Breville vs. Cuisinart K-Cup Brewers
Update – New post about why these brewers may be failing (2/4/2012) https://murison.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/the-insides-of-a-k-cup-brewer/
Update at the end of the post (7/10/2011)
I’ve been using K-Cup brewers for about 18 months now, and having personally owned both the Breville BKC700XL and the Cuisinart SS-700, I thought it might be helpful to post a comparison of them. The first brewer I purchased was the Breville and I loved it. About 6 months ago it started to fail by refusing to brew. In retrospect I probably should have changed the filter more often, because we have pretty hard water (109 ppm). About 4 months ago I picked up the Cuisinart brewer for a couple reasons; it was $50 cheaper and we already have a bunch of Cuisinart appliances in the kitchen so it would fit in nicely. I now only use filtered water from the refrigerator in addition to changing the brewer filter more often in hopes of it lasting longer.
One tip I have is to always push the K-Cup down so the bottom is punctured before closing the top. K-Cups are pressurized and if you just drop it in and close the brewer, the top of the K-Cup will be punctured before the bottom. This will release the pressure and some coffee grounds will shoot up requiring more cleaning. In the picture on the left you’ll see that the top of the K-Cup is bulging up from the pressure and on the right you can see a bunch of coffee grounds in the head which happens if you don’t puncture the bottom of the K-Cup first.
Now it’s time to get on with the review. I dug the Breville out of the basement and picked up a few gallons of vinegar to see if I could revive it. It still isn’t working properly but it came back to life enough to be able to do a good comparison.
The Cuisinart is on the left and the Breville is on the right. The handle on the Cuisinart is metal while the Breville is plastic. This gives the Cuisinart a slightly better feel when operating it but I never had the felling the Breville would break either. Other than that they are both pretty much all plastic and they both look good sitting on the counter.
The display and controls on both are pretty close. Notice that the display on the Cuisinart is a little brighter with more of a blue glow. The Cuisinart also has a Rinse and Hot Water button. Other than that they both operate the same way and the brew size selection is identical (4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 ounces). It’s a nice touch that the Cuisinart shows how many ounces will be dispensed. The Rinse button automatically selects the smallest brew size and dispenses the water. The Hot Water button performs the same action as the Brew button except that the display will say “Hot Water” instead of “Brewing”. This might appeal to some but to me it’s just a couple redundant buttons. The biggest problem I’ve found is that the up and down arrow buttons on the Cuisinart are only illuminated around the button and not the arrows themselves. This may seem minor until you try to use them in the dark. The light around the buttons is bright enough to prevent you from seeing the arrows.
As you can see from the menus, they both have the same selections. The clock set on the Cuisinart is flashing and I took the picture at just the wrong time but it’s there. I like the menu controls on the Breville better in that it’s seems more intuitive. On the Breville you use the up/down arrows to select a function and press OK. You then make a selection and press OK again to return to the menu. Pressing Menu again exits the menu. On the Cuisinart you press the Menu button to cycle through the function. While a function is blinking you press the up/down arrows to make your selection and press the Menu button to go to the next function. Pressing Menu repeatedly until you go through all the functions is the only way to exit.
Here are pictures of the left side of each brewer. Notice the Cuisinart reservoir is clear all the way around and there is a little condensation on the inside. I’m not sure why this is but the Breville never had condensation on the inside of the reservoir. The Cuisinart does have a larger reservoir by 20 ounces (80 oz vs. 60 oz) but there is a huge drawback to the design of the reservoir and how it fits into the brewer.
As you can see there is no easy way to hold the Cuisinart reservoir when placing it in the brewer, while the Breville has an opening on the bottom for your hand. To install the reservoir on the Cuisinart I’ve found the best way is to hang on to the lip at the top right while guiding the bottom into place with your other hand. The Breville is very simple due to the handle on the bottom of the Reservoir. This may seem like nit picking but the Cuisinart really is a bad design compared to the Breville.
The right side of the Cuisinart is where the My K-Cup is located but there is no storage space for the scoop. Personally I could care less because I never use it. With the Breville the My K-Cup and scoop are stored under a door on the top of the brewer. Both brewers use the same type of power switch located on the right side.
The drip tray on both machines is large enough to catch a large size brew in case you forget the cup (yes it happens but usually only once). The Breville has a little indicator on the back left of the tray if it becomes full; pretty useless in my opinion. And they both have plastic trays underneath the drip tray where you can place a large travel mug.
I use travel mugs daily and the Cuisinart doesn’t have as much room between the bottom tray and the brew head. My travel mug on the left just barely fits while the wife’s doesn’t fit at all. On the right you can see that the wife’s mug does fit into the Breville, albeit just barely.
I pulled out a tape measure to see if there were any big differences between the two.
Height: 12 5/8 inches closed, 17 inches open
Width: 10 1/2 inches plus the switch on the right
Depth: 12 1/2 inches on the bottom, 13 1/2 inches at the tip of the handle
Drip tray to bottom of head: 6 1/4 inches
Drip tray removed: 7 1/8 inches
Height: 12 3/4 inches closed, 17 inches open
Width: 10 1/4 inches plus the switch on the right
Depth: 13 1/4 inches (bottom and tip of the handle are the same)
Drip tray to bottom of head: 6 1/4 inches
Drip tray removed: 7 1/2 inches
These are both excellent appliances and I like them both. However, in my opinion the Breville edges out the Cuisinart slightly when it comes to design. I get the feeling that the Cuisinart is a reverse engineered version of the Breville and is just a little rough around the edges, figuratively speaking. They both operate the same and brew coffee in the same amount of time. The Cuisinart does cost less and has a 3 year warranty compared with only a 1 year warranty on the Breville. My biggest gripes with the Cuisinart are the reservoir design and the arrow buttons. Is it worth at extra $50 to fix that? I’ll let you know when it comes time to purchase another one.
Despite only using filtered water the Cuisinart brewer has died after only 7 months of use. It would take multiple power off/unplug attempts to get it to brew. I took it back to the retailer and they exchanged it without question. I opted to pay the extra $50 to go back to the Breville and both the wife and I are very happy. The extra vertical space and the handle space at the bottom of the water tank are huge differences. You just don’t realize how much of a difference they make until you’ve used both brewers. I’ll concede the tank doesn’t hold as much water but the ease of refilling the Breville makes up for it.