The first thing you notice about iCoffee, the new automatic coffeemaker by Remington, is its huge “head,” the over-sized drip basket above the coffee carafe. That’s because this innovative coffeemaker uses a totally new Steambrew™ technology that combines the flavor-extracting properties of steam with a stirring action. The result is an uber-smooth cup of Joe.
The goal of the iCoffee machine is to combine the rich flavors of French press coffee with the convenience of an automatic drip coffeemaker. The Steambrew™ uses hot water jets to soak and stir the grounds before the coffee drips into the glass carafe. You can watch this steam-stirring process through a little lighted window o n the front of the drip basket. Like French Press, the iCoffee leaves a fine sediment in the bottom of the cup. (iCoffee uses a washable gold tone filter rather than paper filters and, in fact, instructs users not to use paper filters.) There’s an optional fine mini-filter that you can place on the coffee carafe that filters out fine sediment.
Easy Set-up, Less Coffee Needed
After rinsing off the parts of the coffee maker and running 12 cups of water through the brew cycle per the instructions, I was ready to brew my first pot of iCoffee. The directions that come with iCoffee are refreshingly simple and clear and, unlike all the pod coffee makers so popular today, this coffee maker uses regular freshly ground coffee.
The parts of the iCoffee maker are well made and heavy duty and fit together well. The coffee pot has a thick, ergonomically comfortable handle. The gold brew basket fits easily and snugly into the drip basket and the thick brew basket lid fits easily onto the brew basket to keep all of those churning coffee grounds in place. The readouts on the LED are simple and easy to read and the warming plate has a 2-hour auto shut-off. The icoffee maker can also be pre-programmed for a delayed brew start so that you can set up your coffee in the evening and have the iCoffee maker start brewing when you wake.
When you first plug in the iCoffee maker, lights blink telling you the clock needs setting, which is easy to do. Normally I make my coffee by the cup with a pour-over filter holder and paper filter and use 4 coffee scoops of coffee for 2, 16-ounce cups. Other auto drip coffee makers I’ve used often make coffee that’s too weak and I like my coffee hearty so I put 6 scoops of coffee into the brew basket’s gold filter and added 4 cups of fresh cold water to the water reservoir. Since I’m not crazy about fine sediment in my coffee, I added the small fine filter to the carafe and hit the on button.
Immediately the first few notes of Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” began to play to signal brewing started and the led screen told me the water was heating. Soon hot water was pouring into the brew basket and the grounds were being vigorously stirred and coffee began to drip into the carafe. Very quickly the brew cycle ended (a few notes of Mozart let me know), though the fine carafe filter i continued to drip a bit.
The result: coffee that was bitter and way too strong (even for me!). While the literature said that Steambrewing™ reduced the coffee needed by 15%, I’d added more coffee and it was a mistake. My other error was trying to pour a cup of coffee from the carafe with the mini-filter still attached. It caused fine sediment to flow out of the filter and into my already strong, bitter coffee.
In an effort to correct my mistakes, I poured my cup of coffee and the rest of the coffee from the carafe into the water reservoir and added more fresh water and hit brew again. Another mistake: you should not try to re-brew with the icoffee maker. The coffee came out even worse.
Take 2. Still using four cups of fresh water, I used 3 scoops of ground coffee and the coffee was better, though the first sip still had a hint of bitterness. I’d also forgotten to add the fine sediment filter, so the coffee did have some sediment on the bottom, but it wasn’t bad. I added some half and half to cut the slight bitterness and enjoyed uber rich, smooth coffee.
Since pot 2 was still a little bitter, for the third pot I used 2 heaping coffee scoops of ground coffee. The coffee was smooth without a trace of bitterness and I drank it black. Though I’d put in 4, eight-ounce cups of water, I got only 3, 8-ounce cups of coffee (apparently the steam process uses up the rest).
For the fourth and final test of the iCoffee maker, I used 2 heaping scoops of coffee to 5 cups of fresh water. I used the sediment filter and turned off the musical on-off brew signal (people were still sleeping). Again the brew cycle was lightning fast with lots of stirring and steaming viewable through the brew window. The coffee was super smooth and satisfyingly rich, much richer than I’ve been able to achieve with a regular drip coffee maker. And, thanks to the mini sediment filter, there was little sediment in my cup. All in all, an excellent cup of coffee. Actually, 4 cups of excellent coffee.
The iCoffee’s drip and brew baskets and lid can all be just rinsed out or placed in the dishwasher. I washed all of them in the upper drawer of my dishwasher and they came out beautifully. Because the brew basket with the gold filter is deep and has only a small opening at the drip end, it proved a little challenging to remove the used grounds. I ended up using the sprayer on my sink faucet and that did the trick.
Real Bottom Line: After more than 1,200 prototypes with Remington’s innovative Steambrew™ steaming/stirring technology, the iCoffee maker is truly an advancement in automatic coffee making. It enables coffee lovers to use freshly ground coffee and less of it. I ended up using 50% less ground coffee than I normally use in my per cup pour over method. The iCoffee’s Steambrew™ system really is able to extract more coffee flavor from the coffee and do it in a way that produces a very smooth, satiny coffee without bitterness.
At $150-170, the Remington iCoffee maker costs more than many conventional drip coffee makers (you can get an inexpensive Mr. Coffee for about $40). Is the icoffee maker worth the extra cost? Yes, if you’re a real coffee lover like me who is generally unimpressed with the lackluster flavor of coffee brewed with traditional auto drip machines. Remington’s icoffee is one sleek machine that’ll make you silky, smooth coffee all while saving you money on coffee and on filters. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor