The first thing I noticed about the SimplyGoodCoffee Olson brewer is that it looks like a certain more costly coffee maker, The famous Technivorm Moccamaster. There’s nothing new about one coffee maker looking like another. The original Mr. Coffee home machine was a spitting image of the then industry-standard Bunn commercial machines. But looking like another brewer is one thing. Readers to The Coffee Companion know invariably what matters here is a brewer’s performance, not its appearance. To those who might not know what I mean, the word performance means the following.

  • Water temperature which affects the brewing taste and its consistency from beginning to end
  • The contact time between the grounds and water
  • The ability to get all the grounds equally soaked with hot water throughout the brew cycle
  • A successful attempt to initially soak the grounds and then allow them to settle prior to the full brew cycle. This last ability is most critical when using fresh-roasted, fresh-ground coffee.

So, how’s the SimplyGoodCoffee Olson brewer perform this taste list? Here are the parameters:

Water temperature – The SimplyGoodCoffee Olson brewer has a fast-water heat rise time. It performed as well as any high-performance brewer. This is important because, as any of us who are familiar with professional commercial brewers, know that consistent brewing temperature throughout the brewing cycle is vital to the cup’s taste. Underperforming brewers that don’t get the water to within 5 degrees of 200F actually produce sour taste notes; those that brew too high (rare but possible) brew bitterness.

Contact time – The SimplyGoodCoffee Olson brewer takes six minutes to complete brewing a full batch of coffee. This is excellent and meets longstanding industry brewing standards. Lately, it has become common for manufacturers to offer twelve cups as their standard. When they optimize their brewing cycles for this larger batch, those of us who brew eight cups (or less) as their preferred size typically lose a minute or two of water/grounds contact time. This results in under-extraction and a weaker tasting cup of coffee. The SimplyGood Coffee brewer was right on the money with its results. The best I’ve tested in a while. Kudos.

Note the wide coverage of water droplets.

Water Soak Equality – Just look at the above photo! The SimplyGoodCoffee Olson brewer performed about as well as a manual pour-over, my highest praise for automatic drip. Look closely at the water droplets and realize the grounds are receiving nice full coverage. My month-long exclusive use of this machine shows it consistently did its job, spraying the hot water over the grounds, while the brewed coffee exit hole at the filter’s bottom is ideally sized to maintain a slightly elevated water level throughout the brewing cycle. You’ll note in the photo below how the grounds bed looked just after brewing. This “after” shot clearly shows how evenly the grounds have been soaked, a reliable indicator of evenly showered water over the grounds. The SimplyGoodCoffee Olson brewer goes beyond simply outperforming other automatic drip brewers; it matches the best manual pour-over devices that set the original standard!

One of the best-ever tested ground soak tests. Fully matches what I can do with a manual drip coffeemaker, the highest praise.

Pre-infusion – Pre-infusion is the final step that closes the divide between superior manual drip and the industrial age’s attempt to automate it. All fresh coffees create a carbon dioxide foam similar to pouring a can of soda into a glass. The best remedy is to momentarily halt the brewing process immediately after the first hot water fully immerses the grounds. The pre-infusion stage works beautifully with the SimplyGoodCoffee Olson brewer. It pauses just long enough, but not too long, and then lets things proceed. From this point on the grounds remain submerged in hot water for the rest of the brew cycle.

Build Quality – When SimplyGoodCoffee’s designers went with mimicking the Moccamaster, they should have expected the comparison to that brewer’s noteworthy build quality. Even those who nitpick some of the Moccamaster’s quirks of its pioneering designer, the late, beloved Gerard-Clement Smit, everyone agrees about its lasting build superiority. There’s no way I can predict longevity of a brewer; a 30-day test just doesn’t cut it. The best I can say is that such superficial details as its appearance and exterior fit and finish all appear first-rate.

History Lesson – The SimplyGoodCoffee brewer is the brainchild of Laura Sommers, a highly experienced, highly coffee-aware entrepreneur and her experienced design and manufacturing team. Laura’s previous company, Espresso Supply, had the original mission to market a Melitta-badged-as-Bonavita brewer and its following iterations. What these brewers all have in common is an awareness of the mass expansion of specialty coffee and the importance of an affordable highest-performing automatic drip brewer for home use. Rumor has it that noted coffee guru George Howell was among those who helped tweak a high quality Melitta brewer to its state-of-the-art circa early-21st century performance. All of the brewers in this category meet the standards first established by a U.S. trade association based upon observed performance parameters of commercial coffee brewers. The SimplyGoodCoffee Olson brewer is the latest product designed to meet these rigid standards and still be affordable for families and individuals who know good coffee, but don’t necessarily have commercial sized budgets. Laura told me of her vision before the first design was submitted. I will stop far short of predicting super longevity akin to the Moccamaster for the Simply Good Olson Coffee brewer. I can only say I own the first samples of the earliest Melitta brewers upon which Laura cut her entrepreneurial teeth and they perform to specification to this day.

Personal taste test results – I have found a great bean is Big Shoulders’ Colombian House Drip. They are so nonchalant, but it really is a good coffee, one that has gobs of chocolate on both the nose and tongue. I had a last-minute afternoon guest and made us a full pot. I used 62 grams and medium fine grind. I can honestly say it was the best this bean has ever tasted. It just has everything in one place. Another favorite, Alana’s Coffee’s Ethiopian Sidamo Ardi natural process gave a hardcore group of visiting home roasters an exotic thrill or two. This jaded coven seemed almost humbled in the presence of this coffee. It seemed to inspire them to perfection as they seemed more enthused than ever to discuss a home roasting event at next year’s CoffeeCon. These are just two noteworthy brewing sessions with the Olson, but it shows how consistent and easy it is to use and adept at putting its culinary capabilities on display.

Conclusion – The SimplyGoodCoffee Olson brewer has really floored me in its attention and meeting all the important brewing details. Those willing to spend around $150 on a home brewer should consider it in the top tier of the best available choices, and possibly the best choice. More money may buy you more features such as the Behmor Brazen’s adjustable temperature settings, the Ratio Coffee maker’s sexier curb appeal or Moccamaster’s proven-longevity and build quality, but this one very possibly brews the best coffee and won’t empty your pockets. That alone, at this price point is simply awesome. Nice job, folks!

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