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There’s a lot to love about a perfectly executed cup of pour over coffee. This manual method results in a full-bodied, perfectly balanced, flavorful cup of joe.
Typically, this brew method isn’t without its drawbacks, since it’s also fussy and time consuming. You have to measure your grounds, be sure you have the correct grounds-to-water ratio, heat your water to the exact temperature in a separate vessel, and then manually – and carefully – pour the water over the grounds with perfect timing.
Not fun on a bleary-eyed morning, especially since you have to do it again if you want another cup. Sigh.
But help has arrived! For the flavor of a manual pour over brew without the work or wait time, we recommend taking a look at the Cuisinart CPO-800 PurePrecision Brewer with a glass carafe, or its thermal-carafe sibling, the CPO-850.
Both of these machines have been certified by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) to meet strict time, temperature, and brewing technology guidelines. What does that mean for you? Delicious coffee, of course, delivered hot and fast.
These machines also make up to eight 5-ounce cups at a time, so you can enjoy your java with a friend or two, without having to spend a lot of time slaving over a manual dripper.
Here is what we are evaluating in this review:
Read on to see how both versions of this easy-to-use machine can save you time, without sacrificing flavor.
The Cuisinart CPO-800 and CPO-850 Pour Over Brewers are both certified by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). Very few coffee makers are afforded this honor, and in order to qualify, they must meet strict technical requirements for time, temperature, and operation.
In the case of these two Cuisinart machines, that ability is built into the technology. Both of them feature a unique process that mimics the manual method of making pour over coffee, but with the convenience of a fully automatic machine.
That starts with the shape of the filter assembly, a funnel style that simulates the shape of the type of manual dripper you would use to make a traditional pour over.
Once the machine is ready with water and grounds, just turn it on. The brewing process starts immediately, with the grounds heating as they pass through to the brew chamber. Then, the showerhead-style spray evenly distributes the water over the grounds for full saturation in the hot water.
After the grounds are saturated, the unit pauses to hold the water in the grounds to optimize “bloom,” which extracts the full flavor of the beans before proceeding with the brewing process.
Many users say this brewer makes a cup of joe that rivals the flavor of a true pour over, with the added advantage of being able to make multiple cups at a time. In fact, we saw more than a few pour over fans say they’ve put their manual dripper away in favor of this fully-automated machine.
We did spot a couple of other hands-on tests that found the Cuisinart CPO-800 did not reach the ideal brewing temperature until partway into its cycle. However, variations in settings could have caused that to happen. In this case, we trust the SCA certification.
The only real difference between the Cuisinart CPO-800 and CPO-850 PurePrecision Pour Over Brewers is the type of carafe that’s included. The CPO-800 has a glass carafe, the CPO-850 comes with a stainless steel, double-walled thermal carafe.
In general, which type of carafe you choose to buy depends solely on personal preference. One is not necessarily “better” than the other; they’re just different.
As with all drip coffee machines, the beverage brews directly into the carafe. The glass carafe then sits on a hot plate that keeps it warm for up to two hours. The CPO-850 doesn’t have a hot plate.
Those who like glass carafes simply appreciate the fact that the coffee is continually heated. Others say leaving the carafe on a hot plate can make later cups taste burnt or bitter.
Thermal carafes, on the other hand, can be taken with you if you like to enjoy your coffee away from the kitchen. However, some feel that thermal carafes don’t keep the coffee hot enough – although that doesn’t seem to be an issue with the CPO-850’s version.
We did spot a few carafe-related complaints about both models.
Some owners say that the glass carafe on the 800 is unusually fragile and broke easily, even with gentle use. A replacement carafe, the Cuisinart CPO-800CRF, is available for purchase if needed, or if you like to have a second one one hand for backup.
In the case of the thermal carafe, we spotted a few complaints that it developed a leak around the pour spout after only a few months of use.
Assembly and Use
Out of the box, both models include a carafe, a laser-etched stainless steel filter, a charcoal water filter holder and one charcoal filter, and a starter pack of #4 paper filters.
Before making your first cup, rinse the charcoal filter in cold water for 10 seconds. Then, insert it into the charcoal filter holder and place it in the water reservoir.
The charcoal filter is an aesthetic water treatment that helps to remove odors caused by chlorine and other disinfectants used in water treatment systems that can affect the taste of your water. Using it results in a cleaner-tasting brew.
After the water filter is in place, the manufacturer recommends running an initial cycle without using grounds to flush out the system.
While not as customizable as some coffee makers, such as the very versatile Breville BDC400 and BDC 450 Precision Brewer Coffee Makers, the Cuisinart CPO-800 and CPO-850 Pour Over Brewers satisfy those who like hot, strong coffee and don’t need a ton of variation in their brew selection.
Once the Cuisinart is assembled and ready to use, fill the water reservoir using the carafe, and add your grounds following the suggested ratios described in the owner’s manual. You can also tweak those amounts to your taste.
If you use a very fine grind, the reusable stainless steel filter might leave some sediment in the bottom of your cup. In that case, adding a #4 paper cone will filter even the finest particles.
Then, press the “Menu” button to choose your desired strength: bold, mild, or medium. Press the “Menu” button again to choose hot or extra hot. Push the “On” button, and you’re ready to brew.
These machines are fully programmable, too: a 24-hour timer allows you to set your coffee to start brewing before you wake up.
The brew pause setting that allows you to sneak a cup is a nice feature for those who simply can’t wait for the full pot to brew, although most users say these Cuisinarts are pretty fast.
We did see a few comments that the back-lit LCD display became dimmer over time than when it was when first purchased. Some thought they had accidentally changed the settings, but there is no setting to adjust this; it seems to just be an issue with some of these coffee machines.
Size and Capacity
Both models are the same size: 13.5 inches tall by 12 inches long by 7.5 inches wide. The top of the brew basket needs about an additional six inches of clearance, so if you can’t
Both also are able to brew up to eight cups of coffee at a time. However, that’s not a true eight-ounce cup, or larger, considering the capacity of most American-style mugs. In the coffee maker world, a “cup” is only five ounces of liquid, so this coffee maker can make about 40 ounces of coffee at its maximum fill setting.
You can make smaller amounts by adjusting the water-to-grounds ratio. Cuisinart recommends using the included measuring scoop, and a ratio of 1-1.5 level scoops per 5 ounces of water.
Materials and Durability
The Cuisinart CPO PurePrecision series machines are made of brushed stainless steel with a modern-looking display. The glass carafe has a stainless steel band down the handle, which adds to its high-end appearance.
Like most Cuisinart products, both models are covered by a three-year limited warranty.
In addition to the various durability complaints that we’ve already noted – regarding the carafes breaking or leaking, and the display dimming – we also saw some comments about the machine completely failing after just a few months. Not a lot, but enough that customer service might become a concern for some buyers.
The issue is that Cuisinart gets mixed reviews for customer service. A few say when they called they got a helpful, polite employee. More say they had the opposite experience.
In addition, if you do have an issue with your machine, even in the warranty period, you have to pay to ship it back to Cuisinart and then wait for a replacement. The shipping fee is waived for California residents only.
- Build Quality
- Temperature Control / 200 Degree Brewing
- Water Dispersion
- Advance Features
Designed to mimic the perfect pour over coffee experience, both the Cuisinart CPO-800 and CPO-850 Brewer deliver on that promise. With a 3-year warranty, the brand backs its products with a much longer guarantee than most. This machine should be a serious contender for your next coffee maker.
Pour Over Quality Without the Wait
The Cuisinart CPO-800 and its thermal carafe counterpart, the CPO-850, are top choices for those who love the taste of a manual pour over. They offer the technology to recreate that rich flavor, but are fast, efficient, and can make a few cups at a time, rather than just one.
Both machines are very easy to use, and their attractive appearance will enhance your kitchen decor.
Although we did spot some scattered durability complaints, they were limited enough that we think it’s worth taking a chance on one of these machines if you love pour over and want an easier, fully-automated option.
Need more suggestions? Read our in-depth drip coffee brewer buying guide to find more top picks.
Photos by Mike Quinn, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Isolated CPO-800 product photos courtesy of Cuisinart.
About Kelly Burgess
Kelly Burgess is a product review specialist who loves food, kitchen gadgets, gardening, and writing. She was born and raised in Southern California, raised her kids in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and now lives in Spokane, Washington with her husband and three cats. When she’s not cooking, eating or writing, Kelly likes to read, hang out with friends, hike, and explore the great Northwest.