Cuisinart SS-15 Review
Reviewed by: Jennifer
Jennifer’s Rating: 3.6 Stars
Let’s face it, dual-function brewers are pretty popular – I mean, who doesn’t want to save space in a small kitchen with half the appliance bulk? The Cuisinart brand has one, so I’ve seen how well it compares to its major competitor Hamilton Beach.
It looks like the “have it both ways” concept is picking up steam – combining pot and single-serve capabilities continues to be a popular model for good reason. The SS 15 has got its pros, but it has got its cons too, which this review will go into detail about.
Table of Contents
- Full pot/single serve flexibility
- Brew Strength Control
- Single-serve brew sizes 6, 8, and 10
- Includes a water filter for each reservoir and a goldtone filter basket
- Includes a reusable cup by HomeBarista to use on your own grounds
- 12-cup glass carafe
- Programmable Auto-On and Off
- Color Options: Stainless Steel, Copper, and Black Stainless
Along with the brewer is a myriad of accessories to enhance your experience – You get the 12-cup glass carafe, a cone-shaped goldtone filter, an insertable water filter for each reservoir side, carbon cartridges, a start guide, HomeBarista reusable cup, a sampler pack of K-cup pods (Cuisinart brand) and a limited 3 -Year Warranty.
Amazon’s sales page lists the dimensions as: 11.8″ by 16.6″ by 12.9″ and 12.2 pounds. Which sounds accurate on paper, but then there’s that issue of my needing the specifics of length, width, and depth.
Clearly, the manufacturer site lists a 10.13″ width, 10.38″, and a height of 14.25″. and 9.5 pounds...I’m looking at the first measurement I will assume correct as the ones listed below may be referring to foreign measurements as far as I can tell.
The power cord is 34″ in length. Overall, the size of this maker is good, but maneuverability -when you factor in how much you would be filling and refilling – if your kitchen has an island, you’re in good hands, but even with ample under-cabinet space, it would be easier sitting in a corner (not flush with a wall) if an electric outlet is nearby.
But what also helps is using a sliding assist which makes refilling the reservoir a lot easier as the tray slides forward with the brewer, and you don’t have to keep moving the brewer around.
The Cuisinart SS-15 comes in four metallic-look colors: Stainless Steel, Copper (my favorite), Black, and Silver. The top picture, I believe, is the black one.
The SS 15’s removable drip tray is designed like many of its competitors, with a metal plate that can be removed via the round opening to reveal the drip tray. There’s a lot of generous space between the dispensing area and the drip tray/plate, which means good news for people who want to use those bigger tumblers.
However, it does seem to produce a bit of a splash with more regular-sized mugs, as a number of consumers mentioned. Ultimately this is a grievance that may necessitate a little rigging on your part, such as using a random kitchen accessory to move the cup closer to the spout.
This consumer in the video below does a good job of rigging the drip tray using a random tin dish to add height:
Video courtesy of Valerie Cristina
The reservoir – actually, I mean reservoirs since this is a dual-function brewer – I can’t say it’s the most user-friendly I’ve seen (and subsequent ratings reflect this) can be broken down like this:
The single-serve side has a clear reservoir that holds 40 oz of water and is removable – you can see the usual lines like min and max fill, etc. It has a slot enabling you to insert the included water filter and cartridge.
The carafe side reservoir, however, stays put and is intended to be refilled from the top, which seems awkward the way there is only a little bit of space around the brew basket with which to do so.
The carafe side reservoir -when you look at it from the side facing out, you have a “water window” view letting you know how much is in there.
Buttons and Controls
There are many controls on both the carafe and K-cup sides….let’s look at that now as they do have some distinctions. First, on the carafe side….there is a backlit blue digital clock which you can set and program using the “hr” and “min” buttons in tandem with the setting on the left dial.
The K-cup chamber outside (right image) shows three buttons representing the different brew sizes 6, 8, and 10, which illuminate in blue when the desired choice is active; below are two lights that display when prompted “Add Water” and “Clean.”
There is a power switch which you can see easily near the bottom of the machine on the single-serve side. It’s important to remember to switch it on first before operation (some people, if not used to a feature like this, may conveniently forget)
There are a few controls unique to this model: There are two dials on the carafe side – one controls various settings, and the other one will allow you to set the carafe temperature.
Between the two dials is a button that initially seems ambiguous – it reads “Brew/Warm” options.
There is a five-beep alarm that will sound at the end of a brew cycle….the DCC-3000, if you will recall, also has this feature. This alarm only goes into effect on the carafe’s pot side.
You can use the “Brew Pause” feature to “snatch” a cup before the carafe has finished dispensing….but as per the manual, you have a 20-second window to do this. Or the basket may overflow.
Cuisinart SS-15 K-Cup Chamber
The pod chamber has a slight protrusion with which to open before inserting your pod. First off, these two function independently of one another.
To use the included reusable filter, you’d open it, remove the mesh filter, fill it with grounds, and put it back into the gray holder. You must also dislodge the plastic brew housing assembly part before inserting the filter. The brew housing stays put whenever you want to pop in a Kcup and go.
Some people may have trouble lining up the little white arrows inside the chamber. It is kinda weird – but here goes. One arrow is on the brew holder, and the other is on the inside area. It takes some careful observation, but that’s how you insert the pod the right way!
Carafe and Pot Section
When you raise the lid of the carafe side, you will see the “shower head” feature that dispenses or saturates the coffee grounds.
You also have space on one side of the filter basket to insert another water fitter, like the one that goes into the single-serve reservoir. It goes in sideways next to the basket.
Now as far as the coffee filter basket goes…it’s a very nice looking goldtone and cone shape – in the event that you prefer to remove it altogether and use paper filters, you would want to look for some in that shape.
Whether or not you prefer to use the paper filters instead – the one advantage you’d have is that it does tend to catch some of the loose sediment grounds that tend to end up at the bottom of the carafe when the goldtone filter is used.
The carafe itself is nice; it has all the measurement increments on the side, and the handle looks sturdy. It also calibrates well depending on how many cups of coffee you intend to brew. One request seemed to be echoed by would-be consumers – they wished there was a thermal option (which there isn’t). The one downfall with glass carafes is that to retain the heat, they have to sit on the burner…but that can tend to lead to coffee that tastes “burned,” thermal carafes can be taken off the burner and still retain heat well.
Cuisinart SS 15 Customer Reviews and Ratings
There are mixed reviews from consumers regarding the Cuisinart SS 15, which I’ll gladly elaborate on…but the main consensus of opinion is that the full-pot carafe side is more satisfactory than the one-cup only. Some are emphatically positive, some are in the middle, as in satisfied up to a point, and some – unfortunately – reveal some problematic concerns. When visiting Walmart, comments are much less negative…still a good bit of remarks about the cup height, condensation on the back, and how tricky it is to fill/refill the reservoirs.
Positive comments included: liking the pause and grab a cup function, three carafe temperature settings, nice space-saving design, and the open platform for the K-cups. A few minor grievances (not big deal breakers) included a few comments about the space between the drip tray and dispensing area being wide enough to create more of a splash when using regular height cups, a little water condensation building up when lid on the carafe side is opened, and that pouring water into the reservoir could be a little tricky.
Overall, I think people liked the included carafe as it appears to be designed nicely, the spout pours well, and the handle looks ergonomically designed.
I would pay special attention to the remarks in the reviews dated 3/9/18 and 3/8/17 at the time of writing…Failing to “seat the pod” correctly can lead to serious mishaps.
OK, back to the not-so-good…The leak reports. There were enough of these for me to see the potential for red flags, which most likely pushed down the overall score. Now the big question is…can you prevent this?
I discovered that the reservoir takes some maneuvering – you must hear the “click” to know it has been secured for good. But when that was not the case…I was under the impression that the leaks could have come from around the seal on the bottom of the machine (when people checked more diligently)
In some cases, the consumers had properly attached the water reservoir but still had leak issues. So something is definitely amiss here.
- Accepts all brands of K-Cups
- Flexible operation
- Brew Pause function
- Comes with bonus accessories
- Carafe is designed well
- Settings to adjust carafe pot temp, bold setting, and auto-off
- The reservoir seems problematic to refill on the carafe side
- Single-serve side can be troublesome
- Programming options only support the carafe side
- You have to be more careful when inserting the K-Cups
- Water tends to run over the back of the carafe side
- Wide clearance between dispensing area and drip tray creates a splatter
When measured with overall satisfaction and value, I scratched my head a little. At the time of writing, it looks like the stainless steel version has the lowest price. You can check to see if that’s still the case here:
If you are in the market for a dual brew coffeemaker, I recommend you to have a look at the latter edition of the Hamilton Beach Flexbrew or the Hamilton Beach Full Pot 2-Way, which are reasonably priced and deliver more in the value department, as well as enjoy higher satisfaction ratings.
(Only problem with that second model, the 2-Way, is that you can only use soft coffee pods on the single-serve side.)
My final rating: 3.6 Stars: It fair, but it could use a little improvement
Hard to say an emphatic “Go for it” for the SS 15 based on all the leak reports mentioned earlier…I do think this brewer could have more potential if the design flaws were worked out. I think adding a cup rest to minimize splashing would be a good idea, or a flip-up or down platform cup rest would be even better, as coffee makers that have those are almost virtually splash-proof.
Also, the carafe reservoir could be easier to refill, but since people were overall more dissatisfied with the single-serve side, some work in that area, too, is in order.
All in all…it’s OK, but I think you can find more reliable options in a two-in-one maker; the ones I mentioned in the section above would be better to take a look at.