The Tests

  • Download and connect to Behmor app and link to Amazon Alexa, evaluating ease of connection

  • Brew series of full pots of coffee, using app, at variety of temperatures and settings

  • Change “default” setting to specific parameters

  • Brew full pot of coffee using button on front of machine, without app

  • Brew full pot of coffee using voice command to Amazon Alexa

  • Brew full pot of coffee from distance to test remote functionality

  • Brew full pot of coffee using “delay brew” function, checking if coffee maker operated as promised

  • Time length of standard brew cycle and compare to what is reported on app

  • Use thermometer to confirm that brew water temperature was what we set via app, using 3 different temperatures: 190, 200, and 205 degrees

  • Brew 6-cup pot of coffee; taste to confirm that flavor and body are consistent with full 8-cup pot

  • Test heat retention of carafe, checking temperature of freshly brewed coffee and at 1-hour intervals

  • Evaluate same coffee brewed in Behmor and winning automatic drip coffee maker by Technivorm in blind tasting

  • Adjust temperature to 190, 200, and 207 degrees and brew pot of coffee at each temperature using same batch of freshly ground beans; hold blind tasting to determine if temperature affects flavor

  • Throughout testing, clean carafe and machine by hand, rating ease of cleanup

  • Throughout testing, rate design elements that contribute to ease of use, including access and visibility of water reservoir, adding and removing coffee grounds, handling and pouring from carafe, and turning on machine.

The Behmor Connected 8-Cup Brew System ($167.00) promises to be a “smart” coffee maker with an app that lets you turn on the machine from a smartphone or tablet using Wi-Fi, conjuring up cozy thoughts of brewing coffee before getting out of bed. What also makes this machine unusual is that it encourages the coffee geek in you to customize how it operates. You can adjust the temperature of the brew water and the length of preinfusion, when it gently moistens the coffee for better flavor extraction before the rest of the brew water starts flowing. Depending on the type of coffee you are using—anywhere from freshly roasted “within the last three days” to packaged preground; light, medium, or dark roast or a handful of “featured brews,” including Starbucks Caffe Verona and Dunkin Donuts' Original Blend, among others—you can select convenient recipes for water-to-coffee ratios, and the app sets the machine for appropriate temperatures and preinfusion times. You can also link to Amazon's Alexa devices to start the machine using voice commands and to Amazon Dash Replenishment to automatically reorder coffee.

Brewing options include the use of the app, pairing with Amazon’s Alexa to respond to voice commands, and conventional push-button activation. The brewer can also be programmed for specific brew settings and start times.

Curious whether it lived up to its promises, we purchased the brewer, downloaded the app, and tried to connect. After some struggling, we got it running and brewed pot after pot of coffee, setting a range of temperatures and preinfusion times. The app could be a little easier to navigate; we found some labels unintuitive, such as “brew” and “buzz” for two different pathways to making coffee. However, it never lost Wi-Fi connectivity and our learning curve was fairly short. We appreciated that you could also skip the app and brew coffee simply by pushing one button on the front of the machine, which you can program to default to your favorite settings. We also asked Alexa to make coffee.

As we tested, we used a thermometer to confirm that the brew water temperatures were what we'd set, and we conducted a blind tasting to compare the Behmor's coffee to the same coffee brewed in our top-rated automatic drip coffee maker, the Technivorm Moccamaster ($299.00). We also evaluated the design, pouring control, and heat retention of the Behmor's thermal carafe and whether the machine was easy to fill, brew, and clean.

Similarities to an Electric Kettle

The Behmor is nicely compact, 15 inches tall by 9 inches across, with its water reservoir stacked directly above the brew basket and carafe. It operates like an electric kettle, preheating all the water to the selected temperature before brewing begins and the water flows straight down onto the coffee. This is a huge plus since the water spends 100 percent of the brewing time in the selected temperature zone. By contrast, most automatic drip coffee makers work by heating water in the base of the machine next to the carafe; the warming water travels up through a narrow tube and then drips down over the grounds. Unfortunately, this system typically means that water starts moving as soon as the heat begins to rise, so it hits the coffee when it isn't yet within the target temperature zone of 195 to 205 degrees, where the most favorable flavor compounds are extracted—and by the end of the brew cycle, it's boiling. The result? Bad coffee. Our winning coffee maker by Technivorm uses the tube system, but it makes good coffee since its powerful copper heating element transfers heat very quickly, bringing water into the ideal temperature zone before any hits the coffee grounds.

The downside of the Behmor's stacked-kettle design is that it's much slower, since it must finish heating all the water before brewing; we timed brewing cycles that took upwards of 13 minutes to go from heating water to a finished pot, about twice as long as the Technivorm. The Behmor offers the option of “delayed brewing,” in which it keeps the chamber of water hot until you want to make coffee—even if that's the next morning—but this strikes us as wasteful of energy. On the plus side, if you don't mind waiting for its longer brew cycle, the Behmor guarantees that your coffee won't be over- or underextracted, as long as you set the temperature within the ideal range of 195 to 205 degrees.

In blind taste tests, our panel found the coffee made in the Behmor on par with samples from our winning automatic drip coffee maker.

Customizable Coffee

In our testing, we found that the Behmor accurately heated the water to within 1 degree of the temperature we'd set. Like the Technivorm and a handful of other home coffee brewers, the Behmor machine is certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) to meet brewing standards for time, temperature, and thorough water distribution over the coffee grounds; in fact, the SCAA standard “recipe” is one of the choices on the app. When we used this setting in a blind comparative tasting, our panel declared the Behmor's coffee to be on par with the Technivorm's.

So does it matter if you tweak brew temperatures? We brewed pots of the same freshly ground coffee beans in the Behmor at three different temperatures and compared the results. We chose 190, 200, and 207 degrees, intentionally going outside the SCAA's recommended zone of 195 to 205 degrees. Tasters could easily perceive very distinct differences among the three samples, though the group reached no consensus on which one they preferred; each sample had supporters. For those interested in exploring the possibilities of brewing at different temperatures, it can be done with a thermometer and a manual pour-over setup, but the Behmor offers push-button convenience.

After a short learning curve with the app, we were able to customize our brewing settings and make pot after pot of great-tasting coffee with ease.

Easy Handling; Good Access for Filling and Cleaning

Handling was easy with this coffee maker. We liked the two vertical bars on either side of the machine that let you grab it and slide it around as needed: Since it's 15 inches high and has a top-filling reservoir, you need to pull it out from under standard 18-inch cabinets to add water. Fill lines for 6-cup (30-ounce) and 8-cup (40-ounce) batches, the only two choices, are very clearly marked inside the big stainless-steel reservoir. The petite carafe is fairly easy to pour from (although slightly splashy when completely full and a smidge slow to pour), with a wide opening for easy cleaning. Its thermal construction kept coffee hot: A freshly brewed batch that started at 191 degrees was still a drinkable 161 degrees after 2 hours. Its brew basket is a simple drawer in the front of the machine that comes with a reusable metal mesh filter, though you can substitute paper if you prefer, since paper holds back the oils and tiny coffee particles that pass through metal mesh.

We recommend the Behmor Connected 8-Cup Brew System. It's a good choice for an automatic drip coffee maker, particularly if you often buy different varieties of coffee and would enjoy tinkering with temperatures and brew settings or if you'd like to use a voice command or an app to start a pot of coffee while you stay tucked in for a few more minutes in the morning. And even if you don't use these extra features, the Behmor makes good-quality coffee with the push of a button.

Winning Traits

  • Time and temperature control that can meet industry-accepted standards for brewing flavorful coffee

  • Accurate water heating when temperature is set by user via app

  • Compact design with easy access for adding coffee and water, with well-marked water levels

  • Thermal carafe with good heat retention and wide opening for easy cleaning

  • App does not lose connectivity and is fairly easy to operate and explore