In this Bonavita BV1500TS coffee maker review, we sample a compact coffee maker designed to make it simplicity itself to brew small batches up to 5 cups at a time. There’s only one button, making it more intuitive right away than most coffee makers you’ll be faced with if you wake up at a friend’s house or Airbnb. You may not need a manual to operate it, but it took some time to master it and come up with a satisfying brew.
– Great looking machine
– Small size
– Fast brewing
– Well designed and made
– Carafe keeps the coffee hot
– Carafe won’t pour properly without the lid
– No control over brew strength
– The larger version makes better coffee
Sleek and simple
The Bonavita 1500TS attracts plenty of attention, as it’s a lovely looking machine in a stainless steel finish with black plastic details. It’s rather like a scaled-down version of the 8-cup BV1900TS, one of our favorite coffee makers at the moment. On one side is the water reservoir which holds about 27 oz or 0.8 liters; the stainless steel carafe sits the other side with the conical filter basket on top, and above this is the brewer lid with concealed shower-head distributor. The thermal carafe has a plastic screw-on lid with spout built in, which can be fitted to keep the coffee warm once brewing has finished and the filter is no longer required.
Just one touch, and some measuring
There’s only one button to operate the machine, but Bonavita provide some specific instructions for making coffee. There’s no measuring cup provided, instead it recommends 10 grams or five ounces per cup, and no less than three cups at a time for “ideal extraction levels”. One full reservoir of water makes 5 espresso cups, or a little over two 12 ounce mugs.
The carafe design has a very shallow spout without the plastic lid fitted, so it’s not ideal for filling the reservoir without making a mess, although it holds more than enough water to do that.
Brewing is nice and quick – five cups are ready in about 5 minutes. Fill the reservoir with water, place a filter in the basket, measure out the ground coffee and add that, then attach the basket to the carafe and press the button. Steam and a pleasant burbling noise begin in less than a minute, as the coffee bubbles through into the carafe in a few minutes, releasing an enticing aroma as it goes.
The taste test
Boldly dispensing with Bonavita’s advice we tried measuring the coffee by volume, using a handy tablespoon, but that didn’t go well. The coffee came out strong and bitter. Measuring the grounds by weight gave better, smoother results but was still a little strong. With the BV1500TS, you’re going to make any adjustments to the brew manually. That means different ratios of water and coffee grounds, or different coarseness of the ground coffee.
There is one different setting available: Pre-Infusion Mode, activated by holding down the power button for 5 seconds. This is a feature intended for freshly roasted beans, and one not often found in automatic coffee makers. It wets the grounds for a few seconds before extraction, adding a bit longer to the brewing time but allowing the grounds to de-gas. Pre-infusion mode persists until turned off again by holding the button for 5 seconds (or unplugging the machine) but is only indicated by an illuminated light after brewing has commenced.
The thermal carafe works particularly well at keeping your coffee hot. A pot of freshly-brewed coffee was measured at 187 degrees (86 celsius) just before screwing the lid on the carafe. Two hours later it was still at 155 degrees (68C) and 152 (66C) after 4 hours.
The heat retention is crucial as there’s no hotplate on the coffee maker. Once the coffee is brewed, it shuts itself off, which gives it some advantages in saving energy and not having hot surfaces around the home. The carafe’s lid screws on easily and is pretty watertight, featuring a button to press to start pouring coffee. As mentioned before, leaving the lid off makes pouring a risky business as well as cooling the coffee more rapidly.