Easy to use
Attractive stainless steel design
Programmable 24-hour brew start
Adjustable brew strength
Large brewing capacity
Carafe spout makes it hard to pour
We purchased the Cuisinart 12-Cup Programmable Thermal Coffeemaker so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.
Thermal carafe coffee makers feature a double-walled container to minimize heat loss and keep coffee hot for a longer period of time—key if you go back for a second (or third) cup of morning coffee. The Cuisinart 12-Cup Programmable Thermal Coffeemaker has an excellent reputation for making hot java, and it boasts a slew of programmable features, including adjustable brew strength, 24-hour brew start, self-cleaning, and more.
To see if this coffee maker is as good as it seems, we put the machine through the paces to assess its functionality and performance, using it to brew coffee every day. If you're buying a coffee maker, read on to see if the Cuisinart Thermal Coffeemaker is worth your money.
Setup: A bit of prep work is involved
Before we brewed our first pot of coffee, some easy preparation was required. The instructions walked us through every stage of the setup process, and we thought the manual was extremely detailed and easy to follow. It includes helpful diagrams to identify all of the parts of the machine and explains every function on the control panel.
The Cuisinart Thermal Coffeemaker comes with a charcoal water filter that helps to eliminate chlorine, odors, and bad tastes from tap water. Before setting the machine up, we soaked the filter in cold water for 15 minutes, as directed. Next, we inserted it into the filter compartment and flushed it by running cold water through the holes in the compartment for 10 seconds. Lastly, we slid the filter holder into the water reservoir on the coffee maker. The manufacturer recommends replacing this water filters every 60 days or after 60 uses.
It’s also recommended that you flush out the system before brewing coffee to remove any dust that might get trapped inside during the manufacturing process. Following the instructions, we ran the coffee maker through the brewing cycle with only water, which took about five minutes in total.
Design: Many convenient features
With so many programmable features, the Cuisinart Thermal Coffeemaker was light years ahead of our current coffee maker, an older drip model. This fully automatic coffeemaker allows you to set the brew time up to 24 hours in advance, so you can have a fresh pot ready at any time, and it also has a self-cleaning feature and an automatic shut-off. One feature we found particularly helpful was the “brew pause” option, which allows you to pour a cup of coffee before the brewing cycle is completed.
This fully automatic coffeemaker allows you to set the brew time up to 24 hours in advance.
When it comes to brew strength, this coffee maker lets you choose between regular and bold. We prefer dark-roast coffee, which is pretty strong already, but we selected the bold option one day to see if there was a difference in taste. The resulting coffee was a bit more flavorful, and it definitely gave us an extra jolt.
The large 12-cup capacity of this machine is a plus, especially if you need to brew a big pot for family or guests. Normally, we only have a few cups of coffee in the morning, so we usually used the machine’s one to four cup setting. When selected, this setting will adjust the brew process to ensure your coffee is the proper strength.
However, one thing we didn’t like about the Cuisinart was the design of the carafe. Despite having a large stainless steel handle that’s comfortable to grip, the pot itself is heavy and somewhat cumbersome, especially since we’re used to glass carafes, which tend to be significantly lighter. The thickness of the pot is probably key to keeping coffee hot, but the design has a few drawbacks. For starters, the water doesn’t pour out of the spout all that easily—you have to tip the pot really far forward, especially when you’re pouring out the liquid at the very bottom.
Further, while the easy-to-view water window on the coffee maker itself allows you to add the correct amount of water to the machine, there are no measurement markings on the carafe. A glass carafe typically has lines of measurement on the outside, allowing you to use it as a measuring cup to fill up the machine. When filling a stainless steel thermal carafe with tap water, however, it’s pure guesswork. We had to make a few trips to the sink, either to dump out excess water or get more.
Water doesn’t pour out of the spout all that easily—you have to tip the pot really far forward, especially when you’re pouring out the liquid at the very bottom.
Performance: Coffee stays hot for hours
When we first brewed a pot of coffee, we made about four cups. The coffee was ready in about five minutes and it tasted great—full of flavor and extremely hot. We went back for a second cup about 40 minutes later and were surprised to find that the coffee was still hot. This is impressive considering the machine shuts off as soon as the brewing cycle is completed.
Overall, the Cuisinart keeps coffee significantly warmer than our former drip coffee maker, which stays on for hours, only to keep the coffee lukewarm. Each time we used this coffee maker—which was every day for over a week—our coffee was consistently piping hot.
We also have to mention the “Auto On” feature, which allows you to set the brew time up to 24 hours in advance. We would often add coffee and water to the machine at night, and set the brew time for the next morning. It was so nice to wake up and have coffee already made.
An audible alert beeps five times to let you know when the coffee is ready, but this “Ready Tone” feature can be turned off if it bothers you. Plus, since the thermal carafe is able to keep the coffee warm for a good hour, we could have a second cup in the morning and not worry about it getting cold.
Care: Removable parts are dishwasher safe
The carafe, lid, and filter basket are dishwasher safe, making cleanup a breeze. All parts should be placed on the top rack of your dishwasher, or you can wash them by hand in warm, soapy water.
However, there’s one more caveat to note about the design of the carafe: Since the rim is rather narrow, you can’t stick your hand in to wipe it with a sponge. We would have liked to be able to clean it more thoroughly by hand.
The carafe, lid, and filter basket are dishwasher safe, making cleanup a breeze.
Keep in mind that coffee makers also need periodic maintenance. To remove mineral deposits that form in the machine over time, you should flush the system using a vinegar-water solution whenever the “Clean” indicator light comes on.
Price: Worth the expense
Retailing at $130, the Cuisinart 12-Cup Programmable Thermal Coffeemaker is definitely more expensive than basic models, but it has plenty of convenient features to justify its higher price tag. Considering its sleek design, programmable features, and ability to keep coffee hot for hours, this coffee maker is definitely worth the investment, especially for those who drink multiple cups each morning.
Cuisinart 12-Cup Programmable Thermal Coffeemaker vs. Black+Decker 12-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker
At just around $50, the Black+Decker 12-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker, which we also tested, is a significantly cheaper choice with a similar cup capacity. While it doesn’t have quite as many customizable options as the Cuisinart, it still offers all the basic features you could want, including a brew strength selector, small-batch brewing option, and no-spill spout.
- Product Name Cuisinart 12-Cup Programmable Thermal Coffeemaker
- Product Brand Cuisinart
- Price $129.95
- Weight 9.2 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 9 x 14.25 x 7.75 in.
- Color Black/stainless
- Model Number DCC-3400
- Material Stainless steel
- Warranty 3-year limited warranty