect to your house via Wi-Fi. Once set up, you can instruct your coffee maker to brew a pot directly from your phone. What a time to be alive. What follows is my impressions of the coffee maker and a few take away points.
The first thing you notice about this coffee maker is that it does not have a digital readout nor are there any of the traditional buttons to mess with. Really, there are only two buttons on this device: the brew and the DADO connection button.
Upon taking it out and plugging it in, you will need to first connect your coffee maker to your Wi-Fi network. If you have ever set up a Wink Hub, DADO-connected product, or any similar smart home equipment, then you understand how you might go about doing this. In short, you create a direct connection from the coffee maker to your phone and tell the coffee maker your Wi-Fi details. After that, you will find that your coffee maker switches over and connects to your Wi-Fi at home or in the office.
I ran into a little bit of trouble connecting this to my network, but it was actually the fault of my router. I recently switched to a different router with my AT&T U-verse internet setup, and it has proven to be a real pain in the butt with stuff like this. Whereas I used to connect a Wink Hub to my router and control my front door’s deadbolt via smartphone, I can no longer do that.
Getting the coffee maker to talk to my generic router was troublesome. But, having an extra one in the house, I connected it to my network and then was able to connect the coffee maker to the second router. It sounds a little trickier than it actually is; most new or brand name routers should not prove to be a problem.
Once connected you will then calibrate the coffee maker based off of your elevation settings. Indeed, this thing can learn what temperatures and settings it needs to brew at to create the ideal cup. Calibration just takes a few minutes and essentially results in running the water through a single pass.
The mobile app is nice and rather straightforward in that you can set various options. Do you want to pre-soak your coffee grounds to release extra flavor? If so, how long would you like that? What temperature do you want to brew at? These are questions that I previously did not have to worry about with more traditional coffee makers. Not that I am complaining, mind you, this is actually somewhat eye-opening. I’ve since learned that different coffees brew and taste better at different temperatures and different types of beans work better if they are pre-soaked for, say, 45 seconds.
The app is a clean and intuitive experience that doesn’t overwhelm the user with too many options. How many cups do you want to brew? What temp? Wanna pre-soak? If you find yourself going with the same type of coffee every day, you can set up a profile that features your preferred default settings.
UPDATE MAY 25
The Behmor app has been given a punch-up in the 1.2 release and has learned a few tricks. Features now include an ETA on brew time and/or cleaning, a 24-hour look at the upcoming brew, and quick start confirmation.
I have really come to enjoy the fact that I can wake up and press a button on my phone to brew coffee. Now, before I am even out of my bed, I am brewing a pot of coffee. The best part? It doesn’t matter when I wake up.
Sure, you can set a standard coffee maker to brew everyday at 7 a.m. or whenever you want. But, what happens if you sleep in and your coffee has been sitting there for an hour or two? I like the concept of being able to start the coffee when I want, regardless of what time I woke up.
I was impressed with the general speed at which the coffee maker works. I found that 8 cups would brew in a matter of 5-7 minutes. It’s worth noting that your phone will notify you once your brew is set and coffee is ready to pour. This notification comes via a double buzz and audible alert.
Getting your coffee maker ready for brew is as you would expect. You pour the water into the top reservoir, put your coffee grounds in the filter, and place the canister below. After that you are good to go.
Should you want to bypass the app or just go with the traditional way of growing a pot, simply walk up and press the big circular button in the center on the coffee maker. The button has a color halo which will switch from a glowing green to different colors based off of what activity is happening at the time. If you are following along on the mobile app, you can see that it is pre-soaking, brewing, or that it is ready to drink.
You don’t have need to use the phone to start a brew. Using the default settings you’ve programmed in your phone, the simple press of the button gets things going.
Room for improvement
As for some of the things that I was not completely enamored with, there are but a couple. For starters, this is an 8-cup unit. In my house, we have grown accustomed to having a ten or twelve cup unit in the kitchen. It might sound trivial, but that extra couple of cups is noticeable on mornings when my wife and I need that extra jolt.
There are basically two settings for how much coffee do you want to brew with the Behmor Connected. You can choose from six or eight 5-ounce cups. In a related note, there is a handy reference guide that comes with the coffee maker. I found it useful to help understand how much coffee to put in the filter based off of flavor needs and roast.
I really enjoy the idea of being able to adjust the temperature of my water. My wife prefers a piping hot cup of coffee whereas I tend to like it when it has cooled a few minutes in the cup. The Behmor Connected coffee maker lets you brew at temperatures up to 210 degrees with a one-degree precision. At the max level this may be very hot and jarring to some. On the lower end, it may come across almost lukewarm to other. The issue that my wife and I ran into time and again was that no, matter what temp we selected, the canister did not keep the coffee all that hot for very long.
Really, this was our biggest complaint with the device. I don’t know if it is the lining of the carafe or in the way it is vented to pour, but it does seem to lose its heat someone quickly. There is no burner at the bottom to keep things warm; we appreciate having this in more traditional coffee makers.
While I admire the simplicity of the design and appreciate the effort to keep things straight forward, I did occasionally miss having a digital readout. I would like to be able to glance at my coffee maker to see the time, or to set a timer for the next Brew. This is not a deal-breaker, really, but it is just a touch that I have come to miss period.
Price & Availability
When it comes to pricing, the Behmor Connected carries a $299 retail price with availability at Crate & Barrel, Amazon, and other outlets. I find this to be a little too high for my liking, but in checking around other reviews, it seems to be acceptable. To me, it might be closer to a $229-$249 coffee maker. The Behmor Brazen Plus, at $199, has many of the same features (digital readout, timer) plus some of those I wanted here.