iCoffee Review: Does it really make the best coffee?

Recently I received an iCoffee to review. Since I’m a coffee lover I couldn’t pass the opportunity up to try this ‘revolutionary’ machine.

The iCoffee was developed with a unique brewing process that spins the coffee grinds in hot water called SteamBrew™. This is an attempt to capture more of the flavor and less bitterness from the coffee. Additionally, it claims to have a rich crema (light colored coffee foam) that signifies a well made cup of coffee.

The coffee brewer has typical drip coffee maker features such as being programmable, having an automatic shutoff, and pause and serve so you don’t have to wait for the carafe to fill. The iCoffee went through over a thousand prototypes in an attempt to make a better cup of coffee.

iCoffee

Brewing Coffee with the iCoffee

To start we unboxed the machine and I washed all the parts per the instructions. Next we ground beans in our coffee grinder and I got busy making coffee. This is where I ran into the first problem. Nowhere in the instructions does it share what the amount of grinds should be per cup. After a little research I found that it’s typically 1-2 heaping tablespoons of grinds per cup. Why grind my own?  If you’re a coffee enthusiast you know that grinding beans fresh makes for a better coffee. (Freshly roasted beans make a difference too.)

The next issue–there was no information on what type of grind to use. Why does the grind size matter? Grind size is determined by the process you are using to make the coffee. For instance, finer grounds are used in drip coffee pots while a french press will use coarser (or larger) grounds. The iCoffee isn’t either, so once again I ran into an issue .

To give the iCoffee a fair test I made several pots starting with 2 tsps of fine grinds, and changing both the amount of coffee and the grind of the beans to see what worked best. After 5 tests (and lots of coffee) I found that none of them produced the results I expected.

Problems with the iCoffee

If you’re going to produce the BEST coffee there are three key ingredients:

  • Freshly roasted and ground coffee beans
  • Filtered water
  • A means to combine the two to produce coffee with the proper temperature and brew time

Well made coffee will have ‘crema’ on top like the iCoffee advertised. But in every test I did there was no crema.

Let’s assume I’m not such a coffee geek, what would I use to make coffee? Must likely I would buy pre-ground coffee. So despite the ‘revolutionary’ process the iCoffee starts by not using the best ingredients. You can liken it to the difference between store bought bread and homemade bread right out of the oven. It’s just not the same thing-one pales in comparison to the other.

I tried again with pre-ground coffee, but the results were again disappointing. The best way to describe the flavor that it tasted like coffee-flavored water.

The one benefit I see? People who drink coffee, but don’t like the taste of coffee will appreciate how smooth and simple the flavors are when brewed in the iCoffee. If you’re a coffee drinker (that doesn’t care for the flavor of coffee) and you use creamer or milk and sweetener you will be able to enjoy the coffee black. That amounts to less sugar and calories, and may be reason for some folks to appreciate the machine.

For a coffee geek like me though, the iCoffee didn’t live up to my expectations. The main reason? I love strong coffee, and the ‘bitterness’ the iCoffee removes is the flavor I enjoy.

The verdict? Save your money, skip the iCoffee, and instead purchase a French Press. They produce strong coffee that’s flavorful without being overly bitter, and actually provide more caffeine per cup than drip coffee. Best of all they are available for around $20, like this Bodum French Press.

Kelly

Disclosure: I was sent the iCoffee to review. 

About Kelly Whalen


Kelly Whalen is the founder of The Centsible Life, a blog where motherhood and money meet. Her goal is to help readers live well on less. Kelly is a mom to 4, and loves that she can stay at home with her kids, and still pursue her passions for writing, personal finance, and social media. You can often find her on twitter and Facebook talking money and motherhood.

  • James

    I have this coffeemaker and I was kind of shocked by how great the coffee came out. Sure its expensive and I could get a decent coffee maker for much less, but I do have to disagree with you. The coffeemaker is pretty awesome and works much better than a regular drip coffeemaker. I drink fairly good coffee all day long, just to give you an example I am no coffee snob, but the lowest I go when it comes to drinking coffee is the Starbucks brewed Kirklands brand at Costco. Its pretty good, but I also drink more expensive coffee because I enjoy the flavor and the adventure.
    The iCoffee makes a delicious cup for me every time, and provides crema on better quality coffee beans pretty consistently. Anyone who likes coffee and enjoys the differences between each kind knows that buying pre-ground coffee is the last thing you do. Even a testing the taste on a French press between pre-ground and whole bean coffee will tell you that. Bitterness as a flavor usually isn’t something people go for, but if thats what you like then why would you buy something that explicitly states that it provides less bitter coffee? Normally you wouldn’t, besides the bitter taste usually means you extracted too much, water is too hot, or the grind size is wrong.
    Granted I know this is just my opinion and everyone is a critic, but the iCoffee gave me everything I wanted in one device and simply put, its worth the money if you enjoy good coffee and its way more convenient than a French press. Furthermore its saves me money on coffee because I can use about 25% less coffee and achieve a delicious cup every time. So you do pay a lot more money up front, only to save long term.

    • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen

      Thanks for your comment James. I put ‘bitter’ into quotes because despite numerous tries our coffee turned out flavorless and watery. I don’t actually enjoy bitterness, though I do admit to enjoying stronger coffee than most people tend to like.

      iCoffee contacted me (see below) and actually recommended trying pre-ground coffee like Folger’s. I have done so on more than one occasion but regardless of what kind of beans/grounds I use I’m still unable to get the results that are promised.

      Glad you found a coffeemaker that works for you, the iCoffee just didn’t work for us, but I hope that readers will read your comments as well as other reviews like mine and yours and make their own decision.

  • Jeffrey Scheiman

    I am CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) for icoffee. I am trying to understand how you achieved the results you reported. Please review the following. I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you: jeff@icoffee.com (614) 402-9073
    http://bit.ly/19ErujO – KitchenBoy Blog
    http://bit.ly/19A3O1Y – Consumer Reports

    • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen

      Thanks for your comment Jeffrey. I have read the two reviews you shared, and don’t think my results were out of the ordinary. I will email you to followup.

    • JanetFCTC

      I am one of the many many bloggers offered an icoffee for review months ago who has
      never received it at all and keeps getting told they are working on
      getting them out. I am guessing that the company bit off more than it
      could chew in the offers it made because I know I am just one of quite a
      few disappointed irritated bloggers who feel that icoffee isn’t delivering what they promised to us. I would have loved the chance to try the machine for myself because now all I have is this review and a couple of others to go by. Oh well. Have an awesome day, Mr. Scheiman. :-)

  • Lilkidthings

    Great review Kelly! Thanks for sharing.

  • Melanie

    Thanks for an honest review. I’m not currently in the market for a new coffee maker, but I’ll keep this in mind when I am.

  • http://about.me/amytucker Amy Tucker

    Blarg. That’s no fun. :(

    http://theamytucker.tumblr.com/post/63565690011

    Gotta say, the best coffee I ever made was when my Keurig finally gave up the ghost and I started making my coffee in a pan on the stove. DELISH!

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