New pots that brew, not burn

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Author: Amanda Hesser
Date: June 13, 2001
Publisher: The New York Times Company
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,491 words

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JUST about everybody has experienced it: you make a pot of coffee, get distracted, leave it on the heating element too long. And 15 minutes later, that velvety, bracing cup of coffee has turned into something acrid -- liquid cinder in your mouth.

It's the burner effect. And for more than a decade, ever since the drip coffee maker with its glass carafe pushed all the others out of the way, we've just grown used to it.

But in the last few years, an ingenious design, the thermal carafe, has been creeping into the glass carafe's world. What started as a stealthy incursion is now a full-blown revolution. The clunky early designs have become sleeker. The coffee drips through a filter directly into the thermal carafe. Where it stays warm and fresh. There is no heating element beneath it.

There is no burner effect.

New models are now arriving in droves, each trying to outdo the other with features like lids that don't need to be turned for pouring, systems that pause so you can pour a cup while it brews, and nozzles to froth milk -- alone worthy incentives to ditch the coffee incinerator on your counter.

At the end of 1999, Capresso released a high-end model with the tight body and clean lines of a luxury car. Cuisinart introduced a new model in November and came out with a stainless-steel version this month; the company found that its customers were apparently too groggy in the morning to have to turn the lid of the carafe. ''They didn't like the way they had to constantly open and close the carafe lid when either they were brewing or serving the coffee,'' said Mary Rodgers, a senior manager.

With 164 million coffee drinkers in America, 81 percent of whom own automatic electric drip coffee makers, according to the National Coffee Association, manufacturers listen. What else could explain why Zabar's stocks 124 different models, more than any other appliance? Cuisinart responded with a patented lid design, which allows the coffee to drip into the carafe and be poured from the spout without the user having to touch the lid. It also put a timer on the pot, so you can set it at night...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A76938989