Coffee: Brazen Beans

Can a coffee maker with an altitude adjustment really make a better cup of coffee? We investigate.
December 18 2013, 11:25 AM

Any Denverite who’s ever made a Christmas turkey knows cooking in Colorado can require a little adjustment to ensure the desired (read: edible) result. Apparently that goes for coffee, too—at least according to Boyd’s Coffee and Behmor coffee makers.

Portland-based Boyd's recently began distributing Behmor's Brazen Home Coffee Brewer, a home brewer with an altitude calibration designed to make a better cup. The fancy system also allows you to adjust the temperature at which you brew your coffee since, as Behmor founder Joseph Behm notes, “not all coffees should be brewed at the same temperature.”

Tech blog Gizmodo credited the Brazen with producing “maybe the best dripped coffee from a machine,” and it won the “People’s Choice Award” for best new product at last year’s Specialty Coffee Association of America trade show.

Of course, the trade show took place in Portland, Oregon, whose downtown sits at a whopping 20 feet above sea level. And Gizmodo’s editor-in-chief directs the site out of Los Angeles (elevation: 200ish feet). So those of us who actually live at altitude could be excused for being, well, skeptical.

So we decided to put the Brazen to the test at 5280, where caffeine freaks and coffee snobs abound. After carefully calibrating the Brazen to our altitude and giving the chic beast a few rounds to get warmed up, we brewed up a blind taste test between it and our standard office machine, a dual pot Waring Pro, using Novo coffee.

All told, our sippers described the Brazen’s coffee as smoother, sweeter, and a little more robust than our office machine’s. While (technically) statistically invalid due to the small sample size, our testers preferred the Brazen’s brew 3:2. Not exactly a landslide, but enough to at least consider dropping 200 bones to buy one.