First Look :: Bonavita versus TechnivormJanuary 10th, 2012 by Mark
For a long time, we’ve only sold the Technivorm brewer. It was the only high quality brewer we could find that was simple, reliable, and brewed at 200 degrees for 5-6 minutes, two important factors for delicious, flavorful (and not bitter) coffee.
As you would expect, a lot of people are comparing the two brands and asking our opinion of which model to purchase. The Bonavita and the Technivorm have similar claims to brewing time and temperature, so we did a side by side test of each brewer, and here is our opinion of the pros and cons of each:
Price: The most glaring difference between the two brands is the price. The Technivorm is $299 for the thermal models and $279 for hot plate models. The Bonavita is $159 for thermal, $129 for hot plate. I will explain some of the reasons for this disparity in the following points. Advantage: Bonavita
Build quality: Hands down, the Technivorm is superior. From the thickness of the machined aluminum to the copper heating element, the Technivorm shows why it costs $299. It’s rugged, simple, and reliable. The Bonavita feels well built, but has the look and feel of a more conventional appliance. There’s no accounting for taste, but in our opinion the Technivorm is more attractive and feels more solid. Advantage: Technivorm.
Carafe: The Bonavita carafe is better than the Technivorm for three reasons: It’s lined with glass, so it doesn’t impart any off flavors which some people can detect from stainless; it keeps the coffee hot longer than the Technivorm carafe; and it has a pouring spout that needs no instruction. The Technivorm carafe has a distinctive mid-century inspired look, but the Bonavita held the coffee about 10° hotter than the Technivorm, both at initial brewing and after 1 hour and 4 hours. Advantage: Bonavita.
Showerhead: The Bonavita carafe has a well designed set of holes that evenly saturate the grounds, plus vents that allow the steam to escape (thus preventing condensation from dropping back into the bed). The Technivorm filter basket is an open design with a filter basket that can be easily set to no drip, fast drip, or slow drip, plus a metal spray head that can be rotated from side to side. If you want to “set it and go”, the Bonavita will saturate the bed of coffee more evenly without interference. If you want to see the bloom of fresh coffee as the hot water hits the coffee and have the option of stirring the coffee or rotating the filter basket for even extraction, the Technivorm will suit you better. Advantage: Bonavita for saturating the grounds completely, Advantage: Technivorm for analog, visible brewing.
Warranty: 5 years for Technivorm, 2 for Bonavita. Advantage: Technivorm.
Country of Origin: Technivorm is hand assembled in the Netherlands; Bonavita is made in China of German components. For some people, this will mean advantage: Technivorm. I love my iPhone which is made in China, so to me it’s not necessarily an indication of poor quality.
Brewing parameters: We did a side by side comparison of each brewer, using the same coffee and brewing parameters of 65 grams of coffee, 1.25 liters/42 oz of filtered water.
|Temp in brewing basket:||202.3°||201.8°|
|Time to finish brew:||6 min||6 min 10 sec|
|Temp of coffee after brewing:||185°||174°|
|Temp of coffee after 1 hour:||176°||164°|
|Temp after 4 hours:||150°||138°|
The brewing temperature and time figures are so close that we are confident saying the Bonavita heating element is about as powerful as the Technivorm. The 1,000 watt rating is a big factor here. As mentioned, the Bonavita carafe holds the temperature better than the Technivorm carafe. I should mention that the initial coffee temperatures of 185° for the Bonavita and 174° for the Technivorm are PLENTY hot for most people. I have to let the coffee rest and cool to about 165° before I can drink it.
Blind taste test: As always our goal when testing new products is two fold. We want to find out what the unit is capable using best practices AND how the typical person will use it (i.e., without too much futzing with brewing parameters). We tested coffees from several roasters and used all sorts of filters, such as the Melitta unbleached filters that came with the Bonavita (a clue to its heritage), Technivorm/Filtropa filters, gold tone filters, and Swiss Gold filters. We tried it with pre-rinsed paper filters and unrinsed filters.
Not too surprisingly, the cup quality (“taste”) depended mostly on using the best paper filter (a bleached pre-rinsed filter) and dialing in the correct grind setting (we found the Bonavita prefers a slightly coarser grind than the Technivorm). When we brewed the Technivorm with our recommended parameters (watch the video here), some of our testers preferred it to the Bonavita. When we left the Technivorm alone and did not agitate the bed at all to ensure even extraction, we got a few batches with some unsaturated grounds, and thus the Bonavita won.
At the end of the day, the Technivorm and the Bonavita both offer flavorful, hot coffee out of a drip brewer, but with different value propositions. If you like car analogies, the Technivorm is a rugged, safe, well built Volvo station wagon. It will last almost forever, and it bears a certain aesthetic heritage. It’s distinctively Netherlandic if that’s the word I’m looking for.
The Bonavita is perhaps analogous to a Toyota Camry. It’s simple, reliable, and affordable. It’s purpose is not to win design awards, but to offer great coffee and a quality appliance at a fantastic price.
It’s up to you to decide which one is a better fit for your lifestyle. See the full lineup.
*NOTE: We will be doing more testing over the coming weeks with logged data points and will gladly share our results upon request. We are also working on a video of both brewers in action. Stay tuned!