Drew Barrymore’s $99 Coffee Machine: A Fresh Grind or a Bitter Sip?

When Drew Barrymore’s ‘Beautiful Perfect Grind Programmable Single Serve Coffee Maker’ hit the market, curiosity skyrocketed, especially given its $99 price tag. The promise of a bean-to-cup coffee experience for under $100 seemed too good to be true. Could this affordable machine really replace a good grinder and a kettle, which would normally cost twice as much? Many hoped for a revolutionary product, but did it live up to the hype? Today, we take a closer look at this exciting blend of design and functionality, exclusive to Walmart, to see if it’s worth your money.

The Beautiful line, a collaboration between Drew Barrymore and Made By Gather, boasts modern, sleek products designed to appeal to the aesthetic-conscious consumer. Upon unpacking, the coffee maker appeared clean, neat, and surprisingly well-made given its price. The machine offers a plethora of features including a detachable water tank, a sizable bean hopper, and the ability to brew up to 16 ounces of coffee. However, the true test lies not just in appearance but in performance. Can it grind and brew a delicious cup of coffee? Let’s dive into its features, strengths, and peculiarities to find out.

Design and Build Quality

The first thing that catches the eye with Drew Barrymore’s $99 coffee machine is its aesthetic appeal. The “Beautiful” line of products, a collaboration between Drew Barrymore and Made By Gather, features sleek, modern designs meant to attract style-conscious consumers. Upon unboxing, the coffee maker has a clean, neat appearance and feels surprisingly sturdy for its price point. Although it does not feel heavy or substantial, it certainly doesn’t come across as cheap or flimsy.

One of the standout design features is the big, detachable water tank, which can hold several liters of water and brew up to 16 ounces of coffee at a time. The sizable bean hopper accommodates up to 180 grams of coffee beans. Additionally, the front panel combines a touch interface with a display, offering functionality such as brew size selection, brewing strength adjustments, and a ‘brew later’ option, which allows for programmable brewing. This machine even grinds fresh coffee beans in the morning, a feature often missing in more expensive models, making it a strong contender in terms of design and usability for under $100.

Performance and Brewing Experience

The machine offers a variety of features that are impressive at first glance. It grinds coffee beans fresh and brews a cup of coffee directly, all for under $100. However, the real test lies in its performance. The coffee maker utilizes a mesh filter rather than paper filters, and this choice is not without its problems. The machine’s mechanism for injecting coffee grounds can make it challenging to use paper filters, limiting the user’s flexibility.

The grinder itself presents a significant compromise. Unlike traditional coffee grinders that use sharpened metal burrs to precisely cut coffee beans, this machine employs what is known as ‘false burrs.’ These components essentially rub the beans into pieces rather than slicing them, resulting in a mix of very fine and very coarse particles. The lack of adjustability in the grind size further exacerbates this issue, making it difficult to get a consistent grind suitable for different coffee types. The machine performs best with darker roasts, as they are easier to grind and extract. However, light roasts fare poorly, resulting in an uneven extraction and a brew that can be both bitter and sour.

Technical Flaws and User Experience

While the coffee machine has many appealing features, it is not without its flaws. One of the significant issues is the software that controls the machine. Users might find themselves trapped in an endless loop if they accidentally set the ‘brew later’ feature, rendering the machine unusable until the scheduled brew time arrives. Additionally, the machine’s reliance on a combination of metric and imperial units adds to the confusion. The machine measures coffee in grams but water in ounces, a mix that can be perplexing for users.

Another practical inconvenience is that the coffee grounds tend to mound up towards the back of the basket, causing uneven extraction. Coupled with the inconsistent grind size produced by the ‘false burrs,’ this design flaw leads to a less than optimal brewing experience. The result is often a weak, somewhat muddy cup of coffee that lacks the rich flavors one would expect from freshly ground beans.

Marketing Claims and Real-World Results

The packaging of Drew Barrymore’s coffee machine makes bold claims, such as ‘No watered-down coffee’ and ‘Extract 2x more flavor.’ These statements are reportedly based on comparisons to a Keurig Classic model using specific coffee pods, but they fall short in real-world testing. For instance, the claim of extracting twice the flavor is dubious since only about 30% of coffee is soluble under normal conditions. The machine’s ‘Perfect Grind™’ and ‘Exact-Xtract™’ technologies sound impressive on paper but don’t live up to their promise in practice.

During brewing, it became evident that the machine produces a pale, weak stream of coffee that contradicts its ‘no more watery coffee’ claim. The brewed coffee often turns out to be weak and thin, lacking in both body and flavor. This is particularly disappointing given that the machine is designed to start brewing in the morning with freshly ground beans. Despite the good intentions behind its innovative features, the coffee maker falls short in delivering a satisfying cup of coffee.

Maintenance and Long-Term Considerations

The coffee maker requires frequent cleaning to maintain optimal performance. The grinder, in particular, needs regular attention to avoid build-up of coffee grounds, which can become sticky and messy. Accessing the grinder is relatively straightforward, but the cleanup process can be tedious and time-consuming. The chute through which the ground coffee passes tends to get dirty quickly, making it essential to clean the machine frequently if you want to keep it in good working condition.

Overall, while the machine aims to offer a convenient, all-in-one solution for coffee lovers, it falls short in several key areas. The design and initial user experience are promising, but the performance and practical usability issues make it hard to recommend as a reliable coffee maker for daily use. Investing in a high-quality burr grinder and a separate coffee maker might be a better option for those serious about their coffee.

In summary, Drew Barrymore’s $99 coffee machine attempts to blend style, affordability, and convenience into one sleek package. Its design and initial user experience are impressive, featuring a fresh grinding function and programmable settings that cater to the modern lifestyle. However, as promising as it appears, the machine struggles with some critical aspects of coffee making, particularly in its grinding and brewing performance.

The ‘false burr’ grinder is a notable drawback, producing inconsistent grind sizes that affect the overall quality of the brew. Additionally, the combination of metric and imperial measurements can be confusing for users, and the software has its quirks, including a problematic ‘brew later’ function. Despite claims of ‘no watered-down coffee’ and ‘extract 2x more flavor,’ the machine often results in weak, imbalanced cups of coffee.

Maintenance is another area where the coffee maker may fall short for some users. Frequent cleaning is necessary to keep it running smoothly, which might be a hassle for those looking for a low-maintenance solution. Ultimately, while the machine has its merits, serious coffee enthusiasts may find it lacking in essential areas that significantly impact the quality of the brew. Investing in a high-quality burr grinder and separate coffee maker might be a better long-term solution for those who are passionate about their coffee.